Insane. Videos to follow.
Insane. Videos to follow.
Zhuhai International Circuit, Zhuhai.
First race of the season. Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is also here. Not here on this pleasant Saturday afternoon? A single soul in the grandstands.
Zhuhai International Circuit, Zhuhai.
So much hurt right now.
I'm expecting my feet and legs to be pretty sore after each Kendo class.
I will be doing Kendo three times a week.
I've arrived back to Shenzhen to discover a (relatively) cheap foot massage place has just opened on the first floor of my apartment building.
Something tells me I'll become a very frequent customer.
Arrived to Shanghai this morning, took the subway straight to the race track, enjoyed the Chinese Formula 1 GP, took the subway back to the airport, and am now sitting on the airplane ready to travel back to Shenzhen.
Not a bad day. Not bad at all.
ESPN has a great piece about Tianlang Guan, the 14 year-old Chinese boy who is the youngest ever to quality for The Masters and will take part in golf's most famous tournament starting today. I thoroughly recommend reading the entire piece. There is also a nice video accompanying the text. One of my favorite passages from the article is the following:
The dinner group includes Tianlang, his father, a media relations consultant from Hong Kong, our ESPN crew of five and a "fixer" (part interpreter, part problem-solver). There is probably someone else at the table, but I can't remember after the drink toasts.
I've never done shots of jet fuel, but if I did, I think it would taste like Chinese vodka. Mr. Guan keeps standing up and offering toasts. Our interpreter says it would be impolite and a loss of face for Mr. Guan if we don't take part.
So three or four shots later, I'm cracking wise, yukking it up to the Guans. That's when the interpreter leans over and says discreetly, "Mr. Guan does not understand your particular sense of humor."
Smoking is allowed in the restaurant. So, apparently, is pulling your golf shirt up to your neck and scratching your belly. Not me -- the guy at the table behind us -- the same table where a bucket of ice and a huge bottle of Johnnie Walker sit as centerpieces.
I like China.
I wish Tianlang good luck and hope he does well.
So tonight is my first full Kendo class. Kendo is the martial art of Japanese sword fighting. Why am I starting Kendo?
After attending a sample class with some friends, I started reading more about Kendo and the philosophies behind it. One of the most interesting pieces I came across was entitled, "Kendo: Striving For Perfection When Perfection Is Impossible." Below are some passages from the article that caught my attention.
In my experience with other martial arts, the main focus always seemed to be on learning more and more techniques. Maybe I was just going to the wrong dojos (perhaps this is American style?). I’m not sure. If you learn 100 techniques with a certain skill level, you get this colored belt. If you learn 200 techniques, you get some other belt. In kendo, you essentially get to do four techniques. That’s it, and the last one (tsuki) isn’t even something someone can try for a number of years.
When I think about some other martial arts, all I can think about is how complicated they get. The higher your rank, the more complicated all your techniques get. Purple belt? That means you get to spin twice before kicking the target. It’s all about adding, adding, adding.
It took me a while to realize this, but in kendo I think it’s all about how much you can take away. I want to say that kyuudo and aikido are similar in this regard. When a beginner starts kendo, their swing is very complicated. They use all kinds of different muscles and make a lot of unnecessary movements. As you get better, you actually simplify your swing. You figure out how to turn off certain muscles. You make your movements more consistent. You don’t swing through your targets as much. It’s a lot like golf in terms of the consistency you need. You don’t want to swing your golf club differently every time. You want it to be like clockwork. Same goes for kendo.
A lot of martial arts dojos enjoy making lots of moneys (I guess to fill their mats?). In general, practicing kendo is very cheap. There are exceptions, I’m sure, but most of the time you just pay some dues for the facility you’re practicing in (for me, that’s $20/month) and then buy your own equipment (which lasts a long time, usually). The sensei don’t get paid for their time and they teach kendo because they love kendo.
There's much, much more commentary about Kendo in the piece, so I would recommend you read it if this seems of any interest. It certainly helped pique my interest.
Another article featured martial arts expert Alex Bennett and his experience with Kendo. From the article:
A quick stop at a martial arts shop in Christchurch told the 18-year-old Bennett there were no local kendo clubs, but the shop owner did have a list of interested participants who had earlier made inquiries. Bennett decided to contact a few and suggest training together. From that simple start, Bennett soon had over 30 people gathering for informal training sessions, many with other martial arts experience.
“The students wanted to do kendo specifically because they felt something was missing in their other martial arts experiences, and they hoped kendo was a martial art that could teach them more about the spirit or culture of budo or even this rather nebulous idea of bushido. I had absolutely no idea how to reply to them, so that’s when I first read everything I could find on the martial arts, [Inazo] Nitobe or Miyamoto. I felt a responsibility to the students, and I decided I should spend the rest of the year saving as much money as possible and then go to Japan to study kendo properly.”
It seems Kendo is a martial art that many start, many give up, and few continue and master. I've always wanted to try a martial art, but most are just too physical. Kendo seems to be more about improving your inner self. So I am giving it a go and will let you know what happens.
Below is part 1 of a documentary about Kendo.
Steve Miller Band
Goldenport Circuit, Beijing.
One of the world's greatest races on one of the world's greatest racetracks. As a motor sports fan, you should know and be excited about this race. Plus there are constant rumors of hardcore Australian fans burying beer near the racetrack and digging it up on raceday to get around the 24 beers-per-person limit because, you know, 24 beers for one fully-grown Australian isn't enough.
There's a lot more in the full interview, including how Gilbert passes the time in China — he buys DVDs, apparently from a store and not bootleg markets — and how he negotiates the language barrier with teammates.
That's strange, I thought... Who in Shanghai buys legal DVDs from an actual electronics store? Shanghai has some of the best bootleg DVD shops in China; these shops maintain a huge selection of movie DVDs and TV show boxsets (a much, much larger selection than any legal electronics store ever maintains), these DVDs most always retain the special features content present in the legal DVDs (special features content is hit or miss in bootleg copies from other cities), and the quality of the video itself pretty high. So why is he buying his DVDs from legal stores?
Then I took a look at the actual interview.
SLAM: I’ve heard you have been out and about around town, which is something that foreign players don’t do too often in China. They usually just stay in.
GA: Yup. China is known for electronics and I love electronics. I’m usually at the DVD store. I’m always the mall, at the electronics store, buying video games and stuff like that.
"DVD store." My money is on the 'DVD store' indeed being a bootleg shop, not an actual, legal store.
Anyway, I'm glad Gilbert actually seems to be enjoying himself here, is adapting to the culture (he's using Weibo full time, not Twitter), and not making trouble (like some other previous NBA players have).
From the fastest car at the end of last season to seemingly 1-2 seconds off the pace at the first race this season.
From F1 Fanatic:
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says practice today was “one of the hardest days I can recall”.
The MP4-28 was 2.3 seconds off the quickest car in the second practice session, and only the seventh-quickest team.
“We were lacking overall grip, consistency, we had understeer, poor ride,” said Whitmarsh. “So a very difficult day. One where we didn’t go forward either during the course of the day so that’s a bit of a concern. ”
“But a lot of data, the team will be, I’m sure, working hard and long tonight. We’ve given ourselves what should be a base that we can improve upon. Hopefully we can do so tomorrow. But a disappointing and tough day for the team.”
I'm a huge McLaren supporter and they, more than any other team in any other sport on the planet, are the sports team I am truly most passionate for. That doesn't mean I can't be disheartened, dispirited, disillusioned, disenchanted, discouraged, dismayed, displeased, dissatisfied, disgruntled, and discontented when they show up for a new season (especially one with minimal rule changes) and are two seconds off the pace.
And now to express my grief/frustration/confoundment in a more illustrated fashion:
The race is Sunday in Australia. Get it together McLaren. Get it together.
Well this is monumentally depressing news.
Wrestling, one of the earliest and most elemental Olympic sports, was dropped from the Summer Games on Tuesday in a stunning and widely criticized decision by the International Olympic Committee.
Apart from track and field, wrestling is considered by many the oldest competitive sport, one that made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C. and thrives on its rudimentary attractiveness — one athlete trying to subdue another, not with equipment but with the fundamental use of the arms, upper body and legs.
Yet it was precisely the traditional nature of wrestling that appeared to doom it. A shift in priority has occurred in an era of outsize television contracts as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance, modernity and youthfulness in the Winter and the Summer Games.
This from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports, who I completely agree with:
The Olympics are special when they offer the ultimate global competition for a group of athletes, where everyone builds to this singular moment. It doesn't matter if it's a millionaire such as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, or a teenage gymnast with a dream, or a poor courageous middle distance runner out of Central Africa, the Olympics are an accomplishment that brings joy and tears and importance and everything.
Rory McIlroy will win a gold in Rio and then head off to his next event. Yes, it will be cool. Yes, he'll say the right thing. Yes, he'll enjoy it – the way the professional tennis players enjoy it – but it isn't bigger than the British Open or whatever major is next.
Two of my most memorable Olympic moments are wrestling related. The first was the monumental upset of Alexander Karelin of Russia (who had been undefeated the prior 13 years) to little known American Rulan Gardner in Sydney 2000. The other was just this pass summer when I watched Jordan Burroughs defeat Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi of Iran.
Watch both of the matches below and try to tell me how this sport, these athletes, and these moments don't deserve a place in the modern Olympics. I have no problem adding golf to the Olympics. I have a major problem adding golf to the Olympics when it comes at the cost of cutting the Olympics' most historical event. Yes, it is idiotic to expect the Olympics never to change. Venues will change. Audiences will change. Advertising and revenue models will change.
Cutting wrestling to include golf as an Olympic event? That's change that should have never happened.
A new event starting with the 2016 Olympics.