Monday, July 02, 2012

Crossfit and Kali

So it's on.  This morning I completed my first group class at Chikara Crossfit near the office.
I started this because the gym is boring (right?) and I am very interested in actually learning something while training.  The Crossfit coaches really understand both physical and nutritional science, and that hooked me.
There are many similarities between my first class of Crossfit and my first class of Kali Majapahit.

The "WOW" Factor
When I first stepped into the KM dojo on Yan Kit Road and met Guro Fred, it was a magic moment for me.
Somehow I just KNEW my life would never be the same.  His passion for what he teaches is infectious.  At the same time, he moves like a predatory jungle cat - with power, grace, strength, confidence.  He moves the way I want to move.  I looked at the other Kasama assisting him (now all Kadua Guro in their own right):  Guillaume, Vincent, Ben.  They all had similar characteristics, so I knew Guro Fred could really get students to understand what he wanted them to learn.  I was blown away.  I still am.

In Crossfit, I met Michael Schaal.  He looks like a professional athlete (and has been a competitive wrestler and lacrosse player).  he looks like he is chiseled out of iron - or maybe liquid metal like the T1000 in Terminator 2.  He is passionate about the science behind what he does, and it is equally infectious.  I have seen his personal workouts on his blog and they are insane.  He is truly an athlete.  I also see the people who have been training there for a year or more and they look like Greek statues.  It feels the same way it did when I joined KM.  I feel close to some powerful energy, an energy I know will change my life.

The First Class
In my first KM class, all those years ago, I spent time working on the stance, the grip, the basic 6 angles blocking and striking in De Cuerdas.  Guro Vince helped me a lot.  He was fluid and powerful, and it felt like he could hit me at will and block anything I tried to do without any effort at all.  I remember wishing I could move the way he did.  I still do.  We finished the lesson with coconut crushers, which remain a favorite even today.  My legs were shaking and had to go throw up right after the lesson.  I couldn't even walk down the stairs to the street and had to take a cab back home.  My legs were sore and stiff for over a week.  I kept thinking what it would be like when my body adjusted to it.  Fast forward another 6 months and I was able to complete the classes and workouts and then walk home afterward.  In a year I could do classes back-to-back.  Now when I go down to Singapore or attend the awesome annual Bali Camp, I am on the mats 30 hours or more per week, and I still hold up pretty well for a guy in his mid-40s.

My first Crossfit workout was a benchmark of 500m row, 40 squats, 30 situps, 20 pushups, 10 pullups.  It took me over 10 minutes to complete the workout and afterward I was completely exhausted.  I threw up (sound familiar?) and had shakes and cold sweat.  I was dizzy and thought I would pass out.  It took more than an hour to recover enough to get home, and I was sore for more than a week.  Since then I have completed the on ramp to prepare for group classes and learned the basics of the major movements we do in Crossfit.  For today's workout, 2 minutes max reps of d/u jump rope, pullups, pushups, situps, squats I surely didn't make the leaderboard, but I survived and walked away.  To me, that means I am already on the way there.  I look forward to how hard I will be able to work a year from now.

It's About LIVING
Both KM and Crossfit share the philosophy that we must work constantly to increase our stamina, coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility, accuracy, timing, strength in order to have maximum functionality of our bodies over the course of our lives.  KM movements are straightfoward and efficient, and draw from a wide variety of martial arts across Southeast Asia.  Crossfit movements are practical and replicate the functional movements we use in everyday life such as standing up from a chair, moving weight
from the floor, lifting overhead, and so on.  A lot of Crossfit movements are bodyweight exercises.  A lot of KM involves moving the opponent's bodyweight as well.  Both are designed to give longevity to our structures, muscles, joints, tendons/ligaments, and cardiovascular systems.

KM is a very encouraging and empowering martial art.  It helps build self-confidence and encourages students to take control and change their lives.  Crossfit is also focused on the positive, and very supportive of new athletes as they make their way into the training.  There is a lot of help from the coaches to get the movements correct and begin to ease into the routines.

Variety is the Spice of Life
KM revolves around a rotating 10-week cycle of material for the students to master.  Within each 10 weeks, a huge number of drills, games, and exercises are used to understand and challenge each cycle.  Since KM has so many sub-systems, there is an endless amount of technique, concept, and application to explore.

In Crossfit, there are a nearly endless number of WODs (workout of the day).  Many are posted online and blogged about and athletes share their times/scores globally.  You could attend Crossfit every day for the rest of your life and never be bored or feel it is just a routine.

The Community
KM Brothers and Sisters are truly like family to me.  In the many years we have been together, we have shared so much on the mats and off.  We have supported each other along our Warrior Journeys and given each other courage.  I always look forward to seeing them.

In Crossfit, times/scores are recorded and posted on the white board.  During the workout we are totally focused on ourselves, but afterward, you look in the sweat-soaked eyes of the athlete next to you, and you feel a kinship.  We all have movements to improve and more reps we can do.  It's encouraging to be in this together.

I made a promise to KM (permanently tattooed on me).  I made the same promise to Crossfit (not tattooed yet).  Both are vehicles for helping me change and become who I want to be.  They share a lot in common.  Now they share ME in common.

Train Hard,  John 

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