Tumbling Trials and Training Tips

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In amongst my muddly last post about ringing the changes in the ‘team’ out on the circus tour, I left out an important contribution. If anyone did the maths (no, I know you didn’t), the tumbling part of the show would have been reduced to just two people (Ethan and Jack) which doesn’t make for much of a spectacle! In fact, replacing Zach and Gary, who’ve been on the road doing acrobatics, tumbling and martial-arts-based feats for more than ten weeks now and are coming back to base, will be two Chinese guys who for everyone else’s convenience go under the names of ‘Sam’ and ‘Alex’ rather than Tsang Hui Tang and Tsang Hu Wei. We met them many years ago as young nephews to our great friends Yao and Li who invited us into their Kung Fu temple to share some of their remarkable expertise (see Loving the Boy). Now, fourteen years on, they are remarkably skilled in both their own art and are excellent tumblers as well, so they’re getting time off from the family restaurant in Knoxville to try ‘life on the road’ for a few weeks.

dl11Their skill is in no doubt, but they will need to integrate with Ethan and Jack with lightening speed because they will be in their first performance within a few hours or arriving on site. This is not how we like to do things – practice, practice, more practice being the ethic before any public get anywhere near! So our solution, since Dave and I know the routines backwards and so do Pete and Ivo, is that they have been training with us for a week and should (fingers crossed) “get the act together” with Ethan and Jack with just that few hours training. Ethan and Jack will focus on the balance part of the show, leaving Sam and Alex to lead later in the show with spear bending, smashing lumber across each other’s backs and all the other Kung Fu stuff which Gary (particularly) and Zach have been contributing to the tour thus far.

Fortunately the circus management, who engaged the ‘job lot’ of us including my son Leo and Dave’s daughter and knowing that we would need to swap personnel about now and again, seem totally relaxed with it. Apart from me having to withdraw from the start because of my leg injury, we haven’t so far let them down in any way and with Karen and Clare going out as well, they’ll get six of our happy brood keeping those elements of the circus alive for the next few weeks (after which this tour comes to an end anyway).

Dave and I would love to go back too, now that I can perform most of the stuff again reasonably well, but someone has to look after the kids (school is in session) and keep the coaching team at the gymnastics centre up to strength. So that’s where Dave and I will be most of the time…

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We have been incredibly fortunate in being welcomed into the Chinese family, arising from mutual respect of the different skills for which each of us has dedicated countless hours of training. As recounted in The Power of Love and, more particularly in Against All Odds, the family great-grandfather took us all under his wing and, along with the boys uncles Yao and Li, spent hundreds of hours of patient teaching with us, sharing things which are normally kept close within their own Kung Fu communities. Gary, in particular, received a very special ‘gift’ even after the great-grandfather had died… a gruelling week of 24-hour training to endure the balance on stomach on a single spear point.

So I guess we are becoming as much ‘theatrical agents’ and teachers as well as performers now. As our years mount up, I guess that’s what happens…

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…pushing the younger guys around in training and less ‘doing it ourselves’!

Of course, there’s life in the old dogs still… in the weights gym at the very least…

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Fitness and physical skill can be enjoyed in many ways:

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…sometimes just by holding a camera phone up to a mirror:

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…or better, a workout mate operates the camera…

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(aha, the concrete weight plates again!)

So, what are you waiting for? Get that shirt off and get training! Don’t get put off by the weather…

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…before you know it, this body could be YOU!

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About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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