Archive for January, 2010

Got a grip?

January 25th, 2010 1 comment

I like it when East meets West. Or when squash meets Tai Chi.

Here’s a description of the squash grip, from Smart Squash, by Austin M. Francis: “My first squash coach used to quote one of the great French masters of the foil (as in fencing) who said he held his instrument like “un petit oiseau” — firmly enough so it couldn’t fly away but gently so he wouldn’t crush it The lesson my coach conveyed was how important it is to begin the point with a firm but relaxed connection between you and your racquet “.

And for the East, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, in his book Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style writes: If the grip is too tight, you will lose flexibility and inhibit energy flow. If the grip is too loose, you will not be able to wield the sword swiftly … The sword should be held like an egg, neither broken nor dropped. The grip should be alive.”


Categories: East meets West, squash, Tai Chi Tags:

Secrets of Youth #6: eat healthy stuff

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

… but you knew that. Here’s an article on about healthy eating. The content is not a surprise, but one thing stands out: it’s easier to stick to changes in diet if they are small. Refine and repeat. Incremental gains.

I’ve lost 17 pounds in the past year or so, which I attribute to small changes in eating habits combined with working out three or more times each week. I lose or gain a couple of pounds every now and then, but the net loss has been 17 pounds. I’ll go into it in more detail later, but check out the article now.

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Secrets of Youth #15: no hands!

January 14th, 2010 2 comments

If you can get up out of a chair without using your arms to push yourself up, great! Never stop.

If you can’t, and you’re able-bodied, start now. Push yourself to the front of the chair and get up.  Use less arms, more legs, day by day. Maybe lean forward a bit, but with a straight back. If you really have problems, talk to your doctor or health care practitioner who might be able to help. If you’re swallowed up in a big couch, try pushing yourself to the front as I mentioned.

Ideally, you’d like to use your whole body (not just your thighs) and imagining that you’re  rising up from the crown of your head can help create that whole-body feeling. There are other tricks for that, I suppose — use what works for you.

At any rate, you want to be able to walk unassisted as long as you can, and doing this will help.

Categories: fitness, secrets of youth Tags:

The best technique is no technique.

January 12th, 2010 2 comments

Another squash lesson, another blog post. This time Barb was trying to teach me how to swing the racquet properly so I wouldn’t hit anybody. Haven’t done that yet, so this is a preemptive stroke, as it were.

Once Barb got my swing in the ballpark (or in the court), she basically asked me to relax, use a delicate touch, do less, and just chill. I thought I was relaxed. Go figure. But she was right of course, and the swing improved to the point where I got some nice, relaxed swings out of the lesson. It seems that I get stressed out over doing things right, and that makes me tighten up. So some technique needs to be applied to correct that and bring me back to a natural state. Once in the natural state, everything flows, and no technique is required. Now I don’t have to put my racquet back to a specific position, I should just get it back to a position where it would do some good. And that’s different for each shot, high, low, volley, whatever.

Once reaching that state, the reaction seems to be “oh, is that all? That’s not so hard.” But I need to apply technique to bring me to the state of no technique.

I think this is very “Yiquan”. And very “Alexander” … right, Caprice?

(update: The characters represent “wu wei”, or “non-doing”: an important concept of Taoism.)

Secrets of Youth #19: Gratitude

January 9th, 2010 1 comment

It was soooo cold this morning. And I was soooo grateful. For heated car seats. Just a little thing, really. But there’s nothing like being toasty warm in minus 20c weather. It feels good.

… and so does being grateful for those heated seats. Being grateful for what I’ve got just makes life a little better, whether it’s for heated seats or not having to dodge bullets on my way to work.

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Makes you think.

January 4th, 2010 No comments

An old school chum of mine just suffered a heart attack. He’s just out of intensive care.

Hope he’s going to be okay.


(update: he’s fine, and going home today. Phew. Apparently blood testing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It doesn’t tell you if the pipes are clogged, just that the water’s fine. So we need to be vigilant, even in the face of good blood work. Wow.)

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