Friday, 21 May 2010

martial arts weapon review: Jo staff

The jo staff is usually 52 inches in length and made from wood. Of course you can get the performance graphite models that are extremely lightweight to manoeuvre but the power of a wooden weapon is incomparable.

Holding a weapon in your hand gives you a sense of power, but when it feels like a broom handle do you still have that influence?

The answer is a most definite yes. Just holding it the way you would carry a weapon safely from your home to training will give your posture a boost that unconsciously moves people away from your path.

But what about the way it moves, the way it feels when you swing it towards an invisible target?

Similar to that of a sword the jo staff is held at one end at; swiping at the enemy target with the edge or jabbing with the other end. Although the size and blunt end shape makes it more comfortable to use the ‘blade’ as it were.

Is it a singular weapon or can it be doubled up?

To counter the length weight it is necessary to grip with both hands, so the jo would become your shield as well. It would be near impossible to execute attacks with enough power only holding with one hand, so unless you were to use it more like a bo staff with hand in the middle you could not use it alongside another weapon simultaneously. Even then you would be compromising the power and accuracy of attack.

However even though it is 20 inches shorter than the bo it is still a long staff that can easily be held similarly in the middle and protect two sides.

Weapon factor: 7/10

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Trollbeads: My Friends.

I first heard of Trollbeads over the phone from my excited Mum telling me about this beautiful new bracelet that is the new charm bracelet and that everyone was after them. I had rolled my eyes at the time, I am a PR student and I had never heard about them. After all it was just some pretty jewellery; a passing craze as most things are.

It was two weeks later when my 20th birthday brought my parents to university to visit me and presented me with a very quaint little box cleverly designed to fold itself shut, tied up with ribbon and containing a purple silk bag. When I opened this bag I pulled out a snake like chain of silver that slithered over my fingers with the feel that only quality metal can give. It did not pinch like some chain links did; it was as silky as the bag it came in.

I have always been quite girly and love shiny things but there was something different with what I held in my hand. The two beads sparkled in the March morning light that escaped though the rain drenched windows. Hypnotised as I was by my first debut bracelet I managed to accept another box from my parents containing “neither fish nor fowl,” an adorable bead which either looks like a fish or a chicken head from different sides.

Two more boxes were produced after this as presents from my Nan. Inside these was a sweet rainbow striped glass bead and a silver “happy fishes” Piscean bead (my birth sign). I was told that my Mum, aunt, Sister and cousins had all received their debut bracelets too, so that we could all share in the joy, but I was the only one with a spring birthday so I was the only one to receive gifted beads from my Nan.

In mid April 2010, my Nan passed away; she was very special to all of us. It is hard to imagine living without her throwing the odd insult or laughing along with us, but I look at my Happy Fishes bead and know that she is still laughing and chasing our tails with the remarks and cheeky comments that she has always given. When I feel a little lost and lonely in the day my beads remind me to continue, and that I have a lot of family, a lot of friends, right there with me on every step.

But do not begin to believe that Trollbeads are there to help you get started again, that they have to be sentimental beings that warm your heart. Sure they do that but they can do so much more.

I had saved up for a while and wanted to treat myself, so I bought a second bracelet and decided that this would be to document a very special journey for me. I had recently joined martial arts early the previous year and was already on my third belt.

My mother, Sister and I bought a coloured glass bead: white steel, yellow steel and an orange armadillo to represent each belt colour, I also have the silver N to signify it is my journey, and the lucky dragon, the cutest bead of a delicate silver dragon that wraps around the bracelet. He is large enough for two bead spaces, but his face smiles so warmly, even if you are not someone who has loved dragons all their life you will fall for this bead. It is also a bead that I have in common with my Mum and Sister’s bracelets.

Living an hour away from home does leave me stranded as I have no transport of my own, email and phone calls are ok but it’s nothing like a real hug or a smile from the people you love. Sharing something as sweet as a bead that has such character as the lucky dragon does help at times to know that I will see them soon, and to remind me how lucky I am to have them in my life.

Trollbeads are just silver, gold or glass beads, yes they are handmade and watching the videos that My Trollbeads have on their Facebook page of how they are made shows how much skill and care goes into each one. But I know that not everyone will care that this is done, and that there are replicas. But there is something ethereal about Troll that no other jewel has got. Every bead contains a heart, individuality, a meaning, a sense of existence.

If you haven’t started your journey, if you haven’t begun this exquisite relationship then get online or down to your local stockist to do it now. Beks Designs in Launceston are passionate and enthusiastic and will give you the time to help you find that perfect bead for the day.

If you have started this journey and love your beads as much as I do, then get down to your stockist and buy a bead to celebrate the magic that we wear on our wrists.

We might not be able to take material possession to the next life but what is the point of living for tomorrow if we can’t enjoy today!

Look Deeper, Think More.

Tidying my notes so that I can start work I was distracted by old notebooks. In these I found various extracts of novel ideas but my treasure was a fragmented rant in odd notations over two pages. I didn’t understand any of my ramblings until I got to the second page and realised this was in fact my retaliation to Torchwood Children of Earth programme that was on the television last year.

Remembering those episodes still chill me to the bone, it had in fact disrupted my sleep for two weeks, and I think I had written this rant after four sleepless nights but couldn’t finish it as it freaked me that bad.

Although I can laugh at it now it really had me upset at that point, but I blog this rant because it provides amusement and I still feel I held a certain philosophical point of humanity perception in the media.

WARNING: nonsensical rant to follow. Seriously.

Within this production the Government are portrayed as all high class citizens but they are completely secretive and so the public is given great reason to distrust every one of them, none have a redeeming characteristic; which eradicates hope for society to believe in their rulers.

The other side of this is that they stipulate low class families and council estate schools will not spawn anyone of decency and prestige for the community or on a national level. These are the people chosen to suffer greater loss; because they are thought inferior with no evidence.

The programme has only two pure protagonists, one of which dies and the other cries, a lot. They destroy innocence, and it is shown as ok. They eradicate what we perceive is right and show humanity as unprepared for drugs and terrorism. They combine these immoral acts and use the destruction of innocence to solve the problems for a short term and quick answer, making it seem like the right choice. It has fed the paranoia of the nation against the government and their lack of use.

I am not demanding happily ever after in all programmes, but the cast read every word but did they really read the script? Can we call this entertainment?

The special effects were very good.

The story was captivating.

The fear was genuine.

The acting was worthy of praise (except the daughter/mother Alice who always looked like she was smiling).

But is this what we are degraded to? When it gets bad, when we have done wrong, what should we do? Run away? Don’t look back? At least that is what the idol does.

This is Adult TV maybe but plenty of kids watch it, and even adults are susceptible to propaganda and the influence of such negative messages.

As an avid media consumer and analyser I can’t help but respect this production. It has had a phenomenal effect on my emotions; I am unable to even sleep! It has inspired me to write this. But I am ashamed to enjoy it. I see no hope.

By all means watch it, consume it and applaud it. But learn from the lessons it hides- we have much to do before we can be proud to be human, till we can be proud to have Earth. Fiction plays no part in truth, but fiction is born of truth known by the beholder and creator. You just have to look deeper, you just have to think more.

Like I said, grade A nonsensical rant. Even I know it doesn’t make sense, contradicts and some of it is just downright false when you really analyse it. It’s just when you have a mother screaming her child’s name as she watches him die every time you shut your eyes you tend to forget and negate technicalities. Some of it is quite inspiring. It is intriguing what the mind will think, and what someone can write in the heat of the moment when usually they enjoy articulating reviews and arguments. If someone were to read the above rant they would not comprehend that I usually review for a past time and have even won awards for such things because it is so badly laid out and constructed.

Trying to type up these ranting notes I did cringe many a time and almost stopped completely. However I kept going because I needed to. I had to document this bad piece of writing purely because it describes exactly what you mustn’t do. Subjectivity can enlighten work, but when you base it entirely on emotion, especially in an emotional state it will destroy the principle and the persuasiveness as it is just nonsense. (Destroy it like torchwood destroyed innocence ;D). Objectivity is important in communication as it takes you outside your own views so that you can critically understand the piece of work you are analysing. Without this, it is boring and frustrating to read.

The last line though is the best, and I think humanity really should act upon it.

Look deeper, think more.