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Phillosoph

Fruit Juice and Knives

A friend of mine has warned me she intends to bring me a knife for some attention. It needs sharpening, but also has some marks. Too much touching the blade and not enough (if any!) oiling.

Gentle Rust Removal

If you paid attention in Science class you will know that you can remove rust with acids such as vinegar. Often this leaves a discolouration, however.
An interesting technique I have used is to remove rust with pineapple juice. Pineapple juice is a very mild acid. If you soak a blade for a few days it gently removes rust patches, leaving much less discolouration. Something like a vase is ideal. Just submerge the blade in juice to the depth required. If you lack a vase then the juice carton itself may be a suitable shape. You may have to brace it so the weight of the knife does not cause it to topple over.
I have only ever used pineapple juice for this, but other fruit juices should work. I suspect grapefruit juice may be too strong, but that is just a guess and I may be wrong.

Fruit and Bread Knives

I was watching a movie recently and a character makes a comment about the wisdom of cutting tomatoes with a bread knife. I guessed this may have been due to most people not having genuinely sharp kitchen knives, but I ran the idea past a chef friend.
My chef friend agreed one should cut tomatoes with a bread knife, and that it should also be used for other acidic fruits such as lemons and limes.
His explanation was that the acid of the fruits prematurely blunted other types of kitchen knife. The serrated edge of a bread knife was less affected by this. He did note that many chefs he had worked with were unaware of this.
So, if you are cutting acidic fruits in your kitchen, reach for a bread knife or serrated blade, preferably one of stainless steel.

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Phillosoph

Breakfalls: The Lateral Roll

Close combat has been described as the art of knocking someone down and kicking them while they are down. In this light, it is perhaps surprising that breakfalls are a rather neglected skill in many martial arts and self-defence courses.
The book Arwrology recounts and incident where a serviceman uses a breakfall to avoid injury when he is thrown to the ground during a bombing raid. Breakfall techniques can be incorporated into the warm-up for a training session in any martial style. In an ideal society, children would be taught breakfalls in kindergarten, learning a useful skill to save them from possible injuries in later life.
It will come as no surprise that Crash Combat and Attack, Avoid, Survive both contain sections on breakfalls. Breakfalls can be classed as “rolls”, “slaps” and “non-traditional”. A roll is self-explanatory. Slaps use the impact of the forearms and palms on the ground to brake the fall. In my books, the non-traditional techniques are represented by the cartwheel and the parachute landing fall. Once, on an isolated mountain path I missed my footing. Executing a parachute landing fall saved me from injury in a remote location, even though I was wearing a heavy pack.
In my books I also describe the forward roll, and slap techniques to the front, side and rear. Today I will look at two additional techniques.

The Rear Roll

The first is the rear roll. This resembles the rear slapping technique, but without using the forearms to brake you. The starting posture for learning resembles that used to learn the rear slapping roll. Instead of using your arms you continue to roll backwards, across your back and shoulders. It may be necessary to roll several times. Ideally you finish on your feet, ready to stand up from the squat position.

The Lateral Roll

The second technique is the “lateral roll” (yokonagare). The starting position for learning this resembles that used for the sideways slap breakfall. These photo sequences from books by Stephen Hayes illustrate the principle better than my text does:
The extended leg provides balance, and should be extended straight so that the bottom of the thigh absorbs the impact with the ground. The supporting leg is allowed to fold as much as practical to reduce drop distance. In the first sequence the roll seems to be to the rear quarter rather than to the side. The same starting position and core technique can be used to make a roll to the rear.
The lateral roll has a number of other applications. As well as being a breakfall, the technique can be used to drop below and away from an attack. It can also be used to drop and roll behind cover if spotted or fired upon. Possibly the move could be incorporated into certain sacrifice throws.
This is a move that can be initiated from any stance where the weight can be easily transferred to the rear leg. My Capoeira background notes that the actual roll action is preceded by a posture similar to negativa. It also resembles the semi-squat position often seen with some Chinese martial arts. For negativa and other breakfalls, see my books.

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Phillosoph

Cleaning Up Blood.

My first post on the relocated blog, and in truth, I wish it left me under happier circumstances. Both the girlfriend and myself are experiencing considerable health problems, compounded with some insidious behavior from several sources. I will spare you the details, but will note that one of the “lighter” incidences in the last week was a cat giving birth, then rejecting and trying to kill its kittens! Luckily one of the other cats stepped up and the kittens are now safe and doing well.
The other cat had decided it wanted to give birth while wandering around the house, often trailing a kitten still attached by its umbilical cord. Blood and other secretions were left around the house, which was not conducive to finding new tenants for vacant rooms.
This situation reminded me of a piece of knowledge that is not as widely known as it deserves. In the past I have been called upon to clean clotted blood from scientific equipment. Often these clots were within very narrow tubing. Anything that would fit down the tubing had insufficient strength to break up the dried blood.
The movie “Carrie” was on last night, so the fates seem to be telling me it was time I passed this knowledge on.
The solution (literally!) is 0.9% (isotonic) saline. Nine grams of common table salt/ sodium chloride dissolved in a litre of tap water. Or 0.9g in 100mls, 4.5g in 500mls or any variation of such.
One advantage of using isotonic saline is that it will dissolve clotted blood without causing further lysis of the blood cells, and releasing the pigment.
A friend of mine once got blood on his jeans and asked on facebook how he should remove it. Luckily for him I responded first and told him about isotonic saline. There then followed numerous other suggestions, many of them exotic or expensive, several of which that would have marked or destroyed his jeans. This was a nice example of what is so often bad about social media. My friend used saline, and his jeans survived.
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Phillosoph

Night Demons, Sleeping and Yoga.

Regular readers will know that this blog is mainly concerned with survival and self-defence. The blog does allow me to occasionally address more diverse topics that I like to think of as ways of surviving the rat race or defence against the perils of modern life.
The night before last was unpleasant. I awoke in the early hours and experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. (Somewhat misnamed I have to observe). As I awoke, I was disorientated and struggled to recognise where I was. I had a feeling that I might not be alone. I tried to make a noise but no sound came out and I was unable to move. The feeling passed and I regained movement. I tried to sleep again. As I lay there a wave of “immobility” affected my feet and began to move up my body. I felt myself dropping off into sleep but also had the feeling this was something being imposed upon me so fought against it. The rest of the night I had difficulty remaining sleeping.
The next day I read up a little on sleep paralysis. Very interesting stuff. Most people will experience a couple of episodes of sleep paralysis during their lives. It appears that as the body’s physical motion is inhibited one’s paranoia goes into overdrive and familiar surroundings and sounds will be interpreted as potential threats. Hence the feelings of fear and that there is another presence in the room. Nature of the threat varies with the experiencer’s cultural icons. A friend told me he had an episode of sleep paralysis where he heard a demon whispering unintelligible words into his ear. The same friend is a long time sufferer of tinnitus so it seems likely this was his paranoia perceiving the usual background noise differently. 
One of the things I learnt from the British NHS website was that if you are experiencing sleep paralysis you should attempt to wiggle your fingers or toes. I was also reading about related folklore Stories of supernatural creatures that sit on your chest during the night and stop you moving or make breathing hard are common to many cultures. Interestingly at least one tradition suggests you can drive the creature away by attempting to bite your thumb or wiggle your fingers! Or you should attempt to steal the creature’s hat!
The NHS site yielded some useful information on improving sleep patterns. A useful tip was to tidy my bedroom to create a less chaotic and more relaxing environment. If nothing else I no longer trip over stuff as much when going to bed! Most of us are aware that drinking coffee close to bedtime is not a good idea but many of us will overlook the ingestion of other stimulants such as smoking or caffeinated soft drinks. Unusually for me I had drank a can of coke after dinner that night, so wonder if this might have contributed to my unpleasant night?

Strenuous exercise close to bedtime is to be avoided, the exception being sex, the one form of exercise that can be both vigorous and sleep-inducing. Not a particularly practical option for me currently so I looked at the second best option, relaxing using yoga. The yoga that I am most familiar with is the “Salute the Sun” sequence but it occurred to me a set of exercises intended to be performed in the morning might not be the best choice to relax me before bedtime. I came across this set of exercises which you can even do in bed! I didn’t do the full eight minutes for my first attempts but did find them quite effective. I had not expected to fall to sleep very quickly last night given how stressful the previous night had been but I did notice I did feel more relaxed and less restless while I was lying in bed. I will persist with the yoga and see how it goes.
Update: Since I first wrote this, I have had a couple of minor events. My half-awake mind tries to counter-attack, and making a palm-strike has much the same effect as wiggling fingers or making signs against evil. A similar reflex seems to wake me up if I dream of something particularly disturbing.
I hope that this information has been of some interest or help to some of you. Pleasant dreams!