Filmed using the Holga Toy Camera.
A real coffee table read. Every Hotel and reception should have a copy of Randy Couture's 'The Last Round'
Thai Boxing and more at The Martial Arts Show: By Esmond Francis
The month of May quickly seems like it's going to become the month tocelebrate all in the martial arts world.
Over the last few years we had the birth of the SENI show, the TerracottaAsian Film Festival, celebrity seminars and now we have The Martial ArtsShow Live.
Organised by Paul Clifton of Combat Magazine along with the TMAS (TheMartial Arts Show) team and I believe is scheduled to run alongside SENI.So again it seems like there is a martial arts reawakening happening.
The Martial Arts Show or TMAS Live was born from the need for the UK to havea central event for the UK's finest martial arts athletes to showcase theirtalent. The event consisted of manufacturers & suppliers, demonstrations,Celebrities seminars for free, Fighters, Tournament Competitors, visitorsand fans of Martial Arts. The line up looked really good as you had former5 x World Muay Thai Champion at 4 different weights Master Ronnie "MachineGun" Green, former 4 x times World Kickboxing Champion Kash " The Flash"Gill, Bob "The Beast Sapp", Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, Joe Lewis, CynthiaRothrock, the Shaolin Monks and more.
Shaolin - forever entertaining
I managed to make it down to Birmingham NEC on the Saturday 7th for around11.00am. There was a decent crowd and the buzz was slowly gathering pace.
As I walked in to my left was the Lei Tai (elevated fighting arena/platform,without railings or ropes). There were Kung Fu performances taking place.I particularly remember a young girl performing with a bench (Jackie Chanstyle). Armed with my camera my objective was to seek out the stars andenjoy the day. As I looked to my right I caught a glimpse of CynthiaRothrock marching over to what looked like a photo/autograph signing area.I thought first one spotted, I'll catch up to her later. I walked aroundsome more and had a look at some of the new training equipment on displayand for sale.
Modern Day Ninja Master Ronnie Green
As I came back around to the entrance I saw this man casually walking overwith a smile on his face. Of course it was Master Ronnie Green. We hadspoken on the phone previously so I knew he was scheduled to teach a seminarat 12.30pm. We had about half an hr to kill before his seminar started.What a brilliant opportunity to pick his brains about what was taking place.I realised that Ronnie is a true martial artist. He's known around theworld as a Muay Thai Champion but many are not aware of his Judo and Karatebackground too. He is a genuine fan of the arts as he sees how people fromall cultures, backgrounds can come together under the martial arts. He hada good point.
Anyway before we knew it 12.30pm was upon us. I got my camera ready tocapture the moment as Ronnie began to warm up. Along came the firstparticipant. An old friend of Ronnie's and one of his best students, hisname was Damien.
Master Ronnie with Damien
He was at the event with his partner as they are both martial art fans. Itwas nice to see couples and families in attendance too. As Ronnie andDamien began to work on techniques a crowd started to gather. More peoplewanted to join in and they were welcome. Not all were appropriately dressedbut they didn't want to miss out. The way Ronnie focussed on movement andrhythm. He started off with a push, and then built on it. So he worked itfrom a push, to a parry to a counter to a block to an elbow, to a push to alow kick etc all very slow and rhythmic.
Instruction from a Champion
I noticed how fast everyone seemed to grasp the moves. Before we knew ittime was up. As they say time flies when you're having fun. Everyone had agreat time and were all asking for more seminars from him.
Master Ronnie with friends
Photos were exchanged and we said our goodbyes. It was a truly greatexperience.
I bonded well with Damien and his partner Parveen who were really genuineand very funny. We were all feeling good and hungry so decided to go andeat. We finished lunch just in time for the Bill "Superfoot" Wallaceseminar. I wouldn't advise doing it that way round. I was really lookingforward to meeting Bill as I had met him years back when I was about 14years old. He was brought over by Phil Mayo and the CKO (Contact KarateOrganisation). At the time I was training under former European Thai BoxingChampion Andy Mayo. I remember he attended a show which was in Poplar EastLondon where he did a demonstration bout with Andy. All I could reallyremember is that he was funny and always seemed to be joking, so was notintimidating for a young boy.
Anyway Bill arrived and begun rounding people up to take part. I had mycamera ready to capture the action. I thought brilliant I can get 2 legendsin the same shot, Ronnie and Bill.
Reunited - Bill and Ronnie
They greeted each other like old friends and spent a few moments catchingup. To my surprise Bill then points at me and says "You're in this too, putthat camera down". I was like but I have jeans on. He says "Don't youworry about that". Then I had a moment of clarity. How could I say no? AmI crazy? Am I really going to refuse an opportunity to partner up withRonnie Green in a seminar hosted by Bill Wallace? Hell No!
I kindly asked Parveen if she would mind taking a few pictures and sheagreed. I took off my shoes and joined the group.
Firstly Bill covered his style of kicking which is very different from thetraditional way. If you know who Bill Wallace is then you should know thathe has only ever kicked with his left leg. This is due to an old sportsinjury. He basically said that he had won his fights by using 3 kicks, theround kick, side kick and hook kick along with his jab and his left hook.
Bill demonstrates a round kick
He explained how he chambers the knee of the kicking leg in front of hisbody and lets the kicks go from there. This way the opponent doesn't knowwhat's coming until the last minute. I was really impressed with his speedconsidering his age. His legs are so deceiving. At one stage I thought hewas going to accidentally give me a foot sandwich and a cut lip to go backto London with but he has great control. Cheers Bill.
Thankfully I had an opportunity to see his kicks coming at me and I tell youhe's still fast. Towards the end we had a brief question and answer and thegroup really enjoyed the session as Bill made it very enjoyable. Before werealised it was all over. We said our goodbyes and exchanged pictures.
What I enjoy about events such as this is that it brings people together.In particular the UK martial artists that actively contributed to thesuccess in their art or sport. During the event there was amateur Thaiboxing bouts taking place. What struck me is how safe they made Muay Thailook as a sport for the young. They were all padded up and displayedcontrol along with the intention of winning. There were some good fights.I look around again and I noticed this guy coming towards me. As he gotcloser I noticed his distinctive walk or swagger. It was another UK Thaiboxing Champion Mr Keith "Pele" Nathan. We had met a few years back at anAli Jacko show in Birmingham. He runs the Beastmaster gym in Altrincham inCheshire,
Keith Nathan with one of his students at TMAS Live
His titles include the ITBF World Title, WKA Title, WAKO Title, BritishChampion and many other British, Area & National Titles. He was actuallyworking as a Ref on the day. Always nice to see Keith as he is just easygoing and always cracking jokes. Then along came another familiar face MrOwen Comrie. Owen held many British, European and World Titles in KickBoxing and Thai Boxing. He was one of the best of the best in the eightiesbeing part of the formidable Master Toddy's gym of champions with the likesof Master Ronnie Green, Kash "The Flash" Gill Howard Brown, Lance Lewis,Pele Nathan and Edge Brown. I had met him years back and to me he lookedthe same, not a day older. I had to give him a shout out.
Me and Owen Comrie
Ronnie with "Cage Rage"DaveDonnell
Next in the seminar area was Chairman of British Judo and Strategic Directorof European Judo Federation Mr Densign White. He is a three-time Olympianwho heads the British Judo Association. Again I thought it was great tohave access to champions of this caliber. He ran through a quick warm upto begin a series of stretches and palates positions.
Master Densign White taking attendees through warm up
He progressed to techniques and focused on ground-work. What I observed wasease of movement. You could see the experience in each technique shown,effortless execution. It was a pleasure to watch and meet Densign.Everyone thanked him for his instruction, took pictures and departed.
Working through techniques
Master Densign White and Ronnie Green with some of the seminar attendees
Next up we had a demonstration by Darren Leferve from Haganah UK (Meaning"defence") in Hebrew. Haganah is a unique self-defence system from Israelthat integrates both unarmed and armed combat tactics and applies them tothe needs of civilian and professional operators.
Darren Leferve in action - effective and applicable techniques
Darren's martial arts career spans 30 years and teaches in Southend, Essex.He is currently the only instructor in the UK, personally certified to teachthe F.I.G.H.T. (Fierce Israeli Guerrilla Hand-to-hand Tactics) programme.This is the first time I had heard of or seen this martial art. Hisdemonstration was very good. You could see he had years of experience andhe explained what he was doing well. The closest art I have seen to this isKrav Maga which I don't believe was represented so Darren was a goodaddition.
Darren Leferve in action
As I looked at the time an announcement was made that the Martial Arts Showwas closed. I thought I had better look to see if there were anycelebrities left or had they all gone home. I looked over and saw CynthiaRothrock still taking pictures.
Me with "China O'Brien" Cynthia Rothrock
She looked nice and young as ever. Rothrock is five-time World Karate Champion in forms and weapons but I personallyfirst laid eyes on her in a film called "Yes Madame or Police Assassins 2with Michelle Yeoh/Khan". I was well impressed as she fit the Hong Kongstyle fight choreography perfectly. Similar to the way Van Damme did in "NoRetreat No Surrender". I ran over and said "Hi Cynthia" before I could sayanything else she reached out her arms to hug and take a picture. I thoughtthat was really sweet as it was a long day for her so she must have beenshattered. But she still gave me time. I missed Joe Lewis which was ashame as I attended his
Hench - Me with Silvio Simac
seminar last year and it was great. I managed to catch up with Silvio SimacBritish TKD Champion
(1991-2000). He holds 4th Dan Black Belt in ITF TKD. He is now acting andyou may have seen him in "Unleashed" with Jet Li or "Transporter 3" withJason Statham.
As I'm just walking though the exit I see Celebrity fashion expert Gok Wan,who was in attendance raising awareness for Kidscape, which works withbullied and abused children. After a long day still had the time to stopfor a photo, nice one Gok.
Gok Wan doing his bit for Anti-bullying
All in all a great day! If you missed it this year make sure you don't nexttime around. Big thanks to Master Ronnie Green, Damien and Parveen. Welldone to all involved and all who took part.
Master Ronnie Green, Damien and Parveen
Thai Boxing and more at The Martial Arts Show: By Esmond Francis