Progress and Action

My 2 good habits that I have managed to be consistent with, since the lockdown started are: Meditation and  Exercise.

I started by doing 20 push-ups a day and meditating every morning. Since last summer, I had been very inconsistent with practising martial arts or doing exercise. Perhaps going to counselling and showing up for the sessions kept me weighed down. During the whole process, I was listening to audiobooks, podcasts and watching YT videos as an escape. Escape because, my time was mostly filled by listening to fictional novels from some of my favourite authors. With the start of 2020 and having finished with counselling sessions, I wanted to re-implement some of the good habits that have stuck with me throughout difficult times. The two being meditation and exercise! It’s always these two that help me find balance and reorganise my mind.

This Spring with lockdown in place I tried a new combination of meditation followed by exercise for 90 days… I skipped a few days here and there. Skipped either am or pm session. It didn’t go as I planned, however, I managed to develop these habits back into my daily routine with greater consistency. I was meant to update my daily log of accountability but I really found that a chore lol. Still I started by doing 20 push-ups right after a meditation session. Usually I like meditating after an intense workout and emptying my mind and just sitting with myself observing and enhancing the focus and emptiness… this time, I was meditating first and to reward myself (the brain) I was doing push-ups. The idea being that my brain needs dopamine and endorphins released to feel pleasure and for the habit to stick. I can say that it worked really well. I also went from doing 20 push-ups to 50 push-ups. Then changed it up to 100 push-ups a day (5 sets × 20 reps).  Now, I have brought another slight change and started to lift weights too. The day I don’t lift weights, I do 100 push-ups. The other days I lift. I still maintain my focus on core strength and flexibility because I want to keep my taekwondo skills up to par.

Why am I sharing this? I can keep carrying on quietly and do what I am doing. My reasons for sharing are simple, everyone goes through different life challenges. You never know what others may find inspirational. I am not really going to post pictures up lol because I hardly take pictures. I don’t have a habit of taking selfies or pictures. So sadly, I don’t have the skinny me before and some after gains haha… The idea behind sharing this is that, you can start no matter your level, start with habits that you want to develop and stick with them, challenge yourself, hold yourself accountable through social media posts or through a friend. Become consistent, do a little bit everyday, rather than not doing anything at all.

Personally for me, consistency matters a lot. If I am able to stay consistent with my habits… hopefully it filters through to other aspects of life too and become consistent with everything I want to do and plan to do. Focussing on the process, not the outcome. The next steps for me are filling in the daily report card with consistency. To see what I am referring to check out these previous posts:

I want this progress and action to filter into my process and auction too.

Until next time,

Put in those reps

How to Read A book?

Currently I am listening to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil. The books are quite difficult to remember. I think they are meant to be this way. Even though I am taking my time listening, most stuff is really hard to grasp. I have started to think that for difficult books I should have the audible version and a paperback/hardback/kindle version. This is what I did when I Listened to The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. I read and listened to it twice. Got to do it one more time. Anyhow, this is the reason why I haven’t been able to write anything because I am trying to decipher what I am listening to most of the time and that has taken away some ideas from me perhaps or maybe not because I am writing even though I am not actually writing about Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Honestly, I think most of it went over my head and I can probably recall very few points. It was only the first listen anyway.

A philosopher according to Nietzsche, is a man who constantly experiences, sees, hears and suspects hopes and dreams, extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thought as if they came from the outside, from above and below as a species of events and lightning strikes peculiar to him; who himself is perhaps a storm which moves along pregnant with new lightnings; a portentous man, around whom there is mumbling and rumbling and gaping, something uncanny going on. A philosopher alas, is a being who runs away from himself, is often afraid of himself but whose curiosity always makes him come to himself again and again… (292 Beyond Good and Evil)

This reignited the thought, how to read a book? So, I went back and listened to this lecture by the humble man whose lectures are always insightful, thought provoking and full of wisdom. The book is titled ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer J. Adler. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf includes his own learning experiences to give a fuller understanding of the book, he explains the book really well, the different levels of reading, the elementary reading, the inspectional/information reading, the analytical reading. He also talks about the 3 types of people, the dabbler, the hackers, and the masters. Dabblers take up a sport/hobby/goal to give up after they are bored, not getting any attention and/or validation. Hackers take up a goal and learn the principles and practise it but never perfect it, the masters spend years after years improving and enhancing their understanding, wisdom and skills in their field. A great book deserves to be read a minimum of 3 times. A great book is a book that you can come back to over and over again. Hamza Yusuf then goes on to explain how the books written by moderns can be summed up in a line and how each sentence written by ancients can be elaborated into a new book. This is very true with the new boon that kicked off for self-help, how to start your own business and how to become better at marketing. Most of these books can be summed up in a line and very few are worth reading again and again. He ends the lecture by analysing a poem. This is what I mean when I say that my auditory memory is good haha, I am surprised how much I can recall from the lecture. I haven’t even gone back for references. He also explains in the lecture the difference between literalists, who find it hard to extract the meaning of poem and metaphorical texts. He talks about classical reads/novels/books, he talks about understanding grammar, rhetoric, logic. The 3 R’s Reading, Writing and Rhetoric.

So, if you want to start reading difficult books, classical texts, and original books. I would advise you to start by reading Mortimer J Adler’s How to Read A Book or Listen to the lecture by Hamza Yusuf on How to Read a Book.

One of the reasons why collectively we are failing is because we do not make the effort to educate ourselves by reading and studying difficult texts. I remember in one of his lectures he said, “The giants of the past were vast.” In comparison to the work accomplished and level of literacy reached by the past generations, we may have advanced technologically, but in doing so we have become the slaves of it and we do not push to find our real potential, unravel our minds, we are addicted to comfort of our homes, tech, media. Our education system fails to raise up mentally healthy adults, this is a crisis we face. This is a crisis to address too. Hopefully, writing this gives me the courage, insights, and ability to chase after my own goals. Goals for creating a better educational system.

The Road to Greatness

Joe Calzaghe is my new favourite athlete, who despite all odds held an undefeated record in Boxing. He unified all the titles in the Super middleweight division and his final matches against Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr were in a league of their own. True boxing master classes! Unrivalled performance, his ability to shift his tactics and adapt different styles and perform at his peak despite getting knocked down is truly inspiring for all peak performers, athletes and professions that have a great similitude to sports.

It’s been a while since I watched Joe’s documentary, over 2 months… watched it during lockdown, and when it comes to movies, documentaries and animes, my memory isn’t the best, because I think my brain over the years got trained to not remember them. Unless, it’s some anime, movie, series or documentary I write about or talk about. So, this is like a test for my memory. I am going to try remembering Joe’s documentary.

I watched Tyson’s documentary, watched Joe’s, and watched a bunch of movies. It seems all so long ago haha. The opening paragraph to this blog was written the night I watched the documentary, since then it’s been laying in my drafts.

I guess I am a little bit more ready to write this post out. I have a lot of different interests and hobbies but in this blog writing I take inspiration and reflections mainly from Tae kwon do and martial arts and not really discuss other hobbies as much. I’d like to keep it that way haha, so much for telling you about my other interests lol but you do know, that I watch anime- Monster being my favourite, I read a lot; I shifted from fiction to non-fiction back in 2016. Before that everything I used to read was fictional novels like Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami’s novels introduced classical music to me. I started listening to classical music Bach, Mozart, Beethoven when I read Kafka on the Shore. I read that a few times. I am going to be taking a long detour if I keep talking about what other novels, I have read lol. So, let’s steer back to the topic of the post. That said, every time I write, my lateral thinking keeps jumping around. I can’t really think linearly, it’s a struggle.

Ok…. Let’s try remembering some of the highlights when I watched Joe Calzaghe’s documentary. Joe’s father Enzo was his coach, an Italian who left the country to pursue his dreams, however he gave up on his dreams which was becoming a great musician to focus on his son’s potential and dream. It was an odd combination for a boxer to be coached by a musician. This tells you 1) You can learn anything 2) Great master artists see the similarities in different paths. Joe’s dad looked at boxing from his musical perspective. It starts off with a jab, jab, jab just like music haha well I don’t know any musical notes to replace those jabs here haha but you get the point. Imagine them jabs are a single 🎹keyboard key 🎵🎵🎵and then a rhythm starts🎶🎶🎶. It’s followed by a chorus where the piece centres towards, and then begins again. Joe’s boxing was pretty much that same way. In fact, more similar to a jazz🎷🥁🎺🎹 performance, in Jazz there is real-time collaboration and music shifts and adjusts and adapts. Joe’s boxing was like that too. He was able to shift, throw rapid fire combos, dance around and then go at it all over again.

Joe started at a young age and went to amateur boxing, he grew up in Wales, the son of a Welsh mother and a Sardinian father. At the age of nine, he fought his first boxing match but lost.

By 1993 he had held Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) titles in three different weight categories, the first British boxer to do so. As an amateur boxer, Calzaghe maintained an impressive record of 110 wins out of 120 fights. His first coach closed down his gym and that’s when Joe’s father took the reins in his hands, trying to keep the wild beast tamed. Keep him on track, keep the discipline instilled in him. I wonder what Joe would have turned out like, if his father didn’t do all that for him. He probably would have taken his frustration and anger out on the school kids that bullied him. He probably would have started getting in fights on the streets and lost himself. The good thing is that never happened to him. He had a huge share of his own struggles on the road to greatness. Fortunately, his struggles were keeping him on his path constantly. This is the kind of persistence you want to develop. Something that keeps you on your pursuit of your potential despite the setbacks and struggles. The consistent and persistent pursuit of your potential is what is living a good life is about. I got this from David Meltzer, he uses that line a lot. Like many self-improvement authors and coaches, he also loves talking about 80/20 rule, 1% improvement and aggregation of marginal gains. My writing is influenced a lot by Atomic Habits, Principles, Chimp Paradox, and many other books that I have read.

Joe Calzaghe’s road to greatness was truly realised once he beat Chris Eubank. I can recall his early amateur career and a little of his first professional fight. He knocked the guy out (Paul Hanlon) in first round. Let’s do a wiki recap of his boxing career. 46-0 a professional career lasting from 1993-2008. He unified the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO and the Ring Magazine super-middleweight titles. He also held the Ring light-heavyweight title- those being his last 2 bouts against Hopkins and Jones Jr. You can read more about his personal life, amateur career and everything on here Joe Calzaghe on wiki and here.

What I loved about his style was his rhythm and hard punches. His hard punches led to Joe fighting with injured fists many times. Hmm, I am starting to wonder how good is my memory lol? I can’t really recall most of the matches that were shown in the documentary. The few that stuck with me and his best fights for me are against Eubank, Kessler the unification match for super middleweight division, and his two matches in the US. I can recall his early life, high school bullying by older kids that led to him eventually dropping out of school and his relationship with his father and the talk in between the rounds he always had with him. It’s like his father always had the right words for him as a coach to ignite his fighting spirit. He would come back after getting knocked down. An interesting development was most his fights lasting full 12 rounds after his match with Chris Eubank. This prompts me actually to take a look at his knockout ratio before and after Chris Eubank. He had 21 Knockouts out of the 22 fights before going against Chris Eubank which ended in a unanimous decision in favour of Joe Calzaghe. 11 knockouts after Chris Eubank’s match out of 23 fights. However, that said out 14 wins by decision, only 2 of them were split decisions. First against Robin Reid and the second against Bernard Hopkins- which highlights Calzaghe being the dominant force in the ring against his opponents.

This article Calzaghe vs Lacy, truly sheds light on Joe Calzaghe’s boxing career. The crossroads he faced after his match with the Kenyan boxer Evans Ashira. Joe injured his left fist in the 3rd round after knocking down Ashira and had to continue the rest of his match on the defence and using mainly his right hand. He won the fight by Unanimous decision despite injury. However, his next fight against the famed American middleweight IBF champ Jeff Lacy was delayed by 6 months. On 4th Mar 2006 Joe Calzaghe fought the unification match against Jeff Lacy with an injured wrist.

Calzaghe had been WBO champion since shocking the great Chris Eubank in 1997 but his star was on the wane – and he was dismissed by the influential American media as another overhyped European fighter.

“Joe was injured all the time, fighting domestic fighters and was doing it on satellite TV, people weren’t interested in him,” Enzo recalls.

Calzaghe Jr added: “The fight before Lacy, I got booed out of the Cardiff Ice Rink for my fight against Evans Ashira, when people didn’t know I was injured. I was a frustrated champion for eight years but knew the Lacy fight could put my career to another level. “

“It was my dad who convinced me to take the fight. I was in the best shape of my life and dad could see that.”

“The doctor told me not to fight, but dad wasn’t having it. The special relationship we had, nothing demonstrated it better. He said I could beat him with one hand – and he was right.”

Enzo added: “I told him he might as well retire if he pulled out because people would think he was a joke. I was harsh with him. I needed to be.” BBC article

The match against Lacy late in his career was the career defining moment and a true boxing masterclass. He landed over 1000 punches versus Lacy who only threw 444 punches and landing only 116. He sent Lacy on the floor for the first time in his career. Lacy at that point was nicknamed Left hook Lacy with an undefeated record of 21 wins and 18 knockouts. No one in the boxing industry expected Calzaghe to stand a chance against Jeff Lacy.

After this match he went on to have 5 more fights including the matches against Kessler, Hopkins and Jones Jr. He retired in February 2009 remaining undefeated.

In 2014, Joe Calzaghe was included into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. There’s a lot of good lessons for peak perfomers to learn from Joe’s documentary, one of them being perseverance and pushing forward despite the odds.