Two magpie confirmation. 

At the moment; nothing makes sense.

This doesn’t make sense. Things are tough and I’m conscious of this turning into a diary entry.

I’m a focused individual. Work; Kung-Fu, focused. Relationships? not so. I’m not sure why either.

I’m also a man of science. A lot of what I need to operate safely relies on my understanding of the scientific method and it’s application, but recently, I’ve been counting magpies.

You’re familiar with the rhyme I take it?

  1. For sorrow;
  2. For joy
  3. Don’t worry about the rest…

As with most luck/superstitions, I’m interested in it when it fits my narrative; a kind of umbrella for my mood.

magpie bin

From my bedroom window, sitting up first thing in the morning I can see my neighbour’s roof. For a suburban area the bird count is quite high, including varieties of species.

There is also a nest of magpies in the locality as their grating call will attest. In the morning, there can be any number around doing their destructive thing.

There are rules to magpie spotting and how this totally random, non-attributable event will affect the rest of your (my) day.

It has to be first thing in the morning; all subsequent magpie spottings after the initial sighting are either null and void, or serve as confluence to earlier magpie signals.


So here’s the thing….

I believe in making my own luck. I believe in both working smarter and harder, so why the hell is this my current state of mind?

I’m distracted. Things aren’t running smoothly in the co-parenting world.

It’s a blip.

Magpie in flight

BSD

I really, really should listen to my body.

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?

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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

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