May 2010 - Egypt Seminar
This was my first time going to Egypt to teach or even go there on holiday for that matter. I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is the pyramids. Before I got there, I sat in Heathrow airport for close to 4 hrs. We were on the plane for 2 and a bit then we were off the thing. They had a few mechanics out to look at the engine and discovered that it needed a start. After some time they discovered it was more than that which it required, so off we went. It's not like a car where you give the thing a shove and get it started then your on your way. Planes don't work that way. If you break down in a car, pull over to the road side. If you break down in a plane then crash landings don't always work that well with jets. So, in saying this they decided to get another aircraft to replace the one that wasn't working. The flight is about close to 5 hrs from London but it's 6 and a bit from Scotland. For some reason it was very slow; time didn't go that fast and by the time I got there I was knackerd, I had been up since 3,30 am. It seemed ages for folk to disembark from the aircraft. Some folk are so slow you just cannot imagine. As soon as it lands I want to get off as fast as possible to stretch my feet. I was walking along the corridor with the rest of the folk on my flight then we went down a flight of stairs. There were two guys standing there, one had TOMMY CRITTERS on a sheet of a 4. I thought it could be me; maybe he spelled it wrong or something. So, I said, "Are you here for Tommy Carruthers?". He said, "Yes." Then he said, "Is this you?". I wasn't sure about this situation, then he asked for my passport. Well, your always very suspect of folk wanting your passport. So, I opened it to show him and he took it off me and said, "This is you, come with me".
By now, I was getting a bit worried. Maybe he got me mixed up with somebody else, but he was certain he had the right guy. We're walking along the corridor then he said, "Oh no visa." Just then I thought to myself holy shit I am here without any visa. I tried to explain to him that I was told I didn't need one. Then he said, "come with me." Now I am getting very worried. Why does this guy know me? Why is he holding my passport and not giving it back to me. Now I am thinking that maybe the authorities think I am a bloody British spy. We get to this desk, the guys says, "20 dollars." I give him the money he gives this other guy the ticket. He puts it, still holding my passport in it. By this time I have everybody who was on the aircraft with me looking at me thinking what the hells going on with that guy. So, we walk to this desk that is cordoned off. He says, "Wait here." He walks up to the desk, they type the stuff into their computer and then look at me. There's the usual looking at the screen then looking at my passport then at a screen again. By this time, I am thinking they're going to get the cuffs out and take me away because nothing looked good and nobody said a word. It was far too serious to be funny. After that he came up to me and said, "Follow me." We walk through the channel that says DIPLOMATS, VIPS. I am still unsure then we approach these offices; the guy says, "Wait here." He goes along to these offices and comes out with a dude wearing a suit and looking far to official for my liking. Then he says, "Are you TOMMY CARRUTHERS?" I hesitate then say, "hmm YES". He shakes my hand and says good to meet you then we walk down the stairs. This guy is still holding my passport he tells me to get my luggage which I do, then he said, "Ok follow me." I'm still thinking what the bloody hells going on then he stops and holds out his hand, shakes mine and says, "Welcome to Egypt" and then he gives me my passport back. Then I sigh, HOLY FUCK I AM FREE. YOU KNOW IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS YOUR MIND REALLY DOES THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING. COULD THESE GUYS HAVE ME MIXED UP WITH SOMEBODY ELSE? DO THEY THINK I AM A SPY? EVERYTHING GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND. SO I GO OUT OF THE LUGAGE HALL AND SEE MY GUYS OUT THERE WAITING FOR ME; THAT'S A RELIEF. I tell Wally about this then he tells me he has friends there. I wish he would have told me because I nearly had a movement in my drawers and that's rather messy when you have to meet somebody ha ha. Stage one, done; getting there.
Next, stage two; getting to the hotel. Well stage two is more dangerous than stage one. If you have been to Egypt then you know what am talking about; DRIVING. It's MAD, totally MAD. It's driving with no rules and do as you want. I know one of my ex students, JOHN MALLANEY WOULD LOVE IT IN EGYPT BECAUSE JOHN DRIVES HERE WITH NO RULES; I WAS IN HIS CAR TWICE AND I HAD MORE GREY HAIRS IN 30 MINUTES THAN I HAVE HAD IN 51 YRS OF MY LIFE. JOHN IF YOUR READING THIS GO THERE FOR A WEEK AND HIRE A CAR, YOU MAY NEVER COME BACK BECAUSE THE DRIVING YOU WOULD LOVE; TRAFFIC LIGHTS WELL, STOP IF YOUR A WIMP. I could write this entire article about the driving, but I need to move on; stage two done, lived through that.
We got to the hotel I can only say one word; amazing. It was a large complex pool and everything, very large indeed. That's always my biggest worry; where am I staying. After that, it's will I be paid. Anyway, we went to teach at the school; there was maybe 30 to 40 folk there. Like everything else when you teach, the best approach is to go with the theme that they don't know anything about JKD; then if they do you can progress much faster. So, I started working on footwork and stepping 360. After that, I taught kicking, 360 attack, then defend as the opponent approaches you, then combinations of each attack then defend, and defend then attack. It takes me about a minute to type the last 5 or 6 lines but to teach this takes 4 or 5 hrs; breaking it down then building it up. Wally was translating some parts for me so that we could move faster because I had a time scale and plan so that I made a point of covering it all. So, day one was completed.
Day day two was punching 360. These drills or exercises are great for training right, left, and angles and for multiple opponents. We trained attack then counter and then added the feet to it. After that we went from feet attack to hands follow up, then from hands attack to feet follow up, then feet counter to hands follow up, then hands counter to feet follow up using footwork and working from stance to neutral. We did everything that was on my list. So, in closing I had 30 minutes to spare; so, I taught some of the crash system. This is my own version of military unarmed combat based on the principals of JKD, simplicity, directness and economy of movement. Naturally, a lot of the things we do in JKD we do use in the battlefield because troops do not have the luxury of spending a lot of time training on something; so its got to be so easy to remember and simple to use. It's based on two things; kill or restrain, and two movements. It was very strange because the guys really loved this. Well, it's the first time I have taught this outside of my school, but it was a good trial to see the reaction of folk. The day after, we went to the museum in Cairo to see the mummies and all the artifacts of ancient Egypt. In a few words, "fucking amazing". That's all I can say. My guide Mustafa AKA Mike, of which I gave him this name took me to all the sites and looked after me. When we went to pyramids the temperature was so hot. It was so hot it was funny because we're not used to such heat. Then, it got warmer and it wasn't that funny. When you see the pyramids they don't look that big, but when you go up to them they're massive. The one thing you think about when you look up there is how the hell did they get those blocks of stone up there. So, before you tell me that it was aliens who did it, I said the same thing to Mike. He told me, "Tommy aliens didn't get the stones up there, it was a shit load of folk that did it; but, it was aliens who told them how to do it." NO, IT WASN'T. Ok, how did they do it then Mike goes on to explain about ramps, logs, ropes and brute force. Aside from that they're amazing. We walk over to one of the smaller ones and went inside of it where we crawled for ages down a ramp. It was a bit how could I say... well it made you feel uneasy when you got into the burial chamber. Both of us were ringing with sweat. When we got out I said to mike, "Ok man I could murder a cold beer." He said, "NEVER TRIED IT." What never tried it? Well you don't know what your missing. It's like the best thing in the world. JUST THINK ABOUT THE CLASSIC BRITISH MOVIE, ICE COLD IN ALEX, SITTING AT THE BAR AT THE END OF THE MOVIE AFTER GOING THROUGH THE DESERT AND LOOKING FORWARD TO A NICE COLD BEER. But, for me that wasn't happening because it was a bit difficult to get a beer there. The pyramids and Sphinx are just amazing to say the least. My guide Mike told me the story about the Sphinx's nose and beard was suppose to have been shot of by Napoleon, but I can't remember if that is fact or not.
Anyway an amazing time some really true folk who are so helpful and friendly and who looked after me so well. So, if I don't mention their name it has nothing to do with I don't remember them, it's not the case; it's I don't recall their names but faces I won't forget. To the host WALLED ARAFFATR or Wally as I call him, ALSO THOMAS, teamor I know that's not the correct spelling but that's what his name sounded like, and to JIM MY ASSISTANT that I used to demo the stuff, and to the others that helped me and made me feel at home and to Mike who helped me cross the road which is the single most dangerous thing there apart from driving. Also, for his time and patience in telling me the history of the Sphinx and the pyramids of which I still think were made by aliens because they're far to well built to be made by 5,000 yr old man. 5,000 yrs ago in Scotland we were staying in caves; maybe even 5,000 yrs ago nobody lived this far up in the country. I wonder why folk would want to come up here from the south to a place that's cold wet and damp. Well they call it GODS COUNTRY because just after he made it he said to himself, "MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE". Anyway, another place, another group and another bunch of so nice folk. EGYPT MAY 2010.