China Seminar 2010
This seminar in China was my 4th visit to the country. I can tell you on the day I was leaving I was very reluctant to do it because in truth I was so tired; I didn't want to get out of bed to get to the airport because the night before I had been in Pinewood Studios teaching an actor for an up and coming movie. I was there for 4 days but as you know in the movie business there's hour after hour of guys standing around doing absolutely bugger all apart from looking at equipment and talking figures. My total teaching time was an hour if it really was, plus every weekend for the last 5 I had been away doing seminars. In 5 weeks I spent more time away than I did at home, so I wasn't looking forward to going here. Two flights then two and a half hrs in a car to the location. I had a car ride to the airport, then a 2 hr wait then one and a bit hrs to fly to Holland because my fight was through Amsterdam then on to China. I thought that once I got on the plane to China that was it, but it wasn't. When the flight in Amsterdam was called I saw two locations on the screen, Beijing then Chengshu. I went to the gate and asked the person there what's the score am I at the right place and she said, "Yes". So what's the two locations, then she goes on to tell me that it stops in Beijing first. I thought oh fucking great, it's about a 10 hr flight to there and where am going is a long way from there, so we get on the plane and get to Beijing. I thought it was a case of us staying there and others getting off and new folk getting on but I was wrong. We went off the plane then went to a holding pen through immigrations then a wait for nearly three hrs. I sat down and that's the last I remember, I was so tired. By chance I woke up to see the last of the folk going through a door I got up just in time by luck; they were boarding the plane. Nobody had said a word over the intercom and I was just lucky to open my eyes at the right time.
So, when we go onto the plane the next flight was about 3 and a bit hrs. You know when you get to the destination because your always thinking I hope my gears ok and it's not lost or still in the UK. I waited and waited, then all of a sudden I saw my massive rucksack coming through the curtain. It's a relief to see your bag because you don't want to be stuck in a place for a week with the clothes you have on your back which has happened to me a few times in the past. I went through the next part of checks, etc, then the doors opened. Your looking for somebody who has a card with your name on it or a face you know. By luck I saw a face I knew; it was Julie. I met her before in Beijing, so that was a relief to meet somebody you already know. We then went to get the car for the next long travel, the walk through the airport must have been about a mile long but it was ok because I had sat for the best part of 20 hrs in airports cars and planes. My backside felt numb and square, so now we got a 2 and a bit hrs to go to the hotel. I think I only stayed awake for about 20 minutes then I was out cold. Next minute we were arriving at a restaurant at about midnight for dinner; I can tell you sometimes travelling you don't know if you should eat, sleep, or whatever your body is so mixed up. So, I was eating dinner and wondering if I should be sleeping. I didn't eat that much but I did drink rice wine, you know it was in a small glass the size of a thimble. I drank allot of this stuff I felt absolutely no effect till I stood up then I thought somebody had stole my legs because they weren't there; and my eyes, I was thinking I had shut my eyes and somebody had taken then out of my head and put then back in upside down because in short I was smashed beyond belief. I have never been so drunk in all my life, it crept up on me and then assaulted me ha ha. I was so glad to get to bed, but once I hit the sack my head was spinning. I was on a roundabout and I wasn't getting off. Well, you know the feeling.
The next day the guys picked me up asked me how I was feeling. Well I couldn't tell then how I was really feeling; I felt as though I had been dropped from a great height and then run over by a steam road roller, and to top it all off somebody had taken the Gobi desert and poured it into my mouth. The only thing I can think about is why did I let this person do this to me. Then I thought to myself, Tommy it's all your own bloody fault, nobody tied you up and poured it into you; which is correct. So, seminar day we go to the seminar, walking along the road the weather is great and it's been a long time since I have felt the heat because we had -15 below in Scotland, and before I went here it was not that warm. Well, it wasn't warm at all it was bloody freezing; so, walking here with a T shirt was great. Once we got there, there was a little crowd of folk waiting. They came over for me to sign their stuff. The translator said to them to go away but I told her it was fine because it doesn't bother me to sign autographs and take photos, it's fun.
So, getting to the teaching side of things. I really don't know the standard of the folk or where they're at so I played this seminar along the lines of you show me then if you need help we will stop and fix it. I got them to move around so I could see if they knew it or could do it. Well, they weren't that good but then they weren't that bad. So, I sat them down and explained the ABCs of the stance and footwork and explained it's all about shifting weight and balance. Once you remember this, well, you're half way there. So putting the meat on the bones is next; putting the tools on the system of transport. The lead is a good place to start. Most of these guys knew what it was but they didn't know the correct way it should be done. So, I explained the basic mechanics behind the punch. Once you got this then take the next 20 yrs to develop it if you last that length of time. The lead is kind like the foil in fencing and the saber is like the back fist; which I taught next. I decided to teach lead, back fist, corkscrew and hook; but, I ended up doing the left and the uppercut. The first day we were starting to put all this together. Their footwork was like everybody else out there; no broken rhythm and single beat stuff. So, I showed the folk how you can get two punches from one movement and how you can go into two different directions at the same time which totally throws the opponent off because he thinking you're going this way but your not, your going the other way. It's difficult to explain but, I would say it has to be taught. This is the last thing Sifu Ted Wong was taught by Bruce in Hong Kong I think in '72 or '71. I remember him telling me, but I cant remember exactly because I was far to much interested in what he was doing rather than him talking numbers. We put this together and I can say a few got it and a few didn't. One of the best folk there was a female called Debbie; she was a champion San DA practitioner. I told her if she was my student she would be 100 times better than she is because she had all the natural ability and drive which is very important. So, end of first day; that night we went for dinner. On the menu was snake, turtle, crocodile, frog; my request was can you take me to Pizza Hut, and thanks but no thanks. I told them that we keep these animals as pets rather than eating them for dinner. I would say that it was funny; I expected my hosts not to find it funny, but they did.
The second day, well, I asked them is there anything you would like me to teach you, and they asked for kicking. So, we started with the basics kicks; nothing special, but I guess if you never did it before it is special. We did 360, single, the double, then with all the footwork moving forward back sect in, out, up, down ha ha this was an easier day to teach. What I find is most seminars I teach day one is very hard because the folk are getting used to you and your getting used to them; plus they have to trust you. Once they trust you, then the rest is easy.
I can tell you out of all the seminars and places I've gone to, China has got to be the best. The folk are so nice, helpful and very respectful. Anything I asked they would have went right out of their way to do it or get it for me. The only problem is eating and the language. Oh the toilets are a bit different also, in hotels it's western but in other places it's an oval hole in the ground and it takes a bit of getting used to. Your aim has to be good or you have peed on yourself, and that's not a good idea. Well, you can get good at anything with a bit of practise. Hmm, so two days done; nice folk, very good hotels, in fact I might even put a photo of my hotel in the article for folk to see. It was miles better than some of the prison cells I have been in doing seminars. Ha ha, you know leaving China was much tougher than going there because I was leaving folk I had grown attached to and who had spent a lot of time with me making sure I had a great time. There was certainly a tear in my eye but when I looked around I wasn't the only one with a tear in their eye; they all felt the same. What a pleasure to teach some of the nicest folk I have ever met and to be around what I would call quality folk. Thanks to Julie who if she wasn't there I would be stuck because without her I couldn't have taught, ate, slept, or drank. To the two sifus who organised the thing, to Steve, Gary, and so many that I cannot remember their names, but I will never forget there faces. To the guys in the military and police force who took me around and showed me the sites, and took me for dinner. Thanks, till next time; bye.