Rob's Blog Archive

July 14, 2013

The Joy of Movement










I wrestled in college.  To be competitive at this, I had to lift weights during the summer.  I hated this.  The only resistive training routine I actually liked was climbing the rope.  Climbing the rope was different.  I wasn’t pumping iron, I was moving.

I also ran to keep my bodyweight down and conditioning up.  Unlike lifting weights, I never found this tedious. 

The summer before my senior year, I got an okay road bike---a Raleigh with a Reynolds 510 main frame, Huret derailleurs, Weinmann brakes, and a Brooks saddle.  I continued running, but I definitely added biking to my regimen.  Riding extended both the distances I could move as well as the time I could exercise, the latter by virtue of there being no jarring when I ride my bike and the former by virtue of bicycling being much faster than running.

Almost exactly ten years after I got the bike---it is still my road bike---I visited Grandmaster Lang at his home in New Mexico to get a sign-off to test for first degree black belt in Taekwon-Do.  It took two visits, but I did get the signature.  Along with the advice he gave me---he liked my l-stance and had issues with my walking stance----he told me that I should do the patterns I then knew, the first nine of our 24 pattern set, as an exercise before classes.

Since then, my path and Grandmaster Lang’s diverged for quite a few years.  I met up with him again at the Yom-Chi Taekwon-Do Association Instructor’s course in 2008.  At that course, he told all of us we should do the first nine patterns before every TKD workout, reiterating what he had told me more than twenty years earlier. 

There are a few black belts who follow this command and many who don’t.  I’m not 100%, but my fraction is very high.  I actually don’t think this is a big deal.  What I have difficulty with is understanding why more black belts don’t do this.  For me, doing patterns combines exercise and meditation in a way that keeps me studying this art.  I wouldn’t be at the seminars, enjoying them, if I didn’t enjoy doing my patterns.  There’s no burden in doing Chon-Ji through Choong-Moo as a warm up, only joy.

And then there’s climbing.  As a kid, I loved climbing trees.  Sometimes, I’d do it with friends.  Sometimes I’d do it alone.  I enjoyed both the physical challenge of the movement as well as figuring out which moves would get me up the tree.

I graduated from trees to mountains during the summer of 1969.  My family took long road trips and this was the third of these.  It extended to Yellowstone in the north, Badlands National Park in the East, Carlsbad Caverns in the south, and home in Los Angeles in the west.  Rocky Mountain National park was among the fifteen national parks and monuments we visited on that trip.  There, we rented a cabin at Machins Cottages in the Pines, just below Eagle Cliff Mountain.  During the two days we spent there, I summitted Eagle Cliff Mountain three times.  A simple trail-less hike, it got me to a spectacular view of the continental divide.  The combination of movement through terrain that required route finding skill, solid exercise---it was 1,000’ vertical in half a mile, and the view had me hooked. 

It is noteworthy that the American Alpine Club includes exploration of the arctic within its purview and has since its inception.  Just as there’s a crossover between horse people and dog mushers, there’s a crossover between mountaineers and arctic explorers---Messner and Uemura are clear examples.  For me, while dogsledding doesn’t have the athleticism of Taekwon-Do or mountaineering, the joy of being with my dogs compensates for this.  And I do get to move through the same landscapes that I do while backcountry skiing and climbing. 

The most recent addition to my quiver of exercises has been mountain biking.  It’s biking with a twist of hiking, both of which I’ve been doing since I was a kid.  Last week, I did three mountain bike rides on the dirt roads behind my house.  I also went through all of the 23 Taekwon-Do patterns I know on two different days.  My week included views of the Swan Range, practicing my art, and hours of movement.  I had a very good week.

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