Friday, 29 June 2012

Marfest 2012 report...


I have been so busy lately that I just haven’t had time to blog. Well, that’s not exactly true; I’ve been doing lots of blogging actually but for the Marfest 2012 blog. But Marfest is over again for another year – now I have the entire post festival write up to do!

I went up to the Marfest last Sunday in Sunderland with my husband; I wouldn’t miss it for the world I love going to the festival. ..

Despite a dip in public attendance this year the festival was still a fantastic event.  Martial Artists from all over the North East descended on the CitySpace centre with their families and friends to watch or participate in the demonstrations and taster sessions on the ‘come and try it’ mats.

Marfest is as much about the camaraderie between martial artists as it is about the displays of martial art. Over the 12 years the festival has been running a community of martial artists from all disciplines has gradually gelled together to not only demonstrate their art to each other and the general public but to also exchange knowledge and information, support and encourage each other, and to form strong and lasting networks and friendships.  

The strength of this support network was demonstrated very clearly in the afternoon when there was a gap in the order of events. To fill the gap, Peter Seth (Marfest organiser and 4th dan Aikido), Geoff  Aisbitt  (4th dan Aikido, 3rd dan Aikijutsu) and student’s of Christine Poole’s Jujitsu club (British Jujitsu Academy NE) did an impromptu display of Aikido and knife defences. This was impressive because these people do not normally train together (though Geoff does sometimes do some aikido training with Peter), practice different though related arts and had not rehearsed this display at all! This required a lot of trust and cooperation which was possible because the Marfest has brought these people together on several occasions now and so they know each other.

Jujitsu weapons

The other demonstrations though were definitely planned, well rehearsed and displayed professionally. 

There were some last minute programme changes.  Sensei Paul Simpson (Kempo Jujitsu) was unable to make it. However, John Barrass (founder and senior instructor of ESDCS – Evasive Self Defence Combat System) stepped in to cover the vacant ‘come and try it mat’ for the afternoon, teaching his style of close-in reality based street defence. John is a very experienced martial artist who has attained black belts in four arts, including 4th dan in jujitsu.

Shotokan karate
Peter Gruffity (Capoeira instructor at Group Senzala North East) has supported Marfest over many years but was unable to put on a demonstration this year. However he did attend the festival and did a couple of taster sessions on our ‘come and try it mats’. For those of you unfamiliar with capoeira, it is a Brazilian art form developed by African Slaves in Brazil over 400 years ago. “It combines the potency of violence and fight, the fluidity and expressiveness of dance, the soul-calling power of music, the wit and playfulness of clever games, and the showmanship of acrobatics into one beautiful art form.” (source:

Ninjutsu weapons
Joe Harte (Taiji, Northern School of Taiji in Co. Durham) was also present and led a short taiji session over lunchtime. He was also available throughout most of the day to talk to people about the principles and practice of his art form – an opportunity taken up by several people.

Of course many of our regular participants were in attendance giving their time freely and generously for this charity fund-raising event – Geoff Aisbitt (Aiki arts), Christine Poole (jujitsu), Phil Doherty (DFM), Mike Campos (taekwondo) and Paul Tennet (Kung Fu).  Newcomers this year included John Bruce (karate), John Simpson (Judo), Mick Farrow (Cane-do) and Bill Patterson (Ninjutsu)

I have lots of video clips of the event but unfortunately it is taking a long time to upload them to YouTube. However, they will be available on the Marfest blog once I've sorted them out!

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Kata: Nipaipo (karate), Er Shi Ba (White Crane Kung Fu)

Nipaipo (Nepai) meaning 28 ‘beats’ or steps, is a shito-ryu kata developed by Kenwa Mabuni. It descends through the Naha-te lineage of shito-ryu. Mabuni’s influence for this kata came from Gokenki, a Chinese tea merchant who moved to Okinawa in 1912. An expert in the Southern Chinese style of Whooping Crane Kung Fu (Baihequan) he set up home in Kume village just a short distance away from Matsuyama Park and close to the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai (a hidden and secret underground Karate research society).  

He started teaching his brand of white crane kung fu to karate masters at the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai, including Kenwa Mabuni, Chojun Miyagi, Juhatsu Kyoda and Shinpo Matayoshi. He taught several white crane forms including Nipaipo. However this version of the kata is not the same as the karate version developed by Mabuni, though it did influence it; the original Chinese white crane version, called Er shi Ba (28 constellations), is longer and performed using the softer, more flowing moves of kung-fu.

Here’s the karate version of the kata: 

Here's the original White Crane version:

The World Karate Federation has adopted Nipaipo as a mandatory kata to be performed in the early stages of WKF kata competitions. 

Nipaipo is a 2nd dan kata on our syllabus and thus one of my current kata.

22nd June update: 

Since writing this post I have had some e-mail correspondence with Joe Harte, a Taiji instructor of over 20 years experience. He said:

“Traditionally in the white crane world the form was called ershiba lohan, meaning “28buddhas" or "28sages" but sometimes shortened to just  ershiba.

In the Taiji syllabus we refer to it as Quickfist as it’s the only fast form we use in master Huangs system of taiji.  More formally it’s called SanFeng Quickfist in reference to the legendary founder of Taiji, Chang San Feng, and also in recognition that master Huang changed the emphasis of this form over his lifetime so now it is externally the same as the white crane version but internally has a different flavour – towards the pure taiji principles.”

Thanks Joe, look forward to meeting you at Marfest!

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Friday, 8 June 2012

Interview with Master Ken at Martial News

Martial News (an online martial arts newspaper) has just published a unique and exclusive interview with the great Master Ken, the founder of Ameri-Do-Te! If you're not familiar with Master Ken and his show 'Enter the Dojo' then view this video clip before clicking through to the interview on Martial News:

You'll find the interview HERE. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Is the Queen a secret budo practitioner?

Even if you’re not British you probably can’t have helped noticing that it is the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations at the moment – I’m sure highlights of the various events have been screened around the world…

Sixty years on the throne! – She’s only the second Monarch in British history to have achieved such a long reign (Queen Victoria being the other one at 63 years).  As you can imagine Britain is feeling pretty patriotic at the moment – lots of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ being sung and the Union Flag being flown and waved around on every street. There have been thousands of street parties and over 4000 beacons lit and that’s just in the UK. Celebrations have gone on around the Commonwealth too – she is their Queen too, after all.

The Queen is a very special person. Even if you are not a monarchist you have to accept that as a woman the Queen is an exceptional person.  She has devoted herself tirelessly to serve the people of the UK and Commonwealth.  The Queen is now 86 and yet she still carries out around 430 engagements a year. She has an amazing work ethic don’t you think? For most of these she is accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh who is nearly 91!

She is a constant presence in an ever changing world – an anchor, a link to our past. She has witnessed many Heads of State from other countries come and go with repeated regularity. She has given wise counsel to many a British Prime Minister. She reminds us what it means to be British.

I also think she could teach us a thing or two about budo!

Let’s take this weekend’s celebrations as an example….. On Saturday we had the Pageant on the Thames. A flotilla of a thousand boats sailed down the Thames which took about 4 hours. The Queen and her family witnessed the event from the Royal Barge. They stood for the entire time to watch the event, with only a flimsy roof to shield them from the elements. They must have been freezing yet they didn’t flinch from their duty to watch every single boat go past. People had sailed from all over the world to be part of the pageant and they didn’t want to let her down and the Queen certainly wasn’t going to let them down by not watching just because it was cold, windy and raining! They couldn’t even take a loo break which isn’t easy for a couple aged 86 and 91! (Unfortunately that is probably the reason that the Duke was hospitalised with a bladder infection the next day). The Queen remained upright, stoical and interested throughout the whole pageant.

If that wasn’t a display of shugyo I don’t know what is!

The Queen displays many of the characteristics you would expect to see in someone who has practiced budo all their lives – she is physically strong for her age, she is focussed on her work, devoted to her family, she shows humility and compassion, she is knowledgeable and wise, calm and stoical, trustworthy and respectful of others….the list goes on. Her life has been one of perseverance and selfless endeavour.  She even stayed calm and de-escalated the situation when an intruder broke into her bedroom at Buckingham Palace in 1982! 

I think the Queen is a woman to be admired and the British Monarchy an institution to be envied. Nowhere else has what we have here in Britain, we would be mad to get rid of it. I have no truck with the tiny republican movement we have in this country. There have been a couple of small republican protests during this weekend of celebrations (after all it is a free country). Guess where they held their protest – outside Traitors gate!

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