Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Martial Arts News: Nobody is kung fu fighting: Chinese martial artists ordered to stop organising their own bouts

Article taken from: www.scmp.com

Nobody is kung fu fighting: Chinese martial artists ordered to stop organising their own bouts
Sports authority issues series of orders to kung fu practitioners after tai chi master’s crushing defeat at hands of mixed martial arts fighter

The directive, issued by the General Administration of Sport on Thursday, bans a total of eight practices and follows an intense debate across the country prompted by the humiliating defeat of a tai chi master by a mixed martial artist in April.

Many questioned the merits of traditional martial arts after the fight, in which the founder of “thunder style” tai chi was defeated within 10 seconds by the MMA fighter.

In the directive, which aims to tighten regulations on martial arts-related activities, the General Administration of Sport said practitioners should “build correct values about martial arts”.

Among the top sins they should avoid were “creating one’s own style, organising a fight without a permit from the authorities, malicious attacks, slandering or discriminating against others”, according to the document.

Claiming to be the “authentic” successor of a particular art was also on the banned list, because the administrators said the practice was misleading the public.

The directive further warned against moneymaking activities such as accepting apprentices, making inappropriate remarks, creating and spreading rumours, as well as fabricating certificates for athletes, coaches and judges.

Mixed martial arts vs tai chi group brawl stopped by police in Shanghai but battle rages on online

The government’s intervention in fights between martial artists, a traditionally private activity, raised eyebrows on social media.

“Creating one’s own style of martial art [is banned]? Weren’t all the existing styles created by people? Organising private fights [is also banned]?

“Isn’t competing and finding out their strengths and weaknesses what martial artists should do?” one user commented on the social media platform Weibo.

Gone in 10 seconds – Chinese MMA fighter wipes floor with ‘thunder-style’ tai chi master

“It’s just afraid that more kung fu masters will be defeated, isn’t it?” Wang Xu, an online commentator in Beijing, wrote on the microblogging platform.

The defeat of Wei Lei, a tai chi master, at the hands of Xu Xiaodong, an MMA fighter, in April had followed a war of words over which of the two arts was stronger.

Xu, who is known for his provocative comments, had described traditional martial arts as a “farce”.

Wei, who was described by state media as one of China’s greatest tai chi masters, said he wanted to take the fight because Xu had insulted tai chi and “cursed at the ancestors”.

April’s fight between Wei Lei, left, and Xu Xiaodong ended swiftly. Photo: SCMP
Xu’s comprehensive and swift victory in front of a large crowd in the western city of Chengdu only served to pour fuel on the fire.

His microblogging account was deactivated in light of the attention he had attracted and a new account that appeared to be his was also later blocked, the Beijing Times reported.

Xu arranged a contest with another tai chi master Ma Baoguo in Shanghai in June after tai chi supporters demanded a rematch, but the fight was halted by police,

Xu later claimed that the officers had been tipped off by a relative of Ma’s in an attempt to sabotage the bout.

Tai chi master ‘sabotaged fight’, MMA fighter claims after police halt Shanghai contest

Gong Maofu, associate professor from the martial arts school of the Chengdu Sport Institute, said the directive was apparently motivated by a desire to create a better environment but whether it would be truly implemented remained a question as this was only an administrative order.

“It’s very difficult to carry out [these bans]. There’s no legal clause for reference if there’s another fight like that. It’s still unclear who is to supervise this and impose the punishment,” Gong said.

He added that it was meaningless to conclude that Chinese kung fu was weaker than Western martial arts because of a contest between two individuals.

“The result of a fight depends on several factors – who is fighting, how they are fighting, and when,” he said, echoing many internet users’ opinion that Wei was too weak to represent Chinese kung fu.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Authorities don’t pull punches with martial arts rules

Thursday, 1 February 2018

1,000 Days of Bagua? A challenge accepted (again!)

Yesterday, I posted to my feed on www.fitocracy.com:

Bored at work, I calculated that, if I did baguazhang training every day from tomorrow (1st Feb), then by 28th Oct 2020 I would have completed 1,000 days of consecutive training. That appealed to me and, in an effort to instill a daily training routine, I have decided to take up the challenge! #baguazhangeveryday #1kbgz #bgzed

I've attempted stuff like this before and often failed miserably after a relatively short stint of daily training. But I found not so long ago that I can quite easily work 15-20 mins of bagua training into my working day without impacting my job, stress levels or sanity. So, I really don't have any excuse why I am not training every day.

My 1,000 days of Bagua challenge started today, and I am already 20 mins in!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Getting up early

Taken from an article at: http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/how-to-get-up-early

Squeezing in a workout before the rest of the world is even awake takes an extreme amount of willpower and dedication, and maybe a bit of insanity. But if you work at it, anyone can become an early riser, says Men’s Health sleep advisor W. Christopher Winter, M.D.
So learn from the masters. These six guys get up every morning at 4 a.m. to break a sweat. Here’s how they do it.

(For 2,000+ more tricks to live a healthier, stronger, and more fulfilling life, check out The Better Man Project, the brand-new book from the Editor in Chief of Men’s Health!)


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Picture Your Rivals

Name: John Burk

Location: Fort Stewart, Georgia

Occupation: Instructor at the Fort Stewart Noncommissioned Officer Academy and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Burk’s a former drill sergeant, but that doesn’t mean a 4 a.m. wakeup call comes easy. So Burk remembers an old military mantra to drag himself out of bed: “You may be tired or hurting, but there is someone somewhere training harder to kill you.’”

He then applies that saying to his current goals. Right now, the vet is training for a bodybuilding competition. “All I can see is this blank figure, this silhouette, and he’s training even harder than me to beat me on that stage,” he says.

Want more incentive to get out of bed and into the gym? Check out 6 Ways Your Health Suffers When You Skip Your Workouts.

Make It As Easy As Possible

Name: Richard Rees

Location: Fort Langley, British Columbia

Occupation: Executive director of Rees Family Services, a company that provides assistance for foster children and personal trainer at Rees Personal Training

Rees’ alarm clock goes off at 3:50 a.m., and he’s out the door on a run just minutes later.

His quick turnaround is due to the fact that his clothes, coffee, and breakfast are all ready when he wakes up. Even his socks and the coffee scooper are laid out waiting for him. He doesn’t need to think about anything.

The longer your to-do list in the morning, the easier it is to stay in bed, Rees says. So prepping every last detail the night before eliminates excuses.

(Prep one of these 5 High-Protein Breakfasts You Can Make Ahead to fuel up in no time.)

Remember How Crappy You Feel When You Miss a Workout

Name: Tom Carpenter

Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana

Occupation: Executive at Waste Management and Ironman

There are a million excuses to not get out of bed—you’re tired, it looks like rain, you’re sore. But Carpenter says to ask yourself one question: Have you ever regretted a workout?

The answer is probably no. 

You’ll definitely be sorry you skipped a workout, though. “If I miss a workout, I’m in a bad mood,” says Carpenter. Thinking about that may just be enough to outweigh the pros of sleeping for an extra hour. 

And you don’t even need to go anywhere. You can get a great total-body workout in the comfort of your own home with Bodyweight Cardio Burners, a cutting-edge fitness DVD that packs three intense 20-minute workouts that require zero equipment.

Think about Tomorrow

Name: Joseph Eazor

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Occupation: CEO of EarthLink, a managed services provider; and Ironman

When Eazor wakes up early to train for 140.6-mile Ironman races, he thinks about the long-term benefits. Sure, devoting early mornings to training will make him faster and stronger. But they’ll also make race day more bearable—maybe even enjoyable, he says. It’s the difference between crossing the finish line with a smile or a grimace on his face.

So remind yourself of the end result—the whole reason you’re doing this. Whether it’s keeping up with your kids in the backyard, going shirtless at the beach, or running your first 5K without getting winded, imagine exactly how you’ll feel in the moment that you conquer your goal.

RELATED: 10 Things All Busy, Successful Men Do

Have a Bedtime Routine

Name: Craig Ballantyne

Location: Denver, Colorado; and Toronto, Ontario

Occupation: Certified Turbulence Trainer and author of Turbulence Training

Getting up early starts the night before. Ballantyne recommends setting an alarm to go off an hour before the time you want to hit the hay. 

Use those 60 minutes to wind down. Stop looking at electronics, make tomorrow’s lunch, or read a book. The goal: Get your mind to shut up so you can go down for a full night’s sleep. 

If you’re still buzzing with ideas or to-do lists, dump it all onto a pad of paper, Ballantyne says. Writing out what’s on your mind will help clear your head.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Keeping naturally fit & "alternative exercise"

Article excerpts taken from:

While pondering my own fitness story, my mind returned to that old bugbear, motivation, yet again. As I often tell my friends and fellow mid-lifers, gym membership doesn't automatically bestow fitness and a gym isn't a requirement in order to exercise.

I am a big fan of the idea of keeping 'naturally fit'. That is my term for not really scheduling any exercise routines, but instead having an active lifestyle. Whether that be running around with the kids, working hard in the garden or simply going on long walks and taking the stairs rather than the lift.

Having said that, without any exercise time specifically scheduled, it is easy to descend into laziness. That goes double for martial arts training. But perhaps there is a halfway house? The article I read included a number of examples of 'alternative fitness classes'. Different ways to crowbar some exercise into your week. Hopefully, the novelty will result in regular attendance, unlike boring old gyms with their bland decor, bouncy pop music and vacuous clientele.

Hate The Gym? Here's 10 Alternative Ways To Get Fit In Manchester

Between twerking and quidditch, the budding fitness freak need never step foot in a gym again

HOW’s the gym going? Good? Not so good? Have you actually stepped foot in the place yet? It’s okay, no matter how far along you are in your fitness journey, there’s always more to life than the gym. Although, that’s not to say staying active isn’t important. You won’t be getting away with sofa-slothing that easily.

The NHS urges adults to do at least two types of physical activity per week - up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength training at the very least - to maintain good health. It has to be done. Gym or no gym.

But away from the monotony of treadmills, cross trainers and spin bikes, there's a whole world of physical activity to be enjoyed and not just endured.

So here's a list of alternative fitness classes to try in Manchester (and yes, twerking qualifies as a fitness class):


Launched in early 2017, Britain’s most fearless explorer and ultimate Boy Scout will be uniting with Oxygen Freejumping Trampoline Park in Manchester to create a unique indoor fitness programme based on his tried and tested survival techniques (without any of the death-defying stunts or having to drink wee, thankfully). Grylls says the high-intensity adventure course will be ‘very dynamic’. Currently being built in the Trafford Park trampoline studios, it will have up to four lanes per course, varying in difficulty - allowing people to challenge themselves and work up to progressively harder obstacles.

Oxygen Freejumping Trampoline Park, Manchester - £6.75 - £9


Ah, hula-hooping. A fond memory from primary school days. At ten years old, it was a fiercely competitive sport. "Oh, you can hoop two at a time? Well, watch me swing ten hoops around my neck". Very fun, and no need to give it up now we’re adults. Part dance class, part nostalgic fun, the Dancehouse runs a hula-hooping class (or ‘hooping’ as the kids call it) as a great alternative to aerobics. The class teaches you new tricks (ones to get out at the office party, maybe?) and choreography for a range of skill levels. With much practice, you could even get into the hooping biz’. "Some former students are now professional hoop performers," say the Dancehouse, "often hooping with LED or fire." Maybe we’ll just try getting the hoop to stay up first…

Hula-Hoop, 10A Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 5QA - £5


While those bendy folks at Cirque Du Soleil make their death-defying tricks look effortless, it most certainly doesn’t look easy. It doesn’t stop us fantasising about dangling from a trapeze while a mesmerised crowd looks on, though. But let’s start small. The Circus House in Longsight offers acrobatics, tumbling, Chinese pole, trapeze classes and more for those wanting to stay active while learning thrilling tricks. Tumbling – cartwheels, somersaults and acrobatics – is a great way to build strength and stamina, while the trapeze is a challenging way to build upper body and core strength.

The Circus House, Unit 41, Longsight Business Park, Hamilton Road, M13 0PD - class prices vary


Don’t be fooled, bouncing your posterior up and down to a beat takes a lot of skill and physical endurance. It’s like doing 100 squats a second - well, that's how it feels. The highly provocative ass-shaking dance, seen everywhere from the dancehalls of the Caribbean to Nicki Minaj videos and drunk girls wiggling in front of DJ booths has encouraged a mainstream appreciation of the rear. Regular twerking can help you tone both your bum and thighs. Now, before you go shaking your bum like a pneumatic drill, there’s a technique to getting in right. Bodybarre is holding twerking classes, promising an active, body positive and liberating experience.

Twerking, 35-37 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1NA - £5


In JK Rowling’s wizarding world, a game of quidditch would be equivalent to the FA World Cup; it’s a fiercely competitive sport consisting of broomsticks, lethal ‘bludgers’ and a flying golden snitch. Diehard fans of the books have encouraged Harry Potter’s favourite pastime to take off here in the world of muggles. OK yes, we know what you’re thinking: ‘we can’t fly’. Quidditch, for muggles, requires a regular house broom, a deflated volleyball and, we’re guessing, a lot of imagination. Across the UK, it’s taken as seriously and competitively as in the books, with a Quidditch Premier League now in the pipeline. Manchester University (although not yet in the league) has its own team - made up of eight keepers, chasers, beaters and seekers. Score points by getting the quaffle in the hoop, avoiding the bludgers and catching the all-important snitch. A mix-gender sport, it’s also open for non-students. The team train at Whitworth Park.

Manchester University Quidditch Club - more here


Most would consider football and golf worlds apart in the land of sport. As you may have guessed, footgolf combines both disciplines. The hybrid sport, played over nine or eighteen holes, uses the power and brute force of football while applying the strategic accuracy of golf. The object of the game is to get the ball into the hole using only your feet in the fewest number of shots possible. What’s more, you don’t have to be a strapping twenty-something or member of a country club to play, as the sport is open to everyone.

Prestwich FootGolf, Hilton Lane, Prestwich, M25 9XB - £15


‘Stop exercising, start playing’ say Rabble. Bored of the treadmill? Us too. Rabble’s team created a series of immersive, adrenaline fuelled games designed to help you get fit while enjoying yourself. Dodgeball, British Bulldog, Capture the Flag and more legendary school playground games are to be expected at a Rabble session. Founded by an ex-triathalon athlete, Rabble focuses on fun first yet still boasts excellent fitness benefits; including an increase in speed, agility, coordination, strength and endurance. You could also burn up to 1000 calories in one game. Far better than powering through 50 burpees and wishing a meteor would end your misery.

Rabble, Didsbury Park - from £5 per game, book here


We’ve already shared our list of weird yoga classes in Manchester; gin yoga is by no means the weirdest one. Yet, depending on your stance it’s the class with the greatest rewards. If incentive is what you need to give exercise much more of a commitment, then this class gives you an incentive in a glass. At The Wonder Inn, you practice a Yang Vinyasa Flow yoga class before being treated to a cheeky G&T or green juice. The class aims to ‘rejuvenate the body and still the mind.’ Gin yoga is to return late January 2017.

Yin B4 Gin Yoga, The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 2AF - £10

No need to source the nipple tassels, pole dancing has long left the confines of the strip and gentlemen clubs, and is now seen as a fun and legitimate form of exercise. And, of course, it still can be extremely sexy. Using a great deal of upper body and core strength, pole dancing requires both agility and flexibility – and, if you do it to a sexy tune, you’ll need rhythm too. Both liberating and physically challenging, pole dancing is a great way to tone up. Find classes throughout Manchester including Bodybarre or Pole Tastic at Airborne Studios, both based in the Northern Quarter, or at Polefire near Salford Central station.

Various locations

You’re boundless, airborne and feeling like a featherweight - trampolining is certainly a freeing exercise, pure unbridled fun. And, in recent years, it appears we’ve become particularly hooked on bouncing around, because Manchester now boasts three purpose-built trampolining parks, where you can pretend you’re Simone Biles leaping for Olympic Gold. For more structured jumping, Trafford Park’s Jump Nation offers a wide range of fitness classes: from high-intensity interval training to Jump Camp, a boot camp style trampolining class. Trampolines can help burn much more calories than jogging, with up to 1000 calories burned in an hour’s session.

Jump Nation, Trafford Park, Textilose Road, Stretford, M17 1WA - £8.95 adult classes

The first Google search I did for 'alternative fitness classes' gave me 'alternative fitness classes IN LONDON'. Clearly Google has no sense of the north-south divide here in the UK. Hence I took the liberty of limiting the search to such classes in the Greater Manchester area. This is not to say that similar things aren't available in other areas, but I felt that a more local focus would be beneficial (for me, at least).

After the whole regional thing, the next thing that sprang to my attention was how very fad-dy most of these are. Can't imagine many people will be playing Quidditch in 10 years' time. Not to mention 'twerking'! That said, it is novelty that we are looking for in this. The novelty will bolster enthusiasm and get people off their sofas when otherwise they'd be worshipping at the altar of Netflix. Even if you have to change your chosen exercise activity as one set of fads dies out and another grows to prominence. That might well prove a benefit for overall fitness in the long-run.

Still think I'll stick with Bagua, though. ;)

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Combatting apathy and keeping on that training regime

“there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”
― Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

I have many fine character traits that have served me well over the years and, gods willing, that will help me for a good few years to come. I'm pretty clever, good natured and calm. I flatter myself that I am a good father to my daughter and I try to be a good husband to my wife.

However, I do have a major, recurring fault. Laziness. When that monkey mind of mine starts its mischief and tries to convince me to sit my arse on the sofa all night, I rarely put up much of a fight. That makes improving my martial arts really difficult. Daily training is hampered when reclining with a hot drink and some snacks in front of the telly feels just so damnably good.

I've tried reading a few sites for inspiration. Some are quite good, such as How-to-stay-motivated-in-your-martial-arts-and-fitness-training"

I’ve been training since 1976. The martial arts have been my profession and way of life since the early 1990s. During that time, I’ve often been asked how a person can stay motivated. How does a student get up every morning and jump into his or her training routine? How does a practitioner avoid becoming part of the majority, the people who give up before reaching their goal?

“Difficulties should act as a tonic. They should spur us to greater exertion.” — B.C. Forbes

If someone asks me what a martial artist ought to devote the most time to, I always say training. Train more than you sleep. I attribute my ability to keep on training, decade after decade, to Mister Mo.

Mister Mo is motivation. Mister Mo means no retreat, no surrender — no retreat from hard work, no surrender to laziness or sloppy form.

Mister Mo should be the most important person in your life, even more so than your teacher or your classmates. It’s good to have an end to journey toward, but it’s the journey that matters in the end.

Mister Mo is the one who urges you to attend class when you’d rather stay home and watch television. He’s inside you when you do the extra kick, punch or takedown. He wipes the sweat from your eyes so you can crank out a dozen more reps of that technique that’s been so difficult. He keeps you training month after month, year after year. He drives you to face your physical and mental limitations. He forces you to confront laziness, failures and the fear of success. He makes you walk the endless path of the martial arts. He encourages you to push yourself to your limit and beyond. He helps you tune out the pain as you drive yourself to victory over yourself.

“A desire can overcome all objections and obstacles.” — Gunderson

Teachers can open the door, but you must enter by yourself. Avoiding pain might be the biggest motivational factor there is. Doing a proper technique to avoid a broken nose is an example of external motivation. Most people who train in the martial arts do so, at least initially, because they want to learn self-defense. They don’t want to get hurt if they’re attacked. For those who enjoy the sport aspects of the arts, external motivation may be the next tournament trophy. For some, it’s the next belt. A student will sometimes quit after reaching a particular rank. The belt was the goal. Once it’s earned, the student no longer has motivation. Mister Mo leaves the building.

Unlike external motivation, internal motivation is a more difficult concept to understand. Internal motivation is the desire to excel for the sake of pursuing excellence. Internal motivation means you’re competing against yourself, not others. It means you want to do as well as you can, regardless of how others do. Internally motivated students tend to persist in their training. While they’re satisfied with each promotion, they’re driven to succeed beyond rank or trophies. They train because they want to improve, not because they want to impress others. If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?


How can you stay motivated day in and day out?

• Search for that drive to succeed.

• Become mentally motivated. Mister Mo is in all of us. You can call on him at any time when things get tough.

• Don’t worry what others are doing. If you’re trying to surpass someone else, you’re limited to what that person has done. You must have no limits. Always strive for excellence.

• Set more challenging goals and record them in a journal or diary. Pick a time to review your goals and evaluate your progress. Then set new goals.

• Focus on your growth and development as a martial artist and as a person. Learn joyfully, then share joyfully. Daily improvement in every aspect of your life is the overall aim. Don’t just think positive; act positive.

• Be yourself, but be the best of yourself. And when you feel discouraged, don’t be afraid to call on Mister Mo.

Other, similarly titled pages are often considerably less so. None of them offer any real solutions.

I guess, really, there is no substitute for simply forcing yourself to do what you can - however begrudgingly and however little. Once results begin to show themselves, then the motivation should, I hope, become easier.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Jin & Tonic

Excellent class. A return after a long haitus for me. I was nursing a shoulder injury but thankfully managed to avoid aggravating it further.

Topic for the class was 'threading the needle' and its role in the creation of jin. Quite a high level class to come back to after such a long time away, but I managed to take it all in. Did all the exercises on just my left side to protect my injured right shoulder. I also stepped out when the two man drills started. I could have tried them just on my good arm, but didn't want to risk lengthening my recovery time unnecessarily.

Looking forward to next Monday's class.

Monday, 10 October 2016

News: Sumo competition will celebrate 130 years of Thai-Japanese relations

Original article: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Sumo-competition-will-celebrate-130-years-of-Thai--30297227.html

JAPAN will hold a full-scale sumo tournament in Thailand next year as part of the celebrations of 130 years of bilateral ties between the countries, Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said yesterday.

It would be the first such event in Asia outside Japan, Tanasak said, adding that the Japanese |had rarely held sumo competitions outside of their country.

"Thanks to Japan's good ties with Thailand, they will bring this sport that reflects the Japanese culture here for the Thai people to watch," Tanasak said, adding that preparations were already under way.

Tanasak, who is in charge of tourism among his other areas of responsibility, also said that Thailand and Japan had worked together in efforts to boost tourism in their respective countries.

On Friday, a group of Japanese sumo wrestlers called on Tanasak at his office inside Government House. The team was accompanied by Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

"It's okay to cry" : Martial arts & life lessons


The above YouTube link is for the recent "It's okay to cry"  viral video of a martial arts instructor and his student.

This is kids martial arts instruction at its best.   Health,  discipline and self defence are all very well.   But it is this kind of life lesson stuff that martial arts could and should be used to in grain wisdom and character into the next generation.