Monday 21 July 2014

Product Review: Japanese sword, tanto

In my opinion there are two sorts of sword collectors: the display artist and the appreciator.

I'm not saying the 'appreciator' doesn't also display and enjoy the aesthetic of their swords but there is a distinct difference between the appreciation of swords for their intrinsic, historical value and the appreciation of swords for only how they look hung on the wall.

I was approached by Swords of The East to write up a product review and as my initial interaction with James at SOTE was very good I thought…why not! SOTE sells all manner of swords, katana and tanto as well as other historical replicas. James has a very professional manner and I was impressed with his customer service. He kept me up to date with the whole delivery process and I received it when he said, although I had a nasty surtax surprise of 35 Euro-bucks to pay for the delivery to Brussels. Ho-hum.

For a glossary of sword parts follow here:

And so to the tanto. This musashi ceremonial tanto is delivered in a cloth bag within an ornate box and includes a with a jade ornament with tassel. The tanto itself certainly seems to have all the right features on it such as a hamon and yokote but it just doesn't feel the real deal to me. The blade isn't quite straight (although it does fit snugly into the saya) and the proportions of the tanto handle and the blade don't appeal to me with the tanto blade seeming too thin to me. Furthermore the shitodome fitting (where the hole on the side of the scabbard is) is not of the highest quality. In short this is a modern, Chinese made display tanto and not my cup of tea. I would put the money for this towards something more expensive but authentic.

The positive side to this, though, is that when you buy this tanto from SOTE you'll get good service and frankly, a piece of kit at a reasonable price. It's pretty and those people looking for an ornate 'hanger' probably won't be disappointed at all.

Friday 4 April 2014

Guinness World Record for Breaking Tiles

Congratulations to Lisa Dennis's Guinness record on tile-breaking! She smashed 1000 roof tiles in 83.98 seconds. Although I respect this woman I don't feel that breaking is particularly useful and is something I've never really enjoyed doing. Does any martial artist really look forward to breaking tests? I've broken tiles, bricks and wooden boards but I don't think it's necessary for testing *martial arts* prowess.

She's got guts, that's for sure and a fighting spirit which are both needed for martial arts development but you can do this without smashing tiles. Equally you can prove you have these qualities in other ways more related to martial arts practice.

The line we were fed when told to break masonry was that we had to prove the 'destructive' power of our technique and to do this we had to smash through a variety of building materials in a kind of frenzied demolition exercise. I'm sure I've destroyed the equivalent of a garden outhouse in my time but for what purpose?

It hurts, it damages your bones and gives you calluses on your hands. We train our bodies so that when we need it in a self defence situation we are ready but actually I aim to never get into a situation where I need to use it. It would have to be a case where I was pushed into a corner and I was physically threatened. As I said though my aim is to avoid this and up to now, it has worked.

I'm sure the work I put into training my body in technique and body movement would compensate for slightly softer knuckles.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Karate is not about beating up the other guy

I didn't say this, Geoff Thompson did…
Check out this interview / lecture. Fascinating insights into one man's journey in the martial arts and how it can help you to master your fears.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Exercise reduces dementia

BBC article here.

"Exercise 'significant role' in reducing risk of dementia, long-term study finds"

…so keep on doing that thing folks! It'll not only help fight the flab but also protect your brain. It's just one more reason to keep on exercising (as if we needed one!).

Over my many years of training I've found martial artists to be particularly driven in what they do and very often they don't need a 'reason' to go to training; it just happens. It's cold outside, it's raining, you're bored with your training schedule at the moment but still…you go.

And now you can rest assured that it's doing you good in lots of other ways you never thought about before.

Monday 14 October 2013

Tae Kwon Do Nun!

Yeah you read that right. It's a nun who kicks ass in the name of the Lord! No I'm not blaspheming, it really is the story of a black belt nun who gives tae kwon do lessons in Singapore to kids recovering from cancer.

Linda Sim sounds a redoubtable woman and a caring person who has dedicated her life to helping others first, as a nun, and now through martial arts.

A touching story and an illustration of how martial arts gets under your skin and stays with you. Regardless of how long you spend away from any given martial art that you once dedicated yourself to,  something still remains.

Picture reference: BBC

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Be grounded like the….robot!


Check out this military, humanoid robot and its abilities to not only walk across uneven ground but can also balance and resist attempts to push it over.

It's interesting to see it make tiny adjustments to balance its centre of gravity just like a human would. As martial artists we do this all the time: thinking about being grounded, centred and having the flexibility to change our position in different environments.

From the videos I've seen it isn't able to do a mawashi geri


Thursday 26 September 2013

Yoga for prisoners, and commuters

"We're really responding to a need the prisoners are expressing for something to help them with the tremendous amount of mental strain and mental pressure that they're under," says Sam Settle, the charity's director.

Well if it cuts the strain and mental pressure of prison life then yoga has something to say to the millions of people who are put under stress and strain by their daily commute! Yoga is time to empty out the stress and just sense your body. Time away from all that other crap. It's great to stretch and to feel your sinews, your bones, your blood flowing.

Plus it can have added benefits as ex-con 'Nick', says:
"Nick, who spent six years in Villa Devoto, has no scientific evidence to offer. But he's convinced that yoga saved his life."

If a scumbag drugs-baron can turn his life around with yoga, there's hope for us all!