30 May 2006

It’s been a mixed week if you are a Gracie fan. At the weekend, UFC legend Royce Gracie lost his fight to Matt Hughes. I did not see it but read that it was pretty one sided and quite vicious. With Hughes winning by taking the back and hammering blows until the ref stopped it. Although Royce lost, I don’t think anyone was too surprised by the result as Hughes is younger and has had a huge number of top level MMA fights to his name. It also shouldn’t affect Royce’s popularity as his achievements in the early days will always be remembered. With BJJ rising in popularity beyond all recognition, the Gracie name is etched in granite.

I said a mixed week, well, the good news is Royler Gracie is coming to town on Wednesday. Not only am I quivering with expectation but Eddie asked if I could take some official photographs before the seminar – with the possibility that they would be published in martial arts magazines. I certainly was not gonna miss this golden chance to capture one of the martial arts greats, so off me and Cat trudged to Calumet to buy a 9 foot backdrop and stands. I also managed to acquire my dad’s Canon Eos 5D – a real beast of a camera that can snap images at a whopping 35 MB per frame. Just crossing my fingers and hope that everything works as planned. Imagine me, ordering Royler Gracie around telling him to stand there or put his arm there like some bossy photographer…gulp.


It’s been a mixed week if you are a Gracie fan. At the weekend, UFC legend Royce Gracie lost his fight to Matt Hughes. I did not see it but ...

7 May 2006

Wow! what an amazing SENI Show I've just had: I got a VIP all areas pass; I got to hang out all day with top HK movie legend Gordon Liu; I got to see my BJJ buddies compete and to top it all, I got to meet Chuck Liddell (current UFC champion) all on my own!

But first, there was hassle getting my pass, my name was not on the guest list as promised and my aunt was not around to verify my credentials. Somehow I convinced the woman at the gate to let me in, plus I got an almost impossible photo pass to allow me complete access to all areas and photograph whatever I liked (videoing and photography was not allowed in certain zones). This gave me the unique chance I was dying for to capture the BJJ contest in all it's close detail. How pleasurable it was this year (unlike the ridiculous debacle last year) to walk unimpeded into the fight zone and snap away, and whenever a steward jobsworth tried to chuck me
out, I just showed them my stamp and they backed away muttering apologies.

RGDA-UK fielded a small team this year. First up was the Asian whirlwind KJ in the rooster blue belts, who despite all his best efforts, could not get the better of some very technically
proficient blue belters. But he got to have two fights and never got submitted - a proud debut I think. Mark was next, his blue belt middle weight division had something like 20 or more competitors, so it was a long wait for his turn. Although outpointed in the end, Mark's flexible and subtle approach to competing meant he was always in with a good chance, just narrowly missing the crucial submission he was looking for. Mark was disapointed but as one of
our best players, he looked prety good to us. Next was Melitta, the dark haired assassin Melitta in the ladies white belt lightweight. I joked with Melitta after her fight that I tried to get good
photos of her but since she spent all match being pinned under her stronger but rather unimaginitive opponent, all I got was a picture of her arms and legs doing their best to escape. A tough match with few chances for Melitta, but she gave it everything and can be proud to have entered. Last up was our man Oz. Now Oz is special, he is as strong as an ox and knows no boundaries. In the middle weight white belts, this was probably the toughest division with
over 40 competitors. Oz began very well with a superb double leg takedown - 2 points straightaway. His opponent looked stunned and frantically fought back eventually getting Oz's back and sinking in those hooks. He then worked the choke for what seemed like ages. Yeah, it was ages because Oz refused to tap and eventually went to sleep. Eduardo the ref called a halt and there was poor Oz, lying unconscious on the mat. After only about a minute, he came to but
didn't seem to realise where he was. His first words apparently were 'I want a PIZZA'. Anyway he soon stood up to a very generous round of applause from the crowd and grinned away to much credit from our gang. Fomr now on, Oz will be known as Pizza Boy!
Full respect and props to all our competitors, a brave and honorable bunch. Next year - we'll be back!

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For the rest of SENI, I hung out with Gordon Liu and I ended up pretty much trailing him as his personal photographer all day. It was a very interesting insight into how the PR machine works from 'inside' as it were. To be honest, I never knew how famous and popular Gordon was, but his fans queued up all around the Combat Magazine stand and he would have been there all day were it not for his schedule and the very efficient Aunty of mine, ushering him to the demo stage.The HK cinema buffs were a refreshingly mixed bunchof people, young and old, nerdy and the trendy. I think he was amazed to see so many recognise him everywhere he went. At the demo stage, he showed a kung-fu form that was blindingly impressive. Again, I got privileged access to photograph up close and afterwards, another queue formed for autographs. Everyone wanted to chat to Gordon and if they couldn't get to him, they talked to me, assuming I was part of his entourage (which I guess I was!).
Then there was a Q&A session at the movie lounge. Gordon was in his element discussing his Kill Bill role and his views on martial arts cinema today.

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Later in the day while we were chilling in the VIP lounge. There developed an extraordinary scene. Some PR woman came in and asked if we could all move out since Chuck Liddell was being interviewed here and they wanted privacy. My Aunt, whe is a most feisty PR woman kicked up an amazing fuss with the organisors (who mistakenly double booked the rooms). Poor Gordon, me and Chuck were standing there gobsmacked at the ensuing row. Anyway, I was too nervous to photograph the big man, but I did shake hands and say hello. He got to have his room in the end, because he is Chuck Liddell - UFC champion and the biggest MMA star on the planet, and we were, well we were next doors.
The rest of the day was spent at more signings and official photograph sessions. I wandered around snapping all the impressive displays and browsing the millions of merchandise stands. For the evening, we watched PRIDE & GLORY, the multi martial arts fight show and saw great Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA action - a real nice end to the day and it seems that even traditional kungfu guy Gordon enjoys a ripping fist-fight as jolly good entertainment.
Here here!

FULL PHOTO REPORTAGE HERE: http://www.pbase.com/seymour/seni2006


Wow! what an amazing SENI Show I've just had: I got a VIP all areas pass; I got to hang out all day with top HK movie legend Gordon Liu;...

3 May 2006

Things are hotting up again in Meerkat World as we prepare for SENI 06. This is the biggest martial arts exhibition in Europe. Loads of stars of the MA world turn out for SENI, and this year, Meerkat will have an exclusive access as his relatives from China will be bringing over Chinese acting legend Gordon Liu (Kill Bill films and numerous Chinese Language kung fu films)

Meerkat is the grandson of Hong Kong film directing legend Li Han Hsiang. Most of the Chinese film industry knew my grandfather very well - he made a lot of movies! Sadly my Grandfather passed away in 1996. But his legecy still continues and every now and again, Meerkat is lucky to meet those who knew him and acted in his films - including Gordon Liu.
Gordon will be signing autographs and talking about his movies at SENI. He will also demo his Shaolin Kungfu skills - hopefully Meerkat will not asked to be uke! It was even suggested that Gordon pop down and train either at my JJ club or at BJJ - can you imagine that! Unfortunately, the timing would not make this happen.

I will report on SENI, how well my BJJ buddies did at the Gracie comps this year and my meet with Gordon in the next bulletin!

Fist of the North Star

Things are hotting up again in Meerkat World as we prepare for SENI 06. This is the biggest martial arts exhibition in Europe. Loads of star...


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