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  • mono 11:27 pm on December 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Coaching, Colbert Report, Determination, , Genius, , Michael Phelps, Sports, Stephen Colbert, Thomas Edison, training, , Watch   

    How Determined Are You? 

    Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Michael Phelps. Slipped in between the jokes, Colbert asked Phelps about his training for the Olympics. Phelps said that during a five-year span, he practiced every single day for four to six hours a day.

    That bears repeating: 5 years…365 days a year…4-6 hours a day…

    Talk about determination. Talk about someone aware of what it takes to actually achieve the “impossible.” That’s the kind of dedication and determination that will get you where you want to go if you’re really willing to put in the hard work that it takes to get there. To be “the best” takes sacrifice and grit. Or, to turn to Thomas Edison, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Discover your genius by actually doing something about it.

    The Colbert/Phelps interview can be seen here.

    Also, Thank you, Mr. Phelps for your determination.

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  • mono 2:58 pm on October 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 50, ability, easy, , increase, , , , , , , , , training   

    50 Ways to Increase Your Japanese Language Ability (Study Techniques) 

    I have been studying Japanese for eight years. The first three years I studied at a university in the United States (studying and working for the university as a Japanese tutor). One year was spent working in South Korea and studying Japanese every morning with Korean adults (I was the only non-Korean student in the class). The latter four years have been me living and working in Japan, using Japanese on a daily basis and, for the most part, getting by quite well with the skills I have developed. I have experience in academic translation work, language consultation, education and interpretation.

    I’m not sure how relevant this will be to those learning a language other than Japanese, but if they are of use, then great, I’m happy to have helped contribute to your gain in competency.

    The following list is in no particular order. You decide which of these is more useful than the other and above all, use them. Thank you.

    1. Start with reading and writing as this will help you in the long run.
    2. Learn the hiragana syllabry perfectly and be able to write and recall it from memory.
    3. Learn the katakana syllabry perfectly and be able to write and recall it from memory.
    4. Learn a set number of kanji per day by writing them over and over and over again.
    5. Memorize at least 10 particles. If possible, buy a book specifically dealing with particles and learn as many as possible. You will thank yourself later.
    6. Increase and review your vocabulary on a daily basis.
    7. Practice pronunciation with native Japanese speakers.
    8. Have conversations with native Japanese speakers as much as possible.
    9. Learn how to say: “How do you say _______ in Japanese?” in Japanese.
    10. Watch Japanese movies with English subtitles and take notes.
    11. Watch English movies with Japanese subtitles and take notes.
    12. Watch Japanese movies with Japanese subtitles and take notes.
    13. Listen to Japanese music and pay attention to pronunciation.
    14. If possible, go to karaoke with Japanese friends and sing Japanese songs.
    15. Find articles written in Japanese about things that you are interested in. Read them even if you don’t understand every single kanji. Try to grasp the subject matter and explain it to someone else in Japanese.
    16. Buy a reliable paper dictionary. Spend an afternoon exploring it.
    17. Go to Japan by yourself for two weeks and interact as much as you can.
    18. When in Japan, ask random people for directions and listen carefully.
    19. Write your own paragraphs in Japanese and have a native speaker check them for you.
    20. Learn the difference between casual and formal Japanese.
    21. Learn “keigo” and learn how and when to use it.
    22. Listen to podcasts or radio broadcasts in Japanese.
    23. Listen to a Japanese speaker or celebrity whom you admire and mimic the way they talk. I recommend Ryuichi Sakamoto’s podcast.
    24. Learn about Japanese dialects and how they differ from each other.
    25. Learn how to read and write. I say this again as it will set you apart from other foreigners who can only speak. Plus, you will understand much more of what is happening around you.
    26. Learn about “aimai” and observe how people around you talk to one another.
    27. Write messages on your cellphone in Japanese. Learn the Japanese emoticon system.
    28. Study more kanji. Buy kanji flashcards and study the hell out of them.
    29. Take the JLPT tests or buy the study books and simply learn from them.
    30. Participate in a speech contest and practice your speech AT LEAST 500 times.
    31. Videotape yourself speaking Japanese and observe your pronunciation.
    32. Record your Japanese teacher’s lecture and listen closely.
    33. Record your own voice speaking Japanese and observe your own pronunciation.
    34. Speak to your Japanese friends on the telephone and observe how challenging it is when you cannot see the other person’s mouth.
    35. Pay attention to body language and mimic those around you (do this respectfully and subtly).
    36. Learn how to bow properly.
    37. Learn how to count things properly.
    38. If you come across a word that you don’t understand, ask someone.
    39. Organize a study group and meet weekly. Don’t just complain or watch anime, but STUDY together. Challenge each other.
    40. If you want to excel in a certain kind of career, learn as many words about that career as you can.
    41. Start a translation project of a book or article that you like.
    42. Once a month, go back and review ALL of the basics (grammar patterns, vocabulary, kanji, etc.).
    43. Become a master at asking questions.
    44. Enlist the help of a tutor or mentor, someone who can help you develop your skills.
    45. Re-read articles that you have read and note how your understanding has changed or how you have forgotten kanji that you were certain you already knew.
    46. Study Japanese “reiho,” or manners.
    47. Start teaching Japanese to others who are just beginning. Explaining the concepts will help give you a better grasp on them.
    48. Practice your reading and writing as much as possible.
    49. Listen to Japanese audio and speak along with it (again, imitation).
    50. Put yourself in reasonable situations where you MUST speak Japanese.

     
    • Justin 10:10 pm on October 21, 2008 Permalink

      This is excellent.

      I would only add one more: date a Japanese person, if possible. It makes available a whole world of opportunity separate from the experiences of a Japanese office or everyday living!

    • jgrefe 6:05 am on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      Justin,

      Thank you for your great insight.

      Dating is a key point that I seemed to have left out. My dear lady has transformed and edified my perception of this country in countless ways and I thank her for that.

    • claytonian 8:30 am on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      got podcast links for us?

    • jgrefe 1:32 pm on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      Claytonian, I subscribe to the Ryuichi Sakamoto podcast via iTunes, but here is a relevant URL. At the time of posting this, the page is loading very slowly for some reason: Sakamoto Podcast. I like the way he speaks Japanese. I also like Deep Osakan.

    • mikew 2:11 am on October 27, 2008 Permalink

      If possible & affordable, visit a
      Japanese restaurant at least once
      a week. Here in Cincinnati, we have
      2 Japanese buffets, one price & all you can eat! You’ll hear Japanese spoken by both the employees & patrons. It’s also a great cultural & culinary experience.

    • jgrefe 8:23 am on October 27, 2008 Permalink

      Mikew, thank you. Yes, I agree with you. Restaurants and, if you are of legal drinking age, bars are great places to learn, listen and experience.

      When in Cincinnati, I’ll have to keep an eye out for those restaurants.

    • Nikou 12:26 am on April 13, 2009 Permalink

      Hello,

      Great post for learning Japanese.

      Japanese is so hard for me. I’ve lived in Japan for 2 years but failed to speak fluently. Now, I’m in China, I’m having an easier time with Mandarin. I wrote a blog post about the difficulties I had learning Japanese over Chinese. TheShanghaiExpat. Please feel free to visit and let me know if you are interested with link exchange.

      Nikou

  • mono 6:40 pm on October 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Korzybski, Attention, Butoh, , , , , , Peace, , , training,   

    20 Mindfulness Exercises for Improving Your Mental Hygiene 

    1. Become aware of your sitting, your clothes, the temperature and all that is “outside” of you now.

    2. Imagine you are not separate from the ground, but a living happening of the world. (from Butoh)

    3. Take a walk and open your ears to all of the sounds around you, experiencing them as they are.

    4. Listen to the drifting habitual patterns of your own inner voice; let it float by you and around you.

    5. Practice the art of stretching, using a book or guide that fits your needs and stretch daily.

    6. Thank the objects that you use for their continued help. (from Constructive Living)

    7. Practice saying a set amount of “thank you’s” on a daily basis to those around you. (from Constructive Living).

    8. Become the face of the others around you that you see and interact with.

    9. Clean your surroundings with complete attention to the task-at-hand.

    10. Learn an “art” or “craft” like playing music, painting, building, dancing, gardening and so on.

    11. Notice the colors that are surrounding you.

    12. Meditate on Korzybski’s quotation: “Whatever I say a thing is, it is not.”

    13. Allow yourself to completely savor the taste of what you eat and drink.

    14. Exercise and become aware of how your body changes. How did it change?

    15. Take into account the habitual movements and speech patterns that you use.

    16. For one day, listen to others more than you speak to others.

    17. For one day, control your use of the word “is.” (from Aleister Crowley)

    18. Do a familiar task with your eyes closed, noticing the sensory change (from Constructive Living)

    19. Focus on the ways in which “you” are embedded in your surroundings.

    20. Fully engage yourself with tasks, people and objects that are meaningful to you.

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    • Johnny Unicorn 12:51 am on October 21, 2008 Permalink

      One of my favorites is number 13. I would expand on it: Smell and try to recognize every ingredient in the food you eat before each bite.

    • jgrefe 6:57 am on October 21, 2008 Permalink

      Johnny, I didn’t focus on “smell” at all. Thank you for your input. I’ll have to try your suggestion. If you have any more, please let me know. I think one could almost make a separate “mindfulness” list strictly focusing on music (playing/listening). I’ll work on this list.

    • Pella Verbati 5:00 am on March 23, 2009 Permalink

      very useful

    • nictos 10:18 am on March 24, 2009 Permalink

      Thank you. These are excellent tools for living.

  • mono 1:44 pm on July 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , deep breathing, fitness, , , , relaxation, training, yoga   

    Deep Breathing: The Corpse Pose 

    How often do you focus on your breath, on the very process of your physical breathing self? After several weeks of daily physical training, I have become aware of the impotant healing and relaxing potential of focused breathing.

    As it usually is, throughout the day, I tend to get enwrapped in various work-related projects and lose all focus on how I am breathing during those times of busily perfecting the project. Even just a few deep breaths can help regain one’s focus and, moreover, actually give one more energy.

    The Corpse Pose

    Here is my recommendation for you to try for one week. If, after one week, you find no significant improvement in your thinking and overall well-being, continue the exercise at your leisure and try to find some other suitable exercise that may work better for you.

    1. Engage your body in some physical activity. If are you not inclined to do so, even a brisk and focused walk is fine. Walking or running, in particular, are helpful as they increase your heartrate and allow you to explore the outdoors.

    2. After you have done some physical activity (and hopefully broken a sweat), lie down on the floor (a hard surface is recommended).

    3. Extend your arms and legs outward and let them sink into the surface of the floor. Concentrate on your feet and feel how they sink into relaxation. Do this all the way up your body, until you are in a state of blissful energetic lethargy.

    4. Concentrate on your breath and how it flows from deep inside your body. Inhale fully through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Feel where your breath comes from and try to feel its power coming from your stomach area.

    5. Continue this exercise as long as you like. I tend to use this technique for about 15 minutes.

    Hopefully, during your state of emptying yourself, you were able to emerge with a lightness to your body. I have also found that sometimes after engaging in this, I come out with even more energy. Also, this is a great way to relax your muscles and to purify your body of the stress and body habits that may have been accumulated throughout the day.

     
  • mono 1:27 pm on July 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social engineering, , training   

    Life Training 

    What strategies do you employ to transform your self into the person that you want to be?

    Recently, The Eyeslit-Crypt has been experimenting with the following:

    1. Butoh Dance Therapy
    2. Yoga
    3. Physical Training (including weightlifting and running)
    4. Balanced Diet
    5. The study of social engineering

    Also, on an unrelated note, for those readers in the Michigan area, there are some concerts being planned for August 2008. The band will most likely be “Special Dental Team,” although a few sessions with different musicians/line-ups may also come to fruition.

    Thank you

     
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