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June 30, 2011


I do not like those breathable rain coat fabrics because, in my experience, they don't prevent me from getting wet from the rain.

Also I do't like rain flies on a tents. I have never experienced moisture from condesation iside a tet but I have often expereiced drips caused by the fly saggig agaist the tent fabric. When I go campig I brig a plastic tarp ad I lay it over the tet beeath the fly and stay perfectly dry.

I aboslutely hate getting wet inside the tent.

That's my thoughts on modern wonder fabrics.

Luckily, California (unless you live in the Central Valley along one of the rivers) is mostly spared high humidity like that. When we get high humidity, it's as fog and it's chilly.

But for the relatively dry heat we do get (and who knows, we may eventually get around to having some heat this year, too), my one unbreakable rule is: no polyester. Not even the little bit that produces "no iron" shirts. when it gets hot, the stuff just feels intolerable. Cotton is fine, linen is fine, wool can be tolerable. But synthetics just don't work for me.

I think our stuff is more the karate-style. I've been thinking on this lately, because my rationale for liking the thinner garment is that it's HOT here. When we begin practice, the thermostat is frequently set at 82 degrees F. But the thin fabrics don't really breathe all that well anyway; it may actually be better to have a thicker fabric that doesn't stick to you like glue when you sweat.

Regarding Aquajob, if it's not featured on failblog's Engrish Funny, it really should be. Example:

The astonished Fast drying wonderful in the summer I'd like to wash briskly. The housewife's busy supporter who dries in about 2.5 hours! The type with a solid Mesh. with which a body is supported

Just what that means exactly I don't know. There's a general flavor of the fast-drying nature, but how a fabric can be astonished or busy, I have no idea. Someone needs to hire a native English speaker, I think.

About a year ago I switched to a lightweight nylon fabric (which, surprisingly, wicks pretty well) for pants. It doesn't cling to the legs like the cotton does, which makes it much nicer for the brisk administration of head-kicks. I actually delivered a jump-roundhouse kick on the run during sparring the other day. Whether I could deliver that with anything resembling authoritative force is still an open question, though, because we were doing some very light-contact sparring.

I completely get why judo and aikido want more sturdy fabrics, though. Even so, it's probably a good thing to be able to administer chokes and throws without having the heavy gi as a hand-hold.

And, like you, I still want cotton for comfort. Even the newer, softer synthetics are still not as comfortable. I bought a set of nice fine cotton teeshirts to wear under business shirts on the relatively rare occasions I dress that way, but I have fallen into the habit of wearing them to bed at night (during the winter, at least) because they're far more comfortable than any pajamas I might have.

I've never studied a martial art, and probably never will, but I've always been fascinated with the different styles and how they came about. If I were to study a martial art, it would be aikido or krav maga. I'm not sure which appeals to me more, defending yourself without actively trying to hurt your attacker or totally fncking your attacker's day up as quickly as possible with as much brutality as necessary. I guess in a perfect world, I'd like to be able to do both, and mete out the latter only to the most deserving. In either case, I'd want to be wearing the finest silk.

I'm not sure what the fabric is, but I've been wearing synthetic T shirts for jogging for years, until recently. My wife had long complained about the fact that the smell never goes away, even after washing (it decreases, of course, until the next workout). Then I got the complaint from a stranger.

It's back to cotton for me. Truthfully, I never thought the synthetic wicking fabric made the slightest bit of difference as far as personal comfort was concerned and it seems to have made me something of a walking/running toxic landfill as far as the general public is concerned. (On the bright side, no need for self defense classes--who would want to come close enough to attack me?)

I agree about the smelliness, DJ. It's always cotton for me.

My synthetic shirts that I wear to work out in (school shirt with logo) perpetually smell like...something really bad is going on with me, biochemically. But that smell goes away when it's cotton. To get the smell out, at least temporarily, my wife uses ammonia or vinegar as a supplement to the wash.

Which is odd, because the smell itself is akin to that of ammonia.

Hairshirthedonist: Screwing up your attacker's day, assuming he is untrained, is relatively easy.

Any martial arts with sparring will give you what you really need -- an understanding of yours and your opponent's body, specifically how they DO and DO NOT work -- and practice.

I came out of a few years of martial arts with the understanding that if you keep in practice, and have teachers who are willing to point out a few things (for example, specifically WHY sparring has rules and how those things forbidden could be called 'things to do in real life'), badly damaging an attacker is not difficult.

It is dangerous -- attempting and failing moves things to a much more dangerous level, and it requires the confidence to act, the muscle memory to do so without thought (you'll be too scared to think about form) and the ingrained reactions to target the proper places. And speed -- don't forget speed.

My martial arts study taught a mixed hard-style, and we sparred using it. They had an entirely different focus when it came to self-defense, that merely utilized some of the moves from the martial arts.

I left with an understanding that practicing fighting -- whether it was boxing, karate, aikido or even fencing -- wsa the critical aspect. It taught speed and positioning and ingrained it. After that was the understanding that 'real fights' don't have rules, because rules are designed to protect you and your opponent from injury. (And in a real fight, injuring your opponent is the goal).

I also learned -- mostly from cops and ex-military who enjoyed the style -- that your wallet isn't worth the risk of a fight.

And lastly, I left with a keen and upsetting understanding of exactly how the human body was both tougher and far more fragile than I had ever believed.

Oh, and that shattering a kneecap takes a surprisingly small amount of force, and it means they can't chase you. And "running away" should always be the first option you consider.

One reason we ran so much in class. :)

Which is odd, because the smell itself is akin to that of ammonia.

Like dissolves like.

You should smell me after a workout on days when I've eaten lunch at the Indian buffet. I'm like a human/garlic genetic hybrid.

The only time I've found myself overly concerned about natural-vs-synthetics was when I was taking welding classes. I was instructed to wear ONLY natural fibers. Apparently cotton/wool responds to fire by charring and then burning. This is good as it causes the burning fibers to fall off your body and stop doing damage. Synthetics don't really burn; instead, they melt like plastic and bond to your flesh. That makes them much more damaging. The stories I heard about students who had not scrupulously followed the 'no synthetics ever' rule and had accidents were...not good.


To your muscle-memory-and-speed point, what I do, um, do as one of my workouts is hit a punching bag with a one-two combination with as much speed, precision and force as I can, over and over again for upwards of a half an hour.

I really don't expect to get into a fight. It just doesn't happen. I'm a nice, calm fellow. But I figure that, if I do, having a very basic but well-executed maneuver stored into my nervous system is a relatively easy way to leave me with something reasonably useful at my disposal, even if it doesn't make me Bruce Lee.

And even if I never get into a fight, which I hope and expect I won't, it's effective and fun cardio rather than a waste of time.

Short of something major being at stake, and no chance of diffusing the situation, I'm not above running away. I feel no obligation to facilitate others' attempts to prove how tough they are or subject myself voluntarily to someone else's being crazy.

And even if I never get into a fight, which I hope and expect I won't, it's effective and fun cardio rather than a waste of time.

That's pretty much where I am, although I've developed some affinity for such things as forms, breaking, etc.

Basically, if it weren't for the fact that I have someone standing in front of me demanding that I do very strenuous activity for an hour at a stretch, I'd be in much less good shape, and much less able to protect myself. So: bonus all around.

Hairshirthedonist: It's not just the muscle memory -- it's the practice fighting. Sparring. Boxing. Fencing.

Muscle memory is important. I doubt, no matter how flabby and lazy I get, that my body will ever forget how to do side-kicks and palm-strikes. It might not be ABLE to do it, but my muscles will know.

It's the practice. I sparred with a guy with far less martial arts experience than me (which isn't much), but a LOT of boxing experience. I couldn't punch him. Period. I tried, including a lot of moves that aren't in boxing.

He had lots and lots of practical experience dealing with fists flying at his face and chest. He knew what to do with punches and other hand-strikes. I just hit his arms, over and over. (And I was faster than him, curse it!).

Couldn't block a kick to save his life. Any match between us devolved into me frantically trying to dodge, block, or deflect and endless stream of strikes from his hands and him frantically trying to remember that he could be kicked.

Was fun. :)

Anyways, it's that practice. Punching a living, breathing, moving, thinking opponent. Especially when you and he/she are skilled enough and practiced enough to move at full speed.

Do that an hour or two a week, every week, for a year and untrained opponents might as well be emailing you their strikes a few days ahead of time, and are ridiculously slow to boot. Of course, the converse is if you STOP practicing you slow down too.

Not that it's a pancea. We didn't do a lot of falls or throws, and like the boxer who couldn't handle kicks -- I never did get comfortable handling bull-rushes or ground fighting.

Some guy charging me was likely to put me on my butt, and I was likely to get pounded at that point.

In the end, though, it's the practice. Nothing like having someone try to punch you in the head to learn how to deal with someone trying to punch you in the head.

Anyways, it's that practice. Punching a living, breathing, moving, thinking opponent.

I wasn't trying to suggest that hitting a bag is a substitute for sparring - just that it's something, as opposed to nothing, which is what I would otherwise be relying on.

My philosophy about what to do when the fight breaks out has always been:

1. throw a chair at your assailant's legs as hard as you can
2. run far away very quickly

In the absence of a chair to throw, I'm hoping any large-ish piece of furniture will do.

What I'm really hoping is that it just never comes up.

The strongest object lesson I ever learned about this stuff came when I gave some guy the finger once in traffic.

I guess I figured, hey, it's Massachusetts, if you can't flip another driver off here, where can you?

The guy boxed me in at the next traffic light. He and his friend got out of their truck and demanded I get out of the car. When I refused, they punched some dents into my car. Bare-handed.

So, at very little real cost to myself, I learned to not be a stupid smart@ss d**k to random strangers.

It was a good lesson, and quite cheap at the price. It was a crappy car anyway.

Am I that unusual in having lived to the age of 67 and never having been in a fight in my life? Nor ever really close to it, for that matter. I have no martial skills whatsoever, unless the mouth qualifies as a weapon . . .

Turbulence, I wear 100% cotton (belt and shoes excluded of course) for a similar reason. I studied chemistry and there always was the cotton only regulation. At times it was rather difficult to get 100% cotton socks. Since a mandatory industrial internship I also wear safety boots/shoes round the year. The disadvantage is of course that they trigger metal detectors.

coming to synthetics just recently, I didn't know about the smell thing, so I was wondering why all of them have as a sales point some anti odor compound built in.

I still miss my old Tevas. They got stinky and I had to throw them out. They were so comfortable, but throwing out shoes that still had wear in them, but just couldn't be de-stunk was too much and I've never gotten another pair.

"So, at very little real cost to myself, I learned to not be a stupid smart@ss d**k to random strangers."

IRL. :) (sorry, that was a softball just hanging there)

IRL. :)


Yes, online I can let my smart@ss freak flag fly!!!

Seriously, the guy punched dents in my driver's side door, with his bare hands.

It was a good lesson.

Some people are naturally smart, some have to have intelligence beaten into them, where for "beaten" please read "pounded into them by the reality of the consequences of their own boneheadedness".

I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to discern into which category I, personally, fall.

He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despite, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Also sprach Aeschylus, I don't think anyone's said it better since then.

"Seriously, the guy punched dents in my driver's side door, with his bare hands."

Haaving grown up in Texas, in my younger days I always looked for a gun rack before flipping someone off. Having commuted in Boston for twenty years I find I never much notice what other drivers do.

I'm not so sure that what is important to take away from martial arts practice is experience striking a real live opponent. Rather, I think the critical part is experience looking at an opponent, even in the middle of a fight with all that's going on, and seeing where the openings are.

You may not be able to deliver a good blow to those spots. But just the fact that you can figure out where they are ups your success rate enormously. That's one reason that, back in the day when I actually did some teaching, the critical exercise was this:
-- gather a half dozen people in a circle.
-- have one guys stand in the middle and fight everybody else in turn
-- then have everybody else go thru (usually in inverse order of experience) and critique.
-- repeat, until everybody has been "it"

We emphasized that everybody was required to critique everybody. It didn't matter if you were a total novice, and the guy in the middle was an expert. You were still expected to come up with something to say.

It all helped the guy in the middle, of course. But the critical part was that the students learned early that nobody was perfect, and that they could (and should) watch a potential opponent to see what flaws they might be able to exploit.

And that is, I think, the most valuable lesson from the martial arts. You learn to see what an opponent is doing, so you can shape your response accordingly.

It's funny, I came to aikido because I did judo and tore up my knee, so the _martial_ aspect of it was always secondary, because judo was a sport for me.

I'm the faculty advisor for the aikido club here on campus, and at most Japanese universities, these 'Japanese' clubs are slowly withering away. The judo and kendo clubs retain a healthy membership because kids who've done it in secondary school join, but aikido isn't done among children and teens here so much so it's a real struggle to keep students coming in. I say this because while there are (obviously) Japanese who are interested in self defense, the thrust of 'martial' arts is within a particular style rather than the learning of 'this is how you defend yourself'. I ask the students why they started studying aikido and self defense never really comes up (though, in fairness, the style done by the school club is really soft, so soft that when I teach, I often feel I have to explicitly explain why there is a hard and a soft aspect to the technique) Yet the overwhelming impression I get from everyone's comments here is that they go into a martial art to be able to protect themselves. Is that the case?

Since this is an open thread, and things are a little slow here, several weeks ago Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, gave a wonderful commencement address at Barnard. I was struck by one piece of it:

The first thing is I encourage you to think big. Studies show very clearly that in our country, in the college-educated part of the population, men are more ambitious than women. They’re more ambitious the day they graduate from college; they remain more ambitious every step along their career path. We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap. But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now

and put my thoughts here">http://nowadifferentview.com/2011/06/17/lack-of-ambition-isnt-the-issue/">here

I had some New Balances that had acquired an odor. I tried washing, but no go. A few weeks ago I sprinkled a fair amount of baking soda into them and let them sit, dry, for a few days. Odor is no longer noticeable.

Yet the overwhelming impression I get from everyone's comments here is that they go into a martial art to be able to protect themselves. Is that the case?

I got into it so my daughter could protect herself and I wanted to do something together. Somewhere in the process, she came to the point that she can now kick my butt. Mostly because I am so inflexible she knows I can't do certain things and she's clever. And yes, she's 17 and really quick and I'm not as thin as I once was.

And that's why I'm in it-fighting the age fight. I'm going down swinging. Or kicking. My jump spinning kicks are truly comical but they won't always be that way. Shoot, any kick looked really bad four years ago.

As for the gi, we have to use cotton and, being from Alaska originally, I get hot at anything over 70F and a touch of humidity. And I sweat. My current gi is one of those thick ones and at class it's hitting 85. Lj, I don't know how you do it over there. I look like someone threw me in the river after an hour as it is.

CCDG: "We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap."

Yes, but in this economic culture, can they do it without also closing the sociopathy and psychopathy gap?

Early returns in the Iowa Republican primaries say no, considering the complete lack of a jagoff gap between the boy and girl candidates and their supporters.

Ayn Rand closed the gap (two for the price of one: the girls got to be entrepreneurs AND still enjoy the benefits of rape) and its going to take more than a well-dressed roundhouse kick to the gonads to clear the room of the damage to the culture and our vaunted markets.

Equality in America means both genders get to be lying, thieving a#sholes without regulatory interference from the SEC as the former destroy the country.

There was a letter to Dear Abby/Ann Landers the other day regarding the protocol to be followed when a half-dozen family members demand to carry concealed weapons to the wedding and reception (it's our right by law, blah, blah, blah)

Other than directing the mother of the bride to watch "Goodfellas", I'm not sure short of patting down these ilk at the door, how one would know whether they are concealing or not. I suppose you could dress up the bridemaids in some snazzy lululemons for when the armed sh2theads take umbrage at something misunderstood during the third champagne toast ("and in closing, I'd like to wish Wayne LaPierre a long life on his knees kissing my a#s...") but unless Quentin Tarentino has choreographed some slow-mo drawing of bigger weaponry from the ladies' garter belt/holsters, I don't think martial arts will fair particularly well against the against the drunken Norquist clan at the cousins-from-out-of-town table.

John Kasich just signed a bill in Ohio permitting concealed carry in bars so I can't wait until the next time I visit and some lunkhead sidles up to me and tells me I've got a purty mouth. I guess I'll have to agree with him seeing as how my old karate outfit doesn't wick away hollow-point bullets.

Should be fun for the cops, too.

I think Martin Luther King was wearing some loose-fitting martial arts gear when conservative cracker James Earle Ray shot him from a safe cowardly distance.

But that's the general difference between conservatives and liberals in America: for former opt for the telescopic lens while the latter's clothing breathes on the way to the emergency room.

I notice Grover Norquist didn't ask candidates for the RNC last year what shade of martial arts gear they wear; he asked them how many guns they owned.

In other news, John Quincy Lennon was a founding beatlefather at the age of nine AND a runaway slave while his wife Betsy Ono could sew a man flag.

In closing, as the boxer said, everyone's got a plan until they are punched in the mouth, though I think Indiana Jones had a superior plan.

If you can't a stunning first punch in, run like hell, which is why conservative rock-and-roller Ted Nugent who appears on stage with machine guns on either hip and threatens to murder Hillary and Barack gets invited back to FOX to purvey squirrel jerky to Mike Huckabee.

Because squirrels and liberals haven't figured out how to sneak up behind him and hack him to pieces with a machete.

"Yet the overwhelming impression I get from everyone's comments here is that they go into a martial art to be able to protect themselves. Is that the case?"

My martial art is running, but I got into it partly to get into shape and partly (once I got into it) because it was fun. For self defense in most urban situations one should probably emphasize very short intervals, assuming you are running to the nearest police station or area where there are lots of people. Distance running in itself is probably only of use in those rare situations you see in movies, where you're in the wilderness stuck with some bad guys trying to recover something valuable from a plane crash. And you should practice trail running for that and in all sorts of weather, since you never know if the movie script will land you in the desert (like in that movie with John Travolta as the renegade Air Force officer trying to steal a nuke) or in the mountains (as in the Stallone movie where money was at stake). A little rock climbing experience would also help. You should also be strong enough to lift one of the bad guys directly overhead so you can impale them on a stalactite if necessary. Stallone did that. I gotta get a little more serious with my military presses if I'm ever going to do that, but weightlifting and running conflict with each other, or at least the latter slows down progress in the former.

I also took tai chi for a few years, and got into that because I thought martial arts looked cool but didn't particularly want to practice one that might actually get me injured--I get enough of that from running. I certainly never came close to the level of proficiency that would make it practical for self-defense.

Yet the overwhelming impression I get from everyone's comments here is that they go into a martial art to be able to protect themselves. Is that the case?

I don't really think so. Being able to defend onself is, for me at least, a fringe benefit. But I commented as I did because self-defense seemed to be the focus at that point.

The core attraction for me was that a) it was fun, and b) it was the only physical exercise that I ever came across that I would actually stick with (since it was fun) -- and like most geeks, I wasn't getting as much exercise as might have been desirable.


One bit of evidence for the cultural impatitive of male ambition that you discuss is the negative cultural connotations of the term "househusband." Way more so than "housewife" -- however that term has become somewhat negative in the past few decades.

Among the families that I know where the wife is the primary income earner, virtually all of the husbands are (at least for public consumption) writers or artists of some kind. Mostly with no sign of ever completing any works, let alone actually selling something. But having a "career" seems to be very important. Even if they are not visibly succeeding at it; even if it is one which pays little or nothing.

I suppose that I should note in passing that sometimes the man in question actually is writing something, and eventually succeeds in selling it. Sometimes for big bucks, which more than make up for the years of minimal income. See, for instance, the current President of the United States. But it is definitely the exception.

For most of those cases where the wife is the primary earner, the income imbalance never comes close to being redressed. And the husband never stops claiming that he is "working on" a masterpiece.

A friend and I like to play a game: Name any movie tough-guy, hero or villain, including movie monsters, who can take on Joe Pesci and survive without being buried in upstate New York.

Kirk Douglas in the "The Vikings" versus Joe Pesci -- there's a big Viking burial ground on Long Island.

Bruce Lee versus Joe Pesci -- Pesci kicks people to a bloody pulp with his cheap Italian shoes while they're admiring their own slow-mo hang-time.

Shane versus Joe Pesci -- Shane's horse can be found underneath him in a marsh near Poughkeepsie.

The Alien versus Joe Pesci -- Pesci pours acid on his ziti for flavoring, you bug.

The only time Pesci runs into trouble is when one of the above turns out to be a made man and then sumpin hadda be done.

It's all taken care of. Fuhgetaboutit.

Among the families that I know where the wife is the primary income earner, virtually all of the husbands are (at least for public consumption) writers or artists of some kind.

I know a number of male musicians whose household arrangement is:

Mom works a day job that has benefits.

Dad plays as many gigs as he can get, and usually has some students. Maybe operates a home studio or does pro sound or something.

Dad gets the kids out the door in the AM, picks them up from day care or school, gets their afternoons organized. Mom picks up the slack when she gets home.

It actually works pretty well. I know a lot of the guys enjoy hanging out with their kids during the day, it's a shame more guys don't have the opportunity to do so.

It doesn't work well if folks are worried about who's bringing in more $$$, because when you work for yourself (the normal musician business model) it can vary really widely. Spouses of performing artists have to be very, very flexible people.

The issue around "who stays home" almost always has to do with kids. The default is that Mom is the primary child care provider, so women are more likely to be the stay-at-home parent, if the family is lucky enough to be able to afford to have only one income earner.

Not sure if that's right, wrong, good thing or bad thing, it just seems to me that the calculus of the situation is actually not that complicated.

More women stay home, because primary child care falls to the woman by default.

Personally, I'd like to see the "ambition gap" reduced by more folks being a hell of a lot less ambitious. Don't think big, think small. Pay attention to the people and things that are right around you. Make time to develop yourself as a human being, even if it means you don't make a billion dollars.

Money don't buy no love, y'all. Just saying, and it ain't original with me.

Personally, I'd like to see the "ambition gap" reduced by more folks being a hell of a lot less ambitious. Don't think big, think small. Pay attention to the people and things that are right around you. Make time to develop yourself as a human being, even if it means you don't make a billion dollars.

I was reading through this thread and was about to sit down -- 100% sure I would regret it, but in a cranky tired mood so about to do it anyhow -- and write that maybe the cure for a lot of our ills would come from the ambition gap being closed by urging some people to be less ambitious rather than the other way around.

As usual, russell said it better.

Instead of more more more of everything, including ambition, how about the concept of "enough"?

But what about GDP?! Economic growth? Consumer demand? How is the human race ever to deplete the earth of its humanly obtainable resources within the next century or two with all this talk of "less?" What would the economists say?

I mean, people need a reason to make plastic, don't they? Think of the plastic....

It depends on who the economists are addressing.

For those who have plenty, plenty more is the imperative.

For those without, less is more. The less the better. Unless it's work, and then doing more for less is .... more.

That's why the second group is called our lessers. But the more of our lessers doing more for less, the better ......

..... for our betters.

"But what about GDP?! Economic growth? Consumer demand? How is the human race ever to deplete the earth of its humanly obtainable resources within the next century or two with all this talk of "less?""

Well, while I am not sure it addresses the ambition gap, we are quickly proving we are willing to consume anything.

In the absence of creating anything of value we will consume Farmville and Foursquare. We will reward mediocre technical innovation with extraordinary valuations and reward the most trivial social diversion with instant cult status.

We will trade our most basic rights to privacy for the perception that we are part of the in crowd and up on the next social media wave, just to feel like a part of something greater than ourselves.

Maybe as the world shrinks and our sense of personal isolation grows, families get more dispersed, traditional communities more tenuous, that need to feel a sense of belonging becomes more important. Perhaps driving everything from the trivial explosion of Farmville to the more hardening of identity politics as reflected in the Tea party.

Uh, what was I saying?

Sure is weeaboo in here.

We will trade our most basic rights to privacy for the perception that we are part of the in crowd and up on the next social media wave, just to feel like a part of something greater than ourselves.

That is apparently true of the extraverts among us -- and there seem to be lots of them. But the introverts in the population? Not so much. It may apply to those who would like to be more extraverted, I suppose.

But for those who can honestly say, in my father' words, "I've often been alone; but I've never been lonely" the need to feel like we're part of the crowd is like a foreign, and not particularly attractive, country. Which is why we have no desire to be on a "reality" show, and cannot imagine why anyone would.

I took martial arts -- and stuck with it -- because it was, basically, fun exercise.

I didn't expect to enjoy sparring -- I did. (Sparring was optional, as long as you didn't want to advance past yellow belt. Self-defense wasn't, neither were katas).

I'd come home after an hour or 90 minute workout, soaked and exhausted and it would have felt like I hadn't been gone that long. SO much better than a treadmill.

I was 19 or so when I started, and my mother -- amusingly -- was on my case to exercise. She didn't consider it real exercise until I happened to drop by her home after class to pick something up. Seeing me looking like I'd jumped into a pool in my gi convinced her it was, in fact, aerobic exercise.

We did a lot of running, and between that and sparring, aerobically it felt a great deal like wind sprints. I didn't lose any weight -- but I lost several inches around the middle.

The self-defense stuff was just a nice bonus. Then I tore some kinda important lower back muscles, got fat, and can't seem to get started again.

Which is why I'm looking at Tai Chi, although there's a five-style, old-school (not quite so old school you screw up your bones, but mixing martial arts with meditation) Kung Fu place I've considered.

Aikido and Jujitsu are both on the "maybe" list, and there's an iaedo place that's another possible. (Iaedo's an unusual sword art. It's really hard to explain, but a friend of mine -- she loved it, and has mostly sold me on trying it. Her only complaint was her own dojo also did Kendo, and a lot of students pushed everyone to spar. Sparring in kendo can be punishing).

Personally I'd love to learn Silat, but there's a dearth of teachers.

So, to sum up: Martial arts is FUN exercise. Sparring -- and we did point sparring, although by the time you were a brown belt a 'touch' was punishing enough (I've seen a black belt fracture a face-mask with a kick. Brown belts only pull enough that a mistake my your opponent won't cause serious injury).

I wouldn't want to do full-contact or anything close. It's a sport. :) Point is bad enough, if you screw up. My worst was either a nasty blow to the back of the head (I saw stars. Through headgear AND full padded gloves. He clocked me good) or the time I walked into a sidekick. The guy I was sparring with was a brown belt, close to black -- I was about 10 months from trying for brown myself.

I moved in to strike, he slid and kicked -- and it hit me about three inches under the armpit. The feeling of your rib-cage compressing is...unusual. Had a lovely set of bruises. He was very apologetic he didn't manage to pull it more, but we were moving very fast and, well, that was an instictive counter. If he hadn't pulled it, I'd have broken ribs.

There is no padding on the bottom of your feet, and we didn't wear any on the sides. Totally worth it. :)

You know, reading that...it's weird. I am utterly un-macho in every way. I avoid fights, I am non-confrontational. I quail at the thought of an actual altercation. Yet trying to kick a guy in the face was the most fun I've ever had in a sport...well, raquetball with a well matched opponent could be close.

doing iaido! Cool! I think that it can be a great workout, but it frustrates me in a way that aikido has never done. If you want to chat about it, send me an email offlist.(libjpn at gmail)

I did not begin doing TKD knowing how to defend myself. Sure, I knew a lot about how to damage someone, but that's hardly as useful as I needed it to be. Fortunately I was able to avoid an a$$kicking. Russell's experience made me wonder how wise it would be to attempt to dent a car with hands rather than e.g. a back kick. I suppose that anyone who can do that without breaking some delicate metacarpals is to be in general left unantagonized.

I'm still struggling with the respect-others aspect of the art, but I think I do it bettet now than a few years ago. Maybe.

One word: bamboo. Wicks like the synthetics, feels like (and removes odors like) cotton. Only problem is it doesn't dry as fast on a line as synthetics.

I've never understood the whole "wicking" thing. When you're drenched with sweat I don't see how "wicking" would make it magically disappear or evaporate faster.

In my younger days (late 30's) when I went to the Y I would spend 30 minutes on the stationary bike (which was the time limit) and there would be a puddle of sweat on the seat after spending that time putting out 250-300 watts (according to the machine anyway). I was very good about wiping it up and giving the bike a good spraying and wiping,btw. The same for doing intervals inside or out--my T-shirt, synthetic or cotton, would be so full of sweat you could have wrung cuploads out of it, I think. (Never actually measured it). What is wicking supposed to do about this? All I can think of is that the wicking actually consists of tiny wormholes that transport the water to some other dimension, but in my case the manufacturers must not have used the proper wormhole-constructing material, because it never worked.

My workouts are less intense, but I can still get pretty soaked.


I don't really understand the wicking either, but I think it works. Wash a synthetic and it will dry much faster than cotton. Seems as if the same would apply to sweat as well as water. I think the main idea is that they just don't hold as much moisture as cotton, so the moisture has to go somewhere - through a wormhole or into the atmosphere or something. But I could be wrong.

Still, I wear them and haven't experienced the odor problem. (Not sure if people with me would agree. I haven't asked.) They do seem drier and more comfortable, at least in everyday use and moderate execise, like hiking, in hot weather.

Morat20: well, raquetball with a well matched opponent could be close.

And there's my martial art of choice!

Bernard--Well, they must be working with some people. For me I haven't really detected a big difference between that and cotton (except that I get comments about stinkiness of washed synthetic T shirts).


It's plain physics, actually. :) Your body is trying desperately to shed heat as you exercise. (You're drawing on energy reserves that. Burning fat, metabolizing sugars -- heat is a byproduct of any of that).

There's a couple of ways the body cools itself -- rushing more blood past the surface is one, but evaporation is the other. Water (sweat!) is release to evaporate, taking heat with it.

That's why "Not sweating" is a sign someone is about to drop over dead from heat stroke. your body has stopped even trying to get rid of heat and is shutting down.

So, back to wicking -- if your sweat is all tangled up in your clothes, it can't evaporate as efficiently. So clothes that "wick" it to the surface to evaporate cool your body more efficiently.

There's also the whole 'friction' aspect to consider of wet clothes...but anyways, that's my understanding of it.

Clothes that 'breath' do the same thing -- they let sweat evaporate better than most clothes. Your body isn't really designed to cool itself while wearing clothes, you know. :)

Wicking fabrics were first developed, IIRC, to get sweat away from your body when you're wearing multiple layers, particularly in an alpine-sport environment where moisture next to the skin can freeze and result in all sorts of nasty things like hypothermia.

Comfort fabrics such as cotton don't keep you warm when they're wet, whereas wool does, but is quite uncomfortable. Wool breathes well, though, so once moisture is wicked away from the skin it can evaporate rapidly, particularly in a dry, alpine environment.

This is all part and parcel of the idea behind (or under, if you prefer) layered clothing. Somehow I recall that being distorted to become the "cool" frat-boy look of wearing one shirt on top of another, on top of another.

As far as I can tell from some brief googling, wicking depends on capillary action. The moisture moves through narrow tubes from the wet area to a drier one. That means that once all parts are equally wet, the capillary action stops.

That might explain why it works well in moderate activity, but doesn't help much in more strenuous exercise, where the limits are reached.

It could also explain why wicking fabrics are not much better than cotton in very hot & humid environments.

Capillary action sucks.

Switching gears, since this is an open thread, I came across Schemes of the Rich and Greedy from Michael Hudson last November. This cracked me up, in an it's-better-to-laugh-than-to-cry way:

Here’s how I think the plan is intended to work. Given the fact that voters have already rejected the flat tax in principle, it can only be introduced by fiat under crisis conditions. Alan Simpson, President Obama’s designated co-chairman of the “Deficit Reduction Commission” (the euphemistic title he has given to his “Shift Taxes Off Wealth Onto Labor” commission, STOWOL) already has suggested that Republicans close down the government by refusing to increase the federal debt limit this spring. This would create a fiscal crisis and threat of government shutdown. It would be a fiscal 9/11, for the Republicans to trot out their “rescue plan” for the emergency breakdown of government.[emphasis mine]

The result would cap the tax shift off finance and wealth onto wage earners. Supported by Blue Dog Democrats, President Obama would shed crocodile tears and sign off on the most right-wing, oligarchic, anti-labor, anti-black and anti-minority, anti-industrial tax that anyone has yet been able to think up. The notorious Flat Tax which would fall only on wage income (paid by employees and employers alike) and on consumer goods (the value-added tax, VAT), while exempting returns that accrue to the wealthy in the form of interest and dividend income, rent and capital gains.

If you think I’m too cynical, just watch …

I don't know if the great plan to save the economy (by choking it) will play out with a flat tax, but he definitely got part of his prediction right. I guess we'll see about the rest.

That cold weather explanation makes sense. I rarely run outside when it is cold--that's when I use treadmills. In warm outdoor weather or indoors I get soaking wet from sweat and it doesn't seem to matter what I'm wearing.

Wicking clothes hold less water, so even in the absence of effective evaporation, they saturate much faster and leave you a bit lighter, at least if some of the excess is flung off rather than just running down to your feet to soak your shoes and socks.

That might explain why it works well in moderate activity, but doesn't help much in more strenuous exercise, where the limits are reached.

It could also explain why wicking fabrics are not much better than cotton in very hot & humid environments.

Yes and yes. Living in the Great Lakes region, when I do 20+ mile bike rides in July and August, all the wicking in the world isn't going to save me. Even 10 miles in the heat of the day leaves me looking like I just stepped out of the shower fully clothed.

There is a certain possibility that wicking fabrics can offer: if they can expose the wicked moisture to more opportunity for evaporation.

Otherwise, it all runs down into your socks.

When I first started running longer distances (8 miles and longer) I would carry a fanny pack that had 2 water bottles and a Walkman w/headphones. That plus shorts, shoes and socks comprised my entire wardrobe. Once I bought some new shorts to run in; one of which was more pink than safety orange and the other was bright yellow. First time I ran in the pink shorts, I discovered while getting ready to shower that the pink wasn't completely colorfast, because my socks were now pink.

That's how much you can sweat in Florida, and how little evaporates.

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