Crossposted and originally mentioned by gothick_matt on Twitter, the BNP rather unwisely tried to do a parody of a Marmite advert as a party political broadcast. Unfortunately for them Unilever have rather better lawyers and they’ve just agreed to pay somewhere between £70K – £170K for copyright infringement. Because of the BNP’s parlous finances it means the party is likely to go bust. Oopsie.
Don’t spend a lot of time blogging on LJ because of the time it takes to sit down and write stuff, but I entered my first grappling tournament a few weeks ago where these kind of things happened:
I was just behind on points until I got submitted like this:
(I’m in the white shorts and black rash guard)
I’m doing another one on Sunday. Because I’ve been doing BJJ and grappling for a while I entered the first at intermediate level and I’ll be doing the next one at advanced level. Now I’ve got a bit of experience I find I like the competitive nature of trying to get your opponent to submit before you do.
Also coming up is the Leeds Hacks & Hackers day. For preparation I’ve been playing about with some location data from the Ordnance Survey including coordinates for streets and postcodes. These have to be in separate tables as the main source for having them combined is the Postcode Access File available from the Post Office and which costs money. What I do have now is something that uses geolocation (usually a mobile phone GPS but Wifi with Google Gears works as well) to display a small Google map with your location along with the top 5 nearest streets and postcodes and links to find the nearest bus stop on the Metro next bus service. I’ve got postcodes for the BD, HD, HX, LS, M, OL, S, and WF areas, and SYPTE and Metro use the same service so it should be pretty easy to do one for them. GMPTE uses a different system that needs further investigation. I do have other postcodes as well but they need a bit of processing before they’re usable. I’ve done this in C#, ASP.Net and SQL Server but it should be pretty straightforward to do it in PHP and MySQL for something that works on most Linux hosting services.
Some of the other people signed up to the hack day should be familiar about these parts, including myfirstkitchen, John Eland from Exposure Leeds and Neil Owen from Test Space. Apart from the web content manager from Leeds City Council it looks like I’m the most “corporate” person there but I daresay I’m probably not the most conventional person around. Should be a good day for networking and doing things with people that doesn’t involve punching or strangling them, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we decamp off to the pub afterwards.
Busy weekend (as the fact that I’m posting this on Thursday shows). On Sunday morning I went to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seminar. 3.5 hours of wearing pyjamas and trying to strangle people and bend their limbs the wrong way. At the end people were awarded stripes and belts by Victor Estima, our head instructor. I was one of them:
The BJJ grading structure goes white -> blue -> purple -> brown -> black -> red with 4 stripes in between and I got my blue belt. There’s no set criteria for getting a belt in BJJ: they look at things like progress, technique and how you get on with people. I was trying hard to do what I could and I think the main stand out bits were taking the time to show a beginner the correct way to tie his belt at the start of the seminar, and later during sparring tapping out (beating) a purple belt via a particularly technical submission called a clock choke. You don’t expect belts and at the end a few people got blues and purples but not me. I was thinking “Fair enough. Maybe I need to work on a few things”. Then we stood up and someone said “Actually, there is someone else who’s worked hard. Marcus, step forwards.” Just over 2 years since I started in this game with virtually no experience and the incredibly tedious affliction of Dyspraxia which affects balance, coordination and spacial awareness.
After the seminar there’s a belt whipping ceremony where everyone who’s been promoted gets whipped on the back:
It stings a bit but it’s not too bad. I’ve done it to other people but now it was my turn. Afterwards my back looked like this (behind the cut):
Continue reading Belt Up
So, the 16th of March. Back in 2005 I’d fallen into bad habits. I was seriously overweight and spent most of my time watching TV, playing computer games and eating takeaways. Although I had a bike it only got used once or twice a month. However change was in the air. In January 2005 I bought a Sony PS2 and GTA San Andreas. As part of the game you can train at 3 martial arts gyms, one boxing, one kung fu and one kick boxing. I was kind of curious about the boxing so I bought some cheap shorts and gloves and decided to see if I could find somewhere to give it a go. After a bit of Googling I found a few boxing and kick boxing places that looked promising. Some had web sites while others just had email addresses. I left it for a few weeks but then in March 2005 I had to do some work in Cardiff so I called into a martial arts shop there and bought some Thai boxing shorts because the boxing shorts I had didn’t fit, with the proviso that if I was going to spend that kind of money I’d better use them. After watching a couple of old fights on the C5 show Now is the Time I finally got round to doing things and sent the following email to Richard Smith, the main instructor at Bad Company on the 8th of March:
I’m interested in joining the gym and coming to classes. Before I do, I was wondering if you had any requirements regarding health or level of fitness as it would be fair to say I’m somewhat unfit and overweight. In the past when I’ve spoken to my doctor he’s suggested that the best way for me to overcome this is to get more exercise, such as joining a gym. I’d also be interested to know if there is any particular equipment or clothing I should bring when I do come.
If you’d like to contact me over the phone, my number is xxx.
By the time I got a reply the next available open session was Wednesday the 16th. I was very nervous when I got there but I decided the best plan was to go with the flow and see what they could teach me. During the warmup Richard came over to me and told me to just do what I could, possibly the first and last time he’d not told me to try harder. Can’t remember much about that session but I do remember trying to do a push kick and falling backwards. I was pretty achy afterwards but I decided I was going to try doing six weeks and then decide whether to continue. Unfortunately after that I got mumps and had to miss the next couple of sessions. Certainly wouldn’t be the last time I was disappointed that illness or an injury meant I’d miss training.
In April was Linz & Dave’s wedding where I shocked a few people with the state I was in:
However plans were already in place to do something about it.
Continue reading 5 years on
Looks like this photo has been shortlisted by http://www.schmap.com/ to go in their next online guide to Leeds:
I thought I’d try taking photos and creative commonsing them just for a bit of fun and see what would happen, and if it does get used this would be my first ever published photo. They’re attribution-non commercial creative commons licenses so they’re not going to make any money, but it’s not for anything serious. Certainly makes you look at things in a different way if you’re trying to find things that would make good photos.
Changing the subject completely, 3 weeks ago I decided I was going to rebound from not fighting by getting into MMA and investigating Leeds Cage. 3 weeks on, 6 sessions there and it’s safe to say I’m definitely getting into it. I’m already doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Mondays and Thai boxing on Wednesdays and Fridays so this is something to do on the other nights. I’m not planning on training every weekday because full contact martial arts are pretty intense and I need time to recover. That said, I have been training pretty much every night over the last few weeks, first week because it was my first time there, second week because there was no Thai boxing on the Friday, and last week because I had a very boring day on Thursday and needed to get out of the house. When the high point of your day is a bit of banter with Dara O’Briain on Twitter you know you’ve got to do something.
Tuesdays are MMA and Thursdays are submission grappling. Both are an interesting mix of stuff I know quite well from Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and stuff I haven’t done before. Sub grappling is essentially the same as BJJ without the gis and with a few submissions that aren’t allowed there. MMA combines the striking bits of Thai boxing with the grappling of BJJ, and it changes the game a lot if someone can sit on you and hit you, or throw you to the ground when you’re trying to hit them. At sub grappling we’ve been doing a mixture of technique and sparring, and it’s good to know that I’m not a complete beginner there. MMA so far has been mainly padwork and technique: we haven’t done any sparring yet. I’ve done Thai interclubs and I’d like to do an MMA one at some point. There did seem a certain irony in going to my first ever MMA session and finding out the MMA gloves I’ve got were worn out (from bag work).
There’s the training itself and there’s the social side of it as well. It’s very easy to live in a city and find it to be overwhelming and anonymous. Leeds is a pretty big place and it took me a bit of time to find my feet. When the only people you know are at work and don’t actually live anywhere near you it’s easy to get in the trap of living to work and doing nothing other than going to the office, watching TV and sleeping. However, since my first redeployment in 2004 I’ve been working in virtual teams which are nowhere near me and tend to get dissolved when I move from project to project so I’ve had to work out a social network that’s not work based. There’s the online stuff of course: there’s people on my flist that I’ve met through uk.misc and elsewhere that have since become good friends in real life. However I think if you’re going to live somewhere you do need to get out and get to know people locally as well. What I like about my training is the sheer mix of people you get to meet. Leeds is a big uni town so you get a fair few students, but I’ve also got friends who are physiotherapists, research chemists, sales reps and people who do various things for the council. The nature of combat sports means you also get security guards, bouncers and a few police doing them, and probably a few people who you don’t ask too many questions about what they do outside the gym. Of course there are other ways to get into the life of a city that are less painful and physically demanding, but this works for me.