Monday, June 28, 2010


Ever get down in the dumps and have a terrible energy crash in the middle of the afternoon and wonder why each day is regularly 24 hours long? I mean, how the heck can people stay up that long? There must be a mistake in the design of the universe! Well, instead of complaining about the metaphysical could-have-been’s in your head, why not instead take a look at the physical should-be’s in yourself:


What? Quit coffee? But that’s the only thing that’s actually keeping my energy levels up! Yeah .. about that. Caffeine – heavy drinks can be alright for some people as an easy pick-me-up at the start of the day, but when it wears off, it leaves (at least most people) with a terrible energy crash. Caffeine charges you up for hours on end about a half hour after consuming it, but then leaves you weak and lazy for almost the same amount of time. And, if you’re anything like me, it can cause annoying headaches during this period as well.

I actually bought into the whole “you need coffee to function” for a few years, but then wised up, and noticed that it was actually doing more harm than good. It can supercharge you for a while, but then it leaves you so devastated afterward, plus the fact that it can cause sleeplessness more often than not really doesn’t make a few hours of high energy activity worth it to me. Besides, I found that if you follow the rest of the tips in this article, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with those overpriced cups of hot liquid in the first place.

Oh, and yes, I realize that not all people get these sorts of reactions from drinking loads of caffeine. Good for them, but they should at least realize that caffeine is truly addicting, and that if they’re drinking too much on a regular basis, it could cause permanent damage to the digestive system. In that sense, I really don’t think coffee is all that worth it.


This one is more mental than physical, but, hey, the body can’t function without the mind, right? Ever notice that, despite being incredibly exhausted at the end of the day, when you find something that generally excites you (e.g. a videogame, a new article on your favorite site, your favorite movie, etc), all the exhaustion just melts away? Yup, it’s all in the mind.

Our bodies do become genuinely tired, but sometimes, our minds make more of our current condition than is accurate, and this is easily controllable, with a bit of practice. This is how top level athletes can work harder than most individuals, how they can perform better in actual competition, and why many champions over the years have stated that their games, despite being purely physical to the casual observer, is actually 99% mental.

This is because they have a specific goal in mind that they need to accomplish then and there. When you get home and pick up your favorite videogame, you immediately form a specific goal in your head, whether you’re aware of it or not. “Finish at least one stage before bedtime” or “clock in at least an hour of play before the day’s out” are probably the most common variations. When you click on your favorite’s sites latest articles, your goal is probably to read all of them in that instant.

The same technique can be used in the rest of your life. Most of the time, this downtime occurs during a working environment of some sort, and is usually caused by genuine disinterest. “I’ve been here doing the exact same thing for five hours now. I want out!” All thoughts of efficiency float out of your head and you just slump into your chair.

Instead of forcing yourself to become genuinely interested in work you really don’t like, attempt to at least break your activities down into several steps, and accomplish those steps in a matter of time of your choosing. “Step A should be done in less than half an hour, then step B should be finished within ten minutes …” and so on. Make a game of it and race yourself to the finish line. The added goals and pressure you’ve created should definitely help keep you awake and on your toes.


No, d’uh, right? Well, sure, but, still, not a lot of people follow this very simple rule of performing your best throughout the day. I make sure to get at least 7.5 hours each night as much as possible, and just so I can have some buffer time for that (since I’m not one of those people who can nod off at the drop of a hat), I actually allot a full 8 hours. It’s a simple goal that I adhere to as much as possible, and it pays off wonderfully.

If I can’t meet that goal, then I have a Plan B to replace it: I make sure that I get at least 6 hours of sleep instead, and allot 6.5 hours of bedtime. Beyond that, I’ll most probably feel sluggish most of the next day, so I try to make that as late as possible.

The reason a lot of people don’t get enough sleep is that they don’t plan for it. Some people can get by with very minimal sleep (something like five hours or less), but most people can’t function regularly like this.

If you have to get up at a certain time, say 6:00 AM, then allot your preferred sleep period (such as my 8 hours), and get to bed before then. Think of it as another deadline to fill, and should you miss it, there will be consequences.

If you’re staying up because of work, it can most probably be put off until tomorrow, if you’re cramming it, then make this the last time, plan out your work habits more efficiently in the future and sleep more regularly. You’ll consistently feel better every single day and you’ll enjoy much reduced stress. Your body will feel better and will thank you for it.


Food is your body’s fuel. If you feed it crap, it performs like crap. Therefore, if you feed it overly processed foods and junk most of the time, it’ll run like a lemon most of the time.

Regularly eating a balanced diet is a key component in performing well throughout the day. Athletes have excellent diets in order to perform their best throughout training and competition, and not just so they can stay within their weight limits.

Eat fresh as much as possible, and avoid fast food and vending machine options. Eat whenever you’re hungry, consume plenty of fresh vegetables of all sorts, good protein such as chicken breast, fish, and egg whites, and if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, pick up your favorite fruit instead of that Snickers bar. Eating healthy will have your tank running in its best possible condition.


Yes, exercise can give you a quick energy boost whenever you’re feeling physically down in the dumps. It might sound counterintuitive, but just perform a quick workout, like the simple, but effective, home workout I previously suggested, a quick jog around the area, or pop in your favorite workout DVD and go a few rounds and you could feel right as rain.

If you’re still at work, go outside and walk around for maybe 15 minutes, or until your energy systems pick up. Lots of workers are allowed breaks for the most unhealthiest of habits (e.g. smoking), so it should only be logical that breaks be allowed for some of the healthiest activities around.

Carry a water bottle with you as you go, take in some sun, and enjoy the scenery. Try to go around a path with very little cars going by, to avoid inhaling the pollution. You’re trying to pick up your energy systems and become more healthy, not do the opposite, after all.

It can also help if you substituted short walks like this throughout your working day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, parking your car a few blocks away, and so on, so that you can pick up the pace and supercharge your energy systems.


I follow all of these techniques regularly and feel great throughout the day all the time. Sometimes, though, you really can’t help it if you feel really down during the day, or if you spent the night finishing a project. In that case, taking a quick power nap, of 15 – 30 minutes length, could really perk you right back up, better than any cup of joe ever could.

If you have your own office, then that will be easier, since you can just tell people not to disturb you for 30 minutes and lie down. You could also try napping with your feet up to increase the circulation throughout your body, making you feel even better.

If you don’t have an office, and your bosses absolute refuse for you take naps on your desk, then you should probably be a bit more creative if you really need to take a nap. Some people drive out to a park or any relaxing, open area during their breaks to nap for half an hour. Just try not to do this anywhere too dangerous, like while standing up during a commute on a train. Napping during bus trips home could also be fulfilling, as long as your confident enough about your security, that is.

These are all the techniques I use to keep my energy levels up, and they have worked splendidly for me over the years. Have any other great techniques that aren’t listed here but work wonders for you? I’d like to hear them!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I recently saw the newest iteration of the Karate Kid franchise (simply called “The Karate Kid”), and enjoyed it. It’s not perfect by any means, but there’s a lot to like about it. The fight scenes are choreographed very well, Jackie Chan has an awesome dramatic turn, and China is shot magnificently. I just find the some of the main characters totally unconvincing in their sometimes heavy dramatic moments because of their age and inexperience with acting. In any case, the movie is great for what it is, and you should probably check it out if you’re a fan of Jackie Chan and martial arts movies in general.

Now that I’ve got my general thoughts on the movie out of the way, I’d like to move on to the primary topic of this article: the training mechanisms. In almost any movie such as this one, we have a series of training montages of various sorts. There are two main types of training methods: Blocked Practice and Random Practice.


Blocked Practice is the more traditional form training, where the athlete repeats a single movement an endless amount of times to commit it to muscle memory. Most of the training techniques featured in the movie are like this, primarily the “jacket on, jacket off” training.

Blocked Practice has been shown to be very effective in teaching newcomers to a particular sport or discipline the ropes and basics, but has proven to be totally ineffective for use in the long run. Once the coach has seen that the athlete has learned proper form from the Blocked Practice, it would be time to move on to something more advanced, more effective, and more fun.

Blocked Practice is also useful at unlearning bad habits that athletes may have picked up playing the game during their childhood. Various set techniques should thus be utilized by the trainer to replace these bad movements with the correct ones before moving on to more advanced techniques and training methods.

Blocked Practice, however, has the disadvantage of mentally disassociating the athlete from the sport or discipline. A coach may improperly apply this technique by focusing entire training sessions to only this, thus making the athlete become quickly bored with the class.

This happened to me years ago when I trained in Taekwondo. It was endless repetitions day and night of literally just one technique, which mixed martial arts fans may recognize as a lead body kick, but what we called back then the “forty five”, since the kick was supposedly thrown a full forty five degrees towards the opponent. Or something. Months on end were dedicated to only this, with only a few training sessions actually employing sparring. And whenever I tried different techniques during those sessions, such as the spinning back kick, my instructors would scold me and say that I should use only the forty five. No kidding! It was annoying, and I, at one point, started training on my own at my house. I found it more fruitful than wasting my days away performing only one technique and I eventually quit Taekwondo altogether.


This also happens during the movie. Jaden Smith’s character, Dre, gets tired of days on end of “jacket on, jacket off” and wants to leave the training hall. Jackie Chan’s character, Mr. Han, stops him to show him the fruits of his labor. After weeks of “jacket on, jacket off”, Dre suddenly has strengthened his relevant muscle groups and almost mastered some techniques in kung fu. No, if you’re still wondering, this doesn’t occur in real life.

The movements that Dre is performing during Jackie’s “sparring session” are kind of similar to “jacket on, jacket off”, but in the end, they’re totally different. Besides, “jacket on, jacket off” doesn’t have him reacting to a moving opponent. In this respect, training only on a heavy bag is totally different from training against a live human being during an actual sparring session, because your mind has to focus on various things at different times, such as defense, and the timing of yours and your opponent’s erratic movements.

“Jacket on, jacket off” also does not condition various muscle groups very well, primarily because the movements don’t offer enough stress to any of them. Except of course, Dre’s lower back, which, after weeks of bending over like that, is actually surprising that it didn’t suffer from strains of any sort. And that’s really the only thing that “jacket on, jacket off” could have affected.

So, in conclusion, and yes, I realize that it’s painfully obvious, but I still really want to put this down, but “jacket on, jacket off” does not in any way develop any skill aside from being really great at picking a jacket off the floor and placing it on a hook. You master what you practice, after all, and that’s pretty much all there is to this movement. It also doesn’t develop any muscle groups, but actually even puts unnecessary strain on the lower back. So, not only is it a useless martial arts training method, it’s also highly risky.


1. Weights could have been added to the jacket, which would progressively become heavier every few days or so.

2. Dre should pick up the jacket with a more natural posture, as in a deadlift, so that he doesn’t out unnecessary strain on his back.

This way, Dre still doesn’t learn martial arts in any conceivable way, but he will develop some of his major muscles, including his deltoids, biceps, forearm muscles, back muscles, and leg muscles. If one thinks about it, it becomes sort of an odd variation of the sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP).

So, yes, Mr. Han not only wasted several weeks of Dre’s life, he also put his lower back at extreme risk. Get ready for some director’s cut footage showing Mr. Han applying the magic flame technique to Dre’s back at least once a week.

At least progresses later on during his training to actual conditioning techniques, such as flexibility and bodyweight exercises, so I guess some of those training sessions  were pretty productive.


Random Practice is the complete opposite of Blocked Practice, in that the athlete trains all the movements he’s learned during the allotted Blocked Practice sessions and performs them randomly, and as close to competition circumstances as possible, and under the close guidance of the instructor.

The athlete, however, should not progress to Random Practice too early, or it might shock him or her too much. The trainer may create too much stress and confusion by demanding the athlete various movements which he or she is not ready for. The trainer has to therefore be very competent in order to control the athletes’ training schedules properly.

Training should always be as close to actual competition as possible, in order to mentally prepare the athlete. Manny Pacquiao, for example, the famous Filipino boxer who is widely held as being the current pound for pound best boxers in the world, has several training several held in public in order to get him used to fighting in front of a large crowd and under bright lights. Training this way gets rid of the first time jitters of many inexperienced athletes.

Training should also be as random as possible (but still controlled by the instructor, of course), because most sports are played that way. This way, the athlete is not too shocked when “things don’t go as planned” during an actual game, and quickly adjusts to the scenario.

Random Practice also encourages what would otherwise be impossible during Blocked Practice: creativity. Michael Jordan is known as one of the best basketball players of all time because he tended to do things that people have never seen before. He does not practice these daring and camera friendly movements as Blocked Practice sessions, but, because he had become comfortable in being creative throughout his practice sessions, he reacts thusly in actual games, surprising not only the spectators, but his opponents as well. Athletes should be highly encouraged to become creative during active training sessions and actual games in order for them to reach their personal comfort zones, and be relaxed all throughout.


The tennis ball training method and, to some extent, the poking behind laundry training method are forms of Random Practice. Each time a tennis ball is thrown, or each time a jab from the pole is thrust, they target and land at very different areas. Dre also reacts very differently almost every time a ball is thrown. He can either duck under it, step to the side to avoid it, or parry it with his hands (don’t try this at home, kids). They’re still not that great overall, though, as they’re still very detached from the actual nature of the competition, and serve to only strengthen a few skills.

The best example would probably be Dre and Mr. Han’s later sparring sessions, but it’s still not a very good example because Mr. Han is nothing like the competitors that Dre will be facing. This is why, if you watch any of the UFC Countdown specials, you’ll see fighters and trainers mention repeatedly that they got the best guys from all over to move and fight like their opponents. The training has to be as close to the competition as possible. Still, considering that Mr. Han had very little resources at his disposable, this was most probably the best he could do and is thus forgivable. It’s one of those “better than nothing” sort of deals in the end.


Both. As mentioned, newcomers to a sport or discipline should always start out with Blocked Practice and steadily progress to Random Practice under the trainer’s proper supervision. Blocked Practice can not only be used to master new techniques but unlearn bad ones as well. Random Practice fully prepares the athlete for the feel of an actual competition while mastering the entire needed skill set.


Okay, since I was particularly harsh during most of this article towards this movie, I’d just like to reiterate my feelings at the very top, and that I did enjoy the movie. Again, it’s not perfect, but it was fairly entertaining, mostly just because of the Jackie Chan sequences. I wanted to analyze the film as a fitness enthusiast in some way, and what better way than to comment on the training techniques? In short, the training techniques in the movie are mostly ineffective, so don’t do some of them, especially “jacket on, jacket off”. One final thing I do appreciate about the movie is that it has the same spirit of the original karate kid, which had kids all over the world flock to martial arts school, and thus, physical fitness. If this movie achieved even a small percent of that, I’d be very happy, no matter how unrealistic the training regimens in it are.

All the great images used in this article are taken from IMDB's "The Karate Kid (2010)" page!

Like to know how various sports-specific training regimens work and how they might relate to you or a topic you’re interested in? Drop me a question in the comments section!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Are you exercising all day and night and still feel look and feel like a weak, little kitten? Well, physical activity is definitely an important requirement to being physically fit, but it’s not the only requirement. If you’re constantly exercising but fail to see any noticeable results, then maybe it’s time to look at some other factors in your life:


The human body is meant to move. It is not meant to just sit or lie around all day and be idle. If it used as such, its internal systems become weaker and weaker over time because of constant disuse. Muscles, bones, and so on become weaker and the body becomes more susceptible to various diseases.


Food is the fuel for the human body, and quality definitely counts. The better quality food, the better your body will react to it and the healthier it will become. Attaining a balanced amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats is key to healthy living. Feed the body junk and it will react accordingly. Attempt to stay from processed foods such as fast food and feed the body ingredients that are as natural as possible. Plenty of vegetables and good quality protein such as chicken breast and fish are what the body needs.


I mentioned recently that rest and relaxation are important for total body fitness. The human body naturally gets tired throughout and needs to rest. Too little rest and the body won’t be able to properly recover from the stresses placed upon it. Much of the benefits of various sorts of exercises, such as muscle building, are actually attained during rest periods, so relaxation shouldn’t be taken for granted, and is pretty much as important as the physical activities themselves.


Don’t abuse things that you know you shouldn’t be putting in your body in the first place. Junk food was already mentioned in the second requirement above, but other things such as excessive alcohol should also be carefully guarded against. If you really can’t give up alcoholic drinks for good, try to limit them to once a week or even less. Other things such as smoking and addictive drugs should be banned from the human body completely, as they only serve to severely shorten a person’s lifespan.


A lot of people don’t like doing this for some reason, but annual checkups from your doctor and dentist are very real requirements to be physically fit. These professionals are able to pinpoint possible problems that you normally wouldn’t be able to notice by yourself. Your teeth are also still a part of your body, and getting them terribly infected because of complacency can cause various illnesses to spread throughout your systems via cavities and such.

Found what you were looking for? Being physically fit means maintaining good practices throughout your entire life, and not just a single aspect of it. If you’re truly serious in your attempts to become a fitter, healthier human being, then all five of these requirements have to be fully integrated into your lifestyle.

Monday, June 21, 2010


As you can see via the “About Me” blurb on the right side of this page, I’m currently a graduate student at one of the major universities in my country, studying Human Movement Science. As such, I am required to memorize human anatomy in order to properly apply the theories and techniques that I pick up.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you have a VERY difficult time memorizing much of human anatomy, especially since, as professionals, we’re required to know details up to the cellular level. How the heck do you memorize all those weird Latin words that never stick to your head, no matter how many hours you spend trying to hammer them into your consciousness? Let’s say you do eventually manage to cram them all in, but forget at least 90% after taking your first long exam. Isn’t it frustrating to realize that you used up what probably amounted to several days’ hard work, only to waste it all away after a sixty minute test?

Yup, that was me a few months ago. But then, something rather interesting happened: I discovered Memory Master. I found it highly recommended through several sites in the web and I decided to try it out. After a few months of using it, I can absolutely say that it indeed does work. Not only will you be able to easily memorize pretty much any odd word attached to a plethora of difficult definitions, you’ll make them stick too.

The basic premise is that you need to come up with a silly, cartoon–like image for any word, phrase, or even number in order to retain it to memory. The image has to be so silly that you’ll pretty much have a difficult time forgetting it. I’ll give some very specific examples beginning in the next paragraph, but I highly recommend you read through the entire Memory Master system first. Otherwise, you can just check out the rest of this article to at least get a taste of what this technique’s all about.


All right, I’m going to try and make this as simple as possible. Let’s say that you’re a beginner anatomy student of sorts. Chances are, you’ll have to memorize the systems of the human body early on:

1. Integumentary System – Skin
2. Skeletal System
3. Muscular System
4. Nervous System
5. Cardiovascular System
6. Lymphatic System – Carries fluids throughout blood vessels
7. Endochrine System – Hormones
8. Respiratory System
9. Digestive System
10. Urinary System
11. Reproductive System


You basically need to link all those eleven ideas into one thought so you don’t lose track of any of them. So, if you think of one of them, you’ll be immediately reminded of the idea that comes after it, and so on. It’ll be like you’re creating a short and funny story reel, like those old Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons of old.

My short story starts with a guy pinching his skin. Unfortunately, he pinches so hard that he accidentally rips all the skin off his bones. Y’know, kind of like a Mortal Kombat Fatality. He’s shocked of course (and still alive because the story’s supposed to be weird and cartoony), but sees all sorts of military tags pinned withi the folds of his skin. These initial images will remind you that skin and military tags are related somehow. So “military tags” for me would remind me of “tag military”, or, “integumentary”, which is the system of our body which relates to our skin.

Of course, we know that the guy was stripped down to his bones after he accidentally rips off his skin, so we know that the next system is the skeletal system of the body. So now, the guy, throws his dead skin away, and regenerates a new set by flexing. So, the guy (actually a skeleton at this point), Flexes his muscles as in a front double biceps bodybuilding pose and grows new skin, plus, brand new, buff muscles on top of it! This will remind you that the next system is the muscular system of the body.

But now, the guy shivers since he’s pretty much naked in the middle of nowhere. His shivering could remind you of nervousness, which can lead you to remember that the next system is the nervous system of the body. You could even go one step further and image nerves growing all over the guy’s body as he shivers.

In order to cool off, the guy decides to do some roadwork, which means that the next system of the body is the cardiovascular system. While jogging, a female spirit, or nymph, creeps up behind him and surprises him. The nymph is, oddly enough, holding a pitcher of liquid and pouring it into a red model ship. The word “nymph” could remind you of “lymph”, or lymphatic system, which is the next one on the list! Her pouring liquid into a red model ship also indicates that the lymphatic system is responsible for transporting fluids to blood vessels.

The nymph disappears into thin air and the guy continues jogging, but when he turns to look ahead, he sees a giant head floating in the air. It’s the head of Dan Henderson, Mixed Martial Arts legend, and he has a silly looking grin on his face, like the Cheshire Cat from Disney’s classic cartoon, “Alice in Wonderland”. Below the giant, floating head is also a legion of classic horror movie monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and so on.

Dan Henderson is known to his fans as “Hendo” and he has a large grin on his face. So, “Hendo Grin” could remind you of Endochrine, the next system of the human body. The legion of horror monsters also reminds you that the Endochrine system is responsible for the hormones in our body, because you can shorten “horror monsters” into “hor-mons”.

The guy is extremely surprised by the site and backs away, panting and wheezing because of the shock. His heavy breathing reminds you that the next one on the list is the respiratory system. While backing away, he trips over a large buffet table. All the excitement has made him real hungry, so he consumes the whole thing. This reminds you that the next system is the digestive system.

Because he ate so much, the guy now needs to go to the bathroom. He runs into the nearest vacant one, and does his business. Yup, the next one on the list is the urinary system of the human body. Oddly enough, though, when he exits the bathroom stall, there are suddenly two of him! This final image reminds you that the last system on the list is the reproductive system of the human body.


Now, that whole “short story” may have taken quite a while for you to read, but try to picture it all in your head and you’ll find that it takes just a few seconds to run through. While stuff like “skeletal” and “muscular” are easy enough for anyone to remember all the time, stuff like “lymphatic” and “endochrine” may be much tougher to most individuals. Fortunately, as you have just found out, the system is intricate enough that it can allow you to come up with images that can remind you of these rather odd words that possibly have no equivalent in your everyday vocabulary. Plus, you can easily create images to remind you of their definitions as well!

In order to retain the images in the long term, you first have to see the images as clearly as you can when you first conceive them, and make them as silly looking as possible, like Dan Henderson’s giant floating head sporting a humongous grin.

The images also need to be very personal to you so that they won't be difficult to remember. This is very evident in how I crafted my short story since I put references to Mortal Kombat and Mixed Martial Arts in there, which are topics that I am genuinely interested in.

This may all seem like hard work in the beginning, and I have to admit that it is. I will say that it’s all worth it. It shouldn’t take that long to get the hang of, and when you do, you’ll be able to come up with short stories on difficult topics that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

You’ll even learn neat tricks like memorizing any number, no matter how long it is, pick out any entry from a long list whenever its specific number is called for, never forgetting speeches and jokes, and even learn card magic tricks. And, yes, you can apply this technique to literally any other topic in your life, and pretty much make things easier for you overall, since you’ll be way less forgetful, if at all, for pretty much forever.

So, if you haven’t already, please read the entire Memory Master Technique. It won’t cost you anything and will reward you infinitely. And that’s a payoff I can really get down with.

Got any more cool memorization techniques? Want to share your own short story or need help in coming up with one? Write a comment and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Honest to god, there is a fountain of youth, and there's really no secret to reaching it. Everything I, and the rest of the people in the fitness industry have been blabbering about is all it takes. Having an excellent, balanced diet, regularly working out, and resting and relaxing when needed, all while having the most fun possible, is the key to the fountain of youth.

I originally saw this video via one of my favorite sites, Ross Training, and loved it so much that I had to link it here!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you gymnastics at age 69:


Eating right and exercising regularly aren’t the only things required to live a healthy lifestyle. Proper rest and relaxation is also needed in order to ease your body of stress and recover from you workouts. This is what led me to look into the world of scented candles.

Now, I have to be completely honest in that I have very little knowledge on this specific subject. But the little that I have read indicates that scented candles (and other related products) can help you relax quicker and make you more at ease. With that in mind, I decided to try some of them out.

During one of my visits to the TriNoma Mall, I saw this quaint stall in the third floor called “Red Door” that specializes in scented candles. So, fine, I bit the bullet and bought one to try it out. I bought a large one in a container, which is about ten inches tall and has a three inch diameter. I chose the vanilla scent for the simple reason that I like the smell of vanilla. It cost me around Php400, I believe, but the lady said that I could refill the container when it runs out for only around Php200. She also said that if the candle were lit all day and night, that it would last for a solid two weeks.

Anyway, so I tried it out. The first day was pretty lovely. The scent would fill the room and leave me utterly satisfied of my purchase. I wouldn’t leave it on the entire day, though; just the times when I wanted the scent to be present.

The second day onward, though, was a different story. The scent wouldn’t spread anymore. You had to be really close to the candle to smell the fragrance. It was there, sure, but only if you were standing right over it. Even if it was constantly lit much of the day (eg: more than six hours), the scent would still be just mostly absent. Not really what I had in mind.

Also, something rather irritating occurred after a few days. I had previously been using common matches to light the candle. After a few days, the candle had, of course, shrunk down to a certain size. Because of the container, however, I could not reach the wick before the flame traveled up from the match to my fingers! I tell you, when you point a match diagonally downward, the flames will spread upward very, very quickly. Burned fingers are definitely not what I consider relaxing. I wound up having to buy a stove lighter from the Tri Noma for Php200 just so I could continue using the sucker.

So, about a week after my initial purchase, I bought another candle with a stronger scent. The lady recommended their “bamboo” scent for my needs so I got that. It’s supposedly their strongest scent, and a small one (about four inches tall with the same three inch diameter) cost me around Php250. This one, however, didn’t have a container (which was, oddly enough, a plus for me).

So, I try it out. Unfortunately, it was the same story. The second day onward, the scent was barely noticeable unless you stood directly above the candle. Sure, the scent was way stronger, but you still had to stand completely over it to even notice it.

So, two thumbs down for Red Door from me, and, until I can find a very reputable location to buy scented candles in my area, two thumbs down for the whole idea in the meantime.

I’m going to try and explore potpourri next time. My experience with the candles shows me that such products’ scents only spread throughout a very minimal area, but, unlike candles, I can put them wherever I want (in my PC work station, for example), so I’m hoping for better results next time.

Anyone else tried using Red Door products or scented candles from other companies but have had a totally different experience? I’d love to hear about it!


Gotta say that I’m really very happy with the outcome here. I’ve said it several times during my reviews of the season, but I’ve always been impressed with Court McGee, despite his loss to Nick Ring, and I have never been too impressed with Kris McCray.

McGee has always shown that he has awesome striking, wrestling, BJJ skills and cardio throughout his fights, but McCray always seemed too one dimensional for me. The only thing he ever did was to wrestle and clinch his opponents and control them off the ground, and frequently performed what some would term “lay and pray”. In other words, control your opponent on the ground the majority of the fight and win on points. Literally the most boring, yet still effective, tactic in all of MMA.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


They were right, this is a classic matchup. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is a UFC hall of famer and former light heavyweight champion. He was once the most dominant fighter in that weight class and has knockout power that you wouldn’t believe. Rich “Ace” Franklin is a former UFC middleweight champion, and was once the most dominant fighter in that particular weight class. Both famed strikers, and both previously seen as two of the best fighters in the UFC, they now face each other in order to prove that they still have what it takes to remain in the UFC.

Chuck Liddell had lost four out of five of his previous matchups prior to this event. Two of those were TKO’s, while two of those were very devastating knockouts, the first by current top contender “Sugar” Rashad Evans and the next by current light heavyweight champ, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. After the Shogun knockout, Dana White announced that Liddell should most probably retire from his fighting career and embrace an easier, possibly desk – confined position within the UFC. Liddell refused to acknowledge that in any way and was sure that he had many more years of fight within him. He has since become a coach on the very recent “The Ultimate Fighter Season 11” and has had a fourteen month layoff since his last fight. Some say that, combined with all of the accumulated injuries of the past, plus his age, and the ring rust, that “The Iceman” didn’t have much of a chance in this fight. Lidell set out to prove everyone wrong.

Rich Franklin has also had some time away from the octagon, after a similar, devastating knockout loss to Vitor Belfort. Many have said after the matchup that Franklin was not the great fighter he used to be and, like Liddell, was showing his age.

Were the naysayers correct? Are both of these fighters too old to scrap any more? Well, for at least one of them, I would definitely say no.

Most people (including myself) predicted that Franklin would take this fight because he was the faster, younger fighter, and that he could outpoint Liddell throughout all three rounds without getting clocked with The Iceman’s trademark dynamite knuckle. None ever counted Liddell completely out, though, as everyone still knew that, despite his age, Chuck still had tremendous knockout power within his fists?

Or does he? Several times throughout the first round, he had hit Franklin square in the head with his famed right hand of doom. Yet Franklin, while obviously hurt each time, simply gutted out the pain and came back with his own flurry of attacks. Had Liddell’s only real means of victory finally escaped him?

Despite the probable answer to that question, Liddell looked outstanding throughout the round. One reason people said that he kept losing recently was that his style became too predictable. He would stick to the same old punches, stances, and sprawls like he has always done, so everyone else simply made up game plans to work around that. This time, though, Chuck can be seen mixing everything up and looking more like a true well – rounded MMA athlete. He opens up with kicks, sets up his punches with even more kicks, and even landed his rarely used takedown. He was on fire this round.

Unfortunately, that would not nearly prove to be enough against Rich Franklin. “Ace”, showing the heart of a champion and a chin of pure metal, kept coming forward and countering Chuck during their bloody striking exchanges. Even when he was devastatingly hurt by Liddell’s punches, Franklin rarely backed off, and instead kept coming forward fiercer than ever. It was this way that he knocked out Chuck Liddell with a straight right of his own, almost at the very end of the first round, with only seven seconds left.

So, I was right: Rich Franklin won, but not nearly in the way that I and many others thought he would. In fact, it was the reverse. Franklin was the aggressor and was the one who knocked out Chuck! Didn’t see that one coming.

Now what of The Iceman? Is this really it for him? Will Dana still push him to retirement after this fight? Sad to say, but that’s probably the case. Chuck showed great promise in this opening round. He fought hard, was incredibly aggressive and showed impressive cardio. He never let up. Unfortunately, the chin that many people have been questioning for more than a year now may finally prevent him from staying with his preferred career. Yes, I truly believe that Chuck Liddell has many more years of fight left in him as he claims, but unfortunately, it seems that he really can’t handle direct blows as well as he could years ago, and in this game, that’s a terrible weakness to have. I’d love to see The Iceman fight again in the future, but I wouldn’t know if that would be the best, since his body really is showing the wear and tear of the past.

All respect to Rich Franklin, though. He fought a very hungry, very aggressive Chuck Liddell and he beat him at his own game. What's even more impressive was that he knocked him out despite a broken arm! Franklin confirmed during his interview with Joe Rogan that Liddell broke his left arm with one of the body kicks that cleanly landed. Rich still kept going, though, and won in spectacular style!

I still really like Rich and he remains one of my favorites within the UFC, so I’d like to see him climb his way back up into the ranks and get another title shot, whether within the light heavyweight, or the middleweight division.

Check out more great pics of UFC 115 over at the official UFC site!

Friday, June 11, 2010


Past readers of this blog may know that I have a very tremendous passion for the video game franchise known as Street Fighter. I love fighting games in general, and want to try out pretty much all of them. Many born in the 80’s (like myself) very well know of the rivalry the Street Fighter franchise had with its Western, and more brutal, counterpart: Mortal Kombat.

While Street Fighter was based on hand drawn, anime-style sprites with a bit of comic relief thrown into the mix to be friendly to all audiences, Mortal Kombat differentiated itself by using actual videotaped live martial artists performing stunts to be used in the game. The characters, abilities, and storylines were also more inherently brutal, and the game even included “Fatalities”, where you could execute your opponent in various ways, including beheading, electrocution, and so on.

While I personally liked this aspect of Mortal Kombat as a young boy, what really got me hooked into the franchise was the first movie, released in 1995. A cheesy chop socky flick for sure, it nonetheless includes several martial arts fight scenes that I personally, to this day, deem to be classics.


The bicycle kick and spinning off that stone whatever to kick the ninja aside, I feel that it’s an excellent fight scene. Both actors moved very quickly and fluidly, exchanging punches and kicks cut such that they seem to be thrown at intense speeds. I also really like how throws are used very freely throughout the fights. Too often have I seen movie fight scenes that focus only on punching and kicking, and never on the possible grappling aspects that could be added. My favorite throw is actually Liu kang’s scissor throw, which is, yes, extremely unrealistic, I suppose, but I personally find it very creative (what’s up with Liu Kang catching Reptile in mid air, though? I never liked that part as well). The movie is based on fantasy characters of sorts, after all, so these sorts of things are expected. Besides, historically, more fantastic fight scenes sell much better than standard, very realistic, UFC-style combat on the big screen. Just ask Jackie Chan. I just wish that all of these sorts of moves were performed as well (eg: that bicycle kick again).

I also like that, when the camera gets tight onto the characters, the moves that you see them execute are largely very realistic combos. Hook kicks, roundhouse, kicks, knees, elbows, classic 1-2-3 combos, and the like.

Of course, tons of credit should go to the sound department as well, for mixing in those wildly explosive sound effects to make each technique seem mightier than they really are. Add to that a very catchy techno tune, and you’ve got a classic martial arts sequence right there.

Okay, let’s break the scene down a bit more specifically. After Liu Kang gets knocked through that stone wall (remember, fantasy characters and whatnot) Reptile goes in for a double flying kick. The fight becomes very realistic after the initial, wild, largely fantastical opening. Okay, so Reptile still zones in with a flying front kick, and Liu Kang counters with a spin kick for some reason, but notice that Reptile has a very logical, aggressive plan worked out. After gauging Liu Kang’s distance with the jumping front kick, he moves in slowly with a hook kick to the body, which Liu counters with his own, move in some more with a distance – gauging 1 – 2 combo, and grabs Liu Kang’s head.

This is an interesting key to what makes a great fight scene. Reptile is the more aggressive one in the beginning of the fight and Liu Kang is defending, primarily because he’s, y’know, shocked from being blasted through a stone wall and all. Reptile’s very aggressive and his still is to clinch and grapple. He gauges your distance and grabs hold of you. This is even more pronounced when, after Reptile first throws Liu Kang into the stone pillar, he kicks Liu and zones in with punches to clinch.

Liu Kang, on the other hand, likes to keep his distance and throw more kicks to knock out his opponent. Pretty much every chance he is given, he’ll throw a kick and, well, follow up with some more kicks. Simple as that. Hell, even his first attempted throw is leg-based.

What I meant when I wrote “this is an interesting key to what makes a great fight scene” is a sort of logic and consistency when it comes to choreographing them. The actors and stuntmen may be incredibly talented and athletic, but it’s all for naught if their choreography’s no good. The logic is in finding out what the character’s personality is and what makes him fight a certain way. I’ll admit that I have no idea why the choreographers chose to make Liu Kang a more long distance – oriented character, but I suppose it has to do with the actor’s strengths. Robin Shou kicks really well, and looks extremely good in front of the camera while doing them. Shou was supposedly the choreographer as well for this particular fight scene, and I think it’s brilliant that he established that Reptile’s fight plan is almost the exact opposite of Liu Kang’s: clinch and grapple. This makes for an excellent variety of moves within a single scene, as well as seeing two almost completely different styles play against each other.

Consistency is also important because you have to show that it’s the same character throughout the fight, despite the fact that it may take months on end to successfully shoot a full action sequence like this. Even near the end of the fight, Reptile still grabs hold of Liu’s arm locks his head, and throws him to the ground. Meanwhile, Liu Kang still likes to retaliate with kicks.

If a fighter’s style changes in the middle of a sequence, it should be for a good reason. It could be that he was injured and he lost the use of his right arm, thus necessitating a complete change in stance, or it could be because of fear. He becomes overwhelmed by his opponent and changes from an aggressive to a defensive tactic. It shouldn’t change randomly during the fight for no reason unless it’s part of the character’s shtick.


This fight is largely more fantastical than the Liu Kang vs. Reptile one, especially in the beginning, but it’s also longer. Once we get to the elevated bone yard, though, things start turning into a full fledged martial arts sequence.

Johnny Cage is shown to have a pretty standard chop socky martial arts style. Lots of kicks and punches strung together, but nothing really creative and different coming from him. Scorpion, on the other hand, is the much more interesting subject. While the contrast in the Liu Kang vs. Reptile fight seemed to concentrate more on distance preference, here it’s more of a creative choice. Johnny Cage’s standard, clean cut, by-the-book martial arts style is contrasted by Scorpion’s wilder, more creative choices for combat. This is highlighted by stunts such as blindsiding cage with a punch once they first enter the bone yard, trapping of Cage’s arm, then kicking him over and over (in real life, though, if you do manage to trap your opponents arm, it would be better to a) go to a clinch and knee his head over and over, b) continue the arm lock and break his elbow joint, or c) smash his head into the environment. Kicking him over and over wouldn’t do much good since your blows would lack power because of the stance you’d be in. Still much flashy to look at, though, which is the single reason why they chose to do it), kicking Cage over and over while he’s downed, reversing Cage’s throw and so on.

Whenever Johnny Cage does something creative, it just winds up looking weird and funny, like when he picks up Scorpion while attempting to get up from the ground, or doing that gymnastics kick thing. I have no idea what they were going for with those. What I do like about Cage’s throw was how Scorpion’s legs hit a barrier of sorts on landing, which is an excellent use of the environment (as opposed to, say, Liu Kang spinning on a stone thingamajig). If the environment is extremely messy, like this one, then the fighters should constantly interact with it and not pretend like it doesn’t exist. Even the 1991 Street Fighter 2 game had destructible barrels and statues in some of the stages.

Mortal Kombat also had a very short lived TV series called Mortal Kombat Conquest, which was relatively low budget and poorly written at times, but always had excellently entertaining fight sequences, such as this one:

If you've never seen this series before, I seriously recommend you check it out if you're a Mortal Kombat fan or a fan of martial arts movies and TV shows in general. It's a load of fun.

So, why have I suddenly become hung up on Mortal Kombat? I admit that my interest franchise greatly waned during the late 90’s and has never quite recovered ever since, until this new test footage for something called “Mortal Kombat Rebirth” came along:

Let’s take a look at it a bit shall we? The fight scene between Johnny Cage and Baraka, I personally think, is excellent. I personally wish it was shot better though, since several of the movements are blurred and obscured by some of the wild camera changes and movements. Granted, only a small portion of the sequence is like this, but as a martial arts enthusiast, I’d like to see literally all the stuntmen’s movements clear as day, like the Liu Kang vs, Reptile one.

Johnny Cage once again exhibits a more classic, by-the-book fighting style, but is not as boring as he once was. Figuring a bit like Reptile, Cage opts to zone in and close the distance, eventually locking in some sort of BJJ technique like that armbar we see him attempt at one point. Whenever he tries something nonclassical and flashy, he also looks much better, as when he hits Baraka with that spinning kick near the end, or when he grabs that bo staff earlier on.

His opponent, Baraka, characteristically has the wilder, more fictional martial arts style, reminiscent of many classic Hong Kong action villains, utilizing many spinning kicks and looping punches strung together.

There is also very, very good use of the environment here, starting with the opening of the sequence, as Johnny Cage is flung into a wall. Bottles are used to smash people in the face, and people get thrown into tables. Very creative fight scene overall, and I hope this movie gets picked up and funded well, because I’d honestly like to see more of it. I also very much appreciate that they’re embracing the more brutal aspect of the game, which is very key to its differentiation in the video game market back in the day, and is something the first movie sidestepped in order to appeal to a wider crowd.


Really fun looking stuff, and I’m sure it’ll be a blast to play.

Mortal Kombat was a huge part of my childhood at one point, and is definitely one of the major reasons why I got into martial arts and fitness in general. I’ve also always wanted to dissect two of my favorite fight scenes of all time, both coming from the first Mortal Kombat movie, and I’m glad I found a good enough excuse to finally do so.


Wow, it’s finally the end of Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, huh? A spectacular two – hour special greets us this season ender, which promises loads of content and the semi-final matchups.

The episode begins exactly when the last one left off, with Rich Franklin introducing his assistant coaches to the team and surprise, surprise (unless you were massively spoiled like I unfortunately was)! It’s Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, and Tyson Griffin. We then immediately cut to the next semi-final matchup: Court McGee vs. Brad Tavares.

I really like this matchup. McGee and Tavares are both extremely talented and extraordinarily tough individuals, and having them both engage in the octagon will mean a guaranteed, all – out war, and that’s exactly what this fight was. Classic stand – up wars, aside, this was, unfortunately, not as exciting as one would have hoped. Both fighters fought their hearts out for sure, but both were also a bit tentative, and defensive at times, showing that each was aware of the consequences of what would happen if they simply let it out and became sloppy. Both were thus technically savvy of each others’ skills, looking for openings and capitalizing on them when properly presented, and retreating if necessary. Though the match was fairly even all throughout, McGee seemed the more active and more skilled among the two. Chuck mentions after the fight is over that he thought McGee won the first two rounds by at least a small margin, and I completely agree, which is why I was a bit shocked when the judges declared a third and final round. Fans of groin kicks rejoice for this round, though, as fatigue obviously dulled both fighters' senses somewhat giving us most probably the most groiun kicks ever in a single round. Near the end, though, McGee absolutely refused to let this go to the judges' scorecards like last time and literally puts Tavares to sleep with a rear naked choke.

This makes me very, very happy. Ever since McGee first fought, he pretty much became my favorite fighter of this season. He showed great skills, heart and cardio that could possibly take him all the way to the end, and it did. I am definitely rooting for him to win the finale next week.

 The next segment of the show pretty much expands on Dana’s massive support of the US armed forces. Several marines show up and take over the fighters’ training for a day. They show them combat techniques used in actual war situations, such as disarming an opponent with a gun or a knife, and sparring with bayonets. Their band of brothers style conditioning regimen is also pretty unique, such as simultaneous push ups with four people, whose legs are on the others’ necks, forming a rather odd square in motion. This supposedly not only conditions your body, but also builds trust in your teammates, which is, of course, vitally important to do-or-die situations.

What I found more interesting was what the soldiers wanted to learn from the UFC fighters next. Their primary concern was how to quickly get up off the ground. They could take their opponent down if they wanted to, or get taken down, but the point was that, in war, they should always be alert on their feet at all times. They apparently have not had much training in this department because of lack of experts on their side, but fortunately for them, the Ultimate Fighters had plenty of masters of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques for them to learn from. The day ends with the marines having a fun barbecue party over at the Ultimate Fighter House.

After pretty much devoting a vast majority of the season to inside the gym and outside the house, this special seems to want to catch up in a tremendous way. Pretty much everyone plays pranks on each other for entire segments of the show, a lot of people get pissed, and tons of stuff get thrown out of high places. In the end, though, all the finger pointing wound up on the same person the show already previously set up: Jamie Yager. Clearly the bad boy of the show, he wasn’t nearly as annoying or as entertaining as Season 8’s infamous Junie Browning . After that Dude, you’ve pretty much seen everything the show has to offer in terms of criminal behavior in the house, so I’m really not that impressed about how the show seems to want to frame Yager.

The show ends, of course, with the last semi-final matchup between Josh Bryant and Kris McCray. Bryant is the obvious favorite here, being extremely impressive in his wins within the show, but Rich Franklin pointed out something that I, and many others, may not have realized. Kris McCray may not be one of the more impressive and entertaining fighters in the house, but he was, without a doubt, the most hard working. This is because, prior to this one, he had already fought four times during his six week stay in the house, which means that he pretty much fought every Tuesday that he was there, according to Dana White. I was never impressed with McCray. Never. But you have to really admire the heart and dedication of such an athlete. Incredible stuff.

This fight was also an all-out war similar to the first one, but, as others who have seen McCray’s past fights know, his strategies mainly revolve around his wrestling, which means pinning his opponent onto the cage, and wearing them out. McCray managed to overpower Bryant during the first round with this strategy and obviously take the most points, but Bryant manages to reverse McCray during the second round and overpower him much of the time. Interesting stuff, which found both fighters, really gassed out by this point, meeting in a third round. Not much for tactics at this point, both fighters come out swinging like Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar. Only, since they were both gassed, it was almost like it was in slow motion. Both fighters threw and landed massive bombs, though, and tested each others’ chins time and time again during that last round of their lives. In the end, though, the judges declared that McCray did just enough to win via unanimous decision. Hard work and dedication pay off once again. Rich Franklin also jokingly says after the match that this officially makes him the only undefeated coach in "The Ultimate Fighter History", which I found hilarious.

So, the finals in Las Vegas next week will be between Team Liddell’s Court McGee and Team Franklin’s Kris McCray. As mentioned, I’m rooting for Court to take this one, but McCray time and time again (four times in a row in fact), that his heart and dedication can overcome pretty much any obstacle, so we’ll see. Either way, this is definitely going to be an exciting matchup!

The main event that evening is also between Ultimate Fighter alums Matt “The Hammer” Hamill and Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine. I really like both these fighters, but think Jardine can take Hamill out. Both are tough, though, so this is also going to be a very explosive matchup!

 As for Chuck vs. Rich? well, I already predicted that Rich would take this fight for one reason or another, but however it ultimately winds up, I sincerely hope that Chukc shows up in the best shape of his life. The UFC 115 Countdown hypes him up as usual, but I hope it's all true. Chuck may deny it all he wants, but he definitely did not look his former self in his last few fights. Hopefully, even thought Chuck loses this one, he'll put on a fantastic show and prove that he's worthy of several more years in the UFC.

 But, wait, there’s more! Yes, despite us knowing the results of the show, we still have another episode on the way. Next week promises us outtakes and never before seen footage during the taping of the show. I actually like this format way better than the ones they’ve used in the past. Before, they would sprinkle out these “house moments” throughout every episode and make sure they get their fair share. I was never really interested in that, as all I really cared about were the fights. Sure, these kinds of things are fun during the first few seasons, but after ten straight seasons of the same thing? Ugh, gotta change it up. And they did. Now, we got to see the important part of the show: the fights, and this last episode is more akin to a bonus of sorts to fans who followed the season through and through, which, I believe gives a much better effect. More fun next week in the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter Season 11, as well as the The Ultimate Finale 11! I can’t wait!