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
“That was almost average” comes the “praise” from Chief Instructor, Dennis Ngo. Hard to hear, but low expectations are the bane of progress. So what are Dennis’ views on averages?
“Until recently, I had two dogs. The combined weight of my dogs was 79kg, What is the average weight of my dogs? Answer: 79 / 2 = 39.5kg – 2 marks please (I showed my workings and included the units). What is wrong with this answer? Nothing, except that one dog weighed 77kg and the other weighed in at 2kg. That’s the problem with average. Read More
The formless takes form.
Watching my incense burner I see the intangible solidity of smoke pouring into the cup.
Any disturbance and the cup empties.
The form vanishes.
Kung Fu is not a solid but a movement.
“Why can’t you stay rock-solid in a correct horse stance? It’s like a game, every time I turn around you all pop back up again!” asks Chief Instructor Dennis. And here we go once more with the “how hard can it be?” question. How hard can it be to have an excellent horse stance and maintain it through an entire training session? Or a week-long Instructor Training Camp? As promised last week, Adam tells his story:
“How many times has your Instructor told you your stance is “not quite good enough” aka “rubbish”?
I’m betting not as often as mine. Chief Instructor Dennis has 18 years’ worth of telling me. Tired of correcting our stances (I’m including walking stance here), he told us Instructors to attach ropes to 2 sticks of bamboo about forearm length, and tie (tightly) the ropes around our ankles and the top of our thighs. With the sticks tied in place you cannot stand up straight and you cannot squat. You have two choices, stay in horse/walking stance, or lie down. This device is why I am standing in the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport booked on a flight to Hurghada for the one week Instructor Training Camp, and wondering what I’m going to say if security ask what’s in my bag. It turns out that sticks with ropes are not on the banned list for Egypt. So now I can look forward to a week of self-directed learning. 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
Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo has seen many many people start their training and then falter, or take a break and then try to restart. In this article he explores the mechanisms at work in those first few weeks. It’s a familiar scenario….you are in class – everyone is doing the same drill. The count goes on and on. How did you get here? Tried a class? Tick. Joined up? Tick. Set aside which day(s) for training? Tick. In uniform? Tick. Feel like you are about to die on the spot? Tick. Think that you would be grateful if you did? Hmmm.
“Your body is the current end point of millions of years of evolution plus a few decades of what you’ve done to it. And of what you haven’t done. Even of what you think you’ve done. And now you’re in class because Evolution called out to you; “Those muscles and tendons and bones are there for a reason. Get out of your head and into your body.” You answered the call, rang up your local Fujian White Crane Kung Fu Instructor and here you are, wishing that Evolution had just left you alone. If it’s a really tough class you’re making up sarcastic responses in case Evolution calls again. Read More