5 Ways Martial Arts Improves Your Life

There are many ways that you can benefit from different forms of exercise, and for me Martial Arts of any kind really sums up a good workout. I have been doing different Martial Arts for many years, off and on, and I have been helped greatly in many areas. Martial Arts was the first “sport” that actually stood out to me, and that I enjoyed doing so much that I was looking forward to going back again and again. Below I have listed a few of the things that I have noticed that Martial Arts have helped me the most with.

For me, what really stands out about Martial Arts is how many aspects there are to it. I have always focused on the physical side of the workout, the expression of the human body. I have since I got into Martial Arts, kind of wandered between different schools, such as Karate, Bujinkan, Iaido, Jiu-Jutsu and Tae Kwon Do, and all of them are great in their own ways and all bring their own specific benefits. But there are a few things that most Martial Arts incorporate, which make them very beneficial, no matter who you are.

1. Coordination

In any kind of Martial Art, you have to be able to control your body, to be able to avoid attacks, whether you are doing the Martial Art for self-defence purposes, as a sport or as a workout. There are many techniques that you will learn that will push you to recognize how you can move in a better way, how to position yourself and coordinate your movements with your opponent. You will learn to use both sides of your body, how to coordinate strikes, kicks and other movements, and retain your balance at the same time.

2. Strength and Endurance

If you have never been doing Martial Arts before, you might not think that you need to be strong to start with Martial Arts. This is completely wrong. Actually, once you get past a certain point, the more muscle mass you have, the slower and more sluggish you get. So in Martial Arts, having lean strength is more valued than huge muscles. Another thing that you will improve is your endurance. You will be asked to do the same things over and over and over and over ad nauseum, until you are so tired you want to curl up into a ball and cry, but you will be doing it, and that in turn will build up your endurance and skill. Repetition is key to anything you want to become good at or improve.

3. Improved Reflexes

When faced with new situations, we adapt. When faced with punches and kicks and locks that hurt, you adapt by learning how to counter them, or how to avoid them, but most importantly, you learn to react quickly, assess the situation and act accordingly. You basically teach your reflexes to become faster, by putting yourself in the line of fire. This improvement of reflexes and reaction doesn’t only apply to Martial Arts, but also computer games, when driving, cycling and any other kind of situation where you need to react quickly.

4. Relaxation

Paradoxically you can become a more peaceful person by practicing Martial Arts. It is a great source of stress relief for many people to be able to kick, scream and get their frustrations out through Martial Arts practice, and in turn that leaves you more relaxed and focused than when you started your workout. And the more peaceful you get inside, the easier it is to cope with stress

5. Self-confidence

Through learning self-defence and being able to be confident in yourself even in pressured situations you gain enormous self-confidence. Being able to trust yourself that you will be able to handle any situation that you will come to face is another thing that Martial Arts can bring. Knowing how to defend yourself is an enormously comforting feeling to have, even if you never end up needing to use your skills. Your goal should never be to get into a fight, but to be able to get out of one, and feel secure with yourself no matter what situation you are in. That is the goal with Martial Arts.

Now that I have listed a few of the things that I find the most beneficial with Martial Arts, it is your turn! Tell me what you think about Martial Arts in general, what you benefit from the most and anything else you want to discuss in the comments. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Aurora Borealis Watch

A colourful display of Aurora Borealis in Finland

Aurora Borealis is a very beautiful phenomenon, but a lot of people have never seen it and don’t know when or where to look out for it, so I created this page so that it will be much easier to know when to keep an eye on the skies.

There are a few weather websites that show data on solar activity and a couple of websites that show aurora borealis predictions, so I want to collect the best of those sites and try to make the content available here, collected in an easy manner, so that it will be easier to overview and know when to look up to the sky to be able to see something some people only dream of seeing.

Aurora can be seen throughout the whole year, not only when it is cold, as some people believe. The only thing that is required is that the skies are clear because Aurora Borealis is not a weather phenomenon, it occurs high above the clouds, and dark skies. Sunlight and even bright moonlight can make the Aurora difficult to see though, so keep a good lookout!

The red “View Line” 1000 km equatorward of the aurora shows from where it is possible to see the aurora during good viewing conditions. The chart is updated roughly every 10 minutes or so. View a larger version of this image.

To see the current Aurora Forecast, you can either refer to the image above or go to the Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast which also includes a description of what is to be expected during the current conditions. Click here to visit their webpage.

The activity or intensity of Aurora Borealis is measured on a scaled called the “Kp Index” which goes from 0-9. This scale also relates to how far equatorward it is possible to see the Aurora. To see examples of how the activity looks during the different points of the scale, click the picture gallery below.

[nggallery id=1]

 

11-Year Solar Cycle

Aurora Borealis has it’s peak roughly every 11 years, and have been measured for more than 400 years, since the time of Galileo! To see this graph go all the way back to the 1620’s, check this link out. It’s calculated that we will have the top activity of Aurora Borealis in 2013-2014, but we are already seeing a lot more activity than just a couple of years ago.

How to predict Aurora Borealis

There are many metrics that are used for predicting Aurora Borealis. For example, you can measure the solar activity and the solar storms and get a kind of prediction from that, which is much like weather prediction here on earth, not completely correct, but at least a guideline. This kind of solar-weather prediction is done with measuring the x-ray radiation that comes off from the sun. You can view a graph that gets updated every 5 minutes of the current Solar X-ray Flux here.

This chart is updated every 5 minutes

In the lowest section of this picture you can see the estimated current Kp level.

Here is another chart that shows the current aurora activity. It is not as clear, but it is still kind of interesting:

Be sure to check back to this page often, as I will update it with more information and data later. Happy Aurora hunting!

For more reading, check out these webpages:

I have stopped doing martial arts!

I have stopped, only to improve

Yes, I really have stopped doing martial arts! I actually started doing Tae Kwon Do in January and went for a few classes, but I quickly noticed that my strength, flexibility and stamina is not where I want them, not even close, and instead of focusing on learning techniques and slowly building up my strength while doing martial arts, I have decided that I will take a break from doing martial arts, for now. Instead I will be going to the gym three times a week, mostly doing body weight exercises, to build up a good core strength. I have actually noticed already that my leg strength has increased significantly.

I love martial arts. I think that it’s good exercise and it’s a lot of fun to practice as well. It doesn’t really matter what martial art it is, the basic principles are the same. There are only a few things that all martial arts are built up around, and they are; Striking, Kicking, Throwing (things, opponents), Grips, Avoiding / Moving and Groundwork / Wrestling. All techniques fall within one of these groups. And if you don’t have a good understanding of the basics of these groups, then even if you try to learn a technique within one of the groups, it will still not be proficient. And if you’re not flexible or strong enough to execute a technique correctly, it doesn’t matter how well you know the technique.

So I have decided to focus on building core strength by working out at the gym, stretching every day and building up a better stamina than I have ever had before. This will also help me achieve what I’ve been struggling with for a long time, and that is to gain weight. I haven’t quit martial arts for good. I am just taking a break from them so that when I get back, I can go in with more strength than ever before, being more flexible and having a much greater stamina. I’m looking forward to seeing the results, once I get started again after the summer.

Anyway, that’s all for now!

Goals for 2012

Hello everybody! I hope that you have had a great 2012 so far!

I have read many blog posts, newspaper articles, how-to’s and other things related to New Year resolutions or vows over several years now, and the general theme in them is that it’s difficult to achieve your goals, and that you probably didn’t achieve them last year. Whether it’s losing weight, getting stronger/more fit, saving up money or spending less, these are things that are difficult to do, and require dedication and a proper plan to succeed with.

I tried making New Year vows last year for the first time, but forgot all about it almost right away. The thing is that making a resolution for what you are going to do for the rest of the year is quite difficult, especially if there are multiple items on that list. And you really need to get started right away with the things that you want to achieve, unless you want to forget about it and just have a few things as “dreams”.  If you don’t get started right away, and at least do something, anything at all, chances are that you won’t get started at all. So if you want to start becoming more flexible (something I want) then start stretching every day. Don’t go to bed unless you have done it.

This year I am not going to make any resolutions at all! But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any goals for 2012, on a personal level. There are loads of things that I want to do, and loads of things that I have already planned for this year, but that’s what they are. Plans and goals. Things that I need to get started with right away! So I’m not going to call them resolutions or anything like that, but instead push myself to achieve as much as possible this year instead.

So this year, I am going to set up a few new goals to work towards;

    • Get married.
    • Finally take my drivers license
    • Get more familiar with Russian
    • Practice the other languages I know more often, especially Hindi, Vietnamese and Japanese
    • Get to a B2 level (or higher) in my Hindi, both speaking and understanding
    • Become flexible and start with martial arts again.
    • Reach my goal weight of 65 kg. (Through working out and subsequently eating more.)
    • Get my own company up and running. (The first stages are already in place.)
    • Take my story writing and filming to a new level. If possible, create a short film by the end of the year based on a self written story. (I have started a rough layout for a story/film idea.)

So, these are a few of my goals this year. I will keep you updated on how I progress, throughout the year. 2012 is going to be an interesting year for sure. There are going to be so many new things and experiences. I really look forward to seeing how everything turns out.

What are your goals for 2012 going to be? Have you already gotten started with something? Let me know!

Moving the site

Hello everybody! I have recently changed server hosts, from having had loopia for 2 years to now hosting my webpages on binero. The reasons for the move are quite many, but the main points are that binero are cheaper and provide much more storage space.

The reason I mention this is because due to the change of web hotel, all the pictures from my webpage have been temporarily removed from the site. I didn’t back them up properly for simple importing, but that’s alright. I have almost all of them somewhere else, so I can upload them again when I get time to.

I’m really looking forward to the new year! A lot of exciting things are going to happen for sure.

New Year Vows Update

In January this year, I made a few New Year vows. This post is to account for what I have been able to keep and what I haven’t. And for you who are too lazy to read the whole blog post, at the end I have listed all the goals in categories; success, partial success and failure.

New Year Vows for 2011:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now I will do a rundown of each of these vows to see what I have been able to do and what I have failed to do this year.

Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits

This summer when I went to India together with Mehek, I did buy a lot of clothes. I actually thought that I had packed too much, but we actually didn’t cross the weight limit. I also bought three tailor made suits that I am extremely happy about. I still have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I don’t use any more, so I should go through it and remove what I don’t need any more. But I consider this a success.

Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it

I can’t say that I am able to speak Hindi as well as I understand it, but then again, I might speak Hindi almost as well as I understood it by last year. I have learned a lot and I do understand much more now than I did before. Passive understanding of a language is always bigger than active knowledge of a language. I consider this a partial success.

 Learn the basics of Russian

It was not until about a month ago that I actually started learning Russian seriously, and since then I have been skipping days and missing out a lot, but I have gotten started. I am very proud that I have taken the first steps, even though I don’t know what I would consider being the basics of Russian quite yet, so I will consider this a partial success.

Start with and succeed with my projects

I have started way too many projects, so a lot of them have been terminated and a few others put on hold. But I guess that I’ve been able to do what matters. Success.

Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

I haven’t started any projects that would generate any revenue yet. Failure.

Buff up and get more flexible

In the beginning of the year, I went to the gym almost 3 times per week, every week. I am very proud of this. But then the summer came, I got lazy and never really got back into the habit of going to the gym. I guess that going to the gym for about 6 months at least counts for something, so I’ll give this a partial success.

Get an apartment of my own

After much searching during the spring, Mehek and I finally found an apartment that we are renting. Success.

Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

In May this year I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII, which I really really love. It’s the best phone that I have tried and I’m super happy with it. I didn’t build a desktop computer however, but instead I bought a new really amazing laptop. I would call this a success.

Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now this is a big one. I have way too much stuff and I like a lot of it way too much. I know that I shouldn’t keep a lot of it, but it has sentimental value or something of the sort, so I haven’t been able to throw everything out yet. I have however gotten rid of a lot of things, and a lot of new things have taken their place. I guess this is a partial success.

So let’s break it down.

Success:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

Partial success:

  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Failure:

  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

So it would seem that I have been able to do at least most of the things that I set out to do this year. Some things partially, some things fully and I only failed to do one thing that I set out to do. I guess I should be proud of myself.

How have you fared with your own New Year vows? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.

New Banner!

I made a banner a couple of weeks ago, containing snapshots of a few things that I am interested in. I thought it was a fun project, and if you have any feedback to give regarding the design, the colours and/or if you think I should add or remove something, please do give your opinion! I treasure it!

One thing that I have been told is that I should make the images clickable, so that you come to a section that talks more about the subject of the image clicked, so I will try to make something like that in the coming weeks! I really haven’t been doing much writing lately, so I’m just taking these things as excuses to actually type a little right now.

On another note, I just bought a new laptop! It’s awesome!

First days in India

Finally we have reached India! The flight was really great and it was only on the connecting flight to Vienna that we had the problem with screaming children. On the way to India it was really quiet and peaceful. And even though the food was not good at all, overall it was a really pleasant flight. And now we have reached India.

It is really awesome here. The food and the people have really been super great. I have settled in at the hotel and Mehek is finally with her parents again. I have also met Mehek’s family. They are really awesome people and we have gotten along really really well. I am really happy for that. So far we haven’t been doing much, but I have bought a pair of dress-shoes and gotten a haircut, which was really necessary. I will post pictures of this soon.

There is no internet connection in the hotel room, so I am currently borrowing a computer at Mehek’s place. I guess it’s for the best, otherwise I would sit up at night to update the blog and upload pictures. I will have to bring the cord with me so that I can transfer a few pictures and videos to upload some time though. So you can expect more regular updates from now on. It has taken a few days to get settled in, but I’m finally starting to get my bearings straight.

I have been filming a bit, not as much as I had thought I would, but I am sure that you will all love what you see. I haven’t taken many pictures though, during these first few days, but instead I have been filming. Only time will tell which is the better way of keeping record, but I will try to do both. Still images are easier to browse though, I guess.

If you want to send me a private message or something like that, instead of commenting on the blog, send me an email instead, unless it has something to do with what I have been writing on the blog. I still get the messages, but for the sake of order I want to keep only comments that are relevant to the blogpost. For all you who don’t know, you can email me at jw [at] lifelearner (dot) se

I will write again soon, so keep checking in! Have an awesome day! See you next time.

Tonight we’re off to India!

Finally, we are on our way!! Our bags are packed and we are just waiting for time to pass by, so that we can finally get started on this journey! In just a few hours, we will be off to the airport, and at 06:40 CEST our plane is scheduled to take off. I am getting more and more stoked by the minute by the fact that we are actually going! It hasn’t sunk in properly yet and I don’t have any kind of pre-travel jitters, but that is normal. It is going to be so exciting to see India, all the people, the colours, the food and culture. This is going to be the best trip ever!

This is going to be a trip full of firsts, and I’m looking forward to every single bit of it. I have been practicing taking videos and I feel more confident than ever that I’ll be able to do a good job documenting everything, but only time will tell how much I’m actually going to be able to record. I hope to be able to post the first travel update already on Saturday, as we are going to be traveling the whole Friday long. Also, because I love languages and am learning Hindi, I am really looking forward to practicing and improving my Hindi as well! I expect to be able to comprehend and especially speak Hindi better after this trip.

To all you people who follow this trip; Please comment on what we write and upload. Share your opinions about what we see and hear. Seeing your comments will be like getting a letter from home, letting us know that you are sharing this experience with us. We are going to have tons of fun, and knowing that you in a way share that with us, even while we are in India is really exciting! So let’s enjoy this trip together. Love you all!

Weekend on the Boat and Learning to Film Update

Last weekend, Mehek, my parents and I spent some time on the boat, and in preparation for my trip to India, I recorded a few clips every day just to get used to using my camera and things like that. I have learned a few new features that my phone has. Among other things that I can use the volume buttons to zoom, which I didn’t during this trip, but this feature might come in handy.

The things I have learned so far are:

  1. I need to have a clear idea of what it is that I want to film. The better I know what will come up, and when it will end, the better videos I can make.
  2. Every video must have a start, middle and a finish.
  3. Audio quality is much more important than you might think at first.
  4. Zooming around, tilting and panning should not be overused for simple projects.

So, I’ve made up my mind that I will, while still being flexible, take a short clip before the day starts out and talk a little bit about what I’m expecting from the day, then film some during the events happen. This of course will be completely spontaneous and I have no idea how much of this kind of video I will shoot. And then in the end of the day, I will recap what has happened, include some photos and then try to edit it all up and upload it.

So far I haven’t settled for any computer-based editing program. I have downloaded a trial version of Adobe After Effects, so I will try that out a bit, but I’m still not sure if I’m going to bring the computer with me or not. I am leaning towards bringing it, since I want to be able to free up space on my phone, and it would be handy to be able to edit the video a little bit better than I can on the phone. The videos I have made so far have been completely edited on the phone though, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

Regarding a tripod, I still haven’t found one to buy, but I am still on the lookout. If I can’t find one here in Sweden, I might buy one when I am in India, or make one myself. I have seen a few tutorials for how to make one, and it doesn’t look all too complicated. Not sure how much time it would take though.

I am still learning a lot when it comes to shooting video and everything surrounding that. And I’m looking forward to the trip more than anything else right now. It will be the best trip ever, I’m sure of that. But for now, here’s the video from the weekend:

A little heads up: At roughly 3:50 the audio is pretty terrible, so you might want to either turn off the audio or lower it down a lot. That section of the clip will last for about 30 seconds.