Reading is a passionate hobby of mine. Ever since I was given the Kindle as a present for my birthday, I have been knee deep with the likes of Jim Butcher, Miles Cameron, R.A Salvatore and G.R.R Martin. There’s nothing like spending an entire day lost in the fantasy worlds that these incredible authors manage to bring to life through words alone. One of my only issues with the Kindle, and books, is my inability to read comfortably at night! That all changed when my girlfriend gave me some LED reading lights for the bed. I have no idea why I never thought to look for something like this on my own!
These strips install right above the bed, or wherever you want them, casting the perfect level of light for your reading needs. Read the rest of this entry »
When your family is growing in numbers, one of the best things to do is to renovate your home to accommodate your whole family without sacrificing comfort. Some families actually put their home out on the market and look for a bigger piece of property that the whole family can settle into. However, if you really want to preserve your home because you feel there is a sentimental value, you can actually stay put and have the house rebuilt to accommodate your family’s needs.
A lot of families settle for the second option which is home renovations. Most people who go for this option do so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps, they love their community and do not wish to live far away from their friends and relatives. Then there’s the issue of finances. Whatever your reasons are for opting for a remodel, whatever part of the home you want to have rebuilt, in general, renovations can be broken down into three steps. There are some tips that many home renovations experts recommend to those who want this option.
Set your budget first. You may have a few ideas picked up from browsing blogs or magazines. However, all homeowners must temper their desires with a realistic outlook which comes by factoring in costs, including those for materials and labour. When discussing kitchen or bathroom renovations, homeowners should consult their contractor regarding actual costs so that they can identify which items on their shopping list can be exchanged for a lower-priced alternative. It is really important to save enough money first before starting the renovations.
Once you are ready with the budget, finalize the designs that you want. With the homeowners’ inputs as well as the guidance of the contractor with regards to bathroom or kitchen renovations, homeowners can have their design fleshed out. At this stage, various drawings are shown to the homeowners, allowing them to envision what the final project will look like when it is finally turned over.
This can be a back and forth process wherein both parties volley their ideas until they reach a consensus on a variety of details, including the type of light fixtures to be used and what the colours of the walls would look like. Only upon the homeowners’ final nod can a firm quotation be given.
Kendo is a Japanese martial art form using swords or more accurately, bamboo sticks designed to be used like swords. It is, if you like, a form of fencing. Kendo is derived from the martial art of Kenjutsu, the sword training regime of the Japanese samurai. The popularity of modern Kendo has spread well beyond the boundaries of Japan, where it is of course a national sport. The world Kendo championship for example, comprises participants or kendoka from around 40 different countries.
Kendo: The Sport and the Equipment
As a sport, kendo is full contact, one on one battle between two combatants using bamboo shinai. The shinai is a sword made from four strips of bamboo, bound together by leather, with a leather handle. While the shinai is obviously a much safer weapon than a razor sharp katana sword, kendoka suffer their share of pain when struck by a shinai blow.
In fact, such is the damage that can be done by a well-wielded shinai, that kendoka must wear a number of heavy protective clothing items, making the sport a very hot and sweaty activity. However while kendo is a very physical and loud sport, mental training plays a large part in developing the skills required to become a winning kendoka.
The protective clothing items worn by kendoka are collectively known as “bogu”. The bogu consists of the following four items of apparel:
- The men – This is the helmet which is worn to protect the face, head, neck, throat and shoulders
- The kote – The kote is a thick pair of gauntlets which soften blows to the hands and wrists
- The do – The do is a breastplate which protects the chest and stomach
- The tare – This is a thick, padded apron worn around the hips to protect thighs and groin
The kendoka’s outfit is completed by a heavy jacket called a kendogi and trousers which are known as hakama. As a beginner your club or school should have bogu and shinai which you can use. When you are ready you can of course, buy your own at a specialist kendo store. Shinai are also available to buy at online outlets such as Swords of the East.
If you decide to take up kendo, the first thing you will learn is how to execute the foot and body movements, then you will pick up a shinai and learn how to control it. Shinai training is mostly done by attacking thin air, although occasionally a mannequin will be used.
After the basics have been learned, you will don the bogu and begin training in the necessary attacking and counter-attacking techniques. There is no such thing as defense in kendo. If you block a blow from your opponent you must immediately turn it into a counter-attack.
The Kendo Match
A kendo match lasts for 5 minutes, uninterrupted. During this time each opponent tries to be the first to score the two points required for victory. Any unimpeded direct hit on your opponent scores one point. You may strike at the throat, torso, head and wrists. A hit can be made by slicing, striking, thrusting or cutting action. If neither opponent scores two points by the end of the match, the winner is the opponent who is ahead on points. If the match is drawn, it goes into unlimited extra time until one of the combatants scores the necessary two points.
If you think you would like to improve your mental and physical agility and fitness in sport which involves sweating, shouting, pain and prowess with a sword, welcome to the world of kendo.