An interesting day
It’s been an interesting day. Sir Alex Ferguson announced he was retiring from football at the age of 71, quite against all the expectations of most people who had no thought that he would retire. This afternoon I was going through an old notebook and found my training notes from the European Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Conference which was held in April 2001. This was an excellent weekend and brought together many of Bruce Lee’s original students as well as Linda and Shannon Lee. As I looked through the notes I name checked all those who taught that weekend: Dan Lee, Cass Magda, Chris Kent, Steve Golden, Pete Jacobs, Allen Joe, George Lee, Taky Kimura, Andrew Kimura, Ted Wong, Jesse Glover, Richard Bustillo, Tim Tackett and Bob Bremer. Almost all of these gentlemen had trained with Bruce Lee and knew him as a man and as a friend. I had a brilliant weekend, meeting many of these people for the first time and gaining a really deep understanding of the art that Bruce Lee had developed. What struck me today, looking back over the names was how many of them are no longer with us. Almost half have died in the 12 years since the seminar. Ted Wong, Allen Joe, George Lee, Jesse Glover and Bob Bremer. When you also add in Larry Hartsell and Herb Jackson you realise that now is the time to take careful notice of those that remain.
On Monday 2nd July I had the pleasure of speaking to 650 business people at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham. The talk I did was my ‘World’s Only Business Jedi’ presentation which includes elements of my stick-fighting career (I got to hit the MD – he had armour on!) and brought together the elements of business, philosophy, martial arts, kinesiology and the different psychological disciplines I have learnt. It’s a lot of stuff to pack into a half-an-hour talk. I was the afternoon guest speaker and entertainment. During the morning we had been treated to a presentation by Ben Hunt-Davis. It’s doubtful that many of you will have heard of him, but he is a British Gold medal Olympian from Sydney 2000 – he won his gold the same year that Sir Steve Redgrave won his 5th Gold medal. Ben won his gold in the Mens 8’s rowing; what was so impressive about his talk was how much failure he’d been through before he’d tasted success.
The title for this came from my friend Vince Vasilou, who runs Ultrabodies gym in Finedon, Northamptonshire. The photo of this article is of me, and I really had to think hard before putting it on show. I quite like it as a photo, but it is very ‘look at me’. I’m well aware of this. Two years ago (the week before Christmas 2009) I went to see Vince and asked him to put me on a weight-training programme that would build my back, chest, arms and shoulders. Although I’ve trained for 30 years (in martial arts, running and using weights) I’d never built significant size or shape. Vince is a great guy; very opinionated, but very knowledgeable with a terrific sense of humour. His gym is a fantastic place to work out, full of characters and physiques of all shapes and sizes. Vince was the man to ask about building myself up. What troubled me was that I was starting to look decidedly middle-aged. I was 46 years old with a bit of a belly and no upper body development. I looked crap to be honest.
It’s a lifestyle choice
I’m often asked about my lifestyle choices: why don’t you drink? Don’t you miss meat? Claims then follow of dying for a bacon sandwich. “I couldn’t live without caffeine.” I hear all these things a lot. They are usually followed by how boring my life must be. Well, here’s the thing. My life is neither boring, nor lacking for not eating meat, drinking caffeine, smoking or drinking alcohol. I’ve done all these things and at certain times in my life I’ve made the decision to stop doing them. Equal disbelief is often uttered when I mention some of the challenges I’ve done – especially the long distance running or walking events. I’m sure we all realise that we’re all different – I’m just a little more different than others!
If you run forward, at least you have a chance
Fear comes in many forms and many guises. Do you ever get scared of a particular challenge? Of doing something that will test you physically, emotionally and spiritually? Every year I find a challenge for myself – something that will push me, that will hurt me and which I will overcome. I’m yet to fail a challenge I have set myself, but only because I have planned and been well prepared. Sometimes life doesn’t give you those opportunities, but we have to face the pain anyway and move on. When I first saw ‘Saving Private Ryan’ I sat in the cinema transfixed to the battle scene at the start of the film; I couldn’t believe the ferocity and sat asking myself ‘what would I have done?’ After the film I phoned a friend of mine who served in the first Gulf War and many other campaigns. I asked him ‘what do you do in situations like that ? When you are under heavy fire and you are certain you will die’. He said ‘you have to move forward, it’s the only choice you have. If you stay where you are, you’ll die. If you run forward at least you have a chance’.