An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


Training Blog (as of May 9, 2013)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 12:56

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Running, 1 mile

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ran to the gym, half mile
Cycling 20 minutes 7.3 miles 120 calories
Chin-ups (military – overhand; counterweight) 50
Parallel pull-ups (counterweight) 50
Dips (counterweight) 40
Lateral pull-down 62.5
Seated leg curl 52.5 each leg
Decline leg press 90
Squats 90
Chest press 8/8 (dumbbells)
Pectoral fly 8/8 (dumbbells)
Rear deltoids 8/8 (dumbbells)
Shoulder press 10/10 (dumbbells)
Front shoulder lifts 10/10 (dumbbells)
Bicep curls 10/10 (dumbbells)
Wrist strengthening 12/12 (right arm weaker)
Wrist twirls 12/12
Pushups set of 15
Ran most of the way home

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stayed home. I did a few exercises with the weights I have at home. I need to buy a pair of 8 pounds dumbbells and a pair of 12 pounds.
Rear deltoids 5/5 (dumbbells)
Lateral raise 5/5 (dumbbells)
Shoulder press (machine) 10/10 (dumbbells)
Front shoulder lifts 5/5 (dumbbells)
Bicep curls 10/10 (dumbbells)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Running, half mile to the gym
Cycling 20 minutes 7.26 miles 121 calories
Seated leg curl 52.5 each leg
Running 1 mile, then headed home
(I got to the gym late. I forgot it closes an hour and a half earlier than on Mondays through Thursdays. I did some exercises at home after.)
Rear deltoids 5/5 (dumbbells)
Lateral raise 5/5 (dumbbells)
Shoulder press 10/10 (dumbbells)
Front shoulder lifts 10/10 (dumbbells)
Bicep curls 10/10 (dumbbells)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Running, covered 1 mile and then a bit extra
Later, did a long walk downtown for a sushi buffet!
(I ended up getting weird muscles cramps in my foot that night after I feel asleep. It’s been a while since I ran or even walked that much. LOL. I had a cramp in my shin while the muscles at the bottom of my foot was cramped. I couldn’t point my toes, but I had to push my foot forward – think of the foot position while wearing high heels. The cramping went away after a little while of careful massaging. Then later, I had a Charlie Horse in the other leg. LOL… really did not get enough exercise prior to that day.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Running, half mile out, then half mile back home

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Running, half mile to the gym
Cycling 20 minutes 7.3 miles 97 calories
Chin-ups (military – overhand; counterweight) 50
Pull-ups (underhand; counterweight) 50
Parallel pull-ups (counterweight) 50
Dips (counterweight) 40
Lateral pulldown 60
Seated leg curl 52.5 each leg
Hip adductor 100
Hip abductor 90
Decline leg press 90
Squats 90
Chest press 8/8 (dumbbells)
Pectoral fly 8/8 (dumbbells)
Rear deltoids 8/8 (dumbbells)
Lateral raise 8/8 (dumbbells)
Shoulder press 10/10 (dumbbells)
Front shoulder lifts 10/10 (dumbbells)
Bicep curls 12/12 (dumbbells)
Wrist strengthening 12/12 (right arm weaker)
Wrist twirls 12/12
Back strengthening (weighted) 25
Leg lifts set of 24
TKD – poomsae and some kicks (back kicks)
(Unfortunately, I irritated my meniscus tear by doing a tornado kick. My fault though. I should have checked that my kicking alignment was correct. The knee and the ankle should always be aligned with each other. The problem I have is that my knee sometimes drifts inward during the kick. I think this is a natural tendency in that leg. I seem to recall ice skating that way when I was a kid. If only I knew to fix that back then. In any case, I’ll fix this by slowly doing the roundhouse kick motion until the muscles in my leg remembers the correct alignment again. This has happened before and like before it’s easily corrected.)


Workout Day – Resurrection

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 21:10

It’s probably about time I resurrect my training blog. Although I haven’t been writing about my training the past few years, I have been trying to keep up with martial arts, running, and general fitness training overall. I have a few writing projects on the side that I’d like to work on, and that means sometimes blogging about my training doesn’t take priority. It’s much more important that I get the training.

It’s been a bit rocky for me in terms of martial arts training, mostly because I need to maintain a higher base level of strength in my legs (i.e., quads, hamstrings, calves) just to do any kind of serious kicking training. This is due to the torn meniscus I still have. (I checked recently and there is still no way to fix it – my taekwondo Master says I need to order a new knee on ebay… lol) There are still a lot of other goals I have in life (I’m currently studying a few different languages on top of some other subjects of interest), and it’s hard to find a balance between that and working out on top of taekwondo training. Basically, the torn meniscus has caused a time sink for me. 🙁

In any case, I still think it’s important to maintain a good level of fitness. Exercise is still very important to me.

Today, I managed to get up early enough to make it out the door in the late afternoon to try a bit of running and then a workout at the gym. My normal workout routine when I have the time is running first, then at the gym, some cycling. After, it’s weight training.

I felt lame today. I could barely run a half mile. My allergies are a pain when it comes to running in the winter. I think the cold dries out the congestion in my breathing passages making it hard to breathe the minute I try to run faster. (See my previous blog, “Allergies and Running in the Winter”.)

At the gym, I only managed ten minutes of cycling. So very lame. I got to about three or four minutes, then my quads just started whining at me (okay, not literally, but that’s what it feels like in my brain). This is sad considering I used to do 30 minutes of cycling after taekwondo training or after at least a mile of running. *sigh*

The weight training went considerably better. Surprisingly, I didn’t lose as much strength as I thought. I lost some in the biceps and forearms. I managed to do the leg press at the normal weight, but I had to push through more than normal. It was the same with the squats. I figured the leg press and the squats weren’t too bad, but the cycling was worse because the cycling requires proper breathing to help the muscles work through the exercise. I was still a bit congested when I got to the gym. 🙁

After the weight training I had some time to do some basic taekwondo kicking. Nothing too strenuous on the knee. I just went through the motions carefully and focused on technique. Trying to do kicks after weight training is hard. Every kick feels like there’s a dead weight attached to you. The reason should be obvious – the muscles are already tired from the weight training. However, because of my torn meniscus, kicks feel better for my knee after I do weight training.

After the gym, I did a little bit of running on the way home. It’s -4 degrees Celsius out, and I’m not going to dawdle my way home. 😉 Strangely, I don’t mind running after weight training. It’s not recommended if your goal is to try to improve your speed, but it’s actually quite helpful with loosening up and relaxing the muscles and your body after weight training. The hamstrings get a little tight when I run after weight training, but that’s normal. Unfortunately, that tightness kicked in a little earlier than I would have liked, so I walked it out for most of the rest of the way home.

I felt lame today, but overall I feel good. My muscles feel suitably worked out and firm. 🙂 As long as I keep up with a regular workout, the muscles will get stronger. 🙂

Below are my workout notes (I use a handy app called Memoires on Android):

Running to the gym

Cycling 10 minutes 3.62 miles 65 calories

Skipping reps, right, left (right weaker)
Calf raises reps each leg/standing calf machine single

Chin-ups (military – overhand) 50 counterweight, single
Pull-ups (underhand) 50 counterweight, single
Parallel pull-ups 50 counterweight, single
Dips 40 counterweight, single
Lateral pulldown 60
Seated leg curl 52.5 each leg
Hip adductor 100
Hip abductor 90
Decline leg press 90
Squats 90
Incline chest press 45 (machine) 8/8 (dumbbells)
Pectoral fly (machine) 8/8 (dumbbells)
Rear deltoids (machine) 8/8 (dumbbells)
Lateral raise , single (machine), 8/8 (dumbbells)
Shoulder press (machine) 8/8 (dumbbells)
Front shoulder lifts 8/8 (dumbbells)
Bicep curls 10/10 (dumbbells), (bar)
Wrist strengthening 12/12 (right arm weaker)
Wrist twirls 12/12
Back strengthening 25 (weighted)
Leg lifts set of 30

I passed on the skipping today. I forgot to bring my skipping rope to the gym, and by the time I got home I was just too tired. Next time hopefully. 🙂



London 2012 Summer Olympics: Waiting for Taekwondo to Start

It’s Olympic time again. Like the last three Summer Olympics, I’m looking forward to the taekwondo sparring competition at the Olympics, which starts on August 8th (see the taekwondo schedule via the London 2012 site). While I wait to watch taekwondo, I decided to check out a few other Olympic sports that I never got to see much of in the past. Canada’s broadcasting on the Olympics in the past tended to focus on swimming, gymnastics, and athletics (not that I mind those sports; I like watching gymnastics, but I’d rather go swimming and running plus it gets boring watching those two events after a while; I just think they should air some of the other sports as well). However, since Canada won a bronze in women’s taekwondo back in 2000 (Dominique Bosshart was Canada’s only competitor for taekwondo at that Olympics), the Canadian media has in the past given some glimpses of taekwondo. Since Karine Sergerie‘s silver win in 2008, the Canadian media has gotten a bit more excited about taekwondo (though I’m not sure how well they will cover the competition this year).

Olympic broadcasting online in Canada this year will be done by CTV (RDS is the French name). I don’t watch TV anymore so using Sportsnet or TSN isn’t an option. (See London 2012 Broadcasters for how to watch the Olympics in your country.) Besides, maybe I can watch other sports using the online media. Of course, the CTV Olympic website (for the French site, it’s RDS Olympiques; the English and French sites are linked on each others) has proven to be a bit of a pain to use. You can avoid the CTV broadcast completely and use the “World Feed” instead, but you’ll have to go to the specific sport section and look for their “World Feed” video links. There’s always commercials before the video even starts (of course *eye roll*), and you’ll get more commercials if you jump around too much in the video stream. I’m not sure exactly how they determine when to pop up the commercials, but be warned they’re there. You can’t skip them. Just hit your computer’s mute button if they annoy you like they do me. The most annoying thing about the commercials is that after they run and your video resumes, the video defaults to mid-volume level again. You’ll have to adjust the video volume controls again. (I use the video volume so I don’t have to amp up the hardware volume on my computer – it sounds crappy if you do that.) If you miss the event live, CTV has full replay videos for some events. I’ve been taking advantage of this. The best way to find these videos is to go to the “schedule and results” section, click on the sport you want which should then pull up a listed schedule. There might be links to the full replay videos there. Having found my way around CTV site. I managed to get video streams for a few sports that CTV wasn’t airing during its “Watch Now” video broadcast.

Here’s what I watched so far at the 2012 Summer Olympics:

Day 1: Saturday, July 28

Archery – men’s team (bronze and gold matches)
Fencing – women’s foil (bronze and gold matches)
Judo – men’s -60kg and women’s -48kg (a couple of the quarterfinal matches; I couldn’t find the full video replay of the gold matches)
Shooting – men’s 10m air pistol and women’s 10m air rifle (finals)

Day 2: Sunday, July 29

Archery – women’s team (bronze and gold matches)
Fencing – men’s sabre (gold match)
Judo – men’s -66kg and women’s -52kg (gold matches)
Shooting – women’s 10m air pistol and skeet (finals)

Day 3: Monday, July 30

Fencing – women’s épée (bronze and gold matches)
Judo – men’s -73kg and women’s -57kg (gold matches)
Shooting – men’s 10 air rifle (finals)
Gymnastics – men’s team (finals)

You can see the results of Olympic events at the London 2012 site. They have also created some mobile apps. The results app is the most useful. (See the London 2012’s mobile apps page.)

For team sports, I’m mostly interested in basketball and soccer since I played those in high school. Canada has a women’s team for basketball this time (they did not have a men’s or a women’s team at the Olympics in 2008). For soccer, Canada’s women’s team is at the Olympics again. Canada’s men’s teams for both soccer and basketball didn’t qualify for the 2012 Olympics. If I have the time, I’ll watch some basketball and soccer. I also got to see a bit of handball and waterpolo. I’ve never really seen those sports in action before.

As for taekwondo, it’ll be interesting to watch Karine Sergerie again. At the 2008 olympics, Karine Sergerie won a silver medal in taekwondo for Canada. She’s back this time. Will she get the gold? (Sergerie’s silver is Canada’s second olympic medal in taekwondo. Dominique Bosshart won a bronze in 2000.) To find out more about taekwondo at the Olympics, visit’s taekwondo section. There are videos of past competitors at the Olympics. Sergerie’s weight division is -67kg. She won the World Taekwondo Championships in 2007 in the -63kg division. The Olympics have only four weight divisions instead of the eight in standard taekwondo competitions.

As with past Olympics, there have been some controversies in competitions. See the following articles:

Controversy, Disappointment for Japanese Judokas (My comments can be found on my Tumblr blog.)

South Korean fencer in protest after controversial Olympic defeat (My comments can be found on my Tumblr blog.)

There’s thirteen more days of the Olympics left. Taekwondo starts in eight days. I think I’ll take a break from the Olympics for now – read a book (I’m reading Sherlock Holmes again; yes, all the novels and stories again) or maybe play a game (I haven’t played much Mass Effect 3 multiplayer in the past few weeks). I also need to get back to my own taekwondo and fitness training. 🙂


Olympic News via the London 2012 site (In case you’re tired of the news stream from your country’s Olympics broadcaster, check out the news page from the London 2012 site.)
Olympic Schedule and Results (London 2012 site)
Taekwondo at the 2012 Summer Olympics
CTV’s video snapshot of Karine Sergerie


Yi Siling wins first gold medal of Games (China won a gold and a bronze. Nice shooting. ;-))

Republic of Korea claim another gold (Korea not only excels in taekwondo, but in archery as well! :-D)

Canada Olympic Women’s Basketball: Team Loses 58-53 To Russia(Russia makes a comeback against Canada, who failed to hold a 10 point lead. Canada, this is why it’s hard to root for you in team sports (aside from ice hockey, and oh yeah, curling). (Sidenote: “Russia is missing star centre Maria Stepanova. The six-foot-eight star, who has played in the last four Olympics, tore her anterior cruciate ligament at the Euroleague final eight in late March.” The ACL tear is a common injury among female athletes. It can be career-ending if it’s not fixed.))

Canada Makes the Team Final… (About damned time!)

Peng Peng Lee’s Olympic Journey (At least she’s doing the right thing – surgery, recover, and get stronger first.)

Peng Peng Lee – One on One (A short interview with Canadian gymnast, Peng Peng Lee)


Allergies and Running in the Winter

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 22:10

Anyone else have allergies and also do running in the winter?

I’ve noticed for a while now that when I haven’t been running regularly, then start up in the cold months, my allergies just kick my ass for running. It’s not that I’m tired or my cardio is bad (I have allergies year round, but in the late spring and summer, running is easier even if I haven’t been running consistently; and I generally do fine indoors during the winter at taekwondo), it’s that I have to keep stopping to blow my damn nose. The only problem with the breathing is that it feels like the congestion is frozen in my throat, so I end up brisk walking and doing deep breathing to clear up the congestion.

Otherwise, if I have been running regularly, running in the winter hasn’t been a huge problem for me. I avoid it when there’s ice (because of the dangers of slipping, twisting and aggravating a pre-existing injury) and slush (because I am susceptible to getting a little sick from cold, wet feet) though. Otherwise, if it’s not icy and the roads are clear I don’t mind winter running anymore than running on a hot, humid summer day. I just feel like I have to be more disciplined with running in the winter than the summer because my allergies will just kick my ass in the winter.

Anyway, I mention this in case anyone else has the same issues with allergies and winter running.

Here’s a link to an interesting discussion about winter running – I Hate Winter Running.

This article says to take your allergy medication before heading out for a run – Tips for Running with Seasonal Allergies. (I actually was thinking about taking my allergy medicine before heading out to the gym, but I wasn’t feeling particularly stuffed up from my allergies today and I wasn’t planning on running tonight. I only just felt like it after I did 20 minutes of cycling.)



Some Personal Thoughts on Human Rights and Space Travel

I’ve been reading astronomy all weekend. I’ve kind of missed it since I first took astronomy in university (and with all the changes in spaceflight going on – space tourism, woohoo! – I think I’d better brush up). Somehow I got an A in astronomy (no, not just staring at stars all year long) and nearly flunked accounting (even though I aced accounting in high school – university level accounting and high school accounting are NOT the same). Okay, well, I was under “extenuating circumstances” the year I was studying accounting. Still had to re-do accounting though because less than a C grade was not acceptable for the program. 🙁 (The business school was actually wondering why I didn’t just do a math degree. Lol. I did get accepted into the math program, I just opted for business for some insane reason.)

I’ve been wanting to go back to school (for the third time now), but have been torn between law school overseas (because all the law programs in North America now seem to be business focused, but some law schools in Europe have programs on international human rights law) or maybe astrophysics (if I can hack the science now that I’m older and not lazy like I was in high school). Then again, I’m not keen on going into debt again to pay some institution for subjects I can learn on my own, so I might not go back for anything at all.

Lately though, I’ve been leaning towards studying astronomy and astrophysics because law (particularly human rights law), for the most part, seems too easy in a way. Not to sound conceited or arrogant, but a lot of the issues in human rights seem to have straight-forward, logical, sane solutions. The problem though is that people en masse aren’t sane or logical or straight-forward necessarily. Work in human rights dwindles down to plain and outright politics (which I understand, but don’t love; frankly, I think politics is b/s, and I never even played office politics when I was working). Funny enough, as a teenager my family told me I should probably go into politics because I’m passionate about some issues and I have strong opinions on most things. My response was “Hell no”. 😉 It seems like with human rights, being involved in politics is unavoidable. At some point, you get dragged into it. Human rights work is also terribly emotionally draining and exhausting. Even just reading and writing about it can zap you for a few days. I can only imagine what it’s like if I was dealing directly with a human rights case. As rational as a person can be, some cases will just get to you because you will feel helpless at times and you will feel frustrated because you feel that you just can’t help so-and-so or some group of people.

Why astronomy and astrophysics? For me, it’s clear. It’s time for humans to be able to get off this planet. It’s time to colonize (moon, Mars, Jupiter’s moons, etc.), and I really plan on being one of the first to go. (Leave me to my dreams people!). Sure there’s some politics involved with convincing governments to fund space programs, but those politics are arguably less stressful than the politics in most (probably all) human rights cases.

I’m not saying I’m going to ignore human rights issues. Even if humans do begin to colonize other worlds, inevitably these issues will come along for the ride (get too many people in one small boat and inevitably some will start fighting). It’s important to understand these issues, so we do not make the same mistakes over and over. In some distant future, if we manage to be able to travel “to the stars”, I also think that space travel should be a human right (so long as it is feasible, as under our current economic system, it may not be feasible for a long time). This idea stems from the opinion that travelling today should also be considered a human right. Human rights law as it exists now allows nations/countries to have border controls. I think this is an obsolete idea today. Border controls are tools of nationalism. Nationalism has no place in the today’s world – certainly not in a world where we can communicate all over the world in an instant making friends who live on the other side of the world; and also travel to anywhere in the world in less than a day. People should be able to freely travel with no fear or chance of being unreasonably held in a foreign country; and to properly ensure that, border controls need to be eliminated. World travel should be a human right and, in the distant future, space travel should be a human right.

In my opinion, if humans want to survive and if we want to see our civilization last, it’s important that we look beyond Earth as a place to live. Not saying that everyone has to race to get off the planet. Certainly, there are some people who might want to stay here; and definitely, there should be a population remaining on Earth, but I do think the option to live elsewhere is important for our civilization. As our world population continues to grow, we are more pressed for space to live than when humans first landed on the moon 42 years ago. (You’d think humans would have landed on Mars by now! But well… it was really politics that got us to the moon… another rant, another time.)

Throughout history, humans have proven to be adventurous and there have always been explorers. What happened to this sense of adventure? Where are the explorers now? Are some people (*cough* politicians *cough*) just self-satisfied with life as it is that they don’t want to know more about the universe? Have some people just given up on the idea of space travel? Why don’t we put more pressure on our governments world-wide to emphasize space programs? (Note: has anyone else besides me noticed that there are no political parties devoted to promoting space travel and continued studies and research in the relevant fields? I may not like our political systems, but sadly you have to work within the framework that’s already in place to make the changes you want. I dislike politics and I don’t want to start my own political party, so someone please start a “Space Party” or something like that. “New Millennium Party”, maybe? Something!)

That being said, space programs like NASA’s should be open to everyone, not just U.S. citizens. More accurately, it should be turned into an international program. Failing that, we need to start an international space program. The European Space Agency (ESA) is a good start. Maybe they could merge NASA and ESA and start including other countries. (Note: It looks like they may have started this process. See “International consensus on joint space exploration”.)

There is also commercial spaceflight and space tourism. As pessimistic as I can be about putting the future of human civilization in the hands of a few corporations, I think that commercial ventures in spaceflight will get us into space sooner than government ventures alone. Governments no longer have to contend with other governments, but also with other corporations – corporations that have more money than governments to spend on building spacecrafts. My hope is that the corporations and the governments will be able to co-operate on space ventures in order to bring the reality of space travel to humans sooner. (If you read various articles on, it does look like this process is starting.)

In the meantime, I’m going to refresh my knowledge of basic astronomy and physics. My personal home study curriculum now includes anatomy, physiology, astronomy, physics, some languages (Korean and Spanish; for Chinese, I’ve decided to concentrate on the reading and writing instead of the oral language) and a few other subjects of personal interest. All this on top of taekwondo training right now and my other personal goal of writing at least one novel in the science fiction and fantasy genres (oh yeah, another reason why I should refresh my knowledge of astronomy). Eek! Loads to do.

Your local knowledge junkie


UFC Hits Toronto Last Night and This Martial Artist is Not Impressed

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 15:26

Anyone else annoyed by UFC? Apparently, it was in Toronto last night.

This is what turns me off UFC *eye roll*

“@feyMorgaina Prepare like #GSP #UFC”
(Some gimmicky ad about how you can train with less effort than you are now – I studied marketing in university so trust me, it’s gimmicky.)

This makes me laugh. How many UFC fans can run 10k then do at least an hour of martial arts? (My second black belt test consisted of a 10k run, followed by 1000 skips, then the martial arts part of the test, which includes patterns, technique drills, and of course, sparring and board breaking.)

The past few years have been… “Oh, you do martial arts? Do you do MMA?” (right after someone realizes I have a black belt in taekwondo; martial arts is a big part of my life, so it inevitably comes up in conversations).

Uh, no. I like all kinds of martial arts, but I don’t do MMA. I am just not impressed by UFC, it’s jumped-up marketing, and the hype over it. If current UFC fans would get off their high horse about how great UFC is, I’d be less annoyed by it all. (Granted not all UFC fans come off as so arrogant and conceited, but there’s just enough to annoy me.) I respect that the fighters in UFC train hard, but honestly I think UFC is pointless. It’s predominantly about the marketing company making money off of good martial artists who can get seriously hurt – and in two cases, killed. See the Wikipedia article on Mixed Martial Arts – Safety. “MMA is dangerous, and its fighters are put at a serious risk of injury each time they enter the cage.”

In regards to taekwondo, the martial art I am predominantly trained in (I’ve done a bit of hapkido and weapons training as well), I have found two competition-related deaths – one in 1999 and one in 2009. Note that these are ten years apart. The one in 1999 is “believed to be the first fatality in an official U.S. taekwondo tournament”. See “Musician Dies After Kick to Head in Martial Arts Tournament”. In 2009, a teenager died after participating in a tournament run by an organization no longer affiliated with the Singapore Taekwondo Federation. See Student Brain-dead After Taekwondo Sparring Match. I note that this fatality occurred in a unsanctioned tournament, and the tournament was not run according to the regulations of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation. I have not found any other taekwondo tournament-related deaths. Indeed, one could teach taekwondo for years and not witness a death related to a taekwondo competition, particularly in the WTF style of taekwondo. See a comment by a Taekwondo Master on “How many competition-related deaths have there been in tae kwon do?”. Äbout taekwondo sparring, “In all cases, contact must be controlled, and not thown wild or blindly. Even a solid hit in Taekwondo competition, which could be deadly in the street, is relatively safe because of the control in the fighers ability to stop at the point of impact. A Taekwondo fighter is trained to control their power so as to apply it lightly, or firmly as needed in competiton, or deadly as needed in self defense.” I have been kicked in the stomach during training before by heavy men (say 190 pounds and up). While they were using controlled kicks, believe me, I can extrapolate from that what it would feel like if they kicked me full force. I have also been kicked really hard in the groin (not sure what the guy was thinking at the time – he was quite apologetic after – but really I was fine, more shocked that he did hit me that hard when it was friendly sparring in class). I mention this because I do not agree with the mentality that you need to be in a ‘real fight’ to understand how much it can hurt. With regards to safety in taekwondo competitions, Wikipedia’s article says “A 2009 meta-analysis reported that an average of about 8% of competitors are injured, per exposure to competition; age, gender, and level of play did not significantly affect the injury rate.[47] The legs are the most common location for injuries, and bruising is the most common injury type.” Compare that to bloody noses being common in MMA.

Some fans of MMA and UFC promote it because of this illusive idea that there is one martial art that’s the best or that there is some blend of martial arts that must be the best. MMA takes that faulty premise and pits two people against each other in a cage. UFC in particular would have everyone believe this mimics the real world and a ‘real fight’. It doesn’t. In real life, one person has an advantage before the ‘fight’ ever begins. There is no such thing as a ‘fair fight’. I have seen a ‘fight’ where one person gets knocked down by another, then the person knocked down is swarmed by the other person’s buddies. This is what your common ‘street fight’ entails. That’s real, and it’s not fair. It’s called ‘bullying’. (My boyfriend and I, and a few others, ran over to break up that fight – it was some teenagers in a public park.)

In real life, when one person is attacked, it’s done by surprise – again, it’s real and it’s not fair. I do martial arts because I can stave off the chance of being surprised (by learning to be aware of my environment and surroundings) and also because I in turn become the surprise element. I’ll explain. An attacker on the street who picks on one person does so because he thinks that person is ‘easy prey’. He/she does not expect that person to fight back. If, by chance, that person does fight back, that person becomes the surprise element – more so if that person knows some form of self-defense, whether an actual martial art or something from a self-defense course. Thus, if someone were to attack me on the street, because I know some kind of self-defense, I have a good chance to surprise my attacker. I also know secondhand of a woman who was attacked on public transit (subway). Someone grabbed her from behind while she was walking up the stairs. They put a knife to her throat. At first, she thought a friend was pulling a practical joke, but then she noticed her shoe at the top of the stairs and she was back down the stairs. She turned into the surprise element when her ‘fight or flight response’ kicked in and she grabbed the knife, twisted it away from her throat, pushed the attacker away, and ran for help. Not everyone is lucky to get away. She was lucky her response wasn’t to freeze up. Some people do, and with martial arts training people can learn not to freeze up when attacked.

There is a difference between fighting and self-defense. When someone attacks you or tries to goad you into a fight, it becomes a fight the minute you turn around and put your fists up. It’s not self-defense anymore. Self-defense involves reacting to an actual attack. If someone is trying to instigate a fight with you and you are walking away, but then they grab you, and you turn around to push that person away or whatever you have to do to get them to let go so you can leave – that’s self-defense.

In the real world (that is, outside the ring), it’s not about the type of martial art a person does or how many, but how well that person responds to each situation. To survive in a real ‘fight’ (more correctly, to survive an attack), it takes more than just physical prowess. One must also have the ability to quickly analyze a situation and reason something out. If you are attacked, you can defend yourself. Martial arts have always been about self-defense, and it should remain that way.



Reply to some random fitness blog

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 20:40

Nate showed me this little blog entry today – Five Pounds and Not an Ounce of a Clue and I just have to shake my head at this writer. He clearly knows nothing about being fit. So, I had to reply to his blog (not sure if he will accept the comment I left). Here is my comment:

Okay, first thing you should know about keeping fit… pound for pound, muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. If you were training for a while, stopped, and then lost weight, chances are you lost muscle mass. For someone just starting to get fit, three days a week of exercise is fine. After a while though, three days a week just maintains your current fitness level – unless you increase the intensity of your workouts on those three days (i.e., heavier weights, more time on cardio). Failing that, you should work out more often if you want to actually gain muscle toning, muscle bulk, better cardio, and increase your overall fitness level. You should, every so often, push your limits.

Regarding the “gut” issue, you should try to breathe through your diaphragm. When working out at your maximum intensity, you will feel your diaphragm contracting repeatedly. It’s a sure physical sign that you are working at your hardest. When you are not exercising a lot, you don’t need the amount of calories that are in a cheeseburger and fries, unless that’s all you ate all day, and even then, I’d say go for a long walk. To avoid having a gut, you really need to keep up with the cardio.

To keep fit, you need to keep active. There is no shortcut to being fit. Some people may be genetically pre-disposed to being thin, but that does not even guarantee fitness because without muscle training and cardio, thin people are just weak walking skeletons. With proper weight training, a person with a small body frame need not necessarily be weak! How I know this is simple…

I have a small body frame, but I am not weak. I am 5’3″ and I weigh 54 kg (about 115 lbs). I was always fit and active as a teenager and the past 10 years I have dedicated myself to staying fit and healthy (this should be about your health and not just appearances). I started doing martial arts (because I never got to as a child and because I missed getting exercise – there was no time when I was in university), over the years I included weight training and running. I do taekwondo on a regular basis and cross-train that with running, cycling, and weight training. I also include skipping in my workout routine as it builds the calves and the shins. I had a knee injury and surgery almost 6 years ago, and I took the physiotherapy exercises I was given and improved upon them. I am actually stronger than before my knee injury.

A while back, I kept a training blog detailing my training up until I tested for my 2nd dan black belt – Cass’ training blog. It takes more than an hour three times a week to really improve. I generally prefer two-hour workouts.

To sum up, anyone can be fit. No excuses. It is a lot of hard work. There is no shortcut, no easy way. It gets easier over time and you will feel better about yourself. BUT you really have to WANT to be fit and healthy. You have to be determined, and you got to love being healthy. If you exercise for any other reason but fitness and to be healthy (such as for appearances’ sake), you’re more likely to get frustrated and find it all worthless. After you get used to working out over time, a good workout should leave you smiling and feeling good about yourself.


Toronto International Film Festival 2008

The TIFF started this week on Thursday. Since missing out on the film festival the past two years, I decided to order the popular 10-coupon passbook in advance. As luck would have it for me, there is a martial arts movie showing this year – Chocolate by the same director for Ong-Bak and The Protector. Chocoloate is the debut feature for the “next greatest female martial arts star” Jija Yanin (her stage name). Yanin studied taekwondo when she was younger. The story goes that the director saw how talented she is and decided to recruit her. She worked with his stunt crew for about two years, then the director wrote the screenplay for the movie Chocolate. Yanin performs all her stunts in this movie (you can ignore all the jealous rumours that they used wires and creative editing) and to prove it she has already demonstrated one of the scenes on a live talk show in Asia. She also received injuries on set. It looks like Jija Yanin is well on her way to being the greatest female equivalent of Jackie Chan (Chan being notorious for hurting himself on set due to the extreme stunts he performs himself.)

A talented young female martial artist? Great stunt choreography? Of course, I procured tickets. I got tickets for me and Nathan to see the midnight screening of Chocolate, which is the last Midnight Madness movie to screen at this year’s film festival. (Saturday, September 13 at 11:59 p.m.)

Other movies we will be seeing are:

Daytime Drinking on Sunday, September 7, 9:00 p.m.
Tears for Sale on Monday, September 8, 9:45 p.m.
Ashes of Time Redux on Wednesday, September 10, 9:30 a.m.
The Sky Crawlers on Saturday, September 13, 12:15 p.m.

Here is a preview of the movie, Chocolate.

The TIFF has their film descriptions online. Read more about Chocolate.


Canada’s Sergerie brings home a silver in taekwondo

In an exciting match with South Korea’s Hwang Kyungseon, Karine Sergerie loses 2-1 and is awarded a silver medal.

Hwang Kyungseon is the welterweight World Taekwondo Champion for 2007 while Sergerie is the lightweight World Taekwondo Champion. A little lighter and shorter than Hwang, Sergerie had to work hard to shorten the distance between her and her opponent to land a kick scoring one point. Although having an early lead from the first round, Sergerie could not prevent Hwang from tying it up with a roundhouse kick under Sergerie’s arm in the second round. Hwang then took the lead late in the third round with a strong back kick leaving Sergerie 35 seconds to try to tie the match up. The final 35 seconds of the gold match was tense and fierce as Sergerie put more pressure on her opponent hoping to score another point to push the match into sudden death overtime. Unfortunately, 35 seconds was not enough time. Hwang stayed strong trying to increase the point gap and holding Sergerie off until the buzzer. Korea’s Hwang Kyungseon wins the gold medal in the women’s 67 kg leaving a silver for Canada’s Karine Sergerie.

Earlier in this competition, Hwang defeated Sheikha Maitha Almaktoum of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in the preliminary match by a score of 5-1. Hwang then defeated Croatia’s Sandra Saric in the quarterfinals by a score of 3-1. In the semifinals, she defeated France’s Gwladys Patience Epangue in overtime with a score of 2-1 sending Epangue to the bronze medal match. Overall, she had a better fight record than Sergerie in this competition.

Both Sergerie and Hwang should be pround. They fought excellently. Sergerie knew going in that she might have to fight heavier opponents and she gave her opponent a good fight for the gold. No shame, be proud Sergerie, you did an excellent job representing Canadian taekwondo. There’s always the 2012 Olympics.

The bronze medal winners in this competition are Croatia’s Sandra Saric (who was defeated in the quarterfinals by Hwang) and France’s Gwladys Patience Epangue (who was also defeated by Hwang, although later in the semifinals).

In the men’s 80 kg, Iran’s Hadi Saei defeated Italy’s Mauro Sarmiento in the finals by a score of 6-4 capturing the gold medal and leaving Sarmiento with a silver medal. Bronze medal winners are China’s Zhu Guo and Steven Lopez of the U.S.A. China’s Zhu defeated Great Britain’s Aaron Cook by a score of 4-1, and U.S.A.’s Steven Lopez defeated Azerbaijan’s Rashad Ahmadov by a score of 3-2. Canada’s Sebastien Michaud lost the quarterfinal match to Azerbaijan’s Ahmadov and was not entered into the repechage as Ahmadov did not make it to the finals (gold medal match).


Women’s 67 kg
Gold Korea Hwang Kyungseon
Silver Canada Karine Sergerie
Bronze Croatia Sandra Saric
Bronze France Gwladys Patience Epangue

Men’s 80 kg
Gold Iran Hadi Saei
Silver Italy Mauro Sarmiento
Bronze U.S.A. Steven Lopez
Bronze China Zhu Guo

Congrats to all the medalists! Way to go, Karine!

Results courtesy of the Beijing Olympics website
TSN’s article on Karine winning silver
CBC article on Sergerie winning silver
Globe and Mail article about Karine winning silver (Note: the article is incorrect. You are NOT allowed to punch to the head in Olympic taekwondo. There are two taekwondo federations, International Taekwondo (ITF) in North Korea and World Taekwondo (WTF) in South Korea. WTF is featured in the Olympics and no punches are allowed to the head, just the body. You get two points for kick to the head and one point for a punch or a kick to the body.)


P.S. It doesn’t look like CBC will be providing a live feed for the remaining taekwondo competitions – men’s and women’s heavyweights. That is disappointing. In fact, I couldn’t get a live feed this morning to watch the bronze medal matches or any of the men’s matches. I think CBC needs to re-think their Olympic coverage plans for the future. You can get updates via the Beijing Olympic website.

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