Monday, October 31, 2011

The Mind of Chun Li

Sorry about the missed post on Friday, guys, time kind of got away with me, and even barring the crazy weather we got in the northeast this past weekend, my weekend was crazy, so I couldn't really make it up.  Went to an awesome halloween party, though(me and a bunch of friends went as the street fighter crew.  I was Akuma), went to a wedding, had a slumber party in a frozen house with no electricity, it was generally an awesome time =D

So anyway, today we're going to take a look at the mind of Chun Li!  Chun Li is a talented investigator and agent for Interpol.  We're going to take a look at observation, police work, and criminal investigation, as well as various methods to keep your mind sharp and detail-oriented!  And we're going to do it through one of my favorite methods, games!

First off, let's talk about what a criminal investigator does.  At their most base essence, they look at the aftermath of a crime, and try to determine who the perpetrators of the crime are, by collecting evidence, reconstructing the crime, and communicating with witnesses.  We're not necessarily talking CSI: Miami stuff here, either, usually investigators have MUCH less definitive evidence to go off of than you see on TV.  That stuff is expensive, slow, and not always concrete anyway.  Detectives and forensic scientists frequently have to operate on a combination of keen observational skills, good people reading, and tested instincts.

You can work on your observation skills and attention to detail by grabbing a friend or two and playing investigator!  Pick a room in your house to serve as your "crime scene."  Everyone walks through this crime scene, observing it for a few minutes, and then leaves.  Then, you send in a person(or small group) to act as the "criminals."  The criminals move or remove a pre-set number of items in the room(ten is a good number).  They then leave the room, and you sent in the "investigator(s)."  The investigator(s) try to figure out what has been moved or removed, within a set time limit.  If they can get all ten in the time limit, they win, otherwise, the criminals win!  Play this with a bigger room, more objects moved/removed, and a shorter time limit to increase the difficulty!

Of course, this is only one small part of investigation.  Let's look at another, the ability to read people.  Experts say that over 90% of our communication is through body language, with less than 10% being verbal.  There are volumes of books out there written on reading body language, and I would be woefully underqualified to give you a full primer on the entirety here in one blog post, so I direct you to your favorite bookstore of choice to find them, but I can offer some tips on learning/practicing. 

The best thing you can honestly do to practice body language(outside of being observant of your own day-to-day interactions with people), is to be a bit of a creeper.  Go somewhere and people watch.  Shopping malls are great places for large groups of people.  Find a bench, sit down and pretend to read a book or something, and just watch the people interacting around you.  Some things to look out for are detecting confrontations between people, romantic interactions, or sales interactions.  All of these are very personal things that can reveal a lot about people.  Watch how people react to the dominant person in a group of friends, or the difference between a successful sale and unsuccessful one in a jewelry kiosk.  There's TONS that you can learn about people just by removing yourself from the situation and simply observing for a while.

You can also work on your personal recognition skills this way.  Pick a person out of the crowd, glance at them, then look away.  Try to reconstruct this person in your mind - their clothing, facial features, hair color, any peculiarities in their walking gait, anything that can be observed as a unique trait of this individual.  Try to do this as quickly as possible.  Now look back at that person again and see how close you got.  Try this with a friend, and test each other!

Final game for the day!  It's called Mafia, and it's a popular party game with multiple variations.  It's best played with a group of ten or more people, and a deck of cards.  From your deck, pull out two aces, two kings, and a queen.  Now add simple number cards to equal the number of people at the party, minus one.  Pick a person to be the narrator, who keeps the whole game going(that's why they don't need a card).  Now shuffle the cards you picked out, and hand them out to everyone, keeping them a secret.  The people who got aces are mafia members, the people who got kings are police officers, and the person who got the queen is a medic.  Everyone who got ordinary number cards are just villagers.

Here's how play goes from there:

  1. The narrator tells everyone to go to sleep, putting their heads down.  She then tells the mafia to wake up, and pick who they want to kill.  The mafia silently decide upon the person they want to kill, pointing at them.  The narrator then tells the mafia to go back to sleep.
  2. The narrator then tells the police to wake up.  The police wake up, and silently decide on and point to one person they'd like to investigate.  The narrator then tells the police whether or not that person is a mafia member(silent thumbs up), or innocent(silent thumbs down).  The police then go to sleep.
  3. Lastly, the narrator tells the medic to wake up.  The medic can choose to save one person, including themselves, but they DON'T know who the mafia decided to kill, and they can ONLY save themselves every other turn(so they can save themselves on the first turn, but not the second).
  4. Now, everyone wakes up.  The narrator makes up a short story about the death of the person who the mafia killed.  Or, if the medic save them, the near-death and recovery of the person.  Then everyone makes accusations about who in the group is a mafia member.  One person is decided upon to go to trial(based upon vote from the townspeople).  One townsperson is picked by the narrator to serve as prosecutor, and then the person accused is allowed to offer their defense.  Finally, the townspeople all vote, through thumbs-up or thumbs-down, whether or not to execute the person in question.
  5. The person is either executed or not, based upon the vote, and then everyone goes back to sleep, and you repeat steps 1-4.  This goes on until either all the mafia are dead(townspeople win). or the mafia outnumber the townspeople(or there's only one mafia and one townsperson left alive), in which case the mafia win.  Remember, anyone who is dead, through mafia kill or townsperson execution, is NOT ALLOWED to speak once they're dead.  Can't have them giving away the secrets. =)

Of course, all of this is all well and good, but nothing can substitute for real experience.  If you're genuinely interested in the forensic sciences, see if your local community college has any courses on that or general law enforcement courses.  If you're too young for this to be an option, see if any of your local police forces have a youth program.  Many offer high-school age kids to participate in some sort of junior officer program where you can ride along with patrolmen and assist with their day-to-day tasks.  Check it out!

That's about it for Chun Li.  Tomorrow I might do a wrap-up post or just a general post of some sort.  Wednesday we'll be starting on a new character profile, but that one's a secret for now!  You'll just have to come back tomorrow to find out who it will be! ;)

Until then, continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Chun Li, Gen, Street Fighter and all  property therein are © Copyright Capcom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Skills of Chun Li

Alrighty!  Put out some advertisements with Project Wonderful yesterday, and according to my stats tracker on my blog dashboard, we have a heck of a lot more viewers!  Hi guys and gals!  Welcome!  Today we're going to be looking at the skills of Chun Li, namely her acrobatics and her martial arts!  This is going to take us once more back into the realm of gymnastics and parkour(man, we love that stuff around here), as well as through a brief overview of the arts of Kenpo and Tai Chi.

In fact, let's take a look at the martial arts first!

Martial Arts - Kenpo and Tai Chi
"I come to you with only karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor; should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, karate, my empty hands."
—Ed Parker - March, 1957
Kenpo is actually a relatively new style of martial art, invented by Ed Parker.  Its roots actually go back to Hawaii, initially, and before that, Japan.  It borrows elements from karate, kung fu, jiu-jutsu, judo, and boxing.  Ed evolved the art greatly as he developed it, with it first being mainly Japanese, and known as "kenpo karate," then, after he started to master the chinese arts, he began calling it, "Chinese Kenpo."  Finally, he dropped most Asian language references and traditions, and began calling it American Kenpo.  In the game canon, Chun Li's master is the master assassin "Gen," who taught her a hybridization of many chinese martial arts styles, although she has also learned from Ryu and several others, making her art effectively in the same spirit at the real kenpo.

Kenpo is focused on being a total self defense art.  It features strikes, grappling, throws, locks, take-downs, and submissions.  While not as focused on ground-fighting as, say, jiu-jutsu or judo, it is still a formidable mixed martial art.  It features a traditional turned-fist punch and powerful kicks as its main methods of inflicting striking damage.  Soft control of opponents is mostly focused on arm, finger, and leg locks, as well as some take-downs, with less emphasis on throws or chokes as other grappling styles.

Chun Li is also said to know tai chi, an internal meditation art focused on controlling the body's internal and external balance.  What is less known, however, is that tai chi can also be a practical self defense art.  Some of its methods are a bit antiquated, being very old and traditional in context, however they can still be extremely effective.  A lot of this depends upon the teacher you have.  When I dabbled in tai chi, I was lucky enough to have an instructor that actually went to china repeatedly to study, who also had a key mind for practical application of the forms.

If you can take both arts, I would recommend you do so, provided you can find a good teacher for each.  If you have to choose between the two, I would say go with kenpo, merely for its more reliable application in modern-day self defense.  This isn't to say that tai chi is not as good a martial art, rather, it takes a bit more experience and intuition to apply it in a practical, real-world scenario.

Gymnastics and Parkour

So, last time we looked at gymnastics, with Donkey Kong's skills, we looked at the forward roll(often incorrectly called the somersault).  This week, we're going to look at a basic progression towards Chun Li's acrobatic side aerials and front flips, the cartwheel.

Let me start by saying that practicing any gymnastics where you invert your body over your head is dangerous, ESPECIALLY without gymnastics mats.  At the very least, practice in a grassy field, but if possible, find yourself a gymnastics facility that has a public "drop-in" night.

The cartwheel is relatively simple to do, the hard part is getting your mind into the correct place for it.  For purposes of instruction, I'm going to start with a right-handed cartwheel.  If you're left handed, just reverse the sides on these:
  1. Start with a small lunge, right foot forward, hands locked in the air above you.
  2. In a smooth motion, lower your right hand to the ground, followed by your left hand, with your fingertips pointed to your right side(perpendicular to the direction you're cartwheeling in)
  3. While lowering your hands, kick up over your head with your left foot, and push off and follow with your right foot.
  4. Your left foot should be hitting the ground as your right hand begins to come up in the air.  As your right foot hits the ground after your left, "pull" your left hand off the ground and force your body to stand up straight.
  5. Congratulations!  Cartwheel!
I apologize if those directions were difficult to follow.  He's a nice video for how it should look when you do it.

One of Chun Li's other moves is the wall jump!  This is actually relatively easy in principle, and just takes practice.  To perform a wall jump(also a lead-in to wall runs), you run and jump towards a wall at a decent clip(not full speed or strength to start out).  You want to be facing the wall as you do.  When you jump, lead with your dominant foot forward.  DON'T kick off right away, try to bend your knees and absorb the impact as one, then the other foot hits the wall.  IMMEDIATELY turn and look behind you, and push off with the less dominant foot, and then your dominant foot.  Don't push straight off, try to push "up" and off, giving your body upward momentum as you push off the wall do you don't just ricochet back at the floor.

Tada!  Wall jump.  Just practice it, you'll get more vertical and distance with practice.  Try to find a place where two walls are relatively close together, and practice jumping from one wall and slapping the other one as high as you can, to practice increasing your height.

Well, that's it for today.  Welcome to all the new readers.  Please like the facebook page and follow me on twitter for updates!  Tomorrow we look at the mind of Chun Li, and how to be an analytical, clear thinker and investigator.  Until then, continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Chun Li, Gen, Street Fighter and all  property therein are © Copyright Capcom. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Fighter Diet

So as with our "Big Guy Diet," the Fighter diet isn't exclusive to our current character-in-question, Chun Li.  This is the diet you should be looking at if you want a nice, lean, toned body with some good muscle definition, but not much in the way of bulk, and a solid power to weight ratio.  Think something along the lines of characters like Chun Li, Link, Solid Snake, or Nathan Drake.  Lean, mean, fighting machines.

This diet is, again, not a specific cookie cutter diet.  I'm going to lay out some basic guidelines to shoot for, some good foods to try, and a meal schedule.  After that it's up to you.

5-6 meals a day
0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight you have.(so if you're 100 lbs, you want to get 80-120 grams of protein per day).
1.5-2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight you have(again, if you're 100 lbs, get 200-300 carbs per day).
1 gallon of water a day.
8 hours of sleep(minimum).  Sleep is really, really important.  Seriously.  Go to bed early if you have to.
EXERCISE!  Food only builds muscles if you work them out!  And cardio is KEY for keeping the fat down and the muscles defined!

The Breakdown:
So we already know from The Big Guy Diet that metabolically, our bodies like to get five to six evenly dispersed meals throughout the day, rather than one big one.  Eat these at regular intervals, usually around 2 hours apart, and make sure one of those is right after your work out.

For protein, and carbs, we're looking to keep our muscles fed, but not over-fed.  Also, we're looking at much more nutrient-dense foods this time, foods that have a lot of bang for their caloric buck, so to speak.  In the Big Guy Diet, we looked at packing a lot of extra calories into our diet with stuff like rice, which doesn't have much other nutritional value.  We're gonna take in a bit more simple sugars from fruits and the like to keep our high-energy muscles powered under short bursts, and get some nice long-chain carbs to keep us going.  Make sure you frontload your simple carbs early in the day(fruits, mostly), and your long-chain carbs in the afternoon/evening(veggies, grains, pasta).

Food Suggestions
Protein Sources:
Greek Yogurt
Red Meat(lean and sparingly)

Simple Carbohydrate Sources

Long-Chain Carbohydrate Sources
Beans/Lentils/Legumes in general
Whole-Grain Pasta
Whole-Grain Bread

Dark Green Vegetables(broccoli, cabbage, kale, peas)

Store Brand Adult Multivitamins
Whey Protein Shake

Sample Day
This is what a sample day on the "Fighter Diet" could look like.

Meal 1(7:00-8:00AM ish):
1 Banana
1 Greek Yogurt
1 Bowl of Oatmeal

Meal 2(11:00 AM):
1 Apple
1 Serving Mixed Nuts

Meal 3(1:00 PM):
1 small caesar salad(1 serving chicken breast, 1 serving anchovies, 1 serving romain lettuce)

Meal 4(3:00 PM):
1 open face tuna sandwich(1 serving of tuna, 1 serving bread)

4:00 PM - WORK OUT

Meal 5(5:00 PM):
1 Protein Shake
1 Multivitamin
1 Tablespoon honey

Meal 6(7:00 PM):
1 serving fish
1 serving bean soup

So again, that's just a sample day, something like what I try to aim for currently.  You may need to eat more or less than that, depending on your body type.  If you feel fatigued all the time and you're getting enough sleep(remember, eight hours!), try increasing your food load a bit.  If you're not feeling a little edge of hunger every now and then before each meal, and your energy levels are fine, you might be eating a bit much.  Listen to your body!

That's it for the Fighter Diet.  Tomorrow we're going to take a look at the skills and abilities of Chun Li.  Until then, continue being awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Chun Li Workout

Another late post, but hey, we're up!  Today is exercise according to Chun Li!  We build some thighs of steel, fast footwork, and quick hands!   Chun Li is all about explosive speed and power, so let's take a look at how we can work on that!

Equipment Needed:
Sturdy Chair
Steep Hill 50-200 feet long
Field/flat road, 150 feet long

Level 1(Beginner):
10 Suicide Sprints(15 ft., 30 ft., 45 ft.)
5 Hill Sprints
20 Minute Cool-down walk.

Level 2(Intermediate):
10 Suicide Sprints(20 ft., 40 ft., 60 ft.)
7 Hill Sprints
20 Minute Cool-down walk.

Level 3(Advanced):
10 Suicide Sprints(30 ft., 60 ft., 80 ft.)
10 Hill Sprints
20 Minute Cool-down jog.

Level 4(World Warrior):
20 Suicide Sprints(50 ft., 100 ft., 150 ft.)
20 Hill Sprints
30 Minute Cool-down jog.

Level 1(Beginner):
3x10 Bodyweight Squats
3x10 Bodyweight Pushups
3x10 Chair Step-Ups(stand on ground, place one foot on chair, step up onto chair pushing yourself up with the bent leg that's up on the chair, once standing on the chair, step down with other leg so you switch legs.  Repeat so you end up on your first leg again. This is one set)
3x10 Calf Lifts(stand on chair with toes on chair but heels hanging off below level of chair, raise up onto your tiptoes, this is one set)
3x10 Bicycle Crunches

Level 2(Intermediate):
5x10 Bodyweight Squats
5x10 Bodyweight Pushups
5x10 Chair Step-Ups
5x10 Calf Lifts
5x10 Bicycle Crunches

Level 3(Advanced):
3x10 Bodyweight Squat Jumps
3x10 Bodyweight Clap Pushups
3x10 Jumping Chair Step-Ups(Same as before, but instead of just stepping up onto the chair, you jump as high in the air as you can when you "step up", and you switch your legs in midair so you come down on your other foot)
3x10 Bouncing Calf Lifts(same as the calf lifts, but try to "hop" in the air every time you come up, and pause for a second after you come back down.  You may want a hand on the wall to steady yourself).
5x20 Bicycle Crunches

Level 4(World Warrior):
5x10 Bodyweight Squat Jumps
5x10 Bodyweight Clap Pushups
5x10 Jumping Chair Step-Ups
5x10 Bouncing Calf Lifts 
5x30 Bicycle Crunches

Day 1: Cardio
Day 2: Strength
Day 3: Cardio
Day 4: Strength
Day 5: Cardio
Day 6: Strength
Day 7: Rest

So yeah, that's your workout, and your schedule!  Take it slow as you move up in workouts, especially with level 3 and 4 of the strength workouts.  Those are known as plyometric workouts, and they're pretty rough on the body, so you might want to alternate them with a level 2 workout every other time.  As always, listen to your body, and if it goes "Ow," back off a bit.

That's it for today, tomorrow we take a look at the second part of fitness, the "fighter diet."  Until then, continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Chun Li, Street Fighter and all  property therein are © Copyright Capcom.

Exercise References:
Suicide Sprints
Hill Sprints
Bodyweight Squats
Clap Pushups

Monday, October 24, 2011

Character Breakdown: Chun Li

Name: Chun Li
Games: The Street Fighter Series(waaay too many to list)
  • World Class Martial Artist(Kempo, Tai Chi)
  • World Class Sharpshooter
  • Interpol Police Officer/Detective
  • Loyal
  • Just
  • Compassionate
  • Fiercely Competitive
Summary: Chun Li is a long and storied character in the history of video gaming.  Known also as the "First Lady of Fighting," she is notable for being, as the name implies, the first female character in any fighting game.  Who better to pick for the first female character on my blog?  So let's take a look at what makes Chun Li, Chun Li!

First off, we need to look at her history.  Chun Li is most known for her martial arts prowess, competing against the likes of Ryu, Guile, and the rest of the Street Fighter cast in the world tournament.  Unlike Ryu, however, her motivations are not just to improve and test herself against the world's finest fighters.  She is motivated by a mission of vengeance and justice for her father, an Interpol Officer, who was slain by the nefarious M. Bison in the line of duty.  This same M. Bison organizes and runs the world tournament that Chun Li enters, and she does so seeking to destroy his organization from within.

Chun Li eventually succeeds in her mission, and forms both friendly, and un-friendly rivalries along the way, assisting Guile, Ryu, and the other heroes of the series in taking down M. Bison and his organization, Shadaloo.  She develops a fierce competitive admiration for Ryu, who bests her in combat, and she strives to improve herself and become a warrior equal to his prowess.

In addition to being a loyal friend and daughter, as well as a fierce competitor, Chun Li is also a world-class Interpol officer, assisting in toppling bother the Shadaloo and Sin crime syndicates.  She's an expert marksman, coming in sixth place in an international shooting competition, and she has a keen inquisitive and investigative mind.  Even in her retirement in games later in the timeline, she still trains children and junior officers in the fighting arts.

Speaking of fighting, Chun Li's chosen style is a signature array of fast kicks and hand strikes, being one of the fastest character in the series.  Physically, her legs are her most notable feature, and we're going to be looking to build leg strength and explosive power with our workouts this week.  Don't think these are girl-only workouts, either.  The diet and exercise regimen we're going to look at will be able to turn anyone in a lean, mean, ass-kicking machine.  We'll also take a look at her various skills and fighting styles she features throughout the games, and do a little separation of fantasy vs. reality when it comes to hand-to-hand combat.

So that's our road map for the week!  Tune in tomorrow when we start off with the Chun Li workout!  And as always, please follow me on twitter, and like the blog's facebook page!

Until tomorrow, continue to be freaking awesome.

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Chun Li, M.Bison, Ryu, Guile, Street Fighter and all  property therein are © Copyright Capcom.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why become a video game character?

This is a question I'm sure some people ask themselves when hearing about this blog.  I'm sure there's a bit of eye rolling, and more often than not, some demeaning thoughts as well.  What is the point in emulating a video game character?  Isn't that something some nerdy, socially awkward kid would do in their spare time?  Cosplaying, roleplaying, LARPing, or something along those lines?  Sure it's a fun hobby, but how does it work as a lifestyle?

First off, let me tell you, straight-up.  If you aren't a gamer, you probably won't understand.  At least not completely.  I know that sounds cliche and biased, and it might be a bit.  I'm sure there's exceptions to the rule.  But from the outside looking in, it's difficult to understand the connection that some players feel when playing a video game.  There are plenty of people worth emulating in life.  The fictional characters in movies, and books, or real-life characters from history(Theodore Roosevelt is one of my personal favorites).  But they all lack something that sets video game characters apart.

When I read a book, I escape to that world.  I exist in it, and I see the characters around me.  I root for the hero(or sometimes the villain), enjoying their victories, despairing their defeats.  I even write stories occasionally, where I get to create these characters and worlds.  But when I play a video game, I am not rooting for that main character.  I AM that main character.  I am the badass space marine standing against an entire army.  I am that plucky kid who doesn't know when to give up, and finds something inside himself he never dreamed of.  I am that shadowy assassin, that impregnable superhero, that undefeated badass that can flip off the world and take whatever it throws back.

When I watch baseball, I don't think I'm the pitcher, or the guy at bat.  When I read a history book, I don't become Teddy Roosevelt, or control the armies of Napoleon.  But when I play a game, I am that main character.  I can change the world around me in that game; save or destroy the human race many times over.  To emulate a person is one thing, but to have a chance to literally step into their shoes is a psychologically-altering event.

The way I see it, gamers, we people united under a single interest, are capable of changing the world.  If we were to believe in ourselves the way we believe in these characters, I honestly think we can do anything.  I've said before in this blog, I don't care if you emulate a hero or a villain or an anti-hero or a sidekick or anything in between those.  I am not one to judge your motivations or ethics on your life situation or life goals.  What I am hoping we can do here, together, as a group, is overcome our complacency in life.  Get rid of the apathy and melancholy and just plain ordinary circumstances that confine our everyday life, and give ourselves the tools to become the champions that we play as in these games; to give ourselves the ability to become who we truly are.

Do I think we can get to the point where we're hurling fireballs around with our bare hands and flying without any assistance?  Maybe not right now, at least not without some technological assistance.  But I do know that you, the person reading this blog right now, CAN change the world.  I know that you CAN seize your own destiny.  Think about your favorite video game character, be it from an RPG, FPS, MMO, Action/Adventure game, WHATEVER.  I want you to think of that character right now, that character who is special to you, who you wish you could be more like.  You can.  I promise you, that if we all work together, we can rise from the ashes of mediocrity together.

But I can't do is just sitting here, talking.  I promise you, this blog is not for profit, and it is not for just my own personal gain.  Someday, in some way, maybe I'll make money off it, but this is not my goal, and this is not why I started this blog.  I need help, from you, the reader.  I want to make this a community.  I want to start a global, online discussion about how to transcend our ordinary stations in life and become extraordinary individuals.  Feel free to reach out at any time.  Leave a comment below, go become a fan of the facebook page and post on the wall, or even hit me up on twitter.  And please, spread the word.  Tell your friends about the cool new community you found.  Tell them that they, too, can be great, that we can all be great together.

Become the person you want to be.  Excel and be extraordinary every chance you get.  And never, ever give up on yourself.

That's enough pomp and circumstance from me for one day, but I hope you kept an open mind through all that, and you let it bounce around inside your head a while.  I think it's true, I think we have a greater potential than we know, and I think if you let it mull around long enough in there, you'll feel the same.

I'll see you all on Monday, when we take a look at Chun Li, because hey, we're an equal opportunity blog around here(hell, I just spent four months profiling a barrrel-throwing ape).

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Donkey Kong Roundup

Character Breakdown: Donkey Kong
We started out with our overview of DK way back in June.  We took a look at the core values that make Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong.

The Donkey Kong Workout
In the Donkey Kong workout, emphasis was placed on getting big muscles, strong hands, and ridiculous upper body strength, utilizing some common in-game items!

The Skills of Donkey Kong
We took a look at DK's skills next. We learned about his forward rolls, the monkey vault, balancing, and good places to go and practice these skills!

The Philosophy of Donkey Kong
Finally, we checked out the mind of the ape, where we learned that this dude isn't necessarily all brawn and no brains, he's just learned to live life a little simpler(and maybe better) than the rest of us!

And THAT, ladies and gents, is finally it for our Donkey Kong, quite possibly the longest character breakdown we've ever done(if you factor in the break from June to October...).  Sorry for the short post today, I'll be making up for it tomorrow with a brief discussion on the core idea of emulating and trying to become our favorite video game characters.  It should be a pretty good read!

Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Donkey Kong and all  property therein are © Copyright Nintendo Entertainment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Philosophy of Donkey Kong

Let's be honest here.  Donkey Kong is, on the whole, a pretty chill dude.  We're going just off the game canon here(not the CGI TV show they did for a little while), and in the start of every game, it seems like Donkey Kong's just living the good life, chilling out on his island with his family and friends, and eating some bananas.  Now, DK may at least give the perception of being somewhat dimwitted and mentally lethargic, running more off his brawn than his brain, but I think this gives the big guy an unfair shake.  Let's take a bit of a deeper look, and delve into the idea of a simple means lifestyle.

First off, what do we see of Donkey's home life?  He lives in a somewhat ramshackle tree house.  Mose of his furniture is constructed from tires, coconuts, or driftwood.  His main source of sustenance is the bananas which grow all over his island, as well as other occasional fruits(watermelon, pineapple, coconut, etc.).  His clothing is minimal - all he wears is a freaking tie.  And yet, with these few possessions, DK seems to live a pretty easy life.  Heck, Donkey's biggest problems are his family asking favors of him, with the exception of when K.Rool decides to be a K.Asshole and make off with his family/friends/belongings.

So what can we take from all this?  Well for starters, take a minute and ask yourself, what do you really need in life?  I mean, really?  Food.  Shelter from the elements.  Clothing(in most societies).  Social interaction.  Mental stimulation.  These are the base necessities of the human life.  In fact, those first three necessities?  The only reason there's any variation at all is because of the last two.  Why do you need a big, fancy house, with expensive, nice clothes, delicious food, expensive electronics, and all the things that go hand-in-hand with a modern first-world-country life?  Either entertainment, or social standing.  That's it.  All those "things" you own beyond the basic, basic necessities are there to either a) Keep you from being bored.  b) Keep you from falling down the social ladder.  Or c) provide you with a reason to buy more things.

Let's face it.  We enjoy our things, but those things are not the things we need.  When do you have a more fun time, sitting in your room at 3AM playing some single player game by yourself, or hanging out with friends/family and playing a big multiplayer game, or a board game, or just hanging out and goofing off?  Which is more memorable, those two hours of street fighter arcade mode you played when you were little, or the neighborhood-wide snowball fight that lasted three hours and ended with everyone soaking wet and laughing your asses off?

A little under two years ago I hit a crossroads in my life.  I was extricating myself from an extremely negative situation where I not only was in a bad place personally, but I was associating with the wrong people, and valuing the wrong things in life.  I got out, took my first breath of fresh air in a long time, and made a simple motto for living:  Experiences, not things.  I was going to start putting the majority of my time and energy into experiencing everything life had to offer, instead of buying everything the store had to offer.

Now, does this mean I gave up all my belongings and started living a spartan lifestyle of essential-only living?  Of course not.  And I don't advocate this for you, necessarily(unless it sounds good to you, in which case, go for it!).  I still buy video games, electronics, occasionally get extravagant food(lobster and sushi are my weak points), and partake in private time with my favorite single-player games.  But I do it in much more moderation, and whenever I drop money on a big ticket item, I ask myself beforehand if I'd rather put it towards hang-gliding, traveling to another country, or learning a new martial art.  These are all current goals of mine.

Eventually, with this mindset, you may find the commodity you find yourself wishing most for is not money, but time.  I always want more time to do more awesome stuff, spend time with my family, or just walk in the woods and enjoy the world around me.  Realize that the DK lifestyle is not inaction, but appreciating that the best things in life are there for us to experience, not to buy.  We don't need much to live, but there's so much offered to us in this world if we want to take advantage of it and really LIVE.

That's probably bringing us to the end of the DK segment.  Not sure what we're gonna do for tomorrow and friday, but we'll find out!  It's an adventure!  And next week, starting monday, we're taking a look at the First Lady of Fighting herself, Chun Li!  As always  remember to like the blog, follow me, and live an awesome life.

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Donkey Kong and all  property therein are © Copyright Nintendo Entertainment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Skills of Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong's a big dude, yeah, but he's still pretty damn agile.  Forward rolls, big leaps, balancing, climbing, these are all major parts of his repertoire.  He's also got his ground pound, his climbing and swinging, his keg throw, and his ability to look cool wearing only a tie.  These we will not cover here, as much(although you're working with a keg  and climbing a lot in his workout section).

For starters, we have his forward roll.  DK's roll is different from the parkour roll we covered in Ezio's skills section.  His is more of a straight gymnastics roll that he uses for mobility and dodging, as well as a basic attack.  While I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a frontal assault, forward rolls are still cool.  To start, you want to squat down close to the ground(like a catcher's position in baseball), put your hands on the ground in front of you, about shoulder width apart, and TUCK YOUR HEAD.  Then you want to lower your head to the ground, push off with your legs, and try to bring your hips straight over your head, keeping your legs somewhat tucked and pushing off with your hands at the last second to help yourself stand back up.  Alternatively to pushing yourself back up, you can also grab your ankle and tuck harder, continuing your roll.  Practice this on a field or on a gymnastics floor if you can.  Here's a good video for reference.

Next we're gonna move on to some parkour with our first vault, the monkey vault.  Before you try this, make sure you're solid on your rolls that we covered in Ezio's skills section.  For the monkey vault, you want an object about waist height(maybe a little shorter if you're uncomfortable), that you can get a good grip on, like a low chain link fence, a railing, or a bench.  You stand in front of the object to be vaulted, grab on with both hands about shoulder width apart, and then jump, PULLING hard with your arms and swinging your legs in between them.  To start with the progressions, try just to pull your feet onto the bar/fence you're trying to vault, and then hop to the other side.  Once you're comfortable with this, try swinging your legs all the way through without planting your feet on the fence/bar.  Take it slow, and stay safe. This is an excellent tutorial video if you need visuals.

Last thing we're going to touch on is balancing.  DK walks along cliffs, balances on rolling kegs, tight ropes, and all kinds of fun things.  To start with your balancing skills, try walking along a roadside curb.  Easy?  Cool, now do it with your eyes closed.  Got that?  Now try backwards, with your eyes closed.  Good on that one?  Cool.  Now move on to narrower object.  Try a low chain link fence, or the back of  a park bench(hint: these are good for practicing your monkey vaults on, too).  Walk along thick sticks without touching the ground around them.  Walk on top of the monkey bars at a playground.  Balance on everything you can.

If you have the option, I do recommend looking into local "high ropes" adventure courses.  These are typically team-building retreat courses for either kids or corporate get-togethers, though sometimes you'll find some that have just open sessions.  These usually involve all sorts of climbing, swinging, balancing, and other fun stuff.  Also, look into local gymnasiums, see if they have classes in your age group, or maybe an open night with a small "drop-in" fee.  There's always tons of people here looking to help you learn new skills.  Always be on the lookout to improve yourself however you can, and take advantage of any resources you have.  At the very least, go climb a tree!

That's it for the skills of Mr. Kong.  Tomorrow we'll look at the philosophy and ethics of Donkey Kong, and the value of living a simple life.  Hope to see you then!   And hey, don't forget to like our page on facebook!  Or follow me on twitter!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Donkey Kong and all  property therein are © Copyright Nintendo Entertainment.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Big Guy Diet

Alrighty!  So this next post is NOT exclusive to our friend Donkey Kong.  This diet is a general go-to for when you want to gain some muscle mass to emulate a larger character, ie: Donkey Kong, Zangief(SF), the Hulk, etc. etc.  Something I should note is that this is not going to be a specific, day-to-day diet.  Rather, I'm going to lay out some basic principles and guidelines, give you some food suggestions, and then ONE example day.  When it comes to nutrition, it's better to understand the basics you're going for so you can substitute easily  in a pinch, rather than getting locked into a strict meal-to-meal template.  Also, a quick note, I'm poor, so I love to do all my posts on a budget.  This guide is a budget weight gain guide.  There ARE more optimal diets out there, if you want to be a high-end bodybuilder, involving lots of supplements and designer foods, but if you're looking to just gain some nice muscle without breaking the bank, this is your guide.

So, here are the basics!

5-6 meals a day
1.2-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight you have.(so if you're 100 lbs, you want to get 120-200 grams of protein per day).
2-3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight you have(again, if you're 100 lbs, get 200-300 carbs per day).
1 gallon of water a day.
8 hours of sleep(minimum).  Sleep is really, really important.  Seriously.  Go to bed early if you have to.
LIFT!  This isn't diet, of course, but if you AREN'T lifting a lot, you're just going to get fat eating this diet.

So, let's break this down a bit.

Five to six meals a day is the best way to metabolically take in your food.  Make sure one of those meals is an hour or two before your workout so you have the fuel to power through it, and take in some good protein RIGHT AFTER your workout.  I recommend a simple whey protein shake(don't get one with other supplements, you're wasting money), and a banana or other fruit.  This can really help recovery.

Protein and carbohydrates are what your body uses to build and fuel muscles.  On carbohydrates:  you can get them from three main sources, fruit, veggies, and grains.  Eat your fruits in the first half of the day, the simple carbohydrates(easily broken down), help to fuel your body immediately(you won't use the simple sugars if you eat them right before bed).  Mid-late day start packing in your veggies.  Other nutrients ARE important, but if you're eating good, whole foods every meal, you should cover most of your needs, and a decent supermarket multivitamin should cover the rest.

Water is necessary for just about everything.  It helps you flush what nutrients your body doesn't need, it keeps your muscles hydrated, aids in circulation, and does your body good.  Drink lots of it, shoot for a gallon a day.

Food Suggestions:
Protein sources:
Meat - lean is best, chicken, lean beef(90/10 is the number you want to shoot for with ground beef, you'll see it on packages at the store), and fish are all great.  Steer clear of fast food beef if you can, shoot for lean ground beef, steaks, chicken breast, and leaner fish like tilapia, rather than salmon.
Eggs - Eggs are freaking great.  Egg whites are considered healthier for the lack of the cholesterol of the yolk, but try to get a couple yolks in anyway, they've got vital nutrients.  Honestly when I was on my gainer diet I just ate whole eggs anyway.
Nuts - Nuts can be a little pricey depending on the time of year, but they're full of protein and good fats.

Carb Sources:
Oatmeal - My favorite breakfast grain, hands-down.  High fiber, some protein, lots of carbs, and you can mix almost anything in(I like peanut butter).
Rice - Rice is high in carbs, but generally nutritionally void besides that, but brown rice is a bit better than white.  Either way, it's cheap as anything, so always worth it.
Beans/Lentils/Legumes - Superfood, baby!  These suckers are high in carbs, fiber, AND protein(for a veggie, at least).  Pack them in, they'll do a body good, just make sure to keep drinking your water or you'll get really gassy.
Pasta/Bread - Whole grain, all the time.  More protein, more fiber, yum yum.  I like Arnold brand "Double Protein" bread, personally.
Fruit/Veggies - Get one or  two of these with every meal.  Fruit in the morning, veggies in the evening.  Good candidates include broccoli, romaine lettuce(NO ICEBERG), kale, cabbage, peas, and avocado on the veggie front(dark greens are good), and bananas, tomatoes, apples, oranges and carrots(high sugar content so I include with the fruit) on the fruit front.

Vitamins - As I said before, just a simple supermarket brand multivitamin should do you fine as long as you're including the fruits and veggies like you should.  Health stores will try to sell you designer multis and supplements, you generally don't need them.
Whey Protein - This is the only supplement I really think is worth it, unless you're at that upper echelon bodybuilder level.  Cheap(per-gram price-wise), easy to work with, and portable for those hard-working people out there.
Milk and Dairy - Milk is excellent, IF you're used to it.  I've been a whore for milk since I was a kid so I pounded this stuff down when I was gaining.  However, the body has to adapt to digesting it in bulk if it's not used to it, so up your intake slowly if you're not a regular consumer.  Another honorably mention here is greek yogurt.  SO MUCH PROTEIN in one little cup.

Sample Day
This is a sample day of what I would eat when I was on my gainer diet.

Meal 1(7:00-8:00AM ish):
1 serving of oatmeal with peanut butter.
1 apple
2 eggs(scrambled)
1 glass of milk

Meal 2(11:00 AM):
1 serving of greek yogurt
2 servings of rice cakes
1 carrot

Meal 3(1:00 PM):
1 can of tuna
1 serving of broccoli
1 slice of double protein bread with peanut butter

Meal 4(3:00 PM):
1 serving of rice
1 serving reheated chicken leftovers

4:00 PM - WORK OUT

Meal 5(5:00 PM):
1 Protein Shake
1 Banana

Meal 6(7:00 PM):
2 servings steak
1 serving green beans
1 serving whole-grain pasta with garlic sauce(yum)

So you can see it's a lot of food.  You're best off buying in bulk, freezing what you don't need, cooking in bulk, and eating lots of leftovers.  That steak, pasta, and green beans would be eaten the next day.  I didn't calculate the full nutritional contents of this day because I don't want you to focus on my numbers.  You need to keep a diet log, shoot for your protein and carb goals, and generally get a "feel" for how much your body needs as far as calories goes.  For me, I was taking in 3000ish calories on average, and that was enough for me to gain.  You may need up to 5000, I don't know, and neither do you until you start experimenting.  Just keep a diet log, note your carb, protein, and caloric intake, and try to get a feed for where your body is going.

That's it for today, tomorrow we take a look at the skills of Donkey Kong!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Donkey Kong Workout

Whew.  Hi everybody.  Sorry about the break in posts, there, other things took some priority in my life over the summer, as sometimes happens.  Now we're back in action, though, so let's get on with this Donkey Kong workout.

So as mentioned before, DK is built.  Huge chest, back, shoulders, and-holy-shit-look-at-those-gorilla-forearms.  Obviously, we're gonna be looking at some serious lifting.  BUT, if you don't happen to have access to a full gym or your own freeweight set, never fear, we're going a bit non-traditional here.

Equipment Needed:
1 Empty Steel Half-Keg.   You can frequently snag one of these from a local liquor outlet for a small amount of cash.  If they don't have one, check craigslist or ask them if they know where you can get one.  Barring that, use big rocks.
1 Chinup Bar.  Really, there's no excuse for not having one of these.  You can get one that either hangs, pressure-mounts, or screws into an empty doorway for $20-30, or just go down to the local playground when the kids aren't there.
1 Climbing Rope.  This one's a little more tricky.  If you can, get a thick rope and hang it from a beam in your garage or something.  If you can get a full-size climbing rope(they're available online) and hang it from a tree, that's even better, but they're a little expensive.  At the very least, you can get some heavy rope from your local hardware store and hang it from your chinup bar.
Weighted Backpack: Just take a backpack and throw some books in it until it's the correct weight.

I'm going to split the workout into three levels.  We're not doing too much in the way of cardio here, though I always recommend it in your training.  These workouts are going to be strength-based, so you may increase at different rates for different exercises.  When you can do the number of reps required in a set relatively comfortably, increase the weight, not the rep count.  This is powerlifting/bulking territory, here.  Do a workout every other day, feel free to do cardio on your off days(but no lifting).  Have at least one day a week for full rest, no cardio, no lifting.

Also, diet plays a BIG part in this, I'll be making a post on that tomorrow.

The Workout:
3x8=three sets of eight repetitions.  Perform all exercises listed in order for one set, rest one minute, then go again. 

Level 1(Beginner):
Keg Deadlifts(empty): 3x8
Keg Clean and Press(empty): 3x8
Keg Rows(empty):3x8
Rope Hang(no feet):3x30 Seconds
Chair Assisted Pullups(palms away): 3x8
Hanging Leg Lifts: 3x20

Level 2(Moderate):
Keg Deadlifts(1/3 full of water): 3x8
Keg Clean and Press(1/3 full of water): 3x8
Keg Rows(1/3 full of water): 3x8
Rope Climb(with feet): 3x10 feet(As in, climb ten feet up, lower yourself ten feet down)
Pullups(palms away): 3x8
Hanging Leg Lifts with 5 lb backpack on feet: 3x20

Level 3(Advanced):
Keg Deadlifts(2/3 full of water): 3x8
Keg Clean and Press(2/3 full of water): 3x8
Keg Rows(2/3 full of water): 3x8
Rope Climb(arms only, no feet): 3x10 feet
Pullups(palms away) with 15 lb backpack: 3x8
Hanging Leg Lifts with 10 lb backpack on feet: 3x20

Level 4(Killa Gorrilla):
Keg Deadlifts(full of water): 3x8
Keg Clean and Press(full of water): 3x8
Keg Rows(full of water): 3x8
Rope Climb(arms only) with 15 lb backpack: 3x10 feet
Pullups(palms away) with 25 lb backpack: 3x8
Hanging Leg Lifts with 15 lb backpack on feet: 3x20 

The weight and water-fill amounts are approximate.  Just increase water/weight as you feel comfortable.  Remember, increase weight, not reps.  If you ARE having a hard time moving up anymore in weight, but you can do the reps at your required weight easily, then try adding on another set rather than more reps for a workout or two, then try to bump the weight up again.'

As always, be careful, and listen to your body.  It knows you better than you know you.

Exercise Index:
Keg Deadlifts:
Keg Clean and Presses:
Keg Rows:
Pullups(chair assisted):
Rope Climb(with feet):
Rope Climb(no feet):
Hanging Leg Lifts:

That's it for today.  Monday: Diet!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Donkey Kong and all  property therein are © Copyright Nintendo Entertainment.