Tag Archives: Christchurch

Pictures from a wasteland – Christchurch City Center

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Last February, Christchurch was hit by a rather major earthquake. It was actually the second of two major quakes to hit the city – the first one had been in the September of the previous year, and between the two of them the center of the city had been nearly leveled to the ground. The few remaining buildings were deemed unsafe to habitation and closed off. In fact, the entire city center itself was closed off from entry, due to safety concerns… that an the insane amount of looters working their way through the shops of the city center.

To keep the damaged center of the city cordoned off, a whole system of fences, gates, and infra-red sensors were installed around the perimeter of the zone, with the New Zealand National Guard stationed at the main gates. Yep… full National Guard units deployed to keep people out. People like me unfortunately, as I found out when I tried to get in with my usual “Hey, I’m a photographer with Northeastern University!” line. Fortunately I was able to bike around the outskirts for a while, checking everything out and taking photo’s of the damage and some of the artwork done around the damaged buildings.

Also note: some of the full walls are, obviously, knitted together by me.  I apologize for the crudeness and lack of color-correction – if anyone wants to have a go at fixing it, I would be much appreciative, and will re-post them with full recognition of whomever fixed it up.  Thanks in advance!

Random pictures from Christchurch and beyond!

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This is bit of a photo-dump – just pictures that I find interesting from the last few weeks in and around Christchurch.  A few have stories behind them, but most are just random sights that caught my eye.  Here are the few stories that do come with the shots:

The “Goodbye Kittie” – this line-art is a piece of Emma’s, done for her by one of her artist friends.  Its part of a whole “emo” series, ranging from “Finding Emo” instead of “Finding Nemo” and a drawing of Elmo covered in makeup and using blocks to spell out “Emo” instead of “Elmo”

Chinese Food Box – “The meal contain Nutrition information” is a lie… at no point is there any nutrition information, either on the meal, the packaging, or in the store.  However, I do appreciate the effort.

“Stay in Mantrol” ad – this is an ad series in New Zealand… I find it amazingly entertaining for some reason.

Graffiti – Most of these were taken at the rail yards… a very poorly secured area I have to say.  Lots of fences and locked gates… except for the area right near where I was biking, which was just open to the road for some reason.  Some of the tags are your standard issue ones, but some are real works of art.

“Galaxy” cracks on the computer – This is a friend of mines computer… its just a broken screen, but it looks amazing and the few pixels not completely dead have a tendency to twinkle every so often

Capoeira classes

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I feel, and see, the world spin as I fall.  Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I come to a jarring stop on the grass of the tennis court. “What was that? Get up, keep going!” I hear my teacher saying, as Miguel continues swaying in front of me with an amused look on his face. I quickly pick myself back up, and move back into the swaying motion so characteristic of Capoeira, the Ginga movement. I haven’t done martial arts since I was in grade-school when I took karate lessons, but I love this – the competition and strength of martial arts, the grace and balance of climbing, and the pure strength of gymnastics all come together in this single set of fluid motions.

Capoeira, as I learned from Pontual (my teacher), is a martial art created by African slaves in Brazil as a way to defend themselves from the Portuguese – learning to fight was illegal among slaves, for obvious reasons, but by practicing Capoeira as a dance they were able to conceal the fact that they were practicing a martial art. Because of this, Capoeira utilizes very fluid motions and attacks, flowing between offensive kicks and defensive dodges and rolls. I find it much more dynamic than the Karate that I used to take, since at no point are you standing still or completing a set chain of movements; instead Capoeira consists of a constant swaying motion combined with kicks, feigns, and trips based off of the motions that your opponent makes.

And I think that’s why I like it. In class we do practice sets of moves and balance exercises, but only for the first portion. Afterwards we “play the game”, Capoeira’s version of sparring. Instead of actually trying to connect blows on your opponent though, we go a slightly different, much more relaxed path; the class forms a circle, the partners shake, and then each one tries to show that they could connect a blow or a takedown… actually connecting is unnecessary most of the time. It’s a game of skill and reactions – we’re testing ourselves and our opponent, but at the end we’re still playing. If someone gets a good hit or trip off on me, I find myself laughing at my mistake and being impressed with their move, instead of getting frustrated that I made a mistake.

I honestly couldn’t say any specific thing about Capoeira that gives that feel, the air of friendly competition, fun, and excitement. I think its the combination of the music and the people watching – its the culture of the sport that differs from any other martial art that I’ve seen. Karate, when I took it, was much more focused and serious – a match takes place in near-silence, where the opponents are focused solely on besting their opponent. When we play in Pontual’s class, there’s music in the background, either a recording if we don’t have many people, or someone playing one of the traditional instruments and singing. And we play in a “Roda” (it’s Portuguese, pronounced Hoh-Dah), a circle of other “Capoeiristas” clapping and cheering us on.

The baseline here, is I love Capoeira. I don’t know if I’ll ever get truly competitive in it, past enjoying the Roda and playing against other people. Right now it’s an amazing counterpoint to climbing for me – Climbing is very slow and static, whereas Capoeira is quick and dynamic. The two complement each other amazingly, and I’ve found that my climbing training helped me get into Capoeira quicker, and Capoeira has helped me with the endurance and core strength that climbing so requires.

 

A few links for those interested in learning a bit more –

 

An amazing video showing the school of Capoeira that Pontual teaches from:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lyc4Q-menoE&fb_source=message

 

For more info on the history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira