Jargon, fast terms, slang, we are all aware of what they are. We use them in our everyday life. Think about the words you’ve learned just from using Tumblr, which are unique to Tumblr’s fan community. Use these words outside of the internet and you may make no sense to anyone who does not engage with this particular internet community. Every industry uses buzz words, jargon is part of the lifestyle. Everyone who works within the industry uses some variation. The martial arts community at large has several which come up often. “Speed” and “power” are right up there with George Lucas’ famous direction “faster! More intense!”. Worse, they can be just as confusing to the uninitiated.
What does that even mean!
I know I’ve had that thought about George Lucas’ stage direction a few times. This is the problem with slang: it’s unclear.
When you’re writing, buzz words will get you in trouble. Much like using a foreign language to add in detail to make a character sound more convincing, such as abuela or the romanized sensei, too many will mean your story quickly becomes confusing. We have all probably read a great many Naruto or Bleach fanfics where the author went overboard with the Japanese and explained none of it. Worse, they’re often used wrong!
The short of it is: whether it’s a real world or made up language, you’re not doing yourself any favors relying on these fast terms–even the ones you turn up in martial arts manuals–if you cannot explain what they mean and how they relate to what’s happening in the story. Remember, potentially, all the work you did to learn those definitions. You can’t assume your reader has put in the same amount of time. Drop any word into the story and I expect it to earn it’s place, if it only serves to confuse your reader further then, no matter how accurate it is, cut it.
Sa bum-nim George stared at me, arms crossed over his chest. A slight smile tucked in the corner of his mouth, one black eyebrow raised. “Do it again,” he said.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and settled back into my stance. How many times was he going to make me do this?
Hands settled inches above my thighs, the beginning position. I drew in a deep breath, sucking air up through my nostrils to fill my chest. My stomach sucked tight against my ribs. My palms rose, pointed inward at my chest up along the length of my body. Reaching my face, I flipped them up. A quick, fast motion. I began my slow exhalation. A harsh soft hiss, breath keeping time with my arms as my hands pressed forward. Control. Slow and steady, like pushing against a wall. This form was all about control.
I shouted, “Koryo, sir!”
Now, let’s talk about speed and power.
“Focus on speed and power!” says the martial arts master.
But, what does that really mean? Well, it’s complicated. The concepts behind these two terms change depending on the martial art in question. So, the definitions I’m giving you aren’t going to be accurate to every single one of them. Some martial arts may use different descriptors for these concepts. I’m pulling mine from my own background.
Speed and power are secondary instructions given after a student has learned a technique. The goal is to start them slow, so they can get a feel for how it is done and then crank up the pace.
Speed: can mean how fast you perform the technique, but packed into the term is how precisely you perform the technique. Quickness, accuracy, and control. Celerity. It’s more than just your momentum. “I want you to go faster, but to also be in control of how fast you’re going.” In the beginning stages of training, students often interpret speed as just going faster. However, speeding up without a strong base in the technique leads to a sloppy performance. It feels good, just like hitting the pad hard feels good, but it’s pointless to hit the ground running without an understanding the technical basics.
Power: is a bit of a misnomer. Even thinking about it, it’s difficult to put into words. The basic concept of “hit harder” you probably already grasp. Power is release, both mental and physical. Your body acts as a compressed spring and the power comes from the pop, the force in the release. Power can come from focused aggression, from breathing and in the strong exhalation from the diaphragm as the technique connects, the force created by all the body’s parts (footwork, hips, shoulders, arms, legs) working in tandem. Suddenly, the basic concept of “hit harder” becomes much more complicated in execution. To have power, you need speed. In this sense, speed refers to the momentum created by how fast the body is moving aka basic physics.
Unpacking jargon is difficult, even those who are experienced practitioners may not be able to tell you what the words really mean. They may not be able to put it all into words.
So, be careful. The point of using jargon is to add flavor. Too much with no explanation and it’s no longer understandable.
Emballonuridae is a family of bats commonly known as sheath-tailed or sac-winged bats. I’m surprised these bats aren’t better known, because they have very uniquely appealing little faces. I think it’s the perpetually upturned nose.
They also have a stunning variety of colors, from the pure-white northern ghost bat to the dark chocolate of the Hill’s sheath-tailed bat.
Among them are some excellent camoflaugers, such as the proboscis bat, which looks like a bit of lichen or damaged bark on a tree.
In fact, many species in Emballonuridae roost on the trunks and branches of trees, in broad daylight, depending on their camouflage to keep them safe. They like to do it in neat little lines.
Sometimes they also stack.
You may have noticed their short little tailed. They’re sometimes called sheath-tailed bats because these tails protrude out of the membrane between their back legs, which can be pulled up to “sheath” the tail. Here’s a video if you don’t quite understand what I mean.
As I mentioned earlier, they’re also called sac-winged bats. This is because they have special pouches near their wrists designed to release pheromones into the air when they flap their wings. Below is a close up of the pouch, closed and then opened.
For the most part these are very small bats, with weights as low as three to four grams- one of the smallest, the proboscis bat, can get caught in spiderwebs and eaten.
Aside from roosting in trees, these bats roost in caves, crevices, and occasionally, human-made structures like wells or stone tombs. Because of this, several species are known as tomb bats. They’re pretty adorable little harbingers of death if you ask me.
Main set (species in photo caption): Bat Conservation Intl / Jasmine Vink / University of KwaZulu-Natal / Merlin Tuttle / Michael Penney
Emedded in text: Bateleur Nature Reserve / ARKive / Riley Pearce / PSUNHM / Christian Ziegler
I discussed this in a lot more detail in my article on the pekapeka (a bat from New Zealand that spends about half its time on the ground), but in general, here are the reasons:
1. Compared to other flighted animal groups like birds and insects, bats are relatively new on the scene evolutionarily. They evolved flight about 52 million years ago. Compare that to birds, which have had about 150 million years to get comfortable with flying- only a few have ever lost it in that time.
2. Flying is a powerful antipredator defense and allows bats to get at resources they wouldn’t normally get, like flying insects and high-hanging flowers and fruit. This means there is currently strong evolutionary pressure for bats to retain flight in most parts of the world. One example where there was not was New Zealand (until recently). Even then, the pekapeka and its relatives retained the ability to fly.
3. Compared to birds, bats may simply be too specialized for flight to go back to being completely terrestrial. All living bats have modified hindlimbs and pelvises for flight, because their legs actually make up part of their wings.
It may be difficult to tell from that picture, but a bat’s hind legs are rotated at 90-180 degrees (depending on the species) around from where an ordinary mammal’s would be. In other words, their knees point backwards.
(This is different from a pterosaur, by the way- pterosaurs had wing membranes that attached to their hind limbs as well, but retained forward-pointing knees.)
This makes walking on the ground very difficult for them, and is related to why they roost upside-down. (In fact, some species of bats CAN’T walk on the ground at all!) Even when bats have regained the ability to be good walkers, like the vampire bat has, the style of locomotion is very different from all other living animals, like so:
It’s not a BAD way to get around, but energetically, it’s not as efficient as regular quadrupedal walking.
So, for a bat to “de-specialize” from flight completely might require extreme evolutionary pressures that don’t exist on earth right now. Not that I don’t think they could do it- but a flightless bat would end up looking really, really weird, compared to the mammals we’re used to.
a lot of people are tagging my hoary bat post from the other day “he scream” and other variations of that, and I just wanted to let y’all know that hoaries don’t scream. they click and hiss like deranged cicadas
You have a mongols with dinosaur mounts story? I am very intrigued because I love mongols and dinosaurs and this is just 2 of my favorite things smushed together
To be more accurate, I have a working concept of a story about a society roughly based on the Mongols, the people of which ride/otherwise utilize both dinosaurs and other archosaurs as well as early synapsids.
I’ve been tinkering around with it for at least half a year, and even had a couple false starts on it, but it’s not quite ready to be written yet. I do have my two main characters and their overall quest, but not much of the structure yet. It’s a story I thought about making my next big wed serial after Earthcast, if I ever have time.
(BY THE WAY, I haven’t forgotten about the last chapter of Earthcast!! I know it’s March now and I’m really sorry!! I’ve been very busy with my classes since January and it’s hard to find time/energy to write.)
Anyway, here are some fun details:
they get their dinosaurs, etc from a kind of necromancy, except it only works on animals that hatch from eggs. egg-necromancy
the magic works better the more accurately they can describe the animal’s evolutionary history in the spell, so this is a very phylogeny-focused world
the main quest is partially about getting to the capital and submitting a description of a newly-discovered Silesaurus (because yes, there is a prestigious OFFICIAL RECORD of all the critters)
the Mongol-analogues just conquered one main character’s country (a China-analogue) and are busy working on infrastructure, so another part of the Quest is to build a damn road using sauropods
only people with ovaries can perform the egg-necromancy, so most societies have developed as female-dominated
(and because using the egg-necromancy magic increases the likelihood of infant mortality, polyandry is quite common)
one of the main characters is a trans man who has to deal with the fact that masculinity = not resurrecting dinosaurs even though he really wants to just resurrect dinosaurs
the other main character is Very Strong and has a pet Pakasuchus
the main Mongol-analogue clan is just All About Notosuchians
I’m in a podcast called That’s Wild! as the “science half” of a scientific/cultural look at animals throughout history! My cultural cohost is @ichikun and did 99% of the work, including the art, while I just blabbed about bats. Speaking of bats, Tinkle the bat and a few others contributed sounds to our opening theme. If y’all have time and want to listen to me misread my notes a lot, give it a listen!