This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Training challenges

It’s not exercise but resisting gravity that gives us big muscles. That’s why astronauts can’t punch their way out of a paper bag when they land back on earth¹.  After a few recent adventures with FWC Hammersmith Instructor Adam Prout, I started to hear, “Ask Adam to do more crazy stuff”. Now, dear students, that is somewhat missing the point.  Adam is not a Crash Test Dummy, he’s a Kung Fu Instructor. Nor is he (totally) reckless. But he loves a challenge. And Britain has an astronaut in space. Let’s put Adam to the test again. Read More

Wise words from Chief Instructor, Dennis Ngo, on being ready for competition. Challenges come in all forms – standing up first in class after 100 sit-ups, making it to class at all on especially tough days, saying the name of your pattern during a grading (in Mandarin), folding your trousers properly, the list goes on and on. But, as Dennis says, “competitions are where the pressure is really on – a chance to find out what you are made of as you stand up alone in front of everyone to give it your best and submit to being judged.  The preparation is most important.  First you take yourself apart – then you train and train and train.  Then you go out and show what you are made of. Winning, not winning, that is merely a by-product of stepping on the mat.” So he didn’t mean taking your opponent apart then? Read More

There are as many reasons for starting martial arts as there are people. If you are thinking of giving it a go then walking into that first class can be daunting. Courage my friend, take that first step and never look back – you have nothing to fear but fear itself. But isn’t the Instructor going to be scary /terrifying/ immortal?

Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo (6th Dan but still mortal) talks about why he takes on beginners in his classes. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for him?

“I have been teaching for more that 35 years.  Although I am approaching 65 I have no plans to stop teaching, and I certainly have no plans to stop training.  I am on a lifelong journey of learning and improvement – I may never achieve perfection but I’m going to die trying.  Given that some of my students have now been training for over 30 years themselves, why do I still say “Beginners Welcome”?  Do I really mean it? Read More

This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Training challenges

Earthbound beings that we are, our hinge-like joints and large leg muscles allow us to defy gravity and reach new heights. In theory. Once we leave childhood behind, most of us stick to the earth as though it is a mark of adulthood.  But among us there are secret jumpers, people who try to rediscover the joy of transient weightlessness.

Here is one of them.

“A confession.

Er, hi.

My name is Dave, and I’m forty-four. And a quarter. Read More

Ah, the double-edged sword of New Year’s Resolutions.  If you make a good one and stick to it, you’ll be jolly all year.  But make one and break it, and it casts you down into the pits of despair. Most people make resolutions to eat more healthily, do some exercise and lose some weight.  Guess what, training at our Club can help you do all three – a bargain New Year’s Resolution!  But you still have to keep at it. Fear not, we know just what it’s like trying to stay motivated, and we have the knowledge and support to get you past those bumps in the road.

For those of you who want to start something new this year, here is FWC Instructor for London South, Richard Wagstaff, to show you how.

“New Year’s Irresolution

You’ve finished ploughing through the turkey sandwiches, mince pies, and Christmas pudding and you’ve just got over the disappointment of another highly-anticipated yet distinctly average New Year’s Eve party.   You have the whole year stretching out ahead of you – exactly the same as last year.

“No, this year is going to be different” you say to yourself. Read More

It’s late winter.  We’ve had the Solstice.  We’ve had Christmas.  We’ve had the mid-winter holidays. We have in fact had whichever marker it is when your culture turns from darkness and the old, to lightness and the new – if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

What does this have to do with training?  Well, we are primates.  Do primates hibernate?  Some ursines do.  Some rodents do.  Some reptiles do it.  Even butterflies do it.  But we do not (though I acknowledge that some historical anthropologists argue over this one).

But the real question is, how do you feel?   Read More

“What would you like for your birthday?”  It’s a big one in base 10 – so time to ask for a big present.  “I would like a hand-made, bespoke, and personalised straight sword please.”  “Shouldn’t be a problem.”  And so the Saga begins.

Your story-teller is FWC Instructor Timothy Stevenson. Read More

What do the words “power-to-weight ratio” mean to you?  Cyclists are obsessed with it, especially when it comes to hill climbs.  An extra 5kg of weight requires a proportionate power output to maintain speed, but what if that extra 5kg is of high-functioning muscle?  What if that extra 5kg of muscle came from Kung Fu training?

I have said it before, there seems to be some connection between keen cyclists and Kung Fu. Lucas Oliver trains at our Cambridge club with Instructor Karim Daoud. Lucas cycled the Surrey 100 to raise funds for Cancer Relief.  That’s 100 miles of asphalt, using only muscle power for locomotion.  All endurance athletes know that feeling of having to “dig deep”, “get more out of the tank”, and sometimes of “hitting the wall”.  Did Lucas’ Kung Fu training help him during those moments?

“I have been a keen cyclist for many years now, but I am only just seeing out my first full calendar year of training with Karim at the Cambridge University Club. Read More

This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Training challenges

Abs – that’s what everyone wants to show off these days. Haven’t we all wanted to walk out of the sea like Daniel Craig in Casino Royal or pound down the finishing straight like Jessica Ennis-Hill?

One instructors meeting (all right, lunch) we were discussing physique, male gymnasts in particular. The World Gymnastics Championships had just finished. Pommel silver medallist Louis Smith has the classic V-shape and rippling abs – and those shoulders!  Always impressive is that bit in the routines where the gymnast sits, lifts his straight legs back through his arms and goes into a handstand.

Now we do plenty of sit-ups and core strength in training, and were told that if you can do the sit-to-lift handstands then you have Ultimate Abs.  How hard can it be?  Instructor Adam Prout was (once again) our willing guinea pig. Read More

Introducing the 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Champion, Bruce Lee!  Now you’ll see his films in a new light. There isn’t much of a physical resemblance, but when Jack Lawrence, FWC Cambridge University student, had a go at competitive  Dancesport, he was surprised to find that his Kung Fu training gave him an unexpected edge.

“I’m standing in a decadent hall in Nottingham, surrounded by vibrant colours, excessive amounts of hair gel, wax and general ‘fabulousness’. The noise of over 700 people gathered in this illustrious ballroom pauses while the announcer calls out the numbers of those who made it to the final round of the beginners’ Jive.

Read More