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skin diving

Vistamar November 16, 2005 Wednesday


I can't remember the last time I went skin diving except for showing up at the UP pool with my mask and fins. When I got an invite to tag along to Vistamar in Anilao, I went for it...even if it meant missing my morning weight training workout.

Holding it longer
Maybe due to my daily yogic breathing exercise (pranayama), I was able to hold on to the air longer. I could thus go deeper. Finally, I got deep enough to catch glimpses of the reef wall before I went up for air. I kept doing this, it felt like doing yoga on water. I couldn't do it gung-ho either. I had no buddy and pushing it seemed wreckless. I was just glad to be snorkling again.

Nonong Mercado
One of the people in the group was Nonong. A long-time family friend, he earned his 4th dan black belt degree in Karate decades ago. Since then, he has two-fisted himself through life as a seaman and adventurer. His life can be summed up in three words: booze, women and fights. Yes, at 68 years of age, this guy is as lethal as when he was 25. Despite his lifestyle choice, he managed to sustain his chi. We did a few moves together and I was surprised how fast and strong he was. My body was hurting from the blocks he gave me. Given my fitness level, martial arts background and my relative youth, this guy can beat me cold in 2 seconds flat. He was just lightning fast. Even gang members (bahala na, oxo and sigue sigue sputnik) from his tough neighborhood know better to stay out of his radius.

Combat Ready in 3 Months
When Nonong witnessed a 6th month Karate trainee get beaten up in Quiapo, he was disgusted that the guy didn't learn enough in 6 months to defend himself. He blamed the money-making method of keeping the student as long as possible in the gym instead of getting him ready asap to knuckle his way through life. He said something that resonated in me. He said, "If I were to teach anyone, as long as he does whatever I tell him to do, he'll be combat ready in Quiapo in 3 months". 3 months??? From my understanding of Karate, it takes years of dedicated training to be good...just like any other martial arts. But coming from Nonong, the guy who had his Ph.d. in street corner brawl and always coming out in 1 piece, I was stunned. 3 months?

I consider myself a student in search of a good teacher. I don't care what the lesson is as much as I care about the quality of the teacher. If it will only take 3 months, I'll give him my 3 months. Unfortunately, when I took him up for it, he said something like, "I'm always combat ready but not necessarily ready to teach. I can't right now. I'm always drunk and I haven't conditioned my body to be fit for teaching". Knowing what I know of him, I understand. It's easier for him to beat up someone than to train someone what he knows. Sigh...I got so close but didn't go anywhere.

--- TheLoneRider

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