It was a last minute decision to attend this seminar, on Sunday 15thMay (in Cambridge, UK) having been told about it by my instructor Glen Stanway but I was very glad I went!
When I arrived I knew no one and had no idea what the seminar would consist of. I came as usual, prepared for anything, with pads, wraps, gloves, paper, pen and camera.
Little did I realise the first three items would prove completely redundant, something I’ll touch on later.
Once we all gathered in the sports hall, we were rounded up and told about the warm up we were to do. They explained how it would be a light warm up, and before it got further into detail the explanation was interrupted by the arrival of the man himself. Superfoot was in the building, this also meant there was no warm up after all! I was slightly relieved thinking hopefully the lesson would be more about listening and watching rather than doing too much, especially considering I was still aching from previous training sessions with Sunday usually serving as my recovery day after an early morning run. I couldn’t be more wrong!
So in shuffled Superfoot. At first glance perhaps he looked like a slightly feeble character, but that impression was soon obliterated when this 70 year old started jumping around like a 30 year old with the testosterone of a 20 year old with the flexibility of a teenage gymnast and the strength of Popeye! (Come to think of it, he wasn’t too unlike Popeye in character. A cheeky mischievous smile played about him, just itching to punch and kick someone.)
We were thrown straight into combinations and my gloves, wraps and pads stayed in my bag. This was old school training. It hurt if you didn’t move, so you quickly learned to move!
Our hands were the pads and we were blocking with our forearms and hands, taking slaps to the head and kicks to the stomach and ribs.
Bill wandered around analysing everyone’s technique -if you were getting it wrong, you’d be in quick receipt of a Superfoot slap to the head, so you tried your damnedest to get it right. I could see Superfoot coming towards me and I knew I hadn’t done the last combination quite right and I knew he spotted it. There he was in front of me, slap impending with his hand coming out in position and suddenly I found myself blocking Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace the man that was an undefeated champion, had trained with Jackie Chan, taught Elvis Presley and was a legend in the martial arts world!
There I stood blocking any which way I could to avoid his slap. He laughed I think in disbelief, I laughed, but it was mostly a nervous laugh. I successfully avoided the slap (thanks Glen Stanway!) but from here on in, when he spoke and demonstrated his eyes were locked on me with a stare that said “I’ll get ya!”
We continued with further combinations, and I indeed learnt to move faster simply to avoid further bruises. He explained his signature and favourite kicks were the side kick, the hook kick and the round house kick and mostly off the front leg.
He said, it was simply a guessing game for his opponent to try and foresee which kick was coming and mostly they either got it wrong or were too slow to do anything about it.
He also showed us his false, dummy kicks which tricked his opponents into thinking they knew what was coming, just to be destroyed by incoming jabs instead of kicks.
After two and a quarter hours of combinations, Bill proceeded to demonstrate, explain and help us through some of his famous stretching techniques. Watching in awe as he lowered himself into a side box splits through a series of ‘count to ten and go a little further’ techniques.
He made it look so easy and then it was our turn. My God did it hurt, but my God did it work! He said he did these stretching exercises every night before going to bed and then slept like a baby. The proof was most definitely in the pudding, because I don’t think I’ve ever met a 70 year old that could move and stretch as much as this one could, truly an inspiration.
To sum up, this was a great seminar. Nothing like I expected; seriously old school, hard-core (I have many bruise souvenirs to prove it) and hilarious. At the end Superfoot kissed me unexpectedly and continued laughing.
Not many people can say they have taken a kick and kiss from Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace. It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to have met and trained with him at a seminar I’ll never forget!