Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do You 'C' What I See?

I know I wanted to take some time off of social media, but I feel this post is important:

"Do You 'C' What I See?"

In terms of the title, the 'C' is in reference to a letter grade (between A and F, with F being the fail, obviously). The topic I would like to discuss is geared toward teaching and coaching, and reciprocally, how to learn and why some things don't make sense to us. Let's look at a simple problem: "Why can't I learn what someone is teaching me?" Well, for one thing, you might not have practiced it enough. Another problem, which I find one of the most severe, is that you might ask yourself, "I know you want to teach me this, but is there a reason why? Is there a better way?" It starts to get quite vague after as it now gets clouded with individual thought. Maybe you don't want to learn it because you don't see the value in it, maybe you don't know why you're learning it, or maybe you do and it's a success. There are so many variables and in a way there is a lot of trust you must place in your teacher or coach. Perhaps you have limited resources and this is the best you can get without having to fly halfway across the world, or drive across the city and take twice the time traveling than actually learning. There are many reasons why you may or may not like working with your coach/teacher/tutor/etc, so we'll leave it at that as I have no need to guess your reasons why.

Let's work with an example, so we don't get too theoretical. For the sake of this being a badminton blog, let's say you play a game of badminton, you lose (or win, doesn't matter), and your coach was coaching you for the duration of the match. We won't get into the stuff that happens during the game, but let's look at the coaching afterwards. As a player, you should probably have your own thoughts about the game, especially your mental game. Sometimes it can show in an athlete, but to the observer, it is only an observation. You only see the end result of emotion, but you don't understand why or how it came to be. For example, it's probably a lot more correct to say that someone "looks nervous" than to say that someone "IS nervous". Maybe the player is sick, stressed out, worried about something else, but regardless, if you act on your own assumption and say, "Don't be nervous", you are using your own interpretation of a situation you can't possibly be very sure of. Statistically, you may be correct, but I just used this expression as an example, because how much do you possibly know about statistics and how much would it be to be statistically significant, and based on what sample size did you make the assumption on, etc, etc, etc... and you can see how much of a personal bias that gets filtered into a bit of judgement.

Anyway, sorry for switching perspectives (you did notice that you went from a player perspective to an observer perspective, right?) and imagine yourself as a player again. You lose your match and your coach tells you what you should have done. Great (sarcasm intended), number one thing there is hindsight bias. Coaches that aren't as good will generally rely on this type of feedback, whereas good coaches will tell you things to look for before they happen. That's my perspective at least. Feedback isn't a bad thing, but I'm sure there are times you hit a bad shot and you ask yourself, "Why did I do that?". Funny, I find it very rare in my sport when people hit bad shots that they never ask you why you hit that shot? Why? How come? Or if you don't want to be that offensive, "What is the reasoning behind that shot, what is the purpose?" The good players probably constantly ask themselves these questions, but they only get their own feedback based on their own 'filters' (i.e. perspectives). It is always nice to get more feedback in terms of why it might have been the wrong shot, or even if it was the right idea, but just improper execution. However, having the discussion itself is the most important thing for the player/coach relationship as it helps the coach understand the player more, and the player to understand him/herself more. It's much easier to be like, "Hit *that shot* instead next time" but it's the same as being given the answer to a calculus problem. If you get asked the same question, you know what the answer is, but if there are any changes to the scenario, it just won't hold up consistently enough.

Again, I'm making the reference to post-match analysis, because when there are time constraints, things change. I am referencing from a developmental standpoint, as there is probably little development possible during a match and strict feedback is probably the best strategy. The next major thing to address is perspectives and filters. So to quickly define these terms, 'perspective' is basically what a person sees, while the 'filter' is what changes that person's perspective to suit his/her own personal preferences. Basically, we can all have the same perspective on something if we threw away our filters. That in itself is impossible, but when we take away our own filters, we may have a chance to see something from someone else's perspective, though it will never be perfectly the same. It's really like the expression that refers to only understanding someone when you "walk a mile in their shoes". If you take the concept of badminton and coaching, I find we usually get the concept really mixed up, especially if the coach was a former player. To clarify, I find that coaching in badminton is like teaching by making the player "walk (or do footwork) a mile in the coach's shoes" and then work with that. There are often times when this approach can actually be a very good strategy, but there are times when the context is not all that correct. With more information and feedback by both sides, perhaps the best approach to a certain technique or tactic can be found that suits the ability of the player and to the satisfaction of the coach. Let's take a look at 2 different sides of the same coin, with the coin being success and one side being from the coach's standpoint and the other being the player's standpoint:

Coach's Standpoint: Let's get this clear, I'm not doing a post on coach bashing, I'm only trying to enlighten everyone about a simple thing and making it more complicated. If you think that's a bad thing, then that's a part of your personal filter and I recommend you stop reading... 4 paragraphs ago. If you think it's a good thing, then I won't waste any more of your time. Listening to the coach is important because younger players may not see the reason why things are done, based on an obvious lack of experience. There is much value to listen to what the coach says because having the fundamental skills and tactics down is necessary. It becomes hard to explain the fundamentals other than the fact that it's... fundamental! There's a difference between "Why should I learn addition and subtraction?" vs. "Why do I need to learn algebra?". It could be analogous to "Why do I need footwork?" vs. "Why do I need to make my shots more deceptive?". Often times, the coach will be correct, especially in the developing years. I suppose that the problem I proposed is more for higher level stuff, when you start working on the little things that will hopefully make a big difference if they are addressed. Let's say the coach is 75% correct overall, so each of these little things will be 1-2% differences, but after say, making 5 changes, you can be 5-10% better, which is statistically significant (based on my memory of statistics... stupid p values, I'll get back to you next term).

Player's Standpoint: As a player myself, I happen to be a very skeptical person. I don't know, that's just me. Sometimes I have a game plan and it's a matter of sticking to it until your opponent breaks, or adapting it because it doesn't work. The coach can always give feedback, but I'm a curious person and I'd like to know why the coach feels that way. If there is a good explanation, then that's a pretty convincing argument to me. If there is no explanation, then where does this feedback truly come from? Experience? The problem is exacerbated when you and your coach have conflicting strategies. They tell you to do a certain thing because they feel you it is your weakness, but maybe you don't think it's a bad idea because you don't feel that it is a weakness, or if it's actually a part of your strategy. For example, one strategy I tried once a long time ago was hitting almost everything that went to the back, despite that some were out. The reason I did that was that near the end of the game, when things got a little tight, everything went out the back after because I conditioned the opponent to thinking that some of his shots were okay. They might have been, but they were quite close. It has also happened against me, where my opponents hit everything to the back and it went out in the beginning, but near the middle/end of the match, everything was in fact 'in' and I let a lot of stuff drop within the backcourt. The main idea is this: I have my filter on as a particular strategy, while the coach has his/her own idea. They can both be right, they can both be wrong, so what happens when you come to this dilemma?

Success: Well, like any relationship, you learn to compromise. Sometimes you will be right, sometimes you will be wrong, but trying is usually the least you can do. As a coach, it is ultimately your player's game, so I would suggest providing the options and letting your player choose. That way it gives the player the autonomy that they need sometimes and it becomes a good learning experience. Should the player want more feedback, you can give it and advise accordingly. Good players know the importance to this feedback, so don't feel that you are unimportant as a coach because you're not making a firm stance on what the player should do. If the player doesn't know, then I'm sure they will ask your opinion. It's sport, there are rarely facts until the game is over... just a lot of opinions. As for the players, you need to give the coach as much information as possible. Whether your arm hurts, or you're getting tired, or if you're stressed out, etc. The coach doesn't have all the information unless you give it to him/her, and then they can act accordingly. There's no point for the coach to tell you to attack more if your shoulder is in some kind of pain, or running your opponent around if you have a leg cramp. It may be the best strategy IF you were in a different condition, but to find the best strategy adapted to the situation at hand, it will definitely change.

I believe that the player/coach combination that is the most adaptable is often the most successful. Though I don't get to see as many cases of it as I would like to, I hope I have addressed a valid point for players and coaches. This is probably transferable to other discussions as well, from teaching, tutoring, etc. When both coach and player work together, I think it's the best scenario because it's Win/Win. At the very least, this is what I hope to do as both a player and a coach, because a significant problem I see in badminton is when coaches push their players to train when they are injured, or will make the group do exercises that may be beneficial to the group, but may be harmful to a specific player. For example, if anyone has a shoulder injury, I would not recommend continuous smashing or clearing. If someone has a knee or foot injury, I would not do exercises that involve a lot of movement. What does it take to adapt training for individual players? I know there is that "everyone is doing it, so why can't you?" but again, to lead us back to my original point: "Does everyone have the same perspective?" For the coach, can't you make an adaptation for the sake of your player? For the player, can't you make a request for an adaption or even offer a suggestion to modify your training? There is a reason why we don't all play the same, so if we don't all exactly train the same way, is that really a big problem? Maybe the environment is the same for everyone, but today, I learned there can be up to a 20% genetic variability. Significant, no?

Thanks for visiting, and please feel free to leave any questions or comments!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 Pan Am Championships

The 2012 Pan Am Championships took place in Lima, Peru at the Coliseo Manuel Bonilla in Miraflores. We typically have used the Club Regatas in the past, but this time we were playing here instead. The weather was pretty much early spring weather, so it was quite cold especially at the venue and it rained here and there. Nonetheless, despite some transportation issues, it was a pretty smooth tournament without any major hiccups.

The team event started on the 8th, so I flew down with Christin Tsai from Vancouver on October 6th, bright and early 7am flight to Houston. We met up with our National Team coach, Jeff White, and left for Lima later in the day and arrived at about 10pm in Lima. We flew down with United Airlines, which is a partner of Star Alliance (same with Air Canada). I would have much preferred to have flown Air Canada, but they didn't have the dates that I wanted. The benefit of flying with Air Canada is that there may be a possibility to be upgraded to Business Class if you have enough eUpgrade credits, and also that you get a personal TV. We only have a big shared TV screen on United. However, Air Canada only flies from Toronto, while United seems to have a few more options. The last bonus of Air Canada though, is that you don't have to clear US Customs. Sometimes it can be a pain with transferring bags and whatnot, but I will save that for a later posting.

Lounging in the hotel lobby, watching Modern Family
We met up with the rest of the team that night, which included: Adrian Liu (BC), Derrick Ng (BC), Nyl Yakura (ON), myself, Alex Bruce (ON), Joycelyn Ko (ON/BC), Phyllis Chan (BC), and Christin Tsai (BC). Missing from the roster were Michelle Li (ON) and Grace Gao (AB/ON) as they were unable to received medical clearance to participate in the event. Fortunately, they were replaced in time by Christin and Phyllis. Overall, the team event went smoothly. We had a rough start with Brazil in the pool play as we squeezed by and won 3-2 after losing both our Singles, but things picked up and we did better against Peru. We came out and faced Mexico in the semifinals and won 4-1, and we defeated the USA in the finals, also 4-1, to take our 4th consecutive team event title! Footage of the Canadian matches in the Team Semis and Finals are posted on my YouTube channel, with specific matches posted below:

Photo credit: Christin Tsai
Full Results: []

(WS): Tsai [CAN] vs. Solis [MEX]
(MS): Yakura [CAN] vs. Munoz [MEX]
(MD): Liu/D.Ng [CAN] vs. Castillo/Ocegueda [MEX]
(WD): Ko/Tsai [CAN] vs. Gonzalez/Gonzalez [MEX]

Team F: CANADA vs. USA
(XD): T.Ng/Bruce [CAN] vs. Chew/Subandhi [USA]
(MS): Yakura [CAN] vs. Pongnairat [USA]
(WS): Tsai [CAN] vs. Subandhi [USA]
(MD): Liu/D.Ng [CAN] vs. Chew/Pongnairat [USA]

For the individual events, we were joined by Philippe Charron (QC) and Sergiy Shatenko (ON). In the MS, we were represented by Nyl, Sergiy, and myself. I was only able to play MS as Grace did not withdraw early enough for me to find another partner and MD had the maximum amount of teams already as well. Unfortunately, we all ended up losing to the top 4 seeds from Guatemala and USA, with Kevin Cordon [GUA] eventually reclaiming his title against Osleni Guerrero [CUB], a rematch of the 2011 Pan Am Games final.

MS Final: Cordon [GUA] vs. Guerrero [CUB]

In Women's Singles, none of the Pan American medalists were in the tournament this year. However, rising Canadian star Christin Tsai rose to the occasion and took the title, defeating Jamie Subandhi of the USA. Christin, who is representing Canada at the World Juniors in Japan this year, was ranked as high as 6th in the World in the junior rankings for Women's Singles. She's definitely one to keep an eye out for!

WS Semi: Tsai [CAN] vs Velez [USA]

WS Final: Tsai [CAN] vs Subandhi [USA]

In the Men's Doubles, Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng were finally able to break their Pan Am semifinal curse, as they have lost in the semifinals 3 times previously. However, not this time, as they practically steamrolled their way and remained undefeated for the entire tournament!

MD Final: Liu/Ng [CAN] vs Paiola/Tjong [BRA]

In the Women's Doubles, we had 2 brand new Canadian pairings duking it out for the 2012 Pan Am title. After mixing and matching between 3 teams, we now have Alex Bruce/Phyllis Chan, Joycelyn Ko/Christin Tsai, and probably Michelle Li/Grace Gao who will be competing in the circuit as soon as they recover from their injuries. It was an interesting match in the final, as both sides seemed to have moments of dominance, but in the end, Alex and Phyllis were the ones on top, defeating Joycelyn and Christin in a 3 set match. I anticipate some very interesting WDs match ups in Canada and it will be interesting to see which team will come out on top, especially at the 2013 Canadian National Championships next February!

WD Final: Bruce/Chan [CAN] vs Ko/Tsai [CAN] - G1&2       //      G3

Last but not least, we have the Mixed Doubles, with Derrick and Alex taking over as the top seeds. They had a struggle against the American team of Phillip Chew/Jamie Subandhi, but they made up for it by destroying the other Canadian team in the XD final! They definitely wanted the win, which is probably a first international mixed title for both Derrick and Alex, and with that, they were both able to triple crown at the event! Although I couldn't compete for a 4th consecutive Pan Am mixed title, at least it stays in the family :P

XD Semi: Ng/Bruce [CAN] vs Chew/Subandhi [USA]

XD Final: Ng/Bruce [CAN] vs Charron/Chan [CAN]

That's pretty much it! Until next time then, thanks for visiting!

2012 Pan Am Singles Champions!

Team Canada medalists

Monday, September 17, 2012


Do you remember... the 21st night of September...

"September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire (I wonder what happened to 'water'?). Great song, though really nothing to do with my post except for the month in question. So far so good after the first 2 weeks of school at UBC and I also played my first provincial tournament in probably 3 years or so since I went to Alberta, though I will be detailing that a little more later.

Things have been quite hectic and keeping up with training is a lot tougher when I have to juggle everything around. Fortunately, I've been consistent enough with the fixed training groups, as I pretty much have them as mandatory items in my schedule, though for optional practices, it has been a little difficult to include. Perhaps if I create a weight training program, that might be enough to supplement me well enough for this year, as my focus has been on training, rehabilitation, and even a bit of a mental reflection by looking back at the problems of the past years. I also have a lab in one of my classes that includes some physical activity, so that's a nice blend of both school and sport.

UBC has been nice, though taking a bus to an 8am class everything weekday morning can be very exhaustive, at least the weather has been nice (for now!). Biochemistry has been quite engaging, although we have to learn and memorize the structures of the common 20 amino acids! Arrghhh! Now how can I relate something like this to my badminton, one might wonder? Well, L-arginine, a common "ingredient" in those muscle building protein formulas is actually an amino acid, basically a 'building-block' of proteins (ie. amino acids + amino acids + more amino acids = protein). Anyway, the cool thing we learn is that the 'L' in L-arginine refers to which way the amino acid is oriented. Basically, without going into a detailed explanation, the orientations of biological molecules CAN have either an 'L' orientation, or an 'D' orientation. Emphasis on "CAN" because we learned that pretty much all amino acids have the 'L' configuration. Technically, you don't even need to have the 'L' in front of arginine, because if your body somehow gets 'D-arginine', your body wouldn't be able to use it. So, why waste all that time naming it 'L-arginine'? Doesn't it sound much more complex and science-y? Will that single abundance in amino acid make an incredible difference in the long run? I don't know, but maybe I will find out more in my class when I start looking at more reactions and structures.

(Note: I originally wrote L & R. Oops. A combination of getting mixed up with R/S configurations and D/L Optical Activity. Guess I need more practice in Chemistry :P)

Genetics has been interesting, though getting more and more complicated. Visualizing things is quite difficult, but perhaps I just need more practice. My Kinesiology classes have been engaging as well, especially because we had a chance to learn Functional Movement Screens. Basically, they function as a screen to see if one is able to engage in exercise. If problems are detected, then other things should be considered before being thrown into an exercise program. They are quite forceful on their beliefs and I think there is a lot of benefit in their program, but because they are so rigid in their beliefs to try to standardize something for the entire population, there are always exceptions. Maybe not many exceptions exist, but there are, so that creates a large grey area to me. They may show that it's scientifically beneficial for these screens, but beneficial certainly does not mean 'essential'. Also, I didn't feel like paying $300 to get certified, even with a $200 discount (from $500).

Back to Badminton, I played a tournament over the weekend with Phyllis Chan, a fellow Canadian National Team member at ACE Badminton Center in Richmond, BC. The draw was quite small and after getting some kinks out of our game, we managed to come out and win the Mixed. If felt a little awkward to play, with all that expectation given that I should be able to win the tournament. Fortunately, it worked out, even though we were playing some imported player from China. Wow, she was pretty fast. Regardless things worked out alright this time and I should be on track to be ready for the Pan Am Champs in October.

Anyway, that's pretty much it for now. Just studying, training, and not very much in between. I'd like to coach, but I guess it really depends on my schedule. I will be attending the AthletesCan Forum at the end of the month as the Badminton Canada Players Association representative, so that will be a weekend gone before the week of my first midterm. Such is life...

... isn't it great? :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A New Start?

Is it a new start, or just a long continuation of the life I left behind to train for the Olympics? It could be a bit of both, though it just depends how you look at things. I don't want to lump myself into a certain label of being a 'starter' or a 'finisher', as there are many things I have started and also many things I've finished. It's hard to consider that I'm very good at both things either, as I have failed in both tasks many times. However, one idea I learned from my NLP seminar was that it just depends how you look at things. For example, if you think you're good at starting, imagine yourself 'beginning to start you finish', or in the other perspective, 'finish the intro/beginning of your task'. If a psychological trick can help you out, by all means, go for it.

Looking at this upcoming year, I have apparently swamped myself with many things again. School, badminton, coaching, and anything else I have said 'yes' to. However, I am aware of this 'yes' trend which was not an issue when I had time, so things will have to change very soon. Unfortunately, outside my strict personal obligations, I will have to start declining many things, as I have to maximize the time I have to do what I need to do. I will be on an extremely tight schedule, with full time classes and badminton. Traveling to tournaments will be at a minimum, but coaching hours will probably feel about the same way, as I do need to make some kind of income. I don't really know what the fate of my blog will be, but I may tend to write on a more broad range of topics which I have been doing in the past little while. I hope to keep them interesting and at least semi-entertaining, but I guess only time will tell :P

I really hope to finish my degree this year and I probably will have to redo my MCAT at some point. I didn't feel very comfortable at the exam and it is one of my goals to 'defeat' it. With a biochemistry and genetics course this term, it should keep me suitably prepared, though I need to find some way of learning optics and maybe some harmonics. Physics is definitely not my forte.

For those of you purely interested in Badminton, I will most likely be competing at the 2012 Pan American Championships in Peru in October. Hope to take my 5th Pan American title, as well as help Canada win the team event. I took some time off training to rest and recover, though more as a mental break, but clearly, my mind is never resting and always spewing out thoughts. I will resume my training regimen tonight and hope to maintain my abilities while minimizing my injuries until October.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Hard Lesson in Life

I've been studying constantly for the MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test in North America) since I've returned early from the Olympics. It's been quite stressful as I've been out of school for so long. The time is running out and my exam date is coming soon. I'm not too worried though, as I will be able to take it again should I not be satisfied with my mark. However, that will take more studying and of course, more money.

Perhaps I'm stressed out and burnt out from studying a good 5 hours a day for the past 2 weeks, but I've come to a simple realization in how this entire process relates to life, at least my life anyway. I've seen many people so ambitious with their lives, and that is great usually, but I also see that it's that desire to go 'against all odds' and trying to do things their own way; trying to do it all themselves. I see this with many people in badminton especially, doing things on their own and trying to attain their own goals, whatever they may be. Reflecting on that, it seems like I have made the same error, as I have decided to self study for the MCAT. I know I probably wouldn't have been able to attend the classes regularly anyway, but I didn't feel like throwing away $1700.00 for a course. I can practically take the MCAT five times and have another $500 for prep materials. However, that would be the quickest fix in the shortest amount of time. Being personally instructed and guided would have saved time for sure. With the MCAT, I still have a year to pull off a satisfying mark, but there will be a lot more trial and error, most certainly of the latter if I continue to keep doing things myself. As independent as I may seem to be, I believe I have lived most of my life trying to follow people and learn from them as much as I can instead of figuring things out for myself. That way I can do more in life, instead of learning things the hard way. I would much rather spend the time in researching how things are done by finding the right resources or asking the right people, instead of getting that feeling of accomplishment one gets from solving something on their own. I know some people thrive on that feeling but it's definitely not for me.

With that said, I will do what I can this Thursday when I write my MCAT, though I do have low expectations. I don't know how much more I can cram into my head these next few days, but with my car breaking down again, the added stress is getting unbearable. It would be nice to get a few days off, after the exam before school starts... so I guess I'm looking forward to that. However, the things I've neglected to do because of studying for the MCAT will probably pile up. Oh well, such is life...

So the lesson of this blog is to consider learning from the mistakes of others, as it will save you a lot of time to do it exactly the same way and fail yourself. You can convince yourself that you may be different that the others, and if that is the case, I will tell you that every testimonial you hear from other people regarding anything should then be ignored, because it will be different for you. And if you do listen to me, it doesn't hurt to try things out once in a while, because you have to know where you stand.

Good luck.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

True Humility

I think I wrote this in June 2012, while I was training in Korea before the Olympics. Context is actually quite significant with regards to content... for example, if you had a depressed phase and everything you write is a little ominous, it doesn't mean you feel the same way ALL THE TIME. What is written here doesn't apply all the time, but rather in a state of frustration. The words are meant to get you out of a darker place. It's tough if you only look at the absolutes, because people start at different scales, but if you track relative changes, then there is always hope...

There is no correct way, just ways that are more effective than others. Maybe your way can be very effective, maybe it can even be the most effective at the moment, but nothing is ever set for eternity and a new technique may emerge, thus rendering your methods still effective, but not the most effective anymore.

Now what happens when you see others struggling with their own methods? Maybe they don't know any better; maybe they are stubborn; maybe they just don't understand it the way you do? Teaching others is always a gamble, because you need to invest your time and resources. Before helping others, you must personally decide if it is worth your time and effort to help them. Why teach if your advice will fall on deaf ears? If they don't want your help, then there isn't much you can do. Even if they NEED your help, it will not be effective if they don't want to make the change. People can change, but a major condition is that they have to WANT to make the change. If they do not want to change, then they will remain the same.

Perhaps you have something you are particularly good at. You have a very good sense of it and you can find success more often that others. Maybe others try to pursue your talent as well, but they are fumbling, having much more difficulty than you do. You may try to guide them along and help them get to at least where you are at, but it seemingly is more of a stressor, as there are others who may not wish to learn. Isn't this a form of disrespect? Sure they may have high standards, but who are they to disregard your point of view in a subject that you are knowledgeable about? It's different if you didn't have such an ability in your particular talent, but because you do, it feels awkward. You can see their errors and you can understand why things may go wrong for them because you understand the game much better. Though it may only be your perspective, it should still be a valid one.

If this continues, it's really easy to disregard others, especially those who are obviously inferior. You put your selflessness on the line by trying to help them out, but they shut you down, blinded by their own quest for glory... they truly want that autonomy to do it themselves. Over time, contempt grows, where you become agitated when they can't succeed at the small things; they never do as well as they want to and you know exactly why. But since they don't want to listen, they must think they're better than you. Otherwise, they are simply faking it. They claim they want to be good at it, but their actions speak differently. They're distracted and they have no passion for the process. They only value the odd experiences and getting the label. In other words, they only value getting named to the team, getting those benefits, but there is little pursuit in the ultimate mastery of your craft.

There is so much frustration in the end. It keeps being bottle up and harnessed, with the odd fits of rage now and then to release some of that pent up anger. To make things worse, people you rant to tell you to have patience. Have patience for others who aren't as good as you. Respect other people for trying, respect those who are less fortunate. But... but but but but but, there are so many 'but's that it is driving you crazy. 'But they don't respect me', 'but they don't listen to me', 'but they don't even care, they just enjoy whatever limelight they get'... and the truth is, it's very true. Some people have a lower level of contentment; they just enjoy the moment and live day to day. Some even live for a big moment and live their life around that one moment. And there are some, maybe similar to you, that strive for achievement. Not so much for money or fame, but a personal level of success. Personal achievement, let's say. It's a hunger that needs to be fed and it is very irritable when you have to deal with other people who don't understand, or don't want to understand. However, maybe that's just the way it is...

And that is the way it is, because it is more or less an ultimate form of humility. Being thankful for your God-given abilities that you may have personally worked so hard for, but at least you did the right things most of the time. You have had your ups and downs as well, so that respect for the inferior people or people who don't care, is more or less humility. To be truly humble for your abilities is tough, but it can be done... only if you want to. In the long run, progress is hindered if people aren't working to their full efficiency. To treat people the way they deserved to be treated usually doesn't end well because a lot of people deserve nothing at all. I'm not saying that you need to be a doormat, not even close, but to understand that you always have the control over the situation. Maybe the outcome might not be the way you envisioned it, but if you can make the best out of that one particular moment, your odds are definitely highest if you are willing to work it out. You need to make the change, be a leader in a way, of your own emotions and decisions. Take the high road all the time that leads to the greatest route for success. Even though it may feel good to destroy someone, it will not be good if it hinders progress. However, if they are directly your competition, there is no need to hold back, but don't go overboard as well. There is no need to demoralize your opponents, because the best way is to show them your undying confidence that you are the better one in that situation. With persistence, they will break before you and they already know it.

Some last words to finish up... be yourself and focus on the best course of action to progress to your desired outcome. Though you may not win all the time, you will still come out on top of your demons. Be humble, because you can't know for sure if your methods are the most effective at that given time. Adapt to your situation and succeed... because that's what the true masters of your particular talents do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2012 Summer

Wow, it's been a while, as things were piling up significantly ever since I left to train in Korea in May/June. I kept getting swamped about doing media things, studying, and miscellaneous stuff aside from my training, so I apologize for not writing blog updates as much as I used to. I don't really believe in the brief Facebook status on my Facebook Page, so that's probably why I still haven't signed up for Twitter. I'm all for one-liners, but usually they start trying to be too witty and then the humour isn't understood by everyone, or some people take offense to it... clearly, I've thought this through a few times :)

Well, let's highlight things from June, in point form. If you really want, you can pretend each point is a Twit :) (Edit: upon reading each supposed 'Twit', they start looking more like paragraphs... whoops)

- Trained for 3 weeks in June at the Won Kwang University, in Iksan, South Korea, under the guidance of both Kim Dong Moon, and head coach Choi Jung. I had the chance to train with the University Team there and I am very much grateful for all their help and assistance with their sparring, considering that it's just a men's team. Imagine having to play Doubles against a Mixed Team for 3 weeks. So... yeah, thank you everyone!

- Came back for a short week and then went to Los Angeles for the 2012 US Open Grand Prix Gold at the Orange County Badminton Club. Great tournament, not so great shopping this year (because I still have stuff I bought and haven't worn from the same tournament 6 years ago haha), but a good result overall, missing out on the finals by losing 21-19 in the third! However, to be honest, I'm just happy we made it out against Chinese Taipei in the Quarterfinal, coming back from a 16-20 deficit in the 3rd as well o__O All footage can be found on my YouTube Channel, featuring my matches and some other Canadian players, including Adrian Liu, Nyl Yakura, Christin Tsai, and Phyllis Chan.

- Canada Open was the week after, at the Richmond Oval. Thank you for all those who came out to support, and it was great having everyone cheering for us for once instead of it being the other way around usually :P Especially since I almost lost first round against the same Chinese Taipei team again, but miraculously, we came back and won in the 3rd set, from 16-20 again. However, it was a lot more close this time, but maybe because CBC - The National was filming. Maybe all our Olympic luck was wasted on these two matches against Chinese Taipei :P Pai Hsiao Ma did say to me, "20-16 I hate you!" but we got a photo together at the end, so we're cool now :P

Picture by Buzz Booth!
- After the Canada Open, we flew as a group to London for a pre-Olympic camp organized by Badminton Canada and some of Badminton England, working with Andy Wood (Nathan Robertson's coach) and other players in Derbyshire, including Donna Kellogg, Robin Middleton, and Heather Olver. It was kind of cool at first and everything, as we were to do an exhibition against Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms (2004 Olympic Silver Medalists in Mixed Doubles), but stuff started happening, people got sick, and my memory magically starts fading... now. But hold that thought, I would like to thank all the players, coaches, and support staff that took the time to help us out and making a nice trip to Derby, as it is a lovely town and really had nothing to do with that... sickness, which I now remember that I'm supposed to forget about...

- Finally, the last stretch, we made it into Wembley. We stayed there for the duration of the trip and didn't get a chance to live at the village for those who left early, me included. The village was very cool, so much stuff I really didn't get to see, but I had at least a chance to see a bit of it during Opening Ceremonies and on my last day in London in which I skipped out on an epic Men's Singles final. I was quite disappointed, because I thought they would play the match last, instead of the Men's Doubles last, but I was also hoping for a Korea vs. China Men's Doubles final, which I probably would have made it back to watch... maybe :P All in all, I got a chance to explore a little and took the Underground from Wembley Park to Statford, where the Olympic Park was. I don't really have too much else to say about my Olympic experience aside from everything already on my Facebook Page, but I would really like to thank all those who supported my journey and took the time to meet me or even post on my Facebook Page. I try to respond to everyone I can, because I don't feel like anyone special as I don't like to think of it that way. I'm just a guy motivated to do his own thing and I really do appreciate those who support me and I would like to thank you all for doing that :) The Olympics was exceptional and I'm proud to compete for Canada and I'm so grateful for getting to live in such a wonderful country. Final words for my Olympic experience... 'BRUUUUUUUUCE LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII' hahaha

So... What's next?
Well, at least for the summer, I am or I hope to be studying full-time for the MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test) as my test date is on August 23rd, leaving not too much time left (16 days). Although I have covered most of the material, though I do need review in... most parts, it does feel pretty good as I don't know how many exams I've written and I've already covered all the material already hahahaha... well, guess it's a new chapter in life and I need to get back into school mode. Nothing beats getting into school mode that signing up for the MCAT. Don't try this at home.

As for Badminton, I'm not terribly sure, but I hope to play until August 2014. Two more years of this brilliant and stressful sport. I think I will stick to Mixed Doubles, as neither my reflexes or stamina will last me for Men's Doubles or especially Men's Singles, but be sure to see me in the odd tournament, attempting to play all 3, maybe matching up with my brother again. I'm not too sure what he's doing but all he wants me to do right now is yell out 'BONNY' and 'SKINETEX'... whatever that badminton equipment or sports tape you happen to come buy... err, I mean come by. I will definitely be doing some coaching again and you will soon be able to take lessons with me if you're in the Vancouver/Richmond area, most likely at ClearOne Badminton. However, don't fret just yet, I hope to work with Badminton BC and other Provincial Organizations when events come up, as I would definitely like to give back to all of Canada. Maybe even Pan America, hahahaha who knows where things will go? All I really know is I have 2 years left to play, so I'm really eyeing a 2014 Commonwealth Games medal, and who knows how far I will get in my final World Championships ;)

Thanks for visiting! Until next time :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Art Of Learning

‎"In my experience, successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more than the immediate trophies and glory. In the long run, painful losses may prove much more valuable than wins - those who are armed with a healthy attitude and are able to draw wisdom from every experience, "good" or "bad," are the ones who make it down the road." - Josh Waitzkin - 'The Art of Learning' (2008)

Unfortunately, that's only in the first part of the book. I have yet to finish the book, but hopefully it will stay interesting until the end. Though it seems like a semi-autobiography of a successful person, there is much information to be taken, and in reference to Picasso, much to be 'stolen' ('Good artists borrow; great artists steal' - Picasso). The concept of the whole book being the 'Art of Learning' is quite intriguing, as the author is world class chess player and also a world class athlete in Tai Chi Chuan. One can argue that chess and tai chi are very different things, but the author mentioned how both activities gave inspiration to the other at certain times. With that said, I always look for inspiration from different topics to bring into my own life. It is my own belief that more information can be retained if things can be simplified and generalized, and though maybe chess and badminton are very different, it doesn't matter when you aren't looking for differences, because you are looking for the similarities.

Waitzkin mentions about chess openings, mid games, and end games. With this, I thought about 2 potential relationships to badminton. Starting with the opening, being the serve, serve return, and third shot; the mid game with anything that goes on after the opening; and the end game, where the rally may be developed and set up for the finish. The other relationship with chess could simply be the actual duration of the match, involving the opening (beginning of the set), mid game (interval), and end game (end of set). Waitzkin, as a child chess prodigy, credits his ability and love for the crazy mid games and the end games, while most of his young opponents favor memorizing a strong opening game. A general strategy which may have been inferred was that as long as he could last through the opening, even with a slight deficit, he could take the game to his comfort level, where his opponents weren't, and take them down from there. Knowing that this was his strength, he did not have to worry about the openings so much and simply bided his time until he could strike. In badminton, this is a common strategy for certain teams. Unfortunately, though I may be able to use this at a lower level, I have to recognize the type of player I am. I am not like Josh Waitzkin, but in fact, I'm like the others...

Interesting twist of fate, but when you look into the minds of great people, you have to understand where you are at. If you take someone like the brilliant fictional Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, we all want to be the hero, but many of us, are in fact closer to the sidekick, in this case, Dr. Watson. I hope I don't discourage anyone though, because I still haven't finished my point. All I'm saying for now is to know where you are, because how do you know where to go if you don't know where you start from? In terms of the chess games and badminton, I feel that Canadian players definitely put more strength to their openings. However, once the going gets tough, it is hard for us to survive the onslaughts from higher level opponents. We can prepare all we want for the opening games, but it really depends. If we cannot execute our opening properly, or our opponents have a better opening, then we have pretty much lost our entire game plan. I know this makes a lot more sense in Doubles than Singles, but there is still some relation. If we don't set up our rallies in Singles, then we are just blindly attacking in the mid game. By the time we hit the end game, we become fatigued and unfocused.

Using the points I've uncovered, perhaps some changes can be made to training and preparation. Like the way Waitzkin was able to survive the opening onslaughts from his chess opponents, if we had an adequate defense, we can survive the tough openings and bring the rallies to a more neutral mid game environment. If we practice keeping our composures and training in the end game (i.e. play 3-4 point games where you start at 17-all or 18-all), you then know the extent of what people are willing to try when the scores are close, and what they won't. The game will always be different depending on your opponent, but the experience will help in times of pressure and nervousness. You can then learn to make it so that the end game can be anyone's game, but experience and focus may help you make it more favourable to yourself, in the end (pun intended). How often is it that we let our nerves get the best of us in tight situations. Waitzkin knew that about this against his childhood opponents, that they could crack under pressure of the end game. So, that is where he took them when it came down to it.

By all means, if your openings are strong, there is no need to go to the end game. The idea only serves as an option, and perhaps just an observation from so many of my own losses in the end game. Just one rally may have made the difference from tying or losing the game. Check and mate. I am curious sometimes about what goes on through the minds of our top players. Are we so caught up in the moment of the game, or are we in states of panic, trying to hope that our opponents are as nervous as we are? If we want to be better, then we need to learn from our mistakes and do things we haven't done before. If we are still doing the things we always do, then how do we expect to get better? Physical training is undeniably necessary, but what does it take to strengthen our minds. As our bodies are very different and individual, so are our minds. Has badminton been more a test of strength and speed, or is it merely a test of wits?

Another point I have taken from my brief read of the book so far is the concepts of 'entity' and 'learning' theorists (taken from the book, who took it from a Dr. Carol Dweck). The overall gist of things meant that people who are entity theorists are very much in the present, while learning theorists take things more incrementally. A simple example would be an entity theorist thinking 'I am smart' where the learning theorists would be something like 'I can be smart if I work hard'. It seems that the entity theorists can be so stuck on that notion that they believe it to be true and anything that may take them away from that belief will scare them away. The easiest way is to think of a time where you excel in something. For myself, if I play Mixed Doubles in Pan America, I have a certain level of confidence in my abilities. However, when you take things to the next level, and put me into a Super Series, how does the confidence wane? If I get nervous and play only a fraction of how I normally play when I am at home, then it could be reasoned that I am an entity theorist. However, truth is, I don't get nervous when I play the higher level tournaments. In fact, I really do embrace it and just try my best. I'm the underdog and I know it. That would be an example of a learning theorist. They really do get a kick out of applying their skills to a new situation and are just enjoying the process of it. Are you an entity or learning theorist?  

The difference is really just a simple shift in perspective, but I think it is really important in personal development. I can easily compare competitions in Badminton Alberta and Badminton BC to this concept. It seems to me that people in Badminton Alberta will come out and play, regardless of the people who enter the tournaments. In fact, Grace and I have often played a very young junior team in preliminary rounds, but they play it anyway. In BC, however, it feels like people are a little too much entity based, because they won't play tournaments they can't win. Maybe this is a little bit of an extreme assumption, but from the past years of low entry levels of tournaments, there appears to be a bit of fear. In that case, it hinders player development, just because someone doesn't want to lose. Maybe it's a stereotype, but it is true to say that 'You gotta pay for an education'. People train constantly, but if they aren't willing to compete, they won't know where they're at. Maybe their physical ability is good, their practice game is good, but without that tournament experience, it's probably the most terrible feeling to lose because you couldn't cope with the stress of the tournament environment.

I think people who are truly successful are those who can function in those terrible times of stress. When all the pressure is on, can you still perform to a high percentage of your actual ability? If you can't, don't fret, just be a learning theorist and embrace the challenges. Don't get me wrong, losing is a terrible feeling and I'm not telling you to lose, but to be able to cope with a loss and turn things around for the next time is a key to success. I don't think anybody wins all the time. Lastly, for those who may have parents who tell you that you're not smart, because you're like someone else in the family, or just telling you who/what you are, maybe there could be a grain of truth in who you are at that moment, but there is little truth in that statement telling you who/what you can become...

Hopefully we can all learn something today... I know I did :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When Now Is The Time To Fly

"Life isn't about the dollar bills, but how you make use of change."

That is my own line actually, which came to me in a thought while I was sitting in church, one early Sunday morning. Though I may not be as religious as other people, it's still means something to me, kind of like when you aren't sure whether you believe something you hear, but you go with it anyway because it makes sense to you... And what makes sense to you? You can probably do the simple math about dieting, where if your Calories in = Calories out, then you should stay the same weight. If you want to gain or lose weight, then a simple adjustment can be made and you are going in the direction that you want. When you take this concept and turn it into your finances, it becomes the same where you have a financial balance when your Money in = Money out.

If things were only that easy, where we could have people donating to Badminton Canada and getting a tax receipt for their donations, because we have all done our taxes recently and it is a nice feeling you get when you can tell the government that you don't have to pay as much taxes because you've given their tax money away to a charitable cause. It is a good feeling, because you know you have made a difference especially because you love and support badminton, as badminton might not get your hard earned money if you gave it directly to the government. Sport Canada only gives us a little bit of money, not even enough to support a full Olympic team. The Olympic year, in badminton, translates into 'quit school and your full-time job, and you'd be lucky to find any part-time work year' because you are traveling constantly, probably every 2 or 3 weeks to different countries all over the world. One of our Canadian teams traveled to about 30+ countries within a calendar year. Could you even imagine having to travel so much, living out of a suitcase, and living well out of your comfort zone to achieve your goal for qualifying for the Olympics? Imagine having to adjust to new competition environments where you can't see the shuttle as clearly; you hear the sounds of roaring crowds, often cheering for the home team which isn't you; the odd smells of different places where pollution and poverty may be rampant, the weird tasting local food, and the feeling that you get that you are all alone in this giant world, trying to fight back against it so you can get to where you want to go. You're on an emotional roller coaster, with some big wins, but mostly because you have to learn to pick yourself off the floor when you get knocked down, because you've traveled to so many places where you simply lose in the first round, just for a shot at trying to making it far enough to make a difference in your World Ranking... I don't even need photos because you can clearly imagine it with your own mind. The feeling of unease is a constant one, wondering if you really are doing what you love, because you really really hate losing. Whether it be badminton matches, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, financial independence, you are still losing... little by little because it just slowly eats at you.

Regardless of those feelings, you know you are better than that. You know it is only a temporary hurdle to jump over and you know what it won't get you down. So, what can you do when you can't reach the top? You can aim higher, shoot higher, like the stars in the sky. You point yourself into the right direction and blast off like a rocket and hear that explosion beneath your feet and feel yourself being propelled into the sky, out of reach from anyone. You can see the stars getting bigger, while letting everything beneath your feet slowly shrink and fade away. You shoot for the stars, and if you fall a little short, it doesn't matter because everything now is beneath you, because the Olympics is not just a dream anymore, it is a reality. And the stark reality is that there are times you know you aren't the best, you can even be at the bottom of the list, so that's why you don't aim for the top, but instead, you shoot for the stars...

... one last time.

"Can you pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars.
I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now."
('Airplanes' - B.O.B. feat. Hayley Williams)
You haven't just walked a mile in my shoes, but a light-year. Please continue to support Canadian Badminton. Thank you.

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Peru International

After a month of training in Vancouver with the ClearOne Badminton Academy (COBA), we left Vancouver for Peru and flew through Houston, then Lima, spending pretty much the entire day traveling. We all flew United/Continental (Star Alliance partner), but unfortunately, it is very different than flying from Vancouver -> Toronto -> Lima, Peru via Air Canada. With Air Canada, the flight from Toronto to Lima is quite long, but you get your own personal entertainment system. We had minimal entertainment flying with United and the food was marginal at best. However, sometimes there is a significant price difference, as Air Canada probably charges an extra $100-200 more than United/Continental. However, if you want comfort or have the ability to upgrade to Executive First (Business Class) on Air Canada, it may be worth it.

We arrived in Lima and received transportation to our hotel in the Mira Flores area in Lima. The hotel was minimal, but we had air conditioning at the very least, which probably was a necessity with the hot weather in Lima. The next day was just a practice day, with Singles and Women's Doubles being played on Thursday. As the tournament had different levels of importance to different people, there were many mixed emotions at the tournament, as there were many upsets that occurred, which may have benefited some people, but also hampered the efforts of others. There were also a fair amount of athletes that didn't have any weight from the tournament for Olympic qualifications, including myself and Grace in the Mixed, but fortunately, we came out with a good result regardless. I will speak on some of my observations and my own experiences, but regarding some of the matches from this tournament, I will let you come to your own conclusions via Tournament Software.

Full Results: [2012 Peru International Challenge]

Mixed Doubles
The draw in the Mixed was quite small, with a couple of matches played on Thursday, while the Round of 16s and Quarterfinals were on Friday, Semifinals on Saturday, and Finals on Sunday morning. The seedings were quite spread out, with South Africa being seeded 2nd, and it extended quite low which can sometimes affect the draws in a tournament. Tony Gunawan/Eva Lee [USA] were an unseeded team which could have definitely taken out Grace and I or Derrick and Alex if we had to play in an earlier round. Fortunately, we were spread out a little better, so we could all at least wait until the Semifinals for one of the teams to meet. I think there is a ruling where countries with 2 seeds cannot be on the same side, so Derrick and I would probably never meet in the tournament if we were both seeded until the finals.

The rounds went fairly smoothly for most teams, although the South Africans lost to an American team, while Tony and Eva easily beat their 4th seeded opponents. The Semifinal match between us and Tony/Eva may have been our match of the year, although the Pan Am Games final would be a pretty close rival. It's quite intimidating to play Tony because he is a very experienced player. Generally, I don't mind playing the younger, more athletic players, but I have a lot of trouble playing against the smarter, experienced ones. I tend to second guess myself and get stuck in over-thinking things usually. This match really reminded me of the days in Calgary when we would sparr with Kim Dong Moon. He's another one of those smart, experienced players where I have to really pay attention to detail, remember any previous shot patterns I have used before, and be ready for shots to come back. Against Kim, it was a little easier at times because he was the one who taught me everything, but then again, when someone teaches you everything, you really have no trump cards. The difference with Tony though, is that he can sometimes come forward and pretty much hog the net, which he did at many times in our match. The match was very close especially at the end of the 3rd set, with it going into set points. The match could have definitely went either way, and much respect to our opponents for a thrilling match!

The finals was another match between Derrick and Alex, and by 'another', I mean this is the 4th final we've played each other this year! We played in the Guatemala International final, the Canadian International final, the Canadian National final, and now the Peru International final. The scores have been quite closer in our last 2 meetings, but we did a lot better this time by taking a quick first game. The second set was fairly close at the interval, but we were patient enough and it paid off in the end to take our 6th title Mixed title this season! What a great way to end our Olympic Qualification :)

XD QF: Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN] vs. Willem VILJOEN/Annari VILJOEN [RSA]

XD SF: Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN] vs. Tony GUNAWAN/Eva LEE [USA]
Full Match

XD F: Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN] vs. Derrick NG/Alex BRUCE [CAN]
Full Match

Womens Singles
The surprise in this tournament was seeing Ai Goto [JAP] in the draw. However, the top 4 seeds pulled through, with the top 2 seeds also making it through to the final, with the top 2 seeds being Ai Goto and Canada's very own, Michelle Li. It was a very long final and I saw most of the match, but it was quite a spectacular final. The first game was quite interesting, with Michelle taking a very significant lead at the first interval (11-3 maybe?). After getting a couple more points, Goto started making her dramatic comeback, slowly creeping back, point by point. In the end, she was able to catch up and ended up winning the first set in set points. However, Michelle didn't give up and came back fighting in the 2nd set. After long hard rallies, she was able to maintain her attack and breakdown Goto's defense to take the 2nd set. The final set was more or less the full clash of styles: Goto's slower rallying and defensive play because of her height and reach disadvantage, against Michelle's faster paced rallying and offensive abilities. It was actually quite even for most of the beginning of the match, but after the interval, Goto made some unforced errors which Michelle capitalized on. With the little bit of added pressure from trying to catch up, Michelle kept up her offensive play and made the last few points to take the win, giving her the Women's Singles title and her best result so far! The win, unfortunately, did not have any effect on her Olympic qualification process... because she pretty much qualified for it already! :P

WS F: Michelle LI [CAN] vs. Ai GOTO [JPN]
Full Match

Mens Singles
With only the sole major upset in the Women's Singles being that Michelle beat Ai Goto, I suppose the rest of the upsets were saved for Men's Singles. Upsets were everywhere, with many players desperate to make points to qualify for the Olympic Games. However, ironically, the top 4 players of this tournament either aren't trying for the Olympics, or can only obtain a reserve list/wild card spot, which means they are actually still out of the preliminary qualifying list. Sattawat Pongnairat [USA] made an incredible upset by defeating Kevin Cordon [GUA], the top Men's Singles player in Pan America, to secure a spot in the semifinal before getting ousted by Osleni Guerrero [CUB], the dark horse of probably every tournament he plays, including his unseeded Silver Medal performance at the 2011 Pan American Games. On the other side of the draw, Kaveh Mehrabi [IRI] takes down the 2nd seeded Michael Lahnsteiner [AUT] to secure his spot against a former sparring partner of Lee Chong Wei in the semifinals. Tan Seang Chun [MAS] became the eventual winner of the tournament, as he seemingly effortlessly defeated many of his opponents this tournament without even dropping a set.

MS F: TAN Chun Seang [MAS] vs. Osleni GUERRERO [CUB]
Full Match

Mens Doubles
The draw for this event was quite simple, with Tony Gunawan/Howard Bach [USA] being the top seeds and also last year's winners, against Adrian Liu/Derrick Ng [CAN], being the second seeds and also last year's finalists. The 3/4 seeds were signifantly lower, and unfortunately the draw felt a little skewed towards the top 2 seeds, meaning that the opponents the 3/4 seeds faced had much easier matches, especially the team that came out to play Gunawan/Bach in the semifinals. Regardless, the top 2 seeds had little difficulties in their matches and met again to play a rematch of last year's Peru International. However, this year, the crowd was in for a surprise, as Adrian and Derrick stormed through the first set to win it 21-13. They continued the trend and took a 11-6 lead at the interval, but Gunawan/Bach weren't giving up just quite yet. As I witnessed, without even saying a word to each other, they slowly but surely changed their strategy and started pressuring the Canadians much more. Instead of their defensive game they played in the 1st set, they started challenging the net more and kept a drive game going a little longer, enough to slowly give them the attack. They came back and took the 2nd set 21-13, only losing 2 more points after the interval. The final set proved difficult for the Canadians, as they were unable to adapt and maintain the playing style they were playing in the 1st set. Derrick, also being in his 2nd final seemed a little taxed in the final set. The experience of the American duo came through, with them defeating our top Canadian MD team in the final set. Unfortunately, the USA team is the main team standing in the Canadian team's way to qualify for the Olympic Games as they have taken the Pan American continental spot.

MD R16: Toby NG/Howard SHU [CAN/USA] vs. Nyl YAKURA/Andrew LAU [CAN]
Full Match

MD QF: Tony GUNAWAN/Howard BACH [USA] vs. Toby NG/Howard SHU [CAN/USA]
Full Match

MD SF: Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN] vs. Dorian JAMES/Willem VILJOEN [RSA]
G1 Post-Interval & G2

Tony GUNAWAN/Howard BACH [USA] vs. Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN]
Full Match

Womens Doubles
The Women's Doubles is quite interesting, as the qualification process for this event for the Pan American spot has been the most competitive. Both USA and Canada have 2 teams each, trying to qualify for the Olympic spot, in addition to an extra Canadian team of Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao, who are a little too far from the other 4 teams to qualify, but have beaten each team at least once. Even though they cannot qualify, they can still defeat a team in the qualifying run to hinder their progress. Canada's Michelle Li and Alex Bruce are the frontrunners at the start of the tournament, but they needed a repeat result to keep them in the lead. With the draws being made with Bruce/Li on the top half with the Wang sisters [USA], they stood a really good chance to at least make a final, where they would either play Lee/Obanana [USA], Ried/Grether [CAN], or maybe even Ko/Gao [CAN], should they defeat either Lee/Obanana or Ried/Grether in the Semifinal.

Ultimately, Lee/Obanana, the team 2nd to Bruce/Li fell to Ried/Grether in 3 sets in the Quarterfinal, unable to increase their ranking points from this tournament. Ried/Grether continued to win, defeating Ko/Gao in straight sets to secure a spot in the final. On the top half, Bruce/Li managed to squeeze by the Wang sisters, continuing their undefeated streak against them, and won in the 3rd set, 21-19. The final proved to be quite interesting, with Bruce/Li being down quite significantly in the first. However, they managed to catch up and win 21-18. The second set, I really cannot comment on, because it took me 15 minutes to get a boxed salad from the nearby cafe. Also, that salad probably got me sick for the entire next week in Tahiti, regardless of all the probiotics I tried to taking. Regardless, Bruce/Li managed to secure their win and almost cement their spot to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. With this victory, they would only need to make a final at next week's Tahiti International to force the other teams to make a Quarterfinal at the India Super Series in order for a chance to surpass them.

WD SF: Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN] vs. Rena WANG/Iris WANG [USA]
Full Match

WD F: Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN] vs. Charmaine REID/Nicole GRETHER [CAN]
Full Match

The tournament was run quite efficiently by the head referee from Canada, Jeff Bell. The venue was, again, at the Club de Regatas in Lima, a beautiful club off the corner of a really high cliff which had it's own beach and many club amenities. We got to enjoy their pool at the end of tournament, along with their many choices of restaurants and cafes. For more higher quality photos, please check my Facebook Page!

Thank you for visiting!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Deserving To Win

I know I should post more regularly, but I've been very tied up with finishing up the Badminton Canada Players Association video. I probably volunteered a good 40-50 hours of my time to make it, so if you haven't seen it yet, please have a look-see! (Warning: Video is 41 minutes long!)

Nonetheless, I do feel that I need to clarify some points I made in the comments of my last blogging: Diets and Funding Explained. I would like to explain and clarify the personal bias that comes from the phrase, "Deserving to win". If you look at the phrase itself, it consists of 3 words. Let's start with the last word, 'win'.  What does it take to win in Badminton? The answer is simple: Winning matches, of course, which we know is winning 2 out of 3 sets to 21 points (up to a maximum of 30 for those technical people). There is umpiring and line judging, but they only assist with the match itself, and it's not the same as in figure skating, where the judges decide the winner. Defining 'winning' is quite clear-cut... there are no ties or draw games, just winners and losers (sorry if I seem overly blunt). Anyway, let's move on and define 'to', which simply expresses motion from one thing to the other... in our case, 'Deserving' and 'Win'. Done.

Alright, here is the tricky one. Let us define 'Deserving'... or can we? To deserve something, at it's simplest form, is a judgement or a 'value'. Furthermore, 'value' is pretty much a 'belief' with an evaluation. There is a difference in 'believing' and 'knowing', because 'belief' at many times cannot be explained. It doesn't mean your belief can't be right, it's just that you 'believe' it, instead of 'knowing' it. For example, you may believe that you can't breathe underwater. You can even try it out for yourself (please don't), but unless you know the mechanisms of why your alveoli can't extract oxygen from water molecules, then it's simply a belief, albeit a strong, very valid belief. However, they are still affected by perceptual filters which would mean that there is some kind of interpretation that takes place when the sensory information is sent to your brain. Through either of the 5 senses (vision, hearing, touch, tasting, or smelling), information is either generalized, distored, or deleted for our brains to interpret. Reality is the same for everyone, but we live and feel differently based on our interpretations.

Now, a 'value' adds a personal evaluation on the belief. Beliefs should be emotionless, like believing that your internet is going to work, or believing that your car will stop if you step on the brake pedal. Adding that personal judgement often motivates us to live the way we do. Without these values, life would be boring and uninteresting because we would have no direction. However, if we all had the same 'values', wouldn't it mean we would all be going in the same direction? Well, no, because unless we interpret things the same as well, we probably will have different weights in similar values. For example, work vs. family. Both are very important, but some prefer to work and make a difference in the world, while some would rather spend their time with their families. There is an infinite continuum along the amount of value, so it really is different for everyone. Even simple things like, "Fast food is bad for me" is a value, as our contrasting values can cause heated debates which will never be won because both sides hold different values. An easy example from the argument from the last blog was the difference in value of fast food. For myself, I valued money over proper nutrition, while the other person valued proper nutrition over money.

So now to get to "Deserving to Win". 'Deserve' is a value, because the opposite is 'undeserve'. Let's analyize both interpretations of the phrase "Deserving to Win". The other person, who we'll call 'Skeptical', values proper nutrition over money. This has been inferred from his (I'm assuming a 'he') argument that my nutrional choices are poor, despite the fact that I argued about financial difficulties. Continuing, we can infer that he values proper nutrition because he 'believes' it correlates with 'athletic performance'. Since my values to nutrition did not match his own, he then went on to believe that I did not want to contribute to my 'athletic performance' and hence, 'do not deserve to win'. That is another example of a belief, and I also do believe that 'increasing athletic performance' plays a hand in 'deserving winning'.

However, my argument was based on his interpretation, as I formatted most of the arguments based on his perception of 'Deserving to win'. This can be seen in the comment where I expressed that 'I don't deserve to win' because of my many deficiencies such as limited sparring partners, financial difficulties, limited coaching, etc. Here, following the belief that 'increasing athletic performance' through the aid of sparring partners, money, or coaching, assists in the evaluation of 'deserving to win'. Through Skeptical's belief and value system, I argued that I did not meet the necessary standards to 'deserve to win', but on HIS interpretation of 'Deserving to win'.

If you have forgotten, I clearly stated that people can win, even though they don't deserve to. Though it was a very general statement, interpretations are far and different. I was not referring to myself, but it is more or less a true statement that someone in the world can, has, or will win something, regardless of if they deserve to or not. That is because I speak of reality, that is because I speak of the world itself, which functions regardless of our perceptual filters. "Deserving to win" is simply a value, and though I do have my own criteria established, it is different from someone else's value of the same phrase. Personally, I value 'technique', 'execution', and 'mental sharpness' over proper nutrition or even fitness in terms of improving athletic performance. These are my personal criteria, so whatever you may choose to believe, know that it's not right or wrong, but how you personally value your own things in life.

I hope this clears things up a bit.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Diet & Funding Explained

Someone left me a comment on my 2012 All England blog and I felt that I should address it in a new blog instead of replying in that blog posting because it was quite unrelated to the tournament:


So I've been reading a few of your blog posts now, and I've noticed a particularly disturbing trend; your diet. Now, I realize you're not posting pictures on a meal to meal basis, but should aspiring Olympians really be consuming pizzas, bowl noodles, hot dogs and the regular junk food? I may be overly analytical, but this speaks volumes as to how little you are willing to sacrifice for success. Say what you will about training and career changing decisions: if you're not even willing to forego junk food, you don't deserve to be a winner.

Also, the notion that Canada should increase funding for athletes, even to a reasonable level, is ridiculous. It's simple supply and demand. Further taking into consideration how you (and other Canadian team members) spend their cash on food and flashy accessories, I would say Canada is right to deny funding. I'm all for encouraging and recognizing sporting activities, but is the national team anywhere close to achieving that?

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but I really felt this needed to be said.


Thank you for your comment and I appreciate your thoughts. However, I would like to clarify some things with everyone... mainly my diet and funding issues.


The first question I want to ask everyone is... "What should an Olympian eat?" It seems really easy to point out things people shouldn't do, but with constructive criticism, then what SHOULD I be eating? I've seen nutritionists at the odd team training camps, I've gone through nutrition in school, I've read magazines and the unfortunately useless Yahoo! articles, but what should an Olympian eat? I wouldn't know. What I do know is that the things an individual chooses to do may or may not have the same effect on another individual (see Michael Phelps). As far as I know among the Canadian National Team members, I would say Michelle Li has the best diet, as she more or less only drinks water and is cutting out certain 'bad' things from her diet (e.g. fried food). My brother Derrick likes to try new things and totally changes his diet, but he also believes in his MonaVie stuff. Adrian Liu prefers to have rice as often as he can, while Alex Bruce loves sandwiches. A few of the players also do the protein shakes and some also take creatine. But what do I do?

Well, I prefer to get my protein from natural dairy sources, so I try to eat yogurt and cheese more often. I go with low fat cheese and unfortunately they don't have drinkable yogurt in Canada at an affordable price. Unfortunately, drinkable yogurt is quite limited in protein, so I go for fortified soy milk over regular milk because I have some minor lactose intolerance. The price point of fortified soy milk is slightly more than regular milk, but nonetheless lower than lactose-free milk or other fancy products. I don't eat organic food because it's more expensive. I eat fruit regularly, but only what is cheap. I tend not to buy fruit that is more than 99 cents/lbs so I really never shop at Safeway unless I need bananas. I also eat a lot of whole-wheat bread... but only if it's cheap. I try to eat at home as much as I can with my family to save money, but I do have sushi the odd time. I do eat a lot of white rice as my family traditionally cooks white rice. This is my regular diet at home... why? To SAVE money.

So what happens when we travel? Doesn't that simply mean eating out most of the time? It's quite hard to control your diet when you're on the go. Do you know what the first thing I look at in a menu when I travel? PRICE. It's that pathetic. Why do I choose to eat pizza? Because the salad costs more and I would probably need to eat two of them. Also, the salad has a low carbohydrate supply and if I was training/competing all the time, I would need fuel from my carbohydrate sources. Pizza on the other hand has carbs (along with fat and massive amounts of sodium), but I know what I'm eating. The only time I eat hot dogs are when they are FREE. I know they're unhealthy, but I would rather eat cheap/free food over spending money (I'll address funding below). I know eating steak would be a much better option most of the time because it has more value for your dollar and it could be one of the best menu options, but the burger seems more affordable. Fries or salad? Sometimes I have to think about what FILLS my stomach over what is healthier... because of the money. What are my options then? Pay a premium for better nutrition? If we could control all variables and ONLY changed nutrition, how much of a difference could it make in badminton? It's been a LONG time since I've lost a match and blamed it on my fitness... so how much do I think adjusting nutrition affects our badminton in Canada? Not very much. It's also comforting to see other International players eating where we eat, even at the odd McDonalds now and then. So what's my formula for my diet? Simple... (Calories INPUT) < / = (Calories OUTPUT).


Let's clarify: our funding used to be 10 of these... 'cards' and we got stripped down to '5'. A reasonable level was '8'. So would it really be 'increasing' our funding? Yes and no... yes, because 8 is 3 more than 5, what we have now, but 8 is also less than 10, what we had before. So to a reasonable level, seems... reasonable based on what we had before. But perhaps you are right. Maybe it's not worth funding a player in each event, thus decreasing our carding quota even more, but Badminton Canada doesn't treat all events equally... so we continue to fund someone in Men's Singles even though it is poorly represented on the World stage. So the 'reasonable' level can be decreased to 7... and if someone is doubling up in two events (e.g. Michelle Li), that can decrease the number of cards to... 6. But too bad, we only have 5, so now everyone is out playing tournaments that can guarantee them funding, instead of trying to improve their level of badminton Internationally. Hey, I tried that once but I lost funding for that year... so I learned my lesson. Is this how an Olympian should train or orient his/her goals? Heck no. Even I know that's a terrible way to develop a player, but I guess we all follow the money. Nutrition, training programs, quality of life... follows the money.

However, I need clarification on "Flashy Accessories". I, for one, own a lower end phone, a Samsung Wave and do not have the fancier "Galaxy S II's" or "iPhone 4S's". I have a Kobo E-reader, $200 CAD compared to whatever the iPad 2 or the NEW iPad costs. I own a Sony mp3 player, which costed $99 CAD compared to whatever and iTouch/iPod costs. So what if I'm not an Apple fan? I have an HD camcorder which I've purchased a few years back to video tape matches, but it's not like I'm super tech-savvy. The most expensive thing I've purchased recently was a Samsung Ultrabook, but I've had to save up a long time for it. I've been using a netbook for almost 2 years now, which costed $400 but I need something that can actually play and render HD video, because my computers at home are actually close to 10 years old.

So what REALLY needs to be said is that I don't have to do any of this blogging, video taping, or anything else because a REAL aspiring Olympian would get sponsors or endorsements or have someone else doing this for them. They can spend their time and money towards something more EFFECTIVE because their sport is more highly recognized than mine. They can be media icons, spokespeople to kids in high schools in their communities about nutrition, goal setting, or whatever... but not for badminton. So I operate a very large volunteer operation here promoting my sport in Canada the best I can... why? For money? Do I even have a 'Donate' sign anywhere on my blog? Maybe I just want to show the World how tough it is for the struggling amateur athlete in Canada... there are still those who try because they love their sport.

Oh... and before I forget. People can win even if they don't deserve to.