An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


Film Festival Time Again

Well, it’s time again. Soon, the streets of Toronto will be buzzing about the latest films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Each year I try to go. Last year, I only had time to see two movies – a documentary and a martial arts film (Kung Fu Hustle starred and directed by Stephen Chow). This year, Nathan and I bought 10 coupons in advance so we get to pick 5 movies to see and get advance tickets. I still have to pick my movies though. Somehow, Nathan and I will decide on which 5 to see. So far, I know we’re going to see Jackie Chan’s new flick, The Myth, which is a move away from his usual slapstick comedic martial arts. That’s not to say that he won’t be doing some serious fighting, I’m sure we’re still going to see some amazing Jackie Chan moves.

Aside from Jackie Chan’s new movie, I still have to determine what other movies might be interesting. I need to go through the Programme Book and read through the film descriptions. As I’m not quite as fast a reader as Nathan, this will probably take me some time so I don’t expect to have picked my first draft of movies until later this afternoon or later tonight.

For those who have yet to experience the Film Festival, below is a review I wrote on the documentary I saw last year at the Festival – perhaps it might inspire people to check out the Festival this year (and the documentary, if it’s available). The movie was called Scared Sacred and was directed by Velcrow Ripper. I originally posted this review on a previous message board I started and wanted to post it here. The message I discuss in the review is extremely relevent to this website and in many ways has helped push me to get the website up.

September 16, 2004 8:01 p.m.

Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper

“Breathe in suffering, breathe out compassion”

The above is a Buddhist philosophical concept, but in the documentary
Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper, it becomes a survival technique.

Each year, I go to the Toronto International Film Festival to
experience something different than what is normally dished out from
Hollywood. This year, I was quite amazed by the documentary, Scared
Sacred. Perhaps it is because it falls in line with a view I’ve held
the past few years and each year that view grows stronger. The movie
sparks inside me the sense of urgency that the world is in danger, it
is suffering, and long in need of healing. Ripper seems to feel as I
do that the time is now for US to make changes in the world, to take a
stand and say what needs to be said.

The documentary is a summary of the travels of the director, Velcrow
Ripper, in an attempt to find and encapsulate some sense of hope, if
it exists, for the world. Ripper does what not many individuals would
dare do – he visits various sites of disasters. In the darkest
shadow, perhaps we may find some sense of hope, a gleam in the
darkness shining out for us to reach for, something to hold onto that
says that perhaps there is an end to all the cruelty and suffering of
this world.

This sense of hope appears to Ripper and to the audience in various
forms – from a doctor in Bhopal, India setting up a medical practice
for survivors of the Union Carbide disaster; a musician in Afghanistan
finally having the freedom to play again; an Afghani woman exiled in
Pakistan fighting for women’s freedom, a young woman dressed as an
angel in New York City, and finally an Israeli father, who vows NOT to
seek revenge for the slaying of his 14-year-old daughter.

Along the way, some messages stay clear in my mind. First, is the
artist in Bosnia, who is still living in the same apartment as that
day when the bombs first fell, who says that it is her work, her art
that has helped her survive. It is in the mind, she states, where
freedom lies. Later, toward the end, the Israeli father of the slain
14-year-old states that he has a choice in how to react to his
daughter’s death. Does he go out and take revenge for her death as is
so common around him? Does this ease his pain? Or does he instead
find compassion and continue to say his story and tell of his pain and
therefore, hope that others will listen, not just hear, but listen and
understand? It’s obvious he has chosen the latter. The message here
is that ultimately true freedom is in our mind and in the choice of
how to respond and react to a disaster, a crisis, a personal tragedy.

In this world, for some it may seem there is no choice but to take
revenge, but yet there are some who still feel the freedom of making
the choice. Is there something that makes these individuals stand out
from those who feel there is no choice? Perhaps. Perhaps there is
something that makes a person naturally resilient to tragedy and
disaster. Perhaps only certain people are meant to carry the hope in
the world. Perhaps only certain people are meant to understand what
it means to truly feel compassion.

Ultimately, someone will ask why I would watch such a movie. Maybe
just like Ripper, I need to see if there is some hope in this world of
suffering and cruelty. In some way, I’m still uncertain. Perhaps the
only hope left is what is carried in my heart. But then again, Ripper
did make this movie. His documentary has an important message to say.
So I am not alone with this hope of mine.

I must commend Velcrow Ripper for this documentary – not just for
making it but for deciding to make it and visit those people and

Hopefully, more people will see this documentary and hear the message.
As Ripper said during the Q&A after the screening, there is a sense
of urgency in the world. I agree, the urgency is there. But also,
more people are needed to respond to it. “…Breathe out compassion”
We need it to survive.

Hope you enjoyed the review. Got the message I hope.

Your local webmistress
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Track running (Tuesday, August 30)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 05:11

I was feeling a little lethargic for some reason, (I’m attributing it to the weather), so I was surprised to find that last night I felt like running anyway.

Didn’t do that well though. I just felt sooo slow, so only did 4 laps in total on the track. First, Nathan and I did one lap together, then we were to do two more laps together. Nathan and I ran the next lap together, but then I decided to stop and take a break and wait for him to finish. After, I tried a fast lap around once. Though I was feeling bloated, I still did the lap in less than 2 minutes. I decided to try a half mile (2 laps), but only managed to do one more lap. I was feeling tired and bloated all day. I think I ate too much all day and did not go to the do jang because I wanted a break to do other things. So, I just didn’t feel like I had any energy to even run. Nathan and I always walk to the track and back (Sherbourne to Bathurst), so we do get lots of exercise even if we don’t run alot. Guess all that really matters is that I still ran.

Hopefully, I do a better run on Thursday. Tomorrow, I should definitely go to taekwondo.

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Track running (Sunday, August 28)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 03:02

Nathan and I decided to do some track running yesterday (Sunday) instead of the trail run.

We did a nice easy run around the track once together, then a half mile together (2 laps). We did the half mile in about 5 minutes, a bit slow but we wanted to take it easy and be able to run a bit more. After the 2 laps, we walked once around the track and then ran the last one. In total, we covered one mile mostly running. After taking a short break, I decided to run one fast one. My time for 400 m yesterday was 1 minute 44 seconds, so far my best time for that distance. My previous best time was 1 minute 48 seconds. I took another short break and decided to try another half mile a little faster than the one we did together. I managed to do this in 4 minutes 33 seconds a few seconds slower than the half mile I did at the gym, but actually pretty good considering I already did so much running.

I feel good about yesterday’s run. Now, it seems to be mostly my left quad that feels a little sore. It’s a strange soreness though, at the top of my quad rather than in the center. My calves feel good and they seem to be building up from the running. Overall, I feel good and think I look good from the running. 🙂 Most importantly though, I feel I am gradually improving both speed and endurance.

My right knee was a little uncomfortable on my last lap of the night, but I managed to keep running steadily. Hopefully, it was just that I hadn’t done any running for a few days that made me knee feel a little shaky. The running usually makes my knee feel stronger.

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Do jang and gym day (August 25)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 01:30

Wednesday (August 24) I only went to patterns class. I was feeling a bit tired and had to do an errand, so didn’t stay for the next taekwondo class which was mostly kicking. I was planning to go to the gym and do some weights, but my errand ran a little longer than expected, so I just ended up going home.

Today (August 25), I managed to make it to gumdo class. I was a little late but got to take at least half the class. Tried learning the 2nd sword pattern, but not enough time in class to learn it properly. Fridays are good days for that, but this Friday I won’t be able to make it (prior obligations). After, I took the taekwondo class which was of course lots of kicking. I was a little tired to begin with, but was starting to feel better by the end of class. I wasn’t feeling exhausted which is good.

So, I decided that I should go to the gym today. Nathan decided to take a break from the running as his leg muscle is a little sore, so I did a half mile run on the treadmill instead of going to the track. I managed to run a half mile (800m) in 4 minutes 28 seconds, which is pretty good so far. If I wasn’t already tired from taekwondo, I think I would have tried for a mile. Eventually, I would like to run 2 miles easy. Though, I’m finding I’m not liking the treadmill as much as the track or the road for running. The treadmill is actually TOO soft for my knee. I feel as if my knee wants to hyperextend which is not good. It’s because the treadmill is designed to absorb impact, but it seems to be absorbing too much impact for me. It’s almost as if my feet sink into the treadmill with each step. The track and the road are good because they are firm, so my feet doesn’t sink in and doesn’t make my knee feel like hyperextending. It’s basically resistance training for my knee while I’m running which is what my knee needs. With the good running shoes I bought, I hardly feel the track or the road when I’m running.

After the treadmill, I did some weight training. Here’s a list of the weight exercises I did (see one of my previous posts to see what muscles some of these exercises work):

Leg press
Hamstring flexor
Chest press (similar to push-ups, but sitting up using a machine)
Bar pull (works the rhomboids, the muscles on the back between the shoulder blades/scapulae)
Pectoral flexor
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift overhead
Tricep extensions
Bicep curls

As I got to the gym a little late, I ran out of time to do more weight exercises but it was just as well as I was feeling the fatigue of the past week and half. If I recall, I did get to the gym last Thursday (August 18) and did a whole circuit of weight exercises. It felt good, but made gumdo class a bit harder the next day.

Tomorrow, I probably should take a day off and rest a bit. Saturday, Nathan and are going to do some more running. Hopefully, his leg feels a bit better. As for me, my leg muscles are sufficiently sore, but getting stronger, so they feel good. 😀

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Track running (August 23)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 13:27

Nathan and I did some more track running yesterday night.

We went running after I was done at the do jang. I took gumdo class (learned the next duelling technique), then taekwondo, so I was considerably tired. We did lots of kicking as usual, but were working on speed. So, doing some running afterwards was a bit hard, but manageable.

Nathan and I did two laps around the track together, taking a short break after the first lap then continuing. For a slow run, we did okay. We finished without feeling too exhausted. Nathan did two more laps on his own, I did one lap following him from behind because I wanted to take a little break so as not to push it too much. After he was done his two laps (half mile), I did a fast lap.

My time for the lap was 1 minute 52 seconds (for 400m), a little slower than last week (Wednesday), but I did pretty well this time. I didn’t get too exhausted before finishing and managed a steady pace the whole lap. 🙂 So, I guess the endurance is picking up a bit. I will have to keep on the endurance and hopefully the speed will come soon.

As I was a little tired from taekwondo already and as my legs were starting to cramp a little from the chill (I was wearing shorts, I will probably need to buy something longer soon so I don’t get too cold outside), I decided not to go for another lap. I actually needed to change back into my taekwondo pants to help warm up my muscles. Then Nathan and I started walking home. The walk home from the track after our running seems to help our muscless from cooling down too fast and helps keep them loose.

Today, I’m feeling pretty good. A little tired overall as I probably need some rest. So today just going to take it easy at the do jang. Today is patterns class and I think I will just go to the gym afterwards to do some weights. Tomorrow is more running.

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Trail run (August 21)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 23:00

Nathan and I went on the trail run today. We got to Broadview and Mortimer in about 45 minutes, which isn’t so bad. We ran most of the way at a slow pace, dropping to a fast walk only every so often. We managed to run most of Rosedale Valley Rd. and got to Bayview in about 20 minutes from our place. Pottery Rd. was of course especially challenging. I did manage to run the majority of it. I think I walked for maybe a minute of it. By the time I got to the intersection, my stomach was feeling crunched.

We ended up walking all the way back from Broadview and Mortimer following the route I created previously (see previous post on trail run). I think we did quite a bit of a workout today so I didn’t think we needed to run all the way yet. Eventually, this route should be a nice decent workout for us. For the most part, I’m trying to run a bit further each time with little need to slow down to walking.

In total, Nathan and I were out for almost an hour and a half. So our time for the route is getting better.

This week, we should get in two track days and one trail run. I’m starting to look forward to my runs now. My muscles feel good from them and they seem to miss the workout when I don’t run. My knee also feels good from the running – surprise! My knee tends to hurt more from the pivoting on my feet in taekwondo kicking than the running which does not require any pivoting. Running is said to improve cartilage damage in the knee joint (i.e., meniscus tears). As long as proper form is maintained, runner’s knee should not occur. (Runner’s knee is the medical condition where the kneecap/patella rubs against the end of the thigh bone/femur.) So, I look forward to the next track day.

Tonight and tomorrow, I get to rest. 🙂 I think I deserve it.

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Gumdo test – a new yellow belt for me

I got my yellow belt in gumdo on Friday. Yay! Read the post below for more details on my test.

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Do jang day – Gumdo and Taekwondo

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 15:21

Thursday (August 18) was another gumdo day. I went to gumdo practice then after I took the taekwondo class. Afterwards, I practiced some more gumdo to get ready for my test the next day. (Then, I did manage to get to the gym afterwards and do some weight exercises.)

Friday (August 19), I went to gumdo class to get warmed up for my test. It was a good class – one full hour of practice. I don’t get to go Fridays all the time, so it is good when I can go. We had our test after the class. First, we were tested on “kyo gum”, which are duelling/fighting techiques, consisting of around 4 steps/techniques. Next, we were tested on “ssang soo gumbup” which are sword patterns. Then we had to answer some terminology questions. Gumdo is a Korean martial art so the terminology is Korean. So we were asked for either the English or the Korean for a few terms.

Finally, we had to do “candle begi” which is blowing out the candle with a sword. I managed to blow out the candle. (Yay!) It took me somewhere between 20 and 25 strokes. I lost count. Well, that’s much better than when I started (took me 50 strokes). (See my previous post on gumdo under the general category.) I still need more practice. Next time, I have to do it in 10 strokes. Then, they start adding more candles!

So, on Tuesday I guess I get to learn new forms for gumdo. I can’t wait. I love doing martial art patterns. It’s very meditative in a strange way. Makes you quite aware of everything around you while teaching you to remain focussed.

Saturday (August 20), I had taekwondo for 3 hours. It was a black belt meeting and training day. We did some warm up punching and kicking drills, then practiced our patterns. Afterwards, some light kicking and we practiced chest guard kicking (i.e., kicking our partner who was wearing the chest guard). It’s been awhile since I’ve done that training so I had to get used to getting kicked wearing a chest guard. Frankly, no one really likes doing this (unless one is masochistic!), but it’s good practice for both people. Afterwards, we had our meeting, which took a little longer than it should have. Then we had some food. Nice! Our Master bought Korean food for us. Yum!

Today, I have to do some running as it’s been 3 days since I’ve done some serious running outside of the do jang. So, Nathan and I are going to head out on the trail run I planned out earlier. I’ll be back later with an update.

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Track running and do jang day

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 00:44

Wednesday, August 17

Today, I went to the do jang. It was a small class for patterns and I got to spend some time practicing my pattern and techniques. I ended up taking the next class which was loads of kicking, bouncing, and hopping again. Nathan and I made plans to meet up after I was done at the do jang so we could go and do some track running.

My hamstrings are a little sore. My shins aren’t that sore now – they were sore for a few days after the trail run on Sunday.

The track running today was specifically to time my run on the 400m and to start to increase my top speed. This should help make the trail runs easier as I won’t be using my top speed. When we got to the track (I’m using Central Technical School’s track), we stretched out a bit and warmed up, then did a lap around the track. It was a bit tiring at first, but we did another run trying to pick up the pace a bit. We did this lap in 1 minute 55 seconds. Next, I did a lap by myself just concentrating on maintaining a decent pace. I finished the lap in 1 minute 48 seconds. Not bad. Not extremely fast, but not a turtle either. Not bad for someone who didn’t like running to begin with. Now, I have a base to work up from. I still need to work on the endurance though because I could feel the fatigue in my body (but still pushed it for the last little bit).

After my lap, Nathan did one fast one by himself. He did well with a time of 1 minute 34 seconds. I’m sure he’ll get better soon enough. I keep saying he’s got runner’s (and cyclist’s) legs because his quads are so huge! Then he did another easy lap by himself. I had enough of a workout and I did what I needed to do tonight (find my top time so far), so I didn’t do another lap. I tried to keep my legs warm though by doing some knee-ups and taekwondo-style bouncing.

Now, here’s the fun part. Assuming I can keep up a pace of 1 minute 48 seconds for 400m, I should be able to do 10k in 45 minutes. Not bad, I could live with that. So this means that if I can pick up the speed for the short 400m making the 1 minute 48 seconds an easy pace for me, the endurance shouldn’t be an issue for the 10k.

So, I’m happy about tonight. I feel good. It’s nice to get air in my lungs and I know the muscle soreness in my hamstrings, quads, and calves will only make them stronger. The other thing that felt good was the wind in my hair while running. It’s a nice feeling. Almost like flying. 🙂 It’s like that feeling going downhill skiing (when I was much younger!) Maybe I’ll learn to love running. Hm… at this point, I’m wondering if my taekwondo training has made running easier.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take it easy. I have gumdo class and I need to practice for the test on Friday. Saturday, I have 3 hours taekwondo training (black belts only). Thinking I should do more track work on Friday night if there’s time and the trail run on Sunday (assuming I’m not too tired from 3 hours of taekwondo training, not sure what the Master has planned for us).

Well, time for lots of R&R.

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