Results tagged “kung fu” from Andy Best

Why you need to learn some real Kung Fu. Quickly.

ultimate warrior
The world is feeling the effects of the financial crash, or meltdown, or whatever term you want to use. Just make sure it sounds like a phenomenon or the work of a few bad eggs and not the system itself. And, in that same vein, it's time to break out the slyly humorous articles about the end of the world as we know it. I was just reading a very funny one by Tanya Gold at the Guardian.

Never mind that it equates a breakdown in the current political and financial models with the end of life as we know it. There are other ways. I say, have no fear. If you've been following the sheer magnitude of extinctions, environmental degradation and unsustainable development then you know that a huge crash is on the way regardless! Tanya says that in movies people usually pick over the ruins of civilization and fight over scraps until it all goes horribly wrong. In real life, she says, she would go to Devon and live off the land. 

So here's the news: In Shanghai, in the case of a mass breakdown, you will not be living off the land in lush and fertile Devon. You will be living the post-apocalypse movie dream - and you'd better know Kung Fu. 

Following along from Tanya's points, the first thing to go in a breakdown would be the national power grid followed by running water. You need that pesky clean drinking water to live more than three days. Question: where in the greater Shanghai region can you find a natural source of clean water that could be drunk after a basic purification routine? Answer: Nowhere. Quick fact: eighty percent of water sources in the country are unfit for human consumption! That's right. You're going to be fighting for remaining stocks of bottled water and the contents of storage tanks in buildings. The same goes for food. 

Now I've seen a lot of post-apocalypse type movies, my favorite is The Ultimate Warrior, and I know that all smart people in these situations are aware of the limited time they have in the urban survival situation. They all have a plan that involves getting out and away to a safe place where you could grow food and survive for the long haul. Tanya Gold adds a bit of spice to this time limit with an often overlooked fact of modern life. Yes. Nuclear power stations. Quick fact: with no running water for cooling or human attention they will eventually overheat and explode. What's that, you say? We have built huge radioactive time bombs that will render entire countries uninhabitable simply by just leaving them alone? Yes! Bonus! Your plan will have to include a boat to New Zealand. 

Now we are getting ahead of ourselves. Back to Shanghai. You are going to have to know Kung Fu. The city has broken down. Most people have tried to flee and died who-knows-where from dehydration. Others have been killed in the riots and fighting. The old, infant and sick are gone or going. You have wisely held your ground and formed a group around a compound of supplies. The city streets are eerily quiet. It's time to go out and get more supplies while you form the grand escape plan. At first you will loot shops and malls, competing with random looters and small teams. Eventually, however, you will have to raid other compounds, the ones based around the Nongfu bottled water depot. Don't forget the more organized groups are going to raid you too. You need to know kung fu. 

Now, I don't mean any martial art either, I mean real kung fu. Not the one focused around competitions where you wear down your opponent then wrestle them into submissions. Not the ones where you score points either. I mean the ones where you learn quick and lethal self defense techniques while fighting in groups on the run. Where falling to the ground means being left behind. You need to train weapons too. Like staffs and swords. Yes, swords. I also don't mean the light floppy ones or wooden ones. No twirling them around while you do the splits either. You need to be in the class that makes you hold a full weight weapon where the forms are made up of solid stances and techniques that resemble stabbing, slashing and hacking. Your teacher needs to be making you do squats and finger push ups, not slow motion bends and yoga stretches. And another thing, you'd better be doing those two man applications that leave bruises on your limbs, not debating Qi power for half an hour then nodding your appreciation. 

You need to know the kung fu that lets you bound effortlessly over beaten up abandoned cars while burying your knife hilt deep into the chest of the baseball bat wielding crazy. You need the kung fu that allows you to destroy six would be unarmed attackers with your fighting staff. You need the kung fu that helps you kick that scavenger senseless while your arms are tied up holding your sack of stolen tinned foods. You need the kung fu that helps you lead your team of scientists and farmers out of the city through the abandoned tunnels and to the promised land. You need the kind of kung fu that helps you escape the clutches of the psychotic ex-soldiers and their fortified country mansion. 

Unfortunately for you, this kind of kung fu is now as scarce in this country as the natural drinking water. I'm not going to help you find it either. It's you against me. I do have some advice. Watch those movies. See you out there.

Defy live @ Yuyintang

This post has been slightly delayed due to whatever it is that goes wrong with Shanghai Online's dns that makes access pop on and off at times. Of course, once this post is no longer the latest one then the previous statement becomes meaningless. And so begins the triple preface. Oh yes.

This second preface is a preface to the third and final preface to the post. Let me say that again ... preface. So, this post's preface mentions 'kung fu'. Kung fu is the only thing in my life that takes up even more time than music, but I almost never mention it in this blog because of the standard responses to mention of kung fu. The most common being a variation on either "I'm a black belt in Karate" or "Let me tell you why martial art X is superior to martial art Y". In the latter, Y is equal to whatever art you said you do. If you're really lucky you might get the bonus response, a lengthy explanation of mystical Qi powers or any standard variation on "I know a really really old weak looking guy who can blow you across the room with two fingers using magic." I've heard them all, if any one puts any of these in the comments on this post then they get the answer to fourth and final standard response to mention of kung fu, "Show me a move." The answer being "no".

And now the preface. This review may not be entirely accurate. Prior to attending the show I had been on a public holiday during which our kung fu class met every day. During the show I felt like I had hot pins stuck between my shoulder blades and also in my knees. I was so tired physically that I found it almost impossible to concentrate long enough to link up simple pairs of events. Like a question and its answer. I spoke to several people there, but have little memory of what it was about and tried to get by with use of the repeating the question in the form of an answer dodge. 

So, Yuyintang was strangely quiet around the advertised starting time of nine. And by that I mean it was the staff ... and me. What could it mean? Yuyintang gigs are usually full of locals who are early birds. As people started to trickle in it became apparent that it was going to be one of those pretty much all ex-pats shows. Party going ex-pats tend to come late, you see. Don't ask why, I have no idea. Anyway, no big problems there. Well done everyone for supporting local music.

First up was Sonnet. This band have been split for a while and have just got back together. They are a choppy guitar sound indie-rock band, not far away in style from TooKoo, who are well good. Here's the link for TooKoo's last show I went too, here. Sonnet do things a little bit differently, during one song they alternated between live drums and a drum machine. They seemed to have some early problems with the sound mix and when I turned around to look at the desk - there was no one there. Here's what happens in a resource-light underground scene with average equipment when someone isn't right there really taking care of the sound ... it sucks incredibly and sabotages the show. 

And on that point, it took Defy three aborted attempts to get their show started. The main vocal mic had either a dodgy cable or socket and was cutting out all show. It had to be continually moved just a little bit to that position where it didn't cut out. And this continued with no moves to try and replace it or anything sensible like that - that would be too easy. When they finally got going, the band weren't half bad. Defy traded in their punk style for rockabilly, with a double bass and everything. However, this was not psychobilly it was just straight up 50s rock. Once they had gotten through a song without tech problems, they got things going with a straight cover of Elvis' Hound Dog

It was at this point that I looked around. I was standing in a room full of assorted ex-pats who were mainly non-rock/indie people - and they were dancing to Elvis. I left. I must admit the fatigue played a large part. 

A quick mention. That night was also the first show put on by Brad Ferguson over at Anar Bar. The band was reggae act Wang Lei, who I'll see at Yuyintang in the near future. I'm a bit skeptical about the venue as it's kind of a back room in a restaurant. But, I will endeavor to check it out firsthand as soon as possible. 

Second Kungfuology shoot completed


wu mao guiMe and Cam were in People's Park today shooting our second film for the kungfuology mainsite. We got the orignal lead from an old kung fu training buddy of ours JQ Whitcomb. JQ also happens to be a celebrated jazz musician here in Shanghai. Check out his site here.

JQ was hooked up with his current teacher through the Double Dragon Alliance. This organisation does cultural exchanges, focusing mainly on martial arts. I met the boss, Rose Oliver, and one week later we've completed a shoot with them.

Rose is a Taiji teacher from the UK who came to China to improve her knowledge. In the shoot we will show her training Tong Bei Quan with master Wu Maogui in People's Park. It was a scorcher, temperature in the upper 30's and their class at 2.30 in the afternoon. The video should be edited and up within a couple of days.

wu mao gui two

First vidcasts done for our new site


zhongshan parkThis morning the rain finally held off and we filmed our double header of vidcasts for our new site.

Pu Laoshi and his student Shaun Hogan were really nice and open and no one bothered us at all during filming. Pu Laoshi was worried a bit about the look of it and that they didn't have performance clothes but we soon got the idea over to him.

We had a funny moment when he called me by my Chinese name when I very first arrived, but he has such a strong Shanghai accent that I didn't catch it. He then ribbed me about not knowing my own name for ten minutes.

You can find the vidcasts here:

part one
part two


shaun hogan


cameron hirst

Zhongshan Park Kung Fu


parkoneMe and Cam went down to Zhongshan Park at 7.30 this morning to follow up a lead for our first Kungfuology vidcast. My friend Sharon Tan tipped us off about a traditional teacher there called Pu Laoshi.

Pu Laoshi is 70 years old and teaches among the racket of radios and millions of Taichi and dance groups that fill out Shanghai parks in the mornings. His style 'cha quan' was traditional and he showed us weapons, hand forms and even a two man set.

Of course, you can't just demand a teacher to perform for you as strangers then make videos so we had to oblidge with performances and a bit of training ourselves first. No worries, it was a beautiful morning and the locals largely left us to it. We took turns in between his other students, Sharon trained some straight sword too.

Next week his overseas student comes back and we will film for our first vidcast.


parktwoMe and Sharon











Me, Cam and Pu LaoshiCam, Pu Laoshi and me


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