Are you breathing?  Is your heart beating? That’s all you need to start training.

We teach the Classical Chinese Martial Arts of White Crane Kung Fu and Suang Yang Tai Chi.

They come to you in the hands of modern-day teachers, scholars, leaders, mentors – we call them instructors.

Come and find us.  We’ll be here – still training, still breathing, our hearts beating.

After an operation to improve his nose airway, Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo, was struck down by an enemy he couldn’t see. But he could feel it. Running through his bloodstream, wreaking havoc, causing intense pain in an infected ankle (how did it get there from his nose?). Antibiotics could help – but would the spectre of antibiotic resistance rear its head?

April 2016 – Minor operation. Quick recovery.

Back on feet, feeling fine, teaching lessons. And then the pain starts. High pain threshold – keep going. Feeling worse, but the nose feels ok – wonder why the ankle hurts? Five days later in hospital on intravenous antibiotics. C-Reactive Protein 353. Diagnosis: Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteremia, Cellulitis, maybe Osteolmyelitis. Ten days later, back home with daily nursing visits to give the drugs through a PICC line. Go to class in a wheelchair. Six weeks later, intravenous antibiotics stop. Go to class with a walking stick. Read More

“We are martial artists – we all live with pain. If you train hard and regularly, you will know what pain is.” Dennis Ngo explains to Emeka Onono from Raw TV Ltd.  Emeka had contacted Dennis to see if he would be involved in a social experiment documentary. Dr Chris Van Tulleken was planning to take a group of people who suffer with chronic conditions –  could lateral approaches let them stop taking their prescription drugs?

Emeka wanted to know whether Dennis would help Crystal, who had chronic severe back pain. “If Crystal wants to do it it then I can help.” The rest, as they say, makes great TV. [You can watch the trailer here:  “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs“.]

But behind Dennis’ seemingly bluff comments on the pain of training, there is another story. Read More

The World Eskimo Indian Olympics: Event – Kneel Jump. The current World Records are 67 inches for men and 55½ inches for women.  Equipment needed to attempt World Record at Eskimo Indian Kneel Jump – masking tape, tape measure. Three jumps each. How hard can it be?

World Eskimo Indian Olympics? Missed it on the BBC this summer?

There’s Olympics and then there’s the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. Whilst many of the summer Olympics events appear far removed from their origins, the Eskimo Indian Olympics hold true to the many hunting and survival skills needed and valued by their community.  There are many to try, but this one caught our eye – the Kneel Jump. Described as the “Ultimate Test of Core Strength” – we could not resist.

Kneel jump – how do I do it?

The athlete kneels behind the start line, with the tops of their feet flat on the floor.  From there they lift themselves up and forward as far as they can go, landing flat on their feet. The distance is measured to the back of the heel closest to the start line.

First up was Instructor Adam Prout. Well-known amongst you as resident daredevil and tryer of training challenges, Adam was ready to have a go at that World Record. I laid out three sparring mats to provide some knee protection, a tape measure and taped a starting line, marked the World Record and the 2016 winning jump.

Go on then, Adam, jump.

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It feels like your chest will burst as a jet of joy shoots up through your body – you did it! And then the gremlin sneers “Pride comes before a fall”.  But if we do not take pride in our achievements how are we to know where to go next on the stepping stones of our life? This is a dichotomy at the heart of progress. If we do not feel any pride how do we know if we have made any progress? If we do feel pride in something that was not really a step forward then are we fooling ourselves? It’s a psychological minefield – whilst it’s not the same as losing a limb to a real landmine, it’s a real blockage to our self-realisation.

And so we come to poppies. Chief Instructor, Dennis Ngo, takes up the discussion. Read More

Ahh, the Olympics – the tears, the agony, the falling down, and that’s just the winners. But what does it feel like to put in the training? We think we know as we put in a fair bit. But let’s try something new. Instructor for London South, Richard Wagstaff decided to test his aptitude at the triathlon. Would his Kung Fu training help him?  And with the Brownlee brothers in his sights, at the back of his mind simmered an ancient emotion – sibling rivalry.

I love the three disciplines of the Triathlon.

Followed cycling since watching Greg LeMond battle with the legendary Bernard Hinault in the Tour de France in the mid 1980s. Been a regular swimmer –  ever since my Father’s promise of £10 for swimming my first width of a pool.
Even went through a period in my younger days of getting up before 6am to make it down to the pool before work to put in some serious lengths. Running is something I have learnt to enjoy more recently. First started going for gentle jogs in preparation for the infamous FWC Crete training camp early morning run and hill sprints (after which breakfast never tasted so good). Since then I have used running as a great warm down and mental release following a hard training session on Sundays with the Chief Instructor, Dennis Ngo. Read More

Instructor’s phone shows: New text message – The class was great, but I don’t think I can commit to the training right now.  Cue Instructor wondering why an enthusiastic beginner has given up before they’ve really started. But we know. It’s an open secret. Many, many people drop a new training regime because of muscle pain. Not injury, but the pain known as DOMS – acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. They will rarely say so, overwhelmed by a world of Shame/Blame/Pain after finding out that they are not fit as they thought, not as strong, not as tough – what were they thinking of when they tried a Kung Fu class? never mind Tai Chi..(how can that possibly hurt??).

And it’s not only the Beginners. Committed students who have been training for a couple of years can suddenly find it hard going if they are sleep deprived (new baby?), under stress (new job?), or have a change of routine (new house?). And this is where if it works for you, chocolate milk as a recovery drink can get you over this hump.

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“I’m shaking under the bright lights.  Sweat is pouring off me.  My clumsy fingers fumble with the cellophane, tugging at the packaging, trying not to drop it but get it out and stab the box. In it goes and I take a long pull through the straw. Blessed relief as the sweet chocolate milk begins its journey through my exhausted body.  It’s the end of two hours of intense training. You know what it feels like – squats, patterns, combinations, leg lifts, press-ups, patterns, two-person combinations, stance work watching the mirror to make sure your head isn’t higher than the person in front (why are the front row so short?). And at the end of it all (well, just before weapons and sparring get underway) I allow myself a carton of chocolate milk.” Instructor Sharon Ngo is here to tell you all about the latest in fitness addictions. Read More

“If I had wanted to be a performance artist I would not have started training in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts”. Well that all sounds reasonable until you look into the history of Chinese Martial Arts. And then you realise that there were many occasions on which performance was required, and this was not only on the battlefield. We have said it many times in class – humans are primates and as such we are primed to respond to body language, and by extension “performance” of movement. Maybe scientists have only recently discovered that gorillas sing to each other, but we have long known that performance is a form of communication. And so Instructor Dave Courtney Jones asked his students to be involved with the Big Dance project, co-operating with the Counterpoint Dance Company.  Dave takes up the story of how they got on with their biggest performance so far…

Dancing in the dark

“It’s pitch black. I am sat in the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler’s Wells looking down at the vague silhouettes of my students as they stand motionless in horse stance, positioned across the darkened stage. Read More

We all came home safely from Crete, no injuries, plenty of learning. We learned so much both from the training and the general discussions over breakfast, lunch and dinner, that it’s hard to keep hold of it all. So we have set out a handy reminder list to cut out and keep. We also made major strides in the new sport of Donkey Diving – we got as far as freestylling, much to the disgust of the classicists. It might take some time before it makes it to the Olympics, but no doubt by then we will have completely evolved system of marking. We would like to reassure  that no donkeys were harmed in the development of this game. Looking forward to the “real” Olympics next month. Read More