“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

“Are you still coming after Brexit?” read the text message from our hosts in Crete. Somehow we seem to hit geopolitical turmoil when we travel for training. Last year it was Grexit, with banking controls, empty ATMs and fairly empty beaches. But it takes more than political upheaval and financial crises to stop us training. Read More

There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between cycling and Kung Fu. Several of our students have written about how their Kung Fu training benefits their cycling. But here we meet endurance cyclist Pete Kelsey, who takes it even further. Hundreds of kilometres further. Several times a year. In all weathers. With no back-up. Now that’s endurance.

How did I get here?

“It’s 4am as I wheel my bike out in the pre-dawn gloom and set off in the direction I’ve just come from. I’m 380km into a 630km ‘Audax’ event, a long distance cycling challenge. Not for the first time I wonder how exactly I ended up here. Read More

“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 training brings its own challenges. It 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