Thursday, January 27, 2011

Movie Review: Yip Man 2

Yesterday I went to check out this film.
I saw the first one when I was living in Singapore and it was an excellent movie.

This is a contiuation of where the first film leaves off, with Ip Man moving to Hong Kong and trying to promote Wing Chun there, encountering various obstacles along the way.

Overall, I felt this was a good effort, although not as good as the first movie.
The cinematics were good and really gave you a good sense of what it must have been like in post-war Hong Kong, with many displaced people from the mainland flooding in trying to find work and set up businesses.

In the first movie the main antagonist is the Japanese occupation army, and in this film it is the British colonial rule, embodied by a corrupt British Hong Kong police official and, to a lesser degree, an arrogant British boxing champion.

The fight choreography by Sammo Hung was brilliant, and preserved the essence of the various kung fu styles (as far as I can tell). Sammo's character, Sifu Hong, was also very well played, with a balance of hardline adversary and patriot. His death leads Ip Man to challenge the Britsh boxer to a duel in the ring. Donnie Yen seems very convincing in his movements, and combines a true fighting prowess with Ip Man's humility and classical Confucian education. I am sure the real Ip Man must have been quite an amazing person.

That fight is an interesting example of what might happen between a skilled wing chun master and a good, strong western boxer. I am sure it is based on a true event, since Ip Man is known to have beaten many kinds of fighters in Hong Kong challenge matches. I can't find any real historical precedent online, so if you know the story, kindly tell me what really happened. Darren Shahlavi as Twister is an intimidating anti-hero and he is really ripped and ferocious. He would not be fun in a real fight.

I recommend watching this film for its cultural and historial value, and to see wing chun portrayed correctly as an extremely effective fighting system. I personally know some wing chun masters who are among the best fighters I have ever met, so Ip Man defeating a larger stronger western boxer does not in any way seem unreal to me. It is also always nice to see martial arts portayed as a vehicle for personal development, rather than just a way of beating people up. Ip Man's closing speech that "...despite our differences, I hope people can all learn to respect each other..." is the same message about martial arts I would expect any real master to give.

Did you also see this film? What did you think? Let me know.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This week we lost Jack Lalanne, fitness guru and strongman, at age 96. He was such a remarkable man that his life deserves some reflection by all of us.

Maybe he is known to our generation best for his Jack lalanne Power Juicer and its late-nite TV infomercials, but Jack did so much to promote health and fitness that he should be remembered forever as one of the people who cared about us most.

Some of the important lessons we can learn from Jack:

1) Diet is the Most Important Aspect of Health
Jack changed his life following attendance of a lecture on diet by Paul Bragg. You can, too.

Whether it is his advocacy of juicing or his eschewing sugar and meat long before other people advocated it, Jack knew and practiced that diet and health were one and the same.

2) Exercize in some way EVERY DAY
Jack continued to exercize almost 2 hours daily into his 80s. After a lifetime of fitness he was still able to perform amazing feats long after most people are dead or infirm. He did not make time for exercize - everything else made time for exercize. Health needs to become a priority in our lives for us to achieve longevity.

Jack defined it. He lived a very long life, indeed, but more importantly he lived a FUNCTIONAL LONG LIFE. We all want to live to be at least 96 as Jack did, but none of us want to spend most of it as an invalid due to some debilitating illness that could easily have been avoided with a careful diet (whole foods, plant based) and regular daily exercize. The key to happiness is longevity, and that means keeping your mobility and ability as long as possible.

4) Swimming is Good For You
Jack swam every day, and many of his famous feats of strength and endurance were based on swimming, such as swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf towing a boat- while handcuffed and shackled!! Swimming is a great workout that does not damage joints, and swimmers are some of the fittest of all athletes.

5) Happy Wife, Happy Life
Married to the same woman for 52 years

6) The Hell with what Anybody says
In his day, Jack was beseiged by naysayers who advocated "meat and potatoes" and dismissed him as a health nut. Jack went on to dance over all of their graves. He was fitter and stronger at 80 than any of them had ever been in their entire lives.

7) Create and Innovate
Jack developed lots of training devices and methods because, quite frankly, they didn't exist when he needed them. Research and study, then never be afraid to develop your own tools and techniques if needed. Do not let society or technology's limitations become your own.

8) Keep Your Sense of Humor
Jack was said to always have a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
Choosing to be happy is an important way to live a longer, healthier life.

Think about these lessons - LIVE YOUNG FOREVER!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Report - The China Study

This is my most recent read. It was compelling and I went through it quickly. In short, I highly recommend this book, and even more highly recommend the soul-searching you should do after reading it.
1) What You Should Already Know
T. Colin Campbell, the author, is a Cornell-based PhD nutritionist and scientist.
He is one of the most respected and published scientists in this field, and has literally hundreds of articles posted in the top scientific journals. He has spent significant time studying the effects of nutirition on cancer, and the implications are very important. In a nutshell, as a scientist and doctor, he recommends a "whole foods, plant based diet" for optimum health, and proves through rigorous scientific studies that this minimizes risk of the most deadly ailments of our time: cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The establishment has vested financial interest in keeping us confused, and by promoting the cycle of meat and animal based diets which cause diseases that require expensive treatments and surgeries to intervene. Patients do not actually get well from these treatments. Once diagnoses, the downward spiral is usually fatal anyway, but these treatments cause undue pain, suffering and financial burden that could have been avoided or reversed through a whole foods, plant-based diet.
2) Holistic Health
The relationship between nutirtion and health is a complex one, and dealing with nutrients in isolation is not a successful method of improving health according to Dr. Campbell. In fact, supplements usually do the reverse, casuring more harm than good for our bodies. The best is to move toward a diet which offers holistic benefits and gives us the synergy that nature intended. Western medicine often focuses on the disease rather than the patient, and on the treatment rather than the cure. Nutrition is no different, and dieases are best addressed at their source - which Dr. Campbell contends is usually due to poor nutrition.
3) Supplements and other "magic bullets"
Dr. Campbell has done numerous labratory studies on health and vitamin supplements and concludes, as you might expect, that these do not offer the benefits they are ascribed. In fact, not only is it impossible to prove that supplements provide health benefits in isolation, they are shown to have damaging effects by actually increasing the likelihood of cancer and other sickness. The very things you take to save your life are probably killing you.
4) Conflicts of Interest
Food and drug companies sponsor most nutrition research and very carefully control what goes into the media. They also promote their self-serving agenda through elementary schools and even medical schools. The health care system rewards doctors for treating illness rather than avoiding illness, and hospital "top earners" are those doctors which perform the most surgeries, not those doctors which save the most lives. For the well-meaning healthcare professional, this is disturbing. For the industry at large, it is criminal.
There is far too much at stake for big business to promote real optimal health through better diet and nutrition.
5) Never Too Late
Most encouraging in his research is the result that cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are not only prevented by a whole foods, plant based diet, but that they are actually REVERSED by it. In his studies, Dr. Campbell showed that cancer promotion (when cancer cells multiply and spread) could be reversed in mice based on how much animal protein they were fed. This means that for humans, cancer patients could actually reverse cancer and put it into remission by adopting a vegetarian diet and avoiding animal products. This is a much better option that the suffering of chemotherapy and surgery.
6) Lifestyle Choices
I dislike Christianity primarily because of its focus on negative reinforcement.
In the same way, rather than threaten us with cancer if we don't become vegetarians, it is better to provide unbiased information and let each person choose his or her own lifestyle. We know smoking is unhealthy, even if the direct link to cancer is hard to prove. We also know vegetables and fruits are good for us, without having to be beaten over the head with carrot sticks.
At the end of it all, wouldn't you rather choose life?
7) How to Proceed
Get it; read it; think about it.
Most of us have been brainwashed into bacon and eggs and steak and potatoes meal choices. We know what is good for us, but often feel helpless or powerless to act. SHAKE OFF THE LETHARGY AND DO SOMETHING HEALTHY TODAY. Think about people you have loved and lost from cancer. Think about everyone you know who suffers by being obese. Think about everyone you have known who has died from heart disease that DIDN'T HAVE TO.
How are YOU going to live?
Let me know your thoughts. Let's do this together. Choose life.