Japanese Martial Arts: History, Styles, and Weapons

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Japanese Martial Arts

The history of the island nation of Japan paints a clear picture of a proud and powerful people forging a national identity, robust culture, and unique way of life from the crucible of war and uncertain peace. Central to this culture was the concept of martial valor, of being able to fight aggressively as well as defensively, both for the very practical purposes of waging war along with strong notions of duty, honor, and personal development. It was from this militaristic and spiritual foundation that the Japanese martial arts styles, of which there are legion and which will be discussed throughout this article, developed.

History

Broadly speaking, the history of Japanese martial arts can be broken down into two categories: Koryu Bujutsu (bujutsu meaning the practical application of martial tactics and techniques in actual combat) and Gendai Budo (budo meaning a way of life encompassing physical, spiritual, and moral dimensions with a focus of self-improvement, fulfillment, or personal growth).

Koryu Bujutsu encompasses the more ancient, traditional Japanese fighting styles, while Gendai Budo is more modern. The division between them occurred after the Meiji Restoration (1868), when the Emperor was restored to practical political power and Japan began the process of modernization in haste. Prior to the Restoration, the Koryu styles focused extensively, if not exclusively, on practical warfare. The Samurai, or warrior caste were expected to be masters of all forms of combat, armed and otherwise. Their martial arts evolved as weapons and technology did, but the focus always remained the same: victory in actual combat, for their own honor and for the cause of their ruler.

However, with the Meiji Restoration and the modernization of Japan, including the large-scale introduction of firearms, the traditional Japanese fighting styles of the samurai became outdated and no longer useful for their practical purpose of military combat. In their wake, the Japanese martial arts styles evolved into what came to be known as Gendai Budo, which focused far less on broad-scale military application and far more on self-improvement and personal growth. They became not just a tool for military victory, but a vital component of a fulfilling, meaningful, and spiritually connected way of life.

Interestingly, this distinction can be noted in the differing terminology: the traditional techniques were referred to as bujutsu, which specifically relates to waging war, while the modern styles are collectively known as budo, which are far more involved with personal betterment.

Styles

Traditional Japanese Martial Arts (Koryu Bujutsu)

Sumo: The oldest of Japanese martial arts styles is sumo, named after the emperor who popularized it (Shumo Tenno) in 728 AD. However, the origins of the fighting style go back long before him, to 23 AD, when the first sumo battle was fought, watched over by the emperor and continuing until one of the fighters was too wounded to continue. After Emperor Shumo reintroduced the sport, it became a staple of the annual harvest festival, spreading throughout Japan and even incorporated into military training. From the 17th century onward, it became a professional sport in every regard, open to all classes, samurai and peasants alike. The rules of the sport are simple: The first man to touch the ground with a part of the body other than the bottom of the feet, or touch the ground outside the ring with any part of the body, loses. It is still an incredibly popular sport in Japan to this day, followed religiously be legions of fervent fans.

Jujutsu: This Japanese martial arts style literally translates into “soft skills”, and uses indirect force such as joint locks and throws to defeat an opponent, rather than direct force like punches and kicks, to use the attackers force against them and counterattack where they are weakest. It was initially developed to fight against the samurai, who often terrorized townspeople, as more direct forms of combat proved ineffective against well-armored foes. Small weapons such as daggers, weighed chains, and helmet smashers (tanto, ryufundo kusari, and jutte, respectively) were used as well in jujutsu. Many elements of jujutsu have been incorporated into a wide variety of more modern Japanese martial arts, including judo, aikido, and non-Japanese martial arts styles like karate.

Ninjutsu: Ninjutsu, or the art of the Ninja, has in the modern period grown to become one of the best known styles of Japanese martial arts. However, when it was developed, Ninjas were used as assassins during the turbulent Warring States Period. Although many a martial arts movie has portrayed ninjas as expert combatants, their true purpose was to avoid combat, or even detection altogether. A skilled ninja would kill his mark and be gone before anyone even suspected he was there. Ninjas were trained in the arts of disguise, escape, concealment, archery, medicine, explosives, and poisons, a skillset uniquely suited to their particular task.

Although there are a number of other Koryu Bujutsu Japanese martial arts styles, they mostly involve weapons, and will be discussed in the Japanese Martial Arts Weapons section.

Modern Japanese Martial Arts (Gendai Budo)

Judo: Literally translated into “the gentle way” or “the way of softness”, Judo is an extremely popular Japanese martial art style developed in the late 19th century based on grappling, and used for sport as well as personal and spiritual development. While incorporating many jujutsu elements, it mainly involves freestyle practice and is used for competition, while removing many of the more harmful jujutsu aspects. In 1964, Judo became an Olympic sport and is currently practiced the world over.

Aikido: Aikido is one of the most complex and nuanced of the Japanese martial arts styles, and that is reflected in its name, which translates into “the way to harmony with ki”, “ki” meaning life force. Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the early-mid 20th century, and focuses primarily on striking, throwing, and joint-locking techniques. Aikido is well known for its fluidity of motion as a signature element of its style. Its principle involves the use of the attacker’s own force against him, with minimal exertion on the part of the wielder. Aikido was influenced significantly by Kenjutsu, the traditional Japanese martial art of sword combat, and in many respects practitioner is acts and moves as an empty-handed swordsman. Aikido also places a strong emphasis on spiritual development, reflecting the importance of spirituality to its founder, and the resultant influence on the martial arts style.

Japanese Karate: Karate, the “way of the empty hand”, was actually not originally a Japanese martial art, having been developed in Okinawa and later influenced by the Chinese. However, early in the 20th century Karate found acceptance in Japan, going so far as to be incorporated into the Japanese public school system. Japanese Karate involves linear punching and kicking, executed from a fixed stance. In this sense, it is very different from the other Japanese martial arts such as Aikido and Judo, which are more fluid in their motions.

Kempo: Kempo is a system of self-defense and self-improvement developed after WWII, based on a modified version of Shaolin Kung-Fu. It involves a combination of strikes, kicks and blocks, as well as pins, joint locks and dodges, making it a middle way between the “hard” styles like Japanese Karate and the more “soft” styles like Judo and Aikido. It was originally introduced into Japan after the war in order to rebuild Japanese morale and spirits, first adopted by large scale corporations for their employees before spreading into the culture of Japan and the larger martial arts world. Now, Kempo is practiced by over 1.5 million people in over 33 countries.

Japanese Martial Arts Weapons

Weapons played a key role in the Japanese Martial Arts, especially during the Koryu Bujutsu phase when they were practically used in combat. Here we will go through a number of Japanese martial arts weapons, as well as the martial arts styles associated with each.

Sword (Katana): Undisputed amongst the hierarchy of Japanese martial arts weapons is the Katana, or the traditional curved sword. The first Katana, with its famous strengthening folding process was forged by legendary swordsmith Amakuni Yasutsuna in 700 AD, with subsequent developments occurring between 987 and 1597 AD. During times of peace, artistry was emphasized, and during times of war, like the 12th century civil war and the 13th century Mongolian invasion, durability, effectiveness, and mass production were more important. The evolution of Swordsmanship was cyclical, with peaceful times being used to invent new techniques, and war times being used to test them. What worked survived, what didn’t, didn’t. During the more than 200 year peaceful period of the Tokugawa Dynasty, the art of swordsmanship changed from one focused on combat and killing to one of personal development and spiritual perfection.

Japanese Martial Arts Weapons Techniques (Katana):

Kenjutsu: the “art of the sword”, this technique is the oldest and used to refer to partnered, one-on-one sword training.

Battojutsu: This is the Art of Drawing a Sword, and involves quickly stepping up to your opponent, drawing your blade, cutting them down in one or two strokes, and re-sheathing the blade. The fact that it has a category onto itself speaks volumes for the philosophy behind Japanese martial arts weapons styles. Battojutso is connected with Iaijutso, or the art of mental presence and immediate reaction, which needs to be perfected if battojutu is to be effective.

Kendo: Kendo, which translates into the “way of the sword”, is a modern, gendai budo Japanese martial arts style. As the sword is no longer a combat weapon, Kendo has reinvented Japanese swordsmanship into a competitive sport. Kendo really took off once the bamboo sword and lightweight wooden armor were introduced, as they allowed for full-speed strikes without the risk of injury. Now, almost all of competitive Kendo is governed by the All Japan Kendo Federation, established in 1951.

Other Japanese Martial Arts Weapons and Martial Arts Styles

Naginata & Naginatajutsu: The naginata was a wooden pole with a curved, single-edged blade at the end. It was used by the samurai, as well as by regular footsoldiers. Naginatajutsua was the art of the naginata, used extensively in traditional Japanese combat. Interestingly, during the Edo period, the Naginata was traditionally a weapon of high-born women, and many practitioners and teachers to this day are women. In the modern world, naginata-do is the ritualistic and competitive form of naginatajutso, practiced by many in Japan and beyond.

Spear & Sojutso: this is the art of fighting with a spear. Although it used to be practiced extensively, and was a primary skill of average soldiers during times of war, it has since declined significantly in popularity, for obvious reasons.

Bow & Kyudo: Kyudo is the “way of the bow”, with the Koryu name being Kyujutsu, or the art of the bow. In traditional Japanese martial arts, the bow and its art was a staple of Samurai discipline, as it was a potent military weapon. When used on horseback, it was even more devastating. However, as Japan adopted firearms, the bow was displaced as a practical instrument of war. Thus, in modern times, Kyudo is practiced for sport and contemplation rather than for warfare.

Other Japanese martial arts weapons exist, such as the tanto (dagger), ryufundo kusari (weighed chain), and jutte (helmet smasher), but the Katana, naginata, spearm and bow were the mainstays of the warrior class.

Japanese Martial Arts List

If the above was a bit too long to read, here is a concise list of the major differing Japanese martial arts styles:

Traditional Japanese Martial Arts Styles

Sumo: earliest style, involves pushing a single opponent over or knocking them from the ring.

Jujutsu: An early style used against samurai and armored opponents, it involves using throws and joint locks to use the enemies own force against them.

Kenjutsu: The art of the sword, involves fighting a single opponent one-on-one with a Katana.

Ninjutsu: The art of the ninja, involves using stealth and indirect or long-range methods of assassination.

Modern Japanese Martial Arts Styles

Judo: “The Gentle Way”, based on grappling, used for sport as well as spiritual and personal development. Judo was accepted as an Olympic sport in 1964.

Aikido: “The Way of Harmony with Ki”, Aikido involves fluid motion and turning the attacker’s own force against him. It is also used for spiritual and personal development.

Japanese Karate: An “imported” martial art to Japan, Japanese Karate is more linear than the other arts, involving direct punches and kicks from a fixed position.

Kempo: Based on Shaolin Kung-Fu, Kempo incorporates direct strikes, kicks, and blocks, as well as indirect pins, joint locks, and dodges. Having been introduced after WWII, is incredibly popular in Japan and throughout the world.

Kendo: The “way of the sword”, Kendo uses bamboo swords and lightweight wooden armor to allow full-speed strikes and has reinvented Japanese sword fighting into a competitive sport rather than an art of war.

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Indian Classical Dance Classes – Bharatnatyam Teacher

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Namaste,

Indian culture today has a distinct identity enlivened through Temple traditions. Indian dance forms associated with the evolution and development of Temple arts speak volumes of the great cultural endeavour. Indian dance forms as practiced today have captured global attention sensitising the Indianness in all the cultural vistas of the world.

India offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. The most famous classical forms are BHARATANATYAM of Tamilnad, KATHAKALIand MOHINIYATTAM of Kerala, ODISSIof Orissa, KATHAK of Uttarpradesh, KUCHIPUDI of Andhrapradesh and MANIPURI of Manipur.

Dance forms were nurtured with a purpose in the sacred premises of temples. Temple dancing had a mission: to take art to the people and conveying a message to the masses. The monotony of the life of commonness as well as the elite was equally shared in the premises of a Temple. True religion sanctified every element with a touch of beauty.

Art was an effective means to suggest the cosmic truth touching the hearts of the devotees through dance, music, sculpture, architecture or a piece of jewellery, when compared to the effect created by rigid ritualistic practices

Sheetal, founder of Shital Arts, has been a Bharatnatyam dancer since she was 5 years old. She has been performing and teaching this traditional dance form for almost 6 years now. After having a huge success in India, Sheetal has now moved to LA where she continues to share her tremendous knowledge of this dance. She has a diploma in dance from the most renowned dance Institute of India called Nalanda University. She finished her Arangetram (the final mastery of Bharatnatyam) at the age of 16. She conducts classes in Canoga Park and also does private lessons. Besides dancing she also teaches Yoga and is an awesome henna tattoo artist.

Sheetal just did a performance at the California State University Northridge (CSUN) for their International Open Market Festival to spread more awareness about this gracious dance. This was featured in the Sun Dial Magazine – [http://sundial.csun.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/11/21/4381fe76b3090]

Classes are located in the following locations:

1. Canoga Park, San Fernando Valley

2. Los Angeles, Culver City (Pico + La Brea) close to Korea town, Hollywood

If you are looking to learn about this awesome dance form or need an artist for performance – please call us on the numbers below and we will be glad to help you.

Blessings!

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Source by Sheetal Menon

Popular Japanese Tattoo Meanings, Symbolism and Designs

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There has been a phenomenal growth of traditional Japanese tattoo designs in the past few years. It used to be that tattoos were relegated to the Yakuza or Japanese gangs and the criminals in the society. Just the site of a tattoo used to and still can strike fear into people. However, Japan is a rapidly changing country and they are starting to see the value in tattoos and more and more people have a deep respect for them. For most tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts alike Japanese designs have always been sought after. Here are some Japanese tattoo meanings and design ideas to help give you a guide of some possibilities if you are interested in getting such a design.

Cherry Blossom Tattoos

For the Japanese the cherry blossom is seen to represent life itself. The flower is a thing of great beauty. It is strong in that is pushes itself and blooms in harsh conditions and climates and often comes out when the snow is first melting. Yet it is paradoxically fragile at the same time. It is fragile because it will only last a few days and then it will fall from the tree and land in the snow. The Japanese view this as a representation of life itself. Life should be lived to extreme beauty and everyday should be lived to it’s fullest. Yet one must always be aware of the possibility of death and therefore with the eventuality of death live life even more fully. This is a great tattoo and a symbol that is laden with powerful reminders and a great guide to how each individual should live their life.

Koi Fish Tattoos

Koi fish are probably the second most powerful symbol in tattoo designs in general but also fro the Japanese. Koi fish can been seen in front of almost every temple throughout Japan. The myth states that the Koi fish swim back up stream against the current to eventually read a bridge or a gate. If they can make it to the gate they are turned into dragons and magically fly away to start a new life. The symbolism behind this design is one of perseverance which is a very deep and important concept for the Japanese. In fact they have many more words to describe perseverance, effort and sticking with something in the language then we do in English.

Hannya Masks

Hannya masks are scary looking and demonic masks. The mask comes from the famous Kabuki plays in Japan and it depicts a women who has been consumed with rage over a lover or someone that has not returned her love. There are different variations as each Kabuki play has a different interpretation. At any rate these masks represent a jealous women. However, they have been widely used in Japanese tattoos and also here in the west. When they are used in tattoo in it is believed that they will ward of evil spirits and bring good luck to the person wearing it. Japanese will also sometimes but these up for display high in the room of their house to ward off evil spirits.

Samurai

Samurai of course lived by the code of Bushido. There is not enough room here to full explain the code of Bushido but it deals with living life to the fullest, being prepared to die in service and being loyal and strong. The concepts of Bushido are pretty much at the heart of all Japanese values and morals and also what is taught to most young kids over and over again through stories. You could say the code of Bushido is the heart of the Japanese culture and beliefs. Samurai’s and samurai tattoos of course are the best symbol of these beliefs.

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Bob Ross Oil Painting Technique – Frequently Asked Questions

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The following is a list of frequently asked questions about the BOB ROSS Oil Painting Technique and some instruction about the use and care of the materials.

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This technique refers to the softening of hard edges and most visible brush strokes by blending the wet oil paint on the canvas with a clean, dry brush. In blending, an already painted area is brushed very lightly with criss-cross strokes or by gently tapping with the corner of the brush. This gives colors a soft and natural appearance. Not all oil paints are suitable for this technique – most are too soft and tend to smear. Only a thick, firm paint is suitable for this technique.

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To mix paints to a marbled effect, place the different colored paints on the mixing area of your palette and use your palette knife to pick up and fold the paints together, then pull flat. Streaks of each color should be visible in the mixture. Do not over mix.

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When mixing paints for application over thicker paints already on the canvas, especially when adding highlight colors, thin the paint with LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR or ODORLESS THINNER. The rule to remember here is that a thin paint will stick to a thicker paint.

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Painting with the wet on wet technique requires frequent and thorough cleaning of your brushes with paint thinner. An empty one pound coffee can is ideal to hold the thinner, or use any container approximately 5″ in diameter and at-least 6″ deep. Place a Bob Ross Screen in the bottom of the can and fill with odorless thinner approximately 1″ above the screen. Scrub the brushes bristles against the screen to remove paint sediments which will settle on the bottom of the can.

Dry your larger brushes by carefully squeezing them against the inside of the coffee can, then slapping the bristles against a brush beater rack mounted inside of a tall kitchen trash basket to remove the remainder of the thinner. Smaller brushes can be cleaned by wiping them with paper towel or a rag (I highly recommend using Viva paper towels because they are very absorbent). Do not return the brushes to their plastic bags after use, this will cause the bristles to become limp. Never clean your Bob Ross brushes with soap and water or detergent as this will destroy the natural strength of the bristles. Store your brushes with bristles up or lying flat.

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Use the 2″ brush with long, firm vertical and horizontal strokes across the canvas. The coat of Liquid WHITE should be very, very thin and even. Apply just before you begin to paint. Do not allow the paint to dry before you begin.

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I suggest using a palette at least 16″x20″ in size. Try arranging the colors around the outer edge of your palette from light to dark. Leave the center of the palette for mixing your paints.

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To fully load the inside bristles of your brush first hold it perpendicular to the palette and work the bristles into the pile of paint. Then holding the brush at a 45 degree angle, drag the brush across your palette and away from the pile of paint. Flipping your brush from side to side will insure both sides will be loaded evenly.

(NOTE: When the bristles come to a chiseled or sharp flat edge, the brush is loaded correctly.)

For some strokes you may want the end of your brush to be rounded. To do this, stand the brush vertically on the palette. Firmly pull toward you working the brush in one direction. Lift off the palette with each stroke. This will tend to round off the end of the brush, paint with the rounded end up.

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Place the tip of your brush into the can of LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR or ODORLESS THINNER allow only a small amount of medium to remain on the bristles. Load your brush by gently dragging it through the highlight colors, repeat as needed. Gently tap the bristles against the palette just enough to open up the bristles and loosen the paint.

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With your palette knife, pull the mixture of paint in a thin layer down across the palette. Holding your knife in a straight upward position, pull the long working edge of your knife diagonally across the paint. This will create a roll of paint on your knife.

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There are no great mysteries to painting. You need only the desire, a few basic techniques and a little practice. lf you are new to this technique, I strongly suggest that you read the entire section on “TIPS AND TECHNIQUES” prior to starting your first painting. Consider each painting you create as a learning experience. Add your own special touch and ideas to each painting you do and your confidence as well as your ability will increase at an unbelievable rate.

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The BOB ROSS technique of painting is dependent upon a special firm oil paint for the base colors. Colors that are used primarily for highlights (Yellows) are manufactured to a thinner consistency for easier mixing and application. The use of proper equipment helps assure the best possible results.

Liquid Clear is a particularly exciting ingredient for wet-on-wet painting. Like Liquid White/Black, it creates the necessary smooth and slippery surface. Additionally, Liquid Clear has the advantage of not diluting the intensity of other colors especially the darks which are so important in painting seascapes. Remember to apply Liquid Clear very sparingly! The tendency is to apply larger amounts than necessary because it is so difficult to see.

13 colors we use are listed below:

*Alizarin Crimson

*Sap Green, Bright Red

*Dark Sienna

*Pthalo Green

Cadmium Yellow

Titanium White,

*Pthalo Blue,

*Indian Yellow

*Van Dyke

Brown

*Midnight Black

Yellow Ochre

*Prussian Blue
(*indicates colors that are transparent or semi-transparent and which may be used as under paints where transparency is required.)

HOW DO I MIX COLORS?

The mixing of colors can be one of the most rewarding and fun parts of painting, but may also be one of the most feared procedures. Devote some time to mixing various color combinations and become familiar with the basic color mixtures. Study the colors in nature and practice duplicating the colors you see around you each day. Within a very short time you will be so comfortable mixing colors that you will look forward to each painting as a new challenge.

SHOULD YOU USE JUST ANY ART PRODUCT FOR THIS METHOD OF PAINTING?

Possibly the #1 problem experienced by individuals when first attempting this technique and the major cause for disappointment revolves around the use of products designed for other styles of painting or materials not designed for artwork at all (i.e. house painting brushes, thin soupy paints, etc.).

All of the paintings for this technique were created using Bob Ross paints, brushes and palette knives. To achieve the best results from your efforts, I strongly recommend that you use only products designed specifically for use with the Bob Ross wet-on-wet technique.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE MY PAINTING TO DRY?

Drying time will vary depending on numerous factors such as heat, humidity, thickness of paint, painting surface, brand of paint used, mediums used with the paint, etc. Another factor is the individual colors used. Different colors have different drying times (i.e., normally Blue will dry very fast while colors like Red, White and Yellow are very slow drying). A good average time for an oil painting to dry, when painted in this technique, is approximately one week.

SHOULD I VARNISH MY PAINTINGS?

Varnishing a painting will protect it from the elements. It will also help to keep the colors more vibrant. lf you decide to varnish your painting, I suggested that you wait at least six months. It takes this long for an oil painting to be completely cured. Use a good quality, non-yellowing picture varnish spray. I personally spray my paintings after about 4 weeks and have not had any problems.

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Source by Gerald Scott

Want To Downsize Your Home? Invest In A DIY Flat Pack House

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Have all your kids gone away to college? Are you sick of hearing about the global housing crisis? You may be looking to downsize your home to save costs if the answer is yes to those questions. One of the cheapest and fastest ways to go about it is by building your own home. Do It Yourself Flat Pack homes are good options because: 1) you can build them quickly 2) there are many models out there that are high quality and energy efficient, and 3) you can build them in a fraction of the time you would build a traditional home.

As a matter of fact, if you live in the UK, there’s an engineer living there that is designing a home where the biggest part of it can assembled in about four hours. According to Dr. Mike Page, the engineer who designed it, it is as easy to put together as an IKEA bookcase. There isn’t even as much assembly as you’d see in a regular flat pack kit because when customers order these prefabricated home kits, they get the finished product. All that will need to be done will be to add the flat pack furniture, dust your hands off, and you’re done. Voila! Livable Home!

The QB2 Cube House

You can buy the flat pack house between the ranges of £10,500 to £47,000. The QB2 cube house, as it is called, is about 10 ft. tall and 13 ft. wide and allows two people to sleep in comfort. Also importantly, the building doesn’t require any action by the planning commission because it’s only 10 ft. tall. You can see how the designing genius of Dr. Page comes into play when you look at the space saving measures that are incorporated in the building that makes it much roomier than homes of the same size.

Amazingly, the QB2 cube is able to provide a fully functional and comfortable floor plan in its compact design. This is accomplished by combining features in the home such as using a sturdy bookcase as a foundation for a mini-spiral set of stairs. If you bought the QB2, the following components would fit in your home:

  • A bedroom with a large double bed.
  • A large galley bathroom with sink, toilet and full-sized shower.
  • A dining room table that converts into a sofa that.
  • A large and perfectly functional stove and refrigerator.
  • Appliances to include a TV and washing machine.
  • A Mechanical heat recovery HVAC system and low energy lights.

Design Options For The QB2

The shell of the QB2 can be erected in about four hours, but it takes a little longer to add other parts of the home such as the kitchen. There is an option to build the cube home yourself for about £9,495, or let Bolton Buildings build it for you for £10,305.00. This basic model includes ceiling and floor joists, foundation and wall studs.

An additional option costs about £27,208 and will provide insulated walls, roof covering and floors and ceilings. It also has walls with birch lining within them.

Home Decorating Tips For Your DIY

You will need to approach home decorating for this small home a little differently than a regular-sized home because if you don’t, things can look crammed. For instance, some smart use of space would be to delineate rooms by hanging a nice set of curtains on electrical piping curtain rods for an inexpensive and appealing touch to your small home.

Homebuyers looking to downsize their home would do well to check their local companies that provide small DIY flat pack homes like the QB2 cube home. Once the home is assembled, and you begin living in it, you will be amazed at how they take advantage of engineered designs to provide a trendy and modern home that is an enjoyment to live in.

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Source by Patrick O’Reilly

34 Bubblegums and Candies – Book Review

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34 Bubblegums and Candies, written by the Indian author Preeti Shenoy, is a collection of 34 real life narratives and incidents based on the author’s life. Although a non-fiction book, this book is a really interesting read and because of this reason, 34 Bubblegums and Candies has gone on to become a national best-seller with hundreds of thousands of copies sold to date.

The author of 34 Bubblegums and Candies, Preeti Shenoy, was earlier a blogger who wrote regularly for some of the major newspapers. In 2007 she decided to take her hobby to the next level and thus was launched her debut book which soon climbed aboard all the major best-seller lists in India.

34 Bubblegums and Candies is essentially a collection of 34 anecdotes and experiences that the author has had throughout her life. Some of them are humorous while the others are a little sad but essentially each of these stories has an underlying message for the reader. It is through these short stories that the author has tried to capture a glimpse of the various facets of human life.

For example, the book starts off with the narration of events that lead to the death of the author’s father and how she manages to cope up with the tragedy. It is not a sad story or a dull one, rather it shows how everyone must encounter these tragic events and learn to live with them. The author beautifully captures each emotion with the beauty of her words.

The book reminded me of the movie Forest Gump. The author gets it spot on when she says that life is a little bit like candies and bubblegum. One must keep chewing to savor the taste that lies within. Sometimes the bubblegum may burst unexpectedly and one may be left with a sticky mess. These are the problems and unhappy times in one’s life.

At other times, life is like a candy stick. One must lick it slowly and relish what it has to offer. Sometimes we greedily bite off more than we can chew and this we must learn to avoid. Sometimes we encounter a rare moment when the balance seems right and a feeling of contentment reigns supreme in all of us. All in all, 34 Bubblegums and Candies is a must read book for everyone. It is available at all leading bookstores although online retailers offer a better discount on the same.

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Source by Amandeep Kohli

Non-Figurative Abstract Art – Past and Future

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Non-figurative abstraction begins with the imaginative power of humans. Clearly distinguishable from fantasy art, the form reflects reality in non-figurative expressions. In simpler words, non-figurative abstract art depicts real forms in rather a different way. Abstract art is not an outcome of the 20th century thinkers, contrary to popular belief. It also does not have a sudden origin. If we go back to the Islamic and Jewish religions, where depiction of human bodies was a definite no-no, then we can find a lot of calligraphy and non-figurative art forms. Let us even date back to the prehistoric times, where humans used symbols for fire, water or thunder, which are hard for a modern man to interpret. However, those prehistoric creations have an eternal appeal to the modern men, because of the intrinsic aesthetics. Therefore, we can take those depictions of our ancestors as work of abstraction.

What history says?

People regard Wassily Kandinsky as the father of abstract art. Though started with figurative work in 1910, he gradually moved out of it and concentrated on non-figurative forms. Painters like Kasimir Malewich followed his path and took the art form to another level. His paintings were mostly on simple geometric forms. Other artists following Kandinsky’s path were Paul Klee, Raoul Dufy, and Piet Mondrian. Piet Mondrian pioneered the first non-figurative abstract paintings.

In the middle of the 20th century, some landmark events totally changed the normal course of abstraction. The Jewish persecution by Hitler, the World War II, and admonition of modern art by the Nazis resulted in immigrant ultramodern European artists into the United States of America, in hundreds of numbers. This brought forward a fresh wave in the American art scenario, resulting in the birth of Abstract Expressionism.

Abstract Expressionism – What it is

Abstraction actually removes the reality in an object. The degree of removal varies from partial to complete. The image becomes a replica of the reality in its subtle form.

The term does not depict any style. It is rather a concept of performing art. The movement, consisting of famous artists like Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, pushed all the traditional boundaries beyond every limit. Mark Rothko introduced one segment of abstraction with unified blocks of color, popularly known as “Color Field Abstract Art”. The other segment included multiple genres like Cubism, Expressionism, Action painting, and Surrealism. However, the core of abstract work remains in depicting the subconscious of the artist on canvas.

Phenomenal wave created by the masters

Pablo Picasso, in the first decade of the twentieth century, created a new wave in the world of abstraction. It drastically changed the presentation, forms, and styles of creations and created a ripple of movements; affecting the works of poets, musicians, and authors all across the globe. Practice of Cubism by George Barque in his emotionally charged paintings with altered forms, colors, and shapes of Expressionism laid the plinth of abstraction. The form also gathered its inspiration from post-Impressionism artists like Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Cezanne. During the early twentieth century, Henry Matisse, along with his followers, introduced Fauvism. It concerned usage of raw colors.

What makes abstract art different?

The basic characteristic that differentiates abstract art from realism is the fluidity. This form represents things that lie beyond the visionary perception of human beings, like sound, emotion or spiritual experience. To quote Kandinsky, “of all arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and of colors, and that you are a true poet; this last is essential.

The future of abstract painting

With advent of newer tools and methodologies, there is a shift in style from the traditional ones like color field painting and action painting. Forms take different shapes, ideas become modern, and fresh thoughts arise. However, the basic idea behind abstraction remains the same. Non-figurative abstract art definitely has a colorful and bright future.

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Source by Sumita Dutta

Why is Abstract Art So Popular?

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Abstract art is popular because it has a purpose in this world both for the artist and the viewer. Many people collect abstract paintings to beautify their surroundings, as an investment, or to update their lives with contemporary culture. They often feel a connection with the colors, the forms, texture, or energy that the artwork gives off. The artwork changes their living space and creates an atmosphere worth living in.

For the artist, creating the artwork can be an expressive means to channel creative energy and emotion. The action of painting is actually considered therapy and very meditative for many abstract artists. The evidence of this has been documented to be especially true in today’s modern fast pace world.

Abstract art also covers a broad spectrum of painting styles. The general understanding is that this type of art does not depict anything in the natural world and the subject is simply a visual language of color and form. While this is true of non-representational works (which I love to create), this is simply not true for all abstract art out there. The word “abstract” means a departure from reality, but this departure can sometimes be only a slight one. This in-turn leaves room for partially abstract landscapes, figures, seascapes, etc. to be categorized as abstract art.

The beauty of abstract art, both for the artist and the viewer, is that anyone can take what they see and interpret it however they want. Of course this is true of any type of artwork, but considering the nature of abstract artwork, the creative mind has even more freedom to roam and interpret what is appearing before the senses. Abstract artwork is a non-traditional free art form that resonates with the feelings and emotions of today’s contemporary artists and art collectors. As long as this is true abstract art will continue to be so popular.

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Source by Jaison Cianelli

The Rich Culture And History Of Japanese Tetsubin

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The exact date when the Japanese tetsubin first appeared in Japan remains unclear, but much evidence suggests a strong relationship between the rise of the sencha (tea drinking using tea leaves), and the early tetsubins.

With this hypothesis, it is suggested that Japanese tetsubin was developed in Japan with the rise of Sencha, which was introduced to Japan from China in 17th century. During this period, Sencha was not considered a formal ceremony but tea was already acknowledged as a drink that is closely associated with medicinal herbs.

During the 18th century, as more and more Japanese adopted tea drinking, Sencha increasingly became an informal setting for sharing a cup of tea with family and friends. As Chinese tea utensils used in Sencha were too rare and expensive, the Japanese developed a new Japanese style teapot to replace the expensive Chinese ones – leading to the creation of the first tetsubins.

Most likely the early tetsubin was not created just out of imagination, but shaped by the design of other Japanese kettles already in existing that time. But why did they need to develop a tetsubin when they already have a usable kettle? One good reason might be the common belief by a lot of tea enthusiasts that water boiled in an iron kettle really tastes better than water boiled in regular kettles.

Throughout the 18th Century, the Japanese tetsubin remained to be an ordinary household utensil used to heat water, prepare tea, and provide warmth. However, it underwent ornamental design changes along with the Japanese art in general.

When Japanese art was gradually being influenced by the Chinese mainland 19th century, the styles and design of Japanese tetsubins became more elaborate. Not long enough, a wide range of Tetsubin teapots were available, from the simplest kettle style, to flamboyantly designed works of art. Japanese tetsubin then gradually evolved into a cultural status symbol for its owner.

Although tetsubins were originally influenced by Sencha drinking and remained to be a household item, it has a significant role within the tea ceremony. It is used in chanoyu, during ryakubon. This teapot is also often used in place of the cha-gama when chanoyu is held outdoors. Another Japanese ceremony that uses tetsubin, is kaiseki, which is a light meal before chanoyu.

The decoration and shapes of Japanese tetsubin are beautiful in their simplicity and practicality. Tea enthusiasts these days can enjoy tea in the comfort of their homes with such easy-to-use teapots.

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Source by Josh Angelo

Japanese Tattoos- Way Beyond Flash

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While the art of Japanese tattooing, or irezumi, is said have continued for a hundred centuries, the introduction of the Buddhist faith to Japan discouraged its widespread use. The Chinese, who brought Buddhism to Japan, abhorred the art of tattooing, and their influence made its way to the upper classes of Japan.

From the early seventeenth to late nineteenth centuries, during Japan’s Edo Period, Japanese tattoos were most often seen on Japanese prostitutes, who used them to entice customers; Japanese firemen were known for their remarkable horimono, or full body tattoos which were quite unlike any other tattoos in the world. The firefighters regarded their tattoos as signs of brotherhood and masculinity.

The other class of Japanese regularly tattooed during this period were criminals who for one hundred and fifty years were marked either with a tattooed ring, or tattooed character on the forehead, on the arm for each crime They may have resented being permanently marked, but prior to the introduction of tattooing, the usually means of identifying criminals was to amputate their noses or ears.

Japanese tattoos regained their popularity when a woodblock printed Chinese novel, “Suikoden,” illustrated with warriors bearing horimono of tigers, dragons, and flowers. The book was wildly successful with Japan’s lower classes, who began demanding similar tattoos.

But the only tattoo artists available were the woodblock printers themselves. Because the printers had no tools except the gouges and chisels with which they created their woodblocks, they used them and their special black ink which will change its color to a bluish green when it reacts with human skin.

All authentic Japanese tattoos are still applied by hand with “tebori”, groups of handmade needles attached to wooden or metal handles; it takes a great deal of practice to master the art of tattooing by hand. Having a “suit” of Japanese tattoos applied with tebori, as everyone who was tattooed in the mid-1800s did, was a time-intensive experience; an entire tattoo could take up to five years of weekly sessions to finish. As tebori are more likely to cause bruising than the tattoo machines widely used today, they were in many cases very painful years.

Japanese tattoos are rich in symbolism; one of the most popular is the koi fish, or carp, which can outlive many humans and represent endurance and wisdom. Dragons bring luck, and are often depicted with clouds or rivers and lakes, so necessary for the rice crops which have sustained the Japanese for thousands of years. Snakes add a negatic4e element to Japanese tattoos, and are included only when the artist can add peonies, cherry blossoms, or other flowers which bloom at the same time that snakes become active after the winter.

You may have to travel far and wide to find a tebori master to apply your Japanese tattoos, but you can find tattoos of traditional Japanese subjects at every tattoo parlor!

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Makler Heidelberg

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Source by Matt Garrett

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