Articles, Posts

Welcome To My Blog..

14316810_10154002469378576_580608977925484872_nWelcome to my blog and post index page. My name is Steve Rowe, a martial artist of over 40 years and I’m a writer in the martial arts, a columnist for the martial arts magazines, an author of books on the arts and martial arts philosophy. Over the last 40 years I have written many interviews, poems, articles for magazines, blogs for websites and books. Many have been lost due to website crashes and the internet demons that seem to snatch them from the t’internet world, but I still have a few hundred on my computer and will post them on here along with anything else I write in my dotage.

book coverIf you would like to buy a signed copy of my latest book (pictured) email steve@shikon.com

If you would like to attend any of my seminars the calendar click here….

For the website for my Martial Arts Club click here…..

The index is in articles, poems and interviews and people.

Post Index:

Articles
Teaching Older People
Rules Of Self Defence and Bullying
I Should Be Dead
Stop Bullying
Iaido – The Cutting Edge
Standing Neigong
Mindulness
Back To Front Martial Arts
Compassion
Winner Or Loser?
Rules To live by…
Guns, Violent Crime &The Elephant In The Room
How To Ruin Your Child’s Training
Compassion And The Martial Arts
Fighting Yourself
How Tai Chi Saved My Life
Don’t Think – Feel
Kung Fu Kids Codes
What Tai Chi Gives Me
The ‘Taste’ Of Kung Fu
Why Bowing Is Important
Yang Tai Chi ‘Head & Feet’
Do You Train To Fight?
What Is Natural In The Martial Arts
Internet Tough Guys
Don’t Mess With My Martial Arts
The Magic Key
Tai Chi And Driving Your Car
Sanchin – Harmonising Mind, Body & Breath
Pain In The Martial Arts
Use Your Head!
Why Yang Tai Chi Is A Deadly Fighting Art
Fa Jing In Yang Tai Chi
I Don’t Believe In PMA
13 Dynamics Of Tai Chi
I Only Wanted To Be Kwai Chang Cain
The Path To Success
What Is Reiki
How To Deal With Bullying At School
Milk Of Amnesia
10 Essential Points Of Martial Arts Leadership
Peace Is Earned
Grading At Shi Kon
3 Most Important Points In Martial Arts Training
Who Are You Kidding?
The Power Chain
What’s Wrong With The Martial Arts?
Arousal In The Martial Arts
Women In The Martial Arts
Kata Doesn’t Work In A Fight
Connecting Hands And Feet
The Art Of Listening
The Language Of The Body…
Continuous Neigong…
The 4 Blocks Of Karate
Buddhist Alchemy In The MartIal Arts
Simple Neigong – Insomnia Buster!
Age With Dignity…
The Alchemy Of Tai Chi Chuan
Grading Problem…
The Best Martial Art And Teacher…
Martial Arts – The Masterkey!
25 Signs You’re Ageing In The Martial Arts
Martial Arts Biggest Secret…
Tai Chi Does You…
Chinto Kata (Gankanku)
Invest In Loss..
Soft And Slow Or Efficient…
Arrogance At Black Belt
Revenge Of The Stolen Pen
Move Like A Porsche
The Structure Of Kata
Training With Age
Power For Punching
Beginner’s Mind
The Yo Yo as a Martial Arts Weapon..
What Is Chi..
When Your Imaginary Opponent Wins
Healing In The Martial Arts
How To Get A Black Belt
Ethical Is Successful Business In Martial Arts
Vicars, Tarts and Martial Arts
Emotional Intelligence in Martial Arts
No One Fights With Swords Anymore
I Have A Dream…
Cultural Stories In Tai Chi Postures
The Simple Guide To Meditation
The Chakras
How To Be Happy
10 Stress Busters
Why Questions Are Important
Dojo Visitor
Tai Chi Makes You Beautiful
The Speed Of Chi
Feather On The Breath Of God Qigong
Sanchin To Tensho
Defence Against The Self
Powerful Grading Speech
Why Karateka Can’t Make A Stance
Injury Prevention
How To Hammer And Screw Your Opponent
MMA Or Karate?
I Don’t Do Nice
Responsibility Of An Instructor
Positive Visualisation In Kata
It’s Not What You Do
The Meaning Of Life
How To Avoid Being Clumsy
Icebergs Instead Of Mountains
Kamae In Karate
Ignorance Of Youth
Hands Of A Clock
Chi – The Users Manual
There’s One In Every Martial Arts Club
Right Effort In Training
Grading In The Martial Arts
Yin Yang Tai Chi Method
Gossip In The Dojo
Training Children Need Parents Support
Kata – Wearing The Skin Of Your Ancestors
Sink, Swallow, Float And Spit
The Internet And Martial Arts
Magpie Mind And Tai Chi
Stand, Walk And Run Skills
Freestyle (Ji Yu) Kata
How To Stop Bullying
How To Do Kata
No Competition – No Fight
Waving Hands Like Clouds
The Importance Of Qigong In Form
Hand Healing In The Martial Arts
Mindset In Karate
Tai Chi – The Ultimate Skirmish Art
It’s All About Respect
Martial Arts Merchants
Europe’s Warrior Monks
Disguised Buddhism
Martial Chakras
Martial Parenting
Both Sides Of The Brain
Religion And Karate
In Memory Of Alan Emery
Translation Of Uke
The Old Days
Working Together
One Foot In Life And One In Death
Perspective In Tai Chi
Dealing With Clumsiness
Happiness
It’s Simple
The Green Eyed Monster
A Street Fight
Simple Or Skilfull RBSD
The Bows And Pumps Of Tai Chi
Training For Pleasure
Want And Need In The Martial Arts
Deception And Speed
4 Elements And Martial Arts Training
Philosophy Is Important In Training
Bowing In Karate
Sensitivity In The Martial Arts
The Martial Arts And Violence

Poems
Letting Go…
Inside Out
I See You
Mass Slaughter
A Walk In The Woods
The Eyes Of The Dead
A Golden Cage Is Still A Cage
The Softest Touch
A Different Tao
I’m Only Visiting
Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory
A Door Inside
A Past Life
Losing The Way
Heaven Or Hell
Zombie Or Alive
DoThe Dead Speak?
It’s A Kind Of Magic
Death In Battle..
The Training Bank
Stick A Needle In Your Eye…
A Black Belt…
Internal Or External?
The Stopped Breath…
My Immortal Soul
Inside Out…
Blind Assumptions…
Blood On Wood…

Bullying….
The Yin Factor
Martial Arts Are Defensive
Life’s Not Fair…
The Aliens have Landed!
Magpies and Monkeys
Looking Back Down Our Eyes..
Who Do You Train For?
You Can’t Stop Growing Old…
Armed Or Unarmed?
Bringing Zombies To Life
The Peng Balloon
Kata A Waste Of Time?
Like A Never Ending Circle…
Putting The Egg In The Eggcup
The Deepest Door..
Direct Transmission…
Eating Bitter..
Death Is A Warm Blanket…
Dealing With Fear
Are You A Fattist?
The Happy Button…
The Learning Process
What Happened?
Seeing With Clarity
It’s Yesterday No More
Diversity and Compassion…
The Beast That Lurks Within
You’ll Have To Kill Me…
3 Essentials To Enlightenment
Taking Or Giving?
It’s Not What You Do
Why Me?
Learning Friendship..
The Secret Of Internal Power

Interviews & People
Steve Arneil Kyokushinkai Legend
Wado Ryu Training In The ’60’s
Toru Takamizawa
Julian Dale – Eagle Claw
Dave Rubens – Aikido and Security
Yoshinobu Ohta Interview 2003
Mick Randall MBE Interview 2003
Mick Billman Interview 2003
Mick Gooch Interview 2003
Peter Spanton Interview 2003
Dave Hazard Interview 2003
Dave Courtney Interview 2010
Doug James Interview 2003
Jim Uglow Interview 2001 – Chap Sau
Ray Fuller Interview 2003
Mick Nursey Interview 2003

Talks With Dennis Jones
Giri
Dennis Jones Interview

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Teaching Older People

Ted

 

Many of us these days teach people in their 70’s and above and it’s important for us to understand that even if their memory and body is breaking down, they are still a senior citizen and should command respect.

Don’t talk to them like they are a child, don’t get frustrated with them, be courteous, polite and break technique down until you find that which they are comfortable with.

They deserve dignity, they have often served their country, bought up families and paid their dues. Don’t put your ambitions and expectations on them, often they only want to stay alive, keep moving and mix comfortably with people of all age groups instead of sitting in an old people’s home singing ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’.

Have patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion, courtesy and respect. Inside that arthritic, aged body and forgetful mind is often a person still as sharp as a razor with more to teach you than you can teach them.

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Rules Of Self Defence and Bullying

Photo on 06-06-2017 at 15.53

Rules Of Self Defence And Bullying

YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can touch it unless you give consent.

YOUR PERSONAL SPACE BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can enter it without your consent. The perimeter of your personal space is the point that you must react, reactions can range from “get out my face” with a polite hand to their chest to raising your hand to meet theirs with a redirection and maybe joint lock as it crosses that line to a pre-emptive strike in a dangerous situation.

BEYOND PERSONAL SPACE IS YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!
Stand tall, breathe deep and keep an aware and and focused mind.
Look people directly in the eye and speak and act confidently.
Use positive body language.
Be polite, courteous, kind, tolerant and patient with others.
When needed, be firm and do not allow anything you are not comfortable with.

CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE TO ACCOMMODATE THESE POINTS!
If you don’t, you will fail when it really counts, these aspects need to be practiced 24/7.

These 4 basic rules for both children and adults require training and changes to your lifestyle to be able react in this way under pressure. Any good martial arts club will focus on maintaining these rules under ever increasing pressure and technical training will give practical methods of dealing with any problems.

Training will include:
Knowing the law regarding self defence
Mind and emotional intelligence training
Street strategies
Work on distance, angle and avoidance
Grip releases
Street weaponry and their defences
Striking
Locking
Throwing
Strangles and chokes
Groundwork

I’ve kept this simple and to the most important points so they don’t get lost in a complex article.

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I Should Be Dead

Dead

I know it, the reaper came, hovered and left. I stood between the worlds for months after a collapse with a second serious infection, 5 life saving and crippling surgeries on top of the 9 I’d already had and a second round of months of a cocktail of life saving, gut wrenching, antibiotics and hallucinogenic pain killers left me in serious doubt as to whether I was still meant to be here.

But here I am… still feeling ‘out of place’ and on borrowed time. Pain is a constant reminder and fatigue is always pulling at the back of my eyes and keeping the handbrake on my body. Everything has to be done slowly and carefully, teaching me ‘mindfulness’ in a most unexpected way, death always feels like it could it come with the next breath.

But this is not bad. It gives me perspective and vision that was not available to me before. Other people have a ‘bucket list’ when on borrowed time and try to fit everything into whatever time they have left, frantically running round like headless chickens trying to be distracted from their future demise having lost all perspective due to fear. I’m lucky because a lifetime of meditation and study allows me to sit in the ‘Tao’ and to see my finite life from an infinite mind.

What is important? It’s important to be ‘at ease’ with what and who you are and what part you have to play in this theatre of life. You are born out of this world and not into it. You are a part of everything in this theatre and have always been here in one way or another since the ‘big bang’.

My disability slows me down, this makes me pay attention to everything I rushed past before, ‘paying attention’ to everything, time, places, things, people, their characteristics, actions, words and this opens doors that I never saw before. Sitting still and in constant pain allows me to find that ‘place of refuge’ in my mind where the infinite me that holds all wisdom exists and pain is put into perspective.

I stopped contacting people that didn’t contact me and I let them go. I stopped talking to people that only contacted me when I was ‘useful’ and I let them go. I stopped taking part in the circus of ego feeding, back slapping events that only fed the negativity of needing to be an accepted part of it and fear of being excluded.  I stopped worrying about people, things and places because everything eventually turns to dust, all matter is impermanent. I learned that sometimes anxiety, depression, pain and suffering just arises, but it will pass if you let it be and don’t hang your hat on it. Nothing belongs to me – it’s all transitory.

If I smile with my face I immediately feel better, if I smile from the heart, I feel content and at peace, ‘letting go’ is the capacity to just watch everything as it passes, pay it attention but see it for what it is. If you know the names of your demons, they can’t touch you. Helping people is better than harming them, allowing them to be what they are, without imposing your wishes on them creates a healthy relationship. Building bridges is better than blowing them up, food parcels work better than bombs, inclusion works better than exclusion, ‘spreading the load’ in society makes ‘being human’ turn into humankind.

I don’t need to go anywhere, I don’t need to do anything, I don’t need to become anything, on the contrary, the best me is when I let go of all that desire and then intelligently engage with life from the right perspective and let it all happen naturally.

The more you stir the pot, the more trouble you create, the more you try to ‘make your mark’ and impose yourself and your views over others, the more they will reject you. When you create harmony in yourself, when you spread that into your environment, when you support all the building bricks of life on this planet – then you’ve really got the right perspective.

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Stop Bullying!

Grace intense guard

Stop Bullying!

I get very worried looking at a lot of social media posts by martial art instructors who have never undergone the holistic training of traditional martial arts and are still stuck in the neanderthal, excitable and violent mindset that the only way to deal with bullying is to become like the bully and hit them.  I grew up in that mindset on a South London Council Estate and would probably in prison for violence now if it hadn’t been for traditional martial arts.  For the past 45 years I have taught extensively in the education system, to police and security operatives of all kinds, in the UK and internationally and many social groups, from that broad base of experience I have drawn a few simple rules to start with.   Let me explain…..

Fear is contagious and violence begets violence. In traditional martial arts we start with the person and work outwards. Our first 3 commands are ‘stand tall, breathe deep and focus the mind’ – body language, calmness and a focused mind are the essential places to start.  We call this neigong – ‘inner work’.

Body Language
Child or adult, the first lessons are how not to be a victim, drawing yourself up to your full height, looking everyone in the eye and using an authoritative voice, moving with confidence and not looking hunched, vague or dithery means that you are unlikely to picked on in the first place.

Emotional Intelligence
In our Zan Zuang ‘standing post’ practice we work on getting a connected strength and also the yin and yang aspects of emotional intelligence training the emotions to be patient, kind, tolerant and compassionate alongside resolve, determination and courage. This teaches students courtesy, good manners and how to be helpful and function well with others but if pushed will not be afraid to stand their ground and deal with aggression and negativity without becoming aggressive and negative themselves. The last thing you want is a child or adult who becomes a bully to deal with a bully.

Personal Space
We teach that your body belongs to you and no-one child or adult has the right to touch you without your permission. Your ‘reach out and touch space’ is your personal space and inside that is the ‘red’ zone where you will be actively defending yourself, the perimeter is the amber ‘highly aware’ zone where you are ready to act and further away is the ‘yellow’ zone where you are aware and watching mindfully – we are never in the lazy or distracted ‘white’ zone.

Traditional martial artists are ‘peacekeepers’, the law says that anyone is allowed to use ‘reasonable’ force to defend themselves and this requires all the skills listed above. First we teach how to not get bullied, body language, emotional intelligence and social graces are essential, then how not to get hit or held, use of distance, angle and principles like the ‘wedge’ and ‘spiral’ are essential to make it work. We teach strategy for all occasions in school and personal life so everyone has a toolbox of ‘street savvy’ appropriate to their age and environment. Finally we teach the ‘last resort’ techniques of punching,  kicking locking, throwing and restraint to be used with the trained resolve, determination and courage rather than negativity and aggression.

Traditional martial arts is a lifetime study and contains all the depth and knowledge to keep you studying over the years, no ‘quick fix’ but a bank of life skills built over the days, months and years of study put together by people that learned in the same way.

Being a ‘peacekeeper’ gives you a life of health, happiness and social skills, far better than immersing yourself into a world of negativity and violence.

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DENNIS JONES 5th Dan

 

03

Written in January 2004…..

It was a year ago that we last interviewed Dennis – and in Bob Sykes words “2003 has been the Dennis Jones year”.  Writing the “Samurai on the Door” columns and working on a book with him has helped me to understand what makes him tick a little bit better.  I think the most surprising quality about Dennis is his quiet manner.  You only get to know anything about him in bits and pieces over a period of time and need a lot of perseverance and patience to get the whole picture.

 

Dennis is well qualified with a Batchelor of Science degree; an ONC and HNC in Building, a Fellow of the Institute of Carpenters and is a College Lecturer in Building and Civil Engineering.  He is very well read in many subjects, including Philosophy and History, particularly appertaining to Martial Arts.  He has an incredible knowledge of guns and shooting and with both his Father and brother having been in the SAS, a good working knowledge of Military strategies and fighting methods.

 

His first love however, is the Martial Arts and the development of the Human Being through their study.  His deep historical study of the Martial Arts and practical experience on nightclub doors over 23 years, makes him a unique person with a highly unusual perspective.

 

I hope you get the opportunity to meet and train with Dennis in the forthcoming year and that you get the chance to delve into the rich tapestry that makes up his experience in life.  Meanwhile I shall continue to work with him on the “Samurai on the Door” column and the book and offer you this interview for the MAI Yearbook…..

 

SR  Talking to Bob Sykes the other day, he told me that the “Samurai on the Door”  column is the most popular in the magazine!  What do you think of that?

 

DJ  Surprised in some respects and not in others Steve, I’ve studied and trained in the Martial Arts for nearly 30 years and “pressure tested” everything on the doors throughout that period of time.  Many Instructors can only pass on their fighting knowledge second, third or fourth hand, or they may have competed or had a couple of street fights against non entities.  I’ve used my techniques against all manner of fighters continuously over all those years, in all manner of situations and feel like I have a lot to say.

 

My driving passion has always been the Martial Arts and I’ve trained and thought about it every day without fail, often training in the dark and in the most inhospitable and unusual places….. knowing that extra repetition and mental affirmation could be the one that saves my life.

 

SR  You’re a dark horse, we know you obtained your first Black Belt grade in Kyokushin  all those years ago and that you obtained a teaching certificate in Wu style Tai Chi from Katherine Allen, but you’ve actually cross trained quite a lot over the years haven’t you?

 

DJ  Probably the first person in my generation to talk about cross training was Bruce Lee, like most people training at that time, he was my hero, so I took his ideas on board.  Working on the doors meant that I was looking to see what worked and styles and Martial Arts never really came into it, but yes, I trained in any club and with anybody that I thought might have something to offer.

 

I would like to make the point though, that the Traditional Martial Arts do have a lot to offer, they were formulated by people that had to fight to the death to survive, if they are passed down accurately all the strategies and techniques that I use are in there.  The problem with many modern Martial Arts is that Instructors choose a technique because it looks good or sounds logical, but… test it in reality and it fails….

 

Take it from me; the very first time that you face a real opponent in the street, it will be like nothing you’ve ever encountered in the Dojo…  unless you have a mentor that has that kind of experience teaching in your Dojo.

 

SR  You’re also one of the most well read Martial Artists that I’ve met….

 

DJ  (Laughs) I’ve read everything I could lay my hands on to do with the Martial Arts from about 1973 onwards, including all the obscure items, like the Times article on Mas Oyama’s first demonstration in 1960 in Madison Square Gardens, the first full contact championships when fighters like Aaron Banks were competing, when the legendary boxer Rocky Marciano trained in the Martial Arts and so on.  I’m an avid collector of all Martial Arts documentation.  I love to read all the old books containing pictures and documents referring to the old Chinese Boxers or in fact, anything to do with the Martial Arts.

 

SR  You’ve read a lot of philosophy as well….

 

DJ  Yeah….  Everything from the Upanishads, to the Bible….  I’m what you might call a “man watcher”, because that’s what I have to do on the door, nasty people are deceitful by nature and I have to be able interpret all the subtle signs of them trying to “get into my head” for my own safety.

 

SR  You also have the longest list of letters after your name I’ve ever seen!

 

DJ  I have taken the trouble to obtain qualifications because I’ve had to earn a living to be able to continue and finance my study of the Martial Arts.  When I was younger I was told that I was stupid and felt that I had to prove that I wasn’t.  I simply put the same work ethics that I learned in the Martial Arts into regular study.

 

I have a Batchelor of Science degree; an ONC and HNC in Building, a Fellow of the Institute of Carpenters and eventually became a College Lecturer in Building and Civil Engineering.  This gave me a reasonable and honourable living and enough spare time to enable me to continue with my Martial Arts studies.

 

SR  I think that it shows that you have the ability to develop yourself holistically and utilise your Martial Arts skills in all other areas of your life.  Would you say that writing these articles has been cathartic for you?

 

DJ  It has been extremely good for me.  23 years of conflict taught me a lot, if you can imagine all that Martial Arts study and I still felt doubt and fear, looking around at all the Instructors, Sensei and so called “Masters”, I couldn’t find anyone to really help.  Bruce Lee said that a Master was a Martial Artists who had no “vague notions”, many of them sounded confident but I knew when put under pressure they would be Paper Tigers.

 

Working on the magazine and our forthcoming book has helped me to frame what I’ve learned and experienced and will inevitably help others.  Martial Arts practitioners usually have opinions on what will and won’t work in a street confrontation and I choose not to comment on that… what I will tell the readers is what REALLY happens from my own direct experience…..  the truth….. as it is…. what I’ve seen – and what I’ve felt.

 

What I can also say is that I can identify many common denominators in the old Martial Arts texts that I can relate to.  The writers had to fight to survive and had the knowledge we still require; much of it was unfortunately lost enroute to us.  I was awestruck watching old footage of people like Kano, Ueshiba and Oyama because you can see the capability in their movement and the determination and resolve in their eyes.

 

SR  The book that we’re working on, doesn’t fit in to the “Hard Bastards” genre, it’s more about the alchemy that takes place in a human being who studies Martial Arts in the same way that we do.  It’s more a Martial Arts or “Lifestyle” type book and contains a structured way of approaching the internal alchemy that takes place, irrespective of whether the reader trains in a Martial Art….

 

DJ  That’s right.  The stories that we use, such as those in our column, are designed to illustrate a point from practical experience and make learning a more pleasurable and memorable experience because of the illustrations that we use.

 

SR  Violence seems to permeate throughout society and today, wherever you look, the can see the effect it has on our lives.  What would you say is the difference between a violent person and a Martial Artist?

 

Violence is easy; it’s used by criminals all the time.  Most are not even particularly good at it; they just make sure that the odds are in their favour.  There’s no human development in learning violence.  I’m interested in courage, bravery and a developed human being.  Peace is earned.  We have to earn the right to live in peace by keeping violent criminals at bay.  We don’t have to become like them.  That’s what the articles and book are all about and I think that most Martial Artists would agree with me.

 

Criminals will get into a victim’s head first, then they’ll isolate that person from support by using money, wealth and especially influence.  Then they will use violence on the victim, three or four handed, maybe knee capping him with a baseball bat, using a weapon on his face, breaking his arms, or perhaps even murdering him.  Often it’s just business and there’s nothing brave in that. Remember, being a criminal is a way of life; it’s not the “way” of Martial Arts.  A Martial Artist will always have the “righteous objective” that we’ve discussed in previous articles and would never start the violence.

 

Our path is not to become unevenly yoked to them.

 

SR  What do you mean by “unevenly yoked”?

 

DJ  What I mean is, they control you by getting you to do things for them, I mentioned in the December article that if you were the manager of a nightclub you could be targeted by the dealers and if you were a weak person they would seduce you into getting a drug habit so that they had a hold over you and you would be “unevenly yoked”  to them.  You become dependent on them and they are able to make decisions that could affect you in a negative way.  I can say that I’m not “unevenly yoked” to anyone.  I’m not involved in any type of drugs or criminality.

 

SR  Bob Sykes mentioned that 2003 was the “Dennis Jones Year” and apart from the magazine articles, you’ve taught and lectured to the Shi Kon Dan grades, taught on the Medway International Summer Course to a host of International Martial Artists and you’re coming with me to the Czech Republic to teach Presidential Bodyguards, Special Services and Police Self Defence Instructors.  Bob has asked you to teach on his Super Seminar and you’re working with me on the book.  You’ve also opened a club in Maidstone Kent.  A busy year to say the least!

 

DJ  That’s right!  I’m not used to being high profile.  In my trade it pays to be the opposite.  I’m grateful for the help that both you and Bob have given me and I’ve had to work hard to find words to express what I’ve done naturally over all these years!  With my close circle of friends and students, I’ve generally used what we call the “vernacular” to explain the principles.  Techniques were developed and refined through the encounters that I had, I didn’t need to explain them in Martial Art terms.  With the Shi Kon method of analysis and principles, that which I found difficult to explain previously fits in perfectly!

 

SR  I think one of the reasons that we got on so well instantly, was the fact that we could both recognise the principles behind what each other was doing.

 

DJ  That’s right.  In my club I’m teaching the Shi Kon syllabus because it’s efficient and works well.  When I first met you, from your reputation I thought that you were a traditional Japanese style Martial Artist.  What amazed me was, when we started talking I realised that you had a system that fused Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts into a practical set of principles.  Although you teach traditional Wado Ryu and Yang Family Tai Chi, the underlying principles are still the same.

 

I was also amazed by the fact that you had no ego towards me and that we could talk openly and freely about Martial Arts, self defence and philosophy without either of us becoming defensive.

 

SR  In our photo shoot you look perfectly at home with a Katana and Jo staff…

 

DJ  Yeah I have a natural affinity to the Samurai and their weapons  I know that you have trained in both for decades yourself – I find the Samurai ideals very zenic and noble.  Even though I’m half Chinese my mind rests very comfortably with their principles.

 

SR  With the huge response we’ve had to the articles and courses the readers are continually asking about the book and future courses, what are your plans for 2004?

 

DJ  To continue with the articles, complete the book, continue with the courses and grow my club.  Most important for me is to tell it like it really is, no embellishments and no compromises.

 

SR Thank you Dennis.

 

DJ  Thank you Steve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Iaido – The Cutting Edge

 

Tribute to Fuji Okimitsu 1939 – 2017

FujiiSensei

Iaido came to England by various routes and mention should be made here of Fuji Okimitsu (Jikiden style) who was born in 1939 in Saga Prefecture which is the old province of Hizen, a mecca of Martial Arts, famous for the Hagakure (Samurai spirit), he started training at the age of 7yrs playing Shinai Kyogi wearing white trousers, T shirt and rubber shoes using Fukuro Shinai (bamboo sword split into 16 canes and covered with a canvas bag) as the Martial Arts were banned by the American GHQ.

Fuji Sensei was my Iaido teacher and a much loved and respected Sensei based in Dartford Kent for many years and will be fondly remembered by us all from a variety of disciplines as a real character and one of the most friendly Japanese Sensei that we have ever met.  In 1988 he named my association ‘Shi Kon’ and drew the kanji that still hangs on my Dojo wall.

He moved back to Japan returning to live and teach in Cornwall for the remainder of his life.  I will write a personal account of my training with him at a later date.

Below is a history of his Muso Jikiden Ryu of Iaido and when it branched off into Muso Shinden Ryu.

The warrior Hayashizaki Jinusuki Shigenobu was meditating at the shrine when the vision came….. born in the year 1543 in Tateoka Oshu (now known as Murayama – Shi, north of Tokyo), his father had been killed in a duel by Sakagawa Ichiunsai when he was very young, he had studied Budo assiduously until at the age of 19 he traced Sakagawa to Kyoto and avenged his father by defeating and killing him.

The vision became his inspiriation for Iaijutsu and laid the foundations for modern Iaido as we know it today.  Many technical skills in the Japanese arts of  Karate (particularly Wado Ryu), Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Judo, Ninjitsu and other Kobudo arts have their roots in this lineage, most Japanese warriors trained in the way of the sword primarily and their unarmed training was Tegatana (hand sword) adapting the same techniques that they used in sword training for other forms of combat.

Hayashizaki had the Ryu (style) named after him and it was also called Muso Ryu meaning “dream” or “vision”, two of the most popular styles of  Iaido in Japan and the rest of the world today, Muso Shinden Ryu (Muso meaning “vision” and Shinden, “shrine”) and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (the Kanji for Muso here being different meaning “unique and without equal” Jikiden meaning “transmitted direct” and Eishin is the name of the 7th Soke Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin who became Soke in 1610 and made many changes to the style and was regarded a very skilled exponent).

Tamiya Heibi Shigemasa inherited the Ryuka and the main line for Jikiden and Shinden can be traced through him, Hayashizaki also had two other outstanding students, Katayama Hokinokami Hisayasu who founded Hokkiri Ryu and Sekiguchi Hachiroemon Jushin who founded Sekiguchi Ryu.

It was with the 9th Soke in 1675,  Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa that Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu became firmly established in the Kochi area right through to the 19th Soke.  Hayashi was a retainer to General Yamanouchi with the Shogun Tokugawa, up until this time the Iaijutsu forms only incorperated Tachi Waza (standing)  and Tate Hiza (a way of kneeling wearing battle armour) as they were all that were required for battleground techniques, it was Hayashi’s Kenjutsu teacher Omori Rokurozaemon who invented Omori Ryu to incorperate into the style utilising Seiza techniques for an indoor situation.  He used Hakama Sabaki (methods of manoevering the Japanese traditional costume when moving), Metsuka (way of using the eyes), Nukitsuke (drawing and cutting in one flowing movement) and Chiburi (blood shake of the sword) all techniques that would not be required on the open battlefield.

The 11th Soke (1742), Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu had two outstanding students, Hayashi Masunojo Masatake, who became the 12th Soke in 1779, continuing the Jikiden line and Matsukishi Sadasuki who using the same style renamed it Muso Shinden Batto Jutsu which later became Muso Shinden Ryu.

Around 1910 Iaijutsu ceased to be confined to definite areas and various Ryuka became popular throughout Japan and at the beginning of the Showa period at around 1925 that  Iaijutsu became known as Iaido (Do meaning “the way” as in the Chinese Tao).

The Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Seitigata Iai came into being in 1969 producing at first seven forms, building them eventually to ten (reflecting the ten Kendo kata) categorising the basic movements of  Iai from the Shinden and Jikiden styles with some characteristics from the Hokki style.  The Seiti forms are used at gradings enabling practioners from all styles to grade together, it is a bit like Shotokan and Wado Karate practioners integrating the Pinan and Heian Kata producing a standard set of forms to reflect both styles and using them for grading purposes so that the other Kata reflecting the differences in their styles could still be practised!

The following is a list of the lineage for Jikiden and Shinden ryu:

  1. Hayashizaki Jinusuke Shigenobu
  2. Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa
  3. Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
  4. Dede Gunbeinoje Mitsushige
  5. Arikawa Masaemon Munetsued
  6. Manno Danueimon Nobumasa
  7. Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin
  8. Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
  9. Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa
  10. Hayashi Yasudaiye Masataka
  11. Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu

Here the style splits into the two branches:

No. Jikiden Shinden
12. Hayashi Manonoso Masatake Matsukichi Sadasuki
13. Yoda Manzo Takakatsu Yamakawa Kyuso
14. Hayashi Yadayu Masataka Shimomura Ichisada
15. Tanimura Kamenoso Yorio Hosokawa Yoshimasa
16. Goto Magobei Seiryo Nakayama Hakudo
17. Oei Masamichi  
18. Hokiyama Namio  
19. Fukui Harumasa  
20. Kono Minoru  
21. Fukui Torao  

 

 

 

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Articles, Interviews & People, Uncategorized

Giri

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Steve Rowe talks with Doorman and Martial Artist Dennis Jones…

 

Giri:  a debt of gratitude, duty, justice, obligation, a sense of honour

 

SR  Dennis, we were discussing the concept of “Giri”  within the book  “Hagakure” by Yanamoto Tsunetomo and the following story…..

 

“Among Takeda Shingen’s retainers there were men of matchless courage, but when Katsuyori was killed in the fight at Tenmokuzan, they all fled.  Tsuchiya Sozo, a warrior who had been in disfavour for many years , came out alone, however, and said, “I wonder where all the men are who spoke so bravely every day?  I shall return the master’s favours to me”  And he fell alone in battle.”

 

And you were relating it to Giri amongst Doorman, can you explain this to the readers?

 

DJ  Well Steve, I’ve worked with many Doormen in my time, some of them were high grade Martial Artists, others Body Builders and so on, and in the “quiet time” on the door most talked a great fight.  To listen to them you would assume that when “push came to shove” on the door, they’d be right there with you backing you up, or in front dealing with the problem.

 

But I found, as you’d expect, the best talkers just seem to disappear at the time that you need them most.  But I’d like to talk about a guy we’ll call Robert, he was neither a Martial Artist or Body Builder, in fact he didn’t train at all, but he did say to me “Dennis I can’t fight like you but I’ll tell you one thing…”  he put his hand on his heart…  “I give you my word that when it “goes off’ and you’re surrounded, I may not be able to fight like you, but I’ll always watch your back and at least take one of them out, and if you’re getting a kicking; I’ll be on the floor tasting the leather boots with you.”

 

I looked in his eyes and could see that he was sincere.  Many of the other Doormen would put him down and call him useless, but they were also the ones that talked a good fight and were not there when it really counted.

 

Well, one night it’s “gone off” with what seemed like everyone in the Nightclub fighting, bottles, and glasses being used as weapons and glass ashtrays (why do nightclubs still persist in using them when they are used so viciously as weapons?) and women screaming everywhere.  I’m right in the middle of this melee, god knows where the other doormen had disappeared to and I’ve looked down to my right and there was Robert being true to his word.

 

He’d leaped on this guy from behind and dragged him down to the floor using a technique I call “the octopus” with both his legs wrapped around an attackers waist and his arms around his throat and he was choking him and biting his face!  Bless him, he was true to his word – bound to me by obligation –  he had taken one opponent out of the equation!  The other Doormen with all the talk had run away….

 

When I read that story in Hagakure I think of Robert.

 

SR  I can remember someone saying to me that when you choose your friends, imagine yourself in the trenches of the first world war and about to “go over the top” and think would I like this person next to me?  When I was in the Fire Brigade many years ago your life did depend on the guys you were teamed up with and the trust and camaraderie was an important part of the job.  The security world is very similar….

 

DJ  You’re right!  It’s important on the door, but you often just end up with people that someone else has employed and you never really know how someone’s going to react until it actually “goes off” bad.

 

SR  “Giri” is an interesting Japanese term as in feudal Japan a Samurai owed his life to his Master and “obligation” meant something quite different.  The term has been quoted many times to me asking for blind loyalty to a Japanese Sensei and yet I feel that it’s meaning for us in the Martial Arts that respect has to be earned in both directions between Instructor and student.

 

DJ  Another passage from Hagakure reads:

 

“Lord Naoshige once said “There is nothing felt quite so deeply as giri.  There are times when someone like a cousin dies and it is not a matter of shedding tears.  But we may hear of someone who lived fifty or a hundred years ago, of whom we know nothing and who has no family ties with us whatsoever, and yet from a sense of giri shed tears.”

 

Funakoshi talks about taking his children to meet his Sensei Azato and Itosu and how they bought his children sweets that he couldn’t afford, and how: “… the two generations of us, have all benefited enormously from the teachings of these two Masters.  Where shall I find the words to express my gratitude?” That story strangely bought a tear to my eye because I could understand that it’s more than just a Martial concept.  You can even have “Giri” towards a respected enemy, the Chinese say that “if two tigers meet, one will surely be maimed and the other killed”.  Often seasoned warriors have mutual respect for the effort they know each other have had to put in to develop their skill and character.

 

I felt “Giri” and respect for Robert because of his actions and eight years after this event I found out that he had died all by himself in a flat of a heroin overdose and when I looked back, he had given me his word and when faced with a really bad violent situation that made most of the other doormen “lose it” and run away, he did exactly what he had promised to do.

 

I don’t know why or how he got into drugs, but when I think of him dying on his own in that flat I feel sad and empathic towards him, because in his own way he was a real man.  You remember in our first column when we talked about the guy who stole my pen at school dying of a drugs overdose and I felt nothing towards him?  Strange isn’t it that the death of Robert can bring a tear to my eye…..  I think in my world that is “Giri”….

 

SR  One of my reasons for writing the EKGB column is a sense of Giri toward the people who started Karate in England.  I feel that we never give credit to the people who were there from the start and put in so much work.  New generations of Martial Artists are coming through and might never know the history and names of their Founding Fathers.  In the Medway area it was people like yourself, Mick Gooch, Norman King, Roger Wilkes, Pauline Bindra and so on who made the Martial Arts known to the general public.  There are so many people with extravagant claims around nowadays that are benefiting from all the work put in by others and not giving credit where it’s due.

 

DJ  I’ve known Roger for 26 years – and yet I’ve probably only spoken to him 6 or 7 times, yet I have respect and “Giri” toward him because of what he is and for what he has done.  Our paths have been linked all the way through that period of time.

 

SR  Nothing gave me more pleasure than to get you all together teaching at my Medway Summer Course this year!

 

DJ  I’d like to end this month’s column with a little poem that epitomises “Giri” to me.  When I was a child my Father was in the S.A.S and he would come to me before going out on special operations and would give me a kiss and say “I’ll see you”…  of course we both knew that maybe he wouldn’t…  as luck would have it, he did, but some of his friends didn’t come back and I’d like to also dedicate this poem to them and Robert.

 

“The sound of the bell of Gionshoja echoes the impermanence of all things.  The hue of the flowers of the teak tree declares that they that flourish must be brought low.  Yea, the proud ones are but for a moment, like an evening dream in the springtime.  The mighty are destroyed at the last, they are but as the dust before the wind.”

 

From The Samurai  by S R Turnbull

 

 

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