Many people look at stunts as being a thankless job. Stunt performers often train many hours a week to achieve a list of skills of a modern day super hero. They assume all the risks involved in a film’s shoot list, and remain largely unrecognized for their efforts beyond the credits at the end of the film. They may gain recognition within the stunt industry, with awards ceremonies specifically aimed at them, yet they aren’t celebrated in the more recognizable film awards such as the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. All that being said, the performers who do work in the industry, generally love what they do, and accept the industry for what it is.
Female stunt performers, however, have additional challenges, some of which were highlighted in a recent article on Cracked, called 5 Reasons Doing Movie Stunts Is Harder than You Think. As the writer points out, stunt women often have to do stunts in skimpier wardrobe than the men do, doubling for actresses who sport outfits that leave little to the imagination with no room for the protective pads men can more easily hide under pants and long sleeved shirts. But this is only a part of the problem. (more…)
The ability to sleep well is important to our physical and mental well-being. People who don’t sleep as well as they would like often find themselves more prone to illness, stress, headaches, lack of sociability, dips in productivity, listlessness, and more conditions besides. Every person is different, however, so no one set of sleep tips will work for every person. You have to accept that you have your own unique characteristics and habits to work with. Some factors can be controlled. Others cannot.
I don’t have all the answer for all people, but I can tell you one thing. I sleep well. I fall asleep easily and sleep soundly. It’s my super power. Because of this fact, I have more energy throughout the day. I work productively. I manage a fairly physical lifestyle. And for the most part, I have a positive emotional outlook on life. Sleeping well is a significant contributing factor in my mind. Here are some of the reasons I sleep soundly: (more…)
I have been helping out with our new Ready-Set-Kiai classes for 3-5 year-olds since September, taking on the role of crowd control while the two instructors focus on teaching the skills and running the class. At first, the experience was overwhelming, even with a smaller class of 8 students. It took a little time for the students to get used to the structure of the class. Even now, they are familiar with the structure of the class, so it runs more smoothly than it did at the beginning, but we still have to take measures to help keep the children focused on the tasks at hand throughout the duration of the 45-minute class.
I recently read a book called Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman (available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com). In one chapter, he describes Breathing Buddies, part of the Inner Resilience Program. This practice was adopted at a Harlem elementary school near a massive low-income housing compound, and is credited for keeping a class of 22 grade 2 children with “special needs”, from ADD to autism, relaxed and focused. When this ritual is performed, the class’s teacher says the kids don’t act out. The one day they didn’t do it due to a glitch in the schedule the teacher described them as being like a different class. “They couldn’t sit still; they were all over the place,” explained Miss Emily, the children’s teacher. Below is a video of author Daniel Goleman talking about Breathing Buddies.
I’ve recently started exploring H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) as a way of doing my cardio workouts. I had heard about their benefits and that because the workouts are shorter and more intense, you can get your cardio in more efficiently. Sometimes I just don’t have time to go for a 45-minute run, so it was worth a try.
The Benefits of H.I.I.T.
There are a number of reported benefits to high intensity interval training over conventional cardio, making it a favoured style of workout nowadays. The two main ones are as follows:
- Better for Weight Loss. While longer, less intense cardio sessions may burn more calories, a number of studies have demonstrated that H.I.I.T. burns more fat. One particular study performed by the University of Western Ontario, found that after 6 weeks of training, 3 workouts per week, subjects doing 4-6 30-second sprints with 4-6 minutes rest between lost more fat than those who did than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking. While the reasons have not been fully explored, scientists have pinpointed a few factors, including increased resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise, improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles, higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles, and post-exercise appetite suppression, to name a few.
- Superior Muscle Preservation. It is generally believed that cardio can have a negative impact on strength gains by reducing your caloric surplus too much, and by causing you to overtrain. That being said, the shorter your cardio sessions are the less they impair strength and hypertrophy. As a result, H.I.I.T. allows you to maximize your strength gains, preserve your muscles, while still getting the benefits of the exercise. (more…)
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of sharing concepts from my ground defense book with the awesome students of Sunrise Martial Arts Academy, a dojo teaching Nagasu Ryu Jujitsu. In addition to the planned seminars, one for the adults and one for the children, I also had the pleasure of teaching one of their adult classes during which I was able to share the general principles of our own style, Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. Check out the photos here.
Almost everyone I’ve ever met has a desire to adopt new healthy habits, whether it’s establishing a regular exercise routine, eating healthier, meditating or quitting smoking, reducing drinking, minimizing TV/Internet use, etc. It is readily accepted that it takes at least 30 days to establish a new healthy habit or remove a negative one. Here is a TedTalk discussing how 30-day challenges can change your life:
Matt Cutts says that if you really want something badly enough, you can do anything for 30 days. I believe this is true, as I discussed in my blog post How to Move Past Excuses & Start Living the Life You Choose, but in wanting it, you might have to find ways that make you stick to it, ones that are personal to you. (more…)
Of all the healthy habits I’ve introduced in my life over the years, meditation is one that has had the greatest impact. With only 20 minutes of daily sitting, focusing on my breath and letting go of busy thinking, I have found that I think more clearly, work more productively, exert greater control over my emotional states, and am more grounded in all aspects of my life and my endeavours.
Doctors and scientists have compiled plenty of research that confirms a wide variety of benefits, including reduced stress, improvements in mental conditions (anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc), reduced incidences of illness, enhanced creativity, increased productivity, and more besides. Read more about the benefits of meditation in this detailed list from Psychology Today. With all these documented benefits, one might wonder why more people don’t adopt meditation as a habit. There are many reasons why as a society, we aren’t so inclined to try it or maintain it. Here are some of the issues we face and how to deal with them:
This is a movie that at no point was on my radar until I received the request to review it. Which is unusual for movies that claim amazing martial arts action.
I really wanted to title this review NINJA 2: The Re-Ninja-ing but as I’ve not seen the first one, it seemed unfair.
However, I can probably guess what happened in the first one based on the second one. Guy who trains and gets some ninja skills has some predictable reason to kill a bunch of people using said skills, probably in a particular showy manner, but with efficiency, often multiple attackers at once. Eventually he fights a previously introduced villain with whom he engages in a lengthy one-on-one battle in which he is grievously injured, but manages to prevail regardless.
I’m guessing that’s what happens in the first one because the second one could be described like that with the addition of the natural of sequel plot. Our hero has settled down, presumably leaving some dark items in his past, and his blissful domestic life is shattered causing him to seek revenge. Martial arts mayhem ensues.
The last blog post of 2013, How to Look Like a Victim for Self-Defense generated a fair bit of discussion and raised some questions that I would like to take a bit of time to address a little more in-depth. There were of questions raised I would like to address specifically:
- Why do I need to do this at all, why can’t I just explain it afterwards, I’ve never been in trouble with the law before.
- Why would a smaller person attack larger people?
Why do I need to look like a victim?
In my line of work, the event security industry, we call this act priming witnesses. That means getting them aware of the context of the situation they are witnessing. When I need to remove someone from the premises for whatever reason, I take a calm measured approach, explain loudly and clearly why I need someone to leave (unless it would cause undue embarrassment on behalf of the subject, which could lead to a fight), and ask them to do so. I use a relaxed but ready stance, open hands. When force is required I give loud verbal commands, often in the phrase, “stop resisting,” or “get on the ground.” I make it clear I am only using physical force because the suspect is making it necessary.
Every person has different things to keep in mind when it comes to how their situation looks when using physical force to defend one’s self. Smaller women, like me, are more concerned with not looking like a victim, so we teach them how to carry themselves with confidence when walking about (more details in How to Avoid Looking Like an Easy Victim). We also teach them to make their psychological intention stronger to make it clear that they are not an ideal victim to their aggressors while simultaneously adding more force to their physical defense (more details in The Power of Intention in Self-Defense). But what about bigger, stronger men? Their situation is quite a bit different when it comes to how the situation looks, especially when it comes to bystanders.
Especially now when videos are easily taken with smart phones, bigger men have to be concerned with how they appear to potential witnesses when they use force to defend themselves. Even if they’re not the aggressor, and resort to reasonable physical tactics only to protect themselves, they might still be seen as the aggressor simply because they’re bigger, as many people only come to witness a fight after it’s already in progress, not having seen how it started in the first place. Add obvious combat training to their size and it makes it look worse. (more…)