Asian Take Out



Before the sirens, subways and sidewalks of New York, I lived quite the American Suburbia lifestyle. I grew up in a Dennis the Menace type neighborhood. All the neighbors knew each other, knew the family squabbles of Joe and Jane next door, and gave a friendly call when someone left their garage door open past 9pm.

I love the way I grew up.  It felt safe, secure and comfortable.

But there in lie the problem.  For me comfortable meant stagnant.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~M. Scott Peck

Of the many new experiences and exposures I encountered Post-NYC move, my introduction to a few bits of Asian culture from Tony have been very influential to my pool career.  Dragonball-Z, and martial arts in general have played an integral part of my "off the table" improvement-particularly, my mental game.  I’ll be the first to admit my knowledge of the subject is still very elementary but I continue to try and learn more as the days go by.  

People that have read my blog before know of my recent obsession with Dragonball-Z, a Japanese cartoon (yes, a cartoon, HUSH!) about a martial artist named Goku and his ongoing quest to protect the Earth, his family and friends.  I enjoy the storylines and do relate wholeheartedly with Gohan, Goku’s naive, insecure son whose mammoth power lies buried in his self-doubt.  But more so, it’s the underlying theme to this series that inspires me the most.  The will to never give up & the belief that there’s a higher level of excellence!  The only ceiling that exists is your own glass of self doubt.

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”  ~Bruce Lee

The cartoon has many series. I only watched Dragonball-Z as this was the series that focused on Gohan’s development and Tony felt would be the most influential to me and my mental development.

(And don’t think it has escaped me that Tony felt my mental development would be improved by a cartoon …. I’m very aware!)

It’s Gohan’s fear of his attackers and doubt in his own ability that I was drawn to.  He allowed FEAR to render him helpless and only when his back was to the wall and he needed to defend someone else did he unleash his enormous power and overcome his enemy. 

Fear can be Crippling.

How often have you stared down the shaft of your cue at the object ball and been scared to death of missing?  Trembling with nerves you cower to your emotions and lose all focus on the task at hand. 

You’re at the mercy of your own fear.

It took me watching a cartoon to see myself in all my petrified glory and realized I had to "LET IT GO!"  Believe in myself.  Dig down deep for the fighter inside of me.

The show was my first introduction to the discipline of a martial artist, in particular, the discipline of oneself.

The more I was exposed to this lifestyle, the more I found myself in awe. Such drive for perfection and control; self-restraint, composure, emotional management & will power.  An endless endeavor towards self improvement.  While many of these concepts sound nauseating to the "free love"  and "free spirited"  mindsets of our "American Dream,"  the art of pool demands these disciplines to master the game~ thus I listened intently.

Personally, when I watch Xiaoting Pan play, I crave the self-restraint she exhibits in every situation she’s presented.  The coolness of her face, the calm of her stroke, the finality of her choices.  She rarely seems flustered.  A good act?  Maybe!  But as Caroline Pao says, "Fake it till you make it!"  (She’s Asian too!)   

Another important difference I’ve seen between Asian philosophy and Western ideals is the method of improving one’s self.  I was always taught, "Make a goal and aim for it."  Once it’s achieved, pat yourself on the back.  Good Job!

That was the end of the lesson.  There was a finish line. 

But the storylines of the Asian inspired films I’ve watched seem to circle around an endless pursuit of perfection where sympathy is for the weak and lessons only learned by the insightful, patient and determined.

A perpetual chase that demands resolve, despite perceived impossibility.

Thy virtue is patience and endless will.

March14th2009---40 They thrive off this challenge while Americans would seemingly label it "self-destructive discouragement!"  America would sympathize with the people that couldn’t handle the pressure and lobby to ban all teachings that could make anyone feel bad about themselves.  A psychological study would ensue on the negative effects of such high standards and unmanageable workloads and someone would start a movement to prevent the downfall of the world’s self-esteem.  LOL

I poke fun of my American liberalism but in a way, this "babying of the psyche" leave us vulnerable to failure consuming us when really challenged.  Then when presented with failure we seek therapy rather than dusting ourselves off and trying again.   

Sometimes you NEED to be hard on yourself to get better.  You have to look yourself in the mirror and say, "I’m NOT trying hard enough!  I can do better! I WILL do better. “

“Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.” ~Gillian Anderson

So now, the application of this in my game?

The awareness of my emotional state while competing was a huge eye opener for me.  After seeing so many examples in movies of marital artist’s calmness under fire, I worked diligently on training myself before a match with visual images of running racks in a calm, deliberate fashion.  I step into a shot with confidence.  In truth, I visualize the "Gohan" coming out in me. (I’ve even pocketed a 9-ball and said, "Kamehameha" to myself!) Maybe that sounds silly to some, but it works for me.  I feel stronger when I emulate that confidence.

"You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself." ~Jim Whittaker

My struggles still?  Maintaining this focus.  Multi-tasking isn’t always a good thing but it’s what I’m used to in every other aspect of my life.  For sure, I’d be shunned in the Dojo if I couldn’t focus all my attention. So maintaining a single focus while playing is a goal I’m working on.  Off the table, I can worry about work, the league, my family, the tour … but on the table, I MUST only think about "THE BATTLE AT HAND." Self Discipline. 

I hope to one day visit many Asian countries and experience these customs first hand.  While I’m aware that many of my influences are grounded in Hollywood’s glamorization of the culture and Americanized Asian influences, I still see its effects in many of the great pool players of today and hope some of it will rub off on me!    


~ by g2 on January 15, 2010.

7 Responses to “Asian Take Out”

  1. […] Gail taps into significant other and professional player Tony Robles for tips on how to develop a killer instinct. How does one of the nicest guys in pool respond? Watch Cartoons, of course.Click here to read Gail Glazebrook’s article […]

  2. The only thing I knew about DragonballZ was that it was a kid’s cartoon. Now I want to go watch it, it sounds amazing. You may want to check out “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel. I think you would love it.

    Great article. The best writing always makes you want to do something.

  3. I never paid much attention to Dragonball-Z but will take a serious look the next time my 7 year old son is watching (I hope it’s not dubbed in Tagalog, lol). Maybe it can become a vehicle for some time together. Fine article, Thanks.

  4. Thanks for the feedback guys —

    John, I will be getting that book as you suggest! thanks!

    PoolBum, Tony and I very much enjoyed watching the series together and discussing it’s meaning – I believe you will too with your son, perhaps more in the, “OH SNAP, did you see the ASS WHOOPING GOKU gave Frieza! Spirit bombs are AWESOME!” lol

  5. A tremendous read – some great lessons on persistence, will, and personal growth, things I must remind myself of when working on my projects. Thanks for the card and the sentiments. I miss you guys as well.

  6. Great post GG!

  7. if u like DBZ, try this one. i recommend watching it in original japanese language w subtitles. it’ll blow ur mind.

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