Thursday, 20 December 2012

We all have fighter's fists.

You might not consider yourself a fighter. More a lover perhaps? Well according to researchers at the University of Utah we may have fists which have evolved for fighting as well as loving.

"They found that the structure of the fist provides support that increases the ability of the knuckles to transmit "punching" force."

Not being a scientist myself I can hardly refute these findings but I must admit it seems a weird way of going about research. Is the University of Utah in need of some self-promotion? It seems to me from reading the article that they measured the force of a fist strike and a palm strike and conculded that the ….

"force per area is higher in a fist strike and that is what causes localised tissue damage [in the opponent]"

I could have told them that. In this article it states that the force delivered by the open palm and the punch were equal (or at least not greatly different), but that the buttressing of the fist and the boney knuckle protrusions caused the damage.

Surely this is a side-effect of having a fist which can manipulate tools. A serendipitous (well, not for the punched receiver) effect.

Can we deduce that elbows evolved for striking because they're hard and boney?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Goodbye Ninjas...

Well, well. It seems the most secret of martial arts is finally hanging up its dogi. Or maybe that should be tabi.

It's an interesting article and accompanying video (apart from the obligatory Japanese silliness at the end) but I always thought ninjutsu was a fairly popular art now. I'm sure the folk at the local college who I see doing ninjutsu will be a bit disappointed. Any ninjas care to comment?

Graphic showing weapons and tools used by a ninja

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Don't stop exercising, old boy!

Exercising in your 70s may stop your brain from shrinking and showing the signs of ageing linked to dementia, say experts from Edinburgh University.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Wished you had more time to execute a technique? You probably do...

"Researchers at University College London have found that an individual's perception of time does seem to slow as they prepare to make a physical action."

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Obesity hastens brain decline

Always interested on physical health and how this impacts on our minds, here's an article about how a muffin top may be linked to dementia in later life….

Friday, 20 July 2012

Awareness in the city

A big reason why I haven't posted much over the past year is that I've moved house. And city. And, in fact, country. No reason not to let my martial arts practice slip, but I need to prioritise get involved in a club I like with a teacher I respect and I think this takes some time.

In the meantime I've been thinking a lot about perception in the city: physical awareness and personal space in an urban environment teeming with people. Can you feel another person's energy, or intentions on a packed tram (By energy I mean stance, intent, strength…)? City life requires a different level of awareness; I remember seeing something by anthropologist Desmond Morris (Human Zoo) who says that the amazing thing about human city life is not that occasionally people come into physical conflict with others, but that it is so rare! After all there are a lot of emotions, egos and agendas walking around being surpressed in isolated cocoons amongst crowds of commuters.

So I've noticed something rather cool walking around and commuting in the City and that is I can be amazingly perceptive. I can feel people approaching from behind, I can see who I need to avoid and I can hear aggressive noises even above the normal hub-bub. I find that in itself quite startling in itself as there is so much to distract me such as other people's conversations, the muzak, adverts, the trams, the traffic…The rub is this though: I need to pay attention. If I don't and am not 'aware' (or awake if you like) then this ability diminishes. It doesn't disappear but I may perceive someone behind me when they're much closer than I would if I were calm, centred and aware.

I'm not advocating walking around in a constant state of alert like an urban Bruce Lee or a Buddhist monk, but knowing this can help us turn on our sensitivity when it's needed such as when it's darker, when you're alone on a tram or when you're walking through a ropey part of town. Maybe it's natural and we tend to switch on anyway at these times, in which case: all the better. If you have to work at it, here's a good technique which I read about in Dead or Alive by Geoff Thompson. If you want to stay alert in any environment make a running commentary in your head about what you can see and perceive around you (hear, smell, feel), thus 'switching yourself on'. For example it might go something like this, "pavement on left is broken, man walking dog coming towards me (big build, small dog), noise of jet overhead, I can hear a car approaching from behind and I can see a bus at the stop in front of me. Another pedestrian comes into view down the street; a woman with a buggy…." And so on.

Evidently you can't do this all the time but if you're feeling like an awareness switch-on in the big City, this might well be a good place to start.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Breathing meditation

The easiest way to meditate and the way most of us in the martial arts first practice meditation is by focusing on one's own breathing. Check out this little introduction to breathing meditation. For beginners but also a nice refresher.

"Generally, the purpose of breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace."

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

"OK, we don't need you to do that." Self defence claim as Teenager shot dead in Florida

This article about a Florida man who shot a teenager, claiming self defence, highlights Florida's seven-year-old self-defence law, nicknamed the "shoot first" law.

It's worth reading this article and reflecting on how you feel about self defence and what you think might constitute it. Not only from a legal point of view but a moral one also. How would you have acted in this situation?

At one point when the neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot the teenager started following someone he said was suspicious, the police dispatcher talking to him over the phone said, "OK, we don't need you to do that."

Worthy of reflection, I think.
The fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Florida has prompted protests demanding the arrest of the perpetrator, who says he was acting in self-defence. How much force does the law permit?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Afghan female boxer at Olympics 2012

Whatever happens at the Olympics, I think Afghan female boxer Sadaf Rahimi's already a winner…

The BBC site says, "Under Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan were forbidden from participating in any sports." Here's a BBC video about Rahimi's fight to the top

And another by Al Jazeera:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Shoulder pain: rotator cuff

Having pain again so need to go and see the doc…this video was a timely reminder of how the shoudler *should* work…

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Freaky martial arts EU video withdrawn

Well they said it was withdrawn because it was deemed racist, but I say it just looks plain freaky!
Check out the banned video here:

Interestingly it features a Bruce Lee yellow leotard clad lady passively resisting a practitioner of a Chinese  chuan fa, a Brazilian capoerist and a kalaripayattu master. (ref.

Don't know what kalaripayattu is?
Check out….

And if you're not at all au fait with Indian martial arts you should also check out the following BBC article about 'Shastar Vidya' (thanks LQ) or the Indian Sikh 'dying martial art'.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Be the best you can be in your world

Towards the end of a short video I saw on the BBC site entitled The art of boxing, I was struck by this quote by the boxer and artist Thaddine Swift Eagle Johnson. An inspiring short video, it looks at her life as a champion boxer and the challenges she faces but also touches on her philosophy and how to look at things when life seems bleak.

She says, "Be the best you can be in your world, or…someone else's world. Be that champion in someone else's world. Smile to someone on the street. You don't know what their day was like. That would make their day." 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Kung fu piano playing

Not as weird as it sounds. This pianist has developed an idea of continuous music and which necessitates long periods of piano playing sometimes culminating in 19 notes a second being played. Lubomyr Melnyk says that this requires a martial arts mindset: in order to achieve this speed one needs to turn one's body "into water".

"The technique is based on a martial arts, kung fu use of the body and the energy"

Be water, my friend…..

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Grand Master says, "she works hard, she can do it": Memoir of a female Kuk Sool Won master

BBC News - Iron Butterfly: Memoir of a female Kuk Sool Won master 

Nice little film from the BBC about a young female martial artist who follows her dream.

"As a young girl growing up in 1950s South Korea, Choon Ok Harmon faced a dismal future as the youngest of seven brothers and sisters living off money their mother earned free-diving for shellfish in the ocean."

Also an interview by the publisher of the book and (ghost) writer:

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Meditating our way into 2012

What with the last few months being somewhat turbulent I need to stay focused on task when I'm busy, but when I have down time it's important for me to dis-connect from those issues. Meditation is a good way but for me it is hard to stop that buzzing in my brain (and I don't mean this lovely Belgian coffee)!

Possibly here….