‘If you fought the Queen, who would win?’
Just your average morning in my household, and my daughter doesn’t disappoint.
‘If you fought the Queen, who would win?’
Just your average morning in my household, and my daughter doesn’t disappoint.
A few weeks back..
I took the cubs to a new park. It was the start of the really good weather so we walked. I want them to get more exercise so a 4 mile round trip should make bedtime smoother.
On the way they were as good as gold. Proper respect for the road and in good spirits. We make 2 miles in good time.
The park is beautiful. Part manicured lawns, flower beds and an aviary. We take some time to look at the birds.
A lot of public parks now have rudimentary exercise equipment in them; this one is no different. They kind of resemble what you see in gyms but slightly more weather and wear resistant. My two love them, so I sit back and let them burn some more energy.
As is also usual for public spaces, there were some bigger boys and girls around. Too old for parks, but too young for bars; puberty purgatory before adulthood, raging hormones included.
Their language is a little raw so we move off. There are some more traditional apparatus for the cubs.
In a gated area sits some new challenges. A higher climbing frame that will test her, a rope walk and a rope swing onto a cargo net. All good confidence builders.
We get stuck in.
As you’d expect, there are other families around. Kids aged from about 3 to 10 years old. They’re all jolly.
My two hit the rope and cargo net; a queue builds. My eldest helps her brother by passing him the rope. He pauses, then swings into the net. Since I didn’t tell him to let go, he swings back to his starting position.
His sister shows him how its done, passing the rope back before scrambling over the top, commando style. He’s still on the bottom and duly hands the rope to the next waiting kid. She looks about 5, and helicopter mummy is very near by.
She swings with all her might, before my youngest can get clear. She sends him tumbling.
He rolls, gets up, dusts himself down, looks at her then looks at me. I offer some reassuring words.
The little girl looks at her mum: ‘I’M NOT SORRY!’ she shouts to her. I’m a little taken aback. Her mum puts a hand on her shoulder. ‘I’M NOT SORRY!’ she shouts again.
I’m kneeling now, giving my cub the once over. My [not so] poker face looking at mummy, and daddy, who was feet away sitting on a bench, who say nothing.
Not wanting to serve time, I decide that to roundhouse women and brats is not a valid option.
‘I’m alright daddy!‘ he says, before waltzing off to join his rapidly advancing sister, who appeared to be on her way to level the playing field. I intercept her, United Nations style.
The mum glanced back, pathetically, as she took her brat to another apparatus. The brat was still indignant.
As they walked away, my anger turned to pity. I watched with interest the interpersonal relationship between mum, dad and daughter. I surmised that she was an only child. I also made the assumption that they had struggled to conceive and because the physical manifestation of the everyday miracle was now living and breathing, they were so thankful that she could do no wrong. A huge leap I know, but that child ruled both adults.
Kids have accidents; that’s fine and to be expected. The fact that she vocalised her lack of remorse, and did so unapologetically, told me that this was the norm for her. This was how she behaved at home and that behaviour went unchallenged.
You reap what you sow
The pity in this situation is that at some point in this child’s life, she will meet a situation or person that won’t indulge her. If she’s really unlucky, it won’t be until she’s an adult; the universe has a way of doing that. My daughter would have sped that process up if I’d let her but I’m a good parent.
All 3 of them lose in this scenario. If you don’t set boundaries as parents when they’re small, you won’t be able to do it when they’re adolescents and respect will be a mere concept.
So proud of my two.
Some times I bang on about training.
I work out most days; more times than not. Sometimes twice a day. I have been known to overtrain, but I’ve also grown quite good at listening to my body now I’m in my 40’s.
I’ve also recognised just how stressful modern living can be. 24 hour connectivity means little time to properly unwind. Never ending emails, rising costs v falling wages all add up to some really awful stress levels with people just being unable to switch off.
To combat this, personal physical fitness is essential. Make your body strong and your mind will be too. To some extent it doesn’t matter what form of exercise you take as long as you do something. I also have this motto:
If it doesn’t challenge you; it doesn’t change you.
Digging around in the garage
I found the old Wii fit board. My daughter was delighted! So was I secretly. Once I’d managed to shoo her off of it, I discovered an old routine I used to do.
If you’re not familiar with Wii Fit, it’s a games console and a special board (digital scales with no readout) and a load of different games and exercises.
You get a personal trainer who will demonstrate the exercises for you, then you perform them yourself. The majority of them use the balance board, which uses witchcraft to tell you if you’re doing it right. It judges you if you’re not.
A feature of the game is customised workouts. You string the exercises together to make a workout, for a set duration; simple. All you have to do is start.
Will it make you fitter? In my opinion yes.
Will it make you fit? No
It doesn’t give you willpower, you still have to switch it on and it doesn’t tell you what to eat, 6-packs are made in the kitchen.
Like those ads you see for ab crunchers etc, sold to you by Amazons and Adonis’, what they don’t tell you is that you’ll probably need to make some serious lifestyle changes to get in shape. It’s not easy but the rewards are so worth it. Not just the ability to master your stressful lifestyle but also feeling great and having abundant energy.
Yesterday I created two personalised workouts for family members; I’ve challenged them to complete the exercises for one month. Three times a week for her and four times a week for him.
As they both read my blog, here’s my workout:
As I said before, you’ll need to supplement any exercises here with lifestyle changes to make a real difference but the usefulness of Wii Fit shouldn’t be underestimated. Will power not included.
Follow this link to buy your very own!
Yesterday was a training day.
What I mean by this is that it was a day that I go and see my Shiye (Kung Fu instructor when you’re a Sifu yourself) for a catch up.
I’ve been training with him for 30 years this year and he has led me to great success. I was a little late for this class so foolishly only did a small warm up.
A new guy was there and wanted to know some tricks to add to his own toolbox. We went to work. He learnt a new throw; he threw me; I landed correctly, then popped my knee getting up.
I couldn’t hide it and my instructor noticed.
The class ended and we had the normal catch up chat. I reminded him that I was 44 next week. He informed me that there was a competition coming up in the USA at the end of the year and that I wasn’t too old to get back in the ring.
Where do I sign?
You’d be wise to listen to it.
You may remember a while back I started a ’30 day burpee challenge’ where for 30 days, I would do 30 burpees per day. The clue was in the name. It all started so well.
After about 5 days, bits of me started to hurt. When you’re used to training and pushing yourself, this is nothing new, but this pain was new and unusual. I was beginning to experience some intense, shooting pain in the base of my toes and it didn’t feel good.
I expected pain in my quads and core but not in the base of my toes. That was just weird.
Pain such as this is usually associated with poor technique so I checked mine. Whilst I was doing it it felt right but the pain was evident almost immediately. I stopped.
One thing I had noticed a long time ago (approximately 14 years) was that my body took longer to heal almost immediately after my 30th birthday. Decades of martial arts training had put my body under a lot of pressure and from time to time the inevitable would happen and parts of me would fail. Immediate injury management was necessary, followed by either passive or active recovery. Anything remotely serious could be overcome in around 6 weeks. Up until the big 30 that is.
The change was noticeable.
Fixing things just started to take longer. Clicks, creaks and groans replaced the subtle swish of my combat clothing. Ce la vie.
I spent a while fighting it but then I got smart.
The human body was designed to move.
Just be clever about how you do it. New pains that aren’t part of the muscle growth process should be taken note of. Adjust accordingly.
I haven’t given up; not totally.
I still need to add some serious CV to my routines. In the meantime, I have replaced the 30 day burpee challenge with the Men’s Health 500 rep challenge. When I can move my arms again I’ll make another video.
Ps, videos are new! I discovered an editing suite called Lightworks v.14. It’s free to use and comes with great tutorials. I will get better!
I might have mentioned my keen interest in martial arts before.
Kung fu in fact. This has been my staple art for the last 3 decades but it wasn’t where I started.
These folk have a lot to answer for..
Around the time of my 6th birthday I discovered Monkey and The Water Margin. The mere theme tune would get me hopping around the living room with glee!
It wasn’t long before my mum had had enough. The twirling of the broomstick in the living room was getting out of hand. So was the imaginary battles with the imaginary warriors from the next [imaginary] village.
Off to Karate I went. I did that for a bit but didn’t take to it. Then Judo. Two gradings later, I left that. Then Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. They didn’t stick. I then discovered Muay Thai. That did the trick until I discovered traditional Kung Fu. My instructor was multi-disciplined in the Chinese arts and well connected (authentic lineage is vital in traditional martial arts).
Luckily the town I grew up in was rich with various styles of fighting arts as you can see.
I was 14 when began that journey. The training was hard and brutal; if you ever watched a Shaw Brothers classic you’d get my drift. It was great and I made lifelong friends with my instructor, his family and my classmates.
After a few years I took my knowledge into the ring (on to the mat). My first competitive fight was against a TKD black belt. Luckily it was semi-contact so the beating I got was limited.
I went back to the drawing board; more press ups; more sit ups; more kicking and more sparring. That did the trick. I entered the world of full contact fighting.
Competitions came thick and fast and I was doing well. The stars were falling into place for some title shots and I had performed well in team selections, well enough to get into the British Team.
Being 6’4″ and quite a big unit I found that most people in my weight category were more weight than style or strength. I used this to my advantage and quite literally walked through my opponents. I was fighting in two styles, Tien Shan Pai and Shuai Jiao and winning at both.
I won the British Championships with a TKO in 43 seconds. I won the European Championships in Milan almost as easily, after injuring my first opponent and the referee calling off another fight when my opponent fell over after kicking me in the chest.
That was it; I was through to the World Championships in Brazil, with ease.
Unfortunately my downfall was well underway.
I had little respect for what was needed to be a champ and because my preliminaries had seemed easy, I slackened off my training. I was convinced that the title was as good as mine and why not? the last two years leading to this moment had been a breeze.
I apologise for the quality of the photos that follow. They’re old, I didn’t take them and a friend took pictures of them on her phone in order to put them on facebook.
The team landed in Sao Paulo two days before the competition and checked in to our hotel. All the teams were in the same place and over the last couple of years we’d made great friends with the Italian, American and German teams. I was professional enough not to touch alcohol but I did keep late nights.
I did some light sparring in the courtyard but nothing major. Then the day before the fight I hit the hotel gym for some cardio on the bike.
Wake up call number one..
I selected a low resistance as a warm-up then got to work. And promptly stopped. I couldn’t breathe!
I had a drink of water and pushed on but had to stop again 10 minutes later. This time I had to get off, as my lungs were screaming, my muscles couldn’t support me. Not good. Back to the room.
Wake up call number two..
As the lift climbed to the top of the hotel, I felt dizzy and slightly nauseous. I thought I’d be able to sleep it off..
Two coaches picked us up the next morning and took us to the venue. It was 0800 and the weigh-ins began at 0900. Due to my size and weight my category was always the last to fight and depending on the field of competitors, this could take hours.
Wake up call number three..
The temperature in the venue was about 35ºc by 1000. I couldn’t get enough water down me and even through the light warm up – warm down cycles I felt poor and was leaking fluid like a damaged faucet.
Meanwhile in my head, I was still God’s gift to martial arts; the title was mine
I found an American fighter from my weight category and walked up to him whilst he was warming up. “I guess it’s you and me in the final” I said arrogantly.
I retreated to the stands to focus and lose myself in music. Eventually, I was called up.
Wake up call number four..
My opponent was a local fighter, disciplined in both Kung Fu and Muay Thai. At 6’1 he was giving away height but we weighed about the same.
I stepped up onto the Lei Tai and then it hit me; not my opponent but a wall of heat. The ambient temperature was augmented by the lights above the ring. Although the platform was only about 3 feet high, I can only liken the experience to getting into your attic on a midsummer’s day.
Boom; strength gone; energy gone; the referee dropped his arm. I hadn’t come this far to roll over and have my belly tickled so I went on the attack.
I threw everything at this guy; lefts, rights and when I could summon the strength, a couple of kicks too. Let me give you the real picture though; this wasn’t the stuff of movies, more like a town scuffle on a Saturday night.
He absorbed everything.
I took a step back and we looked at each other. He was playing the classic fighting game of letting me burn myself out. That point wasn’t far off but I wasn’t quite done yet.
I only had one thing left in the toolbox so I threw it. It was a running, jumping knee strike to the chin; a surefire knockout blow.
I did it; he took it. Noticing my shoulders drop in disbelief, he moved in. I shut one eye.
Boom. It landed; a big right. This was the first time i’d ever been hit in the face! It hurt like hell but I was still standing!!
Not for long.
I opened my eyes to an incoming front snap kick that knocked the wind out of me, me off the platform and out of the competition.
I got back on to the mat but was injured. I kicked, he blocked and it hurt me! I went down again and this time I couldn’t get back up. I looked at the English ref and whilst counting, he mouthed ‘get up’… I looked to the side of the ring and one of the American ladies was gesticulating ‘get up get up’. I couldn’t. My fight was over; I was beaten mentally.
I failed to prepare so was doomed to fail. I knew nothing about the country or it’s climate and the altitude. I knew nothing of my opponents even though the circuit didn’t really change and more importantly I knew nothing about myself.
Thankfully that has changed. I flew home with my tail between my legs. I received a world ranking of 4th, but there were only four of us in my weight category.
I learned a heck of a lot that year. Thank the lord there’s no videos of it.
Time to shrink the belly
Rowing machine – resistance 6 –
2 minutes steady.
The work begins
Each exercise should be done in sets of 4. Repetitions of 8,5,6 and 12
That headline pic is me.