Thursday, 3 December 2015


Every Kung Fu and Karate practitioner spends ages putting themselves through warm up and stretching excercises before and after the training session so they can throw high thrusting, snapping, roundhouse, spinning kicks of all kinds and angles ,front, side ,back, etc ,but all ,mainly due to films want to kick to their opponents head.

Without a doubt head kicks are most spectacular. Flatten someone with a spinnig back roundhouse kick and you'll feel and be thought of as the 'Dogs bollocks' until the next time you get beaten or flattened or use a boring low front snap kick and your arsenal of spectacular 'Dogs bollocks' kicks becomes the 'usual load o' bollocks!'

In non contact Karate competition the fighters tend to use lower wider stances and go for the high kicks whereas the full contact use narrower stances  and boxing style guards , but interestingly use low kicks to the outer and inner thighs, not so much the knees as damage can occur, mind you those nutty THAI BOXERS probably boot 'em anywhere ,they use lots of low painful kicks ,but since they train 23 1/2 hours , 7 days a week they can use high kicks to great effect to knock out opponents. Even MMA, etc don't use THAT much high kicks, using low kicks ,knees, fists, elbows and throws and locks as it's not point scoring it is beating your opponent in a fight.

Out in the ' mean streets ' People can, sadly get into a bit of grief! The fight, if it does 'kick off' will normally be the good ol 'KNUCKLE BUTTY!' Very rarely will anyone be able to launch a fight stopping kick to the head. Most martial artists are average blokes ,or ladies and the only way they will be able to get a kick up to the dizzying heights required is after a good 1/2 hour stretching warm up excercise session ,which, unfairly as it may seem , your opponent wont be the level of gentleman needed to allow his opponent to warm up.

The sad truth most people have seconds to dive into 'the mill' as the prizefighters used to call it. If 'our hero was to throw a head kick 99.99999%   will hear a variety or cacophany of a series of horrendous teeth grindingly awful sounds made worse as they come from your own body as ligaments and tendons twang; Joints click and crack, not only does it sound painful ,but it is painful and will be for days ,if not weeks after.

If you throw the kick ,not only may you cause untold suffering and strain upon your joints, but even those who could throw the kick are further restrained by the trousers they wear, it is ridiculous that we spend years turning into human fighting machines , as long as you wear the loose fighting pyjama-like Karate Gi we are fine. Then when we need to use our long hard learnt lessons we can't because we'll split our trousers. The energy needed to flatten your opponent will be drastically reduced by the energy required to tear the seams of your trousers apart!Which is worse the cracking and twanging of joints or the RRRIIIPPPING of your trousers in front of a full pub or in front of the girl of your dreams as well as your opponents mates?

The only fellah i knew who could walk into a fight and flatten multiple opponents with full blown Karate foot work  as he worked on club doors in his suit around clubs in Liverpool was the immortal TERRY O'NEILL,there are many stories of 'the guv'nor's exploits, Dig out DENNIS MARTIN'S book about life on the Liverpool doors, 'WORKING WITH WARRIORS'.

After years of clicking joints the slow TAI-CHI excercises have allowed me to kick high anytime, but again that is .....TROUSERS ALLOWING! 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


These days we go to a restaurant and eat bits of squid and octopus for dinner or fried tentacles. I remember when i wuz 'nobbut a lad' when i thought that all those tentacle clad wee beasties were huge monsters dwelling beneath the waves as in the 60's there was a lot of science fiction on the telly and 'everything went.

I first saw my monster tentacle comming out of a steamy bog on the PLANET SKARO in a very early episode of DOCTOR WHO with the wonderful WILLIAM HARTNELL in them far flung black and white days. Planet Skaro was the home of THE DALEKS ,as if you didn't know. The tentacle came out of the bog clutched a good guy ,a race called THE THALS who were going to rescue the Doctor and his grandaughter SUSAN. The poor Thal was dragged into the gurgling bog

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA was another classic sci-fi show about a n incredible super nuclear submarine called SEAVIEW. The Seaview would sail under the seven seas saving the world from aliens and monsters every week. Like most 60's series , because of the success of the 'camp' attitude of 'BATMAN' all the other series veered towards the 'camp!' All kinds of ridiculous monsters, robots, killer dolls, walking ,man eating plants ,witches, wizards, etc were dragged into ruin 'VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA'; 'LOST IN SPACE'  and some ,originally very promising series. But the SEAVIEW being underwater was prone to these massive be-tentacled creatures which'd wrestle the worlds mightiest nuclear sub to the bottom of the ocean. As this was happening there was always the crew getting thrown from side to side with clouds of sparks bursting out of bleeping flashing spectacular control panels. I seem to remember the ships bosses CAPTAIN CRANE and ADMIRAL NELSON get the engineer or 'SPARKS' to  boost an electric charge through the hull which would electrocute the octopus causing it to release them then they'd finish it off with a couple of torpedoes in its tentacle junction, tat would normally do the job before the end theme and the adverts could come on to a safe world again.

Another favourite for giant octopi....Was the wonderful GERRY ANDERSON creation  about anothe super sub 'STINGRAY'. A few exotic creatures with tentacles appeared throughout the series and electricity and Stingrays 'STING MISSILES' would do a similar job to the Seaview, but there was only a two man crew CAPTAIN TROY TEMPEST and PHONES as well as the sexy mute MARINA. THUNDERBIRDS also had a fondness for tentacled themed stories for ,mainly THUNDERBIRD 4, the submarine in the THUNDERBIRD fleet of rockets and craft. I seem to even remember SUPERCAR getting clutched by giant tentacles.

In  more modern days all these wonderful monsters have been neglected. Dinosaurs are going through a boom period at the moment, but theres nothing with giant tentacles coming from beneath the waves , unless its on your plate . .

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Whenever a KARATE class starts for the first 20 minutes or so the students get into strange postures and bounce and jerk as they try and stretch and loosen their joints ,ligaments and tendons. Along with the grunting, groaning and gasping there is the odd click,crack and grinding sound as joints ,balls n' sockets ,etc bend in unusal angles and positions...Some may say unatural rather than unusual!

As you find yourself straining your ,mainly leg joints, you can hear the internal straining noises as your body grumbles and moans about the beastly treatment your putting your ever trustworthy frame through. 

As you go through all this you also are aware of the external and internal protestations of the bodies around you, some not as in possibly as good a physical state as yourself causing some real teeth clenching ,stomach churning joint grinding, cracking and oddly popping type sounds , but sometimes they can confuse you as you sometimes wonder was that tortured joint cracking your own knee or hip ball n' socket joint.

I remember one evening in a room full of straining grunting gasping students all in lines trying to adopt a sideways full splits, a very odd sight to a passer by. All the years i trained and stretched the one thing i never mastered or came near to was a sideways splits. I was fairly suptle and even with my short stubby legs allowed me to kick to head height even to this day.But this evening our instructor who was a real 'KNUCKLE CRACKER'....Knuckle crackers're a strange breed and are fascinated with the grinding crunch of  simultaneous 5 knuckles at a time 'CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! CRAK! Some impressive ones can crack the thumb as well, but the more they do it the stiffer the fingers get and the easier and louder the knuckles crack!

As we stretched and strained in our attempts at the splits he walked behind and interlocked his fingers and did a thunderous 10 -KNUCKLE CRACK!!!.... I honestly shit myself convinced i'd  wrecked my hip joints and was on my way for plastic hips within the hour. As i looked about me in abject fear and panic waiting for the pain to kick in which it was bound to any second now! The strangest sight met me, everybody was like me , in that bloody awkward position, but also, like me they were looking from their groin, hips and around the room in blind abject panic! Then slowly the realisation that we weren't  lifelong cripples and paraplegics, but it was a knobhead instructor who passes his spare time cracking his knuckles kicked in and a collective sigh of relief filled the room . The relaxation helped us sink deeper into our sad attempt at the splits.

Like the cracking of knuckles where the joints stiffen and crack easier the more you do it, the stretching excercises , bending and bouncing which i followed faithfully for donkeys years i now realise didn't do a lot of good. After the training my hips would click and be stiff after being seated for a while. My knees were 'shocking!'...If i bent down i could guarantee an explosive 'KEEERRRAACCKK!!''....I remember being in WH SMITHS bending down for a magazine when my knees exploded and everybody in the shop just shuddered and clenched their teeth in horror and disgust ,i ended up apologising for my cracking knees.

Years later in my 40's i started TAI-CHI while living abroad and now i'm 55(ouch!)....I train in a Tai-Chi manner ,slow and relaxed . Ideal training for a lazy bastard ,the slower and more relaxed ,the better. But a very odd thing has happened . My speed and power as well as stamina has improved as breathing is very important. Try not breathing and see how far you get! But my suptleness is better now than when i was a youngster ,grunting ,tensing and straining and stretching .My joints dont click at all. Much as it pains me to admit it , in some respects i'm growing old gracefully, but in many other ways ,thankfully i'm making up for that by doing the rest thoroughly disgracefully i'm proud to say.