With a view to improving my fitness with something also useful, on a whim
I went to a Martial Arts "Birds of a Feather" session at LCA yesterday
evening. Cool things were seeing the different types of martial arts,
from Aikido to Shaolin Gung Fu (Pia Waugh on animal styles, unlit poi
balls and quarterstaff) and having a friend, dealing with a knee injury
and Leukaemia, show that he can still easily demonstrate some pretty
effective combat styles. Slightly painful but still fun things were
having the various holds tried on me, including a surprising number of
ways you can make someone's wrist really hurt (fortunately, for a short
period of time). Slightly less fun but fortunately not painful was the
Capoeira guys, who had a bit too much ego for their own good I felt.
Capoeira is a rather curious combination of martial arts, dance moves
and gymnastics, but I don't think I'll be trying it any time soon.
We started with a bit of a warm-up, and then the experienced people in
the group demonstrated some of the different styles. I don't remember
much of the exact details, so the highlights were:
- Aikido is purely defensive - in standard Aikido there are no
tournaments. In some sub-disciplines, the competitions have two
combatants starting with an agreed hold and seeing how they
- Shaolin Gung Fu seems to have the most number of cool props, but
that might just have been Pia's collecting habit kicking in.
- Most people there learnt something from everyone else, and in
particular watching Ian's expression of 'wow, that's so cool' as he
worked out how painful each hold was going to be just - before it was
actually applied to his arm.
- Capoeira includes a lot of different elements and is based on lots
- Most of the people in the core group were either teaching the style
of martial arts they learnt, or just about to. Every one of the
teachers agreed that teaching was just really great and they were still
learning cool stuff from their students.
- We all had different observations about what martial arts was about
- words like 'self-discipline', 'self-control', 'harmony' and 'balance'
were used - but they all seem to be about the same ur-concept.
Pia was talking afterward about setting up her own dojo for her style
of Gung Fu and I immediately put myself forward. It seems to be pretty
full on, but not incredibly aggressive or macho and seems to
concentrate on discipline and harmony. It's going to be a question of
what I give up to make time for it, and possibly the same question for
Pia. But it was a pretty cool time, even for an absolute beginner. I
thought of demonstrating some of the SCA fighter technique but having
swords with basket hilts that are tethered to your hands is kind of
vital to reducing the number of injuries...