JANUARY 2015

Bruce Lee, the Greatest Martial Arts Action Hero

by: Clint Leung (reading – 1.12. - 7.12.)

Before Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme, there was Bruce Lee. In a way, it is a real shame that many of today’s generation of action film fans have never been exposed to Bruce Lee because he was perhaps the greatest martial arts action hero of all time. His martial arts on film may not have been as fancy as say Jackie Chan’s or Jet Li’s but his on screen ferocity and charisma are unequalled. Even more important was the impact on martial arts that Bruce Lee had which still endures today even over 30 years since his passing.

Bruce Lee always considered himself a martial artist first and an actor second. As a martial artist, he was way ahead of his time in developing his own style of martial arts he called jeet kune do. His martial arts incorporated the most practical techniques from various combative disciplines as he moved away from the traditional and classical techniques. His martial arts abilities were real and respected by other prominent martial artists like Jhoon Rhee, Chuck Norris, Ed Parker and Joe Lewis. His name was inducted into the prestigious Black Belt Hall of Fame twice, once while he was alive and the other after his death. These are honors that no other martial arts action hero has ever come close to. Martial arts schools in North America enjoyed a huge growth in enrollment because of Bruce Lee.

North America got an early glimpse of Bruce Lee when he played Kato in the Green Hornet television series and a bit role in the movie Marlowe. He went to Hong Kong and made a few films like Fists of Fury (called the Big Boss in the Asia market) and the Chinese Connection which made him a huge star in Asia. Bruce Lee also wrote, directed and starred in his own movie production called the Way of the Dragon which featured perhaps one of the greatest martial arts fight scenes ever. This scene took place in the Roman Coliseum and was with Chuck Norris which gave Norris his first film start. It was Enter the Dragon that broke him to North America. Unfortunately, he died tragically at the age of 32 in 1973 before he was able to witness the success of that movie. At the time of Lee’s death, he had completed the fight scenes for another movie called Game of Death which featured basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who was actually one of his martial arts students. Other students of Bruce Lee included actors Steve McQueen and James Coburn. Game of Death was completed with look-alike actors later on.

One of the most significant contributions Bruce Lee made is that he opened the door for other Asians in the entertainment industry worldwide. He was the first Asian to achieve any significant success in the North American entertainment scene. He became a star in North America and the rest of the world by playing heroes rather than past stereotype roles for Asians such as servants, gangsters, laundry workers or other ‘pigtail coolie’ characters. On an even greater scale, Bruce Lee gave Asians, particularly the Chinese people worldwide, a reason to be proud. Bruce Lee influenced them to be confident in pushing forward to achieve their goals no matter what field they were in.

About The Author

Clint Leung is a lifelong martial artist with over 32 years of training experience in kung fu, tae kwon do, karate, kickboxing and martial arts weaponry. He has won Canadian and world championship titles (NASKA, NBL and WSKF). He is also owner of Free Spirit Activewear (www.FreeSpiritActivewear.com ) , an online retailer and designer of premium martial arts activewear. Free Spirit Activewear has martial arts info articles.



The Florida Keys

by: Clint Leung (reading – 8.12. - 14.12.)

When people ask about the top sights to see in the south Florida area including Fort Lauderdale and Miami, I always advise them to try and make some time to go down to the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are a string of islands just south of the Florida mainland which runs 120 miles from end to end. Fort Lauderdale and Miami are fun but for a relaxing change of pace, the Florida Keys are the place to be. For snorkellers and scuba divers going to south Florida, I would consider Florida Keys a must. The waters around Key Largo are a protected marine park with a very healthy fish life and offer the best diving in the US. Key Largo is the first town as you enter the Keys after crossing the bridge from the mainland. It can be reached from Miami in an hour and from Fort Lauderdale in an hour and 45 minutes. Once the bridge from the mainland is crossed, the change in pace is noticed immediately. There is much less traffic and people just seem more relaxed in the Florida Keys compared to the mainland.

Key Largo is the main scuba diving town with many dive shops. There is even an underwater hotel with two guestrooms for adventurous types. This was a former marine research unit that was converted to the hotel. Islamorada and Marathon located more west are also top scuba dive locations. For those who are not into diving, there are numerous shops with colorful local arts and crafts. One collection of shops has a giant statue of a spiny lobster out in front. For more fun, there are two dolphin centers, one in Key Largo and another near Marathon where visitors can interact with captive dolphins. Dolphin programs should actually be booked well in advance since they are extremely popular.

There are sign markers along the main US number 1 highway that mark each mile along the 120 mile route. Most addresses in the Florida Keys along the main highway will actually refer to which mile marker they are located near. It's a very efficient way to navigate. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Key Largo to the far end at Key West but more than likely, visitors would want to stop off at numerous locations along the way for shopping, photo opportunities or just admiring the scenery. The scenery gets better as one heads out more west, especially near the bridges that connect the islands. A common sight to see are locals fishing off the bridges and numerous pelicans standing on the posts like permanent fixtures. One of the most spectacular sights is the seven mile bridge which is the world's longest segmented bridge.

The Florida Keys are not really known for its beaches with the exception of Bahia Honda Park which is even further west in the lower keys. The snorkeling in this area, especially Looe Key, is among the top sites in North America. The city of Key West at the far end of the Florida Keys is the largest community in the islands and a stay here for a night or two is well worth it. The downtown area full of restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops is a funky, fun place to be. There are hotels along the water as well as numerous B&Bs inland. We stayed at the Quality Inn near the entrance of the city and had no problem getting downtown since there is a very convenient bus system that runs throughout Key West. We chose to leave our car at the hotel and used the buses because parking can be limited in the downtown area. A very neat way to tour the city is to rent scooters which are very common in the streets here. With the scooters, we criss-crossed the city and saw the wonderful colonial houses in the residential streets including Ernest Hemmingway's house.

The seafood is predictably very fresh in restaurants everywhere in the Florida Keys. Some local specialties not to be missed are conch, local spiny lobster and a few varieties of the local fish including snapper and grouper. Of course, one must try the real, authentic key lime pie that originated in the area. Each restaurant has a slightly different recipe but in general, the authentic key lime pie here is not as sweet as the commercial brands sometimes found in the rest of North America.

Hotel accommodations suit every budget in the Florida Keys from simple motels to top notch resorts. The last town back in the US mainland is Florida City and it has some very affordable hotel accommodations with well known chains such as Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn and Best Western. This is another option for some travelers, especially those who are scuba diving in Key Largo as Florida City is only about 20 minutes away if hotels in Key Largo are fully booked or at high season rates.

The Florida Keys have a way of enticing visitors back during return visits to south Florida. Its slower pace helps balance things out against the crowded and crazier styles of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I have been to the Keys three times and will definitely return there again.

About The Author

Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca , an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.



Polar Bears, Rulers of the Arctic North

by: Clint Leung (reading – 15.12. - 21.12.)

The polar bears (Thalarctos maritimus) live in the Arctic regions of the north near open water where they can find their main source of food which are seals. These bears are huge with adults at 7 to 8 feet tall and up to 1,600 pounds. Polar bears are white to creamy white all year round which gives them excellent camouflage against the Arctic snow when hunting. Along with the Arctic fox, the polar bear is the most northerly located land mammal on earth.

Unlike other species of bears, polar bears have longer necks and smaller heads making them appear more streamlined. Despite their large sizes, they are incredibly fast being able to run up to 25 miles per hour. At speeds like this, a polar bear can outrun a reindeer. They are also excellent swimmers being able to swim at about 3 miles per hour but for considerable distances.

During winters, they spend most of their time on the ice floes hunting seals. Polar bears have rough, leathery pads on the bottoms of their feet to maintain footholds on slippery ice surfaces. Their adaptation to the cold Arctic waters is even more impressive. Their thick coats of fur traps a deep layer of insulating air around their bodies. An inner layer of fur is so compact that it is almost impossible to wet it. An outer layer of long guard hairs mat together in the water which forms another layer over the inner layer. After a polar bear leaves the water, it simply shakes its body which results in most of the water being thrown right off leaving the bear almost dry. These protective layers of fur ensure that the polar bear’s skin is kept dry most of the time, even while in the Arctic waters.

Polar bears hunt seals by waiting for seals to come through holes in the ice to breathe. They also stalk their prey utilizing their white camouflage abilities against the mounds of ice. Sometimes polar bears have been known to crawl on their bellies until they are close enough to rush their prey, particularly if no cover is available. Besides seals, polar bears will eat Arctic foxes, birds, baby walruses and even man if they are extremely hungry.

Males and females stay apart for most of the year except during the summer mating season. Females tend to breed only every other year and when they do, usually 1 to 4 cubs are born during March to April. The polar bear cubs stay with their mothers for 1 to 2 years. The life span of polar bears can be up to 34 years.

The Inuit hunt polar bears for their fat, tendons and fur. Scientists say that climate changes have been reducing the ice floes in the Arctic which has disrupted the polar bear’s feeding grounds and migration patterns. There are estimates of about 22,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world with 60 percent of them in the Canadian Arctic region. Their populations are thought to be stable for now but some speculate that the species is at risk. Some think that if climate changes continue at its present rate and if worldwide hunting is not adequately controlled, polar bears could face extinction in about 100 years. There is presently much debate on adjusting annual hunting quotas of polar bears, even for Inuit hunters, to further help protect these great bears.

Polar bears have become the most popular symbol of the Arctic north with representations used in everything from soft drink commercials to corporate logos of northern based companies including Canadian North airlines. Inhabitants in Nunavut even have their license plates cut in the shape of a polar bear. Tourists can see polar bears in the wild through unique tours on specially designed tundra buggies in Churchill, Manitoba Canada. It’s also not surprising that polar bears are some of the most sought after Inuit art sculptures. Polar bears are definitely the rulers of the Arctic north.

About The Author

Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca , an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.



Ten Things To Do During Your Christmas Island Vacation

by: Jonathan Williams (reading – 22.12. - 28.12.)

Although a little island compared to some, Christmas Island still has a lot to offer to any visitor. Here, there are a lot of things that you can do to maximize your stay. There are ten things to do in the Christmas Island.

1.) Get to know Christmas Island's Culture
For you to get to know the island's rich culture, visit Christmas Island at the months when there are festivals and celebrations. When you visit in April, you will get to experience the Anzac Day; in May, the Vesak Day; in August, the Month of the Hungry Ghost; in November, the Deepavali; etc. These are just some of the festivals and celebrations that you have to experience in this island.

2.) Visit Christmas Island National Park
In this national park, you will get to enjoy and admire a variety of this island's flora and fauna. There are some creatures that are very abundant here yet are considered as endangered in some countries. This is what you are going to see in the national park, nature at its best.

3.) Go snorkeling
Christmas Island is a popular place if you want to go snorkeling. There are many reefs here that are homes to a myriad of sea creatures. Here, you will get to see dolphins and a variety of tropical fishes, so colorful that your stay in this island will definitely be worth it.

4.) Go scuba diving
If snorkeling is not enough for you and you want a more complete experience with Christmas Island's marine wildlife, then go scuba diving. Not only will you get the opportunity to swim with the dolphins underwater, but you will also get to see some whale sharks at their natural habitat. No vacation in Christmas Island is real without scuba diving.

5.) Go bird watching
If you have had your fill of marine creatures, then go bird watching. This island is home to a wide species of birds. Any bird lover will surely appreciate Christmas Island.

6.) Go fishing
With the variety of fishes here, it is no wonder that Christmas Island is a great fishing spot. Catch your biggest fish ever and take photos of it to bring back home as a great souvenir. Plus, you also get to enjoy a fresh meal from your catch.

7.) Rent a yacht
What better way to explore the shoreline of Christmas Island than by renting a yacht? If you do not know how to sail, then take a guided tour along the coastline. In this way, you will really enjoy the beauty of Christmas Island’s shoreline as well as enjoy the feel of the water moving beneath your feet.

8.) Visit Flying Fish Cove
You can reach this cove through a yacht. Once there, there is a lot to do and a lot of places to explore. For starters, there are recreational activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, etc, or you can also stroll along the cove on foot.

9.) Drive around Christmas Island
There are many car rental companies here, and it is easy to rent a car. Renting a car and driving yourself around the island is a good way to get to know the culture as well as explore the place some more. You can stop at the national park for a nature walk or you can even go to the shopping center and famous restaurants.

10.) Experience the red crabs month
And Christmas Island will not be the same without the yearly mass migration of the red crabs to the sea where they will breed and spawn. The best month to experience this is after the beginning of the wet season. This is truly a sight to behold as this island is invaded by these tiny red creatures.

About The Author

Jonathan Williams is the travel writer for Destination Guide TV - the place to share travel videos. Visit www.destinationguide.tv to view or share Christmas travel videos.



The Chocolate Fantasy

by: Kadence Buchanan (reading – 29.12. - 4.1.)

Chocolate is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, which originated in South America, and now grows in Africa, the West Indies, the tropical parts of America, and the Far West. Used as the main ingredient in numerous recipes, chocolate constitutes one of the most loved materials known in today's food world. Children and adults both appreciate chocolate's unique aroma, taste, color and texture and prefer it in comparison to other foods.

The cocoa beans, from which chocolate is produced, are large pods. Once harvested, both the pulp from the pods and the bean are allowed to ferment in the sun. The pulp evaporates and the bean develops its chocolaty flavor. Later, the outer skin is removed and the beans are left in the sun for a little longer or they are roasted. Finally they are shelled and the kernels are used for making cocoa and chocolate.

Chocolate once purchased has to be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat or direct sunlight. Most chocolate can be stored for about a year. When it is stored in the refrigerator or freezer, chocolate can last even longer, but one should be careful with its wrapping as it might pick up flavors from other foods if not properly handled.

If you enjoy using chocolate in your meals, you have to be aware that it should not be melted over direct heat, except when melted with other ingredients, and even then heat should be very low. For easily melting chocolate, begin by breaking it into smaller equal-sized pieces (chunks) of chocolate and placing them into a heat-proof bowl or pot. Then you should place the bowl or pot over a pan of hot water, making sure the base of the bowl is not in direct contact with the boiling water. Once the chocolate starts to melt, stir gently and if necessary leave over the water a little longer. No drops of water or steam should come into contact with the melted chocolate at any time as it will solidify.

After your chocolate is melted, you can use it to create anything, from chocolate cookies and treats to cakes and beautiful decorations. Keep in mind that chocolate sets best at 65°F although it will set, more slowly, in a slightly hotter room. Finally, be careful when you place chocolate into the refrigerator especially after the melting process, as it might develop a white bloom.

About The Author
Kadence Buchanan writes articles for www.inutritioncentral.com/ - In addition, Kadence also writes articles for www.foodandourlives.com/ and www.universeofbeauty.net/ .