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
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

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Standing Neigong

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Standing Neigong

Several people have today messaged me asking questions about neigong and to explain the benefits and basics of how we do it in our training system.

The benefits of Standing neigong are as follows:

Good posture
Good balance
Good rooting
An understanding of left/right and upper/lower body harmony
Good breathing
An aware, focused sensitive and intense mind
Emotional intelligence
An intuitive understanding of yin and yang

The 5 basic postures are:

Neutral
Upper Yin
Upper Yang
Lower Yin
Lower Yang

There is an excellent set of videos called ‘stand still – be fit’ that can be seen here:

 

The basic way that we teach at Shi Kon is as follows:

Neutral
Stand with the feet pointing to the front and under the line of the shoulders.
Straighten the body and raise the head ‘as if suspended by a rope from above’.
Place the tongue to the top palette with the eyes looking straight ahead.
Loosen ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists.
Lightly and actively stretch the myofascia up through the crown of the head and out through the fingertips .
Gently spiral the myofascia outwards from both feet upwards not affecting the ankles or knees and gently opening the hips, releasing the buttocks and lower back to allow the spine to lengthen and to stabilise the core into the diaphragm.
Turn the palms of the hands to face backwards returning them to the inwards position from the wrists only.
Gently pull the PC muscle until it engages the tailbone.
Find your natural breathing rhythm as taught in class breathing from the dantien.
Ensure left and right harmony in feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows,wrists and hands.
Ensure upper and lower harmony of feet to hands, ankles to wrists, knees to elbows and hips to shoulders.
These basics are maintained at all times and then:

Upper Yin
Bring the arms up and rest their weight onto your core.
Gently bow and connect the 3 bows of legs, spine and arms.
Connect with the energy and rest the mind and emotions on:
Patience
Kindness
Tolerance 
Compassion

Lower Yin
Is the same apart from the arms being down in the same frame in front of the Dantien.

Upper Yang
In upper yin turn the hands over at the wrists and slightly cup them bowing the 3 bows more intensely connecting with the energy and resting the mind and emotions on:
Resolve
Determination 
Courage
Power

Lower Yang
Is the same apart from the arms being down with the same frame until the thumbs point to the middle of your legs.

Apart from the occasional fist, crane beak and needle hand the entire Tai Chi form is the transitioning of these hands, therefore essential learning for any Tai Chi practitioner. In Shi Kon we don’t hold any position for too long but transition from one to the other learning how to switch polarity and mindset at will.

This is only the basics and a reminder for those training in the Shi Kon system, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU ARE TAUGHT BY A PROPERLY REGISTERED SHI KON INSTRUCTOR.

 

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Mindfulness

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MINDFULNESS

Our use of the word ‘mind’ in English can be quite versatile.  As a noun it describes our awareness, consciousness and thought, as a verb it can mean ‘to take care of’ like in ‘mind the child’ or when getting on a train ‘mind the gap’, so to be ‘mindful’ is to increase our awareness and consciousness and to take care of our thinking and feelings.

So we ‘mind the mind’, we take care of it.  All the time we remain mindful, we are watching our thoughts, emotions and actions and this act in itself is life changing. Most of the time we are not aware of them because we are them, this is the mindless state as written in the Dhammapada – ‘The mindless are as if dead already’.

When we start to watch and take care of ourselves we begin the process of investigating why we think or do things and the effect those actions have on ourself, others and our environment, this means we become aware of our karma and also begin ‘minding’ others and the world around us.

We realise that we have the choice  – ‘alive, aware, caring and careful’ or ‘dead, thoughtless, not caring and zombie like’, it’s scary when we realise how many ‘zombies’ there are in the world and that we were one of them – and will continue to be if we don’t practice mindfulness continuously!

Any activity that brings us to this calm, aware, focused and sensitive state is mindfulness training, focusing on our breath and/or a calming activity like Tai Chi, walking, sitting, standing or laying down, with good posture and deep breathing will help, too often people become ‘result driven’ and try too hard finding it self defeating. Good posture, deep breathing, allowing and watching the thoughts come and go will gradually reduce the activity of of the brain and bring us to that lovely mindful state where we become aware that we are far more than just one individual, isolated, emotionally damaged, zombie.

When we are in this engaged, mindful state we realise that by letting go our negativity, life becomes much easier as we become more emotionally intelligent, can see all points of view and not want to create unnecessary harm and friction. The irony is that we are more likely to live a happy successful life with meaning and purpose when we can ‘fit in’ with the right kind of lifestyle and people.

Good posture and deep breathing alleviates excessive tension and calms both mind and body, this reduces damage in the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke and many other related illnesses.  It helps us to engage with others and a learning environment, meaning that whilst alive we are learning and using the brain cognitively, reducing the chance of dementia and other forms of early demise.

‘Mindfulness is the path to the deathless – the mindful never die, the mindless are as if dead already’ – Dhammapada 21

There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t begin a mindful life from this moment on, I started 40 years ago and have not regretted a single ‘engaged’ moment….

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Back To Front Martial Arts

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I think I live in an alternate universe.

Or everyone else in the Martial Arts does.

I see Instructors putting together their training/grading syllabus…

“Erm, for red belt we’ll do this… for yellow this…. for orange this….”

They do one set of techniques for basics, different moves in a form that don’t relate to the basics and then different pairs work that doesn’t relate to either basics or form.

And I’m like…..”That’s not only back to front – it doesn’t make sense!”

I ask, “what’s the end result you’re looking for at black belt and above?”

And guess what…. I get a blank look because they haven’t thought about it!

“Erm… good basics?……”

“Is that it?”  I certainly wouldn’t want to train in a club where even the coach doesn’t know where we’re all going!

So how did I do mine for Shi Kon?

I started with the end product.  What kind of student and Instructor do I want to produce?

I want my students to develop emotional intelligence, compassion, patience and tolerance, along with courage, resolve and determination.  to have good health, mental and physical.

I want them to be competent ‘peacekeepers’ to be able to defend themselves and others. To be able to neutralise anything an opponent throws at them, to competently punch, strike, kick, lock, throw, choke and strangle.

How am I going to train that?  They need progressive meditation and neigong for the mind, posture and breathing, then qigong  to prepare the body by softening and connecting the myofascia, opening the joints and learning how the body gets connected power.

I put the 8 principles in place that MUST be within every technique to make it work and mnemonically brought each principle into one word. Put the 13 strategies in from the Yang Family system that dynamically flow through combat and respond to whatever an opponent does these too mnemonically into one word for each one.

The major forms from brown to black had to contain those qualities, Sanchin for the internal system manipulating spine and core with breathing and connection, Tensho to add the core work powering the 5 Animal Boxing and Naihanchi for the fajin  and different ways to power the techniques.

Then I continued to work backwards listing all the techniques that can express these principles and strategies and grouped them into a principle for each grade.  Then each grade would have the techniques as basics, that had to be demonstrated against a range of attackers as pairs work, strung together for combinations and all put together for a mnemonic short form for them to remember what they have to do.  That’s obvious synergy!

I used allusion, mnemonics and application, right from the start they are learning towards a goal at higher grade without realising it, they had an easy way to remember everything and the grading was the ability to make it work!

A white belt is already training to be a black belt, everything has to be practical towards that end and used without any ‘fluff’ or ‘padding’, all training is synergistic with a specific goal in mind and everyone knows where they are going, why they are doing it, what they are doing and how it relates to the end product and what that end product is!

It makes me a genius in the martial arts world but normal everywhere else, if you wanted to be a top athlete you would be taught this way, or a musician, or dancer, or taking a university degree and so on….

So it ain’t me that lives in that alternate universe!

 

 

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Compassion

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Compassion

The human race cannot survive without compassion. It’s what joins us, makes us work together to resolve our problems and evolve.  As the World is becoming more insular, as we separate ourselves from and demonise groups of people, becoming inured to their suffering we are evolving in the wrong direction and ensuring our mutual destruction.

Compassion is to be able to see clearly into the nature of suffering and not be separate from it.  Compassion is itself untainted, it cannot be attached to an outcome, it’s enemies are pity, moral outrage and fear – it transforms suffering.

Meditation builds compassion, it joins us to our environment and others, it teaches empathy, to experience what others feel. Compassion also transforms us, we evolve, it hooks up all the parts of our brain, it enhances our immune system and makes us healthier. Many people turn away from empathy and compassion through fear, the modern zeitgeist teaches us to be selfish and unnaturally attached to those things that wisdom teaches us we cannot hold on to – in trying to hold on to them or aspire to have them we fear those that we are told will take them away from us – and yet ensuring the welfare of others is to ensure our own survival and evolution of the human species.

Compassion requires fearlessness, strength, resilience and an undefended heart. We need ‘a strong back and a soft front’ and that takes training. Truly compassionate people are definitely not weak. This is the ethos of traditional martial arts training. It trains the whole person. We often hear and read that ‘martial arts makes you a better person’ and it’s clear to see who has followed that path and who hasn’t.

We should teach compassion in schools, as very few people fully understand what it is and how it works.  We should teach it to our healthcare workers, our social workers, our politicians – and we should vote for compassion and compassionate politicians.

Compassion reaches out to everyone and all things, it bridges all differences. A compassionate martial arts instructor will have a diverse club that help each other and work out in the community to help those less fortunate than themselves.  You don’t have to agree with others to act compassionately towards them or love them or even like them! Compassion is pure in itself and joins and evolves people – try it!

Meditate developing compassion towards yourself, spread it out to those you love, then those that you like, then those that you feel ambivalent towards, then to those you dislike and eventually to those you hate. See how it frees you and rids you of anger and greed, the more you share, the better person you become.

Learn about it, read about it, listen to lectures about it, meditate on it and act on it, it has to grow upwards from the populace to change our society, politicians and media as they are the people that need to respond to our wishes and not the other way around – power to the people!

 

 

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Winner Or Loser?

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Winner Or Loser?

So many people just don’t get it.

If you want to be a winner, you have to learn to win more than you lose.

Firstly you have to decide who and what you want to be.

If you want to be a good traditional martial artist then you have to do more work in that direction than in any other.

It’s your choice. Draw a line in your life and call it ‘Zero’. Every moment you are mindful, in good posture, breathing properly, caring, polite, courteous, determined, resolute, courageous and working with emotional intelligence  you are in the + zone, every moment you are doing the opposite, you are in the – zone. at the end of the day, how many hours did you spend in which zone?

Obvious really.

People tell me they want to be good at Tai Chi, then I see them working on how they look to others, worrying about how others perceive them, becoming arrogant and boastful, doing exercises and techniques that stiffen their body and require aggressive, external, muscular force, and when they come to see me, they’ve got worse not better, they’ve done more work in the – zone than in the +. It’s all a question of balance and direction.

Tai Chi requires good posture, breathing and the right ‘Taoist’ attitude toward life and others, this is developed by constantly working with neigong (inner work) with meditation and standing postures and then development of the neural system, bodycore, spinal flexibility, open joints and myofascia, this is developed through the qigong (energy work) these skills are the underlying principles that are preparation for the dynamics and strategies that are then expressed through the techniques using kung fu (time and effort) with persistent practice in the + zone.

A Tai Chi body and mind is unique and cannot be trained in any other way than the prescribed method unless you want to become something else. So few people ever get around to learning the whole system.

Private, personal study is essential and this needs enough mentoring from someone that is able to pass the complete perspective along. If you don’t have sufficient ‘corrections’ to keep you on the right path, your training will degenerate without you realising. It’s too easy to miss those vital mentoring sessions because life gets in the way and there are always financial, business and family pressures, but the price of not taking them is also very, very, expensive and good mentors are very few and far between, have pressures of their own and are not there forever. Lose one and for the rest of your life you’d wish you made those sessions.

So every day be mindful of staying in the + zone, understand that this will determine your success or failure. The term ‘Buddha’ means ‘one who is awake’ – you need to become  your own Buddha and stay awake and in the + zone and never drop into the – one. Every night before you lay your head on the pillow, ask yourself the question and count the hours of + and – and the answer as to why you are or are not successful will be self evident.

It’s simple, but simple is not always easy.

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Letting Go..

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Pick up a stone and hold it in a clenched fist;
There are 2 ways to let it go;
You can turn your fist palm down and let it go so it drops to the ground;
Or you can turn your fist palm upwards and unclench letting it rest in the palm of your hand.

People that have been hurt emotionally,
Sometimes say they are going to be Buddhist;
And practice ‘non-attachment’ so they don’t get hurt again;
This is not the Buddhist approach;
In fact this is aversion and will bring the same pain as desire.

To develop an intelligent heart, you unclench yet embrace;
Engage fully with the wisdom that you cannot own or possess;
Enjoy and love but be able to let it go;
All things will pass and return to the source;
That is the ‘way’ of the universe.

Non attachment is the wisdom of impermanence;
Everything is on fire, enjoy the heat and beauty;
Then let it turn to ash.
To hold on to fire is suffering and will help no-one;
Soon enough you too will be ash.

If it didn’t burn, if were not fragile;
There would be no beauty, no movement, no time;
No youth, no ageing, no learning, no experience;
No point in having life.

Happiness and suffering create each other;
All things will pass,
To understand this is wisdom;
And allows you to love and engage freely;
Then you do not have to try and clench on the stone – or throw it away.

By Steve Rowe

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Rules To Live By…

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Some of Steve Rowe’s Rules Of Life –

1. Don’t make friends easily.
2. ALWAYS work on your mind and perspective 24/7.
3. Always pay your way and live within your means.
4. If you help somebody, do it because it’s right not to make them indebted to you.
5. People you’ve helped will often stab you in the back, don’t let it become your problem.
6. People you’ve taught will often never give you credit – mostly that’s a good thing because that kind of student rarely gets it right.
7. Judge everyone by their actions not their words.
8. Always get money out the way first so everybody clearly understands and there’s no confusion.
9. Never trust anyone that’s vague about money.
10. So many people with so much enthusiasm and the inability to see it through.
11. Never be distracted by shiny objects.
12. Never let anyone occupy your time with a lot of talk and no action.
13. Never drop you standards for anyone – ever.
14. Always read the small print.
15. If you want to do it right – don’t do it wrong.
16. Work at a speed that means you can do it right.
17. Always light a room up when you enter and not when you leave.

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