Big Summer Bash - The Review
BMAC’s Big Summer Bash in aid of MS Society Scotland took place on Saturday 6th August at the Allander Leisure Centre. We’d prepared, we’d trained and now nine hours of training lay ahead of us.
Sandwiched between two heatwaves, the Bash happened on a much cooler weekend. This was a good start to the day, as the Allander’s Sports Hall gets incredibly warm.
The day began at 8am, with 12 of us. The first task was to decorate the hall with the balloons, bunting, posters and collecting buckets that the MS Society had provided. Blowing up balloons certainly supplied a different form of breathing exercise. We took the first of our hourly team photos and prepared to warm up properly.
With the hall a sea of orange, it was down to business. Scott started things off with a warm involving some cardio, squats, shadow punching and active stretching. We then went into some pad work. Initially practising in pairs with arm and leg techniques we then moved to groups of 6, with one person taking a turn in the middle. Usually we “affectionately” refer to this as the circle of death but with the length of the day, we kept each person’s stint to 30 seconds or so. Some light kata followed the pads and just like that, the first hour was complete. Eight hours to go.
The second hour was a kata party, our name for any training session that focuses on kata. We split into three groups for this, working on some grade-appropriate kata. Michael led a group of black belts, working on nijushiho, Jamie took his group through Bassai Sho and Scott covered Heian Shodan and Nidan. The hour culminated with each group doing a demo of their kata for the others. A round of applause for each group and it was onto hour 3.
Next was our first split session. Fergus trained a group of our junior members whilst Hugh guided the rest us through an hour of parrying practise. This was a good intense hour, focusing on some movement and some take downs.
Hour 4 was another split session, this time with Hugh leading on kata application whilst Scott and Emma took a group of newcomers for their first taste of martial arts. We had three people for this taster session which involved hitting some pads, some disengagement tactics. The hour culminated with an introduction of breakfalls. Balance can be an issue for people with MS so learning how to fall safely is an important skill. One of the participants was Laura Ingram, who chairs the MS Society’s Scotland Council, and it was good to get support from the charity.
The halfway mark was approaching, and Barry took over to lead us through a weapons practice. We tease Barry regularly for his love of weapons but recognise his skill with the bo, shinai and bokken amongst others. This hour introduced a wide variety of moves for staying safe even when an attacker is carrying the proverbial big stick.
Another split session started at 1pm. This time, Emma and Rachel hosted a taster session for our upcoming Women’s Self Defence Class. We had 7 people attending and signing up for our longer course that starts in September. Emma has moved away from the area recently, so it was good for her to come back and take part in the day. Hugh took the rest of the group through an hour of groundwork. We also had our second visitor as local MP Amy Callaghan came to watch and support us which was much appreciated.
At 2pm, we had 1 newcomer for another taster session which Emma hosted whilst John was instructing us on what we like to call “Marley Specials”. These are quick moves that can be used to get out of a jam but aren’t necessarily complicated to execute. This turned out to be a real high energy hour, with focus on dealing with multiple attacks. After 7 hours of training, we managed to maintain the pace of the practise.
Into the second last hour with Jamie and Michael taking the lead for an hour on distance control and movement. This was an excellent hour, with some innovative drills to help with proper distancing from an opponent. At the same time, Fergus coached his second kids’ hour doing an excellent job.
From there it was the cooldown hour. For reasons best known to himself, Scott included a breakfall kata in this, although fortunately only one. Afterwards the pace settled into some slow moving kata, using each step as a stretch. Scott then led a full body stretch, with some moans from everyone as those tired muscles were stretched one more time.
And with that it was over. 9 hours of training, 25 BMAC adult and 8 junior members took part, along with 12 people getting their first taste of martial arts. Of our 25 members, 10 were crazy enough to do the full 9 hours. However, it was great that everyone was able to take part, whether for one hour or nine. It was such a team effort to deliver. The energy levels were high all day and we never dropped below 14 people training at any one time.
A massive thank you goes to everyone that supported us. Between online donations and money on the day, we have raised over £2600 for the MS Society, an amazing total that exceeded our target. An equally massive well done to everyone in the club for making our first Big Summer Bash such a success and a great day for BMAC.
Big Summer Bash - The Preview
The Big Summer Bash is here. At the time of writing we are just a few hours away from our day of training in aid of MS Society Scotland.
There’s been an air of excitement about the club as the date has got closer, with everyone enthusiastic about the upcoming challenge. In 2020 we held our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown as a way to keep the club together in the early days of the pandemic. Life may not be back to entirely normal but now that we can train in person it seemed an opportunity to do a fundraising event. Scott suggested we do an all-day event in aid of MS Society Scotland, with us donning orange belts to show support.
With the initial idea in place, it was time to get interest from the club. Happily, everyone was up for the challenge, including Emma who has moved to Yorkshire and Madeleine who is in Edinburgh at University coming back to take part. With considerable persuasion / guilt tripping / literal arm twisting, most of the club signed up. We should have 25 people taking part, with only a few members on holiday and not able to be there.
We had some planning sessions to work out the schedule for the day. One was in the pub but that isn’t as ominous as it sounds. It was a Sunday afternoon and the round consisted of two beers, four cups of tea, an orange juice and an alcohol-free beer. Rock ‘n’ roll! This session produced an outline of the day and who would lead.
In a pandemic flashback, we had a follow up session on Zoom which nailed down timings and what would be involved. By this point, we had a date and a plan. Now for some logistics.
The Allander was booked. In an ideal world, we would have held the event on 13th August. More people available and right before the start of the new school term might have encouraged more participants. Unfortunately, the 6th was the only date we could get all day.
Next up was to let the world know. There are so many avenues to promote events. Everyone in the club was encouraged to share our Just Giving page with friends, family and colleagues. We made use of various community Facebook pages. The local Community magazine published an article and photograph about the day.
The MS Society provided a press release and announced the event on their social media channels. Going old school, we put up an event poster in the Allander and some local shops. Hopefully, this blend of channels will generate interest from the local population.
Encouragingly we hit out initial target, and a few days later we hit our second. We’re hoping we can hit a third target of £2000 raised for MS Society Scotland. A huge thank you goes to all our supporters; your generosity is much appreciated.
With that, it’s time to get our gi ready, pack the Deep Heat and Lucozade, and prepare for the day ahead. Nine hours of martial arts await. Come on BMAC family, LET’S GO!!!!!
You can support our Big Summer Bash by visiting www.justgiving.com/bmacbash.
On Saturday 6th August, BMAC will be hosting our Big Summer Bash in aid of the MS Society. We’ll be training at the Allander Leisure Centre from 8am to 5pm,
The first question anyone asks when you tell them you do martial arts is “are you black belt?”. Indeed, this blog began as a way for Scott to chart his journey to black belt. Today, quite a few of us are black belts but for the Big Summer Bash we’ll all be donning orange belts. As the event is to support the MS Society, we thought it would be cool to adopt their colour as part of the day.
When Scott first suggested the orange belts, he wasn’t sure how well it would go down. People work hard to get each belt and we don’t have “belt snobbery” when it comes to training with each other. How would people feel about wearing a belt that stands for a lower grade?
Fortunately everyone was receptive to the idea. We’ll make sure to take lots of group photos so you can see how we look in our MS Society colours.
Now some of us haven’t worn orange belts for a very, very long time. There might be original belts still in drawers somewhere that hopefully will still fit. However not everybody still has their orange belt, having long since discarded it assuming, quite reasonably, that it would never be needed again.
Of course we also have newer members who are still working towards orange belt. It’s the third belt on the way to black and we should have people grading for orange very soon.
So to make sure everybody looks the part, we’ve ordered a supply of new orange belts.
As a certain telecoms company used to say, the future’s bright, the future’s orange. For one day, 6th August, BMAC will be orange too!
If you would like to join in the Big Summer Bash, take a read here and sign up for the events at on our Facebook page.
You can support our fundraising by visiting www.justgiving.com/bmacbash.
Big Summer Bash Schedule
Our Big Summer Bash in aid of the MS Society takes place on Saturday 6th August. How will we fill nine hours of training time to keep things interesting and ensure we don’t collapse from exhaustion in the first hour? Let's take a look at the schedule.
8:00 – 9:00: The warmup hour
The first hour will be getting us started, with a welcome to everyone and then warm-up activity. We’ll also have to decorate the hall with MS Society banners and bunting. In terms of warm up, we are planning light cardio, followed by pad work and kata. Once everyone’s warm, we’ll stretch out and then we’ll be ready to go for the rest of the day.
9:00 – 10:00: Kata Party
Hour two will be a kata party, a term we use to describe any training session that focuses entirely on kata. This will give all our different grades a chance to work on kata, breaking down the details of the movements and what they are for. Our plan is to split the group by our different grades so that we can concentrate on appropriate katas before coming together to demo kata of our choice.
10:00 – 11:00: Juniors / Parrying
We have our first split group of the day, allowing our junior members to take part. Eric will be leading this practise, building to a demo. We would like the parents to also take part and join us on the mats.
At the same time for our adult members, Hugh will be leading a session on parrying starting with slow movement and sticky hands leading to sparring.
11:00 – 12:00: First Taster Session / Kata Application
Another split session for hour four. We open the mats up to anybody who would like to try a martial art in return for a donation. We’ll take you through basic strikes, kicks and locks that form part of our practise. You can register for the taster session at our Facebook page www.facebook.com/BearsdenMartialArts/events
This kata session for the rest of the club will focus on the application, multiple attackers and general body conditioning.
12:00 – 13:00: Weapons
Barry and Eric will lead this season and focus on an area we touch occasionally, weapons. How to deal with traditional martial arts weapons such as bo staff, shinai or tanto can be useful in learning real world self-defence techniques. At the end of this hour we’ll include a demo.
13:00 – 14:00: Women’s Self Defence / Groundwork
We have another split session. This will be an hour-long taster session of our popular women’s self-defence class. Emma will be leading this hour, ably assisted by Rachel. We are planning to run a six-week class later in the year so this will let everyone see the type of techniques involved. Hop over to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BearsdenMartialArts/events and sign up for the Women’s Self Defence event.
At the same, the club will be practising groundwork, led by Hugh. Our club is known for our love of groundwork, so we just had to include it in the day. We’ll be practising movement, locks and takedowns as part of this session.
14:00 – 15:00: Second Taster Session / Self Defence
We have a second taster session at 2pm if you would like to try our martial art. Visit www.facebook.com/BearsdenMartialArts/events and book your place.
For the rest of the club, our living encyclopaedia of quick self defence moves, John, will be taking us through an hour of what we affectionately call Marley Specials. These are always fun although you sometimes end up on the ground, in a knot and with no idea how you got there.
15:00 – 16:00: Juniors / Distance Control
Our last split session of the day, with a second hour for our junior members and parents to take part.
Jamie and Michael will lead on a distance control and movement practise in situations. This will include grappling, groundwork, looking at footwork and wall defence.
16:00 – 17:00: The cool down hour
We’re almost there with out last hour. A masochistic streak will see us do a breakfall kata in this hour (but only one!) before using other kata as a cooldown. We’ll do an extensive stretch and make sure we get photos and share our closing thoughts.
It should be a wonderful day of martial arts and we hope to raise lots of money for the MS Society. Everybody is welcome to take part or just watch the day’s training and you can support us by visiting www.justgiving.com/bmacbash.
BMAC's Big Summer Bash
On Saturday 6th August, BMAC will be holding our first ever Big Summer Bash. This all-day sponsored martial arts training session aims to raise money in aid of MS Society Scotland. We’ll be training from 8am to 5pm at the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden.
Nine hours of martial arts will be a challenge. We’ll need to balance our training with pacing so we can last the day. It’s highly likely that this is going to hurt. The day after might hurt even more.
So why are we doing this?
The club has members who are either directly or indirectly affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Scott was diagnosed in 2018, Madeleine’s dad has MS whilst Julie’s late mum also had the condition. MS affects more than just the person diagnosed. It has an impact on family and friends who may find themselves taking on a carer role. For us, we have a very direct link to MS and therefore supporting the MS Society is a very personal cause.
Scott wants to help the MS Society to Stop MS. We all live in hope of a cure and the Society helps to fund necessary research towards this goal. Scott still wants to challenge himself physically, testing the boundaries of what he can do since diagnosis.
Madeleine's dad has MS around 20 years ago but it’s only been in the last few years that it’s started to have a larger impact of his daily life, which has made it all the more important for her to keep helping fund the amazing research that the MS Society does, so that we can keep trying to minimise the effects MS can have in someone’s daily life. Madeleine has previously completed the Kiltwalk in aid of the MS Society.
Eric wants to show support for this worthy charity and raise awareness and cash.
Jamie notes that BMAC has been serving the local community for over four decades, providing a safe space for young and old to learn practical self-defence for young and old. BMAC is looking to contribute further by using our art to raise money to a charity close to the club’s hearts. MS has affected several of our members directly or indirectly, and so it is a great privilege to take on this challenge to support a charity doing such amazing work to combat this debilitating condition.
Emma wants to show people that BMAC is inclusive and accepting and that martial arts is a sport for all, regardless of how fit or able you are. Emma particularly likes helping people find a way of doing something regardless of their limitations so they feel they achieved the point of the lesson rather than feeling they can't do something
Hugh is taking part in this event which will raise money for research into the condition is a worthwhile exercise. On a personal level Hugh wishes to show support for Scott in particular and the MS society in general and am pleased to be part of something which raises funds for such a worthy cause. It is good to see that participating in Martial Arts as well as being good fun helps people with MS improve coordination and balance.
Speaking about the event, Scott said "I really appreciate the support of my friends at BMAC and I’m immensely proud of them for taking up this challenge".
We all have our reasons for taking part and we’ll be sharing more details of the day in the lead up to 6th August.
If you would like to support BMAC’s Big Summer Bash, you can visit our JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/BMACbash. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated.
BMAC in an Elevator
Have you heard of the elevator speech?
It’s a term often used in business meaning a short description of an idea, product, or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in a short period of time. The name reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.
Over the years we have had a lot of enquiries from prospective members through our Contact Us page. These usually encompass one or more of these questions.
With those in mind, what would an elevator speech for BMAC look like? I’ve always felt it’s important that we have a such a message for anybody interested in our club. They may have no prior knowledge of martial arts so that first conversation cannot be an in-depth exploration of what we do. This is for two reasons – 1) it is unlikely to provide the right information and 2) we only have an elevator ride to say it.
What's Your Pitch?
I asked the club for their 30 second pitches and a big thank you to everyone who contributed their speech. Let's start with my own,
Scott: Our martial art is like a hybrid of many others. We focus on self-defence and use kicks, punches, throws and locks to do this. We practise standing and ground skills such as sparring and wrestling. You can start at any age; we have male and female members, from teens up to 60s and size is not important. Regardless of your starting level, training will improve your fitness. I can’t promise you won’t get hurt but injuries are exceedingly rare, and you will be looked after by our members.
Now that 30 seconds or so focuses on a very high-level description of what we do and answering some of the typical questions. How does my speech compare with other members of the club?
Kate: It's really good to have self-defence skills. BMAC helps to keep you physically and mentally fit and is a total endorphin rush so you feel great after a session! Get yourself to a session if you can, you won't regret it!
Emma: It's like a mixed martial art but without the bloody nose! It's based on self-defence. We take all the best bits from loads of different martial arts like karate and judo and taekwondo and combine them to make it really fun. And it's great for anger management.
Jamie: The art I do is based on self-defence, not violence. We take all the really useful bits of many arts and combine them into one super-duper art. We train with folk from all walks of life and everyone is a valuable asset to further develop ourselves as practitioners. We work within everyone’s limitations and support everyone to achieve whatever goal they have their mind on. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.
Ross: It’s a mixed martial art, but not the octagon UFC stuff you see on TV, we take all the useful and interesting bits of other martial arts like judo, taekwondo etc. And mix them together. The focus is on self-defence and we have practitioners of from all walks of life, with different heights, weights and body types. It’s a great way to enjoy learning new skills, keep fit, boost confidence and meet fun people. Come and give it a try on Tuesdays at 8pm, we are a friendly bunch and always welcome new people with all levels of experience and fitness.
John: It is one of the best decisions you will ever make a lot of the members came along for a one of session and are still going strong 15/20 years later how time flies great club great members:
Eric: I love it, fitness, camaraderie, discipline, stress relief it’s all there, come and try it on Tuesday 8pm, a free tester session and well give you 1 to 1 tuition.
Post Lockdown, Come and Join Us
You can see that we all have a different way to describe our club. Some focus on the “what” we do. Others highlight the “who” we are and the “why” someone should join. I really like these different perspectives and there are no right or wrong answers here. We can see what people personally take from training and want to share with others.
My own experience reflects this. Looking back to 2007, I didn’t join because of a particular technique. I came along to try it out, enjoyed myself and kept coming back. Almost 14 years later and I’m still enjoying it, albeit we’ve been limited to virtual training for the last year due to COVID.
So, if you are thinking about a new way to get fit once the lockdown ends (our fingers are crossed) then come along and try BMAC. We’ll look after you, you will have fun, learn a lot of self-defence techniques, improve your fitness and make new friends along the way. As you get more comfortable, the details will be filled in, the technicalities learned and the understanding of our martial art developed.
Have we arrived at your floor?
We're sure they're singing BMAC in an Elevator...
Joni Was Right
It’s December and normally we’d be preparing for a Christmas night out, voting for the Russell Trophy and reflecting on the previous 12 months of training. Thanks to COVID-19, training and socialising this year has been mostly virtual. It is nine months since we were last able to punch, kick and grapple together.
In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. I asked the BMAC team what they had missed the most.
Most of all, we miss being together and, in Diana’s words, just doing what we do. The people, the laughs, the common bond we have as a club. BMAC is a diverse group with a wide range of ages, careers and interests but we come together to practise martial arts. It is a special group that has seen the bonds of friendship strengthen and flourish.
It might be a cliché but so many of the responses included the word family which speaks to the atmosphere of the club. Iain K puts it best, noting that training and our members absorb all the bad and leave you with the good.
Like any family, over the years we have developed our own language, in-jokes (obviously we find them hilarious) and alternative kata names (sorry Hugh). There is always laughter during our practises, even when we’re fighting (and what family doesn’t fight?). We might punch each other but we’re actually a friendly bunch that likes our hugs. Many of us miss that warmth of hitting our friends and then hugging them afterwards.
We miss all the elements of BMAC practise; I miss learning John’s latest sneaky moves and it’s good to hear that his head is full of new ones. I’m excited to try them although between that and Rachel and Iain F missing Hugh suggesting that someone needs a rest, we should all remember the words of Admiral Ackbar…
Morag misses the focus and discipline of training and the subsequent progress. Like Morag, Iain F misses the focus, encouragement and desire for everyone to improve. Pulling into the carpark brings the anticipation of what Hugh has planned for us whilst the ensuing class allows us to forget the worries of the day for 90 minutes. Driving past Bearsden Academy brought home to Iain just how much he misses the club.
The stress relief is widely missed. When Emma has had a bad day, she will come to training and say to Hugh “Please can I just hit things?” and he will usually say yes, before offering up a pad or a person. Sometimes both. Similarly, Iain K appreciates the opportunity to blow off steam after a bad day. David C is another who misses the unique therapy of hitting pads whilst Eric misses both the meditative and physical sides of training. 2020 has challenged our collective physical and mental health and the absence of training means we miss the benefits the club brings to both.
Progression through the grades provides satisfaction but this is not just limited to our own development. You see genuine joy in the club when anyone obtains a higher grade or gets the hang of a new technique. Iain K misses the support and encouragement that is always freely volunteered whilst Hugh describes it as a great atmosphere of friendship and mutual encouragement. Angela notes how everyone is treated equally and how the team is always willing to pass on their knowledge. Morag perhaps captures it best as being unconditional support.
There is no “belt snobbery” and everybody’s opinion is valid. And obviously everybody is fair game to be wound up, which has been known to happen. Occasionally.
Without our training, Emma misses that feeling of being strong and fit. Or as Iain K puts it, he misses fitting into his 36-inch waist trousers. When I’m not working on a sofa groove watching Netflix, I have been running a lot of miles. However running fitness and martial arts fitness are entirely different and I fully expect to be huffing and puffing when we return.
Martin H joined us in January so only experienced a handful of club sessions before we shut down. He’s enjoyed it so far, observing that the club is very welcoming to a newbie, particularly with the one-to-one training from different black belts. We look forward to seeing Martin in his first grading sometime soon.
So it turns out Joni Mitchell was right but fortunately what we have isn’t gone, it’s only on hiatus. The recent good news about vaccines is very encouraging. Could we get back to normal in 2021? What will it be like to train again?
After a year without taking bumps, we might be bruised like a punnet of peaches after the first session or two. The breakfall kata is going to hurt. Emma isn’t looking forward to the day after training when she can’t move.
Fraser and Jamie suggested that lockdown has left them more suited to sumo than karate. We just hope they’re joking and won’t turn up to training in traditional sumo garb.
With our timing being rusty, Rachel anticipates getting punched in the face more than the already disproportionally high number of times this happened before. So, we might need to take things slowly at first. Even then, Michael fully expects to walk into a fist within the first few seconds. The motto for these first few sessions is “more control, please”.
We should see some interesting kata interpretations. I suspect that, without anyone correcting me, I have blended several katas together, but I look forward to leading the group for Kwanku-tekki-hammer-den-dai.
But these are minor inconveniences, fleeting challenges that will be overcome as our fitness and conditioning return.
We are very much looking forward to reuniting the BMAC family and to training together, sharing the laugher and having fun. If our ever so slightly dysfunctional martial arts family appeals to you, come along and join us. You will be welcome.
After a year away from full training, we can’t wait to get back. Just a little more patience is required until normality returns and then we’ll be back in action. Bring it on!
A big thank you to all the BMAC family for contributing to this post.
BMAC's Theory of Evolution
It is hard to believe it has been four months since BMAC went into hibernation because of the Coronavirus lockdown. We ended our regular classes back on 17th March, which now feels like a very distant memory.
In that time, we have tried various methods to keep the spirit of the club alive. How we do that has very much evolved over time and as lockdown has progressed.
Initially the club black belts held video calls to plan what we would do once the lockdown was over and we could resume classes. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a much longer interruption than we first thought.
We extended the video calls to the entire club, as a way of keeping in touch with everyone. This provided a forum for discussion and to ask questions but soon the energy dropped off.
The next stage was our black belts creating a series of instructional videos. This produced workouts that could be done indoors, in a confined space and using whatever we could use as a substitute opponent. To create a sense of routine, the videos were released on a Thursday and a Saturday with the relevant instructor describing it on a Tuesday night video call and taking questions.
This worked well but again, after a few weeks, the energy and enthusiasm started to drop. There are only so many times you can talk through similar routines without it becoming repetitive. Although everyone was encouraged to try the workouts, the Tuesday night sessions were not providing any exercise.
This inspired our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown for charity. This gave the club a focus for a few weeks as we prepared our 30 minutes of punching and held the actual event. For the first time since we started the video calls, everyone was physically involved and got a chance to work up a sweat. We might be onto something.
Like the VLK, currently we have two black belts leading a group workout on the weekly video calls. Again, working in a confined space has proved an interesting challenge but we have been able to manage a nice variety of practices, sweat a bit and get some movement. In addition, we have been recording the sessions so that members who cannot make the call (or have ropey internet connections) can watch them later.
In tandem with these sessions, as lockout restrictions have eased, we have had small groups meet outdoors (in line with guidance) to practise kata and movement. Socially distanced kata at that.
This week has seen restrictions eased again and, weather permitting, we will now be able to meet in groups from a total of five households. It will still be a socially distanced practice but is another step back to normality.
The last four months have very much been a learning process. How to adapt a martial arts club to an environment of training in isolation is a challenge. We are still a long way from normal service being resumed but as our practice has changed and evolved during lockdown, we have kept our members engaged, raised money for charity, had some fun and kept the spirit of BMAC alive and kicking.
Stay safe and let’s look forward to the day we can return to full practice.
The Russell Trophy in Lockdown
With the end of June hurtling towards us, it should be time for the club to vote for the latest recipient of the Russell Trophy. This would mark the fourth time the trophy has been awarded since we introduced it in 2018, and would have been the third time that the winner would be decided by club votes. It is democracy in action.
The trophy was introduced to recognise our members for their contribution to the club. It was named as a thank you to Hugh and Jackie for all they have done for our members over the years and we had to emphasise to Hugh that it was most definitely a recognition and not a memorial.
Given the trophy’s name, we all agreed that Hugh should be the first recipient and when we presented him with it at our Christmas night out in 2018, it was my honour to share the many warm comments, as well as a few cheeky ones, that the club made about him. Hugh even admitted that I almost got to him. Almost. The lengthy round of applause for Hugh as he shook hands with everyone was a fitting tribute and the best possible launch for the trophy.
We decided that the trophy would be presented every six months and all members would have an equal vote. Everyone votes for three members, with first, second and third place awarded 5-3-1 points. This ensures we get a deserved winner that is consistently recognised across the club.
What are the criteria for winning the trophy? We split it into six high level categories although it is up to everyone how these are interpreted.
Like the stories we gathered for Hugh, members are encouraged to supply comments why they are voting for a person. This has already turned into one of the best traditions and a highlight of our club as the levels of warmth, affection and encouragement in the comments has been incredible. It is clear that people put a lot of thought, heart and soul into the comments and everyone seems genuinely touched by the views of their fellow members.
All voting and comments are anonymous, so we get the fun game of “guess the commenter”.
We have had two rounds of club voting so far, in June and December 2019 with Ross Walton winning in June and John Marley taking home the trophy in December. Both were hugely deserving winners and you can see photos of them being presented here.
Of course, it will not have escaped anyone’s notice that these are unusual times. Like the rest of the country, BMAC has been in lockdown since mid-March, with all training being virtual sessions. These have taken place every week, including our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown night, and we have had up to 25 members involved in these. Given the efforts by all to keep the spirit and camaraderie of the club alive during the lock down, it was agreed that the trophy would be symbolically presented to the whole club. Whilst not everyone will get to keep the trophy, it recognises that keeping us going has very much been a team effort and everyone has demonstrated the qualities that the trophy embodies.
Hopefully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel and by the end of the year, we will be able to crown the next deserving winner of the trophy.
Until then, everybody wins!
How do you train in martial arts during a Coronavirus pandemic? BMAC has been running classes in the area for over 30 years so when the lockdown began the club had to find alternative ways to practise.
After a few weeks of video conference lessons which saw the club practise different sequences of moves, BMAC’s Virtual Lockdown Knockdown was born. We challenged ourselves to do at least 50,000 punches in 30 minutes to raise money for charity.
We chose three charities. Firstly, NHS Charities Together for the staff who as in the frontline of the virus. Our second choice was the Trussell Trust which runs a network of foodbanks across the UK including East Dunbartonshire. Our final charity was the Star Project based in Paisley which has provided support during the lockdown such as delivering food and medicine and organising online get-togethers to combat loneliness.
In addition to supporting these worthwhile causes, both John and Morag observed that doing this kept the spirit of BMAC alive and kicking (or, more appropriately, punching) during these unusual and difficult times.
On Tuesday 26th May, we gathered on our regular video conference and broadcast to the world via Twitch. In total 27 adult members, 6 juniors and a few possibly reluctant parents, had volunteered to punch like mad for half an hour.
30 minutes of straight punching might have got monotonous, so a few of us came up with sequences of punches and combinations to keep things interesting. Each sequence would be two minutes, with 15 of these in total making up the duration of the challenge. Each two-minute block was led by a member of the club and, as you can see from the photo of our video conference, it looked slightly chaotic. I thought it might be difficult to follow but it worked surprisingly well. It turns out we have a few budding Joe Wicks in the club.
We’ve all been missing the club, and Jamie captured the mood by saying that event really lifted his spirits, having greatly missed not being able to see, train and have fun with our group of friends has had an impact.
Of course, when there is no club it does have an impact on people’s fitness. Willie wondered if he would be able to manage 30 minutes of punching. Not only was the answer an emphatic “yes” but he also set one of the highest totals.
Martin H had only joined the club a few weeks before we were locked down and really enjoyed the challenge whilst noting the great spirit shown by all for some worthy causes
Iain K spotted something that I have noticed many times over the years. He was having a work-life balance challenge and was missing the club as a way to de-stress. Without that release, the lockdown was proving difficult. Getting a training session, even a virtual one, and a focus has been a help.
I could not agree more with Iain. The last three months have been hard going for so many of us. The training sessions and video conferences have been a teasing glimpse of normality and a reminder that better times lie ahead. In the current climate, that has been invaluable.
More than one person commented that they are proud to be part of the club and Iain made an interesting observation that the club is such a diverse group yet we all come together in a strong supportive way, look out for club members and do our best to help others. I am sorry, I have got something in my eye…
So that was BMAC’s Virtual Lockdown Knockdown. At the end of the 30 minutes, there were plenty of smiles and surprisingly sweaty club members. It felt almost like a regular class! Even better, the 50,000 punch target was smashed. In the end, the club managed an incredible 130,142 punches and thus far has raised over £1700 for our charities. A massive BMAC thankyou to everyone that has supported us.
It was an absolute blast and just about as close as you could get to a regular club session whilst training in isolation. We keep our collective fingers crossed that we will be able to return to regular training sometime soon but in the meantime, we will keep the virtual sessions going. After all, virtual training is better than no training.
The last word goes to Hugh: “It was really good to get together as a group although only virtually. We have all missed each other’s company as BMAC is a particularly social group as well as keen martial artists. Being able to do this for a good cause made the occasion doubly special. We are all so happy glad that we were able to beat our punching and fundraising targets”
The BMAC blog began in 2013 to chart one member's journey to black belt.