Friday, June 19, 2009

My June Holidays: Training, Diving & Shooting

Updated 21st June

Well, its the end of the 3rd week of our June Holidays.
I know the Wushu boys have been training hard during the first 2 weeks. So some of you have been wondering, "What has Mr Siow been doing overseas during his June Holidays?"

Well, the Wushu boys have been training hard- so I have also been training hard myself. Ever since I started teaching, I found that maintaining my own personal training regime was a difficult endeavour. Especially, once the VS Wushu Team started to become a main CCA and we started to make a name for ourselves. I found that between the demands of teaching and overseeing the development of the VS Wushu Team, I started to spend so much time planning, organising, and coaching that struggle to maintain my own training (Ironic, right- that's life :P)
So each holiday, I try to make up for lost time by making a concerted effort to catch up on training with various instructors and fellow training partners.

Having explored various martial arts and still continuing to cross-train, one of the important core developments in any style is to have good reactions; second to that will be good conditioning. So this June, I travelled to Manila to do some hard training with some very dedicated martial artists.

We covered a wide variety of material here but one of the most important aspects was using the standard boxing punch mitts to hone our reaction and develop our appropriate energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic) for fight training. So here, we see my instructor and good friend, Flint Tabimina guiding me to refine my basic punching and react to the various stimulus given when he flashed the mitts at different positions.

We had about 3 sessions of training everyday (morning, afternoon and night) and covered empty hands, stick and edged weapons as well. All in all on average, we trainned from 4-6 hours a day. Great way to lose weight, I coming back down to my ideal fight weight! Yay!


After a week training, my wife joined me in Manila and we flew together towards the Phillipine island of Boracay to continue pursuing our diving journey.
Ever since we dine our PADI Open Water Dive in Krabi last Dec, we have been hooked on diving.
To improve our competency as a dive buddy team, me and the wife decided to pursue the next step in Open Water Diving by going for the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification.
diving photo & video 055
For fulfil the certification criteria, we had to complete 2 compulsory dive modules:
1) Deep Dive and 2)Underwater Navigation Dive
as well as 3 elective dives- for our electives, we chose:
3) Peak Performance Buoyancy 4)Fish Identification 5)Wreck Dive

1) Deep Dive
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Our Deep Dive was to a depth of 26m and this time round, I had an easier time equalising the pressure in my ears as we descended

2) Underwater Navigation
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The other compulsory module was the underwater navigation. We had to be able to follow a specified compass heading underwater and return on our reciprocal heading. We also had to be able to navigate in a square grid by using our compass bearingsand counting our fin kicks. We started out by practicing on the beach- here you see my wife, Geri, practicing with our Dive Instructor Jojo. She's trying to navigate a square grid with her head covered and only using the compass to determine her bearing

It seems easy to do on land but underwater, it was a whole new challenge and we each took a few tries to get used to navigating underwater

3) Peak Performance Buoyancy
I have always been a natural sinker. During my days as a trainee PE teacher in NIE, I was the only one unable to float- at all. When we broke down the components of the front crawl, we would do the flutter kick with our hands outstretched infront of us. The rest of the class would be cruising along the surface of the water; I'd be flutter-kicking my face along the bottom of the pool!

But diving has allowed me to capitalise on my natural negative buoyancy. In the Peak Performance Buoyancy module, we were required to maintain an optimal level of inflation in our BCD and then by controlling our inhalation and exhalation, hover in mid-water without touching the sea-bed or shooting to the surface.
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I enjoyed doing this so much, I almost attained Nirvana already :)
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Fish Identification
What's the use of diving if all you see are rocks and sand? Like that might as well put my head in an empty aquarium at home, right?
Part of the joy of diving is the chance to see marine life up close- it's one of the reasons Geri and I don't eat sharks fins now. We're not hard core animal activist but our Open Water Dive Instructor, Liz in Krabi impressed upon us one important point-" If you eat the shark during dinner, you don't expect to see many more swimming down here when you dive right?"
After seeing so many black-tip sharks and leopard sharks up close in Krabi, we realised that we enjoyed the experience of swimming with sharks more than eating them.
In this module, we learnt to sight and identify common marine wildlife around the coral reefs. Here's a picture of the Moray Eel we took when we were down in the Camia Wreck. It's well camouflaged and took some patience for us to find and identify
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5) Wreck Diving
Our final module was to dive on a sunked fishing freighter, the Camia. Wreck diving is exciting because you get to see lots of coral and marine wildlife that has grown up around the wreck to form a new marine ecosystem.
Here's our underwater adventure around the Camia Wreck

Diving has indeed provided a good activity for me and my wife to pursue together- it blends my love for adventure with her love of travel.
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Here's a photo stream of our diving adventures so far!

I'm back in Manila now and will continue doing some more fight training in the last few days of holiday before I have to return to school.

Today, I got a chance to be invited to play air-soft with the Manila guys.
(Sir Bob, me and Eric)

What's air-soft- think paintball, just with small pellets. It's a great team-building game and allows all of us to dress-up in cool camo gear.

Having no gear of my own, Dr Jon (yup, he's a real doctor) loaned me some combat overalls and an M4 Carbine.
(Sir Bob, me and Dr Jonathan)

(My M4 Carbine)

It's just like going back to NS or doing reservist- but more fun! We big boys get to play with our big toys and dress up as soldiers.
Everything looks realistic but there is a lot of safety procedures in place. Before we began, they made sure I had good fire safety. Basically, the guns are powered by lithium batteries and the pellets are loaded into magazines which you roll-click to load more pellets into the gun. The advantage of having done NS meant that it wasn't a foreign task but more of a refresher for me:

After that, we all divide into 2 big teams for the skirmish. As you can see, every individual or team comes with their own camo attire, own individual firearms- it's like cosplay for men :)
The appointed marshals place plastic bands on my team (we will skirmish against the unbanded team)
We start on opposite sides of the playing field- if you notice carefully, you can see that right outside this vacant plot there is a busy traffic road but the organisers have put up netting to ensure that stray pellets do not hit passerbys.
I followed Eric's team. Eric is an established air-soft player and their team takes part in the leagues here (yup- there are national air-soft leagues where they have various scenarios for different team types.)
After the marshal gives the final instructions, the teams move to take our places

Basically, in skirmish we get 20min per game.
The objective is to eliminate players from the opposing team using good team-work, communication and out manuevering them.
It's an honour system- once you get hit, you raise your hands, stand up and the Marshall yells "Cease fire, Dead Man Walking"
The rest of players will stop targeting you and you quickly make your way to the no-fire zone.

After awhile, I quickly found out that positioning is key.
Finding good cover and maintaining your position helps to keep you safe- even if you don't hit someone, don't get shot: Defense priority first!

But on the other hand, mobility and awareness of your surroundings is also just as important, in our later 2 games I was hit from behind- at first I thought it was friendly fire but later I realised that our opposing teams had actually managed to outflank us and move to our rear where they were slowly picking us off!

I tried to get some action shots but due to the nature of the game, I could only take the following shots from afar. Can you spot some of the well-camouflaged players from our team?

After this, LAN gaming and playing Counter-Strike has no kick oredi lah :)

It has been a fulfilling trip to the Phillipines this June holidays.
I have had the opportunity to further cross-training in martial arts, progress in my diving adventures, and try out a new team-sport, air-soft.

Looking to come back and face a new term in school.
I'm aware of that Phillipines has now reccently been declared as a H1N1 affected country.
From the planning up to the point of my departure for Phillipines, it was not listed on the affected list by MOH.

I have been in constant contact with school management and my hostel office to ensure that I am able to comply with all health and safety guidlines upon my return.
I am in good health (no fever, ya-- yes, yes, I got take temperature twice daily wan)
and will see you all soon in school!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Triumph of Saw Eh Tha Khu- aka Xiao Qiang !

Today, our VS Wushu Team sent Saw Eh Tha Khu to participate in another invitational Wushu Sanshou Free-Sparring event.

Although, Saw is originally from Myanmar and doesn't speak Chinese- he has trained hard in both Wushu and Sanshou with the theme and over come the language barrier to persevere in training.

Today's competition for intended to talent spot athletes for centralised training in Sanshou. Despite it being Saw's first competitive match, we are proud to that he won it 2-1


In China, we gave him the nickname 小强. Let us cheer him on to train harder and live up to his Chinese name!

小强, 加油!!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

One Heart, One Kuen- VS Wushu Performance @ NAFA Lee Foundation Theatre

27/05/2009, originally uploaded by Xavierxiao.

Yesterday, our VS Wushu Team was proud to be invited to perform as part of Kuen Wushu's "One Heart, One Kuen" Wushu Concert.
We began the day early by heading to the Lee Foundation auditorium @ NAFA
(Thanks our team of dedicated parents who fetched us all there!)
Being our first time performing in a dedicated performance theatre, the boys had to be conscious of audience sight lines, their alignment with the lights, trying not to inhale the fumes from the articifical smoke (hahaha)
Here's how we marked our spaces and entrances:

As with all full-dress rehearsals, there was quite a bit of time spent waiting. And as usual, our VS boys amused ourselves during the lull periods.
Here, we have our little Png-ster trying hard to be a zombie emerging from a pile of goodie bags:

Sometimes, you guys really frustrate me; but sometimes you all just crack me up too!
Keep the fun and joy in you boys; but never lose focus of what you are supposed to do.

Being a performance on stage with full lighting and effects, it was necessary for our boys to don make-up. Yup, make-up.
Look at all their nervous faces here.
Let's take a look at one of our brave volunteers:

So finally, it was curtains open. Here is a sample of the opening act showcasing the talents of Kuen's instructors as well as their advanced students. It is with pride in our heart that we can see our Victorian, Fung Jin Jie, able to showcase his skills alongside some of the best Chinese wushu athletes.

(Kuen has captured the entire performance on video. So parents interested in obtaining the entire footage of the night's outstanding performance. Please visit their website at for more details.

Finally, it came to VS' turn to perform. The boys performed a synthesised version of their competition Group Weapons event. Although, we did not have much time to put this performance together because of the exams; the relentless drilling in China and for our Nationals paid off as we were able to put the act together in a unified and co-ordinated manner.

Feedback from the public, parents as well as th organisers was very positive.
Even Picasso Tan, SEA Games Medalist for Wushu and the Dean of Kuen Wushu mentioned that our Victorians were outstanding.

Well done boys! You have shown that Victorians are indeed something more!