Hanging up my kungfu uniform

I had breakfast with Neil Johnson, my kungfu instructor (see links for White Crane Fighting Arts) this morning, as has been usual now on a Monday morning for nearly two and a half years. During that time I have gone from being nearly dead to being very much alive and some of this is due to him and some of it is thanks to White Crane Kungfu, the martial arts system that he has been teaching me now for over six years. Today though it was decision time after two months of annoying ill health and injury and, between us, we have agreed that I will carry on with the Taichi form, the soft style, and also with my Taichi sword training but that it is time to hang up my kungfu uniform.

Ever since my brain haemorrhage, I have known that the “glory days” of kungfu sparring were behind me because I don’t really need another head injury. I am not claiming that I was ever that good at sparring but I did love the all-out, in-yer-face sparring bouts that seemed to match my more obvious wolf-like characteristics. However, it was Taichi that got me going on the hospital ward, against medical advice, within a week of my brain haemorrhage when I was also recovering from a fractured spine and it has been Taichi that has been my only form of physiotherapy ever since. Knowing that, and regardless of the fact that I really enjoy this deceptively peaceful-looking but gentle set of movements, I would be an idiot to give it up now.

Since my visit to China in 2008, I have now practised this form all over the World – a complete fitness regime that requires no packing and which can be performed wherever there are a few feet of space.

The Taichi sword pattern is also something I love without necessarily being good at and I am really happy that Neil thinks I should continue with it as an add on to the Taichi. There is still so much to learn in this lifetime study and now that I have put the other disciplines behind me, I plan to give it renewed concentration and focus.

Sometime ago I made this little photographic movie of my time doing White Crane fighting arts, it seems an appropriate time to repeat it with thanks to Neil for a good time and in anticipation of more good times to come.


  1. I like "against medical advice". Although medics are right pretty much most of the time, there are times when they are risk averse. If only there was some way that they could work out when sheer bloody-minded determination will be the best option. It is tricky because they rarely know that much about the patient so what is determination in some people would be stupidity in others. It's good that it was so positive for you.

    Don't think of it so much as 'giving up' as 'specialising' – that sounds much better.

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