Cat Humor – Japanese Screens

I have a passion for Martial Arts…and through that, I suppose, I also have a fondness for certain Japanese designs (such as shoji doors.)  Well, I also – once upon a time being the key phrase – had a lovely set of screens modeled after shoji doors. . .

And then – BAM! – kittens.  Did just about the same thing…but decided not to be present when mom discovered the transgression.

Sneaky…and smart.

7 – 5 – 3 Code – For Life, Relationships, and Martial Arts

The 7-5-3 code is essentially an amalgamation of ancient principles, heavily influenced (and beginning with) the heroic, notoriously stringent way of life – or Bushido – of the Samurai.  The moral codes and principles by which these fierce warriors lived continues to guide many modern-day Martial Artists, whether taken as the 7-5-3, or in segments.  The values within, however, can apply to all people in all walks of life – they are scarcely relegated to the Arts and I daresay the world would be a better place would that we all followed suit. . . 

The 7-5-3 Code as a sum total purportedly originates with the Valente Brothers, three generations (same family) of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners who have learned from Grand Master Helio Gracie directly.  Though I am a practitioner of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu myself, I confess that I’d not heard much about the family prior.  That said, each of these points are ones which have been at the core of the five Martial Arts I have practiced (Hapkido, Taekwondo, Ninpo, Japanese Ju-Jutsu, Brazilian JiuJitsu (some Kumdo in addition)) in one way or another – they provide the framework and foundation not only for us as Martial Artists, but again as human beings.

7 Virtues Of a Warrior

  • Rectitude
  • Courage
  • Benevolence
  • Politeness / Propriety 
  • Honesty / Sincerity
  • Loyalty

These seven virtues relate to the way in which we interact with one another, on the mats, or off, whether with training partners, strangers, coworkers, husbands, wives… For the Samurai, there was an intense focus on how one conducts oneself, the values to which one would ferociously adhere, and the overarching respect and appreciate of life in all circumstances, with all people.  The maintenance of moral integrity was at the heart of the code, strengthened further by honest, and loyal conduct.  The Samurai were infamous for their fearlessness, and though known for their strength in battle, they asserted a level of compassion and kindness towards fellow man.

5 Keys To Health

  • Rational Nutrition
  • Sensible Exercise
  • Efficient Rest
  • Proper Hygiene
  • Positive Attitude

The five keys to health are incredibly important for everyone, particularly the modern-day Martial Arts practitioner or athlete. Without the proper fuel, our bodies will not function at their best.  Without rest, and a positive attitude irregardless of the circumstances, we cannot meet the challenges with our full capabilities.  Hygiene is an incredibly important point not only for our own health, but out of respect for our fellow training partners.  And sensible exercise requires that we push ourselves in a healthy way, knowing our limits, respecting our bodies, and backing off when necessary (often much harder said than achieved when dealing with athletic minds!)

3 States Of Mind

  • Zanshin – Awareness, Alertness, Preparedness
  • Mushin – No or Clear Mind
  • Fudoshin – Emotional Balance

The three states of mind are the principles by which to guide our personal, inner relationship.  These states not only preside over our physical bodies, but are at the core of the Arts which we practice – in some cases they feel like elusive, impossible concepts, but they are the endpoints to which we strive.  In fact one of them was at the heart of Hatsumi Sensei’s Ninpo theme this year!

Zanshin requires that we are always alert enough to accurately assess our surroundings, relying heavily on our muscle memories – this is where the hard training, and meticulous repetition comes into play. Mushin, a key theme among the Ninja for 2017, is, in essence, the ability to clear the mind of all techniques, to flow with the opponent’s movement, and to create.  Fudoshin is the emotional balance which we all endeavor to reach – with the turbulence of life, this balance fluctuates, tipping the scales to one end of the spectrum, and perhaps back to the other.  It takes hard work and self-reflection to achieve this balance, but the goal is ever-present.

Taking It Together

These 15 principles are – for all intents and purpose – ancient ones.  They are neither novel, nor particularly difficult to understand.  But to achieve these 15 singularly, or particularly in harmony, is a skill in and of itself – the pursuit of these virtues is a noble one, and gives a structure to Martial Arts practices, but also to life.  These are the foundations on which we can build our relationships with ourselves and others, on which we can build our strength of body and mind, and the principles that govern our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being.  

The Seven Virtues Of Bushido

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Korean Skincare At Target – January 2017

I always get excited when I hear US retailers are expanding their overseas brands – especially stores like Target, which tend to be EVERYwhere (and therefore more easily accessible.)  

I’ve been droning on about the benefits of Asian skincare for – literally – decades.  I wrote a thesis surrounding the topic back in 1999, to “date” myself.  It wasn’t until the last two years or so that I’ve really seen it take off…but I can assure you, I’m THRILLED, as it makes tracking such products down a LOT easier.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-59-43-pm

You can certainly find your share at Ulta (for another major retailer) and I’ve seen Asian concepts rolling out from US and European brands at mass market retailers, such as CVS and Walgreens – so the types of products (think sheet masks, cushions, essence waters etc) have become more available to the masses in general.  But to have actual Asian brands carried in the US is an awesome affair.

Musingsofamuse posted here to mention a few of the items hitting shelves later this month.  Mizon is an incredibly well-featured brand (for good reason too – the products live up to the hype!) so I’m pretty psyched to see it among the ranks.  She’s provided the following list (which you can see by clicking her link in the text above as well) along with mention of Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon, responsible for this roll-out:

  • Aprilskin Deep Cleaning Facial Cleanser $7
  • Ariul Sheet Mask Skin Texture Improvement Facial Mask Treatment $20
  • Caolion Cream Deep Cleaning Facial Mask Treatment $26
  • Caolion Cream Pore Minimizing Facial Mask Treatment $20
  • Caolion Cream Skin Texture Improvement Facial Mask Treatment $23
  • Caolion Stick Moisturizing Facial Moisturizer $16
  • Lagom Gel Basic Cleansing Facial Cleanser $17
  • Lagom Spray Skin Texture Improvement Facial Tone $21
  • Mizon Snail Repair Eye $22
  • Mizon Snail Repair Cream $38
  • Mizon Face Masks $3.50 Each
  • Twenty Four Seven Cosmetic Highlighter White $22
  • Twenty Four Seven Lipstick Medium $29

I look forward to seeing these in-store in the next few weeks.  Definitely refreshing…and incredibly good for your beau.  And that’s the thing, really…the sooner in life you start, the better off you are.  In skincare – as with many things – preventative and proactive care is the BEST kind.

Rimmel Fresher Skin

One of the most important things about color cosmetics for me – as an athlete (and once performing athlete in dance and figure skating – is the lasting power.  I don’t wear much because fresh-faced and natural is so much more appealing to me.  But when it is required to pull myself together, I still want something that will hold up – to humidity, sweat, heat, rain…whatever.  Being a porcelain doll is lovely – but for me personally, having to worry about my face melting off is just not something I am willing to deal with.

I’m not sure this is a USA release, or whether it will be – no word of it ’round here.  But thanks to ReallyRee, I caught wind of it, and felt the need to share for those of you who have also not seen it – in store or online.  (There are other blog posts for sure, if you feel like snooping.)

This actually reminds me of a pot that L’Oreal had back in the early 90’s – I can’t remember the name of it but it felt like skincare, which totally appealed to me (even at an incredibly young, and non-makeup-wearing age.)

The Fresher Skin formula is humidity and sweat resistant, starts as water-gel, and transforms into a “refreshing cream,” a la many Japanese products before it.  It doesn’t clog pores – another HUGE point for me, absorbs shine, and doesn’t settle into lines.  It happens to look really nice on her skin – and she has other photos, so definitely check it out.

 

Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue

The benefits of charcoal as a detoxifier are by no means new, but there has been rather a surge in charcoal based skincare over the last few years, and I’ve more recently seen it for haircare as well!

And, while there are a plethora of products out there, it is worth mentioning Dermalogica’s Charcoal Rescue Mask, which appears to be a heavier hitter in the epidermal detox than many others. The mask is formulated with Binchotan Charcoal, derived from the Japanese Ubame Oak Tree – in addition to adsorbing up to 1,000x its own weight in impurities (environmental toxins, sebum etc…), it has also been used to deodorize, purify water, and whiten your pearly teeth. Impressive!

Ulta.com

Ulta.com

In addition, Dermalogica uses Sulfur in the formulation, known to treat various conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, sebaceous dermatitis, and to promote cell turnover.  Brilliant!  Add to that Volcanic ash, sea silt, bamboo extract and alpha hydroxy acids to “further accelerate skin brightening with dual-action exfoliation.” ANDNiacinamide, and Chilean Wild Mint, which ” helps reduce congestion and calm the skin” and refine pores, respectively.

If you have problematic skin at all…this sounds like a serious holy grail (HG) treatment mask – at $46, I know it’s a lot, but I’ve never had a bad experience with Dermalogica’s products.  EVER. 

 

 

Mizon At Target

I am a huge fan of Asian skincare (a topic I am sure I have exhausted at this point.)  I personally love the approach that the Asian cultures have taken towards their skincare, and love how the brands are always ever innovating to keep up.

One of my favorite brands is Mizon (their snail cream is phenomenal) and I am delighted to say it has just shown up on mass marketer Target’s website.  

Target.com

Target.com

Back in the day I had to rely on the DutyFree shops at the airport in Honk Kong to buy up my stash of goodies.  When I left the Fashion industry and stopped heading to China all the time, I had to resort to eBay scouring… Nowadays, you can find more of these brands in our own USA retail shops – thank you for making Life easier!

Martial Arts “Dork” Debacle

Actually, I’m not sure if I’m a dork, a nerd...or something else?  I vaguely recall a contemplative conversation I had with my uncle discussing the nuances of geekery and nerddom, etc.  (We felt he was solidly in “geek” territory himself, though my designation wasn’t wholly clear.)

I’ve discovered that there’s an alarming number of charts, graphs, even venn diagrams to explain the key differences – in combination with countless online quizzes, it sounds like my uncle and I were onto a still ambiguously-answered topic.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 3.23.43 PM

I’m mulling over the below, as one example, wondering whether there is a happy ground anywhere…or at least one less, er, pejorative and vehement than “psychopath”?  Maybe I’m in Martial Arts Geekland?

Geek

ORANGE…

  • Obsessed is a possibility… I have an ardent passion for Martial Arts – one which, I daresay, teeters on the verge of “obsession.”  Not partial.  Full-fledged.
  • I’m also a “workaholic” and “fanatic”…when it comes to sports, career, school…I work incredibly hard, and care about results. Strike-true, chart!  As I always say, however, there is a fine line between dedication and stupidity!  Sometimes those of us with this level of zeal – nigh insatiable at times – push a little too hard.  So while it’s off-putting to see some negatively-leaning attributes in that orangey-pink sphere, they might be fair to say.  
  • Anxiety I struggle with sometimes, but not so much with my Martial Arts – my practice is very much my sanity, and a place where I am very happy to be.  Because anxiety runs in my family, calming and centering activities are a must.
  • Mad Scientist gives me visions of Dr. Finklestien.  Science fascinates me.  I love the intellectual humor.  I was elated over a microscope that I got for Christmas when I was a kid… But I don’t tend to do any experiments these days.  No bunsen burners, no haphazardly put-together, resurrected beasts.  Just kicks, punches, sparring, chokes… I’m straightforward.
  • Nerd.  Therein lies my question… Am I?  Am I NOT?!
  • Dork.  Maybe yes, maybe no.

IMG_1465

BLUE

  • Emotionally unstable? Not in the certifiable way! Emotional?  Absolutely.  Many Martial Artists I know are able to handle stressful situations, but we are human at the end of the day, so emotions are underlying all we do – they are the reason we have the drive to do what we do at all.  We have fire in our souls, eagerness in our bodies, and love in our hearts.  I’ve seen anger too, no question, but rarely. Though I am an ESP (Extra Sensitive Person / Empath) I have gotten more grounded though my practices – I am still very sensitive, but I don’t agressively fly off the handle like I once used to.  I do shut down sometimes (not proud of that) but I’m working on it! Always room to grow and improve!
  • Crazy?  Well…I love vampires, sparkles, and kicking things, so I think I qualify somewhere in there, all the way out in the blue zone!
  • Irrational doesn’t really apply for me.  My old boss once said “you are so responsible, I feel bad for you.”  I know, I had the same “I’m sorry, what?” reaction.  I can be a wild card, but I’m not careless or unsound by any stretch.  Opponents often are, but we can’t afford to be.
  • Psychopath.  No, can’t say that I am.  (Not to say a person bearing said diagnosis is going to totally admit it, but I can safely say I’m not in the psychopathic sector!  Been with too many NPD-afflicted individuals (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and sociopaths so…let’s just say I’ve done my research!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 5.38.33 PM

YELLOW

  • Socially Inept.  MAJOR nope.  I’m a Gemini – most of the planet thinks I’m a social butterfly.  I can talk to anyone, and am often approached by people who spill a ton of personal information, but as an Empath, I’m more like the elusive butterfly.  I adapt easily so social situations are a breeze. Most Martial Artists I know are warm and very socially capable.  We also know when to shut our traps at the Dojang / Dojo / Academy.
  • Clueless?!  I LOVE to learn, and I believe awareness physically, emotionally, and spiritually is vital.  So this is a big no.  Martial Artists must be aware of his or her surroundings – it’s part of our training, and it is engrained.  I don’t know a single one who is clueless.
  • Sociopath, see Psychopath above!
  • I looked up Dweeb and found “a boring, studious, or socially inept person.”  Ouch.  Well, I’m not at all boring, but I get bored in two seconds.  I’m studious with my sports, but as above, not inept.  1 of 3?

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GREEN

  • Intelligent.  I like to think so! 😀
  • Inventor.  In some ways (in figure skating, in dance, and in Fashion…)  But in the traditional, more mechanical sense?  Not so much. 

Now…There are six designations in each of these circles, so if I was being mathematical about all this:

  • Orange – At least 3 of 6
  • Blue – 1, possibly 2 of 6
  • Yellow – 1, possibly 2 (Nerd / Dork conundrum) of 6
  • Green – 2, possibly 3 of 6

This didn’t solve my problem.

😁

I looked up Dork and Nerd to see which made more sense…but the definitions feel kind of boorish.  Given that Dork falls in the orange, and that’s where I mostly am… I think I’m more Dork than Nerd, which falls (evidently) under the larger umbrella of the almighty “GEEK.”  

So for the sake of ending this novel*… I’m a Geeork.  It sounds kind of Star Wars, doesn’t it!? 😉 

*Nerd is a close contender.  Close to a tie.  So if you call me a Neek, I won’t be offended. 🙂

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Demystifying Asian Skincare

There is a lot of confusion out there as other cultures’ terms and products have been blended with those of our own home countries.  It’s difficult to breakdown all the terms – emulsion vs essence vs toner vs serum…  But a couple of folks have endeavored to demystify the words we see on the bottles!

Here are a couple of sites for reference in case you are having the same issue of trying to figure out what’s what! (You aren’t alone! Keep in mind that there may be some differences in descriptions, but it’s a starting point for sure! 🙂

BeautyFaceSkin123

Fashionista

LovelyHappyHeart

Wishtrend

Reddit Asian Beauty

TheBeautyBreakdown

 

yinyangtalks.com

yinyangtalks.com

cosmeticschinaagency.com

cosmeticschinaagency.com

SoKo To Tokyo Sephora Set

On and on I go about Asian skincare…!

A great new set has popped up at Sephora – Soko to Tokyo – featuring “the hottest beauty brands from South Korea to Japan.”  I’m excited!!!

 

The set retails for $40 – remarkable value, given it’s $115 price tag!  It includes:

  • 0.5 oz Erborian Crème Scrub Beautifying Exfoliating Pearls 
  • 0.2 oz Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel 
  • 1 oz Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel 
  • 1 oz SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 
  • 0.68 oz Skin Inc. Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask 
  • 0.34 oz Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb 
  • 0.2 oz Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream 
  • 0.17 oz Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45

There’s a lengthy description on Sephora’s site about the eight goodies…  I’m copying and pasting for reference, but I’m also breaking it up by product (because it’s a sizable chunk of text and…who has time!? 😉 ) I’ve highlighted each product as well to make it easier:

  1. Cleanse with Erborian’s Crème Scrub, a gentle daily cleanser featuring a soothing complex of seven Korean herbs and micropearls for skin that appears visibly clearer, smoother, and more luminous.
  2. Exfoliate and brighten with Amore Pacific’s Treatment Enzyme Peel, a highly effective, botanical-based brightening exfoliator made without harsh ingredients.
  3. Boost all your skincare steps with Boscia’s Exfoliating Peel Gel, a lightweight peeling gel that delivers gentle exfoliation for deeper, more thorough cleansing results.
  4. Follow up with SK-II’s cult-classic Facial Treatment Essence, a refreshing essence that moisturizes the skin and supports skin cell renewal.
  5. Skin Inc’s Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask is a unique sleep-in transparent gel mask that hydrates, clarifies, and brightens skin, all in a single step.
  6. Add weightless hydration with Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb, a gel-cream that ‘floods’ the skin with a rush of refreshing moisture, or Dr. Jart’s lightweight Ceramidin™ Cream, a time-release moisturizer that plumps the skin and hydrates the skin barrier from within.
  7. Top it all off with Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45, a one-step balm that perfects the appearance of skin while protecting it from the sun and environmental factors.

Nail It Mag

I wasn’t really into the nail art thing until about two years into my Ballroom training – I actually went to nail salon under the duress of my then dance partner who insisted gel nails would make my lines longer.  

Despite my initial resistance, I certainly understood the importance of “elongating” my shapes on the floor – it’s the reason we wore flesh-toned (tan for Ballroom) sandals, and why some skaters wore tan skates, after all.  So the concept was nothing new…but getting my nails done was!

I tried the glue-on ones – DISASTER!  Forget what a pain it was, I’d inevitably (and painfully) lose one over the course of the competition.  NG.  No good.

And, I did the French manicure once or twice… But “my thing” is being different, and beating to my own drum and EVERYONE had French.  They still do.

I love glitter – one of the contrary facets of my tomboyish nature!  So, after trial and error, I tracked down my own UV glitter gel and have been brining it to my lady ever since.  Sadly, I’m moving in two months and will need to go back to square one…and my documented iPhone photos!

Over the last few years I’ve seen the glitter thing become trendy – not too thrilled with that, BUT…it does make it easier to get a hold of the stuff (I have used eBay Honk Kong for years!)  

Nail It Magazine is newer on the scene (the Japanese girls are giggling – they are WAY ahead of our curve!), speaking to the surge of nail decorations…and it’s a ton of fun.  

I didn’t have any blue gowns in Ballroom, but I’d so have done these if I did.  Nail It calls it “Cinderella.”  

Nailitmag.com photo

Nailitmag.com photo

The look isn’t for the shy, clearly  And honestly, I think it’s more fit for Wintertime, than Spring or Summer…but it’s beautiful all the same!  Colors can be played with, of course – a Springtime sky blue, maybe?  Neon even?! – but the idea for the diagonal degrade dots, and mull-sized glitter is gorgeous.

Happy to see that nail art has become so big over here…not so much so I can fit in (I’d rather not!), but more because then I get a few less looks when my glittery claws catch the sun!