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January 12, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.cyberkwoon.com/new/index.php
UK Cross-Forum Meeting, Farnborough, 19/11/2005
I’ve been waiting for this for several months now, Dave having set it up back in August. I had also been hoping that widening it out to a few other forums would increase the numbers, but unfortunately I didn’t see anyone from Bullshido or MAP there (though to be fair, I only posted up the information shortly before the meet itself). It may be that the two people from Bullshido who said they’d be interested in popping along (because they live in the area) will come along tomorrow.
Upon first arriving, there was no-one there, which was slightly worrying, but after doing my usual confused wander around and through the Community Centre, I found some Kwooners in the car-park. Jamie Clubb, Dimi and Dave were all there, along with Dimi’s instructor (whose name was Stephen, I think), Dimi’s girlfriend Elke and another girl from the club whose name I didn’t catch.
The meet started off with everyone chatting; one of the main reasons I felt motivated to attend despite my dodgy shoulder (which very annoyingly was still stopping me sparring) was the social side of things. This set the tone of the meeting – there was a lot of talking! I’ve met a reasonable number of people from the internet now, and pretty much all of them have been pleasant, personable individuals. Today was no exception; also a continuing pleasure to geek out with fellow MA obsessives, even getting some poetry discussion in with Dave on the lift to Farnborough North.
The first bit of physical action came with Jamie’s RBSD session. Unlike last time, he didn’t do the whole ‘vocalisation’ thing, which certainly pleased me; I found it hard to get into the roleplay last time. The drills were again focused around the fence, using pads; as soon as the pad guy touched your arm, you threw a right hook, or if they simply moved in, you pushed back. Doing it with just the one arm was occasionally a little awkward, and eventually it became more of an excuse for me to work my hook. Dave came over for some advice on adding power, and I also had my usual babble of questions for Jamie about the technique (mainly I was interested in the consequences of breaking your hand). Effectively what he was trying to teach, if I understood it correctly, was to get in the first shot, get it in hard, and keep throwing whatever you can with whatever you can until the situation is under your control. This was driven home by further padwork in that vein, adding in elbows and hammerfists on top, while trying to break the habit of going straight into guard.
After Jamie’s RBSD, there was some further chatting, followed by Dave’s Wing Chun. This was a bit similar to the last Wing Chun session he gave in March, as once again various students held forth on the ‘centre-line’ principle whilst demonstrating how they would defend that centre-line and deflect attacks. I asked a few questions about kicks and circular techniques, and learned that kicks are dealt with in the same way as ‘sticky hands’ is utilised against punching; ‘sticky legs’. The session eventually dissipated into such discussions accompanied by demonstration, rather than any drills, finally losing the physical aspect altogether as I had a long chat with Dave about his views on Wing Chun. Interesting points that came out of that were his views that it doesn’t function well under a ruleset and is therefore unsuited to competition, that he doesn’t feel sparring is too useful in the way he teaches a class (though he is by no means unfamiliar to sparring, having a history in boxing), and that he disagrees with those who try to market Wing Chun as something that fits everyone. I’m trying to keep an open mind about Wing Chun, but it still doesn’t really appeal. I’m sure that’s partly due to the constant criticism and various bullshido of some commerically minded instructors, but basically for me it’s a matter of taste.
Third up was Dimi’s instructor, who runs the ‘Fit2Fight’ club in Belgium, teaching MMA under the moniker ‘free fight’. I’d been looking forward to this, since Dimi told me that some transitional techniques from stand-up to grappling would be shown; I’d mentioned this as something I’d like to learn in a Cyberkwoon thread earlier. All the drills started off with jab, cross, low kick, and then for the first one, you followed round with the kick, sunk down, reached over and pushed the other guy to the ground with your body weight, pulling your own leg back and through to go into side mount.
I found myself partnered up with someone I didn’t know, who had arrived a bit later on, who turned out to be a guy I’ve ‘known’ (i.e., posted alongside) on forums for years: aamc99 (Andrew). I didn’t cotton on to this until we were doing the second drill, when he mentioned he did Southern Praying Mantis – Andrew is the guy who set up the JFS Bradford seminar along with Nish (who posts on Bullshido as kismet, I think). We were supposed to be doing a technique in which after the jab, cross, low-kick, you then shot in and pushed through for mount. However, I found that discussing SPM and internal CMA with Andrew was a lot more interesting. I was particularly intrigued by his demonstration of body mechanics, soon making it clear to me just how much extra force could be generated by a thorough understanding of body alignment, like the ‘open/close’ position (he said it had a number of names, but that’s the one I remember) based around the chest, spine and hips. Not that I got anything more than a feel for it in those few minutes, but it did get me thinking about CMA, which I’ve never really bothered with before (ZSK is supposedly a CMA, but I’ve always seen it as a well-taught kickboxing class with a few forms thrown in).
After a third technique, in which you distracted your opponent into closing his guard, then slipped down to his leg, grabbed the ankle and pushed outwards on the inner leg with your forearm for the takedown, we finished up (while I learned some more about CMA from Andrew). The meet then moved to the mats, where a few of us exchanged a few submissions, Jamie delving a bit deeper into the triangle. This was due to it being a particularly successful technique for some BJJ competitors at a tournament Fit2Fight had recently fought at – Jamie showed one counter, then we gathered round my laptop to look at the triangle escape to kneebar Erik Paulson used. It also gave me the opportunity to ask Jamie about his training at Gracie Barra in Birmingham, which I plan to check out once term ends.
The final seminar of the day (leaving the total similar to March at about 4hrs) was taken by Matt Williams , who went through the ‘fa jin’ principle in a plethora of CMA, like baiji, taiji and xing yi. That therefore involved doing things like a punch driving through with the leg but heel kept on the floor, or whipping the arm diagonally downwards into the opponents shoulder. However, both Dimi and I found that these techniques started straining on the sore spots – we were both carrying injuries, mine in the shoulder his in the leg. So, we went through some more submissions instead.
As ever, its great to talk to people in person who you’re used to seeing as words on a screen, and also cool to put a face to aamc99, as I remember the days when we both used to post on Tung-Fu before it went down the shitter. I’m hoping that the next meet will be a little better attended (although as with last time, Dave’s students bumped up the numbers, further helped by Dimi’s entourage). To that end, I’m going to try and set something up in Coventry, but that depends on Warwick Uni Sports Centre – we shall see. I missed out on sparring, but my shoulder refused to sort itself out in time; next meet will hopefully make up for it.