The Good the Bad and the Unforgivable

Sorry, beloved reader, the title of this post is somewhat misleading; there is little good involved, apart from maybe laughing your abs into a six-pack at what follows. Here at Level Up our geek glands rage 24/7, whether it be for fantasy, Sci-Fi, RPGs or comics. But whenever there is good, there must be bad. A sad and kind of Taoist truth. Nerdy entertainment does seem to be a metaphorical yin-yang rollercoaster of laughter and tears. Today it’s tears I’m afraid. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor has searched high and low for the most terrible, offensive and downright awful. For every Batman or Tony Stark, there’s a Kylun or a Typeface. Prepare to be impressed / unimpressed by characters that had to be created whilst drunk, high or threatened at gunpoint.

Kylun

A crappy Thundercat rip-off with crappy powers.

A crappy Thundercat rip-off with crappy powers.
Essentially he is a humanoid tape-recorder.
How very 80’s.

Once a member of the British mutant team Excalibur and looking like a humanoid lion pretty much explains this blasphemy in printed format. He basically, being rather cat-like, had slightly better strength and agility than most and better senses. His main power wa to be abl to mimic nay sound. That’s it. That’s his angle, that’s what got him in a superhero team that defends the entire UK against super-powered threats. He also had magic swords that could not cause harm to the pure of heart, these lame blades turned up in later comics when the writers realised that he was so very rubbish. Needless to say, even with the new swords, he didn’t last long.

Wraith

You'd think he'd be much groovier with a name like that.

You’d think he’d be much groovier with a name like that.

So, what can this Wraith character do? Can he become ethereal / incorporeal? Is he some sort of demonic other-worldly monster? Maybe even a soul-sucking, hell-born beast to be feared by all mortal men? Nope. Hector Rendoza’s ‘fearsome’ power is to have invisible skin. The X-Men took pity on him after he had been beaten s**tless by some normal, genetically average, humans. In a fight that he started. He nearly died from his wounds, but it was really easy to see if he had eaten that cheesecake you’d been saving in the fridge. He can transfer his transparent epidermisery to other people, making him the only mutant so terrible that his own body is trying to offload the X-gene. There were other characters in the Marvel universe called wraith too, all of them a damn sight more useful. There was John Wraith, he had military training, an extended lifespan and could teleport. There is also Brian DeWolff, known as Wraith, an ex-policeman with psionic powers and then we have Zak-Del Wraith who is immortal and has a gun that can transform into any kind of gun imaginable. Why Marvel? Why did you create Hector Rendoza the kid with invisible skin?

Jihad!

Un-freakin'-believable.

Un-freakin’-believable.

That’s right, beloved reader, freakin’ Jihad. Marvel comics presented us with is genie in a Fantastic Four storyline, where the bright green turbanless behemoth sent them on an item retrieving mystical quest. The character was a little controversial, his first appearance was eleven days before the September 11th attacks, and Jihad was a character bent on world conquest. For reasons I cannot fathom he hasn’t made an appearance since.

Typeface

Unemployment is hard to deal with in the USA apparently. It drives people to use giant lettering as weaponry.

Unemployment is hard to deal with in the USA apparently. It drives people to use giant lettering as weaponry.

The economy is the real villain in this tale. Ex-US Army soldier Gordon Thomas went home to become a sign smith. The American dream. But alas, poor Gordon’s dreams were shattered when he was laid off from his job at ‘Ace Signs’ when a man named George Finch takes over the company. Mr Thomas does what anyone else would do in that situation; he wrote a giant ‘R’ on his forehead, for ‘retribution’, called himself Typeface and went on a rampage with an arsenal of giant letters. The saddest part of this tale is that he actually kicked the crap out of Spiderman. He then changed the ‘R’ on his spam to an ‘A’ for ‘Annihilation’.

Squirrel Girl

She is kinda sexy. Anyone else developing a squirrel fetish?

She is kinda sexy. Anyone else developing a squirrel fetish?

Doreen Green is her name and she can communicate with squirrels. Yup, that’s right beloved reader, once again Marvel comics have subjected us to more lameness. For some reason though, she is extremely accomplished in the area of villain butt-kicking. Teamed up with her squirrel companion Tippy-Toe, she has defeated Doctor Doom, a task that the entire of the Fantastic Four have difficulty with and in another story line the bushy-tailed duo have even defeated Thanos. For those of you who don’t know who Thanos is, please follow the handy link to discover how incredibly powerful and god-like he is. But give credit where credit is due, the Marvel writers had to be pretty creative to pull off those stories.

Hemo-Goblin

hemo-goblin

What can I say about this guy? Really?

It’s DC comics turn to bow their collective heads with shame. This character covers the trendy topics of racism and AIDS in one horrifying package. He is basically a vampire, which generally are powerful enough critters to take on super powered folk. The skinny albino blood sucker was created, laboratory style, by a white supremacist group to rid the world of anyone who wasn’t a honky. This is accomplished by giving them AIDS, which he managed to infect some of the members of the New Guardians with. Thanks DC.

These characters are terrible. How can it possibly get any worse?

Behold!

Armless Tiger Man

Pfft. Ha. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Pfft. Ha. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Yes, beloved reader, we’ve saved the ‘best’ for last. Armless Tiger Man is a man – wait for it – with all the power of an armless tiger. Like our feline chum Kylun, Gustav Hertz has the augmented agility, strength, senses etc. of that great hunting cat, the tiger; but without the baggage of having arms. Who needs the encumbrance of four limbs? Especially prehensile ones. This extremely bipedal chap was a WWII villain who lost his arms whilst working as a machinist. Quite appropriately he then vowed vengeance upon all things industrial. He was eventually caught by the Gestapo who sent him to America to wreak his two limbed, anti-machine hatred.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Legend of You

It should really be called the Legend of Link, not the Legend of Zelda.  Coming from humble beginnings he struggles against monsters, dungeons and awkward Nintendo puzzles. But that teasing, troublesome tart Zelda never even gave our hero a flash of boob for all his daring efforts.

You deserve better Link. I'm sure there are plenty more pointy-eared princesses out there who would be gagging for a bad-ass adventurer like yourself.

You deserve better Link. I’m sure there are plenty more pointy-eared princesses out there who would be gagging for a bad-ass adventurer like yourself.

What kind of legend are you?

There is a legend inside us all, but nobody is born that way, we all have to start somewhere.  Heroic tales of regular folk rising to the challenge, facing all the trials that Hyrule / London / New York / Tokyo etc. can throw at them and coming out on top. Heroic tales wouldn’t be nearly as inspiring without all the effort they put in to conquer hardship, yet come out on top. Yay for the underdog.

Our multi-talented hero will even go so far as to risk a time / space paradox that could potentially destroy the known universe by learning the Song of Storms from a man in the Kakariko village, then travelling back in time and playing the Song of Storms in the windmill in as a child; so that same man learns the tune and can then teach it to Link in the future. What lengths will you go to in order to reach your goals?

So what can we learn from this damsel rescuing, dungeon delving, Paradox dodging, all round awesome adventurer?

What can’t we learn from Link? He’s a freakin’ legend. But we need to be ‘realistic’ about things, so here’s how we apply his heroic endeavours the Level Up way. Yay.

Find your motivation then explore everything

First you need to figure out what you want. Finding the motivation was easy for Link; he unwittingly found a sword, got a quest from a talking tree, busted his way through a bunch of dungeons, did a little time travel via an ocarina, kicked Ganondorf‘s ass and rescued the prudish princess.

Adventurers back in these days were total bastards. They'd barge into your gaff, uninvited, smash all your pots looking for your hidden rupees, and once totally looted be on their merry way.

Adventurers back in these days were total reprobates. They’d barge into your gaff uninvited, smash all your pots looking for your hidden rupees, and once totally looted and vandalised, they’d leave the legal tenant of the property rather disgruntled and in poverty, and be on their merry way.

There are literally thousands of fitness routines, skills and proficiencies out there; even ways to become smarter, so explore everything. Decide which attribute or skill you wish to work on, but make it something you really want, something fun or even something profitable. It really has got to be something you want though. Nobody ever succeeds getting in shape for the sake of it, or learning a new skill unless there’s a good reason or desire for it. Once your goals are defined, add the all important motivation. Like wanting to do serious strength training to be able to lift all those pesky rocks that seem to cover the entrance to anything useful in Hyrule, or training for a specific skill such as archery to clear those dungeon critters at long-range, or get up close and personal with some Swordsmanship. Then the motivation should fall sweetly into place. Once you have  a specific goal in mind, and the motivation has dug its heels into you, it’s on to the next nugget of Hyrulian wisdom.

Use the right tools for the job

Link's inventory clearly demonstrates my well-informed point.

Link’s inventory clearly demonstrates my well-informed point.

Link didn’t just charge straight through Hyrule, confront Ganondorf, grab little miss never-puts-out and ride off into the sunset. He had to run a gauntlet that covered all of Hyrule, in both past and present, each step of the way he was faced with obstacles that required him to figure out exactly what he needed for the task at hand. It wasn’t always obvious what he needed either; maybe a hook-shot to enter the forest temple, iron boots to navigate the water temple or a colossal hammer to smash stuff that allowed access to other areas.

The same applies to taking on a journey to learn and / or improve skills and attributes. There will be a lot of trial and error finding the correct method to achieve what you want. Always give new ideas a try, but be weary, there are many fads out there waiting to take your hard-earned rupees, be sure to research thoroughly and pay nothing up front. The minions of evil are trying their darndest to sabotage us and our quest to legendary status. They’re even making a profit from it. Check out these disturbing links: The Flex Belt, Ab Circle Pro, and my all time favourite ridiculous, ineffectual piece of rubbish Power Spin. Beware, beloved reader, these are the tools of the foolish, not the tools of the legendary.

As anyone can clearly see, this is f**king retarded. These are not the tools you're looking for.

As anyone can clearly see, this is f**king retarded. These are not the tools you’re looking for.

Find the right training for the results you want

Sounds a lot simpler than it is. You need to know what kind of training will garner the results you are after. You won’t be a great basketball player if you go powerlifting and don’t instead practice plyometrics. Not doing your research may lead you into fitness ruts, you could end up doing the same ineffectual workouts and be totally befuddled as to why it’s not working. Going to the gym and feeling obliged to bodybuild is a fine example of a fitness rut; Lifting heavy on a split body part routine whilst pumping yourself full of excessive amounts of protein aren’t the right tools to become an endurance athlete for example. I know how tricky it is to go to gyms and avoid the bodybuilding peer-pressure, don’t misunderstand me, beloved reader, there is nothing wrong with bodybuilding if that’s your goal, but these vile dungeons called gyms are full of meat-heads, jocks and gym-rats and are quite the environment of unspoken coercion. All you have to do to avoid this awful phenomenon is visualise those that have fallen for some fitness fad-trap, (cue Admiral Akbar), there will be plenty of them in there, and realise how sickeningly sycophantic they are; then have a great workout knowing you will reach your goals because you’ve dodged that misinformation bullet, whilst they probably don’t even know what they are working toward at all, and more than likely quit after a few weeks.

Most of you will probably want to train more sports / skill specific; muscular endurance and flexibility for Martial Arts, cardiovascular endurance to compete in marathons or for the true bad-asses, like Link, go and compete in the pentathlon with his swimming skills, constantly running everywhere, equestrian prowess, unrivaled marksmanship and expert swordsmanship, he’d totally own it.

Training can all be accomplished in the gym or at home, even outdoors if you don’t mind the inarticulate japes of the ignorant and sedentary that plague the streets. At home is my personal preference, that way I can avoid distractions from people who use the gym solely as a social gathering, and the gym-rats trying to ‘inform’ you. Plus home training always allows access to the equipment I require, without waiting for some rude guy using what I need to use and is unwilling to share. The choice of training environment will depend greatly on the skill you are improving.

Don’t be shy to use assistance or ask for help

Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me.Please don- What? Your helpful. You look like the nototrious soul sucking goth queen of Camden.

“Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.
Please don-” “What? Your helpful. You look like a Camden skag head that levitates.”

Link asks for help all the time, even though he is truly bad-ass, he knows in his rather ample stores of applied wisdom, that he cannot complete this epic solo quest without a boost from some unlikely new friends. He enlists help from frog choirs to families that have been magically transformed into Skulltulas, from going through overly long trials and tribulations to acquire a new song from some twat who wants nothing more than to inconvenience our hero, to that brutally hard second race on Lon Lon Ranch to get Epona whose help is essential to help get him through his epic quest.

If you’re hitting it hard on the bench press don’t be shy to ask for a spot, that is assuming you don’t have a training partner, if not there can some agreeable and amiable folk to be found in the gym, far fewer than your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor would like, but there are some helpful chaps and lasses.

Or if you can’t manage to perform pull-ups yet, don’t feel abashed, regardless of the disapproving looks you may get from the gym-rats, about using the pull-up assist platform on the gym’s machine, remember that those meat-heads and jocks had to start somewhere as well, so screw them and their arrogant criticism. They probably have erectile dysfunction after all the steroids they’ve pumped themselves with. Or if you’re attempting pull-ups at home, work up to them gradually, start off with inverted rows, then maybe hit the pull-up bars with the assistance of resistance bands, like our hero Link, you will get there eventually. If you put in the effort, it really is just a matter of time.

The perfect assistance with pull-ups, especially when in a very spikey room. EEK.

The perfect assistance with pull-ups, especially when in a very spiky room. Does Batman know he has this?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew 

Link didn’t strut straight up to Ganondorf / Ganon thinking he could take the gargantuan villain on right away, he knew he had to work up to it. And work hard he did, numerous dungeons did he delve through, gathering all the items and power ups he would need to face such a deadly adversary.

Unlike the gym-rats, Link is quite capable of taking on this guy. He's done the training, done the research and selected the right tools for the job.

Unlike the gym-rats, Link is quite capable of taking on this guy. He’s done the training, done the research and selected the right tools for the job.

Basically, leave your ego at the door when you enter the gym. I see way too often, guys slapping on the poundage on a barbell, that they clearly cannot lift properly. They pick it up swing it all over the place with awful technique and form, and gaining very little for their ‘efforts’. Their ego said “lift heavy”, this is good advice, but what is meant by lifting heavy is the greatest weight you can mange, not a vast amount of iron beyond your current capabilities. Remember it is the exercise itself that produces the anabolic effects we desire, the weight is merely there to offer resistance. With consistent training that resistance will increase when you train with perfect form. It wont increase if your cheating the movement by swinging, potentially risking injury, and looking foolish to anyone with even a smidgen of kinesiological knowledge. Behold, exhibit A:


But that’s not to say don’t push yourself a little harder each workout. If you can add some resistance, then do so. Strength training, or any kind of training for that matter is a slow progress. Kind of like geology; it takes time and pressure added in carefully measured increments. Always keep a record on an Excel spreadsheet, it’s a really handy tool to keep track of weights / reps / sets /distance etc. also it’s really nice to look back a few weeks through your training log, to see how well you’ve progressed. A good motivational tool.

Great for adding resistance to chins, pull ups, dips and completing the water temple.

Great for adding resistance to chins, pull ups, dips and completing the water temple.

A rest day is a rest day

I’ve heard way too much bullshit about ‘off’ day conditioning. The point of a rest day is to recover, that’s when the magic happens. All physical attributes grow during the days off, don’t add any more. If the training regime requires rest days, you must take them. That’s not to say do completely nothing on those days. Light activity, known as ‘active rest’, is a great tactic. Engage in some light activity such as walking, playing pool, and of course fishing. It’s when your resting after training and getting proper nutrition, that your body is making its repairs, leading to the attribute, skill and sports performance gains you worked so hard for in the workouts.

Even our intrepid hero takes a relaxing break from adventuring. Link knows the value of recovery.

Even our intrepid hero takes a relaxing break from adventuring. Link knows the value of recovery.

Never quit

Does Link simply hang up his sword, shield, bow, boomerang, ocarina, various masks and bottled fairies to call it a day? Nope. But that doesn’t mean be too strict. If your working hard, taking an extra day off as a reward is fine, having a filthy great cheat meal like a massive pizza is fine too. But don’t make a habit of it. Sure, the results of training are the rewards of our work. But without our little evils, we will end up wondering why it’s worth it, we are not machines. Yet. Viva Skynet.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

Peaceful Mind; Empty Hand Part 2

Spring is here. Yay. Sort of. It’s been snowing in larcenous old London, but do not despair beloved reader, for like most of you, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor also has a crappy job which he braves nature’s wrath to attend and pay-day has arrived; and with it more storage space is available to the gradually growing Level Up, and that means videos. Actual Yay. Still no recording studio of our own though. But here’s a little inspiration just to show off the new feature.

Following on from the last instalment of Okinawan bad-assery, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor thought it only proper to begin assisting all you dedicated KarateKa out there, and padawan beginners with your empty hand techniques. Katas are often overlooked in most Martial training, much to the detriment of the practitioner. Most believe Kata to be nothing  more than a fancy ‘dance’ routine just for show in competition. This is not so beloved reader.

Kata is the original means of cataloguing and practising all of a Martial skill’s techniques in the most efficient way possible. This is even truer of Karate, as it was developed in secrecy at a time when the government had banned the Okinawan people from owning / using any weapons and practising martial arts, thus all they had were their Kata and it had to be super efficient.

松濤館

Shotokan

See! Ratchet performs a perfect tobi mae geri against Thundercracker.

Just to prove that the Autobots practice karate, here is Ratchet performing a perfect Tobi-Mae-Geri against Thundercracker. And it looks like he booted him square in his Decepti-nuts.

Here at Level Up we also like to keep training uber-efficient just like the Okinawan warriors of bygone days. So in this second instalment of Empty Hand we will cover some of the early Katas of the Shotokan Karate system. Why drill yourself over and over again in the same Oi-Zuki, Gedan Barai or Mae Geri, when all those techniques are contained within the Kata. Thus, logic dictates that practicing of the Kata repeatedly, you will be performing all these techniques, with the added bonus of them already being arranged into functional combos. Sweet.

No one is expected to master the Katas through the study of video alone, and holding a 4th Dan ranking myself, I would be happy to arrange a one on one session to help you, beloved reader, to perfect your pugilistic prowess. Due to a crappy 72 work hours per week job, giving me scheduling problems, I will only be able to offer such assistance to London-based L.U.F.A.S. fans. But first it is important to make you budding exponents of unarmed warfare familiar with arguably the greatest living KarateKa.

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

I have had the privilege and honour of training under this incredible Sensei once, many moons ago. This embodiment of Karate perfection will be the instructor in the videos.

This great man is Hirokazu Kanazawa.
I have had the privilege and honour of training under this incredible Sensei once, many moons ago.
This embodiment of Karate perfection will be the instructor in the videos.
He also knew the value of resistance training to increase the power of his techniques.
And as you can see it makes him ripped too.

Kanazawa is one of very few KarateKa still alive that trained with Master Gichin Funakoshi. Born in 1931 in Japan, he began his Martial training Judo. But when he was accepted into University, he witnessed a Karate demonstration by Sensei M. Nakayama. This left a lasting impression on young Kanazawa, he began training under Nakayama’s tutelage straight away, with regular teachings from Sensei Funakoshi.

Within just over one year, he achieved Shodan, (1st degree black belt), in took only three years for him to attain his Nidan and Sandan. Believe me, beloved reader, that’s unprecedentedly quick progression for any KarateKa. Karate Sensei are notoriously fickle about dishing out black belts.

He gained an even more impressive reputation in 1957 when he entered the All Japan Karate Championship tournament. During the contest he broke his wrist and going against medical advice he decided to continue, because his mother was watching, and he didn’t want to disappoint her. He won the final bout like a bad Mo-Fo.

After such success he wanted to teach Shotokan. He completed the extremely rigorous and strict JKA instructor’s programme and was sent off to teach in Hawaii. Five years later in 1966, after establishing Karate in Hawaii, he was sent to Great Britain, where he had to start from scratch to teach a far away Western land that had little knowledge of the Martial skills of the East. Whilst in good old Blighty, he attained his 6th Dan.

All who have met Kanazawa remark upon his charisma, which I can testify to myself. Sensei Kanazawa is not only knowledgeable, disciplined and patient but a very approachable and empathic man. These qualities and his undisputable skill earned him the position of Chief instructor of JKA Europe.

However, in 1977, Kanazawa attained 7th Dan, and was forced into a position that meant he had to leave the JKA, he was just too bad-ass for them. There were fears that his career was over. Thus, in typical Kanazawa style he went ahead and proved to all his critics that they were dicks. He established the SKIF, an organisation that rapidly gained millions of members.

As well as being successful in climbing the ranks of Martial arts greats and establishing Karate around the world, he is also an author, an awesome selection of his works can be found on the SKIF website.

分解

Bunkai

Bunkai is literally translated as ‘analysis’, but as happens so often, much is lost in translation. Bunkai are the applications of the techniques. I will explain as many as possible here, but one on one tuition with yours truly would yield the best results, I would expect no fee for this tuition but would ask that you help popularise the soon to be mighty Level Up Fitness & Skills. Most of the Martial arts masters of the East always been a little bitchy about not revealing their true applications, especially xenophobic towards westerners. Some of the real moves are ‘disguised’, usually through repetition of other moves to hide them. We’ll be covering the true Bunkai as I have been fortunate in whom I’ve studied with, you’ll just have to trust me. Have I misinformed you yet?

This man is 81 years old. And can kick the ass of each and every one of you.

Sensei Kanazawa is 81 years old. And can kick the ass of each and every one of you. With the greatest of ease.

Anyone who trains with Kanazawa, (as I have. Yup I’m gonna keep plugging that), cannot help but be impressed. At his very mature age, he still puts the young-uns to shame. Like Funakoshi and Nakayama before him, he is not just a KarateKa, but also a pioneer, his legacy will live on through generations of KarateKa for eons to come.

The Heian Katas

These Katas are the second five students will encounter, the first  are the Taikyoku Katas, (meaning first clause), Shodan, Nidan and Sandan. They are fairly recent Katas, created to further breakdown the techniques into easier to digest chunks. These Kata are not vital to the syllabus though, as the Heian Katas will ‘break you in’ quite nicely. The name Heian is roughly translated as ‘peaceful mind’. the name comes from the Okinawan saying Heiwa-antei, meaning ‘peace and calm from within’. The name suggests that once mastered, the student can feel confident in their skills and themselves for their discipline, leaving no doubt to their prowess.

The five Katas, were created in 1906, by Sensei Itosu to prepare the student by instilling the specific gross motor skills and body awareness required for the rigours of Karate training. They were originally called the Pinan Katas, and the first and second Katas were reversed. When Sensei Funakoshi brought Karate to mainland Japan, he changed all the names to Japanese.

Most of the Heian Kata follow the same Embussen path, (it looks like an ‘H’), as do the Taikyoku Katas, many Martial skills have historically emulated this path as it allows for turns and dynamic straight manoeuvres. Each Heian Kata gradually introduces new core basics, adding combos and progressing the student to intermediate level. At the time of their creation, the Okinawan people didn’t bother with ranks, Keikogi or the Coloured Obi, so there was no indication of the practitioners skill.

Heian Shodan

The techniques in this first kata are simple enough: Gedan-Barai, Oi-Zuki, Tettsui Uchi, Age Uke and Shuto-Uke. Stances: ZenkutsuDachi and KokutsuDachi.

As you can see from the video, Katas begin and end on the same floor marking. This trains stances and footwork to be perfect. Do not ignore the KIAI points either, they occur to generate extra power for finishing moves.

Bunkai

This is how Sensei Kanazawa applies a Mae Geri. EEK.

This is how Sensei Kanazawa applies a Mae Geri. EEK.

Heian Nidan

Many of the same techniques from Heian Shodan are included here, don’t be dissuaded by the repetition, that’s the point of all this. These Kata will get you primed for advanced kick-assery and even though each kata takes only about a minute to complete, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how knackering it is. This is because it uses anaerobic metabolism. Some techniques are specific to an individual Kata alone, like this one, making them truly centrifugal to training. Thus no handy link for pre-practice of individual moves. The new movements to learn here: Haiwan-Uke /zenwan-hitai-Kamae, (Back of forearm block / forearm forehead posture), Soto-Nagashi Uke / Kentsui-Soto-Mawashi-Uchi, (outside flowing block / outside hammer fist strike), Sokumen-Zuki, (hammer fist block punch), Ryoken-Koshi-Gamae, (both fists one hip posture) and Uraken-Yoko-Mawashi-Uchi / Yoko-Geri-Keage, Shihon-Tate-Nukite and Osae-Uke, (pressing down block), Mae-Geri, Gyaku-Zuki, Uchi-Uke, Morote-Uke, and new stances: Ashi-Dachi, Ashi-Zenkutsu-Dachi.

Bunkai

Heian Sandan

This one has some odd-looking movements, but have faith in your Rogue Advisor, these all have great application and effect. On that same point, do not be dissuaded by how ‘simple’ or even daft some of the moves look; having been practiced in secret during development, they are efficient. The third Kata’s new techniques: Uchi-Uke / Gedan-Uke in Heisoku-Dachi, (inside block / down block in stand to attention stance), ketsui -Yoko-Mawashi-Uchi, (inside hammer fist strike), Ryokan-Ryokoshi-Gamae, (both fists on both hips posture), Fumikomi / Furi-Empi, (stomp kick or thrust step / swinging elbow block), Uraken-Tate-Mawashi-Uchi, (vertical back fist strike), Tsukami-Uke / Oi-Zuki, (grasping punch and lunge punch), Koho-Tsukiage / Ushiro-Empi-Uchi in Kiba-Dachi, (rising punch to rear / backwards elbow strike in horse riding stance), this move uses Yori-Ashi, (sliding), footwork.

Bunkai

Heian Yondan

As you can see, beloved reader, the Martial applications are advancing at a nice manageable rate. The fourth Kata is no exception. Mastering this Kata is part of a 6th Kyu ranking. The initial belt grades count down toward 1st Kyu, the penultimate belt before 1st Dan. The new techniques: Haiwan-Uke /zenwan-hitai-Kamae, (Back of forearm block / forearm forehead posture, as performed in Nidan, but with open hands), Ryokan-Kosa-Uke, (‘X’ shaped block / strike), then we get Ryoken-Koshi-Gamae / Uraken-Yoko-Mawashi-Geri-Keage from Nidan but this time followed by Mae-Empi-Uchi, (elbow strike), and performed on both sides, Ryoken-Kakiwake-Uke, (both fists wedge block / guard), Hiza-Uchi, (knee strike).

Bunkai

Heian Godan

The first new technique is the delightfully named Mizu-Nagare-No-Kamae, (water flowing posture), Ryosho-Juji-Osae-Uke, (both palms pressing ‘X’ block), Uke-Zuki, (block strike), Kake-Uke, (hooking block), Mikazuki-Geri, (crescent kick), Koho-Tsukiage, This is performed in Renoji-Dachi, (rising punch to rear opponent in a stance that looks similar to Ashi-Dachi), and the vicious-Soto-Nagashi-Uke / Shuto-Uchikomi and Uchi-Uke / Mangi-Uke, Jotai-Sonomama / Manji-Gamae, the new stance is Kosa-Dachi. This is a nice Kata, it will really get you primed for the more advanced stuff.

Bunkai

Stay tuned for more

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

Empty Hand

This one is a favourite here at Level Up. Not just because it’s an awesome combat skill, but also because it’s one of the few structured martial arts that doesn’t involve the use of any weapons.

Batman narrowly missies Wolverine with a well formed Yoko tobi geri.

Batman narrowly misses Wolverine with a well-formed Yoko tobi geri.

That’s right, beloved reader, today your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be helping you level up your skill in one of the greatest unarmed fighting systems from the east.

Karate

Shotokan to be precise; the unified form of Karate founded by the late, great Gichin Funakoshi. Before we hit the resistance training in all it’s kinesiological glory, let’s get to know more about the art of the empty hand.

The tiger emblem of Shotokan Karate.

Contrary to popular belief Karate is not a Japanese martial skill, it’s Okinawan, but because it has been developed and popularised by Japanese exponents the terminology of the combat sport is now almost exclusively in the Japanese language. It started life called simply ‘ti’, or in Japanese, ‘te’. It’s also not as ancient as many think.

In 1372 trade relationships were established with the Ming Dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan. This led to some forms of chinese martial arts being introduced to the Pechin class of the Ryukyu Islands. Given the similarities between them, it is reasonably safe to assume that the Chinese martial arts to influence Karate’s development, Fujian White Crane probably being one of the main culprits. In 1429, however, the political centralization of Okinawan King Shō Hashi brought with it a ban on all weapons, at the time all martial skills were weapon based with little need for unarmed combat to be practiced unless for sport, this was reinforced in after the invasion of the Shimazu clan in 1609. These both played important factors in how Karate and it’s sibling martial art Kobudō evolved. Kobudō is responsible for bringing us delights such as nunchaku, tonfa, , sai and kama. Whilst developed at the same time and for the same reasons, Karate and Kobudō are separate arts but often mis-categorised together.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

During all this developmental chaos, along came Gichin Funakoshi; the father of modern Shotokan. He had trained in both popular styles of that time’s Okinawan karate; Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. Funakoshi was quite known for his writing, he was an avid poet and philosopher as well as being a Karate master. In 1939, after many successful years of nurturing his Karate style and teaching a plethora of students, he built the first official Shotokan Dojo in Tokyo.

Shotokan derives its name from Funakoshi’s pen name, Shoto, meaning ‘waving pines’ and Kan means training hall or house. Thus Shotokan’s can be translated as ‘house of Shoto’. He also changed the way the characters for Karate written, from meaning ‘China hand’ to ’empty hand’. The two words sound the same in Japanese but are written differently. It was his belief that the term ‘Chinese’ would be misleading and people would think Karate had originated with Chinese boxing. Funakoshi’s interpretation of the word Kara to mean ’empty’ caused problems for him in Okinawa, thus he remained teaching in Tokyo.

Ryu demonstartes a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

Ryu demonstrates a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

The resistance training

There are a lot of techniques that need augmenting here, but hold faith beloved reader. Your’s truly, holding a 4th Dan in this wondrous discipline, is unabashed in advising you. Unfortunately Level Up is still an impoverished little company, therefore we will have to make use of links to other sites for the time being. Stay tuned though, as Level Up studios will be coming this summer. Yay.

Lunge with twist: These bad boys will be an invaluable help for your stance work, especially with zenkutsu dachi, and the twist at the end will assist in all those gyaku-zuki punches you undoubtedly be drilling endlessly. These don’t have to be practiced with a medicine ball, or any resistance at all.

Leg extension: That’s right, another exercise for the quadriceps, we need them. Powerful legs will accommodate all the tough stances we encounter and even the newest Karate exponent knows that with a good kick you raise the knee first, then extend for maximum power and range.

Reverse-grip chins: Helpful for a fast pull back to launch another kizami/gyaku/oi-zuki punch, and for giving all-round physical development.

Decline press ups: Even though the waist is the prime mover in any punching movement, the pectoralis major  assists in this. So for powering up all our ‘zuki’ moves we’ll be focusing on the clavicular fibres; it’s already much easier to punch godan and chudan heights, so hitting upper chest will add oomph to our jodan height attacks.

Supination curls: The supination movement of these will augment many punches / blocks, whilst working both biceps brachii and brachialis. Nice.

Arnold press: Yes, these are named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their pronation / supination movement nicely mimics the twisting, power generating motion of many Shotokan punches and blocks.

Dips: Great for adding punching power and speed. Once again, even though the waist produces the power of the strike the triceps assist the movement by extending the elbow.

Knee raise: Few realise that to get height in a kick, not only do you need flexibility, but well conditioned abs to raise the thigh above waist level. These do the trick nicely in combination with the leg extensions from earlier, we’ve successfully added greater range and power to our kicks.

Standing calf raise: To get the fullest extension on all those mae geri kicks, you will need decent contractile strength in your gastrocnemius. Add resistance to these when you feel comfortable with the movement.

I'm afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can't teach you the Hadoken technique.

I’m afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can’t teach you the Hadoken technique.

Perform one set of each exercise for as many repetitions as possible, but with perfect technique of course. When you feel you’ve got these sussed, perform them again for a circuit training effect, this will get the heart and lungs pumping nicely as well. Repeat the circuit as many times as desired.

Basic Terminology

Before we delve into the terms and jargon, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor should give you a quick insight into Japanese language vowel pronunciation.

“a” as in father ; “i” as in feet ; “u” as in flute ;”e” as in bed ; “o” as in okay.

Age Tsuki

Rising punch

 

Age Uke

Rising block

 

Ashi Barai

Foot sweep

 

Awase Tsuki

U-punch

 

Bensoku Dachi.

Cross-legged stance (also female horse stance or Kosa Dachi)

Boshiken Tsuki

Thumb fist

 

Choku Tsuki

Straight punch

 

Chudan

Middle area

 

Chudan Uke

Inside circular block

 

Empi

Elbow strike

 

Fudo Dachi

Free stance

Fumikomi Geri

Stamping kick

 

Furi Tsuki

Circular punch

 

Gedan

Lower area

 

Gedan Barai

Downward block

 

Gedan Uchi Barai

Outside downward block (open hand)

 

Go

Five

 

Goju

Fifty

 

Gyaku Mawashi Geri

Reverse round house kick

 

Gyaku Tsuki

Reverse punch

 

Hachi

Eight

 

Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out)

Hachiju

Eighty

 

Haisoku Barai

Instep block

 

Haisoku Geri

Kicking with the instep

 

Haito Uchi

Ridge hand strike

 

Hajime

Begin

 

Han Zenkutsu Dachi

Half front stance

Hasami Tsuki

Scissors punch

 

Heiko Dachi

Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart)

Heiko Tsuki

Parallel punch

 

Heisoku Dachi

Closed foot stance (feet together)

Hidari

Left

 

Hiji Uchi

Elbow strike

 

Hiji Uke

Elbow block

 

Hiki Uke

Pulling/grasping block

 

Hiza Geri

Knee kick (also called Hiza Ate)

 

Hiza Uke.

Knee block

 

Hyaku

One Hundred

 

Ichi

One

 

Jodan

Upper area

 

Jodan Uke

Upward block

 

Ju

Ten

 

Kagi Tsuki

Hook punch

 

Kaikoken Tsuki

Crab shell fist

 

Kakato Geri

Heel kick

 

Kama-De

Bear hand

 

Kamae

Ready and alert

 

Kanketsu Geri

Stamping kick, joint kick

 

Keikoken Tsuki

One knuckle fist

 

Kiba Dachi

Horse riding stance

Kime

Focus

 

Kizami Tsuki

Leading punch, or jab

 

Ko Uchi

Bent wrist strike

 

Ko Uke

Wrist block

 

Kokutsu Dachi

Back stance

Kosa Uke

Cross block

 

Kote Uchi

Forearm strike

 

Ku

Nine

 

Kuju

Ninety

 

Kumite.

Sparring

 

Mae Geri Keage

Front snap kick

 

Mae Geri Kekomi

Front thrust kick

 

Mae Tobi Geri

Jumping front kick

 

Mawashi Geri

Round house kick

 

Mawashi Tsuki

Round hook punch

 

Mawashi Uke

Round house block

 

Migi

Right

 

Migi Heiko Dachi

Right foot forward Heiko Dachi

Morote Uke

Augmented block

 

Musubi Dachi

Formal attention stance (heels together, feet at an angle)

Nagashi Tsuki

Flowing punch

 

Nagashi Uke

Sweeping block

 

Naihanchi Dachi

Kiba Dachi with the heels out and toes in

Nakadaka Ken

Middle finger knuckle fist

 

Nanaju

Seventy

 

Naname Shiko Dachi

Diagonal straddle leg stance

Neko Ashi Dachi

Cat foot stance

Ni

Two

 

Nidan

Second dan

 

Nidan Geri

Double front snap kick (back leg first)

 

Nihon Tsuki

Double punch

 

Niju

Twenty

 

Nukite Tsuki

Finger thrust or spear hand

 

Oi Tsuki

Lunge punch

 

Randori

co-operative sparring

 

Rei

Bow

 

Ren Geri

Double front snap kick (front leg first)

 

Renoji Dachi

The letter “Re” stance (or “L” stance)

Roku

Six

 

Rokuju

Sixty

 

Sagiashi Dachi

Heron stance

San

Three

 

Sanbon Tsuki

Triple punch

 

Sanchin Dachi

Hourglass stance

Sandan

Third Dan

 

Sanju

Thirty

 

Seiken Tsuki

Fore fist strike

 

Sesan Dachi

Side facing straddle stance

Shi

Four

 

Shichi

Seven

 

Shiko Dachi

Straddle leg stance

Shodan

First Dan

 

Shotei Otoshi Uke

Open hand dropping block

 

Shotei Tsuki

Palm heel thrust

 

Shotei Uchi

Palm heel strike

 

Shotei Uke

Palm heel block

 

Shuto Uchi

Knife hand strike

 

Shuto Uke

Knife hand block

 

Sokutei Harai Uke

Sole of the foot block

 

Sokutei Osae Uke

Pressing block with the sole of the foot

 

Sokuto Geri

Kicking with the foot edge

 

Soto Uke

Outside forearm  block

 

Sukui Uke

Scooping block

 

Tate Tsuki

Vertical punch

 

Tettsui Uchi

Bottom fist strike (or hammer fist strike)

 

Tobi Nidan Geri

Jumping double kick

 

Tsumasaki Geri

Kicking with the tips of the toes

 

Uchi Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance with heels out and toes in

Uchi Uke.

Inside forearm block

 

Ura Tsuki

Short punch (palm side up)

 

Ura Uke

Back hand block

 

Uraken Uchi

Back fist strike

 

Ushiro Geri

Back thrust kick

 

Ushiro Mawashi   Geri

Round house to the rear kick

 

Washi-De

Eagle hand

 

Yama Tsuki

Mountain punch

 

Yame

Stop

 

Yoi

Ready

 

Yoko Geri Keage

Side snap kick

 

Yoko Geri Kekomi

Side thrust kick

 

Yoko Tobi Geri

Jumping side thrust kick

 

Yoko Uke

Circular block

 

Yondan

Forth Dan

 

Yonju

Forty

 

Zenkutsu Dachi

Front stance

Stay tuned for more

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

Addressing the Target

There should be a boom in this wonderous and deliciously roguish art given recent TV programming and RPG rogue and / or ranger enthusiasts should start their larceny and / or geekiness glands pumping.

Oliver Queen. If you haven't seen the show simply titled 'Arrow', then I suggest you do so immediately.

This is Oliver Queen.
If you haven’t seen the show simply titled ‘Arrow’, then I suggest you do so immediately. Now.

That’s right, beloved reader, today your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be taking you through kinesiological attribute enhancement for the noblest and most dextrous form of marksmanship.

Archery

So what makes a good archer? The same mighty stuff as any other athlete; firstly knowledge in one’s chosen art, then the discipline to apply the know how, followed by the hard work to see it all through to fruition.

We wont be going too deep into technique; trying to teach someone the finer points of archery from a blog would be like trying to teach a vegan how to prepare Halal. Therefore, beloved toxophilite, we will cover the very basics and then the juicy kinesiology. Yay.

1 – Stance: Stand perpendicular to your target, feet roughly shoulder width apart and straddling the shooting line. Balance your weight evenly over both feet, maintaining perfect posture but don’t stiffen your spine, it will need to remain flexible to absorb recoil. Place your back foot parallel with the line and angle the forward foot slightly toward the target whilst keeping a little slack in the knees.

2 – Nock: Sounds simple but there is a technique to this, all these stages matter. Nocking the arrow is the part where you place it against the bow-string and also preparing to draw. Be  sure that the index feathers point away from the bow, lay the arrow itself upon the arrow-rest, then snap the nock onto the bow-string under the nocking point. Simple. This process guarantees a consistent draw every time, assisting accuracy. Once your set, take the string in the first joint of the first three fingers of the drawing hand.

3 – Pre-draw: Raise the bow towards the target and lock the extended bow arm into position.

At a point like this you'll really want to be drawing faster. With enough practice it'll all happen in a flash.

At a point like this you’ll really want to be drawing faster. With enough practice it’ll all happen pre-trampling / goring rather than post mutilation.

4 – Draw: This is where the kinesiology comes in; pushing with the tricep of the bow arm and pull back with the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid and outer head of the biceps brachii of the drawing arm until the bow-string touches your nose and lips. Your elbow should stop behind and slightly above your shoulder, putting the resulting muscular tension on the mid-trapezius fibres.

5 – Anchor: The final stage of a correctly performed draw sequence. In the anchoring stage the drawing hand comes to rest against your face before aiming and releasing. The anchor point can be either the chin or cheek, whichever you feel most comfortable with.

6 – Aim: This really cannot be instructed, it will become second nature over time. Try to align the bow-sight with the target and try to factor in wind, distance and drift.

7 – Release: Squeeze all those muscles tight that you now are working to hold the position, open the drawing hand and let that arrow fly.

8 – Follow through: When the arrow leaves the bow, continue pulling the drawing hand along the base of your neck and allow the bow to move forward in your bow-hand. Then inspect your handy-work.

Hawkeye demonstrates the stance and by proxy those muscles used when performing it, that we will be focusing on.

Hawkeye demonstrates the stance and by proxy those muscles used when performing it. That’s what we will be focusing on.

The supplementary workout

Because that’s what it is. When you are training for a skill such as archery, the resistance training is an added bonus to hours of technical drills and target practice. This routine would be best practiced only once or twice per week, and not on consecutive days. Why are we focusing on enhancing the above stance? Because pulling back a bow-string isn’t an easy task, then to keep it steady whilst aiming is even harder. Therefore, beloved reader, we are strengthening the muscles involved so the archer themselves can maintain the stance for extended periods, allowing longer to aim with fresh perspective and therefore greater accuracy. Logic. Follow the handy links for exercise instruction, (sorry but Level Up still is bereft of recording equipment; stay tuned), and perform two to three sets of each.

Seated cable rows, (with isometric contraction): We begin the workout with focus on the lats and the mid-trapezius; they are doing the greatest deal of work. First the lats are the prime movers in pulling the bow-string back with the hands somewhere between a supinated and pronated grip, thus the choice of grip on the exercise. Once back there though, the mid-trapezius is holding everything steady for as long as it takes to make the shot. That’s where isometrics comes in handy, at the peak of each concentric movement hold that position of two seconds before repeating the movement; really focusing on the mid-trapezius. Go comfortably heavy on these; enough weight to manage 10 to 12 reps with perfect form.

Bent-over dumbbell flye: Next is the rear head of the deltoids. It has already been assisting the lats and traps on the pull, now we want them to become inexhaustible pillars of contraction. Be really carefull with form on this movement, keeping the lower back perfectly straight and be sure not to cheat / swing the weight up into position. Mid to light weight with these, perform around 12 to 15 reps on this movement.

Dips, (with isometric contraction): The tricep of the extended arm is stabilising the bow, thus we need to work the three-headed rear of the arm muscle with isometric work. Pause and hold at the lowest point of the dip, the mid-point of the movement and at full extension for 10 seconds. This tactic essentially takes the plyometric effect out of the equation, forcing the triceps to become stabilizing machines. Nice. Only perform one set of these for as many reps as possible.

Concentration curls: Just as the triceps have three ‘heads’ that make up the whole muscle group, biceps have two distinct ‘heads’. We will be focusing on the long head, (outer head), that is also assisting with our bow-string pulling. Go super light on these, they are the proverbial cherry on the kinesiology cake and nothing more. Aim for 12 to 15 reps.

Cable twists: Once the bow-string is pulled all the way back, any further turning to aim is done by the transverse abdominus. This little number will not only make the action of turning to aim quicker and easier, it’ll tone the waistline to heroic slimness. Sweet.

Note that it’s not a full body workout, that would be entirely up to the individual archer whether or not they wish to pursue such levels of fitness. This supplementary workout is intended to strengthen basics.

Hopefully you feel a little more ballistically inclined.

Hopefully you feel a little more ballistically inclined.

Terminology

Just to keep things concise and informative, beloved reader, I present the terminology of this fine skill in all it’s medieval jargonified glory.

  • Addressing the Target: The archer’s stance straddling the shooting line prior to shooting the arrow.
  • Aim: Visually lining up a sight pin to the center of the target; if a sight is not used, visual placement of the tip of the arrow on a specific point while shooting at a target over a given distance.
  • Anchor Point: The fixed position of the bowstring hand on the jaw or cheek while holding or aiming.
  • Archer’s Paradox: Situation in which the arrow flies in the direction aimed although its initial movement is in a different direction.
  • Arm Guard: Device worn on forearm and wrist areas of the bow arm to protect the arm from impact.
  • Arrow Plate: The piece to which the arrow rest is attached.
  • Arrow Rest: Device mounted just above the arrow shelf on the bow on which the arrow rests during draw, hold and release.
  • Arrowsmith: Individual specializing in making arrows and/or arrowheads.
  • Back: The side of the bow limb away from the string.
  • Bare Bow: Method of shooting which does not use a bow sight.
  • Billet: One of two short pieces joined at the handle to make a bow.
  • Blunt: Arrow with a blunt tip for use on small game.
  • Bow Arm: The arm in which the bow is held.
  • Bowyer: One who makes bows.
  • Brace/String Height: Distance between the pivot point of the bow and the string. AKA: Fistmale.
  • Bracing: Process of stringing the bow in preparation for shooting, by placing the bowstring loops into position in the notches of the bow.
  • Bull’s Eye: The center of the target or that part of the target face with the highest scoring value.
  • Butt: A mound of straw on which the target face is placed.
  • Cast: the speed with which an arrow is shot.
  • Clout: Shooting at a relatively long distance at a large target lying, or painted, flat on the ground.
  • Composite Bow: Bow composed of two or more materials, such as wood and fiberglass. Invented by H.W. Allen in 1966, designed with an eccentric pulley system to maximize pull weight poundage at mid-draw and minimize stacking at full draw.
  • Bow Creeping: Undesired forward motion of the bowstring from the anchor point immediately prior to release.
  • Crest: Colored bands on the arrow used to identify a set.
  • Director of Shooting: The individual in charge of shooting. AKA: Field Captain; Lady Paramount.
  • Double Round: Shooting the same round twice.
  • Draw: The process of moving the bowstring with nocked arrow from brace height to the archer’s anchor point on the face.
  • Drift: Deviation in the flight of an arrow due to wind.
  • End: A set number of arrows which are shot before going to the target (typically 3, 5, or 6) to score and retrieve them.
  • Face: The side of the bow nearest the string. AKA: Belly.
  • Finger Tab: Leather device worn to prevent blistering on the surface of the three drawing fingers.
  • Fletching: The stabilizing feathers attached to an arrow between the nock and crest. See vane.
  • Follow-Through: The act of holding the release position until the arrow has struck the target.
  • Freestyle: Style of shooting using a bow-sight.
  • Flu-Flu: An arrow with large or spiraled fletchings, which increase drag and reduce the arrow’s range.
  • Grip/Handle: The center portion of the bow where the hand exerts pressure during the draw.
  • Grouping: The arrangement of the end of arrows on the target face after they have been shot.
  • Hanging Arrow: An arrow that does not penetrate the target, but dangles from its point.
  • Hen Feathers: The two feathers on either side of the index feather. Traditionally, these feathers are not as flamboyant as the index feather.
  • Hit: An arrow which embeds itself within one of the scoring areas on the target face.
  • Holding: The act of maintaining the bow and arrow in a stable position at full draw prior to release.
  • Index Feather: The feather at right angle to the slit in the nock of the arrow and usually a different color from the remaining feathers. AKA: cock feather.
  • Kick: When the bow shoots with a jar to the bow hand.
  • Kiss Button: A contact point on the bowstring for the archer’s lips to touch as to insure consistency and accuracy of the anchor point.
  • Let Down: Releasing tension after drawing without releasing the arrow.
  • Limbs: The energy-storing parts of the bow located above and below the riser.
  • Longbow: A long, relatively straight bow that preceded the recurve bow in many cultures.
  • Nock: Device on the end of the arrow opposite the point, made with a groove for holding the arrow to the bowstring when placed in position for shooting.
  • Nocking: The technique of placing the arrow on the bowstring in preparation for shooting.
  • Nock Locator: The stops on the serving of the bowstring which mark the nocking point for the arrow.
  • Nocking Point: The position on the string where the arrow is placed. Typically marked by the nock locator.
  • Notch: The slits at the ends of the bow for the string.
  • Overdraw: Drawing the arrow beyond the face of the bow or drawing the bow to its point of maximum stress on the limbs.
  • Peeking: Undesired motion of the archer’s head at time of release in an attempt to follow the arrow trajectory into the target.
  • Plucking: Undesired lateral motion of the string hand and arm away from the bowstring at time of release.
  • Point/Pile: The tip of the arrow that pierces the target. Classifications include: target; field; broadhead; and blunt.
  • Point-Blank Range: Distance at which the archer may utilize the center of the target as an aiming point.
  • Point-of-Aim: A technique, whereby the archer uses a mark unattached to the bow and usually on the ground as an alignment point.
  • Pressure Point: Place on the arrow plate against which the arrow lies and exerts pressure when the arrow is released. It can be cushioned or spring-loaded.
  • Quiver: Any device designed to hold arrows not being shot.
  • Range: Area designated for target or field archery.
  • Rebound: An arrow that bounces off the target face.
  • Recurve Bow: Bow manufactured so the ends of the limbs deflect toward the back of the bow to increase leverage when the bow is braced.
  • Release: The act of putting the arrow into flight due to a release of pressure on the bowstring. AKA: Loose.
  • Riser: The areas of the bow just above and below the grip.
  • Round: Term used to designate the number of arrows to be shot at specific distances at specific target faces or targets.
  • Self Bow: A bow made of one piece of wood or raw material.
  • Serving: Protective thread wrapped around the bowstring where the arrow is nocked.
  • Shaft: The body of the arrow upon which the nock, fletching, and point are mounted, and the crest is printed.
  • Shooting Line: The line straddled by archers during shooting which indicates a specific distance from the target in target archery.
  • Sight/Bow-sight: Adjustable device attached to the bow which facilitates the aiming process for the archer.
  • Skirt/Petticoat: The outermost perimeter of the target face outside the scoring area.
  • Spine: The measured deflection of an arrow when depressed by a two-pound weight at its center.
  • Stabilizer: Weighted device added to the riser of the bow and designed to reduce torque and absorb shock upon release.
  • Stacking: Disproportionate increase in bow weight during the last few inches of the draw.
  • Stave: Full-length piece of wood used to make a bow.
  • Tackle: Equipment used by an archer.
  • Target Captain: Individual at each target designated to determine and call the score of each arrow and pull them from the target.
  • Target Face: The scoring area of the target.
  • Tiller: Device for holding the bow at draw and to inspect the curvature.
  • Toxophilite: Individual pursuing the sport of archery, as a participant and/or student.
  • T-Square: Device used to measure brace height and locate the nocking point on the bowstring.
  • Trajectory: The parabolic flight pattern of an arrow following release.
  • Tuning: Adjustment of arrow rest, pressure point, string height and nocking height to improve arrow flight; includes determination of correct spine.
  • Vane: A term used most commonly when fletching is made of plastic or rubber instead of feathers.
  • Weigh/Draw Weight: The bow manufacturer’s determined number of pounds required to draw each bow’s string at a given draw length.
  • Windage: The effect of wind on the arrow’s flight.
  • Window: Viewing space between the side of the bow and the string at full draw.
You should now feel able to select a perk. Yay.

You should now feel able to select a perk. Yay.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

The Dark Geek Rises

That’s right, beloved reader, even the bat himself had to start somewhere. After his parents were gunned down, he couldn’t instantly pull on the cowl and make Gotham City’s criminals cower with fear. Thus, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be taking you through a zero to hero fitness guide starting from complete scratch.

beforeafter

It’s all up-hill from Adam West.

Bat-fan year one

Okay, so it’s not really the whole first year of training but I had to put the pun in somewhere. We begin with bodyweight work, the core of any good training routine. And just like when Bruce started out, we rely on minimum equipment. Just follow the handy video links, (sorry but Level Up still doesn’t have its own studio yet), to get started on your journey to bad-assery.

Warm-up: No need to go overboard with this, just get your heart rate up a little and make sure the muscles are warm to avoid injury. Do some jumping jacks and a few minutes jogging on the spot is plenty to get you prepped and primed.

Squats: Every mighty structure has a solid base, and the human body is no different. Never miss leg work, it is your foundation to a power. If you can’t quite manage the full range of motion in a squat hold onto something for support, until the quadriceps are strong enough. Once your comfortable with squats, progress on to lunges.

Press ups: A solid staple of any training routine. Press ups can be done anywhere, anytime and Batman has them for breakfast. If you can’t do full-bodied press ups yet don’t worry, you’ll be able to do them soon enough. Start with bar press ups, then gradually work up to doing knee press ups until you become can perform the real thing. As you become stronger you can progress to even more advanced press ups, continually challenging yourself.

Press ups target the bat-pecs. Triceps and deltoids assist in the movement.

Press ups target the bat-pecs. Triceps and deltoids assist in the movement.

Dumbbell rowsIgnore the dumbbell part, anything that offers some resistance will do; a jug of milk or a packed suitcase make great improvisations and a couple of chairs will make a sufficient stand-in for the bench. Your Rogue Advisor doesn’t expect you to be chinning just yet, but this is how we get the lats strong enough to deal with them.  Eventually work up to inverted rows, you don’t even need a bar for this, you can perform them on the edge of your dinning table.

batmanweights

If you’ve got bat-weights then go for it, but they’re not essential.

Crunches: Even the Bat’s abs had a subtle beginning. Strength gains are stealthy critters, they sneak up and surprise you when you least expect it. Thus, beloved reader, you will be moving on to more advanced exercises, like crunch ups and incline crunches before you know it. Yay.

Bat-fan begins

You just worked every muscle in your body, even the ones that weren’t targeted specifically by an exercise would have been assisting or stabilising in one or more of the movements. Better yet it only takes about 10 minutes, easy to fit into your daily routine, so none of that “I don’t have time to workout” false-hoodery. If you’ve anything left in the tank do them all again, then you’ve successfully completed a circuit training workout. Challenge yourself by seeing how many ‘circuits’ you can manage,  maybe try for an extra one per week.

Perform as many repetitions as humanly / inhumanly possible for each of the exercises and keep a record of it. An Excel spreadsheet is good, it’s nice to look back on a training log and see how far you’ve come, plus it keeps tabs on how many reps to beat in the next workout. After training be sure to stretch, it will help to avoid injury and DOMS. No need to go overboard here either, just one stretch for each muscle targeted in the workout, held for 20 to 30 seconds. Easy.

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

If you can do the more advanced versions of any of the exercises then go for it, but perfect form is vital, don’t sacrifice the benefits for the sake of ego.

The workout can be done up to three or four times a week, but not on consecutive days; your body will need to recover. The magic happens when you get proper rest and nutrition.

But why resistance training? What about cardio?

Prepare to be scienced.

Not going to science you too hard here, we want to keep things simple.

You can great results from cardio, but you have to do a lot of it. I mean a hell of a lot of it, and really regularly too. Most of us just don’t have the time to invest to take the cardio path. Also, this may sound daft, but you only burn calories when your engaged in the cardio.

Seems obvious right? Keep reading.

You need to do hours of this cardio business for it to be effective. Plus it needs to performed regularly; around 60% of the benefits of cardio a lost after 2 to 3 days if not maintained.

You need to do hours of this cardio business for it to be effective. Plus it needs to performed regularly; around 60% of the benefits of cardio are lost after 2 to 3 days if not maintained.

Resistance training however, burns calories when you’re doing it and then boosts metabolism for up to 90 minutes after working out; burning even more of those nasty little calories. Sweet. Not only that but the muscle you’re building will boost your BMR all day long. Yup, all day long. As a handy bonus, resistance training will give you augmented strength that has practical application in everyday situations. Thus, beloved reader, resistance training is the most efficient route to looking good for the upcoming nice weather. Yay.

During this training your weight wont change much, but your body composition will. You will have more lean mass and less fat, so ignore the  scales; how much you weigh is actually a poor indication of how much excess fat you have.

Avoid these evil contraptions of deception. Who really cares how much you weigh?

Avoid these evil contraptions of deception. Who really cares how much you weigh? Gauge your results in the mirror instead.

But all the good workouts in the world will do you no good if you eat crap. Fact. For now keep it simple; you already know most of what’s bad for you so avoid things like sweets, crisps and especially fizzy drinks. Try to eat more often yet smaller meals during the day, and include fruit, veg and lean meats.

Don’t pay any heed to all the terrible fad diets and slimming gimmicks, they are peddled by thieves and scammers and we don’t fund them, we bring them to justice! There is no miracle pill or technique for an instant six-pack, it takes working out and eating right. Sorry, beloved reader, but that really is the ‘secret’.

The Bat only hungers for justice.

The Bat only hungers for justice.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Dark Side of Comics

It looks like our chums at DC comics are actually going to go ahead with the Justice League movie, even imdb has an entry for them stating the release date as June 2015.  Christian Bale may even be returning as Batman as DC try to strike back at Marvel and all their recent hyperbolic skullduggery. But it seems DC have an ace up their sleeve.

Justice-League-Dark-Game-Faces

Justice League Dark

In a recent interview with Total Film about his new movie Mama, Guillermo del Toro discussed characters he wanted to bring to the screen from comics.

“I am going to be presenting my storyline to DC and Warners of where I want to take this universe. We do have a writer, but until that is firmed up, I have to keep it a secret. I hope it happens,” he said.

“It’s going really well. It’s like meeting old friends. I grew up with Demon Etrigan, with Swamp Thing, with Deadman, so these are characters that are near and dear to my heart.”

“I’d love to use the origins that are proper to each character. I love the idea of Jason Blood as a paladin and a knight…. I love the entire Constantine mythology, the Dead Man mythology, the Alex Holland Swamp Thing mythology. These are really rich things to well, and to dig.”

The rumours flying around give the still unconfirmed project the working names of Heaven Sent, Dark Universe and of course Justice League Dark. The anti-hero super group features the likes of John Constantine, who already had his own movie in 2005 staring Keanu, (fight off the woodpeckers), Reeves, Swamp Thing, the protagonist of Wes Craven’s 1982 film of the same name and also The Demon, Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, father / daughter magicians Zatara and Zatanna, and Deadman, a title del Toro was rumoured to be bringing to the silver screen until it was stalled in development.

With these tasty tidbits of rumour and / or information, it seems that DC, if all goes well, will have the perfect counterattack against all the gems that Marvel have turned up and have future plans to continue. That is unless the hybrid freak known as Disney-Marvel-Lucas Film retaliate with . .

darkavengers

Dark Avengers

That’s right, beloved reader, whenever one or the other, DC or Marvel, has a version of something, you can bet your flux capacitor the other will have their own counterpart.

Just who are these clearly nefarious characters?

Iron Patriot: Norman Osborn, (Green goblin), managed to take Tony Stark’s place as director of H.A.M.M.E.R. which is S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s successor after the Invasion of Skrulls storyline. Osborn went about creating a new avengers team, but lacking the actual Ironman and Captain America. Without these heroic figures he came up with the Iron Patriot, StarkTech armour improvised from items confiscated from Stark’s armoury together with Cap’s colouration to goad the public with iconic imagery.

A shot of the Iron Patriot from upcoming Ironman 3. Other shots show James Rupert "Rhodey" Rhodes inside the armour. Surely he should be War Machine.

A shot of the Iron Patriot from upcoming Ironman 3. Other shots show James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes inside the armour. Surely he should be War Machine.

Osborn’s technical expertise, however, was lacking and he couldn’t get the armour’s repulsor generators to work, (let’s be realistic about things, he’s no Tony Stark, eh?), he ended up replacing it with the weaker Uni-Beam, that had a star-shaped output.

Venom: Not the original Venom; Eddie Brock. Not the second incarnation; crime Don Angelo Fortunato, but the third to take up the symbiotic suit; Mac Gargan. Formerly known as the Scorpion. Whilst wearing the suit and capering alongside the Iron Patriot, he poses as your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman. Nasty business.

Bullseye: He dresses like Hawkeye but this isn’t Clint Barton. This is Lester, the psychopathic assassin that has an uncanny aim, only on a few rare occasions has he missed moving targets. He uses the opportunities afforded by his profession to satisfy his homicidal tendencies and to keep his mind off the grudge he holds against Daredevil.

Lovelly chap really. Apart from his personal vendetta against a blind lawyer.

Lovely chap really. Apart from his personal vendetta against a blind lawyer.

Daken: Real name Akihiro, he is the mutant son of Wolverine and his deceased Japanese wife Itsu. He poses as his father without difficulty, having similar powers; accelerated, (to extreme regenerative craziness), healing factor, heightened sense of smell and retractable Muramasa steel coated claws, (created from the original Muramasa blade), 2 of which originate from the back of his hands, whilst the third comes from inside his wrists. He obviously doesn’t have the adamantium skeleton  like his dad, but makes up for that disadvantage by having telepathic immunity and a crazy pheromone ability. He can use this pheromone manipulation ability to disguise his own smell, making him ‘invisible’ to Wolverine’s scent tracking and also to change the emotional and sensory state in other beings, instilling sensation such as fear, psychotic rage and even sexual attraction. Definitely one of the nastier characters in both Avengers and X-men. EEK.

Duking it out with pops.

Duking it out with pops.

Moonstone: Real name Karla Sofen, born the daughter of a butler to a movie producer, she managed to become somewhat of a success with her own psychological practice. She used her psychiatric credentials to access the prison cell of Byron Becton – the original Moonstone. Then using hypnosis, she warped his mind into believing he was a disgusting, hideous monster. She was so convincing  that the psychological trauma caused his body to reject the moonstone and it became hers. In the Dark Avengers she poses in the place of Ms.Marvel.

Why are the evil ones always so sexy?

Why are the evil ones always so sexy?

Ares: The son of Zeus and Hera. Quite the credentials. It was never really confirmed who he was supposed to be posing as; one would assume he was meant to take Thor’s place but he always brought his customary sword and / or axe to the party. No matter though, he didn’t last long. He was killed in Siege #2 by the next chap.

Ares taking a kicking from The Sentry. Embarrasing really.

Ares taking a kicking from The Sentry. Embarrassing really.

The Sentry: Yep. As you can see from the picture above he’s one of those, run-of-the-mill-not-really-thought-out-caped-twats-with-vague-powers. His abilities ostensibly come from a serum, similar yet more powerful than the one used on Captain America, that moves his molecules an instant ahead of current time. Whatever that means. Doesn’t really matter, because he went rogue in Siege #3 just before being killed by Thor in Siege #4. Thanks Thor.

Noh-Varr: A prize-winningly cheesy name for a character. Noh-Varr is a member of the Kree race, from the alternate reality of Earth-200080, (we are on Earth-616 by the way). So we’ve got alien and another dimension story in one. He was also enhanced with insect DNA, ahem, giving him enhanced reflexes, speed, strength, and endurance as well as being triple jointed, allowing him to negotiate even the trickiest close environments. Probably his greatest power is the ability to re-route neurological impulses and suppress any stimulus that is unwanted. In Civil War: Young Avengers /Runaways he uses this ability to perform a ‘White run’, defeating Hulkling, Karolina Dean, Wiccan and Xavin in under 5 seconds. His constitution allows him to digest any organic compound without harmful effects, this also increases recovery from wounds or extreme stress.

nohvarr

Mr. Varr. Try saying that with a straight face.

In addition to all that whacky business, Noh-Varr’s spit has infectious biological properties that cause hallucinations and gives him a small degree of mind control. Each of his fingernails can grow into a crystalline spike, which can then be inserted into an opponent and left to explode! He also has access to a wide-range of Kree technology and has the know how to create the means for interdimensional travel. As much as an asset as he was to the team, pretending to be Marvel Boy, he left Dark Avengers #6 and joined the actual Avengers.

I hope that got your geek glands juicy.

Until next time. Stay informed.