Big Ups – How to Jump Like Super Mario

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Strength Day:

5×5 Bodyweight Squats (Warm up)
5×5 Calf Raises (Warm up)
5×5 Back Squats
5×5 Weighted Lunges
5×5-10 Weighted Calf Raises

Plyo Day:

5×5 Bodyweight Squats (Warm up)
5×10-25 Jumping Jacks (Warm up)
5×5 Tuck Jumps
5×5 Pop Ups (one legged chair jumps)
5×5 Calf Bounces
5×5 Blast Offs

Notes:

Do each workout once a week, with at least 24  hours of rest between workouts.  Feel free to substitute these in for your regular leg exercises on strength training days for your character of choice.  Go easy on the plyometrics at first, they can be tough on the joints.  Rest when you need to!

Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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The Mind of Megaman

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MegamanMind

Megaman is an extremely interesting character, for a couple reasons.  While initially it wouldn’t seem like a simple platformer character would have much depth, if you take a closer look, you realize that Megaman is a really interesting individual.  He’s a self-aware humanoid robot, tasked, for the most part, with destroying other self-aware (and non-sentient) machines and robots, bent on causing harm to humanity.  For any sentient being, that’s going to cause at least a bit of an inner conflict.  War leaves no one unscathed.    In Megaman’s case, however, it goes beyond just the difficulties of war.

Here’s the thing: Megaman was created.  Like, built.  His “father,” Dr. Light, is also basically the equivalent of his god (if he were to worship a deity).  He was created, body and soul (if sentient robots have such a thing), completely from scratch to fit the whims of a brilliant inventor.  This inventor, in designing his “son,” also made a conscious decision to turn one of his arms into a gun.

Take a moment and think on that.  We interact with the world mostly through our hands, and Dr. Light, having made Megaman in his image, chose to make a full 50% of his son’s interactive capabilities based on killing and destroying things.  Granted, various later forms of Megaman (X, .exe, etc.) have the ability to shift their arm cannon back into a hand when they’re not shooting, but that’s still crazy.  Megaman was literally created for war.

Now, Dr. Light could have chosen to not give Megaman sentience.  You can make a pretty darn autonomous war machine without having to give it a mind and self-awareness.  But instead, Dr. Light built his son for war, granted him a mind to consider all this, and then sent him out into the teeth of the world.  Honestly, that’s a little messed up.

Finally, to add an extra wrinkle to this whole situation, Megaman is tasked with taking out his own kind.  Granted, they’re robots that have gone rogue, or been infected, or led astray, but they’re still the closest thing Megaman has to an ethnicity, culture, or species.  There are, of course, robots on his side of the line as well (Protoman, Bass, Rush, Zero, etc.), but the fact remains that they are, for all intents and purposes, a minority, helping the humans to fight and kill their kin.  Zero, in fact, wrestles with the fact that he himself is actually one of these rogues, and has his own game series based upon this fact (with much angst and sorrow at times).

This is a situation that isn’t approached that much in the series, which I think is a shame, because there is a lot of depth of character to be explored here.  Why does Megaman choose to fight on the side of the humans, instead of the robots?  Is it loyalty to his father, or a stronger sense of right in the world?  If it’s the former, then does Megaman really have free will, or is it possible Dr. Light is just controlling him without his knowledge?  If it’s the latter, how do we know that Megaman is on the side of good?  What if the rogues he is fighting against have a legitimate issue with mankind exploiting them for cheap labor, or even slavery?

Personally?  I choose to believe that Megaman is acting upon a strong inner moral compass.  The rogues and reploids themselves are led by the likes of Dr. Wily or Sigma, so if Megaman is being controlled by Dr. Light, there’s nothing to say that the rogue ‘bots aren’t being controlled as well.  In this case, it’s a moral wash, as both sides are just pawns of a larger power struggle.  Beyond this, however, Megaman shows his own internal struggles at times, and difficulty with choices.  He’s given the opportunity to kill Dr. Wily, and probably would have, were it not for the council of Protoman.

That internal conflict is actually what leads me to believe that Megaman is acting of his own volition, in what he honestly believes to be the greater good.  He’s not overwhelmed by blind faith in his creator, or his cause.  He struggles, and contemplates the situations he’s in.  When he’s sent out into the field, it’s a kill-or-be-killed situation, and there’s not much he can do about that in the moment, but the fact that he chooses to keep serving, while obviously still possessing his own free will, leads me to believe that he has a strong moral belief in what he’s doing.

What is that belief grounded in?  Well, it’s pretty obvious in basically all of the Megaman games that the robots are the “superior” life form to humans.  Humans have to actually create robots to fight the other robots, because they themselves are incapable.  Whether a racial inequality initiated the conflicts between robots and humans is a bit irrelevant by the time Megaman arrive on the scene, as it’s obvious the rogues want nothing less than the extermination of humanity.

Megaman chooses to defend the weak, even though they are not all of his own kind.  He chooses to fight against his kin, because he knows that simply being of the same circuits and parts is not enough to justify standing with them in the face of genocide.  Sometimes, there is a right and a wrong side to situations, and Megaman chooses to stand on the side of right, even at great personal cost.

What should we take away from all this?  Well, in going through our lives we are heavily influenced by social costs and causes.  Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where those we feel most connected to are doing things they should not be doing.  In these situations, we owe it to ourselves to stand up for what’s right, and defy the “pack,” despite what social costs it may have.  The path of right is not always an easy one to find, or walk, but we should endeavor to follow it whenever we can.

Frequently, a hive mind mentality can limit our ability to think critically, or consider situations from an outside perspective.  If you want to be Mega, however, then you need to step outside the group mentality sometimes, and look at what the right decision is, not the popular one.  We live in an increasingly global and interconnected culture.  Life is more than just picking your “team” and sticking with it.  We should instead choose to do real good with the time that we are given, even if it may not be “popular” at the time.  Defend the meek.  Question standards.  Stand up for what is right, and not just what is easy.

Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.  I’ll see you on Saturday.

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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The Skills of Megaman

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MegamanSkills

Happy Monday, folks!  I’m currently sitting in the middle of the northeastern snopocalypse and enjoying every second of it.  Nothing better than a hot cup of coffee and a white blanket covering the backyard to make you feel all cozy inside. =D  So, today’s post is, of course, The Skills of Megaman.  Megaman, as I stated in the first post, is not known for his strength, so much as he’s known for his skills.  His ability to copy and inherit weapons systems, programs, and upgrades from enemies is basically unrivaled in the video game world (except for maybe a certain pink puffball), and it’s been the foundation of MULTIPLE successful franchises.

As such, we’re going to be focusing on different methods of rapid skill acquisition in different applications and settings.  We’re also going to touch on some standard abilities he carries over through most of the series’ he’s been in.  Let’s get started!

Combat Adaptability

So, here’s something cool:  You’re a great fighter.  Seriously.  If you’ve played any amount of video games in your life, especially of the Megaman variety, you already possess a great combat skill.  That skill, my friend, is pattern recognition.  Almost every boss fight you’ve ever faced in a game has probably centered around this.  You survive long enough to recognize the inherent patterns in an enemy’s combat style, sort out the variations, and execute upon their weaknesses.

Here’s the thing:  a real life fight is almost the exact same way.  You just have a lot less time than you typically do in a video game.  People are creatures of habit, in everything we do.  The key is to figure out your opponent’s habits before they figure out yours.  Here’s a few tips…

Observe the dominant side.  Most trained fighters will fight with their less dominant hand leading their guard (this is in unarmed combat only – armed combat is almost always the opposite).  Similarly, untrained fighters will usually lead with their dominant hand.  So, if you know what side your opponent is dominant on, you can guess their level of proficiency by which hand they lead with.  If you don’t know which side they’re dominant on, but you can guess by other clues how well trained or practiced they are, then you can usual figure out which side is their dominant.  Either way, figuring out the dominant side will warn you where most of the big power shots (haymakers, hooks, big kicks) will come from.

Guard the head.  You want to last long enough to identify your opponent’s weaknesses.  Leaving your head open to tee off on is not the best way to accomplish this.  Keep your hands up, keep your chin tucked, and accept that while body shots can really suck, they’re a lot less likely to take you out of the fight in one shot.  Remember, in the street, a straight knockout can be fatal, so avoid them at all costs.

Fight your fight.  Hopefully by now you’ve taken my advice and found a good place to study martial arts.  If you haven’t yet, do so (and watch out for McDojos!)  Now, assuming you have started studying something, then you need to fight in your comfort zone, not their.  Are you a grappler?  Get inside and go to town.  Striker?  Keep your distance, remember your targets, watch for takedowns.  Above all else, don’t let your opponent use mind games to throw you, or bully you around.  Fight your fight.

Fights are dangerous and unscripted.  I cannot give you a 100% foolproof strategy to help you win every single one.  But observation before conflict, protecting your person, and fighting to your own strengths are good guidelines to stick with in any conflict.  With enough practice and hard work, you too can become a Super Fighting Robot.  Well, maybe not a robot.  You know what I mean.

Rapid Skill Acquisition

So, one of the cool things about being a human being is that we are ridiculously good at learning things.  Seriously, acquiring a new skill set is basically a human super power.  To put it in robot terms, we’re carrying basically the same hardware that allowed us to learn how to kill mammoths, and we’ve adapted that hardware to develop vehicles that travel to other planets.  That’s like using an abacus to play Dragon Age: Inquisition on a 4K display at 60 FPS.  Super.  Power.

So, how do we unlock this super power?  I mean, most people have things that they’ve tried to learn, and then failed miserably, fell off the bandwagon, and generally gotten discouraged.  C’mon, man, we learned how to walk, talk, read, write, and dance (well, some of us) within the first six or seven years of our lives!  What happened?!

A lot of people think that learning gets harder as you get older.  This is not the case.  What if I told you, you could learn a new skill in a DAY, no matter what age you are?!  Don’t believe me?  Fine, I’ll prove it.

First off, though, here’s a few qualifiers.  When I say a day, I mean twenty four hours of practice.  All at once?  No!  We’re gonna divide em up!  It’ll work, I promise.  Second qualifier: I said learn a skill, not master it.  I promise you, you can learn how to juggle three balls with twenty four hours of practice.  However, you will not become this guy in 24 hours.  Can you become him?  Yes!  But it will take a little more investment of time.  That said, you can definitely learn enough in 24 hours to be impressive at a party!  =P

So, here’s your guidelines to learning a new skill in a day or less.

Pick a Small, Defined Goal

To continue our juggling analogy, saying “I will learn how to juggle” is not a small, defined goal.  It’s broad, and vague, and can lead to overwhelming discouragement (more on this in a bit).  “I will learn a basic three-ball juggle,” however, is a fantastic goal, and definitely do-able in your short time table.

Work a Little Bit Every Day

Our brains don’t actually like to do new things things for a long period of time.  They get tired, and discouraged (still coming up), and stop being productive.  Twenty to thirty minutes a day should be it, especially when you’re starting out.  That will give you your required 24 hours in less than a month, which means, even if you’re only learning one skill at a time, you can still pick up at least six new skills a year.  That’s incredible.

Sleep

Sleep is when your body and brain process what you did during the day.  You catalog, categorize, and go over everything you did, physically and mentally.  In fact, studies have shown that sleeping within four hours of practicing your new skill (even if it’s just a quick nap), can drastically increase your retention and learning rate.

Play

Remember the little kid learning analogy I made at the beginning?  Kids learn quickly because they learn through play.  Think about how quickly you pick up new control schemes and move sets in video games.  You don’t notice the incredibly fast learning you’re doing because you’re playing at it!  Don’t just read about and research a new skill, play with it!  Practicing your new skill should feel like a fun game.  This is especially important when you’re trying to…

Avoid Discouragement

The other reason we learn faster as little kids is because we don’t know about feeling self conscious yet.  We don’t berate ourselves for screwing up, or getting something wrong.  This is something I see ALL THE TIME in my adult karate students.  Little kids don’t care when they screw up, but adults and older teens seem to hang onto mistakes and berate themselves for it.  Stop.  You’re new at this, you’re supposed to screw up!  In fact, the more you think outside the box and screw up while in your initial learning phases, the better your understanding of the new skill will eventually be.  Don’t get down on yourself, have fun!

So, seriously, give this a shot.  Pick a skill, give yourself two months, and do a half hour a day.  This is kind of like The Jerry Seinfeld Method we talked about a while ago.  Give it a shot, and unleash your inner Megaman!

Jump and Shoot Man

So, Megaman has a lot of incarnations and various versions of himself.  Almost ALL of his variants feature a few basic skills!  The most notable of these, of course, is his jumping.  So, let’s take a look at some jumping variants!

The Precision Jump

One of the hallmarks of parkour is precision jumping.  This is a static, two-footed jump where you land on a very small space with very exact balance.  Megaman, similarly, needs to land every jump he makes with precision, or he’s gonna fall to his circuitry-exploding doom.  SO!  Here’s a solid video tutorial for you, because writing out parkour instructions is a lesson in failure!

The Tic-Tac/Wall Run/Wall Kick

Here’s a second jump option, too!  One of X’s signature moves, the ability to kick off of walls and use them to increase your vertical jump is a powerful skill.  Here’s a cool instructional video from a guy dressed as an Assassin!  (he’s also got a pretty good vertical wall run tutorial, too).

Obviously, there’s a lot more to parkour than this, but Megaman isn’t really a parkour guy, he just incorporates a few skills.  If you’re interested in learning more parkour, I’d definitely recommend checking out The Skills of Faith, my dedicated parkour writeup.

So, that’s it for The Skills of Megaman!  I hope you enjoyed them.  I’m off to dig out my car.  Let me know what you thought of this writeup in the comments below, or over on the official forum thread.  I’ll see you again on Thursday, with The Mind of Megaman!  Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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