Sunday was supposed to be so good…

I had it all planned out.

It was my weekend with my cubs. We’d been a bit housebound so to stop us all getting cabin fever I’d planned a walk across the nearby fields.

My daughter had her eye on this stretch of land for a long time. It was at the edge of a football pitch and was fantastically uncultivated. Meadow grass, wild flowers, daddy height thistles and all the fauna to match.

My daughter had reliably informed me that it was the perfect environment to track down the creature that had long eluded her; the grass snake.

My daughter has found a hero (other than me of course) in adventurer/explorer/naturalist and climber Steve Backshall. She’s seen everything he’s done and hangs on his every word and that’s fine. I love nature and the outdoors and so she does too. She had earmarked this bit of land as her hunting ground.

I primed them both for the big walk on Saturday promising a picnic and some pioneering off of the beaten track.

The big day arrived

I was up at the usual 06:00 and the cubs weren’t far behind.

The problem was, they’d woken up tired. I’ve seen them like it before so we lounged on daddy’s bed for a bit and had a cuddle. My daughter then asked if we could watch a movie; my son was nodding in agreement so we watched a movie.

I must admit that I had a little snooze during the movie and felt better for it. I was also determined that we would go for a walk in the countryside.

After much prodding and persuasion I got them both washed and dressed. We had breakfast then packed my rucksack with various snacks and our raincoats; it was glorious sunshine now but rain had been forecast.

I shouldered my trusty D5000, with the intention of getting some good shots for a blog entry under the ‘Activities’ heading; the premise being that I would illustrate how quality time doesn’t have to be expensive.

Off we went.


The sun blazed down but spirits were high. Both the cubs were freerange as we made our way across the top of the pitch and up a beaten path into the meadow. Then it began.

Two stinging nettles were enough to convince my son that the safest place for him was in my arms. Instead of picking him up, I showed him how to stand on the low ones and circumnavigate the taller ones. In his defence, I wouldn’t be comfortable in 6 foot stingers so I cut him some slack. We pressed on.

5 minutes were enough to convince my daughter that she would never find a grass snake so she disengaged stealth mode to see if she could convince some other elements of nature to reveal themselves through the medium of undergrowth kicking.

I don’t remember seeing Steve Backshall kicking nature into plain sight!!

She agreed, before catching a grasshopper in her hands.

My son had run off ahead up the hill and was now proudly holding and waving something green and plastic at me. It was a cigarette lighter. The grass was tinder dry.

One daddy sprint later and disaster averted. I gave him a chocolate bar from my bag and told him not to pick things up off of the ground. We pressed on (again)

I saw my first photo opportunity in a macro of a thistle. I could foreground it with my son running up the hill behind it, blurred into the background. Genius.

I lined up me shot and pressed for autofocus before manually adjusting. The D5000 responded with the idiot bleep and the message No SD card inserted…’

My daughter held up the cigarette lighter and called out; ‘Dad; I’ve found this!’

We went home.

As we entered the park to reach the main road, she found two feathers. one appeared to be from a Jay and the other from a Buzzard. She turned to me:

Best walk in the countryside ever!

 

Here is a photograph of my camera. That’s all I have to offer.

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BSD

A lesson in humility.

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..

I do not own these images

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!

Or this video

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.

The lesson

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.


Oh well; at least the beaches are amazing.
BSD

This afternoon’s workout!

Time to shrink the belly

Warm up:

Rowing machine – resistance 6 –

  • 2 mins steady then
  • 15 seconds flat out (and I mean flat out)
  • 45 seconds steady
  • repeat 5 times

Warm down:

2 minutes steady.

 

The work begins

More weigthsEach exercise should be done in sets of 4. Repetitions of 8,5,6 and 12

Chest

  •              Bench Press
  •              Dumbbell Incline Press
  •              Dumbbell Flye
  •              Cable Crossover
  •              Close-Grip Bench Press
  •              Dip
  •              Lying triceps extension
  •              Plank 3 x 1 min

 

That headline pic is me.

BSDWeights

 

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.2

What is coaching?

Coaching is a way of improving your ability or performance. We tend to associate coaching with athletes but more and more we see it in the world of work and even daily life.

What does coaching look like?

It quite often happens on a one to one ratio (the most effective way) with the coach and the student. The coach will observe a specific act, performance or behaviour, analyse and then tweak that performance through a number of means in order for the individual to improve in some way.

Why are you discussing coaching? A moment ago we were talking about limiting beliefs?

The two are connected.

So what is the connection?

  • Imagine if you had a coach.
  • One who followed you around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • A coach that never takes a holiday, rarely sleeps and better still, works for free.
  • A coach that knows you better than anyone else on Earth; knows your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses.
  • A coach that really, doesn’t care if they upset you or even reduce you to tears.

I think you know where i’m going with this one.

So ok. We have a coach inside our head who sometimes works against us. Sometimes, it thinks it’s being cruel to be kind. Most of the times, it’s not a very smart coach. Always, absolutely always, it’s an effective coach.

Limiting beliefs>internal thoughts>inner coach..

Thoughts become things

I’d love to claim this one but it’s been around for a while. The power of the mind to create the physical environment has long been recognised and quick search of the internet will show you examples.

Have you ever wondered why a day that starts badly often ends badly and vice versa? Let’s be honest; a day is just a day. We will leave a footprint on that point in time and give it a title, in order to categorise it in our memories.

‘Good’ days have a positive effect on us and therefore anything that happens during that good day will be thought of positively. Again, vice versa, things that happen on a ‘bad’ day will be reflected on badly.

But as I said earlier, a day is just a day. We make it what it is and our internal coach has a huge part to play in that.

Success

I apologise for this cheesiness of this pic but, you get it; right?

Part 3 next week, where I do what I say I’ll do.

I’ve also tried something new; sticking this post to the front page. Let’s see how that works.

BSD

What I was supposed to do today..

Versus what I actually did, are two different things.

I was supposed to go [Kung Fu] training today but as you can probably guess from the headline, I didn’t make it.

The weather is great so I decided that it was an opportunity to get my motorbike out.

What I was supposed to do in June…

Was to MOT my bike. For those not in the know, an MOT is a legal requirement on British roads, giving you an annual declaration of roadworthiness. The cops prefer you to have one too.

What I actually did today…

Was rest, following a very brief sulk.

The cubs are with their mum (technically my weekend but there were family celebrations on her side so we made a deal) and the house is tidy.

I also took the opportunity to connect with all of my new followers, thanks to the amazing Daily Post first friday! what a great idea and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to engage.

Hints and tips are coming in already and I will definitely be rummaging through all of your pages for a good read and some ideas!

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Not today kung fu kingdom; not today.

BSD