Saturday, September 20, 2014

Scottish independence

On Thursday 18th of September 2014, Scots went to the polls to vote for independence from the rest of the UK.  Alex Salmond MSP has been fighting for independence for decades and at last, he got what he asked for.

On Friday the 19th September, the results came in.  The Scots voted No.  It was quite ironic, how a nation who often seemed so bitter about being part of the UK, voted to remain in the union.  That's 55% over 45% who voted Yes.

The whole thing was a waste of public time and money.  But it had to be done, because Britain is a democracy and the will of the people have to be respected.  That done, we can all now get on with our lives. Is there ever going to be a role for Alex Salmond to play, after all, his existence was about independence and his whole career was that and nothing else.  I sometimes wonder if it was ever about the benefit of Scots to be an independent nation.  He clearly wanted to be the leader of Scots, but he had nothing else to offer anybody.  His policies were laced with untruths and sums that didn't add up.  Forget about the oil reserves (which have been slowly dwindling for decades) and the lack of currency (how naive can a grown man be).  There was never an answer regarding employment opportunities.  And why do so many Scots move south of the border to seek employment?

Friday, May 9, 2014

I don't believe that _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is practical or realistic

As somebody who has been training in Taijiquan for a number of years,  have often heard, read or watch material that doubt the very existence of Taijiquan.  People have the right to express their opinions, but they also have to be responsible for what they write or present.  All too often, people say how pretty Taijiquan looks, but at the end of it all, doubt all reason as to how it can be a martial art at all.  After all, it does not fit in what they perceive as martial arts.  There isn't a Bruce Lee factor and everything is too slow.  People who say things like this often have very little knowledge or insight on the very little subject they talk about.  Taijiquan forms are performed in one way, but applications are done in another.  But is like religion and spirituality, because until you have been there, you really wouldn't know.

Recently, I have developed an interest in Aikido and Iaido, both are traditional martial arts, but there is little on harming or hurting people.  Here are two martial arts that are about cultivating you to be a better person.  People are often surprised to find that Iaido is not about killing somebody with a sword, rather than it is about perfection and meditation, Zen.  Aikido is non-competitive and there are no proper attacks, only defence and counter-attacks.  Moves are taught to be done in a certain way and your throw and lock your partner in certain ways.  Because of this, a lot of people pass off Aikido as no a real martial art or that it isn't realistic or practical.

However, realism and how one perceives something to be practical, is based on one's point of view.  A lot of traditional martial arts teach partner work and applications, but these are always in a controlled manner.  For example, you punch me, I deflect and punch you back.  That sort of thing.  However, these are examples used to demonstrate the nature and the theory of the application.  This isn't sparring or combat.  This isn't real, this is textbook and a real brawl on the streets will not be like this.  In real life, one application may not be followed by another as prescribed in the form.  In real life and not much is predicable.

One example is in competition pushing hands that we have in Taijiquan.  Players may use a number of techniques and you have to counter and win.  It is probably the most physically demanding thing in Taijiquan before you try full contact, which is probably the ultimate test of your practical abilities.  Again, is this realistic and practical.  In a way yes, but at the end of the day, nothing really prepares you for real combat, apart from experience and exposure in that sort of environment.  Therefore it is futile and naive to say that Taijiquan and Aikido are useless, because you can't use it for cage fighting or MMA.  It doesn't really matter which style of martial arts you use.  Everything depends on the situation, how you respond and also importantly the techniques used.  Therefore, it is not a matter of style, but of skill.  Traditional martial arts isn't and was never about what people perceive it to be.   But how realistic is cage fighting and MMA?  If you are that good with your MMA, why don't you go to  Afghanistan and be in a real fight?

Would 5000 years of Eastern wisdom be wrong at a drop of a hat?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tai Ch Open, Oxford, April 2014

I competed at this years Tai Chi Open.  Considering how sick I was last year.  I wasn't originally thinking of competing as I thought I wasn't going t o be well enough.  Then I decided I will just to hand forms.  As I got a little better I decided to do weapons as well.  By March, I ended up signing to compete in five categories.  It is probably more than I could chew, but it was not just about medals, but to show I am ready to get back out there.

It was a mixed bag in terms of results.  My hand forms were better than they ever were, but missed out on medals.  The competition was tough.  I messed up my sabre form and I got the points I deserved.  I did get a bronze medal for Tai Chi spear.  Finally, my best form and I got a medal for it.  At least it was something to bring home and it wasn't because it was an easy category with four competitors, but it meant something to me for my efforts, all things considered.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kodo Concert, Brighton, 2014

I have only been to two concerts in my life.  Strange but true.  The first was the Eagles back in 1996 and the second was Kodo.  I knew of Kodo the Japanese taiku drumming troupe for many years, but never really listened them properly.  I have always liked the sound of large drums and this was further deepened by lion dancing culture.  The sound of large drums inspires and motivates me.  I have long found that popular music doesn't appeal to me and over the years, I have discovered a like for traditional folk music.

It was late last year, when I started to develop a taste for Japanese taiku drumming.  I've always admired the Japanese spirit when it comes to perfection and it was a time when I wanted to find music that moved me.  Kodo does that and I listen to them when I train.  Kodo isn't just about drums, they also include in their repertoire, flute, string instrument such as the shamisen and dancing.  So when I found out that they were touring he UK, I had to go.

People often say that Kodo are brilliant performers and always impress.  They aren't wrong, the power and the passion is quite something.  Whilst only about a third of the group came on tour, it was a two hour show.  There was sufficient variety, but my favourite part was the O-Daiku.  This a a giant size drum made from a large tree trunk.  It takes a man of much strength to create the sound that does it justice.  Every player pours his heart and soul into that performance and it shows.  I was thoroughly impressed and I will intend to see them again.  10/10

Friday, February 21, 2014

HK trip 2014

I went back to HK for Chinese New Year this year.  Time to see family and some shopping.  I haven't been back to HK since September 2012.  Last year, I was unwell, so it wouldn't have been a good idea.  HK hasn't changed much.  However it isn't the same as how it used to be.  The general mood is that HK'ers aren't generally getting on with those from the mainland.  I am on their side.  As much as I love and respect my culture and heritage.  Chinese tourist from the mainland are a challenged.  Rare are a group of tourists that are both loved (for the money they may spend) and hated (for their very poor behaviour, lack of common decency and rudeness).  They are now everywhere in HK.  What may have been a cheap place for locals to enjoy, are now stuffed full of mainland tourists eager to have their bit.  I am all for better and closer relations with the mainland, but there has to be mutual respect.  And now they can be found in many of the large European cities, either as tourist or those that came here as political refuges (economic more like).

I have been to everywhere in HK, so it was nice to go hiking and go to place not often visited, like the hike up Victoria Peak.  It will be a while before I go back again.  But HK is a resilient place, and despite what mainlanders think, the normal HK way of life will go on.  You can force changes to certain things, but push too hard and things will crumble.  The Chinese Central Government is wiser than that of Russia.  It is unlikely military force will be used.  They know that HK'ers aren't happy and they do car what the press and outsiders see and say.