Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

Riding the high

I am not talking about drugs in this post, though I have done that in the past. I want to continue the Taiji/Bagua groovy train. I called the last post ‘Bagua is my life now‘ as a joke. Except, it’s not a joke. Not really. I tend to be obsessive when I like something. It’s one reason I’ve wondered if I have ADHD. When I am not interested, I flit from topic to topic. Once I am, I am all in. There really is no in-between for me. Bored as hell, or completely absorbed in it.

For example. I don’t like video games in general. That’s probably surprising to people because I fucking love FromSoft games. And roguelike-lites. And cozy games. But mostly FromSoft games. Outside of that, though, I could not care less. I don’t like FPS, most triple A games, other shooters, or any of the more popular games, really.  For example. I played about an hour of Red Dead Redemption II and hated it. I’ve seen GTA IV gameplay and REALLY loathed it. All the CODs and Modern Warfares are blah to me.

I can’t do platformers because of my limited abilities, and I am not interest in the Marvel Universe one whit. In general, I am not into pop culture. I hate movies and TV. Music is very hit or miss for me. And novels, well, I am a bit more open to books, but even then, they’re so limited.

It’s with this background that I want to hop to Bagua. Yes, this is my new love. I am infatuated with it and there’s a lot of NRE surrounding it. I want to talk about it all the time, and, honestly, it has injected my flagging love of Taiji with more enthusiasm as well. That’s what having passion for something can do–give you more passion for something else!

Resisting urge to go on a rant about how ethical nonmonogamy can be a good thing

I had a Taiji private lesson today–I suppose I should say Taiji/Bagua because we’re focusing on Bagua now .I told my teacher how Bagua has got me fired up, not only for Bagua, but for Taiji once again. She was showing me some of the applications for Bagua (and if you allow someone to pull you) versus applications for Taiji in the same situation.

I could not find my notebook today, unfortunately, but she had t he great idea to have me video her doing the first three movements. It’s, quite frankly, the best reason for having a cell phone. Notes are great; video is better.

It’s really hard to tell you how it feels to do Bagua versus Taiji. I’d break down Taiji even further because there is the solo form versus the weapon forms. Remember, the solo form is the basis for everything we do in Taiji. It took me probably the first year of my study to learn the solo form. At least the sequence. Back then, I had a really good memory and it was easy learn things; I’ve always been good at school.

I didn’t truly get it, though, until years later. In 2016 or so, I got into a car accident. I saw the SUV hurtling at me, and I thought, “I’m going to get hit.” I instantly relaxed, which made the difference between me being badly hurt and me walking away with only a large bruise on my stomach.

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Bagua is my life now

I am continuing to talk more about Bagua and Taiji. Here is my post from yesterday. It’s been interesting in the RKG Discord. There is a gym channel, but I don’t visit it. Unfortunately, the talk of dieting and weight has spilled over into the general producer channel as wel.l I cannot do weight/dieting talk, so I have to skim past all of it. It’s funny because I’m used to women being the ones who are obsessed with their bodies, and in this case, it’s mostly men. That’s probably because it’s a Discord based around video games, which is still a predominantly male domain. Sadly.

Unfortunately, the three content creators are equally obsessed with weight and have bought into the whole ‘fat is bad’ bullshit. They would not phrase it that way and are quick to say that you should not fat-shame kids 9or anyone), but then go on at length to talk about how disgustingly fat they were as kids.

I am not happy that men are getting in on the body hatred.In part because it’s such a waste of time. Several of the guys are doing it for wedding reasons (or did it for a wedding), and it’s like, “Why?” I mean, I know why. But it’s so futile. that’s what I learned when I was in my twenties and thirties. Any idea of ‘let me lose a bunch of weight in this short period of time’ will end badly. Something like 98% of people gain the weight back and more. Bodies are pretty stubborn about clinging to the fat.

That’s not  to say that people can’t take it off and keep it off. Obviously, they can. But the question is should they? Is it wise? And the answer to that usually is no. Don’t get me started on how ‘eating healthily’ has replaced diet talk. And is classist to boot. And the danger in assigning morality to food. Food is not good or bad. It just is.

I will admit my bias. My body saw me through death. Twice. My body is fucking badass. The fact that it has padding probably helped. It’s better to be 10 pounds overweight that underweight because the fat protects your organs. And, not to be arrogant, but my body breezed through walking (non-COVID-related) pneumonaia, two cardiac arrests, and  an ischemic stroke. Without even breaking a sweat. It shrugged and said, “Is that all you got?”

I walked out of the hospital two weeks after I was admitted. To be more precise, I was wheeled out to my brother’s car, but then I walked into the house on my own. The occupational therapist said I would need six months to a year of nehab, if not more, to get back to anything close to normal.

My physical therapist watched me walk down the hall on the fifth day I was awake. She had a few things to say to me about how to walk, but not much. The next day, we did the same little trek. She watched me, but she didn’t have anything to say. When we made it back to my room, she said she had nothing left for me. She advised mo to do the same walk a few times a day and gave me permission to go anywhere I wanted.

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Bigger faster stronger

Yesterday, I was talking about my daily routine. How it’s gone from five minutes of stretches a day to over an hour of stretches, Taiji (solo form and weapons), and now Bagua. I was feeling a bit bored with my routine, so adding Bagua has really spiced it up. Oh, also the weight-bearing set. It’s only three lifts on each side, ten reps each, I started with an 8-pound weight and now have upped it to 10 pounds for two of the three lifts. My teacher has told me that 8 pounds is fine, but I like doing a bit more. I used to lift 20 pounds for certain exercises. I think I even made it up to 25 pounds. THis was more than a decade ago, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to jump to it immediately.

My teacher said that Master Choi, the man who invented this weight set, used to do it with 50 pound weights. Back in the day, he felt the need to be pumped up because there were always young guns who had something to prove. That’s one thing about being a dude–there were always other men who wanted to challenge you to a duel, so to speak.

I will say that adding the weight-bearing set and the Bagua has pumped up my energy. It really is like having another cup of coffee. I have to be careful to do the Bagua early in the routine because if I do it too late, then it can affect my sleep. It’s funny because caffeine doesn’t affect my sleep at all. I can drink coffee all night without a care in the world. But Bagua can really mess with me so I’ve been pushing it earlier and earlier.

It’s funny. My teacher taught me to walk the circle with the DeerHorn Knives the third or fourth year I was studying with her. It was to replace meditation, which I could not do without having terrible flashbacks. Walking the circle centered me and gave me energy. And I adored the deerhorn knives with all my heart.

They are probably my favorite weapon overall. If I had to do a quick ranking, it would be those and the double sabers. The sword is a sentimental favorite because it’s the one that ignited my love for all things bladed (er, and poke-y). It’s my first love, which means it’ll always have a special place in my heart. And, I appreciate the saber more than I did when I first learned it. It will never be my favorite, but it’s a powerful weapon. I like the fan a lot, and I hate the cane. I am also fond of the karambit, which is not Taiji. I like the staff/spear, but I haven’t done much with it yet. Oh, and it’s fun to do the Wu-Li (dancing) Sword Form, especially when I just put on a song and dance.

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I am Kung-fu Fighting

I was writing yesterday about progress, not perfection. Specifically when it comes to working out. The American idea is to push harder, do it faster, and pay for it afterwards. Americans are weirdly proud of breaking themselves for some nebulous outcome. We see it in the jobs area, too. We’ve actually had to introduce the phrase ‘work-life balance’ because too many people were worknig too hard. We have the laughably-named ‘right to work’ ethos, too. Meaning that you can be fired for any reason as long as it’s not discriminatory in a very limited way in all states but one. Montana. That’s it. That’s the only state that can’t fire you at will.

It’s annoying as fuck when Europeans/British people on Ask A Manager bring up how much better employment is over there. We know! Believe me, wo know! Yes, it sucks that our healthcare is tied to our employment. Yes, it sucks that you can be fired for any reason that isn’t discriminatory (in the legal sense) without a warning–unless you have a union!–and yes, people are expected to work insane hours in many fields with little reward.

Many people are livinng paycheck to paycheck and are drowning in debt. And yet, they still think America is the best country ever. There are many good things about America. I can say that now, though I never would have said it twenty years ago.

I remember 9-11. I was in the Bay area at the time. In the months after, we had an outpouring of love and support from the world. Which we promptly squandered with jingoism, going on the attack, and, well, returning the terrorism. In America, I felt as if i couldn’t point out that it made sense that Middle Easterners would be upset with us. I did not want to put out am American flag, but I didn’t feel comfortable saying that, either.

I have never understood ‘My team is better than yours’ in any of its forms. Or rather, I understand it, but I can’t get on board with it. It’s becasue I see people as individuals. In addition, I don’t see anything as completely good or completely bad. That’s why my mother and I have this eternal argument going on. She gets frustrated with me when I point out the negatives in whatever tradition she’s bringing up. She said in exasperation, “Something isn’t bad just because it’s a traidition!” I retorted, “It doesn’t mean it’s good, either.”

That’s a strength of mine–and a flaw. I look at everything on its own (but, yes, placing it in context as well). And I question everything. I am the ‘well, actually’ person, even though I try to keep it to a bare minimum. don’t bust it out all the time, but I’m sure I annoy people when I don’t mean to. I just can’t help what I see.

That took me a long time to realize. I see things that other people don’t. That’s part of empathy, too. I feel things other people don’t feel. I had to learn to mask that when it wasn’t welcome–which was 90% of the time.

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Everybody (well, me) was Kung fu fighting

I’ve been in a rut with my Taiji, I’ll admit. I had a discussion with my teacher about this. How to have a routine that didn’t become stale. With my morning routine, I would do some warm-ups and then my weapons. One section of the Solo (Long) Form was in there as well. More stretches at the end, roughly 45 minutes later, and call it a day. I’ve been doing that for ssome time, adding more and more weapons to the formula. It’s been good for me, but it’s gotten a bit stale. Even with adding the new weapon forms, it’s become a little rote.

The thing with Taiji is that you want to be in the moment. You don’t want to do anything solely by habit, but that’s hard to cultivate. We are creatures of habit and there is some benefit to it. Such as typing, for example. If I had to think about where the letters were every time I typed, I would not be as proficient as I am. It’s funny because a common office prank, apparently, is switching around the letters on the keyboard. That would do nothing to me beacuse I use the Dvorak system with a QWERTY keyboard and am a touch-typer, anyway.

In Taiji, I am at the level where I am teaching myself weapons. It’s not my teacher’s bailwick, and I enjoy teaching them to myself. It started with the pandemic. My teacher taught me the first half of the Double Saber Form, and then we dropped off because she was unsure of the second half. She sent me videos of her teacher doing the Double Saber Form, so I decided to teach it to myself.

I also taught myself the fan form. It was after I recovered from my medical crisis, and it’s a beautiful form. Then, I decided to take a break from new forms because I wanted to tweak and fine-tune the weapon forms I already knew.

To date, I know the Sword Form, left side and right side. Oh, and in Taiji, the teacher teaches you the right side, and then you teach yourself the left side. It’s a good way to see where you’ve gotten a bit, ah, forgetful with the form. It’s easy to glide over the bits that you’re not sure of–and this is the way to put your flaws front and center.

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Bagua > baguette

I have OCD traits/tendencies. Plus, I have aspects of ADHD in that I have that hyperfocus when I’m interested in something. I’m savvy enough to know when I’m obsessing, but I’m not always able to cut it short. I try my best, but sometimes, I’m just going to have to blab on and on about it.

It’s interesting. I have ADHD traits as well as autism traits, but I also have off-the-charts EQ. I used to have depression and anxiety as well. It made for a poorly-shaken cocktail of flaws. So I can talk for ages about something I’m obsessed with, but I’m aware enough to know that I’m probably boring people to death. Sometimes, I have the discipline to shut the fuck up, but sometimes, I need to keep talking about the beauty of the Double Saber Form. That is just where I’m at, and I will stay happy there for my whole life.

I have been putting on a song I like (on YouTube) and then letting it just play the playlist it has curated for my entire weapons forms pracitice. I will also do my own curation, meaning, I’ll put on a new video each time an old one ends.

I joked with my teacher that I’m going to do a booty-themed playlist. Why? I mentioned it in a past post that Taiji has given me a booty. It’s not a JLo booty, but it’s definitely firm and squeezable. Thousands of repetitions of Golden Roosters have made my booty pop, and I could not be happier.

Because of this, I want to make a booty-based playlist to do my weapons forms to. Anaconda by Nicki Minaj. Booty by JLo, featuring Iggy Azalea. Rump Shaker by Wreckx-N-Effect, and, of course, the glorious Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot, especially the version with the Seattle Symphony. I want to work Lizzo in there, but she doesn’t have a song specifically about her ass, I don’t think.

I want to glorify a part of me I previously hated. I am Asian. I cannot tell you how flat my ass was before I took Taiji. It was almost concave, much to my embarrassment, shame, and sorrow. I had tits for days, but was sadly lacking in the ass department. It’s like

Side note: I was looking at Dance Ten, Looks Three from A Chorus Line. None of them had big boobs. None. Talking about getting a boob job when they had maybe B cups. Asses, yes. Those looked nice. But their boobs were still small. Seriously!

Anyway, back to my lack of ass. It made me so sad because I loved a nice, juicy ass. More cushion for the pushin’! So, after ten years of Taiji, I was ecstatic to see that I ACTUALLY HAD AN ASS. It wasn’t huge, but it was noticeable. And firm. But still squooshy. This was years of different signle posture drills, especially the Golden Roosters.

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Honing my aggression

I love Taiji. It saved my life. Both figuratively and literally. When  I was drowning in depression, Taiji gave me a meaning in life and allowed me to temporary calm my anxious mind. It helped me set boundaries with my parents–and, more importantly, it allowed me to put some distance between us. I simultaneous cared less about what they thought of me and cared more about how I felt about myself.

I became less clausterphobic. I will never like being in crowds, especially because of COVID and how susceptible I am to germs, but I no longer freak out in them. I can find spaces where there seem to be none and slither my way through. I was better able to put up boundaries, which helped with my family, and more to the point, I got more self-confidence. I was by no means perfect, but I was in a much better place than I had been before I starcted Taiji.

Then I had my medical crisis and Taiji literally saved my life. I have said more than once that the three things that brought me back to life were love, luck, and Taiji. I firmly believe that the fifteen years I studied Taiji before getting hit with non-COVID-related walking pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke prepared my body for taking those hits. And coming back after a week of unconsciousness.

Taiji has done so much for my mental health and physical health. It has helped me relax and it has gotten rid of all my body aches. And, I don’t have to mention yet again about my love for Taiji weapons–but I will because I can and I want to. Taiji weapons are my life and my love, and I can talk about them all day long. I am currently teaching myself the left side of the Cane Form, and then I’ll move onto the Double Sabers. Probably. Still my favorite form.

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Worthwhile of life

For many years, I classified myself as a pacifist. If someone tried to kill me, I would let them. It was how I was raised–to believe that my life was not as important as other people’s. Somehow, I twisted that into believing that my life was toxic and it would be better for the world if I were dead. I felt as if I woke up each day with a negative balance, and I had to work hard all day just to get back to zero (in terms of my effect on the world).

needless to say, I was very depressed, and  this mentality was an indication of that depression. I was also wreathed in anxiety, which meant that I was a hot mess all the time. I woke up each morning, my heart sinking to the soles of my feet. It was a Sisyphean effort that I could never stop. No matter how much I did in a day, it was never enough. It didn’t help that I moved the goalposts on myself all the time, which just made everything more difficult.

This was directly related to my mother. She’s very much a product of her culture, wihch said that girls were worthless except for what they could do for others. Their biggest worth was in their baby-making abilities–nothing else mattered. That was why my mother harassed me for fifteen years to have children. She literally said that it did not matter whether I wanted them or not (I didn’t! At all! Ever! The horror!) because it was my duty as a woman to procreate.

Why yes that’s one of the reasons I currently identify as agender–why do you ask?

I’ve written about how my mother has ragged on me mercilessly for not being a good woman. The fact that I’m fat, not married, bisexual, no children, areligious, tattooed, practice Taiji, got two cats (she doesn’t like animals)–all of it upsets her. When I came out as bi, she said: What next, animals? When I told her I got a tattoo: She told me not to tell my father because he would freak out. When I told her I was going to study Taiji: She said that I was inviting the Devil in to dance on my spine. Which, you know, actually sounds kinda rad.

I can’t remember a time when I told her something about my life and she reacted positively. K and I used to joke about how any decision she made, her mother said it was going to be OK whereas any decision I made, my mother said it was going to fail. This happened when K was driving me to the airport and I was telling her what I had packed. It included a roll of quarters and stamps, which blew her mind. My mother believed in being prepared for anything to happen, but that’s impossible.

When I considered moving to the Bay Area to get my MA, I told my then-therapist all the things that could go wrong. I went on and on for fifteen minutes before she stopped me and said, “Minna, half the things you think are going to happen won’t, and you can’t imagine half of the other things that will happen.” I know that sounds trite, but it really hit me. Her basic point was thatt life happens, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.

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Everybody was Bagua fightin’

I’m loving Bagua, and it’s making me want to fight some fools. Not for real because that’s silly, but in a sparring situation. I’m feeling my oats in Bagua, and it’s making me more energetic. It’s very interesting because Taiji chills me out. Even doing the weapons forms gets me in a flow state that makes me want to relax and be Zen about everything.

Bagua, on the other hand, makes me aggressive. That is scary to say because as an AFAB person from a Taiwanese background, I have had two cultures telling me I need to be feminine and demure. I have worked for decades to reject that premise, but it’s still in my brain–and in my culture. It’s the year 2023, and we still have to argue that women don’t need to wear bras or makeup in order to be considered feminine and/or professional. I honestly thought that by this time, we would have laid that bullshit to rest. And I also thought that it would be acceptable for a woman not to want kids. But, here we are in the very-much-not-that-world, much to my dismay.

It’s one reason that decidhed I did not want to be a woman. It felt like such a limiting label. I wrote this in a post on Ask A Manager, paraphrased: The word ‘woman’ is like an ill-fitting coat. It’ll cover my body, but it’s not comfortable. My Taiji teacher went in the opposite direction of grabbing the label woman and declaring fiercely that it was hers. We’ve talked about how we’re very similar in our beliefs about our gender, but our choices were very different.

It’s one thing I appreciate about her as a Taiji teacher. I fele most comfortable with people who are not extreme on the gender continuum. In the old days, I rpobably would have called myself androgynous. I don’t vibe with nonbinary. Don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel right for me. The best of the lot so far is agender. Because gender doesn’t matter to me. There is very little I do that is affected by my gender. Not just because I don’t have kids, but because I don’t care about fashion, clothes, or makeup. I have my hair to almost my knees, but that’s it as far as ‘feminine’ features. Oh, and my boobs. They’re huge, but that’s nothing to do with me, of course. I was born with the genetics that ‘blessed’ me with gigantic knockers, and that’s the end of that. There is nothing about my birth-gender that dictates what I can do in my daily life. I got confused by all the restrictions put on me because I did not understand why me having a vagina meant I couldn’t climb a tree, play sports, laugh loudly, or enjoy sex.

The two that really got to me were not wanting children and loving weapons. The former  I understood was a societal thing that was needed to be repeated to keep the species going. If all women decided not to have children, then we would be screwed as a species (deservedly so). But it didn’t stand to reason that every woman needed to have children in order to keep us going as a species, so why was  being pushed so hard to procreate?

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Exercise tropes I disagree with

For years, I would hear people say that running is so great beacuse you get that runner’s high. I hate running, so I dismissed it out of hand. I’m not saying they’re lying ,but that it just never did it for me. Running was the absolute worst, and I only did it when I was forced to (such as in school).

Then, there was all the fluff about how walknig is great because anyone can do it! We all (most of us, bodies willing) do it every day so how hard can it be? Just walk for thirty minutes a day! Which, ok, not terrible advice in itself, but I hated walking as well. I did it as my only form of exercise when I was in the Bay Area for a year to attend grad school, and I walked four miles a day. I hated every step. I did not get any kind of joy in doing it, and it was grim.

It wasn’t even a neutral feeling. I just hated it lots. Once I started Taiji, though, it was–well, I hated that, too. The only exercise I didn’t hate was dancing, so I was happy to put on music and dance around my living room. With Taiji, though, I decided to stick with my second teacher because…I’m not even sure why.

It wasn’t until she pressed a wooden sword in my hand that I felt the click people talk about when it comes to exercise. Here’s the thing. I was deeply depressed for most of my life. I found nothing positive about anything, and if I wasn’t feeling crushed by life, I was numb.

I felt nothing. So maybe it was asking too much from the exercise to give me a boost. But everyone said I would get that boost from exercising. And I kept feeling like I was a failure because I kept resenting the exercise. Hm.

The thing that most people weren’t saying, maybe because it seemed obvious to them, was that you had to find a form of exercise that you enjoyed in order to get that euphoria.

Side note: In the weekend Ask A Manager thread, there’s a question about how to make small talk. The original poster (OP) asked how people got beyond the weather, but still kept it in the small talk realm. First of all, if you live in Minnesota, you never need to move past the talk about weather. But, the questions people brought up were interesting. Food, for example, is not something I want to talk about because I have so many dietary restrictions. It’s boring to talk about what I can eat. Though I will say that my current obsession with Indian food will work in a pinch.

But I don’t want to talk about my favorite food because what I like to eat and what I can eat is very different. If I didn’t have restrictions, I would be eating way more dumplings and mac ‘n cheese than I currently do.

Another is asking if people are from the area. Which, as an Asian American, is very touchy. Talk about your initial microaggression! When I was in college I got asked all the time where I was from. That was inevitably followed up with, “No, where are you really from?”

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