It’s All In The Hips

The last time I went bouldering, I struggled on a steep (overhanging) V3. Despite having climbed this problem before, I couldn’t get my hand up to a hold and hang on, and I couldn’t figure out why.

At home, I’m slowly making my way through a book on climbing technique. I’m currently reading a chapter on movement initiation, center of mass, arching your back, and leading with your hips.

All of a sudden, everything clicked. I had trouble reaching that hold and hanging on because my hips were pulling me down.

Revisited the problem this morning. Initiated with the hips. Easy peasy.

It’s all in the hips. I’ve learned this lesson over and over again: shooting a hockey puck, riding a manual (the few times I’ve managed one), playing taiko, rotating freestyle, and now on the climbing wall.

I want to start playing tennis again, now that I have a better understanding of body movement and power generation. I’m super curious about doing something I learned naturally as a kid with my new analyze everything mindset.

Watch Me

Came across this just now and it hit a nerve.

It brought up memories of my own high school guidance counselor, who laughed and said dismissively, “Good luck, out of state students don’t have much of a chance,” when I told her I was applying to Berkeley.

I find myself wondering if this a common occurrence with high school guidance counselors.

As for, “We all have to find the people who believe in us,” I agree. It’s incredibly motivating.

That said, I feel strongly that first you must believe in yourself.

When you believe in yourself, doubters don’t matter. You can dismiss them, you can ignore them, you can look them in the eye and say, “Watch me.”

I walked out of my guidance counselor’s office, went to the post office, and put my application in the mail.

– – –

I finally remembered my guidance counselor’s name after I published this post. Out of curiosity, I found her on the internet. She’s now the counseling department head at my high school.

This discovery makes me think of my high school’s motto, “A Symbol of Pride and Excellence.”

We like to display this motto under our school mascot:

This mascot is modeled after a white guy whose last name is Yacubian.

I kid you not.

Oh wait, I’ve already told you this. But now there’s a quality picture.

When Life Gives You Lemons

… clog your arteries?

My friend gave me a bag of lemons and my aunt gave me a giant thing of sour cream, so I made lemon pound cake.

I burned the bottoms (of course I did), so I cut them off and made lemon pound cake bread pudding with the tops.

It’s delicious, probably because it contains a cup of butter, two cups of sour cream, four cups of sugar, and eight eggs.

I still have a giant pile of lemons left. That’ll be four more cups of sugar in my future:

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Who would have thought lemons could be so bad for you?

Swing!

The day I solved That White V4, I attempted a different white V4 that had recently gone up in the other room.

Three moves in, I hit a wall. Or maybe a gap. The fourth move was a left hand hold 5 feet above the previous hold. I’m 5’6″. That’s a long distance.

I tried jumping, but my first few attempts landed my hand short, or too far from the wall.

I thought about the setup, and what I learned doing that OTHER white V4 earlier this year. (There is definitely a theme here.) I decided I needed to pull in with my arms, push up with my right leg, and keep pushing with my left leg.

That launched me high enough to reach the hold, but I couldn’t hang on with my full body weight and momentum swinging away from the wall. That, and my left shoulder is not super happy at the moment.

I climbed up to the elusive hold, grabbed it, and put my left foot on the hold it had launched from. I didn’t need to launch.

The next go around, I pulled in with my arms, pushed up with my right leg, and pushed up with my left leg with just enough power to boost me to the hold, but not so much that I came off.

I caught the hold, continued swinging left, and fell off.

Back to the drawing board. What was my right hand doing? Nothing. I climbed back up to the elusive hold, grabbed it with my left hand, grabbed it with my right hand, and swung. Solid.

All right, then. Everything I did before, plus put my right hand on the hold for the swing.

That did the trick.

I had the same reaction after watching this video as I did after watching the one from last week. How could something I found so difficult look so easy? Is it actually easy, or am I making it look easy?

I guess that depends on how good a climber you are.

Elephant Adventure 39: Appreciation

This exercise was much like Elephant Adventure 8 and 30×7. I’ve done this before, and I do this regularly even when I’m not on an Adventure.

What’s interesting is the topics I wrote down. Work has been incredibly busy these past few months, and this was evident in my list of things I appreciate: free food, working from office couches, working from random places like the tire shop, training classes, N95 filters (they handed them out at work when the smoke was really bad last week), health insurance, the ability to juggle life tasks that require being in front of a computer, remembering to be like water when things got extra crazy.

Because of all this busyness, I didn’t get around to writing up this Adventure until Thanksgiving, at which point posts like this one started (re)circulating.

I love this video. It’s a great reminder not only to appreciate the little positives in life, but to appreciate everything, every minute of every day.

Like this very moment. How cool is it that I have a computer, power, a web host, the ability to broadcast my thoughts to the world, the power of language, the skill of typing, streaming music, speakers to play it on, glasses to see what I’m doing, a warm house, people who invented and made all this stuff?

And that’s just a fraction of a single moment.

This world is pretty amazing.

Elephant Adventure 40: Signs of Aging

That White V4

I haven’t been writing much about climbing. The last couple months have mostly been morning bouldering sessions. I’ve been climbing everything between V0 and V3, plus a smattering of V4s. Once I decide to climb something, I generally work on it until I solve it. Most things don’t take more than a couple sessions to solve.

Except for this one white V4. They put it up at the beginning of October, and I must have climbed this thing 20 times over 6 weeks before finally solving it. I’d try and get stuck, try and get stuck again, go home, think about alternatives, try and get stuck, repeat.

I went home and thought some more. The thing I was stuck on were a pair of near-vertical holds toward the top. They’re shaped and angled such that there’s nothing to hook or hang your fingers on. The hold is all about hand strength. (At least it is to me based on my current skill.)

Fortuitously, I destroyed my hands at taiko a couple weeks ago. I wondered if some liquid chalk would provide some blister-free grip, so I finally sprung for a tube of the stuff. The chalk arrived, did exactly the opposite of what I wanted for taiko, but now I finally had some long lasting crazy dry grip for the holds I kept sweaty hands sliding off.

A fresh application of liquid chalk, plus a dusting of plain old Gorilla Grip chalk was all I needed to trust that I could stick well enough to complete the moves:

I cheated a little in this video: My left knee actually bumps against the long black hold when I rock to the left. I adjusted after watching this, straightening my knee a little more (I think) and rocking a little less to the left to finish the problem cleanly.

Upon studying the video, I decided to write this post for my future self. This problem actually required a lot of skills I’ve learned in the past year. I wanted to write them down, then come back a few years from now to see much more I’ve learned.

  • 0:08 – Upper body low on the start. You’ll peel off the wall if your upper body is up high, which I didn’t realize until a guy was trying to do this the other day and asked how I wasn’t falling off the start.
  • 0:10 – Turning your feet (and thus body) in place.
  • 0:17 – Back flag. I flag a lot, back flag almost never, but it was perfect here to keep my body from barn dooring.
  • 0:32 – I’ve actually tucked my hip onto that hold on the right.
  • 0:50 – I’m pushing down with my right foot, up with my right knee, and wedging my right leg in place between the two holds.
  • 0:53 – Repeating, “Trustyourgrip trustyourgrip trustyourgrip,” over and over ahead in my head.
  • 0:57 – Left knee is in an ugly rock-over. I’m just learning this technique, and as I study the video I realize I could have relied on it more at 0:42 as well.
  • 1:00 – OMG I made it to the far left hold!!!
  • 1:04 – Switching feet. Could have been cleaner, but at least I didn’t slip switching like I did at 0:13.
  • 1:10 – One attempt before this video, I felt sooo good knowing I could reach that final hold. In this video, I’m disappointed that I touched my knee on the black hold again. In the next and final attempt, I’m super thrilled about solving it fully.

Too much? Am I overanalyzing?

I think that’s actually a good thing.

Update: 2018-11-22 @ 9:02 AM

When I went to the gym yesterday morning they were replacing all the bouldering routes in that area. I solved this just in time!

Shime

For the last 9 months, we’ve been practicing on chu-daiko on angled stands, striking sideways from right to left, shifting our weight in a wide stance.

Yesterday, we switched to shime-daiko, smaller drums you play from a seated position the floor. It’s a totally different experience.

Instead of shifting your weight, your sit cross-legged on the ground. Instead of moving your arms diagonally, you move them straight up and down. There’s a subtle but core difference in arm extension: Instead of “flaring”, you “tuck”. The bachi are baby sized in comparison to the ones we’ve been using for chu-taiko.

Getting the new motion down is going to take some practice.

Maintaining a still and straight upper body while playing feels like a solid core workout. Also the baby bachi don’t cause blisters as easily. Double win!

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Since I started taiko drumming in February, I’ve attended two shows.

The first one was in April. My reaction? “Holy crap, they’re really good!”

The second one was last night. They’re still really good, but now I have a better appreciation of what they’re doing, what’s hard, what’s exhausting, what’s improv, and all the little tweaks they make during the course of a live performance.

It’s like how I learned to watch hockey differently over the years. Now as I watch people drum I analyze what I like about their style and try to incorporate some of it into my own.

What’s the taiko equivalent of an ice hockey lacrosse goal?