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Study plan for 2013: continued education

2012-12-21 06:03:00

Because I like to keep work and my private life very much separated, I usually try to do as little IT stuff at home as possible. "Work is work, home is home", I often say and so far it's made for a pleasant balance between the two where I don't take home too much stress. But, as much as I dislike it, being in the IT workforce means there is a very real need for continued education. So every once in a while I will do a huge burst of studying in one go, to achieve a specific goal or two. Case in point: 2010's CISSP certification.

However, said CISSP certification means that I will now need to start using a different approach in my continued education. I can no longer work with infrequent bursts, as I need to obtain a certain amount of CPE credits every year. Which is why I broke out the proverbial calculator and did some math to determine what I should do on an annual basis to retain my CISSP. Instead of huge bursts of work, I will now be spreading out my studies.

Which is why I made the following planning, for my 2012/2013 studies.


Again, with many thanks to my colleague Rob for making the final needed suggestion to get me to sort out the CPE calculation. And to my coach in being my sparring partner in all of this. tags: , ,

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A class out of the ordinary

2012-12-19 15:33:00


Pfff... You would think that after nearly a year of training with my sempai in Amstelveen, I wouldn't be anxious anymore. But I am. :)

They're great people, but I always dread acting like a complete newbie around them. That and I fear that I'm not pulling my weight. Well, nothing to do but push on! Maybe this will be a nice subject for my next coaching session

Last night was a training out of the ordinary. Seeing how it was the last tuesday-night session for 2012, the turnup was smaller with only one sensei appearing and the group totaling out at roughly fifteen people (nine in bogu). While Roelof-sensei kept an eye on everyone for details, Kiwa-sempai led the advanced group in what I found to be a tremendously educational class. 

The first half hour of class was spent on practicing kendo kata. I finally got a chance to practice with Nienke, a classmate whom I appreciate and with whom I'm on-par. We went through kata #1 through #3 and focused greatly on practicing #3. A lot of things that I thought I was doing right, I turned out to be doing slightly wrong or I just learned them a bit differently. Under the watchful eye of Onno-sempai, Roelof-sensei and Kiwa-sempai I got a lot of pointers.

The next half hour was spent on learning the bokuto ni yoru kendo kihon waza keikoho, also known as the kihon bokuto waza. This set of exercises is relatively new and targeted mostly at beginning students and lower-ranked kendo. Here, one practices the various techniques in kendo in a more realistic as well as entry-level setting: unarmoured and with a bokuto, which is shorter than a shinai. Much more information can be read in this excelent PDF. In class we practiced kata #1 through #3, which are:

  1. The four basic targets: men, kote, dou and tsuki.
  2. A successive kote-men.
  3. The harai-men technique.

Despite seemingly being a lot easier than normal kata, I had a surprising amount of trouble getting the motodachi role right. And, as I have with the normal kata, at first I held back when striking at Nienke for fear of actually hitting her. In this regard, I overheard a very important comment from Kiwa-sempai who said to strike without power, but in a relaxed fashion. 

The last half hour was dedicated to jigeiko. The beginners' group joined Roelof-sensei for kihon practice, while the advanced group went through their desired routines. While most duos did actual sparring, I was very grateful for Zicarlo-sempai's help in practicing kirikaeshi. As expected I soon got winded, because I'm still messing up my breathing :) It was great practice though and I need a lot more of it, if I want to test for ikkyu this summer. 

The biggest failings I showed today were my over-use of my right hand which thus lead to hitting way too hard. Also, I was cueing, as Zicarlo said, because I kept fiddling with my footing. Every single time, before pushing off on the left foot, I would re-set my left foot one last time. This is in part due to my under-estimating the reach of my shinai: I keep fearing that I cannot reach my target. tags: , ,

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Muscle ache? Check!

2012-12-16 08:57:00

kendo notes

Between my sterilization, the Dinosaurs show, standby duties and Alegria I've been absent from kendo class for two full weeks. And because I've been so busy with work I haven't practiced at home either. I feel guilty about it, but as they say: "god's punishment is swift" because boy do my muscles hurt! (;^_^)

It's great to see how our group keeps growing with newbies, who also show great attendance. Sadly, we don't seem to have much luck with the guys in bogu though. Sander is very busy with work, Hugo has a lot of schoolwork as do Jeroen, Martijn and Houdaifa and I myself have family and work stuff. So that's six guys who should be senior in the group, but who have problems making attendance. On the one hand it's beneficial to the friendly atmosphere in our dojo that Ton-sensei is so lenient about attendance, but on the other hand our attendance issues do keep both ourselves and our juniors from learning as quickly as we could. 

When it comes to our members, it's also interesting to see how many young kids we attract. We don't yet rival our mother-dojo in Amstelveen (who have flocks of Japanese children attending training on saturday), but I'm willing to bet that we're in the top four with the amount of kids. Bobby doesn't count anymore as she started high school this year, but between Aaron, Ainar, Nathan, Lukas and the Korean-boy-whose-name-I-havent-learned-yet we have five students of ten or younger.

Now, on to class. After warming-up we started with lunges in order to improve footwork and balance. I don't keel over anymore, but that's because I'm over-compensating. There are two commonly made mistakes: either you keep a too-narrow stance and can't keep your balance, or you over-compensate for that and take a too-wide stance (as per graphic A above). Kris-fukushou reminds us that we really should keep our feet at the proper width during the whole practice. 

We practiced kihon in the motodachi system, with the eight guys in bogu acting as partner for the dozen or so people without bogu. After that the group was split up as usual and my group moved on to waza practice. The two most important lessons for myself were about debana kote and suriage men

With debana kote I was always confused: do I need to move my shinai over or under my opponent's blade? Turns out that it's neither, because both are too slow :) As per graphic B, Kris explained that your shinai stays almost level, while the opponent moves in for a men-strike. That way you automatically duck under his shinai and you also stay close enough for a quick kote strike. 

Now, suriage men is apparently a very difficult technique for kyu-grade students, but it doesn't hurt to get introduced. Kris-fukushou suggested the D/C-shaped movement that is also mentioned by Salmon-sensei in the linked article. And as Salmon-sensei points out, most of us were having lots of issues with both the movements and the timing. In my case I feel way too slow and I have it in my mind suriage men is a two-stage movement, while it should be more of a single arc where you deflect and strike from the deflect position. 

Aside from these things, Kris-fukushou warned me about my kiai and kamae. I think it may tie in with a warning Onno-sempai gave me a few weeks ago. If I do my kiai incorrectly, I hunch and lock my arms. There's a big difference between a relexed posture and an "open" "YIAAAAAA!" yell and a tight/locked posture with a "closed" "RRUAAAGH!" yell. Once I'm locked up, I can't strike quickly nor properly. 

Class was closed with all student in bogu acting as motodachi in uchikomi geiko, which the other students had to run twice. That meant a total of fourteen rounds of five strikes for everyone. A great way to close this last class of the year! tags: , ,

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Confessions of a CISSP slacker

2012-12-09 10:30:00

And to think... At the end of 2010 I was ecstatic about achieving CISSP status, after weeks of studying and after a huge exam. I loved the studying and the pressure and of course the fact that I managed to snag a prestigious certificate on my first attempt.

Well, the graphic on the left is a variation of my celebratory image of the time. I'm sad to say that I've been slacking off for the past two years, only doing the bare essentials to retain said title. Why? My colleague Rob had it spot on: "It seems like such a huge, daunting task to maintain your CPE." But in retrospect it turns out that he's also right insofar that "it really isn't that much work!".

Let's do some math, ISC2 style!

In order to maintain your CISSP title, you need to earn a total of 120 CPE in three years' time. As an additional requirement, you must earn 20C CPE every single year, meaning that you can't cram all 120 credits into one year. To confuse things a little, ISC2 refer to group A and group B CPE (which basically differentiates between security work and other work). 

Now, let's grab a few easily achieved tasks that can quickly earn at least the minimum required CPE.

That right there is 27 CPE per year, all in group A, which meets the required minimum. it's also 81 CPE out of the required 120 CPE for our three year term.

Of the 120 hours, a total of 40 can be achieved through group B, which involves studying other subjects besides IT security. In my case, the most obvious solution for this is self-study or class room education followed for Unix-related subjects. In the next few months I will be studying for my RHCSA certification (and possibly my SCSA re-certfication), which will easily get me the allowed 40 hours. 

That means I only need to achieve 120 - (81+40) = -1 more CPE through alternative ways :) Additional CPE can be achieved through podcasts, webcasts or by visiting trade shows and seminars. One awesomely easy and interesting way are ISC2 web seminars, which can be followed both realtime and on recordings.

Now, because I've been slacking off the past two years, I will need to be smart about my studies and the registration thereof. I'm putting together a planning to both maintain my CISSP and to prepare for my RHCSA. 

It's time to get serious. Again. ;)


It looks like it's a good idea to also renew my ITIL foundations certification. If I'm not mistaken, that can be counted towards group A of CPE, as ITIL is used in domains pertaining to life cycle management, to business continuity and to daily operations. I'll need to ask ISC2 to be sure.

Also, many thanks to Jeff Parker for writing a very useful article, pertaining specifically to my plight. tags: , ,

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