A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

A Big Night, One State to the Right

This past weekend we had the pleasure of heading East and visiting the great city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The trip was a bit of a whirlwind experience, and the drive was long and draining (far more than our trip to California, last year), but we still had a pretty good time. I took a bunch of pictures during our stay, and I’m sharing some of them here. (I would have taken pictures during the trip, but picture after picture of desolate shrub-land would get kind of depressing. The “City of Elephant Butte” sign was really tempting, though.) Watch for falling alt-text, and click through for a larger image.

Not the most luxury of accommodations, but it's your standard Days Inn. It did the job and I've slept in far, far worse places.

We were in Albuquerque to attend the annual AKKA Academy Awards Tournament and Banquet. It gave our children a chance to participate in another tournament, and all of us an excuse to play dress up. We stayed at the Days Inn Albuquerque Northeast, which was a fine hotel for the price. It had all of the important amenities: ‘Free’ Wi-fi, deluxe continental breakfast, and an indoor pool.

I think the mural really makes the space work, don't you?

Honestly, I was a little jealous of the people who got the rooms that opened up into the pool area. They had nice balconies and swanky patio chairs. Then I thought about how the noise would echo into their rooms, and I got over it.

Don't do it son! You have so much to live for!

The kids spent the one afternoon we had free in the pool and enjoyed themselves immensely. Since the temperatures in Albuquerque got up into the blustery mid-fifties, they especially appreciated the warmth of the jacuzzi.

The best part of the room was the scenic view it offered. Each morning we got to step out of our door and gaze out upon the architectural beauty of the French Funerals Lomas location, pictured below. The first morning, I had the pleasure of witnessing a lovely ivory casket being loaded carefully into the back of a waiting hearse. A truly inspiring way to start the day.

From a distance, they seemed very professional. If you need any funeral services in Albuquerque, they would be my first recommendation.

With that, we were in the right frame of mind to head out to the day’s opening event. The tournament!

We have gathered here today to watch you all kick each other's asses. With pads on. Safety first, y'know.

Tournaments are a big deal in the AKKA system. They’re a requirement if you’re planning to test for Black Belt, because every candidate is expected to be able to handle the pressure of that kind of event well. We’ve participated in several of them over the past few years.

Each tournament starts with an explanation of how the competition is structured, and the fundamental rules of each part of the event. Mr. Davis has headed up these  every time I’ve been to a tournament, ever since my son was a Little Dragon seven years ago. He clearly has a gift for it.

Mr. Davis is seen here covering the basic rules of tournament sparring (kumite). The two men flanking him would what we in the speaking biz refer to as 'visual aids.'

But with the blast shield down, I can't even see. How am I supposed to spar?

Our kids were split up into two separate age groups, which were competing in diametrically opposed corners of the floor. That meant I spent my time at the tournament walking back and forth, stepping over and around parents and spectators, trying to take pictures at the most opportune moment for each of them. Most of the time, I failed. Thank God I decided not to compete, because that would have made it a nightmare.

Karen performs 'The Spinning Punching and Kicking Dervish of Doom!' (AKA Mass Attack)...

...for which she placed third and got a shiny medal.

Steven misplaced a fairly critical piece of sparring gear, so he was unable to compete in that part of the event. He did perform a kata, but there was a lot of stiff competition, and he didn’t place. Afterwards, though, one of the senior ranking leaders of the organization, Mr. Gilbert, asked to see him repeat the performance and he gave Steven a number of really valuable tips on how to improve for next time. We were all very grateful that Mr. Gilbert took that time out from the tournament to counsel him.

I really wanted to get some action shots of his routine, because it involves some very low stances, but I didn't do so hot at that.

Thanks again to Mr. Gilbert for his time and wisdom.

After the tournament, a quick trip back to the hotel. Showers were taken, clothes were changed, and we were all ready for the evening’s main event. The Awards Banquet!

You would never guess that most of these people were jumping around this room in their pajamas just a few hours before. (I guess I probably shouldn't call them 'pajamas.' Most of those people could seriously hurt me.)

Not everyone could see what the big deal was.

She warmed up to the event as it went on. And then she got decidedly punchy and kept dancing around the table. I kind of  liked her better this way.

The national Demo Team put on quite a show for us all. Their routine covered the entire AKKA system. Before I started training a couple of years ago, these always seemed a bit jumbled and hard to understand. As I’ve learned more and more of the system, though, I’ve really come to appreciate the choreography and precision that is at work as they perform. Especially with all the distractions (like flash photography) going on.

No Duck-Style Kata were performed, though. I am disappoint.

The demo team also performed a seriously impressive lion dance routine. There was a great deal of athleticism and puppetry involved. The kids loved it.

There was a whole story behind the routine, which I promptly forgot when they told us it was time to have cake.

Finally, we were all introduced to some new students that were joining the system in order to learn how to protect themselves. Proving that there is never a bad time to learn how to keep yourself safe in a dangerous situation.

Those young ladies look like they could use a little getting in shape...and a visit from the fashion police...and a shave.

Wrapping up the evening, awards were distributed by the organization and the head of each school. Top students from every age group are recognized for their efforts. An award is usually handed out to the student that has shown the most improvement. And one family from each school is recognized as Most Supportive. This year, my family was honored and humbled to receive that award. Thanks to Mrs. Thibault and our other instructors for allowing us to serve each of you as we were able.

We didn’t get to do any “sight-seeing” this time around, but there’s a good chance that we’ll be returning to Albuquerque later this year. Anyone have any suggestions of what we should take time out to see next time we’re one state to the right?

March 25, 2013 Posted by | Marriage and Family | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Loyalty

Once again, I’ve just pre-tested for a new belt rank in Karate. Just like last time, I have to complete a written test, part of which is a half page essay on a subject determined by the rank I am advancing to. For the next belt, the subject is ‘Loyalty.’

So, what is Loyalty?

Loyalty (n) – the state or quality of being loyal; characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.

Characterized by faithfulness. Honoring your word and duty.

As a married man, I can understand the idea of being faithful to a vow. A surface-level comprehension of that comes pretty easily. I’ve made a life-long commitment to honor and protect my wife. I got that.

Now ask me about what that looks like in my everyday life. It’s one thing to understand it. It’s another thing to live it.

Can I claim that I’m honoring my wife if I’m not careful with my eyes, my thoughts, or my heart? Am I protecting her if any image or idea that could challenge her status is allowed to enter my home? I may not actually take an action, but is that good enough to be able to claim loyalty?

I don’t think so.

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.

Morihei Ueshiba

I can’t claim loyalty if I’m not willing to engage in self-sacrifice, and force my personal identity to give way to the identity that I first committed to when I became her husband. That vow supersedes my wants or desires. The moment I claimed the title, I was no longer living for just me, not even inside my own head. So, I am only faithful to my wife if everything about me is subject to the review of what a husband should be, and anything that fails that review should be culled.

That’s true of every mantle I’ve assumed, every oath I’ve taken, and every obligation I’ve committed to:

Christian.

Husband.

Father.

Leader.

Teacher.

Whether I’m at my home, my place of worship, my workplace, or standing on a street corner, faithfulness to the principles that those words represent are more important than any fleeting whims or serious plans I might have. Every decision I make and every action I take should first pass through those filters. Otherwise, how can I claim loyalty to any of them?

Believe me, there are days that I think I can’t, but each day is an opportunity to improve, and I’m thankful for grace.

The more I thought about this topic, the more things came up. What should you do when your loyalties conflict with each other? When is it alright to walk away from something you’ve committed yourself to? Is there ever a good reason to be loyal to a nation or flag? All more than I could cover in a half-page essay, but feel free to discuss it in the comments below.

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Christ and Church, Marriage and Family, Past and Future | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quick Hits of the Week

  • Something to think about: If you make your employees jump through hoops before they’re able to act, you are effectively erecting roadblocks and telling them no. Dan Rockwell encourages leaders to create a hoop free zone, because fewer hoops fuel passion.
  • If you’ve got an interest in science, and some time to spare, I would recommend this talk given by Pastor Will Little to you. Why Jesus Creates: Science. Pastor Little is a scientist, with a PhD in biomaterials and currently working in the field, while he also serves as a pastor at Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle. He rejects the narrative that science and Christianity can’t rationally coexist, and does a good job defending his position historically and intellectually. It’s worth watching.

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Respect

If you didn’t already know, I take Karate lessons two or three times per week. My wife and children take lessons as well, so it’s a great way for me to stay physically active while spending time with them. Also, I get to learn a new skill, meet new people and build new friendships. That’s like four areas of Ziglar’s Wheel of Life all at once. Look at me, being all efficient.

Last weekend, I pre-tested for my next belt rank. I’ve proven a basic understanding of the physical techniques necessary to progress. Before I can receive my new belt at next week’s test, though, I have to complete a written test. Part of that is a half page essay on a subject determined by the rank I am advancing to. For the next belt, the subject is ‘Respect.’

And I also committed myself to writing a new blog post every week. Guess what I’m doing. That’s right. Being all efficient again.

Respect (v) – to hold in esteem or honor; to show regard or consideration for.

As with many aspects of good behavior, we’d like to have a codified list of what it looks like to show respect. If we could quickly flip through a checklist, marking off the dos and the don’ts, we would know whether or not we were actually being sufficiently respectful. That’d be awesome.

It would also be wrong.

The problem is that our behavior isn’t the quantum of our external actions. It is the expression of our internal values. That is to say: We are truly only respectful of things we know to be important at our core. We respect what we value.

And we need to start with ourselves. Allow me to quote a great philosopher:

Respect your efforts, respect yourself.  Self-respect leads to self-discipline.  When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.

– Clint Eastwood

I am important. My life is important. That might sound like pride, but it isn’t. I’m not saying I’m perfect, or even good. However, I still get the privilege of breathing for another day, so I still have something to do. That’s true of you, too.

So, in each area of our lives, we have to consider the implications of our choices. What does this or that action say about how important we believe ourselves to be? If we can’t accept that each day we exist has value, then we won’t ever have the proper respect for what we have been given.

And that makes it hard to respect others.

Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.

– Albert Einstein

It’s hard because when we deny ourselves of respect, we can and will use the same rationalizations to deny others of it, too. See, if I’m not important, then you certainly aren’t. Respect becomes a commodity that has to be earned.

Worse, if and when we find a person who we think earns our respect, we’ll raise them over us. We’ll overvalue their existence. We risk idolizing them, and giving them more authority than they can manage. They’re doomed to fall from such a perch, because they aren’t actually perfect either.

Respecting ourselves first gives us proper perspective on respecting others. It helps us to value our relationships as responsibilities we’re given to honor. It leads us to be more gracious to others when they stumble and need help to stand. It guides us to guard our lives with more care when we are considering who we associate with, and how much authority to give them.

We respect what we value.

Once we get that, we realize that we don’t need anyone to give us a checklist. The list we want will write itself.

March 12, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments