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.

“Could you write something about the health benefits of Tai Chi?” the Editor of Calibre Quarterly magazine asked Instructor Richard Wagstaff. “No problem”. And here it is: Fighting Spirit. Yes we all agree that 65-year old Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo looks “impressive” (in the words of the Calibre Editor). Whilst preparing the article, discussions turned to people’s perceptions of Tai Chi as for those who were not “up to” the hard style of Kung Fu. Why don’t I just come out with it and say “mature” or “older” or “middle-aged”? Because, leaving aside considerations of acceptable language and the implied stereotypes, these are labels that don’t provide any useful information. I like the word “grown-ups” – you are a grown-up when you think you are and remain so as long as you wish.

One of our Grown-Up Students, Jill Steen, did not start training with us until she had been a grown-up for quite some time. She is really making up for any lost time (if you call having a successful and interesting life “lost time”). Jill trains several times a week and has travelled with us to China, Egypt, and Crete. During training camps she gets up in the morning and goes on the dawn pre-breakfast runs. Jill has twice competed in China at International Martial Arts competitions (as in the photo above). In China competitors are grouped by age and there is no lack of competition in the older age categories.

Jill takes up her story here – and it all started with a leaflet coming through her front door…. Read More

Hurray! We’ve made it all the way to Summer. As we train all year round Summer brings its own challenges, and is not in fact everyone’s favourite time for training. The heat gets to some, then there are the allergies, the quest for a tan, the food-filled lazy days of family holidays. Fear not, here’s how you can get the most out of our British Summer and max your Kung Fu and Tai Chi skills. Read More

I’m sure that (like me) you were all thinking that Instructor Dave Courtney Jones could not handle any more fun in his life after the Gauntlet Games last week  – but no we were wrong! Dave has room for more joy than we have given him credit for. And here is his latest foray into the creative world, where dance and Kung Fu intersect. First we go back in time…

“Four years ago I was contacted out of the blue by the Creative Director of Claremont Project to see if the Club would take part in a Flash Mob Read More

We have said it many times (and I’m beginning to regret it) but we love a challenge. Well, most of us do. And it depends on the challenge. And whether it is a challenge. Last year we did the “Pretty Mudders” run in aid of Cancer Research, and it was fun, and a bit muddy, but not much of a challenge. “Couldn’t we try something harder?” asked Resident Marathon Runner No 1?  “Mais Bien Sûr, mon amie” came the reply, “What do you suggest?”  And the suggestion [some time later] was….The Gauntlet Games.  A 5K run with Gladiators trying to prevent you from successfully negotiating the numerous obstacles.  Sounds ideal! Sound the horns! Muster the troops! Set up a Facebook group! Lead on….

Marathon Runner takes up the story.  [Well she would but her report has been redacted Read More

“How hard can it be?” is one of our favourite questions. It prefixes many of the training challenges we have done, and is based on presumptions of strength and fitness that we (almost) take for granted.  But physical condition should not be. After the vanities of testing VO2 max a couple of weeks ago, we spent some happy time at the next training camp testing all those who wanted to give it a go. Nobody beat Instructor Adam Prout’s score of 74 (with grumbles from the purists insisting it’s not a “proper” test) though the youngsters now have boasting rights about their “superior” scores. But “how hard can it be?” is a different question for people who are mostly glad to breathe without too much difficulty. And so here is Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s account of his Kung Fu journey with FWC London South.

“Breathing and eating. Maybe two of the most important principles behind Kung Fu. OK, sinking lower in your stance first, then breathing and eating. For most people it’s a simple place to begin: breathe deeply, eat well; learn to generate and direct your energy as a consequence. Everything else can be built on these basic foundations.

Not so much for me – I have cystic fibrosis. Read More

You may or may not consider this to be good news but according to the British Medical Journal skinny thighs are bad for us¹. People with skinny legs have higher mortality regardless of other factors such as their BMI, whether they smoke, or have high blood pressure. As someone who struggles to find jeans that fit my horse-stance thighs without leaving a gaping space around my whip-power waist I realise that this may mean wearing unfashionable jeans for longer. But, as they say, “Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts.” So if you want to know what all that leg-strength can do, here is FWC Instructor Dave Courtney Jones with an update on what he’s been doing with his.

“Further to writing about my secret jumping habit back in January, I have been continuing my work on the Kung Fu Art of Weightlessness since. For you Fujian White Crane Kung Fu students, jumping will become a part of your daily life round about the point you learn fifth pattern (if not before), and is a major factor in developing that elusive weightlessness that every Kung Fu stylist wants to achieve.

This year I have (after two, or is it three, years’ work?) completed learning the Luohan Golden Staff pattern, and jumping features large in it. Realising that my pattern was never going to cut it unless I improved my leg spring power I started working on my jumps with renewed vigour Read More

It’s an Olympic year – hurrah!  Love all those fit muscular athletes gracing our screens – the tears, the triumphs, the upsets… “But you’re surrounded by fit muscular athletes all the time” complains a friend.  Well, yes I suppose so, sort of.  And what are fit muscular people obsessed by?  “What’s your VO2 Max?”  What is a VO2 max?” Read More

Welcome back to the FWC Cambridge Mug Challenge. It’s challenging and it involves mugs. There seem to be a lot of scientists in this update, but such is the nature of the FWC Cambridge Club. Instructor Karim Daoud has been goading his students into ever more efforts both in their training and in using some ingenuity to meet these challenges (a link to the original list is here).  Read More

It started with an exercise challenge from a sports magazine – “Wonder if Death by Burpees is as hard as it sounds?”.  A few months later and here we are in a cutting-edge facility in Cambridge University with Adam exercised to exhaustion, wired up to an ECG and having his blood pressure monitored whilst he does “cognitive” tests. What is going on? You see, there is nothing like ramping things up – we just can’t help ourselves.  It’s Kung Fu that does it – you start training after a bit of a confrontation or being bullied by someone, and before you know it you’re in an open category full-contact competition being disqualified for hitting too hard (we still miss you, Dave B).

But back to our very own lab-rat, FWC Instructor, Adam Prout. I was reading in the New Scientist about the brain’s ability to stop you trying before you’ve reached your full physical capacity for work. Hmmm, know that feeling, when you think you can’t take any more, give up and then realise you could have carried on.  Read More

It’s been a mild Winter, but now it gives way to Spring. Time for a change in training. But why?

It’s a reasonable question. Most sports traditionally have an on-season and an off-season. Martial Arts don’t fit into that category. For a start Martial Arts are not sports*. And in the Good Old Days there wasn’t a league table for attackers and defenders, with a champion at the end of the season. In parts of the world which became impenetrable by snow and ice there may have been respite from attack, unless the hordes were already inside the gates. Further South there were the annual floods to keep invaders at bay (or trapped). There was never a reason to stop training.There still isn’t.

Given that Classical Chinese Martial Arts are trained all year round why do we change our training according to the seasons?

It’s about harmony

Read More