Hey, that’s me!

by Terry 9/16/2008 8:48:00 AM

A local parent posted pictures of his son learning a form at DMW Martial Arts. I made the cut.
http://jvreagan.blogspot.com/2008/09/spencer-gets-his-brown-stripe-belt.html

I like working on forms with the kids, almost more than teaching a whole class sometimes. I am in a lot of pictures, I would imagine, as I help and teach in a lot of classes. I usually don’t pay any attention to the picture taking, which emphasizes the point on being a black belt. You are a black belt at all times, not just when you practice martial arts; people respect that and expect exemplary behavior. You never know really when someone is watching.

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Congratulations to a new Black Belt

by Terry 9/15/2008 11:44:00 AM

Last Friday night DMW Marital Arts had another belt test. This time it was a ‘black-belt’ test which is a little longer and harder than a typical test. One black belt was presented to my friend and co-student, Michelle. Congratulations, Michelle.

Black belt test at DMW come every six months, assuming anyone is prepared for the testing. Friday night was the formal test, which, for a Black Belt candidate, is preceded by a pre-test a month earlier. The pre-test is longer and harder than the formal test. Friday night’s test was about two hours of cardio, skills, and drills with no break, rest or water. The pre-test is about an hour or longer. Michelle did a stellar job, and considering she had minor injuries from an auto accident the day before is even more remarkable.

Michelle, you earned your belt. Be proud!

My own performance at the test was poorer than I liked. For the last year or so I have been easily fatigued and have poor endurance. Karen, who is pretty sharp on the medical issues, recommended that I get my doctor to test my adrenal system. It turns out that I am pretty much out of juice, so to speak. I am good until about noon, then I lose energy. Friday night was rough. It did not help that I got into work mode (writing software) Friday afternoon and lost track of time; forgetting to load up on protein and carbs an hour or so before test time. I basically ran out of steam. It may take another six months to get my body back in gear again.

About six years ago I caught some unknown virus which took a toll on my liver. It took a year to recover. I year after that I started regular martial arts practice. I am 35 pounds lighter now and generally pretty fit, but I hit a wall in the last year. Now I am slowly working around this obstacle so that by the next black belt test in March I will be ready to spring into action.

I was exhausted after this test, almost useless on Saturday and came back to life Sunday night. I needed some serious down time. Fortunately, there was a House marathon on TV last night and Karen and I turned into couch potatoes for the evening.

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Vista Video Editing

by Terry 8/12/2008 1:28:00 PM

I played with video editing last night, building a DVD for a fellow martial artist. Michelle is a Black Belt candidate at DMW Martial Arts. Among the requirements for getting your black belt is providing video documentation of forms, sparring skills, self defense and board breaks. Two reasons for this are to demonstrate proficiency of basic skills and create a visual record to review and look for improvement.

I am not skilled at editing video; I just use what I have. It is not great, but it works. Sort of.

I recorded the video on my hand-held JVC Everio GZ-MG37U recorder. It has a built-in 30 GB hard disk which stores a wee more than 7 hours of 720i HD video. I can plug the camera into my home computer’s USB port and transfer the files and away I go.

The JVC camera records video into an MPEG-2 derivative file format with a .MOB extension. I never really understood why it uses that format. Renaming the file will allow it to play in many players that do not recognize the .MOB extension. However, the files also do not have the correct 16:9 aspect ratio and instead play in an 4:3 aspect ratio, giving the video a squeezed appearance. That was an irritant until my friend Steve told me about SDCopy. SDCopy is a simple utility with basically one useful function; it copies the .MOB files to .MPG files and simultaneously sets the bit-flag on the destination file to indicate it is in wide-screen format.

With the files all coped to an .MPG format with the correct aspect ratio, I opened Microsoft Movie Maker on my Vista PC. I have mixed feelings about Vista. I am frankly disappointed with Microsoft about Vista. But that is another topic. Movie Maker, however, is a disappointment all its own. It works, but is it is not a great.

For what I need though, it works well enough. I have about 21 video clips to basically place titles on, and then make a DVD from it.

This is where it gets really odd to me. To make a DVD with Vista, you save your Movie Maker project and open the Vista DVD Maker. DVD Maker is about the most feature-poor DVD utility I have ever used. Oh, it works, but it does not offer much of anything. Why not include DVD Maker operations in Movie Maker? I mean, ‘Movie Maker’ implies it makes movies…

It is important to understand that DVD Maker is pretty feature poor at this point. My 21 video clips had to be saved into 21 Movie Maker project files for the DVD Maker process to work close to what I would hope. It took me about 45 minutes to same all the Movie Maker projects with the correct titles. Thankfully, I was not concerned much about editing. It was a fast process and I got into a routine of creating a project, inserting the clip, title the video and save the project – lather, rinse, repeat.

Then I open DVD Maker. I insert the 21 Movie Maker Projects and sorted them into my preferred play order. I spent a few minutes getting the menu options selected, saved the DVD project and told it to make the DVD. About forty minutes later I had a fresh new DVD and I am good to go. I just did not get what I expected; scenes.

Scenes are where the DVD video is divided into segments. Watch most any DVD movie and you will find a menu option on scene or chapter selection. DVD Maker takes each Movie Maker project as a separate scene, which is exactly the behavior I wanted; a simple menu to play the entire sequence as a single movie, and a scene selector to get to specific clips.

DVD Maker has no scene editing capabilities. You get what it gives you. It gives you about 18 scenes, maximum. Remember I have 21 scenes. DVD Maker essentially combines some clips together, retaining the detailed order, to give you 18 scenes. When I first looked at the DVD menu on my home DVD player I had a moment of fear thinking the video lost a few important clips. It turns out they are still there, but you have to select a scene before where you may be looking, then play that and skip ahead in the video.

Overall, for a quick and dirty bit of video production, it got the job done. The JVC Everio camcorder has grainy video when used under florescent lighting and my DVD has somewhat confused scene options, but the task is done. If I need to I can take it to the next level and fix it using other editors, although I do not know what I would use, perhaps a Mac. The JVC software I have is buggy but I may try that before I run out and buy a new workstation. Either way, Michelle has her video requirements complete.

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computing | Martial Arts | Personal

A Bum Ankle

by Terry 8/7/2008 3:42:00 PM

I sprained my ankle last week, simply walking down the stairs no less. I sprained the same ankle two years ago and the doctors said had I done it any worse I would have needed surgery to fix it. I have not since had the same flexibility or strength with my left foot. I have tried deliberately in the last couple months to work my ankle and stretch it out and build strength. I think I was making progress, which is why, I am theorizing, I reinjured it so easily.

My theory is that I have been stretching and gaining flexibility I had lost. This gain of mobility is not always uniform and parts of my ankle move better than others. When I walked down the stairs my foot flexed in a way it had not previously been able to flex and the less flexible portion of my foot tried to move more than it should have. It was not happy.

So, I find I am more grumpy than normal and I cannot workout as I like. I will try a light workout tonight, before the Leadership class I have to teach. If I fair well tonight, I will try tomorrow afternoon as well.

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A Screed on Autism, ADHD and the Martial Arts

by Terry 7/25/2008 3:56:00 PM

I posted a short screed on Autism, ADHD and the Martial Arts. It really is just a rant of my opinion and observations. Some people may disagree. All I can really argue is if you have doubts or concerns about having an autistic or ADHD child try martial arts – do not let your doubts prevent trying martial arts. Whether or not the child can keep up is not the issue. They may take longer to reach proficiency in some areas, but the benefits on self esteem, self control and long term mental and physical health are tremendous.

I won’t argue there are extreme cases. And those are just heart wrenching in there is often little anyone can really do. Or rather much that can be done but little to heal the grief and pain. And if this is the condition you face, I am not professing any miracle. But, I am not arguing for the extreme cases, only the cases that are quickly called autistic or ADHD which 30 years ago would have been considered high-energy or short-attention children. I was once one of those.

I was seriously failing school until I figured out I could manipulate the system to alter my curriculum to make it interesting. I had a GPA of 2.4 as high-school freshmen and turned that into a 3.5 GPA by the time I graduated. I earned my BSCS with honors and a 3.9 GPA. In elementary school the teachers wanted me in the remedial programs, where I simple got bored. I required too much effort to stay interested in what was being taught. I learned from that and use that knowledge now. I try to keep kids interested in what they are doing.

I am trying to figure out how to do that with science. I am on track to starting a science club by end of summer. I want kids to see the fun in science. The sciences (and, frankly, reading science fiction by authors like Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven) are what drove me to succeed in school. I have the same passion for martial arts. I just ordered Kono Magazine for Kaitlin with keeping here interested in the martial arts as the primary reason (Roland Osborne is enacting the same idea with Kono Magazine, http://www.konomag.com/Kono_AboutUs.pdf). I will use my garage chemistry lab to keep her interests in science alive as best I can too.

Hmm, that was a lot more than I expected to rant on about.

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Birthday and Belt Test

by Terry 7/25/2008 3:15:00 PM

Tonight is another belt test and another birthday; mine, I am 0x27, 21+18, or 39. I am not much on birthday celebrations, but there is always a dinner gathering at a local restaurant after the belt test and with 70 of my closest martial arts acquaintances I am sure there will be some celebratory activities. I am just happy to be able to do so many of the things I like and have the people in my life that I do. I do not wish for any other gifts. I have fortune in moderation.

Last night, in the ‘youth’ belt test, instructor Leni and I had the younger kids demonstrate the Bo Staff form we have been learning for the last server weeks. The parents were suitably wowed, which is cool. It always surprised me how many parents do not stay to watch any of the classes. The belt tests offer an arena for the parents to see their children’s progress.

After the kids’ demonstration, Leni and I performed the same form in unison, out of visual range of each other. This requires audio queues, which we are still working on, to stay synchronized. The affect came off quite well nonetheless, considering we execute the form at much higher speed than the children and have only practiced synchronization a few times. Afterwards at dinner that evening, the parents paid us nice complements on our teaching skills and on how our own martial arts skills have improved over the last few months. What could be a better gift than being told by a parent you are appreciated for how you teach their child?

Tonight we do the same thing again, but with adults and a small group of the youngest children. The five and six year old kids (mostly) have never seen the adult best test, and tonight they will do their test at the side-by-side with the adults. This will be great fun for everyone. I love to hear the kids’ excitement and see the look of awe on their faces. The adult group really includes the teen-agers too. The teens have the energy and flexibility to wow the kids with high jumps and fast kicks. There is also Instructor Steve, 6’4” (193 cm), once a Marine, and high-intensity. He usually does some feat or another that makes the kids both laugh and shout “wow!” at the same time. I think between all the adult talent the young kids will be thoroughly jazzed. There is always cake at the end of the belt test too. I am sure a lot of parents will have fun putting their kids to bed tonight.

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Belt Testing This Week, Practice Tonight

by Terry 7/23/2008 5:00:00 PM

Thursday and Friday evenings are belt-testing events and DMW Martial Arts. The school's Black Belt Club members who will be testing will show off their Bo Staff skills they have been practicing for the last two months. Having watched two classes of students (children in one class and teens and adults in the other) and seen the classes go through Kamas, Sais, Nunchaku and Bo practice segments, I have to say that the Bo has been one of the most difficult for people to become comfortable with. We have practiced with the Bo twice as long as any of the other weapons for approximately the same apparent level of skill by the students.

For me, the Bo has been difficult. I have been practicing with the staff off-and-on for a year and I am only now looking competent in my first Bo-form (part of Roland Osborne’s Millennium Curriculum). Tonight I will practice one more time with the younger class. I am not sure how we will have the classes demonstrate their talents Thursday night’s test. This will get worked out tonight, I hope. Instructor Leni and I have been trying to put together our own demo and I hope to work on this tonight as well. At least I feel like my own skills are coming together.

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The Work and Teach Death March

by Terry 7/18/2008 9:48:00 AM

Last night marked the end of my evening teaching for the week. I am still working my regular fulltime job during the day, and taking my workout at lunch. I still have two classes to teach on Saturday morning, but my evenings are free again. Well, free in that I do not have to be at DMW Martial Arts to teach. I have to spend time with my family so they will not disown me. Last night was the end of the death march. Today and Saturday are like maintenance sessions by comparison.

I have been slowly incorporating material I learned from the 2008 Martial Arts Super Show. I have tried to add at least one thing from every session I took at the Super Show into at least one class. The wealth of info is spectacular. Three good sources of information I recommend, sans being able to attend the Super Show, that anyone can draw from are Kimber Hill, David Kovar and Roland Osborne. Through DMW Martial Arts I have access to various materials from their training programs. The Super Show has been great to help focus me on material I want to add. Part of my death march this week is because I am trying to incorporate material so I will not forget it as easily; hear it, say it, do it. My last class yesterday was the Leadership class. I surprised myself on how much I recalled just reading from my hand-written gibberish. Now it is not only better seated in my head, but I have a class full of students who will remember bits and pieces and hold me to it. If that holds true, I will have succeeded.

I am still happy the death march is over. My voice is raspy from yells, talking over parents and general use. I otherwise don’t talk all that much, as my wife, Karen, would likely and frustratingly agree.

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Back from the Martial Arts Super Show, 2008, Orlando

by Terry 7/15/2008 2:18:00 PM

I am back from the Martial Arts Super Show, this year held in Orlando, Florida. Karen and I, along with Instructor Leni, attended by invitation of DMW Martial Arts’ owners, Instructor Dan and Instructor Marcia. Mrs. Leni and I both are instructors at DMW. The three of us attended a broad variety of seminars at the Super Show. I will have much to write about as we consolidate our notes. For the moment, I am trying to get my head above water.

This week Mrs. Leni and I are teaching all the classes at DMW while Instructor Dan and Instructor Marcia take some vacation time. I still have to work full-time at my ‘real’ job. I am about maxed-out on bandwidth at the moment. Life is good while I am strong.

Posts are likely to be short, if any this week.

In the meantime, if you have or know kids in any martial art, or know any kid who is interested in the arts, check out Kono Magazine.

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Getting ready for the Martial Arts Super Show

by Terry 7/8/2008 10:40:00 AM

This week has been consumed getting ready to go to the Martial Arts Super Show (http://www.masupershow.com/) in Orlando, Florida. Martial arts are my hobby. I still have a full-time job that I need to attend to before I go on this vacation. Naturally, I have been out every night with Karen and Kaitlin before I go, not leaving me much time for anything else. I leave early Wednesday morning for my flight. Seattle to Orlando is an all-day trip, so my travel days will be entirely consumed by sitting in a plane or an airport. I need to get a book or two for the trip.

I am debating whether I should pack my laptop for the trip. Normally it is not a question, but I hate the hassle of participating in ‘Security Theater’ brought to us by the TSA. I guess I will decide once I pack my bag tonight. I am trying to pack light; no checked bags. On my last trip to Orlando, two months ago, I checked one bag for my eight-day trip. I spent over an hour waiting for the bag at the airport, which was distinctly not-busy. This trip I hope to get off the plane and go straight to the hotel shuttle with as little delay as possible.

If I do pack my laptop, I hope to journal the show. I will post in the evening if the hotel offers internet access.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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