Thursday, January 19, 2012

Martial Art School

"Anyone can do art."

I strongly disagree. Maybe it's my art school talking, but I think it takes a serious dedication of time and effort to learn any art form.

In order to paint, I had to first develop a solid foundation in drawing and rendering. Then there's the terminology of painting: engaging the compositional frame, de-intensified color, luminosity, chroma, etc. Then you have to learn the nature of the medium. Acrylic or Oils? Matte or shiny finish? How do the pigments mix?

Until you have an intimate understanding of the basics, you'll never have all the tools at your disposal to communicate your intent.

With painting, the basics include canvas preparations, using paintbrushes, medium (acrylic, oil, or egg whites), and so on.

In martial arts, the basics include striking, blocking, grappling, distance, positioning, timing, posture, and power. Only after these basics are thoroughly explored can any student of the martial arts begin to understand physical conflict on any sophisticated level.

Art education is not just left to personal discovery and trial and error. Without systematic instruction it could literally take a lifetime to teach yourself the skills necessary to become an effective artist. With an experienced teacher you may find a friend, mentor, and guide on your path to success.

More than showing you the basics, a teacher can help you find your voice in any given medium.

The same goes for martial arts.

Whatever style you're studying, there should be a clear-cut process of instruction. Any school worth their while will focus, first, on communicating the system and then move on to advanced techniques. Be wary of any school that focuses too much on "free form" instruction. You could do that on your own; no reason to pay for it.

What you should be getting for your tuition is a qualified guide on your pathway to martial arts success.

The best schools will intertwine the higher levels of understanding into the basics, so you're actually learning at a much deeper level than simply one lesson at a time. This is different than simply trying to gain access to the highest levels of understanding as quickly as possible.

In the art world, this is done in your exploration of the basics. Consider drawing, for example. With something as simple as a pencil there is a myriad of applications. Line character, width, hardness, cross-hatching, shading, and so on. These basics are the essential building blocks used to create your masterpiece.

In the martial arts world, the concepts of how to fight should be woven into your instruction from day one. While you're working consciously on the simple tasks, you're being exposed to the higher functions.

In conclusion, there's no great mystery to learning martial arts. Learn from a good instructor who can make sure you understand the basics and then help you discover the higher levels of martial art concepts embedded in them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Attention Ballroom Dancers, Have You Tried The Argentine Tango?

The Argentine Tango is actually a classic dance which emanated on the roads of Buenos Aires during the completion of the 19th century. This dance has actually developed in appeal over time with both social and professional dancers. The music is both varied and also more contemporary than the usual ballroom tango tracks thanks to added components and instruments, which is actually why at some get togethers the Argentine Tango alone is danced all evening.

The movements consist mainly of walks with the feet making close contact with the floor at all times. The follower normally walks with her legs outside of her partners. It is danced counterclockwise around the floor, and cutting across the middle of the floor is strongly frowned upon.

Argentine Tango is a bit different, a bit dangerous and a bit more exciting than the normal tango. The reason for this is that the woman must allow the man to utterly 'control her body.' It is danced in an embrace which can vary from wide at arms length to a very close chest on chest.

Apart from having to balance herself perfectly with his frame, she has to feel the slightest hint of him stepping forward, so that she can shoot her corresponding foot backwards and be ready for any sudden changes.

The lady can occasionally choose to decorate him with her foot or leg, but mostly she is his mirroring puppet. This I know won't suit a lot of strong-willed woman. It's like he is doing all the talking for once.

Some woman will struggle to come to terms with this imbalance, but this type of connection is very necessary to allow for the correct execution of the Argentine Tango.

With the right partner the Argengine Tango can be extremely sexy as well as strangely spiritual. The dancers have to give the audience the impression that they have been lovers for ages.

In Buenos Aires it is the custom to have milongas or gatherings where the Argentine Tango is the dance of the evening. There are however a few rules you need to follow if attending one of these Milongas.

Firstly you have to dance with a partner for at least three songs, even if he dances like a 'hefalump.' Woman are never allowed to ask the men to dance. Men tend to try and avoid rejection by simply looking at you and jerking their heads towards the dance floor if they want to dance with you.

Whatever way you choose, the Argentine Tango might just be the dance for you, and if you enjoy ballroom dancing, then you simply have to give it a whirl.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

3 Recommendations for Running Coach and Volunteer Background Checks in Youth Sports

No child should ever have to suffer from sexual abuse, especially while participating in a sports organization that is supposed to be about having fun, making friends and learning new things. While it takes a continued and dedicated effort from sports organizations, coaches, parents, volunteers and the rest of the community at large to protect youth athletes from sexual abuse, volunteer background checks can stop a lot of would-be predators from ever entering a youth sports organization. Here are a few things to consider:

1. All adult volunteers must complete a background check prior to working with any youth sports organization, including criminal history and sex offender registry checks. This includes anyone that might work for the league such as a coach, official, groundskeeper and so forth. Anyone who might have any contact (or opportunity to interact) with the children should be required to complete a background check, no matter how unlikely it seems that they would be a predator. The youth league is ultimately responsible for who is allowed into the organization and it's much better to be extra strict on making sure everyone passes a background check than risk letting even one potential predator slip through the cracks.

2. It's important that the league determines what offenses that could appear during a background check would automatically disqualify a volunteer from being allowed to join the organization. While someone with a history of abuse or violence is easy to disqualify, should people with DUIs on their records be allowed to volunteer? The league needs to decide that. Look at things in black and white; when everyone knows where the line in the sand is it's much easier to create a safe environment for youth athletes. No one should be exempt from this "no go" list, no matter what their qualifications may be.

3. Fingerprint-based screening is often considered the "gold standard" of background checks; however it is not permitted in some states and can be too expensive for many sports organizations to implement even if they do have legal access to it. While the laws from state to state may vary, each organization should make use of the most comprehensive screening available. Keep in mind that different states may have different information on the same person. Someone volunteering in California might have a criminal past in Pennsylvania, but that information might show up in the California state check.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

History of Playground Design

With playgrounds we recognize both intelligent design and evolution as supportive of each other in the development of new ideas. We often find ways to marry form and function. Initially, playgrounds were developed by landscape architects looking to create public spaces that would bring communities together. Artists moved in to exert their influence and in the process more creative forms for playgrounds began to be explored.

So how did we get here? Today's traditional "post and platform" design wasn't always the norm.

By 1900 playgrounds appeared in major American cities and consisted of a sandbox and a cubist metal climbing apparatus known as a "gymnasium". By 1912 New York City decided these gymnasiums were unsafe and were removed from all parks. By the 1930's landscape architects took a serious interest in playground design and sculptor Isamu Noguchi introduced abstract concepts that helped give the modern playground a push forward.

After WW II the Baby Boom demanded more playgrounds. Most postwar urban playgrounds were designed for combined use between schools and parks. But throughout the fifties playground designers were split into two camps: recreational movement (fitness) and art. Play was a structured affair. The idea of unstructured play had not yet hit home. Safety surfacing development was slow, at best. The playground was limited to a sandbox, see-saw, slide and swings. During the 1950's attention was given to the "handicapped", ironically the result of wounded warriors from WWII and Korea arriving at the playgrounds with their children. Noguchi's famous 1952 design for the United Nations was rejected by Robert Moses and touched off a heated debate. The design was revolutionary but not understood and it never got built.

By the 1960's play components started to link together. Composite structures were being explored along with massive climbing structures made of wood and stone. The idea was to make playgrounds interesting and draw kids to them or else they would be back out on the streets - presumably up to no good. Not all playgrounds were post and platform. Adventure Playground in Central Park is a wonderful look back to this transitional period where art and play came together. Water moves down lengthy channels and collects in a basin where it drains - no standing water. There is sand, water, and climbing structures. Every Landscape Architect should make a pilgrimage to this historic park!

By the 1970's we entered the Age of Litigation. Suddenly the City of New York and Chicago found themselves in multimillion dollar injury settlements and parks began to close. Property values plummeted if they had playground equipment on them. Some NYC coops closed down. New York City eliminated see-saws and they remain on the blacklist. Insurance company premiums were so high that some cities decided to self-insure. By the 1980's this debacle started to calm down when the CPSC formed guidelines and NPSI (National Playground Safety Institute) set up a certification program for playground designers. Safety-engineered playgrounds followed the new recommendations or guidelines and now some states are mandating CPSC code.

Playgrounds came back stronger with creative climbers that encouraged children to use different muscles. Slides had enclosures at the top and higher sidewalls. It got safer in a hurry - it had to. By and large playgrounds became better and better and by 2004 what we had was a playground so safe it was hard to say "no way." At then end of the day we still get broken bones but they usually are with children who fall 2-3 feet or trip when running. Their bones are weaker and let's face it, there was always one or two kids in the class who were prone to wearing a cast. You can't blame the playground

Isamu Noguchi may be the father of the Natureground. His concepts are in use today: molded forms of earth create hills, slopes, curves from which playground equipment can be positioned around. Research shows when playground equipment is placed in a natural setting around trees, plantings, berms, boulders children use them more often and for longer periods. A playground dropped into a box or rectangle looks more institutional and is less appealing. Even children seem to possess an aesthetic sense and we designers notice these things.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Activities to Enjoy Over the Weekends

Are you the type of parents who are too busy with work and rarely have time for your kids? Well, of course, it is understandable that you want to provide good future for your kids so you are doing your best to work hard. Working and providing money for the family is surely part of your role as provider but how about your role as parents? Do you think your children will give you passing scores? Well, do not let things reach that stage wherein your kids ask you for your time. To do this, all you have to do is to make sure that your weekends will be spent with them. You have to make sure that you will do no work during those days because it is your time for your family. Now, what activities could you enjoy with the kids? Of course, you should at least have a great plan to ensure nice and memorable time with the family.

Do not worry because in this article, we will give you some examples of activities that you could surely enjoy with the entire family including the kids.

Play bean bag toss game - one of the most popular and most enjoyable backyard game is bean bag toss game. It is easy to play so the kids will surely grasp the rules of the game easily. The great thing about this game is that it is enjoyable for everyone - kids and adults. The rule is simple - the players will each take turns throwing bean bags to a raised platform with a hole in the far end. Each bean bag in the hole scores 3 points and whoever gets 21 score first wins the game. It is easy yet very exciting for both kids and adults. To make the game more fun, it would be great to prepare some exciting prizes.

Go to some out of town trips - children loves travelling and they love to visit new places especially when those places feature some playgrounds or theme parks. You should prepare well for this kind of activity though since you will need to spend generous amount of time and money. But of course, the smile in the faces of your kids will surely be priceless. You could spare this kind of activity as a reward for your kids once they done great work at school or at home.

Have picnic at the park - kids are not hard to please and you would be surprised at how little things could make them truly happy. One example is having picnic at the park. You could bring packed lunches or some sandwiches and lots of chocolates and candies to share while you are at the park doing some sports or even nothing at all. Speaking of sports, you could also play some sports like badminton, basketball or volleyball at the park. The kids will definitely love to spend Sunday afternoon like that.

You should consider the tips mentioned in this article so you could have quality time with your kids. It is very important to promote balance in your life. You work hard but at the same time, you play nice with your kids too. That way, everyone will be happy and satisfied.