I began training in 2004 under the guidance of James Duggan Shihan. I have since achieved my Nidan in Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai. My favourite kata is Sanchin and I enjoy the challenge of kumite against great opponents like Shihan James and Sensei Kain.

First hand experience of the Great Cholesterol Myth

I had an interesting experience on Thursday after visiting my doctor to review my first ever blood tests. Due to the Paleo Diet I was encouraged by friends and family to get my numbers tested due to concerns about my cholesterol because I was eating alot of saturated fats and animal products. I am going to share what is happening here because this is a very controversial subject that gets very heated and I want it noted what is happening and why I am choosing to do what I do.

First of all, lets get to the punch mark. My total cholesterol results were high and in my doctors words, she has never seen LDL (the so called ‘bad cholesterol’ (we will get to this later)) as high as she has seen mine. The results are Total Cholesterol 375, Triglycerides 62, HDL 58 and LDL 244.

Now when we first reviewed the blood tests (fasted) which included everything from red blood count, to liver function, kidney function, testosterone, cortisol, vitamin D, CRP (inflammation), Iron, Glucose, Serum’s and Thyroid. Everything indicated that I was very healthy, the only small discrepancies were testosterone on the low side and Serum Ferritin on the high side. Despite everything being ok, and being a young 28 year old fit, healthy, male with no history of disease, sickness in myself or heart disease in my family, the doctor decided that I was to immediately start treatment on statin cholesterol lowering drugs. She also took me to the Australian Government website to calculate my risk of heart disease. This website indicated that I have a 15% chance of death by heart disease in the next 5 years (if I didn’t change anything by the age of 35). She advised that I should start a low-fat diet and cut out butter, coconut oil, red meat and cheese.

I was in shock. First thing first, I asked her whether one supposed outlier in a field of results that showed I was healthy could mean I am to go on a statin. She said the LDL is too high, she had never seen this result before and that it is ‘very bad’. I said, what about the LDL particle size, isn’t very low density LDL B a better indicator of risk of heart disease? ‘No, this is very bad’ was the answer. Queue the Latest In Paleo, Humans Are Not Broken post by Angelo Coppola where even now the infamous Dr. Oz (the oprah of American talk show health) has been convinced by the docs of The Great Cholesterol Myth that you should resist being placed on a statin if you have high LDL and that you should get a particle size test.

I eventually convinced the Dr that I should get retested in three months and get a particle size test done. Further research hereherehere, here and here. Alison Golden even details her own experience going through this issue all the way to the point of a CT Scan.

Needless to say, my research has shown that my triglyceride to HDL ratio 1.06 ( puts me in the very low risk of heart disease ratio because it indicates the majority of my LDL are the large fluffy kind. Secondly, my research shows it is very well documented that people who are transitioning through Paleo may get elevated LDL lipoproteins. I can’t seem to see exactly why my body is doing it but it must be for a reason. They say this can be lowered by reducing my consumption of eggs but that due to LDL particle size A is a poor indicator of heart disease there is no real need to do something as drastic as ‘taking a statin’ to reduce the number when it isn’t evident it is doing anything wrong and that it may be healthy.

All I know is, people freak out with this stuff, so I am going to go get my LDL particle size test to see what my ratio of LDL particle size B is within my LDL number.

A great result out of this test though, and on the bright side of it all, my inflammation numbers were non detectable at less than 5mg/L which means my anti inflammatory diet of avoid grains, wheat and legumes is working. And, seeings as the research is showing inflammation to be a greater cause of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer and a myriad of other diseases I, and my friends and family, should be happy with this result.

It is a lonely road when you are not pushing the popular opinion and I guess that is why it takes courage to fight for what is right and not what is accepted.

Please feel free to comment below or read my forum post on my blood test where I am further discussing this issue and how to get healthier which ultimately makes us stronger more capable karateka.

Focussing on ‘Hikite’ when striking

Last year Shihan James asked the students of Brisbane Goju Karate to focus on their ‘Zanshin’ which refers to a state of constant awareness. For those of you that missed Tuesday night’s karate class at Morningside, in 2013 we have been requested to focus on our ‘Hiki Te’ or ‘Hikite’. Hiki means withdrawing or to pull back while ‘te’ kara(te) translates to hand. Putting this together, hikite is the withdrawing hand or to pull the hand back. But why have we been asked to focus on our hikite and how do we do this?

Well, thanks to the videos from our End of Year Bash Shihan has identified that students are not withdrawing the hand quickly enough after striking an opponent. This is opening ourselves up to be struck as our defence is poor when leaving our hand out in open space closer to our opponent.  An opponent also has an opportunity to take control over our arm if they are aware enough that it has not withdrawn from their space. Similar to Zanshin, we need to be aware that even when striking an opponent we are opening ourselves up to be struck. To improve our defence we must quickly return to our ‘kamae’ or our posture, our fighting posture in this situation. Our kamae is to always have our hands up covering our face where we can be struck and easily knocked unconscious. So when in class whether it is kumite or kihon (except when practicing the traditional kihon and have been asked not to hikite) we must be focussing on quickly returning to our kamae after we have struck or attempted to strike an opponent. Another reason hikite is so important is that the further our arm extends from our torso the less power we have in a pushing motion and the more power we have in a pulling motion. This is due to basic muscular power generation. So by quickly pulling back we can also throw our next punch with greater power, pulling on one side of the body adds speed and power to the pushing motion on the other side. This occurs as the energy moves through our central axis being our torso, hips and legs. When leaving our hand out without any real purpose we are reducing our ability to move that limb with power and without power we can hardly defend or can easily be caught and manoeuvred by our opponent. If you do leave the arm out with purpose, say to grab the opponent so you can pull them in for a knee then this is a different situation. In this situation there is Zanshin, there is purpose, with no purpose we must revert to where we are purposeful, which is our defence, our wanting to protect ourselves and knowing where we are safe.

A good example of Hikite is this video of Guy Sempai during his Nidan Grading where he is able to be a threatening opponent by being disciplined in his hikite even striking his opponent. Notice in the takedown he chooses not to withdraw the hand which means he has purpose and good Zanshin.

If you have any questions about hikite please comment below or ask on our new forum.

2013 Martial Arts Dojo Opening Dates

The Brisbane Goju Karate martial arts dojos will be reopening as per the following dates:

 

Annerley Martial Arts Dojo – Wednesday the 9th of January 2013

Morningside Martial Arts Dojo – Tuesday the 15th of January

Norman Park Martial Arts Dojo – Thursday the 17th of January 2013

 

Be sure to subscribe to the Brisbane Goju Karate Calender on your iPhone or Android device so that you are kept up to date on all the events happening this year at Brisbane Goju Karate.

 

We look forward to seeing you all at training for what will be another great year of hard work and success.

Paleo Kale Shake Recipe with Blueberries

Today, whilst my wife and I were out at the Eagle Farm Markets and buying awesome fresh fruits and vegies I bumped into this pile of freshly picked Kale. Now if you have never heard of Kale it is a form of cabbage and is a bit of a super star in the Paleo community. Sometimes you will hear the argument “If you eat Paleo then how do you get your calcium…?” (usually  because the milk industry have been pretty successful informing the world about how milk is the best source of calcium for you diet and is a great way of making your bowl of wheat and grains (cereal) in the morning more edible. Anyway, I digress. Green leafy vegetables such as Kale are great sources of calcium. So with this in mind, I thought, “Hey! There’s Kale, and woah, its only $2 a bunch, sweet, time to give the paleo kale shake recipe a go today”. I also picked up two steaks of awesome premium grass fed black angus rump at the Eagle Farm Markets for $10 which is super awesome value if you ask me! I just can’t get over how good the produce is at the markets and you pay so much less than at Woolies and Coles. [Read more…]

Best Farmers Markets in Brisbane

We all know how much fun it is to go to the Farmers Markets with your family on an early Saturday morning. It is a great way to start the weekend with an early rise, some walking and finding cool new products that you normally wouldn’t find in your typical Woolworths or Coles. But did you know that buying from your local Farmers Market has many more benefits then just variety in our products and a fun morning for the family?

Typically buying  from a Farmers Market also gives you the benefits of better quality products, sourced from local materials and supporting people who are managing their own family business. In the world of Paleo we love the idea of products being sourced locally as it represents the true economics of how we live. Importing products from other countries such as food degrades the quality or requires preservatives to reduce the chances of the product spoiling. This also creates situations where poor quality standards reduce the cost of producing food and forces local farmers to do things such as feed their cattle grains to keep up with the market price. Take a look at this story in America where one farmer is now feeding his cattle candy because it is cheaper than corn even though corn is highly subsidised. Was there ever anything wrong with cows eating grass? Moo!

There are many benefits to buying from your local farmers market. So let’s see which one’s we have available in Brisbane in our Top 3 Best Farmers Market countdown.

Top 3 Best Farmers Markets in Brisbane

Brisbane Markets at Rocklea

Leading the way is the Brisbane Markets at Rocklea. A great time to visit these markets are on a Saturday morning where the place is buzzing with people looking for great quality locally sourced fruits, vegetables and meats. The prices are always competitive and you know that every dollar spent is going straight into the pockets of a local producer and supporting the farms in the Greater Brisbane Region. Personally, I have seen 500g bags of natural almonds go for as low as $5 when you can easily pay up to $11 in your local Woolworths.

When: Saturday, 6:00am – 12:00pm


View Larger Map

Davies Park Market West End

Next up we have the Davies Part Market West End where you are gauranteed to find local organic products possibly from the person that has sourced it from the local vegie patch around the corner. We all know that West End leads the way in all things local and organic.

When: Saturday, 6:00am – 2:00pm


View Larger Map

 

Jan Powers Farmers Market Brisbane City

Hugely popular but sometimes difficult to get there if you are in the ‘burbs. The Jan Power’s Farmers Markets get huge credits for occurring every Wednesday to service the entire Brisbane CBD of city folk in town for work. Now you may not find yourself wandering around for hours on end due to the smaller size of the markets but you are sure to find the staples of your requirements and something different to take home and check out.

When: Wednesday, 10:00am – 10:00pm


View Larger Map

What is your favourite Farmers Market in Brisbane? Please comment below so that more people can get involved and support the local farmers in Brisbane.

Entering into the Unknown

My journey to the black gi grading starts with the Brisbane Goju Karate dojo. The first thing you notice when you step inside a BGK dojo is the wall of energy and passion for karate that greets you. I have the privilege to be taught and train with an amazing group of people. At the heart of this energy and drive are the inspirational individuals who wear the black gi’s. It’s infectious.

The phrase that was associated with the black gi grading that resonated strongly with me was “it’s the event you cannot train for.” How does one prepare physically and mentally for the unknown? The black gi grading is not a grading but a dynamic, highly unpredictable challenge, without static events and not having a clear finish that greatly perturbs the mind.

As a potential participant in the black gi grading, we were told early on that we were not to engage in extra training with the black belts or other black gi students. At the time I didn’t understand the reasoning but as this article has been written after the event with the benefit of hindsight – this is an extremely important part of your own training. It’s about building your mental strength to overcome your fears, learning to control your stress reactions and maintain a positive outlook, as it was very easy to get caught up in the momentum of fear of the unknown. I had read that much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self esteem, two things that I needed to work on.

My physical training was intense even though I knew this grading was not about how strong or fit I was. I wanted to have complete confidence in my physical ability (well as much as possible). It was also the one thing I could control leading up to the grading. I personally believe in sport that through frequent and tough workouts you will build an aspect of mental toughness. Physiologically, the aim is to saturate the muscles in lactic acid through frequent and intense stimulus (reaching your anaerobic threshold) to educate the body’s buffering mechanisms (production of alkaline; lactate is produced by when there is insufficient oxygen to breakdown the energy), resulting in muscle fail occurring later and later until you reach the ‘point’ where you can surpass your perceived limitation.

Most of my additional training was done early in the morning before work. I did two weights sessions, one high intensity interval training (HIIT) and one cardio session during the week, and then regular karate training at night. A niggling old injury meant I had to avoid running so I adapted my training to mainly include pool and bike sessions for HIIT and cardio. I would finish most sessions with bag work and speed ball. My goal was to make the action so familiar that even when I was exhausted and stressed, my body would function on auto pilot. HIIT included a minute sprint on the bike, then a 30 second recovery and do this for 15 minutes, hill sprints etc. In the pool it was swim a lap as fast as I could, swim a slow lap and repeat.

When I was making the decision to participate in the black gi grading, I knew it was going to be sometime in winter and that my additional training had to be done early in the morning before work otherwise I was never going to have the time. I had to make serious commitment to myself that to participate in the black gi grading at the level I wanted to be at, for the next 10 or so weeks regardless of work, training, climate, social activities etc, three mornings a week I had to get up at 5am and train.

I know it sounds cheesy but when the alarm goes off at 5am on a cold, dark winter morning and you know you have to jump in a pool (and you know how much I HATE the cold), I would lay in bed and say to myself things like “the only workout you regret is the one you don’t do” and “commitment – either you do or you don’t, there is no in between” and “the body achieves what the mind believes” and “of course its hard, its supposed to be hard. If it were easy everybody would do it”…. And so on. My ultimate inspiration to get me motivated on the most trying of days was, I would ask myself “Gane, how bad do you want it?”

The mental preparation was another challenge. I questioned myself relentlessly. Was I really capable of doing this? My biggest hurdle was believing in myself. It was not simply a matter of knowledge, ability and skill. It was about my psychological preparedness. Was I ready for the stress of the grading, recovering from mistakes and failure quickly, determining strategies to tackle the tough moments, ready to adjust dynamically to each new circumstance and maintain a positive and never give up mindset when faced with the seemingly impossible and your body is hurting beyond what you thought was capable?

One of the main reasons I wanted to attempt the black gi grading was I wanted to know what I had deep down inside. What ‘heart’ could I muster when faced with a truly hapless situation; when I was physically and mentally out of my depth in every single way? What terrified me the most, was what if I didn’t like what I found during this time??

What were you feeling the morning of the black gi grading?

The week leading up to the grading was the worst.  All the anticipation, fear, anxiety, self doubt – you name it – all came exploding out of me like Mt Vesuvius.  During this time, I can not thank Shihan Jamie Duggan, Sensei Kain Johnson and all the other black gi’s I train with.  Their support, patience and unwavering belief in myself was, for me, quite simply, overwhelming. For the first time in my martial arts life, I realised that I was surrounded with people who truly believed in me and wanted me to succeed.  I had to learn to trust and believe in myself and my training – this was my nemesis.

The night before the grading, I thought about everything that I had done up until this point.  Was there anything that I would change?  Was there anything I could have done differently?  Could I have trained harder?  My answer was no.  I was ready as I ever was going to be.

That morning, I woke up early and starting hydrating.  I followed the same hydration strategy as endurance athletes, 1L of water every hour before the event for every hour long the event is.  I had a black hole of anxiety and nerves in the pit of my stomach.

Even though it is an individual event, I was on the floor with two other extraordinary individuals who also had worked tirelessly, being through a similar emotional roller coaster ride and the three of us were going to get through no matter what.  The time for self doubt was over.

Was there any point throughout the grading that you did not think you could make it and what allowed you to find the strength to get through?

The most defining moment for me when I thought failure was a real possibility was when I did not break the tiles. I believed that I could do it but when it didn’t happen, I was devastated to say the least. I saw Mark and Chris smash their way through their tiles however when my tiles did not break, I felt like I had failed. I was so upset and angry at myself. Adding substantially to my disappointment was I had bruised my hand in the process. Self doubt came cascading down on me like the Niagara Falls in flood. How could I possibly get through this, particularly when the ‘worst’ is still to come and I can’t even break some stupid tiles?? My cheesy foolproof inspiration line came into my head “how bad do you want this Gane?” and as I muttered the statement I knew what I had to do. I eventually broke all the tiles but it was not how I had envisaged.

Of course there were moments in the kumite where I wanted to stop. However seeing and hearing everyone I had trained with, the people that made me believe in myself, feeling their energy and support, I owed it to them to continue and quitting was not an option.

How would you describe how you were feeling when the Black Gi Grading was finished?

I was overwhelmed. There is no other way or words I can find to describe how I felt when it ended. There was the disbelief that it had finally ended; I kept waiting for the next ‘test’. It was very emotional.

I felt like I had bared my soul on that morning for the entire world to see and I was feeling very vulnerable. I had given everything. There was nothing left to give but if I had to continue, somehow, I would have. I don’t remember much of the ending nor any of the speeches except trying to keep myself together. I remember feelings of disbelief as Hanshi Marty presented me with the black gi – this was really happening.

Once we changed into our new gi, we all bowed out as a group; a family of black gi’s and the three of us were now part of something special. After the final bow, my legs failed me and I couldn’t stand up. Somebody grabbed my gi and pulled me to my feet and I was engulfed by a swarm of congratulatory black gi’s. The symbolism of what that moment represents has stayed with me.

What advice would you give to someone that was going to attempt the Black Gi Grading in the future?

It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to participate in a black gi grading. It was undoubtedly the hardest challenge I have ever undertaken, physically and mentally. I trained harder and smarter than I have ever done before. I learnt more about myself in the weeks leading up to the grading, than I thought possible. The journey to the black gi grading and the grading itself is a deeply personal experience and I have no doubt that every person who has undertaken a black gi grading comes out the other side with a very different experience.

However, I would also say it’s not an event for everyone. You have to want it from the bottom of your soul. You will question everything you ever thought you knew about yourself. Demons in many shapes and forms will raise their ugly head throughout your journey, many of these demons you didn’t even know you had. Think long and deeply about why you want to do it, understand and commit to your personal reasons; remembering the ‘punching’ and ‘kicking’ component of the black gi grading, in some aspects, is the ‘easiest’ part of the grading.

You have to be open and willing to learn things about yourself and those around you that you might not want to know. It’s a humbling experience as you are constantly learning, evaluating and redefining yourself.

While my contemplations have mainly been focused on the mental challenges that arose for me (that was my nemesis), make no mistake, it was a physically torrid affair (to use the words from Shihan). Shihan and sensei both said to me in no uncertain terms and I quote “You will bleed. You will cry and you will hurt”. And yes, there were tears, there was blood and there was pain. Then I bled some more. And just when I thought I had couldn’t take any more; I bruised and spilt some more blood.

How would you describe the way the Black Gi Grading has changed you?

Several weeks have passed, the bruises have healed but I’m still struggling to comprehend what I have accomplished. The black gi grading has changed me in a magnitude of ways, many of these are very difficult to put into words and I’m sure those who are closest to me are starting to notice subtle changes in the way I do things. I was forced to face my nemesis and I’m slowing winning that war.

Immediately after the grading, I sat and tried to process what had just happened (and because my legs were hurting too much to function) as I felt deeply disappointed in myself. I felt that I should have been better as I had made ‘rookie’ errors all morning. Over the days and weeks after the grading, I discussed this numerous times with Shihan Jamie and he made me realise it wasn’t about performance but something else entirely.

This required some processing from me but eventually I had an epiphany. So what is it you ask? Unfortunately, it is here that words fail me as I can’t quite articulate it yet. I’m still working through this ‘something’ but it is a real and tangible outcome that has made me re-evaluate and change my approach to my karate, opening a new realm of learning which I firmly believe will take my karate to a place that I didn’t think was possible. The one thing I am conscious of, is my black gi journey has only just begun.

I still don’t feel comfortable wearing a black gi as to me it’s not just a colour. The people in the Brisbane Goju Karate dojo who wear a black gi train with an unwavering commitment and dedication to improvement in all forms, mind and body. They approach each challenge with a positive mindset and energy, forging a confident and unwavering spirit. They demonstrate the very best virtues in a martial artist whilst always maintaining the utmost of courtesy, respect, etiquette and humility for others. I now have the honour to stand amongst these individuals, along with two other inspirational people that also shared the floor with me that day, Mark and Chris Cappellone.

These are very big shoes to fill or perhaps I should say, very black gi’s to fill.

My final words

(I’m a scientist, had to get the last word in)

The journey of every martial artist is shaped by events that happen inside but more significantly outside the dojo. It is here in the real world that our training comes to fruition. The lessons learnt through countless training sessions and the resulting blood, sweat and tears all resonate within us to give us the courage, strength and the will to overcome whatever obstacles life throws at us.

Thank you Shihan Jamie Duggan, Sensei Kain Johnson and the black gi Sempai’s Andrew, Jay, Guy, Dariusz and Steve.

Purpose of the Black Gi Grading

Here at Brisbane Goju Karate the karateka is given a choice at 3rd kyu (brown belt in our system) whether to attempt a black gi grading. A black gi grading, as the name suggests, allows the karateka to wear a black coloured gi (karate outfit) during training in classes. We would normally wear a completely white canvas gi.

The Purpose of the Black Gi Grading

As I have mentioned in the post on the purpose of karate a karateka begins training in the karate system with a particular purpose or intent in mind. What the black gi grading begins to undertake is a process of committing the karateka to a purpose that is outside of their original intent in training. It is a challenge that they are unaware of until requested to attempt. During training they are obviously exposed to the thought of a black gi grading as they would have seen higher ranked karateka wearing black gis that had successfully passed the grading. Regardless of possibly hearing about the grading, there is an enormous element of entering into the unknown, which we know requires tremendous courage. Overall the purpose of the Black Gi Grading is to challenge the karateka in a way that they have never chosen to be challenged in the past. The purpose of this is to train the mind and provide a platform for the development of skills that are required in times of panic, extreme stress and guaranteed failure. My simple way to explain this is that you are forced into a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ environment and to pass you must attempt to fight through the flight response.

If you have any specific questions about the Black Gi Grading please ask them in the comments section below and we will answer them more specifically.

Chris Cappellone Kohai

After last months Black Gi Grading I asked the students that attempted the Black Gi Grading to write down their thoughts and provided some questions to stimulate their minds after the aftermath of the torrid event.

This is what Kohai Chris had to say.

The Black Gi Grading – Chris Cappellone

What sort of special training did you undertake to prepare for the Black Gi Grading?

Training for the Black Gi Grading was something we were informed by Shihan Jamie would help us, but by no means get us through. It is a grading that we were told ‘you cannot prepare for’. When you haven’t seen one of these grading in the flesh (like myself, Mark and Michelle Sempai hadn’t), it is very easy to get caught up in the magnitude because it is that fear of the unknown. Although obviously physical training and fitness is absolutely critical, there is a large side, more like a majority of the preparation, which is more so mental.

Physical training entailed sprinting, loads of pad work, Bunkai and Kihon. Training really needed to have high work rates, with the aim of reducing the rest and recovery periods in between. So pad sessions and sparring helped in this regard as well as conditioning training. When completing any of these, we would have a set work rate time, and a set rest time. Then every week, increase the work period whilst also decreasing the rest period. The biggest improvement in fitness was especially noticed after a few weeks of short sprint training.

Mentally however, the lead up was tougher than any of the sessions we completed. It is the fear, the doubt, the thought of failure and the unknown which really makes you question your abilities and very thing you have ever done, in karate and life in general. It is extremely difficult to convince yourself that all will be okay, when you know (or dont know) what you are up against. Conversations with Shihan and Sensei inspired and aided me to push, on as well as the support of my brother, Michelle Sempai and family.

Music played a massive role in my preparation, just finding that song which had more than bass and heavy metal, but with lyrics that inspire. Having said that though, there is only so much in music that can help you. So there were a few nights of google searching inspirational quotes and videos. I had a print of these quotes and would read them before bed most nights.

These were my two favourites:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do” – Eleanor
Roosevelt

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear” – Rosa Parks

The first of these quotes I could really relate to. The Black Gi Grading was always something I felt I couldn’t do, so when I found this quote it made me realise that the fear and doubt associated with the grading was reason to actually do it. It sounds like it was cut and dry, but there is so much more to it that is difficult to express. There are I guess, massive lapses of confidence and questioning of one’s self throughout the lead up to the grading, moments where you feel like “yep I can do this” and then later that same day, or even hour “what am I doing, I cant do what they have done”. It is a huge mental battle, but one which puts so much of life into perspective.

black-gi-hr-0510

Images provided by Cookoo Design & Photography

 

What were you feeling the morning of the Black Gi Grading?

 

The morning of the Black Gi Grading was horrible. This massive day had finally arrived and the old ‘butterflies in the stomach’ could only be described as more of swarm of wasps. It all seems like a blur. It was kind of a relief for the Saturday morning to finally be there. I just threw on a few psych up beats and read a few quotes and really just tried to tell myself that this was it. It wasn’t a good feeling at all, but really, it’s all worth it when you’re done and dusted.

Was there any point throughout the grading that you did not think you could make it and what allowed you to find the strength to get through?

black-gi-hr-0490There were so many points during the grading that I questioned whether I was going to be able to finish. The tile break was probably the point when I was most doubtful. I knew I had to break the tiles, but the thought of failing this, which would be the end of my grading, was something that was tough to get my head around. I had never done anything of the sought, didn’t know how to go about it, and knew I had to find something. I remember standing there looking down at the tiles closing my eyes and running through some quotes in my head. Its corny, but I actually recited a quote from the movie the matrix. It was something I felt really applied to myself as a person and I stood there closed my eyes and the little voice in my head went “you have to let it all go, fear, doubt and disbelief, free your mind”. I opened my eyes pretty much as my hand was almost at the tiles I think, I’m not exactly certain, and they smashed. I couldn’t believe it. I actually had a little smile to myself and thought, I can do this, I can finish this grading. It was at this point where I really felt that I could make it happen.

How would you describe how you were feeling when the Black Gi Grading was finished?

At the end of the grading I was emotional to say the least. I remember standing, listening to Hanshi Marty’s speech, with tears making there way to the surface. I never thought I would actually be there. And when Shihan Jamie presented me with the Black Gi top, it was a feeling of disbelief, but actually a good disbelief! I had actually achieved this ‘thing’ that I had on so many occasions thought I couldn’t. It is really hard to describe. You can succeed in so many things in life, but as I have come to realise after doing this grading, nothing will ever compare or relate it. The Black Gi Grading will be a day which will never be forgotten.

What advice would you give to someone that was going to attempt the Black Gi Grading in the future?

I guess the first thing would be to say that you just have to do it! I had never thought 3 years ago when I started karate, that I’d get to yellow belt, let alone be wearing a black gi. I think my piece of advice would be just to try and tell yourself that it has to be done. It is very easy to start to question why? Why am I doing this, why am I freaking out, and all of the what ifs? Im not saying I didn’t, because all of those thoughts went through my head every day. It’s just a very personal quest I suppose. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the support and belief of Shihan, Sensei and all of the Sempai.

So another piece of advice is to realise that although you will be up against this massive force of black, they want you to succeed just as much as yourself or anyone else. I think that constant discussions about the grading helped in realising the road ahead. I know I had countless chats with my brother over a coffee about the black gi, and all of the associated thoughts and fears that came with it in the lead up. If I didn’t have him to chat to I guess things would be a lot different. So I suppose, when you look at it, you are constantly learning by seeking advice from others. Just like anything realIy, its a matter of constant reflection and analysis of the situation, because, sometimes it might be something trivial that someone says, but becomes a cornerstone in the way you operate. It is hands down the mental battle which is most difficult to grasp in preparation for the grading, so I guess you could say you need to mentally train just as much as you physically train. I found that through discussion, I was able to realise a lot about myself, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, because it aids you to understand yourself as a person and where you want to be or what you want to change.

How would you describe the way the Black Gi Grading has changed you?

It is still sinking in really. I cant believe that the first Monday training after the grading I could actually wear a black gi and although it was amazing, it seemed very strange. The grading has undoubtedly changed me. I’m sure there will be further realisations as time goes on, but I suppose the biggest discovery is one of overcoming the force of anxiety, fear and stress at the thought of such a task. When I look back, I actually can’t believe that it is all over. I remember the constant feelings and the gut-wrenching notions of facing a dojo full of unbelievable martial artists. And so the realisation is that those feelings were probably the worst I have ever felt to date in my life, so what then is really ever going to be a problem. My outlook on work, uni and life in general has changed or matured dramatically. It is difficult to fully describe the way the grading has changed me, because it isn’t a tangible thing, and with time, I will undoubtedly reflect and realise even more changes. Karate has really changed me into someone I never thought I could have been. I had really started over the last year or so to notice significant changes in my personality after I saw some old photos, and the black gi cemented these transformations I guess. Aspects of fear, doubt, failure and disbelief were all things I struggled to come to grips with. But now after finishing the black gi grading, you begin to realise that nothing really matters and all of those feelings can’t stop you from doing something, its just a matter of acceptance and doing that ‘thing’ despite those apprehensions and feelings. And no matter what – you survive. It sounds arrogant and cocky in some respects, but you start to believe in yourself, which is something I never really did.

black-gi_0846-54

What Is the Paleo Diet?

I have written the following posts for those soon-to-be Paleo folk that have only just now stumbled out of their cave and have started hearing about this Paleo Diet. You may be a little overweight from your time in hibernation, completely broken from years harnessing your addiction to food or maybe you are an already fit person but looking to tweak your diet and become the fastest and strongest that you have ever been.

What is the Paleo Diet Anyway?

In short, the Paleo Diet is not a diet, but a lifestyle that aims to emulate the best things that made our hunter gatherer ancestors strong, lean and healthy. This generally starts as a diet but quickly encompasses other lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep and  how we use technology.

From a diet perspective this means eating the foods that were available to our caveman ancestors around 10,000 years ago. These included meat, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit. What the Paleo Diet aims to limit is wheat, grains, legumes (beans, peas etc), dairy and processed foods. The Paleo Diet can be pigeon-holed as a high fat, medium protein and low carbohydrate diet but this all depends on your goals as an individual and your level of activity

Why Should I Follow the Paleo Diet?

There is a saying that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution – Christian Theodosius Dobzhansky”. In your own experience you should be able to reflect back throughout your life or even reflect on the life of your parents or grandparents and easily see how the food we eat, the way we sleep and the way we exercise has changed dramatically. Whether this looks like increased sugar consumption, greater reliance on wheat and grains, sleeping shorter hours, watching tv or reading on the iPad before bed, looking at our computer screens all day. Whatever it is, it has changed from the natural way that humans have evolved over 2 million years and it is impacting our health and lifestyle. This impact can be as increased weight gain, increased stress or greater susectibility to diseases such as Diabetes, Alzeimers, Parkinsons and Auto Immume diseases.

Where Can I go to Learn More?

The Paleo Diet was started by Dr Loren Cordain and has been refined by Robb Wolf. Another diet following this template includes the Primal BluePrint by Mark Sisson.

 

The Stampede Brisbane Team Nemesis

The mini bus has been booked, we have an esky full of refreshments (beer) and a team of Brisbane Goju Karate’s mightiest warriors. What better way to go into the final week of the Stampede Brisbane than with a Team Nemesis count off.

Leading the pack will be Sensei Kain “CrossFit” Johnson who is the mastermind behind convincing the poeple of Brisbane to enter into competition against Nemesis. Shihan Jamie will also be along to ensure those non-competitors hanging out in the bar get a taste of the Nemesis treatment.

Team Nemesis

  • Ben Beattie
  • Guy “Astro Boy” Killeen
  • John “Jimbo” Johnson
  • Michelle Gane
  • Dariusz “The Most Beautiful Building in Hervey Bay” Bratko
  • Cameron “Jimmy McTavish” Ward
  • Andrew Kerridge Skinner
  • Larry “Cyclone Larry/The Driver” Gillespie
  • and your webmaster Jay “Shazam!” Killeen

Team Nemesis Karate T-Shirt

Transport

Pick up point will be at the Norman Park Karate Dojo at Active Life Fitness as 7:10am or directly at John Johnson’s at 7:00am. The minibus will then head off to the dreaded Brisbane Northside to pick up Michelle Sempai with the Team Nemesis t-shirts @7:30am before hitting the long round out to Woodford. This will give enough time in case we hit traffic or Michelle Sempai has slept in.

Refreshments

Ben Sempai has offered his eksy for the big trip. We suggest everyone brings a bottle of water which we can then keep on ice.

Personal

Make sure everyone brings the following. Entry back on the bus depends on this.

  • Full change of clothes. Including underwear (no commandos on the Stampede)
  • Heavy duty garbage bag for spoiled garments
  • Towel
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Money
  • Identification
  • Your A Game! Whimps will be left on the side of the road in Woodford suburbia

Below is a sneak peek of the sort of action to expect on the day. Surely this will be an event like no other (especially that bit where you run through a gauntlet of gladiatos…poor volunteers).