“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

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

“Once upon a time there was a human being. This human being was dutiful, educated, courteous. This human being came under attack and had to fight or surrender. This human being took what was already known and came back to fight another day.  “I will surrender if you can beat me.”  This human being was Fang Qi Niang.

I wish I had known her. I often think of her.

She founded the White Crane System of Chinese Martial Arts. She was unbeatable. She taught great warriors, tacticians, generals. They defended the South of China from invasion over and over again. A Chinese woman from 300 years ago. She probably had bound feet. She was probably small and light. She had Filial Piety and pursued the men who killed her father.  She married another martial artist who was her student. She could have walked this earth without leaving a mark. She was a genius.

She was unbeatable but she felt pain, she cried, she bled, she laughed. She could have surrendered.

She did not. She was a human being.

You are a human being too.”

Celebrate International Women’s Day – it’s a day for humanity.

 

Sharon Ngo – Human Being, Woman, and Fujian White Crane Kung Fu Instructor

Where was your Instructor last week? Back at Soma Bay on the Red Sea for an intensive week of training and learning (and eating and swimming and sleeping and [fill in envious thought here]). But it doesn’t look too intensive in the photo, does it? That’s because the hotel management asked if we would like to take part in an initiative to help UNICEF by sponsoring a tree.

We have been coming to Egypt for training for a number of years now. The dry heat, guaranteed weather, stunning night skies and beautiful landscapes make training both a physical challenge and a mental joy. “Perception of effort” takes on a new meaning doing early morning sprints up 30-metre sand dunes. Read More

It’s amazing what you can do with 2 shirts.  At the FWC Club Christmas Dinner we raffled a cycling shirt and a children’s funky t-shirt.  This raised £438 for Aspyre Africa.  Co-founder Savina Geerinckx who trains at FWC Covent Garden & West End with Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo has sent an update on how the organisation has used the funds to buy “The Tools of Peace”. Read More

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year!  Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing You Prosperity in the Coming Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!  Have to make lots of noise to bring good luck, hence all the exclamation marks!!! 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

“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