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Besty's Fightclub - Round 4 - Kung Fu

By Neil Best

The possession of anything begins with the mind.

I can genuinely say that I didn’t know what to expect from Kung Fu before I met with Leroy in the heat and heart of Singapore’s Chinatown. Leroy heads where they teach the Hung Gar style of Kung Fu -most popular in Southern China. If you’ve never experienced Singapore’s Chinese quarter – it’s got an amazing buzz and energy that’s completely different to anything else in the city. In many ways the location perfectly complimented what I was about to experience.


I’m not too proud to admit I was a little more apprehensive about Kung Fu than with some the other combat sports and martial arts I’d experienced. Of course, I expected Kung Fu to be fast – and it was -when it wasn’t being deliberately slowed for my benefit. And I expected it to be a bit more hardcore in a way – but it was much more intense than I’d anticipated. Truly different to anything else I’d experienced over the past number of weeks. And maybe most surprising of all – there was as much if not more crossover for rugby.

If I was currently responsible for strength and condition of any professional rugby club, without hesitation I’d be adapting and incorporating some drilling and techniques from Kung Fu.

There is an overall training style and effect that in some way manages to reduce pain – teaching your body to absorb and ignore it. You just need to look at the how the students take kicks to the shins and legs. For me that alone has real rugby value. As does the technical side of open hand “punching” – it has a natural correlation to handoffs and fends. And some of the blocking defensive movements simulate repetitive impacts in the shoulder girdle that could easily be used to build resistance to injury.

Add to that how people like Leroy use breathing control and specific defined movements to generate extra power and you could see rugby crossover in how a player might anticipate contact.

If you just do the same as your opponent, you have no advantage – Leroy’s advice. And for me Kung Fu training has the potential to provide significant difference and advantage.

With pre-season underway in the UK, I’ve more than a little sympathy for Danny Ciprani’s Jersey experience. And I hope it doesn’t end his England return before he gets properly airborne. I don’t have the detail of what Ciprani did, but I’ve played rugby in Jersey and taken in some of the same venues. Jersey was one of the rare or maybe only times in my life I’ve been asked to leave a licensed establishment sober.


The security staff took great exemption to my intense interest in the baldness of one of their colleagues. And in doing so they acted with a collective sensitivity rare in a drove of doormen. People don’t often ask me what’s the secret of my great hair – and these bouncers didn’t either – but if they did I was happy to share, it’s coconut oil -even with cue ball.

Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them



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