22 Nov 2005

Baby Meerkat was born 18th Nov 2005, 11.40pm weighting 6lb9oz. Her official name is Aimee Yang. Meerkat and Mrs Meerkat are so exhausted it is unbelievable. But she is a joyous little thing.
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Words cannot describe the pain and torture giving birth is. Sorry to be frank, but Mrs M went through a torrid time. But she is recovering, albeit slowly.

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Meerkat is yet to sleep more than two hours in a row in 5 days. Welcome to parenthood. Tougher than a black belt, harder than the cage.

Baby Meerkat is born!

Baby Meerkat was born 18th Nov 2005, 11.40pm weighting 6lb9oz. Her official name is Aimee Yang. Meerkat and Mrs Meerkat are so exhausted it ...

15 Nov 2005

More details on our intrepid competitors at this year's Jikishin Ju-Jitsu tournament:

Ben, fought Andy Walker, the eventual winner, in his opening bout of the men's sparring and lost narrowly, one judge scoring in his favour, the other 2 against. Ben says that he is 'well chuffed' that he managed to compete and measure up against one of the best fighters in the whole tournament.

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Ben with Peter

Aubrey - had a by in his first round but had to fight two more opponents before reaching the final, where he met Andy Walker and lost narrowly, but gained a silver for his efforts. In one of his earlier rounds, a successful takedown by Aubrey unfortunately got the better of his opponent who required medical attention. Luckily it was just a bad dose of being winded and he was eventually fine .

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Aubrey, slightly obscured by the referee who looks like Sensei Brian Herbert.

In all bouts both Aubrey and Ben repeatedly managed to effect the shoot, clinch and takedown drills I had shown them and this aspect particularly pleased me. It has taken me a long, long time to figure this out as the missing key to our stand-up sparring knowledge. Gone are the days of wildly flailing arms and legs in the hope of winning. Strategy and tactics are the most important aspect to our style of stand-up fighting. My personal thanks for this vital bit of knowledge must go to my BJJ and MMA instructor Eddie, and also to the many cage fighters I have been privileged to enjoy watching at MMA fights. Hopefully next year, as my knowledge grows, I can even better prepare our next crop of young fighters in 2006.

On to David, who for the second year made his mark on random attacks. Sensei Steph,who watched his performance very closely, commented that his attempts were very good and very little could be separated between him and his opponent. The decision eventually did not go to David, but he later said: 'I am very pleased and really enjoyed it. I was much better than last year because I learned to relax, which enabled me to perform the self-defence techniques much more fluidly.'

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David, relaxed

Steph, finally won Gold after numerous attempts in previous years. Always the bridesmaid no longer as she won her bout against a formidable opponent convincingly. Steph says that she specifically went for a tactical approach, exactly as Ben and Aubrey had been doing - of waiting to shoot, clinch then takedown the opponent. Yet again, I am pleased to say, the approach was clearly a winning one, I am very pleased for her.

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Steph, judging

More and more I believe that, whilst competing in tournaments might not be for all, the ability to spar at both stand-up and on the ground regularly is a vital aspect of learning ju-jitsu, and one I shall be encouraging more at the club over the coming year.

Southend 2005

More details on our intrepid competitors at this year's Jikishin Ju-Jitsu tournament: Ben, fought Andy Walker, the eventual winner, in ...

12 Nov 2005

Results from the Jikishin Tournament 2005:
Aubrey St-Louis wins Silver in the men's sparring!!
Steph Mindel wins Gold in women's sparring.!!

I'm very pleased for all our competitors, including Ben in the sparring and David in the random attacks. It takes a lot of guts, will power and determination to stand on the mat in front of a noisy audience, and against an unknown opponent. All one can do to prepare is to make sure that you train properly and cover all angles. I'm pleased that we managed to do at least that. But the result is more than just about the medals, it is about growing and developing as a martial artist so that in years to come, you can say you were able to stand up and test yourself.

I hope to get a more detailed report soon, right now though, my mind is on other things...when is this baby ever going to get born?????

...STOP PRESS

Results from the Jikishin Tournament 2005: Aubrey St-Louis wins Silver in the men's sparring!! Steph Mindel wins Gold in women's sp...

1 Nov 2005

Last night at BJJ class during end of session sparring, one lad had an epileptic seizure. At first no one knew what was going on as he lurched around the mat arms held infront and fitting uncontrollably. The man he was sparring with freaked out thinking something he did caused the seizure (he didn’t). He soon went to the ground aided by a couple of people and the seizure stopped, though he was some time coming round back to consciousness. The whole class stopped, some seemed to be quite shocked and shout out totally inappropriate advise – like throw a bottle of water over him (to revive him), or pinch his finger (to stop him choking on vomit????). Eddie, and a couple of us basically just sat with him to make sure his vital signs were still ok. He was still breathing, and his skin colour was normal so it seemed there was not much more to do other than wait. The one thing I should have kept track of but forgot was to measure his pulse. Finally he came to and looked a bit dazed and confused but otherwise ok. I am sure it was not his first seizure and he was naughty not to mention his medical condition to Eddie on his application form. But he seemed ok and was driven home. The incident brought home to me the thought that when training or teaching a class of twenty, thirty individuals, there is always a chance there will be someone with a serious medical condition. He/she may or may not disclose this information so it is up to the instructor and other around to be aware and react properly.

Dojo news – I’m hoping our entries to this year’s big JJ tournament at Southend will do well. Two of us, Ben and Aubrey will enter the sparring and I have high hopes as they are very able fighters. One thing I have been drilling with them is to work the shoot and clinch. This type of drill is fairly new to us, though of course it is as old as wrestling, but since I have been training BJJ and a little MMA, I see how important it is. In many ways, it has allowed me to see the light. In previous sparring tournaments, I would kick, and punch, and then rush in for a syllabus style throw. Always without success. It is not that the throw was wrong or my technique, it is the context. In sport JJ, syllabus throws are not effective. In self defence, gloves off and anything allowed, I believe they work as desgined. So, in sport, with good timing, an effective grappling style shoot and clinch should allow tori to throw or takedown the uke with ease. We’ll see if my methods allow Imperial another haul of medals this year.
Our hopes also rest on David, who is entering random attacks this year. As a brown belt, the stakes are raised yet again. Good luck to all our crew.
BTW Meerkat is not competing this year since mini-Meerkat may be born any time soon so I don’t want to risk missing the vital call!!

Medically speaking

Last night at BJJ class during end of session sparring, one lad had an epileptic seizure. At first no one knew what was going on as he lurch...

18 Oct 2005

Move over Meerkat, there is a new kid in town. Literally!
Last night, Meerkat was rolling with the youngest member of the BJJ club – 16 year old KJ. Not only young, but very light, yes, lighter even than the Meerkat. KJ is a fast learner but in 6 or so months, he has excelled in his assimilation of BJJ and can hold his own against the bigger lads. Last night, I got him in a fairly vicious guillotine choke (reverse headlock) but he didn’t panic, just thought his way through and managed to unwind it, then whipped round my back, grabbed the collar and Boom! Got me with a lapel collar choke from the back. I tapped out rather reluctantly.
Now most people would feel pretty bad about tapping out to someone half his age and fraction of his size, but I was happy for KJ. We both used solid technique and a little improvisation to deal with the problems and he won fair and square. Next time though, I know not be put in that position again, so even though I lost, I have gained in knowledge and will improve.
But I sure envy being 16 and doing BJJ.

No longer smallest, nor deadliest

Move over Meerkat, there is a new kid in town. Literally! Last night, Meerkat was rolling with the youngest member of the BJJ club – 16 year...

26 Sep 2005

Battered, bruised but buzzing with excitement, Meerkat spent a second day demonstrating BJJ and MMA at the ExCel centre. Here are the promised pictures:

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Cheers to Ed for a memorable occassion.

Rumble in the Dock(lands)

Battered, bruised but buzzing with excitement, Meerkat spent a second day demonstrating BJJ and MMA at the ExCel centre. Here are the promi...

24 Sep 2005

Boy oh boy! What just happened? One minute I'm at home, next, I'm whisked off to the Excel Centre in Docklands and fighting in the cage in front of an expectant crowd.

This Saturday I joined BJJ instructor Eddie and the rest of the gang to the very first 'Weekend at Dave's' themed exhibition. Sponsored by Fosters and the lads mag 'Nuts' the venue was packed full of everything lad, from hot cars, to hot chicks. And I mean DAMN hot. Everywhere you looked, glamour models and PR girls were flaunting their wares. None of us knew where to look, it was all, so, erm, distracting.

Anyhow, back to the cage. There it was, in all it's blood splattered glory, the famous Cage Rage ring. Our gang was to give the public a demonstratrion of BJJ and MMA. After a warm up, we spent the next half an hour just following techniques that Eddie showed us. The crowd ambled by, not really showing much interest. Then, after the technical class, Eddie paired us up for sparring, one-one-one in the ring. Me and Adam got off to a flying start, a blur of adrenalin pumped kimonos, arms and legs. It probably looked scrappy, but me and Adam always go at it like a ton when sparring. I managed some sweet escapes and turnovers but eventually he caught me with an armbar and then it was over. I couldn't believe how quickly the adrenalin dump hit me. during normal class, sparring is no problem, but in front of a crowd, suddenly funny things happen. Other members were paired up and they seemed to do very well, I hope our demo impressed the audience.

Next came the MMA part of our demonstration. It was straight into sparring as we were again paired up. The 'Lizard' demonstrated just why he loves it in the cage. A storming cage fight with the big Romanian Remus, the growing crowd seemed to really enjoy the show and cheered loudly. I was next and again paired with Adam and after a shaky start, I managed to throw a few frankly useless punches and kicks. Adam took me to the ground and worked another armbar. Boohoo, game over almost as soon as it finished. At the end Adam finally and deservedly was awarded his blue belt. Thank goodness for that cos he nearly always subs me and frankly its embarassing to lose all the time to a white belt.

So there you go, Meerkat gets his first taste of cage fighting in public and I must say, despite my rather tragic performance, I really really enjoyed the buzz of fighting. There is another chance to demo our skills tomorrow. I just hope I am not too distracted from the buxom eye candy everywhere. If I do, Mrs Meerkat, who has offered to come with me, wil certainly have something to say about that.

Photos to come soon.

Meerkat in the CAGE!

Boy oh boy! What just happened? One minute I'm at home, next, I'm whisked off to the Excel Centre in Docklands and fighting in the c...

21 Sep 2005

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Jumping head scissors…flying armbars….body wheel…triple spinning, jumping crescent kicks…and many more. These were some of the techniques shown to us privileged club members when our head of association (BH) came to take the mat last Tuesday. It was a virtuoso display of ju-jitsu. Some were staple, but many were jaw-dropping, all taught to a supreme standard. I was worried that a lot of the beginners and novices were a little taken aback by these advanced techniques but I was happily proved wrong as everyone seemed to get the hang of them.
I had the unenviable task of being uke for BH and all I seem to remember was being spun around head over heels in all directions. When BH demonstrated a kicking drill, I got an evil dead-leg and collapsed under the strain. And this was from him just tapping my thigh with his kicks!
Quite a lot of ground techniques were covered. I am particularly pleased that this was so as it gave further vindication, if any were needed, that ground techniques and sparring is the way to go for students of ju-jitsu. BH also showed, for the first time, a new addition to the white belt kata which involved an additional series of kicks and left handed defences. One that will take a while to master I am sure.It was definitely a fun and eye-opening experience for our top sensei to visit us and one I hope to repeat again soon.

Jumping head, Flying scissors

Jumping head scissors…flying armbars….body wheel…triple spinning, jumping crescent kicks…and many more. These were some of the techniques s...

13 Sep 2005

I had been eagerly anticipating Cage rage 13. I think that I am now officially hooked onto MMA. And the latest show at Wembley did not disappoint. There were a number of excellent fights, several TKO and subs and one outstanding finale. On a personal note, it was great to see BJJ club members Brad and Ramos fight. Brad won with a blistering stand-up game and Ramos made a respectable debut against a much more experienced opponent and with only two weeks notice.
But the highlight for me was watching Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribero defeat Jean 'White Bear' Silva. I saw Vitor in the last Cage Rage (12) and was gobsmacked at his supreme skill at the ground game. Well, he excelled himself this time and kind of made mincemeat of Silva, himself a very experienced fighter. For me, the joy in watching a master like Vitor fight is the fact that his brand of BJJ and ground work negated any need for reckless punching and kicking. It was a technical master class and one I was glad to have spectated at close hand.
Finally, the promo video of the night must surely have gone to 'Cyborg'. A Brazilian fighter who only spoke three words of English, and they were the meanest words you will ever hear in your life. As this is a family blog, I will leave you to figure that one out yourself, suffice to say it was the WAY he said that half scared the crowd, half made them love this pitbull of a fighter.
I look forward to CR14 in December.

Raging in the cage

I had been eagerly anticipating Cage rage 13. I think that I am now officially hooked onto MMA. And the latest show at Wembley did not disap...

7 Sep 2005

Last night's JJ class was one of the best I have ever had the privilege to run. As it was the session after the grading, I thought we would do something a little different and devised a mini-tournament, dubbed 'The IJJC Sports Day'. Two teams were picked by brown belt team captains, David and John. Each participant had to compete in one of four different categories. I made sure there was something for everyone, from the crash and bang of sparring to the red-faced choking of groundfighting. There was also more sedate but no less skilled categories of random attack and syllabus demo. Red verses blue teams battled it out and the atmosphere was very good with each team cheering on their competitor. It was pretty much neck and neck all the way but in the end, blue team won thanks to a good groundfighting match between David and John. Props should go to man of the match Aubrey for a stunning display of sparring skill. We are all still mentally rewinding the amazing leg sweep that sent poor Charles flying. I'm glad the event went smoothly and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I look forward to IJJC sports day #2 soon.

In BJJ class, we are currently visited by a Brazilian cage fighter and BJJ purple belt Henrique 'Lagartixa' Santana. His fight name translates to the Lizard but after five minutes of sparring with him, he was more like a Komodo Dragon! Let me see, I remember shaking hands and then grabbing his gi lapel, the next thing I knew, he put me in a armbar never to escape. It took what must be one second for him to submit me. A club record surely. I fared little better as we continued. The lizard producing a seasoned repertoire of BJJ subs against me while I struggled like a small worm desperately avoiding being gobbled up. It was a great experience since advanced BJJ students are hard to come by. I look forward to more tangles as the Lizard teaches the Meerkat more punishing lessons from Brazil.

Finally, a shout out to club regular Effie, who has given up her job to train for the forthcoming Winter Olympics. Good luck!

No egg and spoon race

Last night's JJ class was one of the best I have ever had the privilege to run. As it was the session after the grading, I thought we wo...

17 Aug 2005

The first of the series of seminar extravanganzas was held last night at our club - Eddie and club regular Richard kindly came down to offer our members some BJJ techniques. For many of the 20 or so members that came down, it was quite an eye opener and from the look of rapt concentration on everyone's faces, it appears to have gone down a storm.

We had talked previously about what techniques Eddie would be doing, but in the end, he taught a sequence of mount submissions and guard sweeps that were along the lines of what we know in our syllabus, but modified to be used against a resisting opponent. They were fairly basic but the technical adeptness needed to perform some of them were what made the difference between a failed technique and a successful one.

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I seem to get the hang of it!!


Despite some similarities between the two styles of ju-jitsu, there were obvious differences - an amusing one being the way our club formally lines up and performs a respectful rei to our instructor (sometimes with an added 'ooss', or 'yes sensei'!!). This was amusing because BJJ clubs simply do not have any of this type of formality and it seemed to slightly embarrass our guests. But if things are going to be done, I think it was right for us to go about them in the way we know best. Crucially, throughout the seminar, Eddie was keen to point out the self-defence applications of the many techniques he showed. BJJ is a great sport, but also an important platform for self defence, or self protection as we prefer to call it, whilst on the ground.

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Eddie demonstrates a technique on Richard


All in all, a very worthwhile seminar and one I am proud to have hosted for the benefit of our members. One regular reader of my blogs has posted his views here, saying that in the USA, such seminars rarely, if ever happen, due to self interest and the worry that they will lose students if they see a better art. For me, this has never been a concern. If anything, you will gain the respect of your students if they can see that we are open to outside ideas, whilst still maintaining the integrety of our base art. BJJ is no different, in many respects to traditional jiu-jitsu. ie the idea of not using power or strength to defeat an opponent. Only the manner in which it is practised is the difference. And one we should all learn from.

Next seminar to come, the head of our association will make his debut on our mats in September. Another session definitely not to be missed.

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Aubrey finds the funny side

A taste of Brazil

The first of the series of seminar extravanganzas was held last night at our club - Eddie and club regular Richard kindly came down to offer...

3 Aug 2005

One of the joys of running your own club is the feeling of spirit and community. Not only with one’s fellow members, but with the martial arts community in general. If you attend another style or totally different MA and mention that you already run a club, you get treated differently. It is only a small and subtle difference in tone of voice of mannerism but generally, my other instructors seem happy that another instructor has chosen to learn from them. I too fall into that category since one or two of my club students also do another MA at a very high level but still find it beneficial to learn from me. It is a humbling experience.
Going back to the community spirit thought – one of the things I love doing is making friends with other instructors and asking if they would give us a seminar. I like the idea of opening doors and opening minds so that our members get to experience and practice stuff outside the immediate circle. Last year, we had a very successful and much praised Systema seminar. Over the next couple of months, I am hosting seminars from: my BJJ instructor, our head of association, our friends at Mill Hill and hopefully, my old sensei from Kent. You cannot fail to learn something valuable at seminars. The benefit of having one in the club environment is intimacy – in a big sports hall with hundreds of jitsuka it can be very hard to follow everything.
So, our little club looks forward to the arrival of our esteemed guests and Meerkat will report on how each one goes here on this weblog.

Special guests

One of the joys of running your own club is the feeling of spirit and community. Not only with one’s fellow members, but with the martial ar...

23 Jul 2005

It's been a strange old time this week. More terror attacks and drama on London as bombers strike again. Shootings, raids etc. It seems the bombers have done their worst to scare us and now, most people just shrug their shoulders and get on with life.

And life, for the Meerkat this week has revolved solely around BJJ. With Prof David Adiv making a rare visit to the UK, Meerkat took the opportunity to train with both David and black belt protoge Rosendo Diaz. These guys are truly at the pinnacle of BJJ in the world. They hold more knowledge and skill in their little fingernail than we could ever imagine. Half the chaps who trained with Rosendo last night were still beaming with gigantic grins. I too was beaming that I had obtained a few small but exceedingly valuable marbles of technical wisdom from Mr Adiv.
All in all, a fascinating and educational trip, made all the more worthwhile with the presentation of a blue belt by David to me. To top that, Eddie received his well deserved brown belt - he is now one of only a small handful of senior British BJJ instructors in the UK.

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Top left to right - Richard, Jonathan, small but dangerous me, Gary, Brian.
Bottom - David Adiv, Eddie Kone, Rosendo Diaz.

All blue

It's been a strange old time this week. More terror attacks and drama on London as bombers strike again. Shootings, raids etc. It seems ...

10 Jul 2005

A dark time in Meerkat world the past few days.
The London bombings last week have been an upsetting episode. Me and Mrs were close to Liverpool street around the time of the attacks. We extend our sympathies to those who suffered in the attacks.

Today at our JJ seminar, I threw a 15 stone brown belt and he landed bang onto his shoulder and nearly broke him. He was in such agony but refused medical attention. I felt terrible. Throughout the session I kept thinking 'This fella is big and I am going to get injured, I know it' but obviously it was him not me that got the injury bug. He sat the rest of the session rather forlornly with his arm strapped up, I suspect it will ruin his preparations for shodan grading.

To end my depressing week, just now I have come home to a scene outside my house. Some kid on a motorcycle crashed into a metal fence and flew head over heals over the fence. It made such a noise that everyone in the houses ran outside to see what happened. The paramedics were swiftly onto the scene but the kid was in a real bad way. One look at the metal fence and what remained of his bike and you could see he was speeding big time (in a quiet 20mph zone) - all the motorbike kids roundhere do it, it's a miracle no one got hurt before.

So Meerkat wishes all those who are injured this week a speedy recovery and justice to those that mean us harm.

Justice

A dark time in Meerkat world the past few days. The London bombings last week have been an upsetting episode. Me and Mrs were close to Liver...

6 Jul 2005

Meerkat has been suffering from a swollen ear for the past week. My ears must have got stuck during sparring when in various states of being headlocked. They are seriously red, swollen and very sore. One colleague at BJJ is quite annoyed at the bashing his own ears are getting so will be wearing a rugby style ear protectors. This serves a double purpose of protecting against cauliflower ear, and making him look like a seasoned pro, though may also make him look a tad silly. I am debating upon whether or not to wear one.

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The Meerkat’s JJ club had five surprise newcomers pop in last night. Surprise because it is usual for beginners to contact me first so I can prepare for them, but nevertheless they turned up and it was a good session. I am now getting quite a few members who have trained in other ju-jitsu styles – some of them to a very high level. I used to wonder what my little club could offer them, but they seem pretty happy training here and I’m flattered they continue to come. It is certainly true that an instructor can learn just as much from his students as they learn from him.

Cauliflower pain

Meerkat has been suffering from a swollen ear for the past week. My ears must have got stuck during sparring when in various states of being...

4 Jul 2005

I attended my first ever cage fighting show this weekend. So far I have ignored MMA as it seems rather brutish. But I have to say, it was a great show. There was considerable skill and talent on view. Yes, there was blood, yes there was a knockout that the squeamish may wish to avoid seeing, but overall, it was the skilled groundfighting abilities of those that train in BJJ that seemed to win the day. Of the 12 or so fights, at least 5 won by armbar and another 2 or 3 from choke. BJJ club regular Brad ‘one punch’ Pickett defied expectations by not living up to his name. Instead, the featherweight boxer won by submission (something called a corkscrew arm bar). There was also a huge Brazilian chap fighting. He looked like Jaws from James Bond. No, he was bigger than that. His opponent, big as he was, was no match and lost with a ‘verbal tapout’ – translate that as: HELP!!!
I very much admire the guts and courage it takes for any competitor to get in the Octagon cage. I can understand if armchair punters may not like the ‘boring’ elements (tight close quarter grappling) but it’s all part of the skill and in any case, how many boring time wasting boxing matches have you seen? So MMA deserves to get a wider audience and due respect. The only downer of the day was that my instructor Eddie was supposed to fight but his opponent pulled out at the last minute.
In other news, the Meerkat is awarded yet another stripe to his white belt. It must have been my newly acquired ‘hooks sweep’ from the butterfly, which is quickly turning out to be a favourite of mine. Well, it beats just lying there in closed guard and clinging on for dear life!

Cage Rage 12

I attended my first ever cage fighting show this weekend. So far I have ignored MMA as it seems rather brutish. But I have to say, it was a ...

29 Jun 2005

Meerkat is back from holiday, refreshed and ready for action. Or so one thought until I embarked on my first BJJ training after a two week absence. Boy! all that Greek food and lazing on the beach must have killed my fitness cos I was wasted after just one spar. The ankle and elbow is still niggling though and I was heavily strapped with neoprene.

Mrs Meerkat's pregnancy is in full swing. 20 weeks old and still growing. Things are fine for me to continue my usual training at present, but I can't help wondering how much of an impact a baby will be and how much training I will be able to do after she is born. I see a lot of jujitsuka who take a long break or only start training because their kids have now grown up and they have some time on their hands. I would prefer to continue as I am but know this is not practical.
So, Meerkat will simply have to play it by ear and see how it goes. Until then however, it's business as usual.

And that business will climax with a much anticipated visit by BJJ black belt David Adiv - top instructor under Royler Gracie and the man who's name we wear on our BJJ kimonos. A seminar in July has been planned and I cannot wait for it to happen. It would make a nice birthday present and a good way to forget that Meerkat will nearer 40 than 30 years old. Boo hoo!

Business as usual

Meerkat is back from holiday, refreshed and ready for action. Or so one thought until I embarked on my first BJJ training after a two week a...

8 Jun 2005

Our fledgling sister clubs – the women only (WO) club and the Kentish Town (KT) club – have kicked off their tenures with an encouraging start. KT club has been running three weeks now and has attracted a core of regulars averaging around 5 to 6 each week. WO club started last night and the report from Marie Paule was that she had 6 newbies turn up. Which is a great start and hopefully a good base from which to grow. The pressure to succeed is slightly higher with these new clubs due to the start-up costs (mats, licences, insurance, new equipment etc) plus the fact that the rent is quite high. But with an average half dozen turning up each week, this is all one needs to survive.
Meerkat is nursing a double joint injury at present. After 10 months of solid BJJ training, I thought I was lucky not to have sustained any injuries so far. Last week it all came to a head as I received a punishing Americana lock on my arm, plus a rather silly self-inflicted twisted ankle. Time to dust off the neoprene supports as elbow and ankle suffer in pain and mobility. Still, the good news is that our instructor is billed to fight in the cage (Cage Rage in fact) this July. It’s mixed martial arts, not something I am a huge fan of, but it will be cool to see him in action. He promises to reveal some special trademark moves come the big day.

Fledglings

Our fledgling sister clubs – the women only (WO) club and the Kentish Town (KT) club – have kicked off their tenures with an encouraging sta...

27 May 2005

Meerkat spent the day badly driving his white van, as all good white van drivers should, honking horns at arrogant BMW drivers, swerving into the next lane before indicating etc. All in aid of fetching 36 nearly-new dayglo yellow sports mats from their factory in Leighton Buzzard (home of the martial arts mats) down to our dojo. Muchos thanks to our Fire Officer who secured free parking on campus.
So anyway, we laid them out and I had the bright idea of making a two-tone pattern, two rows yellow, one row black. The purpose was to divide the dojo into ‘zones’. The result though made our training room resemble a giant flattened wasp. Worse yet, some of the mats clearly had not stretched due to their newness and awkwardly started to rise upwards so as to look like a speed hump.
Still, these are minor complaints. It is just such a luxury to train on fully fitting training mats that are pleasant to breakfall on, that do not slip under your feet, and do not have holes missing. Oh, and the weird smell from the old mats is gone. They are however, exceedingly bright and after three hours of being in the room, my retina seemed to be permanently cast with a blue haze (the ‘negative’ of course of yellow).Other news: Meerkat gets his third stripe in BJJ class and immediately gets spanked by clubmates. Yep, the age old tradition of a rank promotion is coupled with a serious attempt by fellow club mates to pour cold water on any thoughts of thinking you are any good. I survived the onslaught and even managed to accidentally foot slap the big Ukranian’s face. Luckily he found it amusing cos I was fearful he would crush the Meerkat whilst laughing manically – he is that scary.

In the zone

Meerkat spent the day badly driving his white van, as all good white van drivers should, honking horns at arrogant BMW drivers, swerving int...

22 May 2005

Meerkat attending the debut session at Pete's new dojo on Saturday. All one can say is WOW! Situated in the main exercise studio of LA Fitness, it has all the modcons you expect from a first class fitness gym.
Mirrors all around meant that the Meerkat was too transfixed with the novelty of viewing himself in 360 degree glory, than actually doing any useful ju-jitsu. If that was not enough, through the sliver of glass next to the door one could see all the fancy hardbodies pounding away on the running machines and other contraptions - many of the svelte looking females were very, ahem, distracting to the eye...anyway back to the main point of this blog, suffice to say, the gym is a draw-droppingly fantastic place to host a dojo. They even offer complimentary balls of fluffy cotton wool in the five star changing rooms, what more could you ask for?
My only gripe, well, the new mats are too hard for me, but then I am a wimp when it comes to nice soft landings, so it's a much needed 'slap' of reality to hit the floor with that little give.
Looks like Pete has started off his new venture in a good place and with any luck, the punters will come flocking.

Cotton wool balls

Meerkat attending the debut session at Pete's new dojo on Saturday. All one can say is WOW! Situated in the main exercise studio of LA F...

18 May 2005

The Meerkat had to attend a days coaching seminar to earn his next level of coaching badges. But what I thought was a necessary chore ended up being a delightfully entertaining audience with none other than the man who founded our style of JJ. With over 50 years practising and teaching jujitsu, this man has definitely seen it all – and more.

The seminar was aimed at instructors and those thinking of instructing. The content was a list of do’s and don’ts approved by the BJJA-GB (governing body). What it turned out to be, was a series of personal anecdotes and memoirs by the great man himself. A lot of it funny, some of it poignant – for example, he went through two divorces and lost touch (or fell out with) with his kids and grandchildren – all because of JJ. There was a lot of content about the correct way to deal with vulnerable people – and the not correct way to deal with them. Whatever mistakes have been made in the past, they were usually done by him in the first place and he was there to offer us his advise and wisdom.

It is clear, when you hear from someone who has dedicated his life entirely to one activity, how much personal sacrifice has been involved. But he was happy to point out that JJ offers so much too, such as meeting new friends and partners, progression and personal development, and, maybe, a little extra income if you are lucky too.
The seminar was a humbling and honest account of a life in JJ. It gives people like me, a useful guide for the future. JJ means so much to so many people. I am happy to be a part of the family.

Life, the Universe, and almost everything jujitsu

The Meerkat had to attend a days coaching seminar to earn his next level of coaching badges. But what I thought was a necessary chore ended ...

13 May 2005

An exciting time in Meerkat world at the moment. Obviously the prospect of being a dad tops the cool list. I’m also quite excited about decking out the dojo with brand new mats soon. I could have any colour I want, as long as it is yellow. So yellow it is. Black is SO last year.
Another exciting development is the opening of two new clubs. Pete’s one in Kentish town and Marie-Paule’s women only club in Stoke Newington. Meerkat wishes both ventures the best of luck.
Meerkat has been asked to host a martial arts seminar for gifted children. Every year, the university invites hundreds of children down to a ‘summer camp’. These are only the brightest kids in the country and during the day they will take part in science projects and lectures. They also need social activities during the evening so the organiser thought of our club. I have never taught kids before, but it will be an interesting challenge to come up with a schedule that can capture their attention. I was warned that some of these kids may never have done any real sports or martial arts, preferring instead to stick to the books and computers. But who knows, being gifted children, they’ll probably excel at ju-jitsu too. Though I will probably have to omit the eye-gouging and groin stamps that we so love.

Yellow

An exciting time in Meerkat world at the moment. Obviously the prospect of being a dad tops the cool list. I’m also quite excited about deck...

4 May 2005

The Meerkat is happy to announce that, all paws crossed, a baby meerkat will be on it's way in 6 months time.
Right now, the mini meerkat is cocooned inside a comfy waterworld, as seen here:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
An ultrasound scan only shows one frame. When you see the scan live, you see that the foetus, at 12 weeks, sure does move around a lot! I swear it was already actively practising side and roundhouse kicks aplenty.
A full set of pint sized kobudo weapons and sparring gear awaits the new member of the family, and maybe my vision of building a dojo creche will have to be realised.
I am over the moon about the news and so is Mrs Meerkat but her main concern is trying hard to deal with the debilitating effects of morning sickness. I am assured that no amount of martial arts training can compete with the sheer slog of surviving morning sickness.
More updates soon

Mini meerkat

The Meerkat is happy to announce that, all paws crossed, a baby meerkat will be on it's way in 6 months time. Right now, the mini meerka...

24 Apr 2005

Just got back from SENI 05 - The UK's largest martial arts exhibition and trade show. It was the usual mix of martial arts stores, demonstrations, 'PR' girls and seminars. Top of the bill, in our eyes however, was the Gracie European Invitationals - arguably the top BJJ tournament in the UK.Our BJJ club entered five players - all were BJJ contest virgins, so there was no expectations and nothing to lose, spirits before the competition were high. Our boys on paper did well - two bronze medals and one who got through to the second round. The results however hid a slight sense of disappointment from the team, who all, apart from Brad, lost in their first round fight. Of course, me and the other travelling posse of club supporters did our best to convey the fact that they did marvellously well for their first ever tournament. For players who had not even trained in BJJ for a full year, to hang there against BJJ veterans who have been training for years, is a remarkable achievement. So my hats off to all at the RGDA-UK academy for putting in a valiant effort. Next year, we all agreed, things would be very different.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Apart from the drama of watching your team mates battle it out on the mat. The whole event was very enjoyable and well organised. Yours truly did his best to take some snapshots before being unfairly chucked out the inner zone by the stewards. However, like a good pap, I managed to sneek back in for some action shots with the snazzy D70.
One thing I did not capture, was the appalling scene between one blue belt finalist and the referee. This chap clearly did not expect to lose and when he did, argued in the most heated manner possible over various technicalities that he disagreed on. Taking off his gi top and throwing it down, swearing, finger pointing - it was scenes not unlike the worst you see during a football match. All the way through his tirade of abuse, the ref remained calm and unswerving. It was a good thing that he did, for the ref was none other than Roger Brooking - one of the UK's most senior instructors and, with his rep, not someone to cross swords with.

Other notable matches included a very technical and surprisingly entertaining juniors division, and a small but competitive women's division. There were rumours that our owb instructor was to compete against a brown belt, but the tournament over-ran so the match was cancelled - shame as many of us wanted to see Eddie in action.

Elsewhere, in the exhibition, I saw very cool demos of capoiera, Muay thai (with the evergreen Master Sken), some bizarre Indian martial art dance thing, lots of hot PR girls (well they were nicer to look at than musclely blokes), aikido sparring (thought the two were incompatable) and Royce Gracie. All demonstrated to a very high standard. Well, so would you if you had to perform in front of thousands of, mostly, expert eyes.

Finally, a small note to the Gracie Barra club who all looked like they were devotees of the Millwall supporters club...COME ON THE TRAIN!!!!! You know who you are.
Roll on 2006.

Biting the BJJ tournament cherry

Just got back from SENI 05 - The UK's largest martial arts exhibition and trade show. It was the usual mix of martial arts stores, demon...

21 Apr 2005

Last night we were treated to a two and half hour seminar with our association head (AH) who is a 7th Dan. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion and walked away with a real sense of pride.
It is not uncommon for all practitioners in their art to suffer an occasional dip in form, self-confidence or enthusiasm – it is all part of the learning process. The Meerkat is no stranger to these ‘lows.’ Seminars like the one last night do much to reinvigorate the senses and wake you up to the fact that the martial art you do is pretty damned fine. Everyone needs role models and people to look up to in their lives. When these people show you the amazing potential of the art – you cannot help but be enthused.
True to his word, our AH showed us lots of ground techniques – something he has been keen to promote since taking over the association. Some of it was familiar to me from a BJJ point of view, although with slight variations. There were still lots of techniques I have never encountered before, and I made sure to make a good mental note of them for use in BJJ class!
There were still plenty of 'Old Skool' techniques - still very effective, and painful! Plus one extremely weird trick that some poeple seem to have encountered before but I never have and it was a bit freaky!
Having chatted to the AH in private before. He mentioned he was keen to see more of other clubs and meet members in a more relaxed dojo environment, rather than simply being viewed as the serious looking sensei who barks commands during gradings. I understand his point entirely. At one point in the seminar, I asked a question about a technique and he replied that he didn’t know the answer! Well, if the AH is big enough to admit he didn’t know the answer to my question, then I am impressed. How many people have you met who would rather make up some gobbledy-gook than admit they don’t know the answer to your question (politicians aside). In the end, he did in fact have an answer to my query, which he worked out on an unsuspecting uke. There is a certain aura that surrounds someone of such high calibre, whatever their profession or art – but last night, we were given the chance to meet the more human side of our AH.

Keeping the faith

Last night we were treated to a two and half hour seminar with our association head (AH) who is a 7th Dan. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed t...

18 Apr 2005

Gosh, the Meerkat was blushing with flattery as I was contacted by a TV production company to take part in a new reality tv program. I was chosen to participate in the program as a martial arts instructor to a woman who was training to be a stunt person. Sadly, I declined their offer as I did not think I had what they were looking for. I did however pass them on to my other instructors in BJJ and JJ, it will be exciting to see if they take up the mantle and get themselves on TV!!! And besides, if I WAS on TV, my club mates would NEVER hear the end of it and I would be the most boring meerkat in the world. Still, maybe I should have accepted…

Remember my name....fame!

Gosh, the Meerkat was blushing with flattery as I was contacted by a TV production company to take part in a new reality tv program. I was c...
Went to kobudo training on Saturday and was shocked to learn that our tried and tested tonfa kata had new bits added to it. I was not the only one aghast at having to relearn this simplest of katas. It now has new fancy twirly bits added at the behest of our new association head and it was funny seeing seriously high graded instructors grapple with the twirly bits. The collective clang of dropping tonfa sticks was deafening. I must admit the fuss was really over nothing as after a short period, the new bits eventually came fairly easily to the Meerkats tiny paws. The other new katas I had to learn were not so straightforward and although I kept plugging away repeating the same damn moves, it just wasn’t sinking in. It just goes to show, no matter where you are in your status, the learning from scratch process never gets any easier. Perhaps this is a good thing to remember when one has to teach novices – something that seems effortless and easy to you, may not be so easy to a beginner and only through patience and perseverance will the student get to that level.It’s funny. I used to view weapons training in the same vein as groundfighting – something I had to do occasionally but generally disliked. Now, the more I do them, the better I get and the more I appreciate them. Ju-jitsu is more than just throws and locks and I am starting to see the bigger picture.

Twirly Bits

Went to kobudo training on Saturday and was shocked to learn that our tried and tested tonfa kata had new bits added to it. I was not the on...

30 Mar 2005

One of the more unpleasant aspects of the martial arts is the style versus style debate. You still hear these days that so and so could kick your ass because his style of what-fu is better than your which-jitsu.
One of my BJJ colleagues, who has also trained in Kung Fu for 8 years, told me that he tapped out his Sifu with a triangle choke during sparring in Kung Fu class. This seemed to unsettle him for days since he honestly didn’t think he had the skills to beat his master, plus, he genuinely thought his master’s skills were unassailable and now, somehow, his view of sifu has just ever so slightly been tarnished. So what lessons can be learnt from this anecdote?
Nothing really. My BJJ colleague is a mighty strong fellow and he beats all of us at BJJ class, so it’s no surprise that he beat a non BJJ martial artist. His sifu is still a sifu and nothing changes there. If anyone was at fault, it was my colleague for thinking that his sifu was untouchable.
But it does hint at the notion that some people who swear by one style, should perhaps examine their claims and themselves a little closer – I include BJJ in this.

The first few UFC tournaments, many believed, quashed any doubt about style versus style. It showed that taking an opponent to the ground and working for submission was far superior to the supposedly mythic strikes and kicks of other martial arts. To some extent, this was true. It did expose the weaknesses of certain martial arts. But those who have read the book No Holds Barred, by Clyde Gentry, will understand that the UFC was carefully planned and orchestrated purely to showcase Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The fighters were genuine exponents, but they were perhaps not necessarily the ‘masters’ they were made out to be. Nowadays, mixed martial arts fighters train in all areas, from stand up to the ground. It has ceased to be style versus style and simply person versus person. In a way, UFC did revolutionise martial arts because now they had to take serisouly the threat of knowing how to fight on the ground.

However BJJ has it’s knockers. A quick tour of the forums will quickly reveal those who like to bring it down. But the undeniable fact is that up and down the country, hundreds of very good exponents of traditional martial arts are trying BJJ out for the first time each week and liking it very much. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that BJJ is replacing their art. In most cases, like me, I would say they are cross training in order to compliment their style. For me, it has reaffirmed my belief that sparring against a resisting opponent is an essential component of learning martial arts. It is also a humbling experience to be pinned down and choked out by a person half your size.

That Kung Fu sifu I mentioned earlier sometimes pops down to class and just watches. He is a friendly and open person and heartily agrees that groundwork is important, but he has not made the final leap to actually getting on the mat. For some, the divide is too great. There are years, decades even, of rules, customs, rituals, that have been ingrained into the mind and are very hard to release. To be beaten in sparring by a mere novice is too humiliating for some.

At the end of the day, there should be no debate about style or technique. There is enough choice for people to make up their own minds without all the bitching and immature taunts.

Martial arts is a brotherhood and not a prison. Come join the 'hood.

The Brotherhood of Fighting

One of the more unpleasant aspects of the martial arts is the style versus style debate. You still hear these days that so and so could kick...

4 Mar 2005

There is a secret world out there, a world where shady characters exchange photos, videos and DVDs in exchange for cash. No words are spoken other than to confirm the transaction and names are not divulged. The guilty buyers of these illegal products eagerly rush home to unwrap their purchases and sit in front of the telly or computer for hours.

No, I’m not talking about Michael Jacko style dodgy dealings. I’m talking about the world of pirate BJJ footage – or jitsu-porn – as I like to call it.

Ok, so in a bid to increase my knowledge and understanding of BJJ whilst exercising my couch potato muscles, I found a source who can sell me all manner of BJJ and other martial arts titles. Normally I am averse to using such a system, after all I know full well about copyright, the law and the simple fact that my activities are cheating the very people I admire and look up to in the world of MA. But these DVD’s are hard to come by and damned expensive if you do. Like downloading MP3 files from peer to peer sites, it is illegal and very naughty. But I can’t justify buying the real thing at full price – we’re talking £100 for a 3 DVD set, in some cases, more if you include postage from the States. One way of looking at it is that these DVDs help inspire my training and in turn, helps promote the sport to the wider public. Where else can I view the classic match between 2 Gracie brothers beating the crap out of 2 black belt karate ‘experts’? Where else can I see ‘secret’ footage of real streetfights where BJJ has been used to full effect? Where indeed.

The sad thing is that, like porn or any addiction, the end result is usually an anticlimax. But for some reason, the more you watch, the more you crave new titles since you quickly grow bored of the one previous. Do I actually learn anything? Not really, but it passes the time in a harmless sort of way and maybe, just maybe one or two tricks might filter their way into my brain and onto the mat during sparring. Now, where’s that remote control and spare Kleenex…

Top shelf

There is a secret world out there, a world where shady characters exchange photos, videos and DVDs in exchange for cash. No words are spoken...

24 Feb 2005

I am always curious to hear stories of how ju-jitsu affects people’s daily lives. Club regular Marco told me the story of how ju-jitsu cured him of a recurring nightmare. Each night he would dream of encountering a foe, everytime he tried to speak, nothing came out, and everytime he tried to punch the enemy, all he could muster was a slow and limp wrist. Dream analysts out there might ponder what this all means, but one night, perhaps down to a series of vigorous training sessions, Marco’s nightmare recurred but this time, his voice was loud and clear. He shouted with full force ‘’NO! I KNOW JU-JITSU” and proceeded to punch his assailant with full force. It seemed to be a pivotal moment since it appears that after that night, the dream never came back and Marco was cured. Needless to say, all this nocturnal shouting and punching did wake up the wife.

Dreams come true for some

I am always curious to hear stories of how ju-jitsu affects people’s daily lives. Club regular Marco told me the story of how ju-jitsu cure...

21 Feb 2005

Some more on the story about that ‘geezer’ chap at the Royce Gracie seminar. Turns out that Royce was standing in line at a hotdog stand (so much for the Gracie diet) on the way to the seminar and the guy next to him recognised him. Unable to get away Royce explained that yes it was him and he was on his way to conduct the seminar. The geezer chap asked if he too could join, so Royce, without wanting to say outright NO but at least sound him out, replied that he would need a gi. The geezer chap was rather keen and begged to be allowed to join so Royce said, well I guess I have a spare gi in the car – so the geezer bought it for £90. Then Royce said that it was a closed door seminar and he would have to purchase a ticket too - £60. The Geezer did so without blinking an eye. Now I know that Royce wasn’t joking when, after one of the many outbursts from the guy, he joked that he should have left him behind on the motorway!
Anyway, it’s an amusing story that really only makes sense if you were there at the time. The Geezer was annoying but essentially harmless, just a fan of NHB.

The Meerkat was stunned and shocked to yet again be promoted another rank by Eddie. Two-stripes on the old white belt is not to be sniffed at and means that everyone else in the club will be gunning to take my scalp. But I’m pretty pleased that my commitment to put in some serious mat time has panned out. There is talk amongst us of entering the Gracie European Tournament in April. Gulp! Now we’ll see who’s worthy of a stripe.

Hotdogs

Some more on the story about that ‘geezer’ chap at the Royce Gracie seminar. Turns out that Royce was standing in line at a hotdog stand (so...

15 Feb 2005

Last night Royce Gracie came down to take the mat and it was a great seminar. What amazed me most was two things. Firstly, for a man who makes his living by smashing huge opponents to pieces, he is remarkably devoid of any ego or pretension. Just a normal bloke who is mad about martial arts like the rest of us. He was happy to chat, offer advise and correct our awful technique.
The second thing I really admired was that the techniques he showed us were incredibly simple. They progressed and built up into a nice sequence covering attacks, defences, counters and counters to counters. They could be used in sport BJJ, no rules NHB or self defence. In all the techniques, Royce demonstrated some clever use of the body to lever, fake or manoeuvre the opponent to your advantage. It was priceless stuff but again, nothing here a complete beginner (and there were quite a few non-BJJ students last night) could not perform themselves.

It was also a surreal evening. One chap brought his young son along so there was Royce, a fighting legend explaining the secrets of his mastery, and some little toddler is running around playing Ninja turtles completely oblivious to everything going around. There was also an odd chap that no-one seemed to know. I can only describe him as being a bit of a ‘geezer’ – mixed with a smattering Tourettes - very loud and boisterous. Royce showed great humour by handling his outbursts eloquently. At one point the man took great offence to another in the crowd who appeared to mock him and there was much eyeballing and chest puffing. I don’t know, all this excess testosterone, the calmest man on the mat seemed to be Royce himself!

Anyway, I think I’ve improved a few things thanks to Royce and can take away a couple of nice techniques to add to my slim armoury. I also shamelessly queued up for autographs, photos and branded merchandise like some little kid at a movie premier.
There is talk of getting younger brother, and grappling sensation Royler Gracie down soon – another must-see seminar if that ever happens.

This is one damned happy Meerkat right now.

Meeting a legend

Last night Royce Gracie came down to take the mat and it was a great seminar. What amazed me most was two things. Firstly, for a man who mak...

12 Feb 2005

The Meerkat was involved in an embarrasingly immature tête - à - tête at BJJ class the other day. I was sparring with another novice and locked him up in a nice spider type guard. He got frustrated at this and starting dropping his knee into my ribs. The first time he did this I thought it was maybe an accident and gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he saw the gap and proceeded to do this a total of four times! Now forgive me for stating the bleeding obvious but the rules are quite clear on this...NO STRIKES ALLOWED IN BJJ.
I was so infuriated at his bullying tactics that I screamed abuse and four letter words quite unbecoming of a gentleman. He simply laughed when he saw how much I had lost my rag and even blamed me for not telling him first time. By now I was infuriated and swept him to the ground and rolled him around quite forcefully looking for a killer armlock to teach him a lesson. Luckily he tucked up pretty good. Sitting on a semi-mount position I was still mad but the next thing I knew, he turned his body around to face me and elbowed me in the face. He claimed it was an accident - yeah right - but I was by now a crazy ball of fury so I elbowed him back in the face. I knew that was wrong the moment it happened but I just completely saw red.
I stopped afterwards and took a moment to myself to calm down. He was still smirking with a 'you didn't even touch me' look and when I explained that what he did was bang out of order, he simply shrugged his shoulders and pleaded ignorance of the rules - come on, you don't start BJJ and not know that strikes are disallowed???
Anyway, after I calmed myself down, I apologised for losing my temper and he said he wouldn't do it again, but that it was hard for him to ignore his years of martial arts training (doesn't seem to be a problem for me). Hmmm, I'll wait and see. Luckily for both of us, our little incident was in the far corner of the mat as I don't think Eddie would take too kindly to our moment of disharmony.

The year of the Rooster, which is my birth sign, has certainly started off with a bang. It seems I've been acting recently more like a young fighting cockeral than the ropey old broiler chicken I normally am. There's too much testosterone in the all male grappling club. A cold shower and some soothing TLC from the Mrs I reckon will calm me down.

On Monday - a date with the mighty Royce Gracie - one seminar I cannot wait for.

Handbags at dawn

The Meerkat was involved in an embarrasingly immature tête - à - tête at BJJ class the other day. I was sparring with another novice and loc...

29 Jan 2005

I was given a sad but true reminder yesterday that the real world is not as friendly as the dojo world.
Mrs Meerkat was assaulted on the high street by some loser who decided it was a good idea to smack her on the behind as hard as he could. So hard in fact that people on the street turned to see what that sound was. Mrs M was so incensed she hurled abuse at the scumbag as he walked away. On hearing her scream at him he turned around and tried to physically menace her by walking right up to her eye ball to eye ball. More abuse and some forceful shoving away by Mrs M and he soon realised that she wasn't going to be intimidated, so off he minced, returning the abusive language.
The damned irony was that I was sitting in the car just around the corner, waiting to pick her up at our usual meeting spot, when all of this happened. I had no clue until she ran to the car, eyes welling up with anger and frustration. I'm afriad that the normally cool Meerkat saw red and we spent the best part of the evening trying to hunt down this saddo on the street. Already planning what almighty vengeance I was going to inflict on him.
Luckily for everyone, he couldn't be found and we headed home.

On reflection, I am not sure what my reaction would be if we caught him, other than a very violent and painful beating...clearly over the top and worthy of criminal punishment. I now realise that such as reaction would be wrong, but I saw first hand that adrenaline and emotions can override logic...sometimes.

Real life ain't like the dojo

I was given a sad but true reminder yesterday that the real world is not as friendly as the dojo world. Mrs Meerkat was assaulted on the hi...

26 Jan 2005

It never ceases to amaze that I still encounter new martial arts I
have never heard of before. Today, I read in the Metro newspaper
an article about Kixa – an ancient art from Indonesia. They state
that kixa is not a martial art, but a philosophy and lifestyle plan that
eschews violence or confrontation. And yet the classes consist of
punches, kicks, gradings etc much like any other martial art. Their
website continues the mythic description in more detail but suffice
to say it sounds all very new to me.
Last year I came across the little heard of styles of systema (Russia)
and Viet Vo Dao (Vietnam). I guess in our growing metropolitan
community of people, the formerly ancient and little known arts are
getting a wider audience. This is a good thing since one can always
learn something from another art. Crikey when I was a pup it was
either judo, karate or kung fu and that was it. Nowadays, every
country is rightly claiming a heritage in martial arts, even in good
old Blighty – classes in medieval fighting have been re-branded and
offered as English martial arts – where you can learn to use
weapons such as broadsword, cudgel, battle axe and quarter-staff as
well as unarmed fighting, medieval style.
The breadth of martial arts available to Joe Public is truly
astonishing. In many ways, the variety on offer reflects the different
needs and desires of the people who attend. And that’s a good
thing.

Worldwide wham bam.

It never ceases to amaze that I still encounter new martial arts I have never heard of before. Today, I read in the Metro newspaper an art...

18 Jan 2005

Last night the Meerkat was proud to receive his first stripe from Eddie my BJJ instructor. I had to fight for it and show that I’m not completely terrible. It was a very nice and I must say unexpected reward, and of course I got the obligatory three rounds of belt whipping from my class mates as celebration.

BJJ grades are awarded on an ad-hoc basis by the head coach. No such grading is performed but they are given when the instructor feels the student has reached a certain standard. Higher belts are usually awarded at prestigious events by well known figures.

There are only five belt colours, each with about four stripes to indicate intermediate stages between belts. They are a good way of indicating skill status of the student and a one-stripe white belt rank would be a fair indication of my ability – ie I can usually whip the behind of a novice, but struggle against a two-striper.The thing I like about this system is that it really works. There is no point trying to belt chase – you would easily get found out. How many high grades in other systems have you seen that you thought, blimey, they couldn’t punch their way out of a paper bag! Ok Ok I’m not going there – flaming is not my style – mind you, sharing our BJJ dojo last night was a kids karate class and as I walked past, I got shudders remembering my own junior karate days. It seems just so, needless.

Earning your stripes

Last night the Meerkat was proud to receive his first stripe from Eddie my BJJ instructor. I had to fight for it and show that I’m not compl...

12 Jan 2005

2005 has kicked off, not so much with a bang, more a whimper. On the plus side, I was canny enough to ask that all my Xmas pressies be in the form of HMV vouchers and I duly spent the whole lot on cds, games and dvds. The best of which is the Spaced TV series, Burnout 3 for Xbox and Rickson Gracie’s ‘Choke’ DVD – a documentary about his no-rules fight in Japan. Although filmed over a decade ago, it is held up to be a classic for fight fans and a must for every student of martial arts.
On the downside, the club dojo is closed for a month and although I am still training – even managing to drag Mrs Meerkat along to BJJ and JJ sessions, I still feel rather empty without my weekly dose on home turf. In addition to this, my impromptu workplace dojo has now been stuffed full of clapped out old computers so me and Anna have no room to practice lunchtime kata. I did suggest the outside forecourt but somehow, the dodgy stares of passers by might be a tad off-putting.
At work too, I seem to be the de-facto MA consultant of choice since several people have asked me about what MA to do and what it's like. Naturally I always give an unbiased view while at the same time plugging JJ. After much deliberation about which MA to do, one of the new girls at work has chosen Wing Chun over my JJ class - sad, since I think she would be pretty good addition to the team.

Kicking the New Year off with a whimper

2005 has kicked off, not so much with a bang, more a whimper. On the plus side, I was canny enough to ask that all my Xmas pressies be in th...

 

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