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Mexico City Journal: Jujitsu - Black Box Miasma [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

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Mexico City Journal: Jujitsu [Jun. 16th, 2009|10:08 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

Mexico City Journal

I love jujitsu. And I love Thai kick boxing. I've been doing both since I arrived in Mexico City. My friend F is a purple belt and used to go almost every day. Now F is busy with work, busy with pre-production for his first feature film, and busy with a new girlfriend, so he goes once a week. But I've befriended the instructor and he told me I can come at any time. So I am. I'm trying to go four times a week, two hours each time - one hour of jujitsu and one hour of Thai kick boxing.

I love the dance of the forms; I love the intellectual choices made during a 'fight'; I love the intense skill and discipline. And I'm getting in mad shape.

Speaking of shape, the guys in the class are all in pristine shape, but none of them are close to 5% body fat. A narcissistic and incredibly well-read and intelligent friend of mine pointed out that model-looking guys can get to 5% body fat without too much effort and still be muscular. (Think of any young actor and the way his waist is almost non-existent.) However, once you get close to 30 there's a trade-off: you either build muscle mass and hover around 10 or 15% body fat (picture the actor who played James Bond in the last two films) or you stay really skinny and remain without muscles (think about David Bowie). What that means is that after 30 it's damn hard to get a tiny waist. If you're physically active then the body wants calories. You can have a V shape and a six pack, but you won't get 22 year old male model waist.

Now I know almost no women care about this type of male narcissism (and neither do most men) but I find it interesting how bodies develop. The guys in the class are at their physical peak, yet most of them have about 10 to 15% body fat (again, they look a lot like the older male action stars); unless they're in their twenties, and then they look like male models (or Bruce Lee). They also range from teens to forties, and another thing I love is that age doesn't matter; only skill. If you are of the same skill, then you are equals. As someone who cherishes meritocracies, I love that. I also love that there's an obvious progression. You gain a belt when you're able to defeat people who wear that belt. Simple. Direct. That's never true with most other skills.

But back to male bodies. I've watched a few fights on TV with the guys from the class and there's an amazing amount of guys who are professional fighters who are in their thirties, which is unheard of in boxing. Yes, the instructor said, because you reach your peak physical speed at around 25, but you don't reach your peak physical strength until you're forty. And of course, your technique constantly improves, so a guy in his thirties, generally, can kick the ass of a guy in his twenties.

Me, I'm getting put in pretzels by guys who are their twenties, and since I'll probably never devote enough time to get great (or even really good) that will probably always continue to happen. But I'm not there to fight. I'm doing it to get in shape, get some new skills, and enjoy myself. And damn, when I get back to New York, I'll look good on the beach. (Even if I'll never again be at 5% body fat).

[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2009-06-17 04:07 pm (UTC)
Damn, I didn't get my point across. I think Daniel Craig (I think that's the name of the actor from James Bond) looks great, and I would guess he's at about 10% or so. I look pretty much like the guy above and it's ok. The guys in the dojo are in leaner meaner shape and I'd guess they're at about 10-15%, or slightly above Daniel Craig (I hope that's his name - too lazy to Google). Basically, I'd like to lose 10 lbs of fat and gain it in muscle. And I know I'll never get to where I was when I was 18 and in the Army, which is ok, 'cause I was mad skinny.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2009-06-17 06:14 pm (UTC)
Most girls I talk to feel the same way. But he's also straining and would look different if he was relaxed.

I'll probably never again spend enough time to get in that sort of shape. An hour or two a day is the most I could possibly do. I have comics to make!

For me, I like the concept of honing your body, just as I like the idea of honing your brain. If I believed in a soul, I'd probably want to work on that as well. And liking the idea, of course, is a far cry from actually doing it, but I'm sort of doing it, which is pretty cool.
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From: fusis
2009-06-18 03:01 pm (UTC)
i've been into this idea lately too, sound mind - sound body. i bring a book to the Y when i'm there with my boyfriend, so that when i'm done swimming, i make sure to work out my brain too. exercising totally affects my attention span and mental facilities, it's great.

if you like a lean body, you should try going vegan! :)
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2009-06-18 10:40 pm (UTC)
Me too!

But I won't go vegan. I try not to eat anything from our industrial-agricultural complex (which is hard to do in D.F.) and I esp. try to avoid industrial-agricultural meat, but I have no philosophical reasons to not eat meat. I grew up rural and we killed our own animals, and I'm cool with living off of death.

But damn, it's hard to eat mainly vegetables here.
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From: fusis
2009-06-18 11:36 pm (UTC)
yeah i was thinking it would be pretty hard to just eat veggies in mexico. of course there are other things to eat too as a vegan! nuts and beans, etc. beans are probably cooked with animal fat there...

although i have been enjoying the philosophical reasons for being a vegan post facto, i became a vegan for only one reason, and that was nutrition. studies have proven that cancer is caused by eating nutritionally significant amounts of meat. dude, you should read one of these books, it's up your alley. it's called "the china study" by t. colin campbell. did i already recommend this book to you? it's not vegan fluff, i promise.
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