To View The Sky; Empty Hand Part 5

Following on from Empty Hand Part 4, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents you the with next mighty Kata in order of advancement through the formal Karate gradings.

Kanku Dai is the longest Kata in the Shotokan syllabus, with 65 movements and is the most complex and demanding Kata thus far.

It is the first of two Kanku katas; they do not follow the Embusen or ‘H’ shaped path, like the Heian Katas. Better start getting used to that, beloved reader, they seldom do from this point on.

That’s right, beloved readers, today we learn one of Shotokan karate’s most symbolic Katas. Ganbatte.

This is a shot of sunset on the South coast of Okinawa. Perhaps the inspiration for the Kata's naming.

This is a shot of sunset on the South coast of Okinawa.
Perhaps the inspiration for the Kata’s naming.

Kata History

Unlike most of the Kata that have Chinese origins, Kanku Dai was created  in Okinawa, rather than adapted and / or modified from the original Kung Fu as some are.

Before being changed to Kanku-dai, the kata was originally called Kushanku, (the Okinawan mis-pronunciation of Kung Siang Chin), the name taken from a Chinese military advisor who visited Okinawa under government orders.

He  resided  in Okinawa from 1756-1761. Kushanku, also called Kosokun in some styles of Karate, was a master of a variety of Chinese Martial Arts. He impressed the natives of Okinawa, by showing off his combat skills by easily dispatching larger opponents.

Sensei Sakugawa. Mighty in Martial skill and radical of beard.

Sensei Sakugawa. Mighty in Martial skill and radical of beard.

Okinawa’s top Martial Artist at that time was Tode Sakugawa. Sakugawa was one of the top students of monk and Astronomer Peichin Takahara. Takahara, sent his student to train under Kushanku as he believed him to be the most skilled Martial Artist to ever to set foot in Okinawa.

Sakugawa studied under Kushanku for 6 years. When Sakugawa was 28 years old, Kushanku passed away and from the teachings left to him devised the Kushanku Kata as a way to honour his instructor and in its own way act as documentation of what he had learned from his teacher.

This illustrates the importance of kata, not only are they the most practical method of Martial practice, but they preserve the knowledge of the techniques.

Although the kata is now named Kanku-dai, it is not an abbreviation of Kushanku. It was when Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate to mainland Japan he gave the Kata a new, Japanese name of Kanku-dai, which means to ‘to view the sky’. He also changed the names of many of the Kata he taught, to have Japanese names, such as the Passai became Bassai.

Once again our instructor will be that 80-year-old guy that can kick seven shades out of all of you

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

Sensei Kanazawa showing perfect form as always. And more nice scenery.

Sensei Kanazawa showing perfect form as always.
And more nice scenery.

観空大

Kanku Dai

The Bunkai

As you can see from the Kata, it contains pretty much all the techniques from the Heian Katas. Kanku Dai is where each of the Heian Katas, (Empty Hand Part 2), are derived, so it’s kind of like a compilation-and-then-some-Kata.

The father of the Heian Katas as it were, most Sensei thinking the Kata too complicated to teach to new students broke it down into 5 easier to learn, shorter Katas.

Until next time. Stay tuned for more.

OCDB: Rogue Advisor

Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor

With HeroMachine 2.5, you can create groovy characters such as this perfectly accurate depiction of yours truly.

With HeroMachine 2.5, you can create groovy characters such as this perfectly accurate depiction of yours truly.

Powers / abilities: Little is known about the nefarious and elusive Rogue Advisor. He is somewhat like a cross between Batman and Iron man. All his attributes are the best a human may ever attain. He is a genius able to create powerful items that make Starktech look like Fisher Price crap. His cowl makes him immune to all mind affecting powers, and perfect infravision, and gives him an early warning system ‘spidey sense’.

The rest of his cladding is bullet proof, stab proof, fire-proof and stronger than adamantium, yet supple as leather. He his boots allow him to walk anywhere, despite the surface tension. He has been mistaken for Jesus whilst walking on water, and also misidentified as Spiderman whilst walking up the side of Big Ben.

Skills: He is a master of Martial arts from across the world, an acrobat and skilled in espionage. He can move in complete silence if he wishes. There is no lock he cannot pick and no trap or alarm he cannot disarm. He leaves no trace nor evidence of his movements.

Statistics: Strength-100, Agility-100, Speed – 100, Endurance – 100, Intelligence – 100, Charisma – 100

Origin: Unknown.

Now it’s your turn, beloved reader

Create any type of character you wish with Hero Machine 2.5, then e-mail them to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor.

leveluprogueadvisor@gmail.com

Until next time. Keep creating.

Taskmaster

As requested by the infamous, nefarious and downright decadent Zsa-Zsa-La-Trine; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents one of Marvel comic’s gems. He looks cool and has a cool power.

There he is in all his finery. Powers Unknown.

There he is in all his finery.
Powers Unknown.

Taskmaster

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster. Powers known.

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster.
Powers known.

The Taskmaster, (created by David Michelinie and George Pérez), is more often than not primarily portrayed as a villain rather than the anti-hero he really is. Real name speculated to be Tony Masters, is a mysterious figure believed to have been born in Brooklyn, New York City, and once went by the  alias Contingency T.

He made his first appearance in Avengers vol.1 #195, (May 1980),before making his full début in Avengers vol.1 #196 in which he was introduced as an enemy, and gave them a pretty hard time. Although the Avenger’s line-up, with the exception of Iron man, was fairly lame at the time.

Because of his notoriety he usually finds employment within criminal organizations as a training instructor. However, in Taskmaster vol.2 #3 (2011), it was revealed he was a sleeper agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. planted by Nick Fury for the purpose of intelligence gathering. During this time though, Taskmaster had trained quite the contingent of super hero imposters meant to discredit the real thing; Blood Spider the criminal version of Spider-Man, Jagged Bow and Death-shield were trained to be replacing Hawkeye and Captain America.

So what’s this groovy power you mentioned?

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Photographic reflexes

Photographic reflexes is the ability to essentially copy any skill, talent or ability you see. Anything that you see, even video footage will be sufficient. As long as he spends enough time observing another’s physical movements, no matter how complex, he can then go straight ahead and duplicate them without even needing to practice. Sweet. The drawback to this groovy power is that the new knowledge he gained from each observation will replace his previous non-skill related memories.

Due to these powers he can almost imitate super powers. For example he has discovered that watching Martial arts movies on fast-forward he is able to briefly duplicate the moves at a greatly increased velocity, effectively giving him a limited form of super-speed.

He was previously a naturally gifted athlete who trained himself to superb physical condition. He committed the fighting styles of:

Captain AmericaDaredevilElektraHawkeyePunisherTigraUSAgent, Spider-ManAnt-ManBatrocBoomerangBushwackerBlacklashGenis-VellCableDeadpoolFalconFataleFirestarIron FistJusticeMoon KnightPower Man, SilverclawSilver SamuraiShatterstar,  and Wolverine to memory, as well as many others.

As well as fully utilising his ability to copy the fighting techniques of others, he had mastered hundreds of forms of unarmed combat, both ancient and modern, and had created some of his own original techniques as well. As if that wasn’t enough he is skilled in the use of all conventional weaponry, an unerring marksman, master of swordsmanship, gymnastics with aerial acrobatic capabilities and adept at sleight of hand. This is not an individual you would ever want to get in a ruck with.

He has often shown the ability to actually predict an opponents next move before they make it if he has studied their fighting style enough. Opponents who are skilled at improvisational fighting styles, or who have a more random unpredictable style are less likely to have their moves predicted by Taskmaster. He is a master strategist and tactician, which he has used to great effect against Captain America and Iron Man during the siege of Asgard.

In addition to his already formidable abilities, he went about training his body to be in peak physical condition and engaged in intensive regular exercise. His strength, endurance, stamina, reflexes, and agility are on the level of an Olympic athlete. That means he can lift 440 lbs / 199.6 kg, that’s close to half a ton. Due to the intensity of his training he was nearly the physical equal of Captain America, and that’s without all the super soldier steroids.

He then went about recruiting a top team of scientists to recreate duplicate version of the weapons used by super-humans, which after having studied their skills, could utilise them with just as deadly efficiency as their respective original wielders.  Among such combat based finery was a copy of the Black Knight’s sword, Daredevil’s multi-purpose billy club, Hawkeye’s trick arrows and bow, a .45 calibre Colt automatic similar to the Punisher’s, and a shield designed like Captain America’s but it was not forged from Adamantium, therefore wasn’t indestructible; it was made from an Osmium alloy, the same alloy that the X-Men’s Colossus‘ flesh morphs into.

That's kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y'all.

That’s kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y’all.

Taskmaster has come to blows and also teamed up with Deadpool a number of times; the two became friends when Taskmaster started dating Sandi Brandenburg, Deadpool’s Personal Assistant when both were employed by Agency X at the same time.

Two of the badest mofos in one scene. Nice.

Two of the baddest mofos in one scene. Nice.

 

Taskmasters work with Deadpool, and thus observing and learning from him, led to a considerable change in appearance; he designed a costume that could efficiently accommodate all his spectacular new gear and was modelled on tactical battle armour. He ceased to encumber himself with the arsenal of duplicate weapons. His primary arms became a pair of semi-automatic handguns and a Katana, which he wielded with deadly grace after having observed the Silver Samurai’s fighting style. But by far his most efficient piece of gear is a prototype wrist-mounted device, stolen from S.H,E.I.L.D., that can spontaneously generate solid energy shapes. It can even be used to duplicate Captain America’s shield and Spider-Man’s webbing. Nice.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Weaknesses

  • The Taskmaster was not capable of duplicating a physical feat if the effort to do so requires a superhuman effort. For instance, he could never fly, have X-ray vision or any abilities outside the parameters that a human could attain.
  • His abilities were also limited in that they did not grant him an innate understanding of underlying disciplines. For example, as a child, he nearly drowned after imitating a dive because while he was able to mimic the dive, he did not know how to swim. Because of this, he has a fear of drowning.
  • Taskmaster was unable to copy the moves of Alex Hayden ,(Agent X), for unknown reasons
  • When Taskmaster copies something new, it pushes old memories out of his brain in a form of amnesia.

Until next time. Stay informed.

No Disintegrations

This thing is awesome. Sorry, beloved reader, you were probably expecting something enlightening, instructional or just entertaining. But I took a moment from such skullduggery to introduce you to this, and the chance to win a groovy prize. Yay.

Hero Machine 2.5

It does what it says on the tin. You make heroes with it. Made some groovy characters myself, totally losing an evening by doing so, but it made me feel somewhat vindicated. Sweet.

Follow the handy link above and send Level Up your own characters, any kind you like; hero, villain, fantasy, Sci-Fi or even a normal dullard, use your imagination.

Include the character’s name, list of powers / abilities, stats and origin, how they got , a couple of sentences will suffice. It’ll be like our own kinda Top Trumps.

“He’s no good to me dead.”

The best character entry will win this groovy prize! Double Yay.Yes. I know, beloved reader, it is quite the humble prize. However Level Up is still an impoverished company.

The best character entry will win this groovy prize! Double Yay.
Yes. I know, beloved reader, it is quite the humble prize. However Level Up is still an impoverished company.

Behold my own creations!

Devil 6

She is as nasty as she looks. Fear her.

She is as nasty as she looks. Fear her.

Powers / Abilities:  Psychoportation is her greatest power, but it exhausts her each time she employs the gift. Her voice can emit a fear induced paralysis, she can also see in all spectrums of vision. Her tail is prehensile and a direct strike will also cause paralysis. The wings allow only for gliding.

Skills: Extremely handy with chains, wielding them dual weapon style. She is fantastic in the sack.

Statistics: Strength-12, Agility-99, Speed – 99, Endurance – 28, Intelligence – 25, Charisma – 44

Origin: Real name Helena Drake, she wanted to become a famous actress, but ended up doing porn. She was selected for her promiscuity and captured by he Vatican, to be experimented upon. The Vatican’s plan was to create a bunch of devils to prove that hell existed, and thus prove heaven existed to try to get one over on all the atheists.

She was the sixth such victim of catholic barbarism, but they didn’t realise she had developed the ability to teleport at will. After her escape she vowed to destroy the Vatican. Join the club luv.

Lou

Does he look like he gives a flying f**k? Because there are zero f**ks given here.

Does he look like he gives a flying f**k? Because there are zero f**ks given here.

Powers / Abilities: Vince has only one power, he can steal knowledge from others brains by taking some of their grey matter and implanting it in his own barnet. This can  work out for the worst; he can sometimes take on characteristics of his victims for a limited period, sending him a wee bit loopy . But that doesn’t bother him one bit, he’s fairly deranged anyway.

His armour is tougher than Captain America’s shield and Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton combined, and is full of useful gadgets like adrenaline boosters. His right hand is a force field generator that works kinda like the Green Lantern’s ring, but the colour yellow is not his nemesis.

Skills: Brawling, he loves it. It’s his favourite hobby and he is really good at it. I mean really good at it. Also he has a lot of big freakin’ guns. Nuff said.

Statistics: Strength-88, Agility-18, Speed -44, Endurance – 99, Intelligence – 99, Charisma – 29

Origin: Born to the Fisk criminal family, it was obvious to his father that he was a deformity. Born with his brain completely exposed, no nose and no right hand.

The crime lord set about finding all treatments possible in an attempt to make him ‘normal’. Little did Don Fisk realise that Lou had already started using his powers from the age of 11, and was secretly augmenting himself cybernetically.

Rogue Advisor

Last, but surely not least; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor

Powers / abilities: Little is known about the nefarious and elusive Rogue Advisor. He is somewhat like a cross between Batman and Iron man. All his attributes are the best a human may ever attain. He is a genius able to create powerful items that make Starktech look like Fisher Price crap. His cowl makes him immune to all mind affecting powers, and perfect infravision, and gives him an early warning system ‘spidey sense’.

The rest of his cladding is bullet proof, stab proof, fire-proof and stronger than adamantium, yet supple as leather. He his boots allow him to walk anywhere, despite the surface tension. He has been mistaken for Jesus whilst walking on water, and also misidentified as Spiderman whilst walking up the side of Big Ben.

Skills: He is a master of Martial arts from across the world, an acrobat and skilled in espionage. He can move in complete silence if he wishes. There is no lock he cannot pick and no trap or alarm he cannot disarm. He leaves no trace nor evidence of his movements.

Statistics: Strength-100, Agility-100, Speed – 100, Endurance – 100, Intelligence – 100, Charisma – 100

Origin: Unknown.

Now it’s your turn, beloved reader

Create any type of character you wish with Hero Machine 2.5, then e-mail them to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor. Competition ends 21st April. The best entry will be blogged for all to admire.

leveluprogueadvisor@gmail.com

Until next time. Stay informed.

Iron Horse; Empty Hand Part 3

Following on from Empty Hand Part 2, I bring you’re the next kata in order of advancement through the formal Karate gradings. We will only cover one kata in this post as it is technically tricky to learn, and you’ll need to get used to moving like a crab.

鉄騎初段 (ナイハンチ)

Tekki Shodan (Naihanchi)

Woop woop woop. The good Doctor has his own version of the Kiai.

Woop woop woop. The good Doctor has his own version of the Kiai.

Tekki means iron horse. Tekki Shodan is the first of three increasingly complex katas, that are a bit Dr. Zoidberg-ish; they do not follow the Embussen or ‘H’ shaped path of the five katas presented last post but instead move vigorously from side to side. Very crab like but a lot deadlier.

Kata History

The Tekki or Naihanchi, (meaning knight), are Shorei kata. Shorei means slow, strong movement, emphasizing strength. These kata were revised or created by Master Yasutsune Itosu. Master Funakoshi was required to spend three years learning each tekki kata. At that time, students would spend several years learning a single kata, such is the karateka’s dedication to their Martial skill.

Tekki Shodan was originally called Naihanchi and was revised by Master Yasutsune Itosu; Tekki Nidan and Sandan were created by Itosu.The Naihanchi kata is so integral to karate that Kentsū Yabu, Itosu’s student, instructed his own students “Karate begins and ends with Naihanchi”, He put his student under rigorous training, they were instructed to perform the kata 1000 times. If you haven’t got it mastered by then, Karate ain’t for you.

One of the few existing pictures of the geat Karate pioneer. Nice tache Sensei.

One of the few existing pictures of the great Karate pioneer. Nice tache Sensei.

Before Itosu created the Pinan, (Soon to be renamed Heian by Funakoshi), kata; Naihanchi would be taught first in Tomari-te and Shuri-te schools, which indicates its importance. Master Gichin Funakoshi learned the kata from Anko Asato. Funakoshi renamed the kata Tekki (Iron Horse) in reference to his old teacher, Itosu, and the kata’s power.

Motobu Chōki’s writings contain the oldest known reference to the kata. This information comes from books written by himself, in which he states that the kata was imported from China, but is no longer practiced there.

Motobu learned the kata from Sōkon Matsumura, Sakuma Pechin, Anko Itosu and Kōsaku Matsumora. Motobu taught his own interpretation of Naihanchi, which included te, (Okinawan parent of karate), revising some techniques.

Tekki Shodan

Once again our instructor, (in the seventies in these instructional vids. He was only 7th Dan), is.

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

Still ripped from his Karate practice, even in his forties.

Still ripped from his Karate practice, even in his forties.

The Bunkai

As you can see from the bunkai , the real applications of the techniques aren’t as simple as the kata makes them look. This, once again, is because the Okinawans had to practice in total secrecy. Because of this ‘disguise’ karate had to maintain, many think it to be the Dane Cook of Martial arts. Believe in your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor; this is the real deal.

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.