Once a year our whole Club gathers for a day of competition. There are patterns competitions, physical challenge competitions (you wouldn’t believe who wins the iron-bridge!), and the much-anticipated sparring competitions. The highs, the lows, the tears, the occasional blood and plenty of bruises. When the sparring finals come up we gather around the mats as exhausted competitors silently scream “Are you not entertained?”. But sparring is for everyone, not just for gladiators. Oriana Pagano, who trains with Instructor Dave Courtney Jones, puts forth a passionate argument calling for more women (and indeed, men) who train with us to take up the gauntlet and try sparring.

“April 2017, Fujian White Crane Kung Fu Club competition. I’m standing near the mat, watching two fellow students spar. I’m still wearing my sparring gear, but I’m relaxed: the women’s competition is over. A young woman, also a Club student, comes and stands next to me to watch the fight. I’ve never seen her before.

“You were very brave,” she tells me after a while.

I turn to her, puzzled.

“To do the sparring” she adds, reading my confusion.

Oh, that.

Wait a minute. That. Why?

Before I know it, we are deep in conversation – the men’s fight blurring into the background noise. The more we talk, the more I get the feeling that she would love to try sparring – yet something is holding her back. So I push on, arguing my case, rattling off all the benefits of sparring, stressing how important it is, especially for women.

For some reason, I want to convince her.

We talk some more until the full-contact sparring brings us back to the competition. We are going to watch it from different corners, so we say goodbye and part ways. Read More

This entry is part 4 of 3 in the series Project Press-Up

Instructor Anna Wallen continues this popular subject with Part 2 of Project Press-up. Now that you know what “embonpoint” means (see Part 1 if unsure) Anna will explain the impact of weight distribution on press-up technique and power. Whilst both men and women can be equally strong and proficient at press-ups women face particular challenges based on their physiology.  Knowing why is not enough, so Anna will also explore what to do about it.

Building up to full press-ups

“I can’t count the number of web videos with buff young hunks helpfully telling me to practise knee press-ups so I can build up to full ones.

I’m a research engineer. I did a quick calculation (it’s what engineers do): knee press-ups require my arms to lift 40% of my bodyweight (not counting the helpful seesaw counterweight of my lower legs, which reduces the work by my arms further). Full press-ups lift 55%. Ten kilos is quite a load to add to my arms in one go, and that’s not counting how much more my core suddenly has to work when I go straight. Read More

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Project Press-Up

On a flight back from training in Egypt last September Instructors Anna Wallen and Sharon Ngo were seated together. “What are your press-ups like?” “Could be better – even after years of trying – blame it on my embonpoint*. You’re an engineer – what can we do about it?” “Pencils and papers to the ready – ” So after numerous stick figures, excuses, experiments, and research, here is Anna’s Project Press-Up report, Part One.

“Done properly, press-ups are one of the simplest and most beneficial exercises there are to improve your Kung Fu and general fitness. However, as in all training, it can be difficult to get the movement exactly right. Many of us can find developing the correct muscles for press-ups problematic. This article focuses on what a press-up entails, what the common problems are and how best to correct them and build up your physique. Read More

Each animal in the Chinese Zodiac comes with its own set of significant attributes, comparable to the Western astrological “Star Signs”. The Dog is widely considered to be courageous, loyal, with a strong sense of fairness. Dogs are social animals, living in the wild in tightly structured packs. They hunt together, eat together, and play together. In most species they raise their young together. They bicker and argue, but real fights are only used to settle serious conflicts.

What do dogs do?

Dogs have uses for humans and humans have uses for dogs. Read More

Spirituality is not the same as religion. While any religion has spirituality as a core part of its offering, it also has other elements like concepts of faith, morality, doctrine. On the other hand, people can find a spiritual experience in everyday non-religious pursuits. This non-religious type of spirituality was the topic of a festive broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, on the 28th of December 2017 guest edited by poet Ben Okri. You can still catch it on the BBC iPlayer – the relevant segment is in the last 30 minutes. Ben Okri asked the Today’s programme reporter, Sangita Myska, to interview practitioners of a range of non-religious pursuits and she approached Fujian White Crane Kung Fu Instructor Danil Mikhailov for an interview about spirituality and Kung Fu. Only part of their interview made the final broadcast so in this article Danil delves a bit deeper into how the practice of Kung Fu can be a spiritual experience.

“I have practised White Crane Kung Fu for over twenty years, martial arts of any type for over thirty. In fact, my first memory from when I was around four years old is of my father teaching me how to punch correctly Read More

It is late November 2017 and a group of Instructors and Students gather once more in an airport to travel back to China for a week of soaking up the culture and training. Led by Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo our destination is Yongchun in Fujian Province – a visit to Mr Su Ying Han of the Yongchun Yi Yun Society. Mr Su and his family have trained in the White Crane System of Kung Fu since Mr Su was a young man over 60 years ago. But their traditions go back further than that. Amongst the group travelling was Instructor Crofton Black. And he took the opportunity to learn not only more Kung Fu but about the history and culture of this corner of South Eastern China – and why it is so famous for its fighting styles (including our own White Crane Kung Fu).

“We’re lined up on a wooden walkway spanning several hundred yards of the Tung Ch’i river. The waters flow muddy beneath us. The banks are lined with banyan trees, their branches bearded with aerial roots. A kingfisher perches on a protruding rock and keeps an eye on the shoal of little fish carelessly congregating beside it. On the signal of Mr Su Ying Han we salute and step into the first pattern, Read More

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Seasonal Training

The Northern Hemisphere days are short and the nights are long. What better time than to sit in the house, eat large amounts of sweetened, salted foods, and tell tall tales of your glorious achievements in 2017? Everything starts to wind down now, and it’s nearly two weeks for the regular training sessions to fully re-start. Happy Holidays!! So why do these much-anticipated holidays become bliss for some and hell for others?   The reasons are complex, but Instructor Joshua Villar decided to take the mental bull by the horns and asked the other Instructors, “how do you stay sane and fit over the Winter Holidays?” So, in no particular order, here are the secrets they revealed… Read More

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Serendipity:The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way (Oxford English Dictionary).  Devora Wolfson trains with Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo – Devora is second from right in the photo above.  Here is Devora’s story of what happened with serendipity struck.

“One wet Sunday afternoon I was flicking through the TV channels and came across the programme ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’.

I began to watch intently when I saw the part which showed how a woman who could barely walk and was taking very strong pain killers was transformed through learning Kung Fu! Read More

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series 40th Anniversary Celebration

Relive the wonderful evening in September when the Club came together with hundreds of family and friends to celebrate 40 years’ of training.

Forty years – right now there is no more to say other than enjoy.

See you in class.

 

Uncountable thanks to Ben Hallifax from FWC London South for co-ordinating the video and stills cameras on the night.

And to Jeremy Mathieu from FWC Covent Garden and West End for the video edit.

All Members of FWC are invited to the Christmas 2016 Celebratory Dinner. Friends and family are welcome to join us in celebrating at the famous Joy King Lau Restaurant in London’s Chinatown.

Read More