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Monday, December 05, 2016

Kortschnoi, Grand Master - Mirror Glasses


This is a picture of Viktor Kortschnoi. He died this year aged 85. We can learn a lot from him. He was a world class chess player who knew the meaning of struggle.
He was a good player in the 60s but not world class until he re-evaluated his style and changed the way he played. He then started getting stronger and stronger. This is unusual as he got better the older he got. But age was the reason why he got passed over for Soviet state support, as they thought Karpov would be more likely to beat Bobby Fischer.
In 1976 Kotschnoi defected from the USSR. (He smuggled his chess library across the boarder in 2 batches). He left his family behind and his son was put into hard labour for 'dodging draft'.

Korschnoi did not get top level support but was able to qualify for the 1978 World Chess Championship - beating fellow Soviets and even playing under the Jolly Rodger flag, as he was stateless!

The picture here shows an event from the final match. Karpov's group had KGB support and a parapsychologist staring at Kortschnoi -from the front row ..... who lost games when this started. The mirror glasses gave some respite - as well as a group of religious gurus vibing for him to counter the parapsychologist. Kortschnoi went 5-2 down in the match. You needed 6 to win and he pulled it back to 5-5.

When I read about this match, when I took up chess and started reading and studying. I was transfixed by these events. Korschnoi played the same openings I  did so I identified with him. But ... he lost the final game and the match 6-5. Damm. I still read and re=read about this match and his life. I still want him to win that final game and I have played through these games again and again as if I was there, or part of his team - a second - helping him with ideas and approaches.

He came back. He defeated other challengers again, in the next World Chess Championship Cycle and qualified for the final in 1981 in Merano. He was 50 now and past his best. He still ahd to face Karpov again, plus his entourage and KGB tricks. He played one or two great games but lost. (These events in his life are well worth looking at in-depth for more details. The nuances are excellent to read about. Who else could cope with all the things he faced and perform).

  • I want to be like Kortschnoi - 
  • Getting better as I get older.
  • Overcoming massive barriers - State level bad tricks / efforts to unnerve me / 
  • Massive resilience / 
  • Top skills.  
  • A fighter.
  • I WANT THOSE MIRROR GLASSES.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One year on standing like a tree and Chi-Kung

Last year I said I would report back on my new exercise inspired by the channel 4 series from 1995 and the supporting book, on standing like a tree - Zhung Zhang.

Well despite some very, very sincere effort and real attention to detail, I had to give up after 5 months doing it. I had managed to get 30 minutes into the stance and work my way to the 2nd pose (no including the neutral start up stance).

I stand by the benefits I noted in my blog entry last year .... but there began to be a pain in my knees. I could not prevent that and I could not work out why it was being caused. I was really careful not to have knees beyond toes, and I varied the depth of the stance to make it more forgiving but the pain came back. I tried stopping the 8 pieces of brocade, to see if that was involved but no.
This was a real blow as it had good benefits on my mind. Also for the first few weeks when I started it had a real energy boost. I did not need sleep in the amounts I usually needed. The mind benefits were to make it feel calmer, anaesthetic-like, once the session got started  by 10 mins in and had ended. I can get this effect from the wu chi neutral position which is something I salvaged, however.

My knees developed a creaking noise now, that was not there before. Wonder what caused that?

I did manage to keep up with the 8 pieces of brocade, however. I had stopped for 3 weeks in Spring to give knees a rest but then kept going back to it. I am glad I did this. This does give me something constant to do and come back to. The more you do it the more skilled you become, (there is a surprise). Even though the moves are simple the co-ordination of the mind / moves and breathing is not easy. In Dr Yang Ming's book he gives the supporting ideas of where the chi should be directed - I see it as mind control - and that takes some work. (He does say breathing can be just natural but he then goes on to say you can coordinate it later when you feel more confident).
The work is the beneficial thing too. I do feel more focused vs a year ago at times. Also my stretching and joints have improved in my legs. There are 2 moves, when you grab your feet, and 'shake head and tail like a bear' that give you a nice leg stretch / hip stretch. It is gentle and over the months the benefits accumulate. My hands feel warm at the end of these sessions and I tend to put them on areas of my body that feel bad and 'need healing'. Ok I cannot promise that is chi energy and the warmth is magic powers but I know my circulation is better and I do not feel the cold as much as a year ago.

Conclusion: Standing still for the 5 months showed me that simple things are not easy but there is something to be said for this. Real pity I could not keep it up. I would if I could.

Pleased I am still doing the 8 pieces, however.

So mission was partially successful.

I stopped massaging my knees in the way shown in the Tai Chi video below. I think picking up the patella and manipulating it was not a good idea. I think that is for extreme one-off pain, not a post exercise thing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Let's teach for mastery --

This video uses some analogies from martial arts teaching and progress there, to ask why do we not teach like this for schools. He raises issues of agency (learner's choosing when to progress), for instance, which is interesting.





  • What do you think? Has he got a point? 
  • Is martial arts teaching a good metaphor in the first place?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Adult beginner violinist - 2 years progress video

This person stuck to her task and you see improvements and then a jump at 9 months especially.



She may have had other musical skills however, to ease the learning process her on this instrument but that does not take away from the achievement.



Getting away from the screechy first few months must have been the hardest, as there is a limit to how many repetitions of a simple tunes an adult can take, (I suspect).



I am not going to state the obvious and why I posted it here, other than this is typical successful adult learning. You stick to it ... you get it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Wing Chun Saam Sing Jong 3 Star Dummy Work Out Routine

This practitioner has some good ideas on this kicking dummy. This is not often shown in the wing chun literature. Only Randy Williams has covered this in one of his books.



(I have a sneaky suspicion that the wing chun dummy - and this - have origins as 3 legged stools and tables tied to a tree or inverted on the ground!).

Home made chi sao dummy

Here is another nice design. Again springs being used but in a different way. I like the way latteral movement is supported. This reminds me of a WW1 tank.

Chi Sao Jong Introduction Part One



This is a good design. Someone put some thought into this, indeed. He has a part 2 video as well. In that video there is a reply where someone said they bought one, did not tell their teacher, and later their teacher said they had improved. That must have been a good feeling.

You can see how the leg doubles up here to stabilse as well as be the 'jong' leg, too. I love the spring idea, too - the Choy Lee Fut dummy has that, too, so the idea is not hard to have.

I wonder if you can make an adapter for a normal dummy?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Derren Brown Phantom Punch

I have been meaning to add this for ages to this blog. Good demo here of his skills and a good peek at a venue in China Town.

(Count how many seconds he takes to punch from 1st touch in each case).

(Derren Brown has another good trick where he plays 10 chess masters at once and does very well against them, what he does is play a move that another master has made and put that on another board, so in effect they play themselves in a circle! What you do not know however is how he gets the first move).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why Exercise is good for you - we need constant reminders

This BBC page has a good animation and recent research on why exercise is good for you on multiple levels.
It has animations and a downloadable .pdf document too.

We need constant nudges to do exercise and it would help if we keep these benefits in mind too, justifying why we make the effort or convincing others of the benefit.

I like the way it suggests cognitive skills can increase after an exercise bout.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/ztxng82

Monday, January 04, 2016

Pain in knees solution!


This video is excellent in many ways. One: this solution is helping my knees, that I mentioned in the post below. I did that circle knees thing and that must be the cause of my pains. The explanation of the knees being a 'hinge', not a ball and socket rotational joint says it all.
The associated video Sifu Wollering mentions states that tradition may have distorted the interpretation of the 'knee circles' from an ankle and hip rotation maybe? (The Stand Still Be Fit video has knee circles in, that is why I did it).

https://youtu.be/FukLOG4A_6g  < link to associated video on knee circles and other associated moves.

We need to 'oil' the knee and here the first video shows hard massage around the sides of the patella and some moving of the patella on a locked out knee. < This feels good and is helping me.

I like her videos. Her delivery is authoritative. You can see she knows what she is on about.