Saturday, 30 September 2017

Who remembers Bravestarr? (And what the f*%k is a post about him dong in a Martial Arts Group?!!)

Okay- scroll down the photos so we can get to my text...


Stop! Here we are...

Okay- if anyone on Martial Arts Forums can read this it means that this post did not get removed (Thank you, Admins!)

I really appreciate my posts getting read very much and I will not waste your time for doing so- so let's cut to the chase...

Next year I'll be 40. Apart from gaining weight I also noticed a slight decline in my eyesight- so- what did I do?

I started training my eyes.

Did you know you can train your eyes? Well- I will tell you about that soon.

But first- Bravestarr...

If you are not my age- or you are about my age, but did not watch as much TV as I did watch this intro to get yourself up to date:

Yes- Bravestarr was a space- sheriff in a futuristic sci-fi series that was mostly set on the planet New Texas far away in space. Like his contemporary, He-Man he had a line of toys from Mattel and a series and probably some other merchandise as well.

Now- Bravestarr had powers from 4 totem animals. (Actually it is very clear in the series that he was from a people very much like Earth's native Americans...)

He had the eyes of the Hawk, ears of the Wolf, Strength of the Bear and the speed of the Puma. You would not see him train in any of the series' episodes, but he had these powers.

In real life, however, martial artists have found ways over the centuries to develop abilities beyond that of the everyday person and now that you have read this far- I am going to share the martial arts version of each of Bravestarr's powers with you:

1. Strength of the Bear

Ummm... Do we really have to discuss this one in detail?

I think strength training is a no-brainer for most of us here. You use weights, you have to make your muscles work against resistance and so forth.

What makes martial arts different from bodybuilding of course is that it usually teaches you to use your strength in the most efficient and economical manner to overcome your opponent. That does not mean that martial artists of old- or even our modern day gladiators in the UFC- don't deem it necessary to get stronger, though...

Sure! Prof Jigoro Kano said that Judo is about minimum effort and maximum effect, but you are welcome to show me a Judo competitor in this day and age who does NOT do any weight training... 

I know there are Karate schools that do not really do a lot of strength training, simply because it is not necessary for winning a tournament under WKF rules. Still- those karateka who are intent on turning their bodies into weapons spend a lot of time developing strength.

The weights you see in the photos here have been part of every dojo in Okinawa for centuries.

The Shaolin Monks are legendary for their skill as well as their strength. Sure- you plank, but do you plank like these guys in the photo below? :) 

I think you'll also agree that Sifu Yan Lei looks really ripped in all his videos.

A core principle of Shaolin strength training is that it is done with gradual increase of resistance. Have you ever heard the story of the guy that was told by the monk to hoist the same calf over his shoulders every day and then jump with it on his shoulders over the same sapling every day?

Well- I admit to not have tried that, but Tony Jaa ( you really should know who this is!) says that his amazing jumping ability comes from jumping onto his pet elephant's back ever since the elephant was still very small and continuing to do so even as the elephant grew bigger over the years.

So- yes! Martial Arts have ways to make you strong. We got that out of the way now...

2. Speed of the Puma

You know- a cheetah is actually faster than a puma, but let's not dwell on that now...

Speed is really important in fighting of any kind. So- it is no surprise that regular sparring will improve your reaction time, hand speed, speed of body movement and footwork and such. You'll learn to slip punches, catch up with retreating opponents and even develop the ability to block multiple blows.

But- we all know that, right?

Who knew of this cool way to develop blinding running speed, though?-

The Ninja of old had young students run with a straw hat against their chests. What had to hold the hats pressed against their chests? The answer- the pressure of the air in front of them as they ran. I have tried this before when I was still doing cross country at school. Paper also works if you don't have a straw hat. Just be warned, however: It really winds you!

3.  Ears of the Wolf

Okay- your average sports orientated dojo or even the health and fitness orientated gym won't really care much about how well you can hear, but to a group of warriors who made a living on espionage and infiltration (Yeah! The Ninjas again!) superhuman hearing was very important!

The way to develop really keen hearing, however, consists of two parts:

1. Shutting down the noise in your own head;

2. Becoming more sensitive to the sounds outside your head-

in that order.

One of the early stages of meditation is an acute awareness of distant sounds. That is because we become aware of these sounds when we finally managed to silence all thoughts within our minds for that moment.

You won't get better at hearing by straining to listen. What will  help, however, is calming down and then finding what you want to listen to and focus on that. Closing your eyes help a lot as well.

4. Eyes of the Hawk

Oookay! We are finally here!

This is the exercise that I do every morning after training and before meditation that made me think of writing today's post.

This one does not come from Ninjutsu. It is actually from Shaolin! :)

It is actually quite simple. Once you understand how it works you can make your own variation thereof (like I have), but the method I explain here is how it is mostly taught:

Stand  outside and find a leafy branch that is a fair distance away from you. Then- on that branch find a leaf from which to start counting and count the leaves on that branch. As you get better at this you can then try doing the same thing from further away.

By now I can single out blades of grass on the lawn, holes in the fabric of curtains in the house and the tiny indentations in the paintwork of our house.

It really does not take very long to do.

This exercise became really important to me since over here we get tested every 5 years for our driver's licences. The test involves an eye test for the moment. It may change later on by adding on other tests as well, but the eye test is a recurring part thereof and probably shall be for a long time to come.

Well... Now you have read the entire post and I thank you.

Have a great week and train well. :)


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