Legend of the Galactic Heroes episode 32, Holyland manga review


Episode 32

I’ve heard the argument before that war is good because most technological advances occur during it etc. and it prevents stagnation and corruption. Yang’s rebuttal is just absolutely brilliant – that he’d accept that if people didn’t lose their families or lives because of war. What is brought up here is whether the costs and essential immorality of war are worth it for the potential benefits – and I’d argue that stealing a wallet is also wrong but has potential benefits. What I mean by this is that a wrong action is not justified by any potential benefits, ever, unless more wrong is stopped by committing that wrong. Though I am a negative utilitarian, mind you.


Artwork: 9/10 – Very suited to the scenes, very picturesque and detailed. It can be disturbing at times too in terms of the sheer detail put into (murderous and pained) facial…

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Wrist Locks and Submissions and Joint Manipulations…Oh my!

Tao of The Velvet Rope

As our goal here at the Tao is to inform, we find it necessary to revisit certain subjects with some regularity. One of those subjects is Use of Force. While some might see this as proof that Nightclub Security are fixated on being violent, the opposite is true: our goal is to minimize the Use of Force or to remove it from the Ejection equation altogether. However, the reality of the Nightclubs (and their accompanying consumption of alcohol, hierarchical male behavior patterns, and no shortage of foolish behavior) is that this combination of factors unfortunately leads to incidences of physical contact between Staff and Patrons. To this end, it is necessary regularly address not only Use of Force, but its correct and incorrect applications.*

In 99% of the entertainment venues where we’ve consulted, we’ve heard someone say, “We wrapped the Patron up and escorted him out”. And 99% of the…

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5 Top Tips for Studying Kung Fu in China

Shaolin Students

The begining…

“The interesting parts are between the facts… “

In the summer of 2007 while on a break from my urban planning job back in Belfast I made the decision to travel to China and study traditional kung fu. I craved adventure and a change from the daily grind. Most of my friends had gone travelling between school and university or between university and work. I’d created a window of opportunity and felt this was the right time to use the money I’d saved. My martial arts experience at that time was limited to my regularly Jeet Kune Do classes. Despite my lack of sashes or belts I wasn’t worried. What I lacked in experience I knew I had in determination to work hard and learn as much as I could. Like most of you reading this article I’ve an interest and passion for martial arts as well as a growing interest in learning more about the spiritual and healing arts of China. As a teen I used to day dream about what it would be like to visit a land where a monkey could become a king.

China here I come…

Immediately I set to the task of researching kung fu schools in China. I craved being taught in a traditional way without distractions. I wanted to learn how to deal with confrontation effortlessly and improve every aspect of my life.

So I took action and found a school, got my visa and boarded a plane. 13 hours later I arrived in Beijing totally unprepared. I stayed the night in a hotel near the airport and the next day I boarded my internal flight to my end destination with high hopes. I was as green as the grass I’d left back in Ireland. From that moment until now it’s been one hell of an adventure.

Over the last few years I’ve visited a lot of kung fu schools and met a number of students studying at these schools. Some have come for martial arts, some adventure, some for health and fitness and some simply to create space for changing past bad habits. Your reasons for seeking this experience are your own. But what they should have in common is a desire to improve. Focus on your training and the experiences and other benefits will follow. So here are my 5 top tips for getting the most out of your training at a kung fu school.

Shaolin martial arts students
Shaolin martial arts students

My top 5 tips

  1. There are more schools than ever popping up all over China specifically to cater for the growing demand from westerners who want to study traditional kung fu. Make your decision carefully, not just in terms of your school choice and style but also in terms of what you want to achieve and get out of the experience. Schools now offer students more than just martial arts. They offer often offer additional classes in Chinese language, Buddhism and TCM for example. These are good and offer you the chance of dipping your toes in the water from which further learning can be sought.
  2. The importance of your fellow students at a kung fu school should not be under estimated. These students will be people you will learn from and have to live with.
  3. Be realistic. There have been occasions when I’ve received enquiries from students that are just damn right ridiculous or expect to be able to open their own schools after as little as 6 months to a year of studying.
  4. Be prepared for a culture shock and a different way of thinking or in some cases a total lack of thought. Remember that can also be part of the enjoyment too. You’re not in Kansas anymore so don’t expect it to be the same or constantly winge about it. We all go through this and at times have a love hate relationship with the place(s) we visit. When you catch yourself doing this stop! If it continues just go home. Don’t bring those around you down with a bad attitude or negitivity or disturb your fellow students training or enjoyment. Be patient, present and self aware.
  5. And remember just because someone is wearing kung fu shoes, a kung fu suit, or has some prayer beads it doesn’t mean that they are a good master or martial artist.

If you’d like to find out more or have any questions about studying martial arts in China this site is the pick of the bunch. www.StudyMartialArts.Org

Summer Supplements

With Beijing’s hottest summer months, July and August upon us I thought I’d devote this blog entry to getting the most out of training during the summer.

Two things I’ll focus on that will help you to reach optimum performance during this time are the following.

  • Magnesium
  • Digestive Enzymes

These supplements are great for those spending long hours out in the sun training and who wish to improve their performance as well as aid their digestion. The perfect combination for kungfu students that will be susceptible to tummy bugs and long rigours training schedules.

So here’s why:

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is important for maintaining and improving sports performance, as magnesium plays a pivotal role in energy production and the maintenance of health. This mineral is often poorly supplied by diet. And you will especially find this when your diet is mostly made up of cabbage, conge, rice, tofu and a few other vegetables which make up the average kung fu school meal here in China.

There are a selection of these products that you can choose from. – Other ways you can get magnesium into the body include effervescent tablets. There are plenty of products on the market to choose from.

Modern research actually suggests that even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can seriously impair athletic performance. This mineral should become your new friend as a supplement or by naturally adding magnesium rich foods to your diet.

So why is magnesium important?

Magnesium is important because it is required for the activation of crucial enzymes known as ATPases, which are required for the generation of ATP, the body’s ‘energy currency’ used for all muscular contraction. It reduces heart rate, ventilation rate, oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production. Where there is a magnesium shortfall the efficiency of muscle relaxation is reduced, which accounts for an important fraction of total energy needs during exercise. Additionally, magnesium reduces the accumulation of fatiguing lactic acid during intense exercise. Don’t take my word for it click the link to find out more. http://wwww.pponline.co.uk/encyc/using-magnesium-to-improve-your-exercise-performance-39415

2. Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes help with: Allergies by minimizing the absorption of allergy-triggering, incompletely digested “foreign proteins” (antigens) in foods that cause allergies. Back Pain, as the enzymes chymotrypsin and trypsin have been found to successfully treat the sciatica (leg pain) that occurs in some patients with back pain. Digestion and flatulence, as they add to your body’s natural digestive enzymes reserves. This little benefit maybe much needed for students practicing qigong. The combination qigong and poorly digested food leads to the release of more than a little how shall we say bad qi into the training environment. Other benefits of these enzymes include gallbladder health, as one of the enzymes in digestive enzyme supplements (named lipase) facilitates the digestion of dietary fats in the gallbladder so take a little strain of this organ. Rosacea patients have been found to have lower than normal levels of pancreatic lipase (an enzyme involved in the digestion of fat). Therefore, insufficient lipase production could be responsible, at least partly, for the symptoms of rosacea.  If this is the case, supplemental lipases may be useful for rosacea patients while sciatica may also be alleviated as a combination of the enzymes chymotrypsin and trypsin have been found to successfully treat the sciatica (leg pain) that occurs in some patients with back pain. 

Look into which product best suits you. I’ve not looked into every product but whatever supplement go for trusted and quality brands.

Finally, and maybe more relevantly to most sports injuries can be helped by taking this supplement as certain digestive enzymes (either alone or in combination) have been demonstrated in several clinical trials to accelerate the healing of sports injuries that involve soft tissue damage (sprains and strains), leading them to heal up to twice as fast as normal. This is a great benefit for those with knocks and niggling injuries. This benefit has been studied in injuries from karate, ice hockey, soccer, football, boxing, judo, running and more. The most noticeable effects of enzyme therapy include reduced pain, blood clotting, swelling, heat, edema and inflammation.  These effects occur via improved blood circulation, accelerated tissue repair, delivery of nutrients to damaged areas, removal of debris from the injured area and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

For the month of June to July I studied at Master Chen Fusheng’s Traditional Martial Arts School on the outskirts of Beijng. Here’s a link www.Bajizhandao.com. The usual training day began at 5am with standing meditation followed by drills and basics. After breakfast forms and applications. Then lunch and conditioning, qigong and applications. After dinner we then practice forms, do various workouts for strength, power and conditioning, finishing the evening training with more standing meditation. During this time I took magnesium and enzyme supplements and felt the benefits in my training for doing so.

I’ve No I Deer About These Supplements? Can you help?

deer_1Recently, I received an email about Deer Antler Velvet. Intrigued I decided to find out a little more.

Deer antler velvet has been used here in China for at least 2000 years and is a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine. It is second only to ginseng in importance to TCM and herbal specialists.  Said to be effective anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immune stimulant, and progrowth agent. It contains calcium, magnesium, zinc and a full spectrum of amino acids and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Significantly, it is a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin collagen as well as male and female hormones, including Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) – a hormone that’s produced in the liver as a response to growth hormone (HGH) stimulation. For these reasons this age old remedy is being increasingly used as a performance enhancer.

Traditional Chinese medicine has used Deer antler velvet to  as a treatment for infertility, joint inflammation, hypertension to improve mental alertness and memory, boost immune system function, speed wound healing and recovery, slow aging, balance iron levels, improve libido in both sexes, and restore joint health.

In what might be the most important study done in the United States to date, a group of scientists took 32 male weight lifters and gave half of them New Zealand Deer Antler Velvet and half of them a placebo for 10 weeks. While the placebo group didn’t show any difference in bench or squat tests, those given deer antler velvet saw an increase of 4 percent on the bench press and 10.1 percent on the squat test as compared to the placebo group. The scientists also reported that there was a “significant improvement in aerobic capacity” with the group that was taking deer antler velvet. – (CNBC Report)

Deer antler velvet usually comes as a power, extract or as a spray. I normally only get access to it in its raw state as antler shavings in TCM stores. I know that’s not the same thing. 

What this post is all about is finding out the positives & negatives are about using this as a supplement in what form and also how you use it.

If you’ve had any experience using deer antler please comment and share your experience.


For information on Martial Arts in China and Thailand. http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org

The Power of the Conscious Breath


Later today I’m heading over to the Zajia Lab at the rear of Beijing’s landmark Bell Tower for a breathing workshop. Yes, indeed a breathing workshop and, in Beijing of all places! I am going there to learn how to breath.

Breathing as know is essential for human life, without oxygen we die, therefore it stands to reason that if we can do this better our body functions and internal workings will be better and therefore our health will be better. Breathing habits and posture are considered to be essential components of health. The breath alone is one of the most important tools at an athlete’s disposal. How an athlete breaths is directly associated with performance. It seems obvious but it is often overlooked.

For the martial artists the breath is also important. It is used to focus and deliver power or alternatively protect the body, while for others it has become a spiritual practice and one that is practiced by Buddhist monks, Taoist monks and holy men the world over, allowing the creation of space, mental peace and balance. The cultivation of spirit.

The fact is that the conscious practice of breathing is capable of producing dramatic and life changing results, its free, limitless and can be practiced anywhere and at any time. My personal experience of the power of breathing has been through my own practice of standing and moving neigong’s and meditations.  Since arriving in China to study traditional combat Martial Arts this aspect of breathing and meditation training continues to grow in importance for me personally. This is due more to the amazing all-round benefits I receive from this practice in terms of health, stress management, balance, building qi even to the ability of visualizing and manifesting the results I desire than changing importance’s as I get older. But more on that later.

So today I’m heading off to a breathing workshop with an open mind and a desire to take whatever techniques I learn at this workshop and add it to my already growing knowledge of neigong.

So if you read this I hope it inspires you to take a little time out of your day to simply take a few long slow deep conscious breaths. When doing this keep an up right relaxed posture and focus on your internal universe. Listen to the breath moving while you practicing an inner smile.

If you would like to learn more about the power of breathing or future breathing workshops or practices feel free to post below or PM me directly at StudyMartialArts@gmail.com or visit www.StudyMartialArts.Org

Study Martial Arts & Teaching English in China

I’ve been studying and working now in China for a few years. Since 2008 in fact. Now into my fifth year I’ve been working on ways to allow students the opportunity to combine studying martial arts and teaching. So these up coming entries will focus on my experiences and I hope it can help serve as a means of reference and support to others out there who are currently on or are planning a similar path.

The trick is of course in the perfection of yin and yang. A balancing act of work and study. Something I certainly have not mastered but something I know more than most about here in China. Through these entries the sharing of others experiences my hope is that readers can get closer to that middle path.

As I continue to take on extra demands and responsibilities as I develop www.StudyMartialArts.Org This balancing act between life, teaching, studying and building a sustainable martial arts business becomes ever more important. So my fellow bloggers and readers your input and advice will be invaluable as we chew the fat of this topic. Communication and teaching is about a two way process and so should these blog enters.

So as you sit scratching your head on how you can extend your travel and training experience into a work and study experience, financial necessities and the lurking shadow of securing your Chinese visa will be your primary concerns. Therefore from time to time I will post on these very topics and group together some of the best options I have come across.  I’ll use my connections and experience to provide followers of these blog entry’s with the right information and support. If on the other had you are lucky enough to have some cash squirreled away then I’ll have plenty of recommendations for you in terms of studying and getting the most out of that cash.



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