Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In the footsteps of John Claude

Before I left for Malaysia Nurul (my friend and project manager at work) bought me a copy of the film Kickboxer as a light hearted going away present, jokingly referring to it as my 'training manual'. It seems irony has a habit of coming back an biting you when you're not looking.

Thankfully I've yet to developed a Belgium accent and oversized ego, or the ability to do the splits between two chairs (Sorry Ken and Nurul) but some of the things I've been doing this week remind me a lot of that film.

Training with Pak Zinual is tough. I've been prowling up and down a bare strip of concrete at the back of his house running through punching Juros (basics) with two lumps of metal clenched in my fist. Afterwards we go to the front of his house where he gets a lump of wood and sticking it into a hole in the concrete gets me to kick it until my shins are the lovely purple colour, pausing only briefly to shadow box the leaves on his trees or rub Thai Boxing liniment on my sore legs.

Training here is pretty old school, there's no air conditioned gyms and specialized equipment. It's like the martial arts equivalent of Salvage Squad, find stuff lying around and make use of it.

Some of his boys came over on Monday and they set me up with a bit of impromptue sparring to see hwo I'd do, apparently I acquitted myself well, though Pak Zinual did make the comment that 'perhaps I don't like my face so much' (referring to the habit I've got of sometimes forgetting to cover my head ;-p).

On top my external bruising and aching Nigel hasn't been letting me escape on the internal pain of Tai-chi front. Running through the form time and time again, holding postures till my legs shake and making subtle adjustments here and there I can already feel changes for the better. Nigels also started teaching me some meditation and breathing exercises linked to a more mystical type of Silat (the name of the indigenous Malay arts) which relies on utilizing the four elements and their corresponding manifestations.

In all the first week has been physically tough as my bodies been adjusting to both the rigours of continual training and the heat. However this is what I wanted to come here for and if what I've learned this week is anything to go by I should hopefully have picked up some very useful new skills and improved my older knowledge by the time I return.

This weekend we're going down south for a few days towards KL to visit Fong's Family (Nigels wife) and visit some of the local Chinese masters. So expect another update towards the end of next week when I get back.


Anonymous paul said...

Wow. Sounds punishingly good in a perverse, masochistic way....

Looking forward to having you pass on your new found knowledge & skills when you get back. Though how we'll recognise you I have no idea, what with having huge shins from a build up of callouses, huge arms from punching with metal rods, a broken nose & cauliflower ears from being battered about the head (don't drop your guard!!) and of course the secret ninja invisibility powers you'll learn and then forget how to turn off!

"Hi guys, the punchbag's back with lots to teach you."

"Yoikes! That you Adam? Where are you? Last we heard you were cruising round the parks and beaches of India being mysterious and passing on your new found martial powers in exchange for internet cafe minutes and cuppas..."

"I'm over here!"

"Yelp! Stop playing around & hiding will ya!"

[waves frantically] "Guy's, I'm HERE!"

"Where?? Come out, come out wherever you are!"

[grumbling to himself]"damn my secret ninja invisibility I can't switch off..."


10:08 pm, March 08, 2006  
Blogger Hugh Crosland said...

Hi Adam,
Nice to hear how you are getting on. It's a long drive down to Batu Pahat isn't it!

You asked about internet cafes closer to Leader Garden. The nicest one, with undoubtedly the best coffee, is off Tanjung Bungah. Going toward Georgetown, after you pass the collection of big hotels on your left, there is a footbridge that goes over the road. If you are walking, go over the footbridge and continue for a short distance toward G. town until you get to a large covered hawker centre. Behind the hawker, there is a row of shops. There is a German bar called Ingolf (which has excellent steaks and draught beer inc. Guinness, but is expensive). To the left of Ingolf there is an internet cafe.
From where you are staying it's a 10-15 min walk; perfectly ok once the sun has gone down!

The cheapest internet access is on the top floor of 1 Stop; useful if you are at 1 Stop anyway.

The best cinema is top of Gurney Plaza. GP also has a good eating place - sort of an indoor hawker - on the lowest floor. Chris and I used to like the Jap Rice there.

If as Paul says, you are unfortunate enough to get a broken nose, I recommend General Hosp. (Penang General) It's v. cheap and they are used to seeing many broken noses from scooter accidents!

Say Hi to John and Mike in MNT Minimart for me!

I recommend the Basil Leaf Chicken or beef at Fred's Thai Food, also their Spicy Rice. Francis's wife is a good cook.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu at Riverside Cafe is as close to english pub food as you'll get. Shankur, the owner, and his family speak v. good English.

Enjoy your training with Guru Zinel; that's a unique opportunity. It's pissing down with rain here in Hull, and damn cold. Nowhere indoors with enough space to swing a sword! Can't believe I was there only 10 days ago - seems like a different lifetime!

Please say hi to Nigel, Fong, Min and Lian for me.
I'll be following your blog.
Nice to make your acquaintance, electronically at least.


4:01 am, March 09, 2006  

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