Vespa SEI Giorni (2017) | First Ride & Review

 

Vespa is an Italian manufacturing icon and symbol of the Italian renaissance after the second world war. This scooter became famous worldwide thanks to the movie ‘Roman Holiday’, a romantic comedy directed by William Wyler in 1953 where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn did a little sightseeing around Rome on a Vespa 125 low light. The far-fetched story between an American reporter and a young princess eclipsed the sporting image of the Vespa built some years earlier and some 375 miles away from Rome, where Piaggio’s scooters were under the spotlight due to an unexpected international motorsport triumph.

Vespa SEI Giorno review

 

The International Six Days Trail, 1951

The 26th edition of the ISDT was held 18th – 23rd September in Varese, Northern Italy. Usually referred as a sort of Olympics of Motorcycling, with trophies for best six-rider national, four-rider junior national, three-rider women’s national, three-rider club national and three-rider manufacturing teams. This competition mixed off-road and on-road routes and a track session at the Monza circuit. The race was won by the UK team (Rist, Viney, Alves, Stocker and Ray) although the most unexpected result came from the Piaggio Squadra Corse. In fact, rather amazingly, their tiny Vespa 125, specially prepared with a larger Dell’Orto SS23P carburettor, high performance exhaust and two petrol tanks was able to win 9 individual gold medals. They also earned Piaggio the Industry Gold Medal, as the only Italian team to win the trial. After this unexpected triumph, the Piaggio’s were produced in a limited edition, only around 300 units, obviously destined for the regularity competitions sold at four time the price of standard Vespa 125.

Luckily the new Sei Giorni isn’t so pricey: £5399.

Vespa SEI Giorno review

The ‘Sei Giorni’ isn’t a new model but a clever refurbishment of the GTS 300 launched in 2006 for the 60th anniversary of the Vespa. Some of its styling details such as low headlight, chrome handlebar and the small dashboard with a white background remind us of its ancestry. Coated in a charming and almost military-style matt green which contrasts nicely with the all-black rims wheels and silencer, the Vespa Sei Giorni show off its sporty spirit with the burnished windshield, black number plate and one-piece saddle which is lavishly made in dual leather and piping with white stitching. As every respectable special edition, the Vespa Sei Giorni has its identity shown on the metal plate with the serial number struck on the leg shield. Despite its racy look, the Vespa Sei Giorni pampers its owner with some attentive details such as a wide helmet compartment, USB port and the storage compartment in the leg shield back plate maybe not really in racing style soul but certainly useful.

 

 

Vespa SEI Giorno review

The press launch of the new Vespa Sei Giorni was held in Varese, on the same roads where 66 years earlier, the 125 won 9 gold medals. Even though it was a long time ago, Varese hasn’t changed too much. There are always mazes of narrow and steep roads that link the lake to the highest part of the city, named Campo dei Fiori. In short, it means that you can reach the highest point starting from the lake in 15 km and with 1000 metres of difference in altitude. Seated on the Sei Giorni I was impressed with its eye-catching finishing. Seat, grip, dashboard, handlebar switches, paint, everything looks really attractive. Turn on the engine, I am surprised how unintimidating it is, maybe too much for a single seat scooter with black number plate.

Although its single cylinder 4-stroke, 4- valve, liquid cooled it has lost 1hp after the Euro-4 treatment, it is still capable of putting out 21.2 HP at 7750 rpm with the respectable hit of torque of 22 Nm at just 5000 rpm. On the open road, the Vespa gets quickly from 0 to 45mph. The game’s over when the speedometer shows 75mph but the impression is that it could be faster with a different final ratio.

However, maximum speed isn’t important stuff, especially for a scooter. The Sei Giorni is incredible fast whether you dash around the snaking roads or on every kind of paved surface thank to an impressive suspension setup. Riding this Vespa along the old trial stage of the Six Day race, from Palace Hotel to Sacro Monte, I was surprised by the suspension response, it’s able to absorb the potholes and large cracks founds on this mountain road. If you are riding with a little more vigour, the noise of centre stand is scraping the tarmac reminds you that we aren’t in 1951 and your licence driving is in danger. For this reason, I cannot say that it’s a defect of the new Sei Giorni but simply a warning message. On the contrary though, I have no doubt that a responsive brake is needed. I’m also unconvinced about the dashboard readability. It looks lovely but like its ancestry is too small for the view of a middle-aged man like me.

 

 

Vespa SEI Giorno review

Could the 2017 Vespa Sei Giorni win the Six Days Trial today?

This is the question that I had in mind while riding this Vespa along the Varese route. Left, right, left, downhill, brake, u-turn, I keep an eye on my rear view mirror and I can see my photographer getting smaller and smaller. He’s riding a T-Max and he’s really in trouble trying to follow me on these narrow and crazy roads despite his Yamaha having double the amount of power and I am not at all a fast rider. He uses the power to his advantage and reduces the gap only on the straights. The Vespa boasts perfect balance and you can focus on the next turn confident that it will digest the change of direction and any obstacle with ease.

I turn off the engine and we are safe back at the hotel and I reflect, thinking that if the Vespa Sei Giorni could win again, then the next Six Days will have to be held in maze-like location like Varese.

Vespa SEI Giorno review

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

ENGINE
Type Single-cylinder, 4-stroke, 4 valves, electronic injection
Engine capacity 278 cc
Bore x Stroke 75 mm x 63 mm
Max power at crankshaft 15.6 kW (21.2 HP) at 7,750 rpm
MAX Torque 22 Nm at 5,000 rpm
Fuel system P.I. Injection (Port Injected)
Ignition Electronic, with variable advance
Cooling system Liquid
Lubrication Wet sump
Gearbox CVT with torque server
Clutch Automatic centrifugal dry clutch
VEHICLE
Load Bearing Structure Sheet metal body with welded reinforcements
Front suspension Single arm fork with coil spring and hydraulic control
Rear suspension Double hydraulic shock absorber with four-position spring preload adjustment
Front brake Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc – ABS
Rear brake Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc – ABS
Front tyre Tubeless 120/70 – 12″
Rear tyre Tubeless 130/70 – 12″
DIMENSIONS
Length/Width 1950/770 mm
Wheelbase 1375 mm
Saddle height 790 mm
Fuel tank capacity 8.5 litres
Emissions compliance Euro 4
PRICE £5399
INSURANCE QUOTE Click here for an insurance quote

 

Photo credit: MILAGRO

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Bruce Lee and the Art of Scientific Street Fighting

The recent uproar over an MMA fighter’s beatdown of a tai chi practitioner is a virtual case study for Bruce Lee’s emphasis on real world application of the fighting arts.

“Organized despair.” That’s the phrase Bruce Lee often used to characterize many of the prevailing practices within the martial arts world.

Bruce actually had an entire arsenal of these kinds of colorful criticisms, and he wasn’t shy about using them: “the classical mess,” “dryland swimming,” “patternized robots.” He employed these terms to argue against where he saw the martial arts going astray, and to illustrate his opinion of how many practitioners were merely engaged in choreographed routines, or as he put it, “artificial techniques … ritualistically practiced to simulate actual combat.”

Amid his ever-enduring popularity as a global icon, it is easily forgotten that Bruce’s critical perspectives were not well-received by much of the martial arts community, particularly prior to his big screen success. In fact, his outspoken viewpoints had earned him a pair of heated challenge matches early in his career as well as a reputation as a “dissident with bad manners.” Yet while his candid opinions were often contentious, they were not without historical precedent.

For example, more than a 150-years prior, the Chinese Emperor Jia Qing issued an imperial edict which included his concerns for the current fighting trends: “Now the Wuyi [martial arts] of Green Army Barracks are all flowery movements, …only for show and performances, not for practical use.” Back in the 1930s, the Chinese martial arts historian Tang Hao advocated for reform within the culture, and urged practitioners to “emphasize practicality; renounce embellishment.”

The Emperor, the Dragon, and the Scholar were all arguing the same case: namely, that as flamboyance and folklore gained an increasing presence over real world technique, the martial component of the martial arts would only stray further and further from the realities of actual fighting.

With these concerns in mind, Bruce took to calling his own approach “scientific street fighting,” promoting a martial worldview that was fact-based, research-driven, and analytical; as well as free of the mythology and romantic hyperbole that was so heavily-embedded within the field. By citing “street fighting,” he was emphasizing practical application within the most unpredictable martial context possible, in which “combat is not fixed and is very much ‘alive.'”

More than four decades after his passing, Bruce’s reformist identity remains remarkably relevant to the history of martial culture as well as the perennial tensions that still populate the martial arts landscape of the 21 st Century.

Bruce Lee pictured on the streets of Oakland, circa 1965. Bruce had contempt for the light-contact martial arts competitions of his era, and kept his focus on application for street fighting. (Photo courtesy of Barney Scollan)

Field Study

By the time he boarded a steam ship in the spring of 1959 to depart Hong Kong for San Francisco, Bruce Lee already had a nuanced martial arts worldview that was based upon tangible first-hand experience. Although he was only 18-years-old, his immersion within Hong Kong’s robust rooftop fighting culture of the 1950s had instilled him with a conception of fighting that was predicated as much upon live encounters on the streets than practice in the studio.

Hong Kong’s street fighting culture was anchored around the many kung fu schools that packed into the British Colony after the advent of Communist victory on mainland China in 1949, and involved teenage practitioners in regular bareknuckle challenge matches. When the local police began to view the participants of these fights as deviant youth gangs, the teens took the action up to the rooftops, where they could conduct their bouts uninterrupted by the authorities and other adults.

During his mid-to-late teens, Bruce not only took part in these fights, but had a front row seat to regularly watch them and assess what was truly viable. His teacher—the now-glorified Wing Chun master Ip Man—encouraged his students to seek out real world application beyond the classroom. As Bruce’s friend and classmate Hawkins Cheung explained, “Ip Man said, ‘Don’t believe me…Go out and have a fight. Test it out.'” Collectively, Bruce’s time amongst this fight culture would comprise a core foundation for his approach to the martial arts for the remainder of his life.

As Bruce arrived to America in the spring of 1959, the Asian martial arts were on the cusp of an initial widespread popularity in the West, and a heavy part of this interest was based around a romanticized view of the Eastern world. Many young American men perceived them as the secret fighting arts of an exotic and mystical culture. Where some exploited this, Bruce condemned it: “80% of what they are teaching in China is nonsense. Here, in America, it is 90%.” Unsurprisingly, these views were not welcomed by most of the martial arts community, particularly when coming from a young loudmouthed out-of-towner.

Shortly into his time attending school in Seattle, Bruce ran into his first challenge after a public demonstration in which he implied that kung fu was a more nuanced fighting system than karate. This antagonized local karate practitioner Yoiche Nakachi, who was ten years older than Bruce, had been practicing karate since his childhood in Japan, and was known for his street fighting victories around town. When Bruce finally accepted the challenge, he obliterated Yoiche in 11 seconds, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with a fractured skull. Rather than Bruce’s critiques being silenced, they soon grew louder.

Bruce and James Lee practicing in their garage, in east Oakland. Despite their difference in age, the two became close collaborators for the remainder of their lives. (Photo courtesy of Greglon Lee)

“Does it work?”

Beginning in 1962, Bruce began to increasingly gravitate down to Oakland, California, in order to collaborate with James Lee and his innovative group of martial arts colleagues. James had a fierce reputation from his younger days as an Oakland street fighter, and ran a no-nonsense modern training environment out of his garage, where the emphasis was on technique that would be immediately applicable to real world encounters.

Bruce, James, and the other accomplished martial artists in their Bay Area orbit (including Ed Parker, Wally Jay, Ralph Castro, and Al Novak) created a unique martial arts laboratory in Oakland, where they would practice during the day and then hold energetic think tank sessions that ran late into the night. In this progressive martial arts environment, two main points of emphasis emerged—viability and innovation.

“Does it work?” was the simple blunt litmus for any technique in question, and they tested them with methodical analysis across various scenarios. If street fighting was “alive” and not choreographed, Bruce argued, why should the preparation for it be? “There is no way a person is going to fight you in the street with a set pattern. Too many practitioners are just blindly rehearsing systematic routines and stunts.”

In Oakland, innovation was seen as the antidote to the drawbacks of fixed routine. In an era when most masters frowned upon their students deviating beyond a single system, the Oakland camp enthusiastically embraced the mixing of styles and drew from the wide cross-section of their collective experience. The approach was as expansive as it was analytical: they watched old boxing films, discussed the footwork of fencers, and debated the circumstances of past street fights. In the process, Bruce began envisioning a new system.

At the inaugural Long Beach Tournament in 1964, Bruce gave a contentious demonstration to an international audience of martial artists, in which he “trashed” the widely-practiced horse stance as an impractical technique (“there is stability but no mobility”). In an effort to discouraged cookie-cutter practitioners, Bruce also argued for an individualistic approach in which the student took priority over the system. The response was divided. Some considered Bruce a visionary, while others saw a trash-talking troublemaker (“a bit of an arrogant prick,” as one Long Beach participant characterized him).

Even as Bruce was stoking fresh tensions towards a new challenge match, everything remained on the table in Oakland as they pioneered a modern martial arts future. From his garage on the east side of town, James Lee ran his own martial arts book publishing outfit and designed custom training equipment. During his next appearance at Long Beach, Bruce showcased innovative protective gear as a way to conduct both full-contact sparring and martial arts competitions (a sharp contrast to the prevailing light-contact and point-based competitions that were typical of the era).

A menacing street fighter in his youth, James Lee embodied all of the blue collar grit of his native Oakland. On a conceptual level, he was a remarkably creative innovator of the martial arts in America. (Photo courtesy of Greglon Lee)

With all of these habits and viewpoints in mind, Bruce began to incorporate the phrase “scientific street fighting” into his increasingly outspoken public demonstrations. Inevitably, his opinions continued to aggravate the longstanding differences he had with the practitioners of San Francisco Chinatown, where one longtime kung fu master regarded him as “a dissident with bad manners.” During a demonstration in front of huge Chinatown audience in 1964, Bruce criticized the masters of the local martial arts culture as “old tigers with no teeth.” Logically, a challenge soon followed.

The no-holds-barred fight which occurred in Oakland between Bruce Lee and Chinatown’s young ace practitioner Wong Jack Man is arguably the famous martial arts challenge match in modern history. Bruce fell far short of his own expectations after struggling to decisively put his opponent away as he had in Seattle a few years earlier, winning the fight but in sloppy fashion.

Rather than rest upon an unsatisfying victory, Bruce saw the incident as a catalyst for evolution, and his personalized system of Jeet Kune Do soon began to take tangible shape. Bruce synthesized his many influences into an approach that maintained the Oakland principles of viability and innovation, with an emphasis on a simple, direct, and non-classical awareness. And while Jeet Kune Do was the culmination of over a decade of Bruce’s research and application, it was not fixed in structure, but intended for constant evolution.

Half a century later, these same principles remain highly relevant to the modern martial arts landscape.

Tape Don’t Lie

Recent viral videos which show MMA fighters making quick work of kung fu practitioners during organized bouts are a prime example of the still lingering disconnect that Bruce Lee and other martial reformists were trying to illustrate through their more critical viewpoints.

In a match in Malaysia, video footage shows a Wing Chun practitioner being quickly taken down, pummeled, and choked out by his MMA-oriented opponent in less than 30 seconds. Watching the pre-fight activity, it is hard to not feel that the kung fu fighter was more intent on posturing his way through some kind of Donnie-Yen-as-Ip-Man fantasy, than realistically confronting the “actual combat” looming before him.

If there is merit to the video beyond mere spectacle, it is the simple takeaway that some practitioners remain woefully out of touch with the hard realities of the fighting arts that they have committed so much time and energy. Bruce would refer to these practitioners as “dryland swimmers,” and argue that to be a fighter, you need to acclimate to actual fighting, just as a swimmer needs to understand the reality of being up to his neck in water.

Of course, no fight video has more clearly gotten to the core of these still lingering issues than the recent high profile showdown in China between brash MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong quickly beating down the supposedly mystically-powered tai chi practitioner Wei Lei. The incident has since become international news, and sparked a fresh debate (as Xu had initially hoped) over the real world validity of martial systems.

The confrontation had emerged out of a war of words in which Xu bluntly called out Wei Lei’s self-touted magical abilities as utterly fraudulent. When the dispute culminated into an actual match between the two, Xu easily overwhelmed Wei in about ten seconds.

The showdown between tai chi practitioner Wei Lei and MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong has hyper-charged perennial debates over the viability of martial systems.

Historically-speaking, fights of this nature aren’t anything particularly new. Martial arts historian Ben Judkins recently posted an account on his site Kung Fu Tea that described a similar cross-style matchup in which a tai chi practitioner lost a high profile public exhibition in China… back in 1928. Prior to the era of widespread Internet, the early days of the UFC during the 1990s also provided plenty of lopsided encounters for consideration. In the age of YouTube, such scenarios are hardly new revelations, as these kinds of fight videos surface often and in abundance.

With all this in mind, it has been the post script to Xu Xiaodong’s victory over Wei Lei that has proven far more illuminating than the fight itself, and which speaks volumes about the longstanding reluctance for sections of the martial arts community to detach itself from mythology and embrace an evolution towards a fact-based martial sensibility.

In the wake of his victory, Xu has been publicly condemned by numerous Chinese agencies, including the Chinese Boxing Association and the state news outlet Xinhua. The Chinese Wushu Association declared that the fight “violates the morals of the martial arts” (despite the fact that both men willfully participated and that the contest itself was conducted with a referee). It also appears that government authorities have shut down Xu’s blog and censored articles related to the fight. Collectively, the reaction to the incident within China has been so harsh that it has caused Xu to go into hiding, leaving him to an issue the statement: “I’m fighting fraudulence, but now I’ve become the target.”

Even in mind of the reported abrasiveness of Xu’s behavior, the entire aftermath of the incident resonates with a kill-the-messenger-style of blowback, which clings to a flat-earth conception of the martial arts. Like Bruce, Xu could just as easily be called “a dissident with bad manners” for his outspoken and brash approach. Yet the offensiveness of his “bad manners” doesn’t eclipse the merit of his dissent, and the backlash is ultimately an old storyline within the history of the martial arts, which affected Bruce Lee and others who dared to pull the curtain really far back.

Tang Hao was the father of modern martial arts history. While his work still holds up, many of the myths he sought to dismiss still thrive nearly a century later.

Original Dissent

Most martial artists are unfamiliar with the work and career of Tang Hao, yet historians and academics within the field remain enamored with him. And rightfully so, as Tang Hao was the father of modern martial arts scholarship and fact-based history.

His work dates back to the 1920s, where amid an explosion of fanciful literature, the Chinese martial arts were ripe for a sober historical assessment. A lawyer by trade and an experienced practitioner of the martial arts, Tang Hao wrote numerous books and articles that dismissed much of the prevailing history surrounding the Chinese martial arts as fanciful folklore.

In 1920, he published Study of Shaolin and Wudang, in which he tackled the disparity between fact and folklore in Chinese martial arts history, taking aim at, as historian Ben Judkins put it, “as many sacred cows as possible.” He dismissed the mythology surrounding the Shaolin Temple, and criticized much of the quasi-mysticism that had been attached to the martial arts in his time.

In drawing sharp lines between mythology and fact, Tang Hao’s work was not met by the Chinese martial arts community with interest and gratitude, but rather, with hostility and outrage; and as a friend of his would later write in a memorial essay, “some ruthless and self-proclaimed practitioners of Wudang and Shaolin made a plan to attack Tang Hao and beat him up.” This was only prevented when a reputable third party intervened on his behalf. Despite these tensions, Tang Hao would continue to write about and promote an evidence-based history of the Chinese martial arts for the rest of his career.

Almost a century later, his work still holds up, though it is likely that Tang Hao would be dismayed to see so many modern day practitioners still clinging to mythology in the 21 st Century, such as the idea that the Asian fighting arts originated within the Shaolin Temple. This storyline asserts that the semi-mythical Bodhidharma had passed along a series of fighting exercises to the Shaolin monks to invigorate their physical well-being, in the 5th Century A.D. There is abundance of factual scholarship which says otherwise (in which historians point to a confluence of factors within China that saw the rise of unarmed fighting styles around the 16 th Century). Yet, the Bodhidharma legend persists into 2017, despite it being the equivalent of a modern Olympic athlete citing Zeus and the gods of Olympus as the founders of the summer games.

Martial historians see the unifying thread of reformist effort that runs through the careers of Tang Hao and Bruce Lee. As historian Brian Kennedy writes, “Many Chinese martial systems had become, in the famous words of Bruce Lee, ‘cramped and distorted’ by lots of different rituals, different titles, theories with little or no basis in reality, fake lineage, and pseudo-religious overtones… Tang Hao, much in the same vein as Bruce Lee, wanted Chinese martial arts stripped of this extra baggage.”

In this sense, both Tang Hao and Bruce Lee would have likely also been dismissive of Wei Lei’s supposed magical powers, just as they would have been keenly familiar with the post-fight treatment that Xu Xiaodong has been subjected to.

Seishiro Okazaki (bottom row, center) pictured during an advanced jujitsu seminar at his home in Hawaii, February 22, 1948. Okazaki’s classes had very large enrollment, and over the years he would teach thousands of U.S. servicemen at the Honolulu YMCA. (Photo courtesy of Bernice Jay)

Martial Proving Ground

The debate that has followed Wei Lei’s defeat has involved perspectives that are as varied and expansive as the martial arts themselves. Health, fitness, and self-cultivation are all legitimate and popular reasons for why a wide variety of people pursue the martial arts in the 21st Century. Yet when it comes to this recent fight in China, there is no way around the bottom line issue of martial viability. Just as Bruce and his colleagues in Oakland had asked—”Does it work?”

As many have correctly pointed out, the defeat of one practitioner does not conclude a complete worthlessness of any given system. But if the issue in question is the martial component of the martial arts, then there is really no other testing ground for the traditional Chinese martial arts to bounce back from Wei Lei’s loss than within the ring. And in this regard as well, there is positive historical precedent to draw upon.

In 1922, British heavyweight boxer Carl “KO” Morris arrived to the Hawaiian Islands, and put out an open invitation to Asian martial artists to test their mettle against him in the ring. Morris had a reputation for being openly condescending towards the Asian fighting arts, and his challenge was quickly considered a standing insult to the islands’ large Japanese immigrant community.

At the time, Hawaii was forming into the first great international martial arts hot-spot. Based upon immigration trends presented by economic opportunities within the islands, a wide array of Asian fighting styles arrived to the islands and quickly began to cross-pollinate.

“Hawaii was the first great melting pot of Asian martial arts,” explains eclectic martial arts master Dan Inosanto. “It’s where Chinese trained Japanese, Japanese trained Chinese, Chinese trained Filipino, and then Hawaiians themselves got involved in all those arts, too.” (With this in mind, it is logical that the early modern mixed martial art fighting system of kajukenbo was born of the Hawaiian Islands.)

The first Japanese fighter to take up Morris’ challenge fared poorly in a first-round knockout. However, the Japanese martial arts community did not concede this as evidence of anything. Instead, they appealed to a local martial artist that fully embodied the multi-faceted nature of the Hawaiian fight culture.

Seishiro Okazaki came from a long line of Japanese samurai. Like many others of his era, he migrated to Hawaii as a young man for work opportunities on the islands’ sugar cane fields. There, at the age of 19, he began studying jujitsu as a means of cultivating his physical health. He spent the next twelve years of his life not just practicing jujitsu (of which he mastered three different styles), but any martial arts that he could seek out on the islands: kung fu with a 78-year-old Chinese master in Kohala, karate from an Okinawan, Fillipino knife fighting, western wrestling, and the native Hawaiian martial art of lua.

Upon taking up the standing challenge, Okazaki prepared for the fight by proactively researching and testing out techniques that could be applied against a boxer of Morris’s size and abilities. He observed boxing matches between U.S. servicemen on the island, and aimed to design an approach that would be stifling to pugilist technique. After weeks of research, Okazaki developed an especially low fighting crouch, with the reasoning that boxers had little practice punching downward.

Seishiro Okazaki (seated) pictured with student Wally Jay, who would become one of Bruce Lee’s closest colleagues in Oakland. (Photo courtesy of Bernice Jay)

On May 19, 1922, Okazaki met Morris in the ring for a wild bout. Early in the first round, Okazaki misjudged Morris’s reach and had his nose broken in the first round. Still, he bounced back and managed to throw Morris out of the ring twice. Seeing the boxer hang his jab too long in a subsequent round, Okazaki drove low and threw his opponent to the mat in a move that appeared to break Morris’s arm on the spot. Humble in his victory, Okazaki visited Morris in the hospital. Later, Morris would study jujitsu in Okazaki’s class during the remainder of his stay in Hawaii.

Xu Xiaodong’s challenge to the traditional Chinese martial arts community is no different than the one Morris posed towards the Japanese in Hawaii some 90 years earlier. Rather than censor Xu’s viewpoints or put forth empty excuses for Wu Lei’s loss, the traditional Chinese martial arts community should be anxious to get a new fighter to step up to the challenge. Some have offered, yet the state seems content with publicly reprimanding Xu.

Seishiro Okazaki did not defeat Carl Morris with mythological stories or magic tricks. He won through research, analytical design, and live combat execution; essentially, the essence of what Bruce Lee had characterized as “scientific street fighting.” It is as relevant now as it was then.

Charles Russo is a journalist in San Francisco. This article contains information that is excerpted from his book – Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America.

The Eco Buzz 1 electric scooter.

 

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

Yes, it does like an original at first glance. But at second glance you can obviously tell it isn’t. It’s the all-new Buzz 1 electric scooter.

A new name meets old-fashioned styling. This is, of course, based on the Vespa of 50+ years back. That’s the big selling point and the brand identity. But certainly not the only selling point.

The finished version of this prototype scooter isn’t going to sell on looks alone. It needs the technology to match. This scooter packs in lithium-ion polymer batteries, regenerative electric braking and hydraulic disk braking (so braking boosts the battery), a removable roof system with solar panels (although to be honest, the roof looks a little odd), a slow reverse gear for easy parking and a weatherproof shell and steel tubular chassis.

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

Fast charging of the scooter take just 12 minutes, although it probably needs an overnight charge for any distance. Talking of which, the maximum distance right now is around 240km, with plans to boost to 400km. Top speed depends on the model you go for, but is up to 120km/ph.

There’s more detail and more images on the website, with a contact form if you want to know more. Details in relation to price and sales are said to be following this year.

Find out more at the EV Concepts website

Cheers to Kurt on Facebook for bringing this one up.

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

Coming soon: Buzz 1 vintage-style electric scooter

The Aston Martin…Submarine ?

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Aston Martin is proud to announce a creative collaboration with Triton Submarines, the acclaimed manufacturer of state–of-the-art submersibles.

Codenamed Project Neptune, the venture marries Triton’s diving and operational expertise with Aston Martin’s design, materials, and craftsmanship. Overseen by Aston Martin Consulting, the partnership has shaped a unique concept that will lead to an exclusive, strictly-limited edition vehicle.

28 September 2017, Monaco: Aston Martin is proud to announce a creative collaboration with Triton Submarines LLC, the acclaimed manufacturer of state–of-the-art submersibles. Codenamed Project Neptune, the venture enables Aston Martin to further enhance and grow the brand into new aspects of the luxury world, with all the performance, beauty and elegance one has come to expect from the British marque.

Triton has unparalleled expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of submersibles for researchers, explorers and superyacht owners. Founded in Florida by L. Bruce Jones and Patrick Lahey, the team at Triton are committed to producing the safest and best performing, deep-diving submersibles in the world.

Project Neptune marries Triton’s diving and operational expertise with Aston Martin’s design, materials, and craftsmanship. Overseen by Aston Martin Consulting, the partnership has shaped a unique concept that will lead to an exclusive, strictly-limited edition vehicle. Project Neptune takes Triton’s acclaimed Low Profile (LP) three-person platform as a basis upon which to explore a new iteration of Aston Martin’s progressive design language.

Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman and his team have transformed Triton’s compact LP platform, creating a vehicle with inherently beautiful proportions. ‘Project Neptune is defined by its sleek, elegant exterior,’ says Reichman, ‘we have used forms and proportions that express the same devotion to design, engineering and beauty that shape our cars, such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar project.’

Patrick Lahey, President of Triton Submarines LLC said: “We have always admired Aston Martin. The marque represents a deeply held passion for technology, engineering and timeless, elegant design. From our first interaction, it was apparent that Triton and Aston Martin were natural partners and our complimentary values will be realised in this truly exciting project.”

Aston Martin Consulting provides design, engineering and manufacturing services to select industries, distilling the brand’s essence into exciting new projects without compromising Aston Martin’s fundamental qualities. Aston Martin Consulting draws upon the exceptional skills of Aston Martin’s design and engineering teams, creating credible partnerships that go beyond the automotive sector and yet still demonstrate the love of innovation, beauty and craftsmanship.

Aston Martin Consulting Managing Director, Bradley Yorke-Biggs said: ‘Project Neptune is a flagship project for Aston Martin Consulting. It is a clear and engaging demonstration of how Aston Martin’s expertise in sports car design and craftsmanship can be extended into new aspects of the luxury world.”

ENQUIRE: www.astonmartin.com/projectneptune

What Would Happen If You Replace All Drinks with Water ?

We all know about the harm drinks other than water can cause us, but what if we replace them with it completely? Chris Bailey, a popular blogger and lecturer, carried out some month-long research, which we have decided to summarize for you in illustrated form.

Illustrated by Dinara Galieva for BrightSide.me

How Lenny McLean became the hardest man in Britain

East End hard-man Lenny McLean with his beloved dogs

There’s some footage towards the beginning of The Guv’nor, Paul Van Carter’s brutal yet measured documentary about Lenny McLean, which just about sums up the temperament of the famed East End hard-man.

In the clip, from 1986, McLean patiently bounces up and down in a boxing ring, looking slightly like a silverback gorilla about to be released into the wild, preparing to take on an undefeated fighter named Brian ‘Mad Gypsy’ Bradshaw in an unlicensed bout.

From the grainy video alone it is difficult to tell whether Bradshaw is a member of the traveller community, but it takes just a few seconds for the other half of his nickname to prove emphatically correct.

Striding forward to touch gloves with McLean in order to start the fight, Bradshaw – long before a bell has tolled – head-butts his opponent square on the chin.

In the course of human history, few decisions have proven less wise, and fewer still so instantly regretted. To a backdrop of gasps, McLean recoils, gently touching a glove to his mouth to check for blood, before unleashing utter mayhem.

Bradshaw is floored by the first punch, a huge right hook, before McLean boots him while he’s down, punches him a dozen more times, madly kicks him, picks him up a bit, punches him a lot more again, then repeatedly stamps on his head until four exceptionally plucky spectators intervene, restraining the victor just about long enough for the fight to be called to a halt.

It’s terrifying, but to many people, that was just the Guv’nor. The hardest man in Britain.

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Lenny McLean ruled over the East End for decades

Defining Lenny McLean, who died in 1998, beyond calling him ‘hard’ is no easy task. Consult his online biography, for instance, and you’ll be met with the following list of pursuits – the like of which you’ll be pressed to match in 2016, no matter how long you spend on LinkedIn:

“A bare-knuckle fighter, bouncer, criminal and prisoner, author, businessman, bodyguard, enforcer, weightlifter, television presenter and actor.”

With The Guv’nor, a feature documentary that shows in cinemas tonight and sees release on DVD from Monday, Van Carter attempts to make some sense of that extraordinary life. To do so he collaborated with Jamie McLean, Lenny’s only son, who fronts the documentary, turning the film into not only an examination of its subject, but its presenter too.

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Jamie McLean, Lenny’s only son

The Guv’nor follows Jamie, 45, around the now heavily gentrified areas of east London where McLean grew up and spent most of his days, eventually becoming the most famous – and feared – man around. Through interviews with McLean’s old friends and family, Jamie builds a complex portrait of his father and discovers, in unflinching detail, how he became one of the most notorious men in London.

“It was an emotional thing to do, talking about my dad, especially as he isn’t here anymore,” Jamie says. “We got there in the end, but even going around those parts of London, bumping into people who had stories about him and remembered him as a kid, was very hard for me.”

Born into a working class family in Hoxton in 1949, Lenny McLean’s father died when he was six, leaving him to be raised by his mother, Rose, and later a stepfather, Jim Irwin. A local conman, Irwin physically abused McLean and his siblings (who refuse to speak on camera in the documentary) throughout his childhood, unleashing regular beatings until the children’s great-uncle, a gangster named Jimmy Spink, stepped in to deal with Irwin in a predictably forthright manner.

Consumed with rage, Lenny became a brawler as he grew older (and bigger, reaching 6’3” and over 20st at his peak), before mixing with criminals – at one point associating with the Kray twins – and serving a prison sentence for petty crimes.

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A 17-year-old Lenny in 1966

It didn’t take long for Lenny to make a name for himself as the toughest street fighter around, earning the nickname ‘Ten Men Len’ on account of it taking ten men to take him down. Turning to bare-knuckle and unlicensed boxing to earn money (a license was never possible for him, thanks to his criminal convictions), regularly knocking out opponents far larger than him.

Despite that local environment, Jamie – an honest and extremely likeable frontman for The Guv’nor, who admits to his own history of brushes with the law for violence – says the abuse Lenny suffered as a child ignited a rage his father was rarely able to escape from.

“My dad wasn’t a born fighter. He was uneducated and a product of his upbringing, traumatised by what he’d been through, and probably had mental health problems as a result of all that. Fighting was all he knew.”

In particular, through the course of the film Van Carter and Jamie discovered Lenny likely suffered from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as a direct result of his upbringing.

“The violence was a way of managing and concealing the OCD that directly sprung from abuse,” Van Carter, 40, says. “He almost satisfied the chaos of that psychological disorder through fighting, hiding any vulnerabilities he might have felt mentally.”

In the documentary, Jamie tells innumerable tales of his father’s extreme violence, never sugar-coating or seeking to present Lenny as less aggressive than his reputation. For instance, one fight outside a pub in Hoxton, started when a local asked to see him outside, ended with Lenny ripping the man’s windpipe out with his teeth.

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Lenny McLean with the actors Craig Fairbrass and Frank Harper

As Lenny McLean grew older, he began using his considerable reputation to guard doors at nightclubs across London, including Camden Palace and the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, becoming a de facto leader for bouncers in the capital. In this period he was shot, accused of murder (later acquitted) and enjoyed another stint behind bars.

In his work, Jamie admits, it was all violence. As a father, though, Lenny was nothing but a big softie.

“He was gentle and funny to us and his friends, never raising a finger to my sister and me,” Jamie says. “What my dad did, in work and on the streets, was bully bullies. Unprovoked violence only ever came as a vigilante, clattering blokes on the estate who’d hit their wives or kids, sometimes even working with the police to sort out problems they couldn’t get near. People respected him in the area and still do; that was the old code of honour.”

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Jamie McLean with his parents, Lenny and Val, at a family Christmas

That safety didn’t allow Jamie to act as he liked as a kid, however. He may have had the hardest dad in town, but it came at a cost.

“We knew the consequences if we told him that we’d had a problem or someone had done something to us. Telling him someone had hit us would have resulted not just in violent revenge, but extreme violence, so we had to keep quiet,” he says, before admitting there was one perk: “Me and my mates never queued for a club anywhere in London.”

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McLean strikes a pose at a caravan park

After years of fighting, the late 1990s brought a remarkable change in Lenny’s life. Giving up violence and moving to Kent, he instead became something of a creative, writing a best-selling autobiography, also called The Guv’nor, and turning to acting, most famously in the TV series The Knock and as Barry the Baptist in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 gangster film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

“That’s what he always wanted to do. He was a good fighter, especially on the streets, but his lasting legacy was acting. When he arrived on the set of Lock Stock, someone asked him what drama school he attended. Without missing a beat, Len told him ‘I’ve been shot twice, stabbed 100 times and had 10,000 bar-room brawls – is that enough drama for you?’

“Guy Ritchie said he was a natural, with perfect timing. If he was around today he would’ve been a really accomplished British character actor, maybe in Game of Thrones or something. He’d probably have tried Shakespeare for all we know…”

As it is, we’ll never know what the future had in store. During filming on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, he complained of flu symptoms that later turned out to be lung cancer, and died that July, aged 49. When Lock Stock was released a few weeks later, Ritchie dedicated it to Lenny.

“You don’t get Guv’nors like my dad any more,” Jamie says, wistfully. “He was the last of a dying breed. These days kids are so trivial. You can have a gun pulled on you in a club just for looking at someone, or being in the wrong postcode. And then everything’s on camera anyway. It’s all changed, and had started to even by the time he died.”

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The McLean family portrait in the late 90s

In addition to the documentary, Lenny’s story will return to the big screen next year with My Name Is Lenny, a biopic produced by Van Carter (who also co-wrote the screenplay) and Jamie, and starring Mad Max actor Josh Hellman in the titular role, alongside Sir John Hurt, and MMA fighter Michael Bisping in support.

Almost 17 years after his father’s death, both films are intended to add some depth to the fearsome character of Lenny McLean. Van Carter and Jamie admit they’re passion projects, but hold high hopes for the audience reaction.

“My dad was a working class kid in the East End with no positive role models, an abusive upbringing and OCD, and his journey was to fight and fight and fight to get away from that,” Jamie says. “In the end he did steer his life in a positive direction and a proper profession. It’s not rags to riches, we know that, but he got through the darkness and made something of himself. Even today, that’s inspiring for people.”

Flying Flipper’s Superfly GT 42

Flying Flipper, a Scandinavian boatbuilder with a memorable name, launched its Superfly GT 42 recently at the Cannes Yachting Festival.

The 42-foot-8-inch, high-performance vessel has power options ranging from twin 400 hp Mercury outboards up to triple 627 hp Seven Marines that should have this boat absolutely well, flying, through the water.

Superfly GT 42, Flying Flipper, RED Yacht Design

The boat’s cockpit has a table for alfresco dining that rises and lowers at the push of a button.

Courtesy Flying Flipper

Flying Flipper collaborated with Turkey-based RED Yacht Design and boat racer Sigurd Isaacson to create a sleek vessel with an air-step racing hull, for extra cushioning and control when she really gets up and goes.

The company also managed to incorporate lots of carbon fiber into the build to maximize strength while keeping weight down. Two cabins, forward and aft, down below make this boat able to handle overnights, but where we think she will really succeed is as a fast, sporty dayboat perfect for making a run to your favorite sandbar.

Superfly GT 42, Flying Flipper, RED Yacht Design

The dayboat’s salon and galley area has a carbon fiber countertop and table.

Courtesy Flying Flipper

Superfly GT 42, Flying Flipper, RED Yacht Design

The Superfly GT 42 has a double-berth master stateroom aft and a guest stateroom with two twin berths forward.

Courtesy Flying Flipper