Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two more weeks,

and we'll be flying to Korea for this year's World Taekwondo Hanmadang.

Mixed doubles pattern practice

I had been hoping that we will be sufficiently well prepared to give the Indonesian and Spanish national teams a run for their money, but a closer review of the videos show that we still cannot match their physical conditioning and technical superiority.

There are many, many fine details to pay attention to, and prolonged diligent practice will give one the muscle memory to adjust, flick, thrust the right body parts at right time without conscious control.

With conscious effort, we can perform very very nicely on small bits. But to bright it all together requires the automated movements of muscle memory and to allow the conscious mind to focus on the big picture.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

How bandwidth availability is making obscure data easily available

I'm not much of a downloader/ content pirate. Not because of my unwavering respect for intellectual property, but because I'm mostly impartial to movies, TV series and exploring music. Consequently, my collection of illicit music is abysmally outdated.


In 1997 - 15 years ago! - Pro Pinball: Timeshock! was released to great reviews. It had great depth in playability, very believable simulation physics, good visuals, engaging music and even a storyline. Till today, it firmly remains one of the best pinball games ever coded.

I bought a copy, and spent many many hours flipping balls around a simulated table. On and off, this game lasted me till 2005 or so when my ailing Compaq's CD drive failed to read the Timeshock CD. Torrent files for the CD image were rare, and to find a functioning torrent was a challenge. Finally managing to get hold of one with some activity, the downloading process took several weeks.

Timeshock was back, faster1 and more robust. This lasted me for several years more, surviving several computer formatting and migrations. Until I lost the damn CD image. It's somewhere, I just don't know which hard disc it's backed up in.

Trying my luck with the torrents again, I was very surprised to be able to find one so easily; the download took an hour to complete. I did not expect this. Perhaps data storage and bandwidth has become so cheap that previously low-demand files are being made available again. I tried the other lesser known Pro Pinball titles, and they were just as easily available. This is amazing!

1. Reading a CD image stored on a hard disc is much faster than scanning soundtracks on the actual CD.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Not a regular taekwondo training session

Click here for large size image

Click here for large size image

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Half a year in a roll of film

I have a film camera, a delightful little semi-automatic SLR with manual aperture and focus controls.

Click here for large size image

Every now and then, I will persuade myself that this function/ event I’m going to is going to be great and I should bring my camera… my FILM camera. But when I get there there’s not so much going on that justifies squeezing off a RM 0.65 shot so I usually end up with a photo or two, sometimes 5. The small number of photos and my boring social calendar means it takes about 6 months for a roll of film to be used, by then I’m a bit jaded by the hassle and lack of instant-ness of film.

Click here for large size image

I get the roll developed and scanned, and immediately get stunned by the vividness of it. The dynamic range is fantastic – there simply are no blown-out areas, and the tonal gradients look rather pleasing.

Click here for large size image

It also helps with my composition that I take extra care to squeeze the trigger when RM 0.65 is on the line, so I end up with a higher proportion number of better photos.

I should... will take the film camera out more.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The World Taekwondo Hanmadang 2011

3 months ago, I was in Korea for a taekwondo competition, and by golly was it an eye opener. The quality of the taekwondo competition was unbelievable (it’s one thing to see a video of an awesome one-off performance, but when you see team after team after team of consistently excellent performance, you wonder about the statistics), I saw a changing room full of naked boys, then I saw a changing room full of naked men…

The competition in question was the World Taekwondo Hanmadang 2011, with a very strong focus on the art form and no sparring at all. The event list was significant, with:
-Fist breaking
-Knife hand breaking
-Foot breaking
-Jumping kick breaking for height (highest jumping kick that breaks a light plank)
-Jumping kick breaking for distance (furthest jumping kick that breaks a light plank)
-Spinning kick breaking (most number of spinning kicks executed in a fixed duration)
-Combination breaking (break as many planks as desired, using as fancy/difficult techniques as desired)
-Team pattern
-Mixed doubles pattern
-Team demonstration (mixed event of 9 members to perform pattern, breaking, jumping kicks, weapons self defense)

Courtesy of the generosity of Air Asia X, our team of 15 flew into Korea at partially sponsored fares. Lower fares = more spending money.

Obligatory group photo at the venue. Note the slick (sponsored) team uniform

The first thing that caught our attention was the Korean teams' synchronisation. The top teams were perfect- stopwatch perfect. The coordination of both timing and techniques were impeccable. Then we realise that many Korean universities have taekwondo departments alongside their engineering and economics faculties. That explains a lot.

Fortunately for us foreign competitors, we were in a ‘foreign’ category of our own. It is a win-win situation: the foreigners don’t get steam-rolled by the Korean teams, and the Korean teams are not exposed to the slight risk that they may be embarrassed by a foreigner.

Not to say it made life much easier. In my age category, 19-30 years old, competition was extremely stiff as most athletes reach their peak at this age. We amateurs were up against very strong national teams consisting of professional athletes. Our two teams finished 8th and 9th from a pool of 14 teams. Not too shameful for first-timers.

This was the winning team, Indonesia.

And right at the end, you can see one of the Malaysia PTC teams coming in 5th place (at that time) with 7.95 points.

The mixed-doubles 19-30 years old winners from Spain looked even better, partly because a smaller team is easier to synchronise.

The under-18 group was not as heavily fortified with national teams. With the firepower of our team’s under-18 mixed-doubles pair of Monica and Brandon, a bronze medal was secured for Malaysia.

Click here for large size image

In the breaking events, Kalaiselvan in the 50-59 years old foot breaking won a silver medal. He nominated a conservatives 4 planks to be loaded on the racks, and broke them easily. Many others were ambitious and requested more, but the tight packing of the planks meant that if the kick was insufficient to break through everything, none broke.

For the 19-29 years old fist breaking, Albert punched through 4 roof tiles but was outperformed by many. This was due to a minor mistake resulting in sub-optimal momentum transfer to the targets.

Medal winners Brandon, Kalaiselvan and Monica with our head coach Zul

The organisers had a welcome banquet for foreign competitors, which went OK. It was a buffet, and the variety of food was commendable.

That's just a bottle of soft drink

To be continued…

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