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
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
“How hard can it be?” is one of our favourite questions. It prefixes many of the training challenges we have done, and is based on presumptions of strength and fitness that we (almost) take for granted. But physical condition should not be. After the vanities of testing VO2 max a couple of weeks ago, we spent some happy time at the next training camp testing all those who wanted to give it a go. Nobody beat Instructor Adam Prout’s score of 74 (with grumbles from the purists insisting it’s not a “proper” test) though the youngsters now have boasting rights about their “superior” scores. But “how hard can it be?” is a different question for people who are mostly glad to breathe without too much difficulty. And so here is Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s account of his Kung Fu journey with FWC London South.
“Breathing and eating. Maybe two of the most important principles behind Kung Fu. OK, sinking lower in your stance first, then breathing and eating. For most people it’s a simple place to begin: breathe deeply, eat well; learn to generate and direct your energy as a consequence. Everything else can be built on these basic foundations.
Not so much for me – I have cystic fibrosis. Read More
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