Crazy throw thingie

I saw this over on Patrick’s Mokuren Dojo blog (visit it, it’s a great blog):

According to the post in question, this is an aikido technique called a gedanate. Not having studied aikido before (though I’ve read Twigger’s rather ace Angry White Pajamas, which is an ace little book), I don’t know much about this kind of stuff, but I know that the complete lack of visible effort used to send the guy flying off to the side is awesome. Check out Patrick’s original post for more links and discussion on the topic.

Personally, I think it just looks cool 🙂

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Archive: Stretchy legs

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 8 May, 2007

All is going well with all my random injuries – my stump is looking better than it has in weeks, and my ankle is feeling great; I get a bit of a dull throbbig pain once in a while, but it’s doing really well. I’m aiming to do a weights session tonight to get me back into the routine, and will be training on Wednesday night providing I don’t do anything stupid between now and then. Hamez is taking a break from soccer for a couple of weeks, so I’ll be taking him along with me, and Tank might be able to make it, also. I’m really looking forward to it, this’ll make it ~2 months since last training.

In stretchy leg news, for some reason my muscles were sore yesterday 😛 The only thing I can think of is that Tank and I were doing some shonky backyard cricket on Sunday morning as Wifey and I headed over to Mum and Dad’s for brekkie/morning tea/eat fest. Given backyard cricket is generally as low impact as it comes, I can’t see that being an issue. Mind you, it possibly didn’t help that I kept on kicking the ball with my foot and instead of knocking it with the cricket bat, Segata Sanshiro style:


*Ahem* Anyway, the point is, shonky backyard cricket should not have resulted in my legs being sore. The only thing I can think is that maybe I stretched a bit too far on Sunday night. Regardless, I’m continuing my stretching routine, probably every second night or so, maybe a little more frequently. It’s the same routine we do in karate… kinda – I don’t spend any time stretching my left leg much, since there’s not much there to stretch 😛 I can’t remember if I went through it before, so here it is for all to consider:

  • Shake the legs about a bit to get the blood flowing, then fall gently into the side splits, getting down to the point of slight discomfort and hold it. 30 seconds is supposed to be optimal, I generally lose track of time so I’m probably sitting there like a dufus for a few minutes 😛
  • Shift your weight and do the straight splits, right leg in front, and get down as low as possible and hold it. Again, 30 seconds I think is optimal, but I lose track of time. Damn telly 😛 If you have two legs, feel free to reverse the position to stretch out your left leg
  • Settle back into the side splits, getting lower and hold your balance on your heels, steadying yourself on your hands (or in my case, knuckles – helps condition them). I read up that the point with this is to keep your hips at an angle and nto vertical, as the former is its natural position. By this point, I can normally do the full side splits with a bit of effort
  • I don’t know the name for the next stretch – I face forward wit my front (right) leg bent so you’re almost kneeling, with my other leg behind my for support. Stretches the groin and inner-thigh I think. Hold it for 30 seconds or more to avoid random injuries to your groin muscle
  • Finally, return to the side splits and pop yourself down as far as you can go without causing yourself an injury. If for any reason I haven’t managed to do the side splits up until this point, I’ll generally pull it off here

After I’ve done my leg stretches like that, I’ll do 15+ leg lifts front, side then back. Once all that’s done, my leg(s) are generally feeling pretty stretchy and stuff – last night after I did all the above I went and took the wheely bins out for ccollection this morning, and on the way back to our place I started practicing random kicks. You know, crazy flash of inspiration and all that. I want to be able to do two snap kicks in a single strike – lift the leg, strike once (waist), strike two (head), return the leg to the ground. I’m working on something similar with my fake leg, not sure how it’s going to go. If I can develop it, the idea would be a series of two double-strike kicks in succession – double-strike kick with right leg, double strike with left leg. Not sure how practical it would be, but I like the challenge. Once my ankle’s better, I’ll get started on working on the tornado kick and (reverse) butterfly kick. I’m referring to the latter as a ‘reverse’ butterfly kick as I can’t launch off my left leg because, well, there’s no ankle or knee to facilitate it 🙂 I could try, but the best I could achieve as falling over. So I’ll have to see if I can develop it to jump off the right leg; granted, I’ll still fall over, but at least I’ll be able to fall over a little further along 🙂

Oh, you’ve probably noticed that the main page’s layout has been updated. I’m really happy with the result, it came out better than I expected. I’ll be updating the blog’s layout soon as well. I’m just happy that my coding wasn’t too shonky – thankfully, there’s a stack of info on the web when it comes to learning CSS.

I’ll post an update later in the week, hopefully this time with some karate training news. Can’t wait 🙂

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Archive: Latest update

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 24 April, 2007

Well, it’s been a week since I did the sensible thing and rolled my ankle. To be honest, not a lot has happened over this period of time – I’ve been icing my foot and Wifey’s been helping me strap it each morning. The biggest problem I had was that, with the foot a bit stuffed, it put a huge amount of pressure on my stump, and by Wednesday I could feel the blood vessels on the end of my stump get pushed to their limit of how much more abuse they could take, and not surprisingly the bloods vessels burst, bruised the end of my stump and its had to scab over to heal itself up. I’ve been taking the leg off at night, using my suave and sophisticated walking stick during the day at work (though I had to head home early on Wednesday last week – ended up taking the leg off at work because it was so sore and left the office at 2pm), and have tried to get around on crutches without hurting my ankle 😉 It’s been a bit tricky, but in the good news – the ankle is all better, it’s just the outer edge of my foot that took the brunt of the fall and waiting on to heal up, and my stump is almost healed up at the end. This is definitely a good thing – it doesn’t sting when I walk now. I’m hoping to get back to karate next week if my foot’s ready (’cause I’m pretty confident my stump will be fine before the end of the week).

Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been much in terms of training happening. I started again on doing static stretching on Saturday night (splits and stuff) and keep my leg in good shape (plus it helps with my knee as well), and I’ve decided to start focusing ony mental training. In a couple of books I’ve read on karate or martial arts in general, the authors have commented on the benefits of mental training. I’ve found that by taking my leg off I can sit in the Lotus position, so I’ve decided to start concentrating on my breathing and focusing my chi. One of the books I read most recently was one of Jyastin-kun’s, and the author referred to a study where a group of athletes divided their training in varying degrees between mental/physical training, with the former involving picturing the execution of their technique mentally in a meditative manner. Apparently the group that spent 25% time on physical training and 75% time on mental “image” training outperformed those who trained 50-50 75-25 and 0-100 on mental-physical training.

In the book on Japanese fighting arts I recently read, I remember coming across something similar, this time a story of how the great Masutatsu Oyama (founder of the Kyokushin style of karate) experimented with two training regimes on two of his students – one was trained purely in the physical degree of karate, whereas the other was given less physical training but was subject to mental training also. At the conclusion of the experiment, the former was better developed physically than the latter, but when the two of them sparred, there was no comparison – the latter soundly bettered his fellow student.

It’s always difficult to differentiate fact from fiction, so that’s why I’m giving this technique a go. I’d talked in a previous blog about the difference my breathing and focusing my chi has made in the past, so since there isn’t a lot that I can do physically at the moment, I thought it would be a good time to work on this side of my training. For the moment, I’m going through my kata in my head while I focus on my breathing, and will continue the same training with going through my regular techniques in my head also. As always, I’ll post up what I find comes about from this. I know there has got to be a way to develop that incredible inner power and technique masters of the martial arts develop despite their height or size; given I’m short and of medium build, I’d say this might be that extra something that helps me become a better martial artist. I hope 🙂

Oh, before I close off – I watched the truly woeful American Ninja on Foxtel last night:

It was soooooooooo funny, I’m not sure if the lead guy actually has any martial arts training – he spent more time rolling around like a stunt man than anything else 😉 And everything blew up, it was cool. Because it was so, so bad. I love 80s action flicks – they’re so shonky! And yes, I subjected Wifey to it – she had trouble breathing when the evil French guy was showing off his army of ninjas training in fluro yellow, orange and blue ninja gis, just randomly jumping and diving and falling around this uber dodgy obstacle course. And I loved how these guys in ninja outfits come running out of the jungle in broad daylight. Because, y’know, ninjas really blend into the jungle scenery in the middle of the day. If the movie had a dodgy pash/shag scene, it would have completed the atypical 80s ninja/martial arts action flick mould. Ah well, I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities for dodgy flicks as we go – Bloodsport is on later this month, and there’s always room for a blog on Showdown in Little Tokyo 🙂

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Shonky martial arts movies – round 1

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 13 April, 2007

Dodgy martial arts movies are a part of the movie scene. What of course contributes to their inherent dodginess will often depend on their country of origin. Hong Kong and Japan have a knack of producing some of te best in the world, whether they be littered with relatively unnecessary dialogue and little plot (Hong Kong) or melodramatic and long winded (Japan). This broad generalisation of course eliminates the movies emerging from, say, Thailand, China, Korea or other regions in East Asia; I only offer my tongue-in-cheek generalisation on Japan and China because I’ve seen more movies from there than anywhere else. While I’m certainly not taking a swipe at either country’s respective martial arts films (as I love them dearly), even the most ardent fan must see the cliches that riddle the genre. I personally wouldn’t have them any other way, as I believe that these idiosyncracies are what makes them special. I’m also a firm believer in keeping them in their original language – there’s nothing like gung-ho Johnny America voicing Jackie Chan to ruin a movie. Thank you DVD – dual languages and English subtitles, gotta love ’em. Though as a footnote, I have to say that some of the R3 discs I’ve watched have left me a little worried – I preferred the HK and Japanese martial arts films without the cheap digital effects. I’m not talking about the gorgeously lavish film were the effects are actually meaningful (like, say, Hero or something), but the cheap stuff with particle effects, 3D rendering… I dunno, kinda like Volcano High (which was awesome, but the CG was a little superflous) or Anna in Kung Fu Land (though the title should have been fair warning on that one).

But I digress. For the purpose of today’s short blog on wrongness, I’m going to touch on US martial arts films. I don’t know what it is, but until very recently, whenever Hollywood or anyone in the US pulled out a martial arts film, it was plagued by crap choreography, stupid one-liners, crap direction and was edited by someone afraid of letting the camera linger on a single shot for more than a few seconds. I mean, as much as its fun to pay out Van Damme, Steven Segal or what-not, they’re skills as a martial artist may not be too shabby (they’d be able to beat the stuffing out of me and run away with my leg, for example), but everything else… argh, the horror! And before anyone brings up The Matrix flicks, let’s get something straight – Keanu Reeve’s kung fu was shit. Check out the second Matrix film – Jet Li must have giggled when he had to fight a living Wooden Dummy. What The Matrix (and its craptacular but visually spiffing sequels) did right was to bring in the right guys to choreograph and film the fighting so it actually looked really good. Then, to the amazement of anyone who has ever seen an awesome piece of East Asian martial art movie goodness, Hollywood got hooked and kept on implementing the faux-HK choreography style that proved popular with The Matrix’s audience. Note I say faux-HK, because as much as the fighting action love has improved, it still has nothing on what the talent from HK or Japan has produced, and I would argue that HK style has definitely become more popular than Japanese martial arts choreography in Hollywood movies.

With all that pretext out the way, let me take you on a journey, back to 1995, and the year the world was graced with the latest in a series of poorly made movies based on video games. Despite a legacy of The Wizard (90 minute Nintendo commercial made awesomeness by starring Fred Savage, Christian Slater and one of the Bridges… and they play Nintendo), Super Mario Bros (Bob Hoskin’s musta needed the money. Or was drunk), Double Dragon (Scott Wolf! hahahaha! Didn’t catch it yet, might have to track it down for a laugh), Street Fighter (oh dear god no! A travesty that will necessitate a future blog methinks), and other acts of random stupidity (kinda like the movie based on DoA, starring the slutty girl from Neighbours, but of course is more recent, and not relevant to this rant), then somewhat-less-rich New Line Cinema (y’know, Lord of the Rings, anyone?) brought us… Mortal Kombat: The Movie!

Now, I’ll avoid video game history and trivia, as I’m a geeky boy and could wax lyrical about the state of gaming circa 1994/1995 for the purpose of background info; the only thing needed to be said is that Mortal Kombat was the more indie-answer to Street Fighter 2 (or, in movie land, Street Fighter: The Movie). The games were more brutal, there was blood and stuff, people could get chopped in half. In short – awesomeness in a can for prubescent young men. So it was with high hopes that Mortal Kombat was expected, especially following the piece of shit that was Street Fighter the Movie.

To its credit, it was far better as a fighting-action movie than Street Fighter – people actually fought. Y’know, a bit of biff and all that. And they did their signature cheesey special moves. With new-fangled CG effects (CG effects, being very new in 1995, were very much considered awesome even if they really weren’t necessary or looked a bit arse). And there was mid-90s doof-doof dance music that, when listened to now, either sounds like it should be played in a night club where men wear arseless chaps, or gritty underground like a dirty club in Manchester, both circa 90s.

The casting was better, and amusingly, much cheaper than Street Fighter. It also didn’t feature Van Damme being a silly army man, or Kylie Minogue under the pretense she was part of an elite group of British agents (if it was an elite group of attractive, arse-wiggling pop stars, then yes, she’s would have made a good choice. But she wasn’t, so she loses). There were a cast of nobodies, but at least they looked comfortable executing choice biff against the faceless bad guys. Except for Bridgette Wilson (aka Sonya Blade). She was crap. Amusingly crap even – watching her execute some biff proved a highlight when I watched the movie with Wifey last weekend. To the film’s credit, Christopher Lambert played Raiden, and he’s always awesome even if a movie’s crap (Highlander 2) or uber (the orginal Highlander). Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa plays Shang Tsung and pulls funny faces and spends most of the movie over-acting, but that’s okay, because that’s how he plays everyone, which is in turn golden. Robin Shou is awesome by default; he can’t really act, but his technique is good, and by all that’s uber, his boofy hair was a true highlight of the film. The dude who played Johnny Cage didn’t have too bad form when they filmed him during the Scorpion fight, so kudos to him. And then there was this guy in a crazy suit with four arms, Goro. It looks like the reason he beat everyone up was because they were afraid to lay into the costume, probably in fear of breaking something. Nowadays he’d probably be CG and still look arse, but in a CG-fake kinda way; unlike Kelsey Grammar in X-Men 3, who excuded Frasier-gone-animal, and pulled it off. Nice fighting there.

Now, where Mortal Kombat fall down is that the plot is wafer thin, the acting is pretty bad, the one-liners get old fast, the sets are pretty funny because a lot of the time they look cheap, and the music’s kinda funny. It’s full of cliches, and again, Bridgette Wilson looks so bad when she tries to fight. Not as bad as Keanu Reeves – at least a wooden dummy has form 😛 But to be honest, that’s why its awesome – its so cheesy, but at least the cheese is budget and cheap. It’s not trying to be awesome, it knows its place, and for a videogame licence, it wasn’t too bad. The fighting (bar Bridgette Wilson… though maybe her craptacularness could be a highlight ’cause its funny) wasn’t too shabby, but it still suffered from average choreography (above average for Hollywood at the time, though), pretty crap editing, and looked slow. Again, some of these guys were trained and had more in there, and the way it was filmed let it down.

But, let’s not get too critical here – it’s trashy cinema. It’s cheap. It’s dodgy. And hence it’s awesome. Kinda like Rapid Fire. The only thing it needed was Dustin Nguyen from 21 Jump Street, That would have been awesome. He could have played Robin Shou’s character’s brother. And they could have shown him sparring with him and being awesome. But then you’d have to round it out and have Holly Robinson and Peter DeLuise. Maybe the Captain from the latter-half of Season 1 could have been in there as well. Maybe Family Guy should come up with an excuse to parody or reference 21 Jump Street. That would be uber golden.

Okay, I’ve gotten sidetracked. I do that. So, thus ends my first rant on martial arts movies. I hope you enjoyed watching the funny trailer as I did looking it up on YouTube whilst at work trying to look terribly productive. I’ll bring more goodies over the weekend – I’m going to try to dig up some cool stuff on YouTube and Google Video 🙂

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Archive: Blog 1-2. Player 1 Start

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 12 April, 2007

Okay, I’m off to actually delivering on my aim to blog like crazy this week! Today I thought I’d touch on my stretching regime, what I’ve found out, and about these new kicks I’m trying to learn!

Okay, first thing’s first – stretching. The big thing that gets bandied about in martial arts circles/the general public is the ability to do the splits, whether they be front splits or, more dramatically, side splits (aka ‘Chinese splits’). So, with my previous style of socket on my fake leg, I could do the full side splits and front splits, but since moving to the different style of socket last year (as well as having 12 months off from training :P), things got more difficult – the way in which the new socket holds onto my leg gives my stump less movement within the socket itself (which is a good thing – less stress on the skin), which means it places more stress on my tendons/muscles/what-not when I stretch; to summise it simply, it means I can’t get away with being able to stretch as easily as I used to.

Anywho, when I first started doing karate I was determined to be able to do the splits, so at least five nights a week I’d take the time to go through our leg-stretching routine we did at karate, and after about 2 months, I could do the full splits (yay!). Despite the fact I’ve had only limited time to train over the last 5 weeks, I’ve been trying to make time to at least work on my flexibility. I’ve been working hard on pushing my body, and I’m stoked to say that I’m almost at the point of being able to do full side and front splits! While some may question the utility of this style of stretching (I’ll get into that below), I’m finding that it helps strengthen my legs and relaxes the muscles in my real leg, and is helping take pressure off the knee as a general rule of thumb; I feel stronger and more in control when I walk, which is in and of itself an awesome thing.

Now, in the pursuit of information (as you do – I’m a librarian after all), I started looking up ways in which to increase power and flexibility in kicks, and I found out about these different types of stretching, at first via Wikipedia, then by a handful of other great websites. It turns out that while the splits is beneficial to flexibility, it isn’t the most efficient way of stretching for the purpose of kicking, for example; this is much better developed by Dynamic Stretching. I found another great website that I can’t find the URL of that contained a massive amount of info on the entire subject of stretching, which then got me onto reading up some more on the best way to achieve the best kicks in martial arts, and all of them pointed to Dynamic Stretching. In the case or martial arts, it appears that simple leg lifts are the best way to achieve real flexibility and strength in your kicking technique. The gear I’ve read recommends performing front, side and back leg lifts as high as you can go, gradually increasing the height as you go conservatively – obviously you don’t want to overdo it until your legs are ready, or else you’ll do some serious damage.

The reason this is deemed effective appears to be owing to two points – number one, because you’re using your leg in a kick-like manner, it is re-enforcing the stretching movement as directly related to the act of kicking; it is developing neuro-muscular coordination. Secondly, doing leg lifts can actually be more beneficial in preventing injury should you be suddenly placed in a scenario where you need to use the technique to defend yourself, as the dynamic nature is apparently better at prepping your muslces/tendons/etc for spontaneous action that static stretching doesn’t employ. Or something like that. Some of what I’ve read notes that by doing dynamic stretches for 8 weeks (I’m assuming maybe five times a week or more for only 5 minutes or so for each session?), you can achieve the extent of what your body is capable of.

As always, the proof’s in the pudding, or in this case, kick – I’ve done combination split stretching + leg lifts in all four directions over the past week, then tried a couple of kicks – the results were certainly evident. I was kicking higher and with more control and power than I have in a while, and I’m going to make it part of my stretching routine to add these in, and I’ll also be sure to do extra leg lifts before class each week. Since I need to hold onto something to balance while I do the leg lifts, I can’t really partake during class when I’m lined up with all the other karateka, so I’ll take the time to balance myself against the wall prior to class and get started. It is very awesome 🙂

I mentioned some techniques I’ve decided to study. Now, they may not necessarily be the world’s most effective techniques, but they test your form, strength and agility… plus they look cool, and appear to be pretty tricky for people with two legs, let alone someone with only one… so I’m taking it as a challenge 🙂 The first move I’ve decided to tackle is the modern Wushu technique that most people refer to as a Butterfly Kick; click the link and you’ll see a happy animated GIF file showing an awesome one being performed in motion (there are some good ones on YouTube though – I’ll post them in a later blog). The technique requires the martial artist to jump and spin the body with kicks from each leg while the body is kept almost parallel to the ground, then land facing the same direction you were when you started the technique. The tricky bit (well, aside from the inherent trickiness :P) is that the technique appears to require you to leap from your left leg in everything I’ve read on it – since I have the equivalent of a pole instead of a functioning leg on my left, I’m going to have to learn how use my right leg and work on the torque, control and leaping high enough. Since I want to avoid a serious injury, methinks I’ll work on it where I can safely land on a padded surface 🙂

The Tornado Kick is probably a bit more realistic to achieve – it involves spinning your body 540 or 360 degrees to launch a round kick that uses the momentum/force of the action to deliver a powerful strike. The Wikipedia article’s a little light on images, but there’s a great vid on YouTube showing someone demonstrating the technique from a Taekwondo background:

Hopefully that one worked 😛 My HTML is still a little dodgy, so I hoped that all went in ok! So yeah, that’s the other technique I’m working on.

That pretty much covers the kick/new technique side of things (hopefully that helped Renato!) – I’ll post something up tomorrow, either some comments on martial arts movies, or some YouTube/Google Video stuff.

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