Warrior Wednesday – Pans

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1. Music

Pan Flute: This music always makes me think of martial arts films. Maybe I’m just weird because it also makes me think of Chinese buffets like The Mandarin. There are probably a few with that same name, but I went to a huge one in Ontario years ago and it’s that specific one. It can be quite relaxing.

2. Film

Jackie Chan: Of course Jackie Chan has used a pan as a weapon in his films. I’ve seen him use bamboo chutes, ladders, and many other household items, so I wasn’t surprised by this.

3. Legendary Martial Artist

Pan Qingfu: Grandmaster Pan was the man with the iron fist. He attained legendary status by age 30 having become proficient in over 20 styles of kung fu and studied with 15 masters of Chinese fighting arts. Pan Qingfu was one of China’s most respected martial artists. He was adept at knocking his opponents out and it is believed he never displayed his full power. He last trained students in Ontario, Canada before his passing.

4. Martial Art

Pankration: An ancient Greek submission style martial art with very few rules. More than a sport, it was practiced by many Greek and Spartan soldiers. It was said to be a combination of boxing and wrestling. Sounds a bit like the first MMA to me. It was also put to use in their mythology. There’s a documentary on it.

5. Tournament

Panamerican Internationals: An international sport karate tournament that is world renowned. This year it’s happening in November in Miami, Florida.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Mouth Guards

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I was briefly thinking about the gruesome side that I could’ve went with in writing this post. Given that I write some horror, it could’ve been pretty gory.

Instead, I decided to talk about mouth guards. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen their use in any of the martial arts I’ve practiced including karate and jiu-jitsu and they probably should be. Now, usually in sport martial arts there are rules against punching in the head, but it really only takes a fall to smash one’s face into the mat and mess up one’s smile. Tooth repair is expensive and there are better badges of honour to achieve.

In roller derby we always wore them. The first one I had was a cheap one from a department store that is boiled. The protection level was good, but I couldn’t talk or drink water with it in. Let’s face it, during a game, communication can make all the difference in a win.

Once I could afford to, I switched to a SISU mouth guard. They’re thinner and highly protective while allowing drink breaks and speech. A bonus to them is that they only need hot tap water to form and can be easily reformed if your teeth shift.

When you’re rolling about on the floor and taking out someone’s legs, it’s possible one of you will break a tooth.

Kendo doesn’t use them here that I’m aware of, but though they get hit in the head with a sword, they don’t get hit in the teeth usually. Accidents happen sometimes, of course, but it would probably be overkill to bother with one. The real scare with Kendo is concussions. When one is getting hit repeatedly in the head, even with a helmet on, one can end up with a concussion.

Mouth guards should definitely be used if one is planning an MMA career. One’s ears are already going to turn cauliflower, so one might at least be able to chew their steak after a win.

Of course, it’s no surprise to me in arts where water breaks are akin to weakness that mouth guards aren’t popular. More on that separate issue another day.

Sorry I’m late on this by the way. I’m quite busy trying to get myself employed, so I don’t lose my home. It’s getting scary. Just a glimpse into my own personal battle right now. This means I’m missing out on the Guelph Spring Iaido and Jodo seminar weekend this year. I’m sad about it, but I’m meeting someone about an internship, which may lead to money down the road. At least, I hope so.

R~

 

Warrior Wednesday – 9 Fantastic Females

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It’s Warrior Wednesday and today’s number is 9. Today I’m doing a brief profile on several of the world’s best female martial artists.

*Please note that I don’t own any of the photos.*

1. Iaido – Atsumi Hatakenaka

Photo from the 2016 Canadian National Iaido Championships.

Of course I had to start with my main art. When talking about Iaido, it’s Atsumi Hatakenaka for me. She is an amazing woman to look up to. Not only is she skilled, but she once told me she hopes to bring peace to the world through Iaido. Hatakenaka Sensei is an eighth level black belt. She cross trains with hot yoga. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of Hatakenaka Sensei.

Photo from Centro México Asia

Pam Parker Sensei is one of the only westerners and the first female in the world to be awarded a Nanadan in Iaido, so I need to mention her. To be awarded a seventh level black belt in Iaido is rather rare for someone living outside of Japan. It is as much about character and manners as it is about skill.

2. Taekwondo – Zheng Shuyin

Photo from China Daily

Zheng Shuyin won the Olympic gold medal in the heavyweight division in the 2016 Summer Olympics. China hadn’t won gold since 2004.

3. MMA – Sarah Kaufman a.k.a. The Knockout Artist

Canadian Sarah Kaufman recently achieved the Invicta FC bantamweight title. Not only is she a persistent and skilled fighter, but Sarah is also well-educated. You can watch her fight against Miesha Tate here.

4. Kung Fu – Lily Lau

Grandmaster Lily Lau is the first and only woman to take over a Kung Fu System and teach openly as a Kung Fu Master. More about her here: http://laufatmangeagleclaw.com/

5. Kendo – Mizuho Matsumoto

Mizuho Matsumoto is the current women’s kendo champion.

6. Karate – Rika Usami

Photo from Blackwater Martial Arts

Watch World Champion Rika Usami as she performs a kata and you can guess why she’s the champion. The skill, focus, and fire she wields at just the right moments is breath-taking.

With the next championships later this month, will Rika still be on top?

7. Sumo Wrestling – Bum-Erdene Tuvshinjargal

Photo from India Live  Today

Bum-Erdene Tuvshinjargal is an accomplished wrestler despite a restriction against going pro. She is an inspiring woman. More on Tuvshinjargal here.

More female sumo wrestlers..

8. Wushu – Suijin Chen

Suijin is the current champion of the Women’s Taolu. Here is her winning performance.

9. Various – J.J. “Golden Dragon” McParland

 

Photo from The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

What list of fantastic female martial artists would be complete without Jesse-Jane McParland? You’ve probably heard of her. Her audition at Britain’s Got Talent went rather viral. She is a young woman who has won many championships. She is also an actress. Jesse practices a wide variety of martial arts and is said to have studied karate, taekwondo, and kung-fu. Here’s a more recent one than her audition. It comes in weapon-less and sword varieties. Below is the sword version.


But Jesse isn’t just flashy. Here she is performing kumite (sparring).

 

I would’ve liked to choose some less well known arts, such as Capoeira, but I could not find a female mestre of any level. Systema is another art I had difficulty finding out about. Women practice it, but it doesn’t seem to have a ranking system and the fighters don’t seem to be well-documented. If you are a woman in these arts, start documenting who the people are that you can look up to and keep practicing. There are many other arts such as judo, hapkido, BJJ, etc. that I couldn’t fit in the list of nine. It would be really something to know who are the key practitioners in some of the more rare arts too.

R~

Theatrical Tuesday – The Persona

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Sorry, I’m late on this post because my neck was super sore yesterday and I mostly got movies watched because of it.

Anyway, Jung totally relates to theatre. Carl Jung came up with four archetypes. One of these is The Persona.

Basically, the persona is the masks we all wear around different people.

Now, some people act exactly the same around everyone they know, but most don’t.

I know people that can’t sneeze around people they don’t know well. I know tons of women that have shy bladders in public restrooms. I know I used to pretend I didn’t like horror as much as I do.

I totally act different with my five year old buddy than I do with someone on a date than I do around my martial arts pals than I do with my brothers, etc.

That’s normal and mostly reasonable. This picture describes this a little better.

circle-of-friends

Actually, this one is even better.

circle

So we’re all actors most of the days of our lives.

It’s part of the reason coming home from work is such a relief. You can be unapologetically you.

Ideally, you want to get to that place with some of your social groups because they form your support network. I’m almost totally me around my dojo buds and the people that have known me since I was a child. For some, it’s been awhile since they last saw me really inebriated because our parties changed when they had babies, but that’s life. But I know if I really needed help, they’d be there.

Now, I don’t think it’s incredibly beneficial to hide large chunks of who you are from people you want to be closer to. If you have romantic feelings for someone and you spend a bunch of time pretending to be someone you aren’t because you think they’d be more impressed rather than letting them get to know the real you, well, that’s probably going to blow up eventually. More to the point, why would you want to? Why would you want them to think you are what you think is cooler than you are? I mean, they might actually think the real you is cooler than that person you want to pretend to be.

But sometimes we need to act, like when the boss expects the moon and you can only deliver a picture of the moon because you’re not in possession of some moon capturing device and even if you were, that would probably destroy the Earth if you actually tried to give it to them. But you tell them, sure thing and deliver as close as possible. Actually, I usually tell them I can’t destroy the world for you, but I’ll get as close as possible.

Wait, that got weird. See why I don’t usually let all of myself out to everyone? I can be quite ridiculous.

Anyway, there are some other Jungian archetypes and they’re all quite fascinating. You can read more about them here. I’ve talked about a couple in this post.

R~

Thankful Thursday – Cold Gratitude

thoughtfulSometimes one can become hyper-focused on something bad. The thing begins to consume from within until one has difficulty doing the most basic things such as eating and sleeping.

It’s at times like that when I find it helpful to freeze.

Then I switch my thinking to what is wonderful in my life. Close friends who support me and my writing. A delightful little boy who makes me remember my purpose of helping others. Clients who love my work. New friends. Acquaintances who might be becoming more. Realizing I may not be as far from becoming bilingual as I thought. New hobbies.

My life is full of so much potentially awesome things right now.

It can be hard to realize one is spiraling downward though. Hard to get to that point where one knows they need to put the brakes on. Hard to stop the negative momentum from carrying one further down.

The only way I’ve found that works is to breathe. When everything around me seems to be exploding, I stop and take a breath. I talk to loved ones. I take a walk and contemplate where I’m at and where I want to be. I think about whether or not the path I’m on is leading me in a different direction than my goals.

Being thankful for what I have helps me get through the bad times and find my way back.

Today is the last day of my graduate studies and I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met this year. Even the bad ones taught me lessons that will surely benefit me in some way in the future if only to make me properly cautious of everything I do and who I do it with.

It’s been quite the ride. At the start, I was scared I wouldn’t make any friends because I’m a little older than most in the program and a lot older than others. The bus also terrified me as I had nothing but terrible experiences with it before. And I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up on the workload.

But I got used to the bus. I made friends. And I not only handed nearly everything in on time or early, but I received a letter from the dean telling me I had made the Honour’s list.

I’ve even come to embrace that I’m part of the millennial generation, which is something I wasn’t particularly grateful for before. Being born in 1981 makes me an odd millennial as my life began more like a Gen Xer’s rather than always having the Internet and computers around. Yesterday, I actually had a conversation about remembering when CDs became a thing and how awesome it was when anti-skip technology came out after.

All this to say that a year that started off cold and full of fear has ended so differently than it began. It wasn’t easy. That whole strike thing was an extra bit of stress that no one needed, but I made it and I’m ready to tackle whatever comes next.

My plan for the summer includes getting a job and refreshing my French because I’m getting closer to being able to at least speak it. I feel like that will open a lot of doors for me and I’m excited to continue working on my writing. And I definitely want to make time for loved ones too because they make all the challenges worth pushing through.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Beginner’s Mind

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One of the concepts we bandy about at martial arts is The Beginner’s Mind. Basically, the idea is to approach something as if you are a white belt and know nothing.

I use it often. At school or while in some other learning environment like a seminar, even if I have learned much of the content before, I clear my mind and pretend I know very little. By doing this, I can listen and absorb things because I don’t dismiss anything. Now, I don’t completely ignore what I’ve learned before. I use that previous knowledge to help me fill in a gap. For example, we were discussing how to get a play script sold and the way the teacher was explaining things seemed a bit convoluted to me. That’s when I used what I knew from film and TV classes to figure out that while in TV and film you need to find a willing producer, with plays, you need to be the producer. To be a producer in TV and film, you need to go to film school. Not so for plays.

I also use this technique when going out on a date because I’d rather assume I know nothing about someone than that I know everything. I may not remember everything discussed, but I’ll know far more than I would otherwise.

It’s helpful with a new martial art because while you’ll know some aspects due to the body only having a limited amount of ways that it can move, the devil can be in the details. Coming to jodo after karate was difficult before I knew about beginner’s mind because I spent so much time in karate trying to square up my stances only to find I need to have an angled stance in jodo. Iaido is more square, but not low, wide, and deep like karate. I actually had to stop doing jodo altogether for awhile because I couldn’t leave my learning from karate behind to allow myself to take on something new.

Beginner’s mind is something I also use to connect with people who are in a different lifestyle or stage of life than I am. It lets me avoid assuming things about people in my classes like their ability to be successful is really only limited by their will to persevere and has nothing at all to do with their age or current level of writing ability.

Now, I only recently came to this last bit about those younger than me. I have been rather stupid lately in regards to things like the Tide Pod epidemic. I’m sorry for that and I’m going to continue to try and be a better person.

One of the things that has made me realize that was the recent trip to Toronto to pitch our projects. At the home of Orphan Black, the woman we met with had us each say a bit about ourselves. I really enjoyed learning more about my younger classmates as many of them have had such a variety of life experiences. Many have traveled more than I have. Many have lived through things like the loss of a parent. I thankfully have not had that experience though I’ve lost many people in my life. The point is that age is mostly just a number. I do think there is a balance between assuming someone younger is inferior in any way and in giving them free reign to change national policies, but that’s not to say they have nothing valuable to contribute to a discussion. It’s more that they don’t know what they don’t know yet.

I haven’t been able to do this yet with music, but maybe someday. Language learning is another area this may help with, but I’m not there with that either.

I feel that The Beginner’s Mind fits quite well with entropy as one must basically blow up all they know and rearrange the pieces to either expand what was already known or to capture what one knew little about previously.

R~

Thoughtful Thursday – Super Grateful

thoughtfulI’ve had a pretty amazing week.

Also a very emotional one per my other posts this week.

It has also been the kind where I discovered things about my relationships with certain people. I’m sad to say I lost someone I thought was a friend, but several other friendships have been strengthened and I’m immensely grateful for them.

Two have been helping me try to get a job at a company I’ve been wanting to work at for several years now. The first time, I applied to a job that I wasn’t qualified for. The second, the position was canceled. I’m truly hoping that the third time is a match.

To the super friends that have listened to me rant this week about the one that turned out to be different than I thought, thanks for listening.

I have a lot of wonderful people in my life that I’m super thankful for.

And I’m sorry to anyone who was looking for this post yesterday. Thank you for your patience with me as I near the completion of a year of school that was heavier than I thought it would be. You’ve been super too.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – The Bullied Become Super

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Gotham tells a different aspect of the Batman story.

Not having an in depth knowledge of Batman lore, I can’t say whether or not there’s been a story before that covers Bruce’s years from the time his parents were killed to when he becomes Batman other than the actual moment with the bats.

His story has always felt rather like Jesus’s to me in that way.

But it is also vastly different. Bruce wanted to never feel weak again.

Everything he does that leads to him becoming Batman is because of that moment of powerlessness he experienced while he was unable to prevent his parents’s deaths.

One of the things he decides is to learn to fight. He has a strong desire to stop bad things from happening ever again. What his specific qualifications are in terms of deciding right from wrong are unknown. He’s a boy who is bullied briefly and seeks revenge.

He has a lot of hurt inside him.

In martial arts, we often talk about things like the 8 samurai virtues. They provide guide posts for being a good person and for how to be as a student of martial arts.

The thing is that many are fueled by much darker things like revenge, hatred, or greed. And some of the best warriors weren’t honourable. One need only look at the story of Musashi and the oar to see that.

Musashi probably seemed to have supernatural powers to some people. He was undefeated and remains one of the most legendary swordsmen to have lived. But he, by all accounts, was just a man. A man whose career started out with those around him underestimating his abilities.

Gotham also shows us a young Penguin who was also bullied and underestimated. We see his early penchant for killing others. We see him rising into power.

Being a petite woman from a small town blue-collar family, I understand what it’s like to be underestimated. I was also bullied as a child, but I learned to forgive those who did so. Most were young and it was the late 80s and early 90s when divorce was becoming frequent, but no one really knew how to handle it or make it easier on their kids.

Perhaps one day, I’ll achieve some sort of greatness too. I felt super when I passed my Nidan grading in December. And I felt super last night until I stabbed myself slightly with my sword. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Checks

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Awww, I really thought I had posted this. I guess you’re getting more than one post in quick succession.

One of the things I’ve learned as a martial artist is how to quickly read a situation.

This ability to check over a swath of elements in a heartbeat bleeds into other areas of my life. In the summer, a friend’s bush caught on fire. Before one of the other guests had even finished what she was saying, I leapt up, grabbed my water bottle, and put the fire out. Instantly, I knew there was a fire and I glanced briefly around for anything with water in it. I didn’t think, I just reacted with an appropriate response.

That automatic and appropriate action is something we attempt to train in the dojo. Some people get there slower than others, but most eventually are better than the average person at parsing through a bunch of data and taking action.

On the weekend, I was able to do work I’ve never seen before, in part because of this training. I feel that it helps hone my ability to see opportunities that others overlook.

This ability to check things over quickly is also helping in my writing because I can quickly figure out a problem and connect it to the related pieces.

In many of my kata, there is the time before I draw the sword. I’ve been told we are checking to be sure we need to draw our sword. Symbolically, it’s saying we should never be quick to take a life.

Many people learn to do this while driving. There are constantly possible places cars, bikes, pedestrians, and more could be coming at you from. Most of the time, drivers can know there is someone backing out of a driveway while knowing many other things are going on around them and they’ll only react to something important like a siren or an obstacle like a dead animal.

There are tons of things like this in life. I don’t remember every moment I’ve had to retie my boots in a day. It’s not important now. I learned to tie my shoes before I ever even set foot in a classroom. I learned to read before then as well. My brain has been trained to memorize the steps for many things like driving down a road and tying my shoes. I’d be unable to handle my day if I had to consciously think about those behaviours that I’ve trained to react to without thinking about it. I have too many other things I need to think about that are far more important right now like the best way to write scene headers or the best way to write to someone about a potential job.

I do check a lot of things in martial arts though. Particularly near grading time, I will check things I think I should be doing automatically correct, but may have unknowingly become complacent in like my footwork or whether or not my sword is where it should be. Sometimes it’s really best not to assume that you’re doing anything right at all. I think this speaks to the beginner’s mindset.

This type of checking can extend to almost anything. If you show up to watch a debate firmly entrenched in one side, are you really open to seeing that your view of something may be mistaken? Not likely. There are times I believe it’s best to leave all my preconceived notions at the door and pick up whatever hasn’t been altered on my way out.  It helps me with martial arts and writing. I may need to try it with music in order to reach a new level.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Make-It Monday – Checks and Balances

bitmoji_goalsI’m sorry I dropped off the blog-o-sphere at the end of last week. I couldn’t think of what to write on Friday and had to go to bed around 8 pm, which is about 4-5 hours too early for me.

Why did I have to go to bed so early?

I had a call time to be on a movie set for 6:00 am, which meant that in order to get there on time, I had to wake up at 4:30 am. I’ve rarely ever been awake for that time. Indeed, I’ve seen it so rarely that it could have been a figment of my imagination the other times.

The set work was very cool and I’ll talk more about it tomorrow. I did get to work with some very awesome people, some of whom were from L. A. Maybe I’ll see them again sometime. I did everything I was assigned and helped out other departments when I wasn’t needed in my own. I worked 13 hours the first day and 7 the second. I was originally supposed to work more, but I was no longer covered for insurance because I got the amount of hours I need to graduate.

I spent a lot of time checking and rechecking my work to be sure I did everything I was supposed to. I really didn’t want to screw up.

Also this weekend, I made my first royalties. How much? Forty-five cents. It’s not much, but it’s in the green instead of the red, so it’s exciting.

Tonight, instead of having class this morning, we had Hot House, which is a play series where actors read our plays. Mine will be later this semester, so all I had to do was be there, which was a great thing after such a busy weekend schedule.

When I got home, there was a check for me. I got a bursary!

I’m in a lot of pain after the weekend, but some things are looking hopeful.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~