Double Whammy Belt Test

For fitness (and fun), my family takes karate. I rejoined last year after a hiatus and immediately trained for the next belt, a most elusive color for me in martial arts: the Blue belt. One year later, to my surprise, the next belt test is a double-whammy!

As you might imagine, higher belt ranks require greater skills and knowledge. The first several belt levels in our Kyokushin Karate class have only one kata to learn for each (among other things). But starting with the purple belt, there are two katas needed to advance (that’s twice as many!).

So for the past year as a blue belt, I’ve been learning all the requirements for purple belt. With two katas (or “forms”, where you demonstrate many moves and combos in certain patterns) and several other techniques, I’ve had plenty to work on.

My training was a bit sporadic though. I often was grouped with the purple belts who are going for green. So sometimes I got practice towards the green belt requirements. It was a lot all together, and things easily got mixed up in my mind sometimes with similar movements in the katas.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been more focused as a class in preparation for the upcoming belt test. Our sensei observed what we knew and how well we knew it. Then last week, he told us what to work on for the belt test.

When he approached me with the paper(s) listing the required skills, he surprised me. I will be tested for both purple and green belt!!

Say what!?

 

At first, I thought I would be in for embarrassment, not confident that I was ready for the green belt katas. But as I looked over all the requirements spelled out on the papers for both purple and green, I realized that I already know most of it all. I just need to clarify and sharpen the green belt katas!

So I got to work. And now I’m feeling confident! I plan to go big and jump up two ranks, skipping purple to green!! I’ve got four katas (and more) to prove! Dude. If you’re curious enough, here are just two katas I must know for the test:

Gekisai Dai (for purple)

Gekisai Sho (for green)

And if you wanna dive deep, here ya go: Black Belt Wiki

For reference, here’s our school’s belt rank system:

  • White belt
  • White/Yellow belt
  • Yellow belt
  • Orange belt
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Green belt
  • Green belt with one stripe
  • Brown belt
  • Brown belt with one stripe
  • Brown belt with two stripes
  • Black belt…

Besides the techniques I’m practicing, I’m also pushing my body with more exercise. You see, the belt test is a two day affair. Well, two classes. The first day is the physical test. This is when we get beat down, pushed to our limits and beyond. It’s as much mental as it is physical. We work-out with repetitive and tiring basic karate moves in different stances. And mixed in are a ton of calisthenic routines. Basically, we do more than enough moves to make your muscles scream at you for rest.

For this belt test, we were told there would be a new particular work-out: 1,000 punches. I called it a kilopunch!

Lord willing, no one in my family will get the flu or whatever bug is going around now. Because we need to be in tip-top shape for the testing this week.

I’m excited to be jumping to the green belt because, as it turns out, there will be a nice big group of adults all at the green belt level. So training the rest of the year will be better!

After the belt test, my family will go to Sonic to replenish all our spent calories! Also, as a class, there will later be a belt ceremony to celebrate our achievements. We get to do special training too. Last year we did a big board-breaking class. This year we plan to do weapons training!

Well, I gotta end this post and go outside to practice some more karate! Osu!


Do you work-out, exercise…what’s your favorite and what’s most challenging? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Time For These Three Things

Hey blogmates, what’s up? It’s been a busy January for me. Indeed, time is flying by fast! Only 334 days ‘till Christmas! But there’s a few things I’ve got going on before that happens.

Work

One is my day-job. Yep, I’ve gotta make a livin’, ya know. We’ve been workin’ extra hours on a project, nose-to-the-grindstone all day. And we have more projects in the works. I think the whole year is packed! Don’t get me wrong, this is a great “problem” to have – we are blessed! But long hours for months on end can get stressful with deadlines, pressure, stress… Work starts to feel like it’s your whole life. But life outside of work is not slowing down either. Maybe you’ve been in this place too.

Since I’ve been working hard, I also like to play hard. I’ve been doing this in two ways a lot lately: practicing karate and playing Nintendo! Call these hobbies or passions, I don’t know. How about, “Fitness and Fun!”

Karate

Right about last Thanksgiving, when my day job ramped up in work hours, my family learned that the next karate belt test would be at the end of January. Time to get ready! So right after the holidays (and all the food!), I started prepping for the belt test. So lots of cardio and calisthenic exercise! Burn them calories! Of course, I’m also practicing my karate chopping skills: katas, blocks, punches, kicks, throws, etc. Outside of karate class, one thing that makes me very glad is the big red heavy bag we bought. It’s a nice workout to go beat it up! My knuckles don’t bleed anymore.

Gaming

Besides being very focused on karate (and trying to avoid the flu that’s going around), I’ve been loving the escapism of video gaming on my new Nintendo Switch! It’s one part nostalgia, one part pure fun. I guess you could say I was somewhat of a gamer in my youth (Atari, NES, Super NES, N64), but once adulting was the game, I had to put down the controller. Yet now that I have youths of my own who have moved beyond the toddler years, I’m sort of re-living my childhood with them.

Anyways, the machines we run are: Wii, Wii U, Switch, and 2DS. I finished (finally) Twilight Princess HD. Then I finished Pokemon Sword (the story part); I have Zacian! Now that I’m not bouncing between those two games, I’m flip-floppin’ with Octopath Traveler and Yonder. Both these games are fantastic and warrant their own blog posts…if I have time to take. Suffice to say, with the Switch, this is like another Golden Age of gaming, at least for me!

Blogging

So those three things have been my focus and time-eaters: work, karate, and Nintendo. My family is blessed; I’m very grateful.

All that said, I feel kinda bad that I’ve neglected my blog the last few months, starting in November when I diverted all my writing-time to authoring a Novella (which I didn’t finish). But this blog seems like a part of me; I certainly am not giving it up. I would like to put a little more time towards fresh new blog posts about my fave topics like technology. Oh, but there are a lot of books I need and want to read too!! This year is a busy one, for sure.


What’cha been up to? Got any time management tips for me? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for following along!

How Dedicated Things Are Better

Refocus

Hey there, blogosphere! Hope your 2020 is going well. My blog pace has slowed down in the last few months, but I’m still cruisin’ along here. This post is on the tech verve. Last week, my brain started to re-notice how single-purpose devices or services are often better than their multi-function counterparts. So here’s a re-visit of this tech topic.


Hardware

One of the things that stands out clearly for single-purpose devices is their clear direction. It’s the fact that when you look at some ‘thing’, you know it does this one thing. Like old-school point-n-shoot cameras, when you see one, you know exactly what it does and what it’s for. It exists for one purpose: taking pictures (oh okay, videos too I guess, so “images” that are either still or moving). So simplicity and clarity are nice benefits of solo-function-focus.

There’s another great advantage to a mono-tasked gadget: capability. Sticking with the camera example, not only do you know exactly what it does, you know it excels at what it does. Every part of the camera is designed with the explicit purpose of taking great photos. They typically have more functions and buttons to control the photo-graphing experience and produce the one thing it lives for: pictures.

It’s pretty obvious that certain gadgets do one thing and do it well. While a smartphone or a tablet can do a lot of things, sometimes single-purpose gizmos are best. Besides a camera, I tend to note the eReader (e.g. a kindle) is best for simply reading lots of books. And hand-held gaming devices, like Nintendo’s 3DS line or the Switch, excel at gaming (dedicated buttons!) more than a phone or tablet. These are examples of hardware tailor-built to one certain task. But the single-purpose paradigm also benefits software.

Software

Let’s start with the example of Microsoft Word. It’s a word processor made to do one thing: process words. Right? True, yet many people also know that Word was once a really simple program. But over the years, Word’s feature-set grew; its capabilities stretched beyond processing just words to processing whole documents of many sorts. Its simplicity in doing one thing was obscured by complexity, going beyond just typing and editing text.

Another good example of single-purpose software is a Journaling app. For many years, I used general note-taking apps for journaling in addition to storing all my notes across different subjects. Most general purpose note apps let you organize or distinguish your groups of notes, either in folders or with tags, for example. So I just set my journal entries apart as dictated by the notes-app. This worked well enough for bare bones journaling.

Then I found a dedicated journaling app that I actually like to use. Other note apps can store my daily musings, but a single-purpose journal app can do more and better, all while keeping things simple. The journal app I settled on is called, “Journey.” It has many features for journaling that a general multi-purpose note-app lacks, such as a calendar that shows your daily entries and a graph that shows your recorded moods over time. (For my more in-depth review of Journey, click this link.)

Companies

Since we’re talking about note apps, I should go ahead and note another category of single-purpose entities. Just as hardware and software can be singular-focused, so can software companies; they can be dedicated to doing one thing well. So both Apple and Google make many different software apps. In addition, Apple makes hardware, and now they also make services and entertainment content! Of the software, Apple makes a notes-app, and they also make Apple Music. While both are great, I’ve discovered that there’s an advantage to single-purpose companies for software and services.

Committed to notes, the company I like is Evernote. They exist to do one thing and do it remarkably well: create and maintain an app and cloud service for note taking. That’s it! They’re all about notes. The company’s purpose is laser-focused into a robust and reliable note-taking platform. All their energy and dedication go to providing people a way to record, store, and manage notes. Their reputation is banked on notes, nothing else. That’s their single-purpose.

And because they exist outside and independent of Apple or Google and those respective platforms, Evernote’s third-party status means they’re available everywhere. If you use them to take all your notes on an iPhone but then switch to an Android phone, you won’t lose your notes. Heck, you won’t need to migrate or transfer them either. Just sign-in on your new device and you’re good to go!

My last example is music. All the songs! I tried Apple’s and Google’s music streaming offerings…in the end, I settled with Spotify, a company with one function, a single-purpose: provide an awesome music service everywhere you are, be it on iPhone or Android or Windows or Chrome. All of Spotify’s resources are committed to excelling at this one thing: music streaming. Their mission is straightforward, and their vision is not clouded by side-projects. They just do music, and they stake their entire reputation on just that. So they strive to be the best at the one thing they do. As a Spotify subscriber, that gives me confidence in using their app and service across my Apple and Google devices.


The Point

So this post has kinda stacked the deck towards single-purpose things. But I do agree to the counter-notion that multi-use devices have their place too. As with most things, each person should weigh the pros and cons of whatever it is you are using or might consider using. Basically, smartphones are a “jack-of-all-trades” and master most of those multi-purpose skills. But as good as my iPhone is, sometimes a “real” camera is better. And I generally prefer my kindle for eReading.

You get the idea. So maybe think a little about what kind of device(s) you prefer. And go with what works best for ya.


Do you find single-purpose devices better? What do you prefer? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

A Post Holiday Post

Alright, here we go; first post of the year! Let the annual blog stats begin!

After one week in, how is your 2020 shaping up so far? Mine is challenging. Since I enjoyed vacation and holiday time off work, going back to the daily grind has not been nearly as fun. Maybe I should have resolved to have more fun in 2020.

Sleeping in every morning, hanging out with family, eating lots of good food, playing games, and having a loose schedule: these were all great things I enjoyed for two solid weeks away from the job. Now I’m trying to readjust to the normal routine: rise early and sleepily, sit in a cubicle all day, watch what I eat, work more than play, and juggle a tight schedule. Yet it has been good to revert back to a normal routine just because it’s what I’m accustomed to.

Like many people, my eyes have turned towards my fitness – or lack thereof. With the holidays came a lot of eat, drink, and be merry…Christmas! Indulge and imbibe. It wasn’t too bad, really. But I know I need to get into better shape.

Speaking of fitness, I resumed my karate class this month, and we’re gearing up for the next Belt Test at the end of January! So now it’s time to double-down on cardio exercise, conditioning, and calisthenics! I’ve already started and can feel my sluggish body resisting. I’ve got work to do, and I know I’ll be able to shed a pound or two and push myself to get more fit.

In addition to all of that, I’m also playing through a couple of Nintendo games on the side for fun! I’m near the end of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U. I’m also close to finishing the whole story of Pokemon Sword on the Switch. And I guess I should mention that I started playing through Final Fantasy VII on the Switch too!

There are so many good games to play…2020 is gonna be full of Nintendo gaming I think. And Pokemon. So when will I have time to read 12 books this year? That’s the goal I set for the goodreads annual reading challenge. One book per month is reasonable. But with all that’s going on, it will be a real challenge. Oh, also, I think my wife and I will binge watch a couple of shows this year, so there’s that.

There’s a lot of play and a lot of work that will fill up the year. It looks like 2020 is going to be a busy one.


Do you have any predictions or plans for 2020? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!