Conditioning and Cardio in Training

Friday, 10. December 2010

Fall incoming~ (Flickr / parhessiastes)

All martial training has a wide variety of focus. You are always looking to extend your technique and build in muscle memory so that your actions may be seamless. Other times, we are looking to improve balance,distancing, power, speed or response time. In this particular case however, we are looking at 2 specific factors, cardio training and conditioning. How much of these can you fit in and are you under or over training these facets given your available time to work with?

Cardio work is a matter of training the heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently in either aerobic or anaerobic conditions.. depending on what you may need to function in. The bottom line is that you are able to perform longer and under less stress in either of the environments.

Conditioning the training of the body to deliver and accept strikes. Just as the bones and muscles grow stronger in weightlifting, in conditioning the body adapts by strengthening them in a similar fashion. Calcium deposits begin to form blocking and striking surfaces, further reinforcing them.

There is an old saying of “Would you rather fight a poor fighter in excellent condition, or an excellent fighter in poor condition?” The answer is almost always unanimously the latter… however these are considering engagements that take a while to resolve themselves. Engagements such as boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. Yes, they can be resolved in one punch but the expectation needs to be that the opponent is going to be in it for the long haul, as your techniques and gear degrades the fight for a level of “safety,” whatever that tolerance may be. When we examine fights on the street however, you need to be able to function maximally and clearly for a short period of time. The level of expectation between the 2 is vastly different.

I am of the general opinion that it is impossible to train too much cardio… given that you have all the time in the world to practice. Cardio has no real negative effects with the exception of taking up time to do. I think it is something that is best incorporated into training and drills when possible but using as much time as possible with partners to work on technique. No or little cardio is likewise devastating is it prevents you from working efficiently in any sort of engagement. Becoming winded in 15 seconds is terrible.

Over Conditioning however is somewhat of a more permanent problem. Too much calcification prevents joints from functioning properly or arthritically, not to mention is unattractive to boot. The body has the bad habit of not showing repetitive stress fractures until years later. Those with little or no conditioning will function fine… as long as they are training with similarly conditioned fellows. Put them in with someone who is used to impact and training hard and suddenly they are in a world of hurt.

The point of this isn’t specifically to point out how much is too much, but rather that you examine how your time is used to train and what is incorporated in it in order to get the most effective use of your time.

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System Selection: Dungeons and Dragons

Thursday, 9. December 2010

The Traditional Red Box

Moving along in our commonly available systems, we move into one of my favorite old school games; Dungeons and Dragons. Technically speaking, I could probably make this a 5 part post considering all of the versions of it out there and maybe even more if I consider revisions. In the spirit of going with what is commonly available at the stores however this really needs to only tie into 2 editions… 4th edition and Essentials. Bashing the game for its inadequacies is as old as time itself and yet it still manages to hang in there with the best name recognition out there.

Game System: 4th Edition & Essentials. Technically they both use the same system although essentials is a bit of a step back in simplicity and game nostalgia with the available classes. It’s also a good opportunity to correct all the errata that 4th generated. Love it or hate it, I think it plays very similarly to world of warcraft with its abilities and style.

General Setting: Vanilla fantasy with a modern theme, although a tremendous number of well defined settings are available: Darksun, Forgotton Realms, Al-quadim, Ravenloft to name a few. The settings a quite different from each other and you should be able to find a setting style you like with a little bit of looking. If you’re into custom worlds, that is essentially fully supported through templating.

Detail Focus: Combat, Adventure and Exploration. The original game themed somewhat in the reverse order, 4th and Essentials are very much a fighting game at heart. The system is designed to be used with miniatures and is a miniature tactical combat simulator. Abilities and classes are well defined as is their role within the group. D&D is very well setup to be a team game, with everyone covering each others weaknesses and playing to their strengths.

System Difficulty: Moderately difficult (6 of 10.) Dungeons and Dragons is a game of rules and abilities… and there are a lot of them to learn. Even at a basic tactical level it is very helpful to have someone showing you the ropes until you figure out what you’re doing. This is particularly important since you’re supposed to be working as a team.

Kid Suitability: Moderate to Well. Depends on their age…how well they are able to grok what they are supposed to be doing. The team aspects and elements work well for kids in my opinion, as roles are pretty clearly spelled out. The setting is not particularly horrific or flowery and plays well as it’s supposed to… epic fantasy.

Cost: $20 to get started for essentials. More for 4th Edition which you’ll probably be picking up eventually.

Other Notes: I haven’t played a whole ton of 4th Edition as I’m more of a 3rd edition guy. Wizards of the Coast owns this, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction they take the game as far as online support and how long the current edition sticks around. Most schisms in this game focus around the various editions.¬†Love it or hate it, the game pays to be somewhat familiar with as it’s been around forever and is widely played in one form or another.

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PC Game Nostalgia for the Holidays

Wednesday, 8. December 2010

MY latest examiner article is up…

So you’re looking for PC games for your resident fanatic, but you’re not happy with the current releases. The economy is tough and money is tight. Whats a shopper to do?¬†

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Zombie Apocalypse Survival

Wednesday, 8. December 2010

(Flickr / Darkpatator)

Faust was kind enough to include me as to a zombie survival topic, he’s got some sound logic as to his arguments however despite anything his group of survivors pull off; my initial jist of course is that given the situation, most Americans are outright screwed for a variety of reasons. My primary thinking of this is a couple reasons. 1) a gross lack of primitive skills 2) Generally poor physical conditioning and 3) little to no preparedness. Getting food is one of them (and a -very- important one at that.) but the problem goes far deeper than that really.

The system here in the states functions particularly efficiently because it’s become hyper specialized. Assuming you’re employed, most likely you are doing some rather specific sets of tasks, research or whatnot. That in turn generates income and if you’re like most other people you take that income and turn it around to buy food, gadgets and other things you need to survive or generally want. Such systems work rather well until you have systemic disruptions. What happens when the net goes down, the power goes out or the water stops working? Mostly.. we’re screwed essentially until it gets fixed. There is little redundancy for operating outside of the finely tuned system.
Read more Ľ

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Good food locally – CSA’s

Tuesday, 7. December 2010

Evansville Produce (Flickr / JaseMan)

Or in long.. Community Supported Agriculture.¬† This is one of those oddball topics that fits into my “What interests me” categories on this blog, so bear with me here.¬† It¬†fits neatly into my “gaming as entertaining niche” however, since it’s hard to entertain with crappy food.¬† If you’re aware of what I’m talking about -¬†great.¬† If not and you enjoy cooking, supporting local businesses¬†and/or fresh organic food for a good to low¬†rate then keep reading.

The entire organic eating movement developed because people are/were sick of eating pesticides, GMO food and generally unhealthy food that was mass produced and outsourced from halfway across the planet.¬† Some food we need to get that way.. but obviously not all of it.¬† The USA is geographically diverse enough to produce pretty much anything you can think of with a few exceptions.¬† As everyone knows though.. “Organic” food is boutique and mostly freakin expensive as a result.

Alongside this, the locavore movement was getting established at the same time.  If you are too lazy to click, it basically means eating locally.. foods that are in-season.  They taste way better and if you pick them up from a smaller producer..  are mostly organic and potentially very cheap.  Farmers markets are a good example of this, and forutuately the number of them have exploded in the last 10 years.

Now, CSA’s are essentially eating local food, mostly organically produced with a bit of a twist on it however.¬† The food is paid for¬†in advance, as a “share” of the crop -¬†for a season.¬†For those of you unfamiliar with farming… farmers get screwed particularly in 2 situations.¬† When there is a poor harvest (there isn’t enough food to sell even though the prices are high are a result) and when there is a great harvest (prices plummet even though there is a lot to sell.)¬† So,¬†by¬†getting a fixed price¬†at the beginning of the year the farmer is assured and income… regardless of the harvest.¬† If they want to keep their shareholders happy, they will of course do their¬†best to¬†ensure the best harvest possible.¬†

Anycase, your next thoughts are probably “Why now, it’s winter and nothing grows in winter.”¬† You are of course right, however the shares for these have to be purchased in advance, so now is a good time to start looking.¬† Shares vary from CSA to CSA to the number of available, but most have half shares available if you don’t cook as much or happen to be flying solo.¬† There are also working and non-working shares depending on the CSA… working shares involve you getting your hands dirty from time to time with weeding, planting, harvesting and the like.¬† The costs for such case are typically lower and it is a great way to get local expert advice and experience on local growing and gardening if such things interest you.

With a share purchased, you will typically get food weekly throughout the growing season.¬† This is either picked up from the farm itself or a local distribution point in the city if the farm has enough shareholders.¬† Anything that can be locally grown is in the harvest.. and if your CSA doesn’t offer a given item.. say milk, eggs, honey or some of the more esoteric food.. they often partner up with another CSA that does giving you some of the best in local fresh food.

Now.. last question is probably “Great, but how do I find one?”¬†¬† There is a site for that as well.. Local Harvest. ¬†Assuming you’re not living someplace really arid, you probably have a lot more of these around you than might imagine… Like any other business not all of these are created equal, but they are definitely worth investigating if you’re into fresh and/or local food.¬† It’s also a good opportunity to build community.. and actually meet the person that provides your food which is pretty great in the era of big box anonymity.

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Using Established Settings

Monday, 6. December 2010

Yay, star wars trilogy

Although I don’t watch a tremendous amount of television for movies for that matter, I’m always fascinated by the huge amounts of time that goes into making them.¬† Not only do you have to pen everything in, you have to create everything visually as well and then take your time filming it to get the shots you want.¬†¬† It’s produces a well defined setting that looks like it would be great to play in… except for the fact that in most cases the settings are already encased in stone.¬† We can use books and TV for sake of the argument as well, since they’re more or less the same backdrop.

Star wars is a pretty good example to work with because everyone is familiar with the setting, most people like it for one reason or another and consequently a lot of people play it.¬† It has a predisposed timeline and major characters however.. events X, Y and Z will happen unless you’re playing away from something that is canon.¬† As a result any other action that goes on can never be within the first chair of action.¬† You’re lucky if you get into second, but most of the time you would be third or even fourth.¬† If you’re game for that, go ahead.¬† I want my players to have the flexibility to do nearly anything without inconveniences such as pre written story to adhere to.¬†

This is precisely why I love Knights of the Old Republic.  Nothing like a few thousand years of blank slate to play with, of course with the exception of whats already established in terms of planets, technology and setting.  You have virtually all of the advantages, and none of the hinderances from above.

This can go with pretty much any setting you might imagine of course; Willow, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, Terminator, Blade runner all have very interesting settings that you can work with, except for the established timeline.¬† I think the consistency that film produces is some of the draw to these, everyone more or less sees the same thing with the exception of what details are you focusing¬†on.¬† Eventually however you’re going to run into that while playing unless you set your campaign far enough ahead of¬†or behind whats already going on.¬† Or, maybe just do a series of short adventures within the settings.

That is the angle that I generally try and work from -¬†before or after the time lines or just do a short series of one off adventures that fall in-between or perhaps run parallel to the main movie plot.¬†¬†I avoid using any of the main characters like the plague, unless they are pure background characters.¬† If I wanted fan fiction I’d write it!

Who else uses some of the established settings, and what are your work arounds?

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Indie games making good strides

Saturday, 4. December 2010

My examiner article is up for the day~

Video games have always been big money since the market was developed and continue to be so..

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Thematic Music – First Love

Friday, 3. December 2010

First Love (Piano Instrumental)
Utada Hikaru

I was hoping to get an examiner article up today, but it needs review yet. So tomorrow hopefully and in the meantime here is a completely different instrumental. I haven’t had anything lighter on this list lately.

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System Selection: White Wolf

Thursday, 2. December 2010

It’s nice to be able to talk about all sorts of obscure as well as ancient systems and their tweaks, but what if you want to get a game and play something right now?¬† Well, you are limited to what you can get off the shelf or at your local hobby shop.¬† With dwindling numbers of hobby stores, if you’re really lucky (like myself) you might only be able to get whats available at your local book store.¬† Fortunately however,¬† they are carrying more and more.¬† So, over the next while I’ll be looking at commonly available games, as well as their flaws and perks.¬† You might think I’d start with Dungeons and Dragons in this case, but actually I’m going to start with White Wolf, simply because I think it gives character details the emphasis that are required to get players somewhat excited about them from the get go.¬†

Game System:¬† White Wolf – Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Wraith.¬† I am gloming these all together because they’re all World of Darkness settings, even though they have vastly different focuses.¬† The various groups tend to hate each other as well so it can make for some pretty interesting role playing if you have a mixed group.

General Setting:¬†Wold of Darkness – Alternative contemporary, but can also be alternative historical given the number of resources available.¬† This makes setting up games rather simple as you can simply look around your area and “White wolf-ify it” as in make it dark and sinister.

Detail Focus:  Mystery, Intrigue, Drama, Character relations are all major driving factors in white wolf games.  These games are very heavily based on actually role playing and the character generation and notes reflect it (as does the character sheet!)  There is a lot of complicated interpersonal relations that get played out that drive the plot.  Combat although important is a small portion in comparison.  The game certainly can be a combat game, but the system is rather abstract compared to others out there.

System Difficulty: Simple (3-4 out of 10) with a major Caveat.¬† The system in WoD is very simple to learn the mechanics of and you can be up and running in a day pretty confidently.¬† Caveat – Tons of customs and behaviors need to be learned to play your character effectively.¬† You’ll either be riding the learning curve with a storyteller or more hopefully have a group and storyteller that will be along with you to help you “ride the lightning,.”

Kid Suitability:¬† Rather Low.¬† The setting is very dark and sinister, and if you aren’t getting the life sucked out of you, ripped apart, tortured, turned into a ghoul etc (or doing the same to others) you are doing something wrong.¬†¬†Not something I¬†would teach to kids although teens are going to get into it for¬† those very factors.¬†

Cost: 35$ or less if you find it used gets you started on a particular journey.

Other Notes:¬† While I don’t play this a whole lot, I love the concept and settings as well as the simplicity and role play focus.¬† I am back in second edition with these games however, and I understand there have been at least 2 more revisions since then.¬† Not a huge problem, but apparently a lot of what was considered canon within the¬†settings¬†have been changed which makes for some interesting schisms.

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