Chapter 2 – Eat right, be tight

by Bryan Balandowich

It seemed fitting that with the first chapter being about starting the New Year right, and hint: this writing is full of many metaphors, a New year is not just Dec.31st, but can be any day, only you can tell yourself what day it is so to speak. Time in the grand universe is relative.

Body Back Guarantees

One of the biggest topics during this time of year is getting in or back into shape. Gym memberships sell hard and customers go for broke to get that beach body. Problem is that unless you’re living in the tropics, summer isn’t coming around the corner for a few months and therein lays our first predicament. Just as smokers keep on smoking even though the stats couldn’t be more clear, put a chimney in your body and you become the chimney and drinkers keep on drinking, drink too much vodka and you’ll become the vodka. Not that it’s a fact that all smokers get lung cancer and all drinkers experience liver failure, game set match, but if you don’t play with fire you won’t get burned in the first place, right?

Shaken Not Stirred

conneryThe reason? Psychologist’s attribute it to time. Like Pavlov’s experiments, the dog is only trained if the conditioned stimuli and response sets are timed in close proximity to one another. Smoking a cigarette and sipping a martini feels good today, but could have dire consequences down the line. So yes, doctors cannot say smoking or drinking definitely gave you your unfortunate situation, but by logical conclusions, it must have been a contributing factor.

Location Location Location

In real estate, it’s location, location, location, in movies its about the actors and actresses and distribution, when it comes to getting that six pack, it’s all about the diet. In fact, no matter how many sit ups you do, if you don’t count your calorie input and output ratio, then tough luck, it isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you try. A

general consensus is 10-12% body fat ratio to see your abs. Once you’re at that body fat ratio they pop naturally, the more crunches you do the more defined and sculpted they get. It’s also up to genetics; everyone’s different, so again, one person who has an eight pack does not mean that he is stronger than the one pack.

Mr Olympia

Tip, never underestimate the one pack. Like an idiot savant, weakness in one area usually implies strength in another, usually, not always, my digression is more towards yin-yang and the idea of opposites and more specifically a balance of energy. So let’s use your energy right.

“Frank Zane, three time Mr. Olympia did 1,000 abdominal reps pre competition, so once you get your body weight down, you chisel your body, with the chisel being hard work, sets and reps.”


Tight shorts and a fitbit

Most people when they first start to want to get in shape, run over to the local fitness store and load up on the latest fashions, trends, supplements and so on. However, when you see the big guy at your local gym, he’s usually wearing clothes that look like they desperately need a wash, however not always the case, but to make my point, they don’t care about the clothes, in fact these guys are usually more than happy to take their shirts off. They have painfully learned the truth, which is that it’s all about sets and reps and hitting the gym week in and week out. It’s about going when you don’t feel like going, getting in that extra training session, that’s what it’s all about. That’s when you see results and feel good about yourself and your achievements.

An Ongoing Quest

So in the ongoing quest of creating good habits I encourage you not to buy anything. Instead, try a new approach. Throw out all the crap, the sugars, the chips, carbonated beverages; all the stuff you know is bad for you. Now once the foundation has been set, you can start to build and stock your shelves. With minimalism comes the idea of a bottom up approach, the problem we have herein discussed is that most people want to start from the top from day one, and hence buy all the clothes to “look good and look in shape”. Spanx makes a lot of money let me tell you. So instead of wasting your time and money, drink water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and the river will run its course. And the great news is that once you look and feel good, you don’t want to go back to the old you. Habits build habits. You are what you eat, we all know that, it’s time to stop knowing and start doing.


Do or do not, there is no try

When I first started training there was this man at the gym with crazy arms, I mean fully ripped, cut, lean and muscularly massive. I asked him how long he’s been working out for, and he said casually, as he chatted to the cute girl on the treadmill, 16 years. Hannibal the calisthenics king has been at it for about the same length of time, which draws us back to the first article regarding habits and the 10, 000 hour rule, which is approximately ten years. This is why most athletes become legendary at one point in their career, their “hey day”, a combination of being at the top of their craft, both mentally and physically in addition to little bit of luck, and opportunity.

So you say, some athletes are amazing at 16 or 18 years old. I reply to that, they probably started practicing around 2-4 years of age. The point here is this, whether it’s Martial Arts, Body Building, Calisthenics, or any kind of training, as Bruce Lee once intimated, a punch is first a punch then not a punch then a punch again. An exercise starts out easy, gets hard, then it becomes easy again.

Socratic Method

Socrates would start philosophical inquiry with inducing doubt, not knowing, accepting one’s ignorance. Socrates would for example, approach and ask a poet on the streets of ancient Athens, what is beauty? The poet would answer quickly, “beauty is a baby asleep in their mothers arms, the daily dance of the sunrise and set, a flower in bloom, and so on . . .” Then Socrates would point out that these are examples of beauty and not answering the question, begging the question fallaciously in fact.

Thus the poet realizes that they do not truly understand what beauty is. They sit in quiet meditation on the edge of a cliff overlooking the vast blue oceans of the Agean sea. Only then do they realize that no words can express beauty, because of its breathless connotation, and only then does the dentation become clear in their heart.

Relevantly speaking, you get muscles fast when you start working out, then it lags after a year, the gains are less visible, then after 10 years of day in and day out exercises like sit ups and push ups start paying off. Start with the basics, pull-ups, dips, pushups, both horizontal and vertical plane to work chest and shoulders. Add some squats for your legs and your set.


Eat Right, be Tight

Back to diet. Another thing to keep in mind is portion size and not eating until one feels fully satiated. Raisins and Chia seeds are great for tricking the body to feeling full because they absorb water and expand in your stomach. This will mask the hunger, so it’s a good snack idea.

Snacking in general is a good idea. Eating 6 meals, 3 staples and 3 snacks is the best way to dance all day. It keeps your metabolism busy. Therefore, eating more often is better than eating less and less often. A lot of people like to skip meals and replace them with feasts later on. Remember, your body is a habitual routine based machine. It also has a memory, muscle memory. This has an inherent pro and con.

10,000 hour rule

The more you do an exercise, the better you get at it and the better your muscles adapt to it. You get used to it, as with anything else in life. This is why having desires and needs for material possessions having fleeting happiness, we get used to the new house, car, wife and husband. Because the muscles get used to the exercise and they don’t tear and fatigue as easily, if your goals are strength and growth, you need to trick your body and throw some curve balls, workout at different times, different lengths, conditioning vs heavy weights, and the same goes for Martial Arts. The goal is to get super conditioned automatic reflexes, but there’s a reason that there are multiple training drills, forms, and exercises to strengthen the same muscles . . . My friends and I once discovered a Martial Arts group run by a lady and all they do is kick trees. One move. That’s it. You must imagine how many kicks thrown and broken forests lay in the wake of 10 years, 10, 000 hours of shin kicking practice. Treat your body as a temple and a weapon and the forces of ying and yang and the river will steer you clear.

Have you eaten?


The problem for most people starts with how they eat and what they eat. Starting the day with a coffee and bagel, salad for lunch and then a big t-bone with fries for dinner is not the way to get it done.

The first time I came to this realization that diets were a very cultural and arbitrary thing was when I went to my Korean friend’s house in Toronto for breakfast.

His mom asked me what I wanted for breakfast and I replied some cereal or the usual bacon and eggs would suffice. She said, “we don’t no this stuff”. How about some kimchi, with fried beef and rice? I was excited, authentic Asian food at 8 am, I didn’t have to wait for dinner!

For 20 years I had only eaten the usual, yogurt, cereal, bagels, croissants, bacon and eggs, the staples, sandwiches, fruits, pancakes and so on. This was the first time I was eating dinner food for breakfast and I felt normal about it because it seemed normal to them. I even put hot sauce on it to be compliant with the house culture. Now, you don’t have to have steak for breakfast everyday, because too much red meat is not the best coronary medicine, but you might want to have it before a rugby match like my Korean friend used to do.

Whose ready to tackle in the morning scrimmage, oatmeal or t-bone?

The lesson here is not forgoing pancakes and all that stuff, but to realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Food is really about calories, which is literally energy. There is thermal energy, electrical energy and so forth and all forms of energy can be measured in Jules. A calorie is X Jules. So in essence, as far as science and your body is concerned, all energy is energy, 1+1=1, if it smells like water, and tastes like water, then it must be water.

The average person needs around 2,000 calories a day to get by. The guys and girls who look like they belong on a magazine cover have figured it out. After years of not caring about math, they can count calories upside down and inside out. It’s not that hard. After all, just like we wear the same t-shirts over and over while we keep the others in the closet, we usually eat the same brand of cereal since we were 5 and as pointed out, we are habitual creatures, some much more than others. Some people eat exactly the same thing everyday. And there is nothing wrong with that.


A lot of people are trying to be healthy but they buy way too much

Chlorella, algae, is said to be the one food you can eat, nothing else, and be totally healthy. As one of the first simple forms of life, it contains all of life, only life can give life to life, 1+1=1. Now, nobody wants to eat algae everyday, but the point is valid. Again, a lot of people are trying to be healthy but they buy way too much at the grocery store and then throw most of it out. I need to eat this because I saw it on this show, and my friend says this is good for you, and oh, this is great for my new yoga class, etc . . . but truth is, there are no superfoods, no be it all.

First off, if you’re happy eating algae everyday, do not read on. For all others who enjoy life and live to eat, foodie or not, and you want to be in shape, first off you don’t need to eat anything special. Just like the neighbour who is always inviting you over for dinner and they use 20 spices to prove they are a chef and then it tastes like ass. A true chef, can create a dish of beauty and simplicity. The perfectly poached egg, the filet of sole fried to perfection, the spaghetti, al dente, not to hard and not to soft, just right to the taste.

You don’t have to eat concentrated foods

Goji berries, kiwi fruits, lemons, grapefruits, oranges all have vitamin C, so does spinach and broccoli. You don’t have to eat the one with the highest concentration; they all got what you need. Buy seasonal so that it’s fresh and budget friendly. So not only is it important to keep it simple in terms of ingredients, it’s also important to keep it local and fresh. If it’s about nutrients, crops begin to transpire the second they are harvested. Farm to table is what it’s all about. So if you live in New Zealand eat Kiwis, if you live in Florida, have an orange, if you’re in China, have a goji berry, and have the others when available and when you can. The superfood buying health nut is not going to have a better body or mind frame, just a smaller bank account at the end of the month.


When you get sick, people always have suggestions for you, you should do this or eat this or eat that, my cousin or friend swears by this and so forth. Sometimes there is merit to what they are saying but other times it is folklore passed down from the stone age. Our concern here is to strictly speak in reference to studies and their link to advice. Everyone knows that the above fruits have lots of vitamin C, etc . . . First off, its because these fruits have had a lot of studies conducted, secondly they have had a lot of studies about that particular vitamin and other fruits and vegetables are not being studied, or studied less or in different ways.

This means, what’s good today may not be good tomorrow and what’s bad now may no be good later. Just look at prohibition laws and one will see the absurdity. And the funny thing is, adults are just like little children and Eve in the Garden of Eden, everyone wants to bite the forbidden fruit and everyone knows that the snake in the apple will bite them as recourse. Just like you know that the fast food option was not the best course of action, it was your choice, you’re the idiot, no one else to blame. Unless drugs or aliens are controlling your mind, you always have a choice which movie you want to watch.

Don’t give up on life to have a six-packscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-12-00-05-am

You don’t have to give up on life to have a six-pack. Most athletes have a cheat day, and the more habitual your training, the more cheat days you can have. So the chocolate cake is not the problem. Ask Hannibal from YouTube what’s up? The man is absolutely shredded and admitted on YouTube that he eats whatever the hell he wants. He however also does his Calisthenics for 3 hours a day (morning and night), 7 days a week!

Happy Rooster!



Through a Lens Darkly (43): Chinese Amazons and the “Weapons of the Forefathers”

Wonder Woman with a Dadao. In China the realm of social violence, and the martial arts in particular, has been male dominated.  That does not mean that women never became a part of success….

Source: Through a Lens Darkly (43): Chinese Amazons and the “Weapons of the Forefathers”

Training Principles of Cheng’s Tai Chi

by Nigel Sutton Shifu Tan Ching Ngee was born in the small town of Muar in Johor state Malaysia. His father, an immigrant from Chaozhou, China was poor and the young Ching Ngee had to leave school to go out to work to help support the family. Then the family moved to Singapore where Ching…

via Training Principles of Cheng’s Tai Chi — Tambuli Media

Remembering Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵?) (c. 1584–June 13 (Japanese calendar: May 19), 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke, or by his Buddhist name Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and samurai famed for his duels and distinctive style. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin No Sho?), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.

First duel

“I have trained in the way of strategy since my youth, and at the age of thirteen I fought a duel for the first time. My opponent was called Arima Kihei, a sword adept of the Shinto ryū, and I defeated him. At the age of sixteen I defeated a powerful adept by the name of Akiyama, who came from Tajima Province. At the age of twenty-one I went up to Kyōtō and fought duels with several adepts of the sword from famous schools, but I never lost”.
—Miyamoto Musashi, Go Rin No Sho

miyamoto-musashiAccording to the introduction of The Book of Five Rings, Musashi states that his first successful duel was at the age of thirteen, against a samurai named Arima Kihei who fought using the Kashima Shintō-ryū style, founded by Tsukahara Bokuden (b. 1489, d. 1571). The main source of the duel is the Hyoho senshi denki (“Anecdotes about the Deceased Master”). Summarized, its account goes as follows:

In 1596, Musashi was 13, and Arima Kihei, who was traveling to hone his art, posted a public challenge in Hirafuku-mura. Musashi wrote his name on the challenge. A messenger came to Dorin’s temple, where Musashi was staying, to inform Musashi that his duel had been accepted by Kihei. Dorin, Musashi’s uncle, was shocked by this, and tried to beg off the duel in Musashi’s name, based on his nephew’s age. Kihei was adamant that the only way his honor could be cleared was if Musashi apologized to him when the duel was scheduled. So when the time set for the duel arrived, Dorin began apologizing for Musashi, who merely charged at Kihei with a six-foot quarterstaff, shouting a challenge to Kihei. Kihei attacked with a wakizashi, but Musashi threw Kihei on the floor, and while Kihei tried to get up, Musashi struck Arima between the eyes and then beat him to death. Arima was said to have been arrogant, overly eager to fight, and not a terribly talented swordsman.
—William Scott Wilson


His Most Famous Duel

On April 13, 1612, Musashi (about age 30) fought his most famous duel, with Sasaki Kojirō, who was known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces” and who wielded a nodachi. Musashi came late and unkempt to the appointed place — the island of Funajima, in the Kanmon Straits separating Honshū and Kyūshū. The duel was short. Musashi killed his opponent with a bokken that Legend says he had carved from an oar used on the boat that carried him to the island. Musashi’s late arrival is controversial. Sasaki’s outraged supporters thought it was dishonorable and disrespectful, while Musashi’s supporters thought it was a fair way to unnerve his opponent. Another theory is that Musashi timed the hour of his arrival to match the turning of the tide. The tide carried him to the island. After his victory, Musashi immediately jumped back in his boat and his flight from Sasaki’s vengeful allies was helped by the turning of the tide. Another theory states he waited for the sun to get in the right position. After he dodged a blow, Sasaki was blinded by the sun.

Musashi briefly established a fencing school that same year.


Musashi created and perfected a two-sword kenjutsu technique called niten’ichi (二天一, “two heavens as one”) or nitōichi (二刀一, “two swords as one”) or “Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu” (A Kongen Buddhist Sutra refers to the two heavens as the two guardians of Buddha). In this technique, the swordsman uses both a large sword, and a “companion sword” at the same time, such as a katana with a wakizashi.

The two-handed movements of temple drummers may have inspired him, although it could be that the technique was forged by a means of natural selection through Musashi’s combat experience. Jutte techniques were taught to him by his father — the jutte was often used in battle paired with a sword; the jutte would parry and neutralize the weapon of the enemy while the sword struck or the practitioner grappled with the enemy. In his time a long sword in the left hand was referred to as gyaku nito. Today Musashi’s style of swordsmanship is known as Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū.

Musashi was also an expert in throwing weapons. He frequently threw his short sword, and Kenji Tokitsu believes that shuriken methods for the wakizashi were the Niten Ichi Ryu’s secret techniques (see Hayakutake-Watkin).

Musashi spent many years studying Buddhism and swordsmanship. He was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and calligrapher. Records also show that he had architectural skills. Also, he seems to have had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience; although in his later life, Musashi followed the more artistic side of bushidō. He made various Zen brush paintings, calligraphy, and sculpted wood and metal. Even in The Book of Five Rings he emphasizes that samurai should understand other professions as well. It should be understood that Musashi’s writings were very ambiguous, and translating them into English makes them even more so; that is why so many different translations of the Go Rin No Sho can be found. To gain further insight into Musashi’s principles and personality, one could read his other works, such as Dokkodo and Hyoho Shiji ni Kajo.


Survival Skills

The Television Invasion: What’s up guys? This may seem a little off topic for a martial arts blog, however this topic is one that I am very interested in and consider an extension of my training. From my military service and continuing love for camping and backpacking, I consider myself an avid outdoorsman. What appeals […]

via Survival Skills Part 1: The Television Invasion — Martial Science Forum

Defining Wing Chun by What is “Missing”

An all too Common Conversation Last week my Sifu and I were discussing the public conversation that surrounds Wing Chun. “So this guy was trying to tell me that we have no head movement in Wing Chun. Not just bobbing and weaving” he clarified “but that we can literally […]

via Defining Wing Chun by What is “Missing” — Kung Fu Tea

Global Martial Arts

Introduction I recently stumbled across a 1930s English language newspaper, printed by some office within the Japanese government, designed to promote American tourism. Leafing through its pages I discovered a glowing article about recent events at the Kodokan, the home of the Judo. The Western reading public had been well aware of […]

via Pilgrimage, Legitimacy and the Shape of the Global Martial Arts Community — Kung Fu Tea

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: January 23rd 2017: Global Shaolin, MMA and the Endangered Southern Mantis

Kung Fu Tea

Wong You Kau and students in Hong Kong. Source: Reuters. Wong You Kau and students in Hong Kong. Source: Reuters.

Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News.”  This is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we review media stories that mention or affect the traditional fighting arts.  In addition to discussing important events, this column also considers how the Asian hand combat systems are portrayed in the mainstream media.

While we try to summarize the major stories over the last month, there is always a chance that we may have missed something.  If you are aware of an important news event relating to the TCMA, drop a link in the comments section below.  If you know of a developing story that should be covered in the future feel free to send me an email.

Its been a while since our last update so there is a lot to be covered in today’s post.  Let’s get…

View original post 2,984 more words

Eight Core Qigong Skills

More About the Eight Core Skills Part 4 – Twist – Release Now let’s examine the fourth Core Skill – Twist and Release. Twist and release is essentially an acronym for Spiral energy. It has been said that without Spiral energy there is no real Tai Chi. So what is Spiral energy? To understand this […]

via More About the Eight Core Skills Part 4 – Twist – Release — Inside Zhan Zhuang

Chapter 1 – Start the New Year Right, Make it Tight

by Bryan Balandowich

“The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear or your hang-ups” – Bruce Lee

Sit down. Close your eyes, and reflect on this past year. Are you the person you wanted to be a year ago? The only constant in life is change and in more practical terms and better to set a stage for our discourse, the great Director Steven Spielberg once intimated, “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all of our lives”. In the ever constant discourse between you and the ego enters the epitome – “could’ve, should’ve and, would’ve”, the three characters of regret. I could have done something, I should have done something and, I would have done something . . . are one of the many ongoing conversations between you and your ego. In order to take him, the ego, out in the backyard and shoot him between the eyes and then drown him in cement boots down the river, requires a shift in consciousness, meaning how we use our mental energy. Think about all the things you wanted to do but didn’t do? What was stopping you? Holding you back? With the New Year fast approaching it is a good time to reflect, digest and then set new goals and ambitions. What makes you happy? Take a good look in the mirror or even better take a look at your books, or music collection, hobbies etc. . . Who are you and what is it that will make you happy? Not happy for one day, like the cyclical problem inherent in material happiness. Happy everyday, not like the happiness you get from opening your birthday present. I’m talking about your first kiss, memories with family and friends, what do all these events that we so often recall and give us a sense of happiness have in common? We can all point and say, I was so happy then. You can often hear people echo, “The day I got married, or the day my son or daughter was born and so on, was the happiest day of my life. What do all of those events and memories have in common? Money? No. Family and friends? Yes! The natural world (animals and plants), the environment, such as is represented by a beautiful sunset or diving to the depths of the sea to find Nemo, a concurrent and definite yes. What I am saying is everyone wants to be happy but is like a chicken without a head trying to figure it out. I’m not preaching anything here, just giving my two cents on something everyone thinks about every second of every day, unless you’re not thinking about it, which means, congratulations, you’ve done it! You can study karate, taekwondo, or whatever art you like, the body can only move in X amount of ways. One way or another that fist is coming into the face. Depending on the discipline, it may arrive there via a different path. Therefore, pick the martial art best suited to you, your body type, temperament, and so forth. Listen to your heart and let it guide you down the right path as in the Dao. Often today, many people are watching YouTube videos of people doing this or that, living this or that life, and you have to realize that what makes them happy and what works for them may not necessarily work for you. For example, there are countless diet programs and fitness regimens all claiming to give the best results. The bottom line is, there is no best, no champ, if the training is legit, you’ll get there. You don’t have to be a gymnast or a swimmer and a biker to be in shape. Pick one discipline that suits you. If you like running, start the New Year off running. If you want to bulk up start lifting weights. If you have bad knees, try riding a bike. Some people are big boned some are not. Some are tall and others short. All the girls always say, “we don’t like that super ripped guy”, inherently because it is true that looks are not important in a ten-year marriage. But that is not to say that your girlfriend or wife doesn’t want a buff boo. She just doesn’t want someone walking around like they don’t have a neck and are unable to take their shirt off on their own accord because their biceps are so huge they can’t lift their arms anymore. Big muscles are a “no, no” if you want to be a true master. In fact, some experts say that Bruce Lee’s pipes were too big for Martial Arts. Again, don’t compare apples and oranges. Nothing is to say that a body builder or strong man can’t have big arms, but it’s of not much benefit for the Tour de France cyclist. No way is the way, which in plain English means, find your own way and that way will be the right way for you. Sentiments like that can be attributed to Bruce Lee who was adamant that being able to flow like water and adapt to your opponent is the way to secure a sure and quick knock out.


“When I look around, I always learn something: to be always yourself, and to express yourself, to have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee

Find out what works for you and then embrace it with all your passion. Is that clear enough? Sorry, where were we. Oh right, everyone wants to be happy. And what is the definition of happiness? Living in the moment, with a disregard for time and much of anything else other than the task at hand. Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi denoted this experience as, “flow”. From a Taoist perspective, it connotes the sentiment of being in sync with the Dao, “life energy” “Qi” and can be represented and manifested in Taji Quan (a Taoist Martial Art). The beauty of martial arts and what attracted me to it in the first place was the blending of philosophy and it’s expression and manifestation in the real world. Anybody who first takes a Karate class quickly realizes that they don’t know how to do simple things. The teacher says hit the bag and it feels like a mouse gave the teacher a kiss on the pad. You feel embarrassed and your ego is racing, you tense up your muscles and give it a good rip, this time you either hyper extend something or your knuckles are getting bloody from the bag. You quickly realize that you don’t know what’s going on, humble yourself, and get back in line and back to class the following week and the week after, until one day, another you (beginner) comes into the class, and you are the one showing them the ropes and you can’t understand why it’s so difficult for them, while it’s now so seamlessly effortless for you. With that being said, it’s time to grab life by the balls and start living the life that you want by understanding this concise quotation. I have amended the original quotation to edit a sentence of my own. Everything is truly captured by the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi in its fullest essence.


“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values,Your values become your character, Your character becomes your destiny.”

I have added the phrase “your values become your character” with the following connotations in mind. Character is who you are and who you are will define how you interact with the world. If you value socializing and are a “people person”, it is highly likely that you will have a big social circle or if you read a lot of books, chances are you will be smarter (book smart) than those who don’t. A lot of people don’t like to read because they can’t sit still and focus. This is in large part due to bad habits, watching too much TV and other digital media thus shortening one’s attention span habitually. Therefore, if you want to achieve something this year, set a goal and outline the steps (and their implied habits) needed in attaining the goal. What characteristics do you need to succeed? Once you’re done making your list, start doing it immediately. Don’t wait! That’s the secret, “just like a band aid, take it off in one brisk motion”. Or as smokers and alcoholics put it, “cold turkey” that’s the only way, or so they say. What I mean by that is obviously, if your goal is to take a test and you need to study some books, and you just ordered them, obviously you have to wait for them to be delivered before you can start studying. You can however make a shift in consciousness and become that which you want to become now, in an instant. Everyone knows about the glass half empty and full, the pessimist and the optimist. If you set yourself up for failure, that’s your first failure and it builds on itself from thereon in. Just as every guy knows, the toughest part is going up to the girl and saying, “hello”. After that it seems like the worst of it is over, nothing happened, “she didn’t slap me, or yell or run away”, and then suddenly you realize, “I’m in the game baby”!

So there are two elements to success, one psychological and one physical. Just like quitting a substance addiction, it is both a mental game of chess with the ego as well as a physical battle of withdrawal symptoms. If we take a minute and digest the quotation from Gandhi, for its literal denotation, we see that what we think becomes our characteristic behavior (character) and defines our values and who we are. Once you make a decision and start acting on it, following through on your thoughts, the endless conversation in your mind stops because there is no more analyzing, only doing, and living in the moment, “carpe diem”. present-moment

It takes time to form a new habit, some say seven days (as for jet lag) and twenty-one to sixty-six days, to half a year to a year and on, depending on the person, habit and other nature and nurture elements involved. Thanks to neural plasticity, the brain can form new neural synaptic connections. Imagine for a moment if you would, that your brain is full of roads and highways and even superhighways (each one representing a neural network). As you start new habits, new roads are constructed. The longer the habit persists, the stronger the connections become. That is why to become a “ninja” you need to throw one hundred or more kicks a day. This will create a strong neural bridge. When your body encounters stimuli, such as aggression from another person, your body goes into a “fight or flight response”. This network does not go by the prefrontal cortex, which is the root of rational thought; rather it goes via the amygdala, which is the center for emotion, which means you react without thinking. Therefore, if you practice a move over and over and it becomes automatic, a part of you.

You literally become your habits. Start by laying a good foundation now, just like we know is true of children; your habits will become whom you are. Therefore, just as it is important to set a good example and right habits for children, as adults we too, “can learn a new trick or two” and we are not just ready to crawl up and die. A lot of martial artists never really get deep enough into the Art to really gain all the benefits. That is because holding a Horse Stance for hours at a time, doing Qigong or Meditation for three hours a day is beyond most people. But ask any Master the secret of their art and they will all point to the basics, the foundation as being the most important. Why then do people not do it? First off, simple things can become boring and it’s a long process. You don’t become a Qigong master after a week of practice. It takes years and that puts people off. We are in the era of fast results, tanning beds, diet pills, steroids and the like. People will forgo their health just to get results fast, which ironically in most cases is counterproductive. So people are getting unhealthy while they think they are getting healthy. A six-pack can’t mask a liver or kidney problem. People go too hard too fast. Take for example a gym newbie. The newbie goes to the gym everyday, has sore muscles, keeps exercising even while fatigued going in for that extra rep, not giving the body the time it needs to build muscle and recuperate, walks around all day with sore muscles, back aches and gets injured and then can’t workout for six months. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to workout a little bit everyday for six months? And again, instead of overkill, training eight hours a day (if you’re young and got the energy and time, then go for it), but for most people who have jobs, families and other time constraints that’s not happening anytime soon. For a simple example, we can all agree, I hope and think, that push-ups are an all round good exercise for all ages and fitness abilities. Gym memberships love this time of year, so instead of giving them your hard earned cash, get out of bed and do ten push-ups everyday. Then do ten more push-ups before you go to take your evening shower and go to sleep. That’s 20 a day, 140 a week, 560 month and 6, 720 a year. After that, if you’re still into working out, get that gym membership and walk in with a tank top on day one looking good and ready for the next level. The point is that gradual consistent training is best. Don’t have time to meditate for 3 hours a day? No problem, start with something as easy as deep breathing. Sit still, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths from your Dantian. After some time, you may want to set a timer and do it for 2-5 minutes and go from there. Even this small amount of practice will start building your neural connections and start making you calmer throughout the day and sleeping better at night. Do not not meditate or exercise because of time constraints! If you want to get something done, then just do it and stop thinking about doing it. Same goes for yoga, kungfu, skipping, swimming, running or what have you. In China we have an expression, “bu bu gao sheng”, which one offered translation reads as, climb one-step at a time. Soon enough, you will reach the top of the mountain (your goal). And of course one you reach the top of the mountain, you snap a few pictures and head back down. It’s all about the journey, as in life. Once we get to the top we intrinsically plateau, therefore as good business managers know, change and keeping things fresh is integral for a productive team and organization. Those that adapt thrive, and those that don’t perish, the examples are endless. The same goes for the gym analogy. After a certain time the body will get “used to” the daily routine, which means its time to change it up. In addition, the more and longer you work out for, the less you have to work out in the future. Muscle memory and muscle loss are all more persistent and all depending on your persistence. Which means if you stop working out or have a drink or two your six-pack won’t disappear overnight. So what this again translates and amounts to is that one way or another, if you exercise 1min or 1hr a day you’ll get there. Just as in the fable. “The Tortoise and the Hare”, the moral of the story here is don’t just do it as Nike said, stick to it!


“There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “10, 000 hour rule” it takes about 10,000 hours on average to become a master at something. Don’t have that feeling again of regret, that you should’ve done something. Where would you have been now if you had started a new habit last year? Don’t make the same mistake twice. Make this year count, make it right, and value your time because every second, every minute your getting one step closer to the buzzer. Think about it, then relax and get shit done! You’re never too old too start; the only thing holding you back is you. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power” – Lao Tzu. It’s time to stop posting memes and quotations and as Nike said it best, “Just do it”! That’s the first step. Be the warrior you aught, should, would, can and will be today! It’s all up to you. You are the author, it’s your story, and you and only you hold the pen, so get your brush out, hold it up high, and make the first stroke today. The real moral here is to keep writing the story and one day, sooner than you think, you’ll wake up one day, say the timeless cliché, “Oh heavens, where has the time gone?” And you’ll have written a book, a book about your life.

“To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to spend or waste, and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”


Chapter 2.



%d bloggers like this: