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The Fork In The Martial Road

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The Fork In The Martial Road

We start training in the martial arts to improve ourselves. We get fitter, healthier, better at technique and go up in our own and other’s estimation, often taking responsibility to teach and having others look up to us. This brings us to an important fork in the road of our martial arts training.

We may have been weak, greedy for money, lust driven to manipulate others, bullied or a bully and/or a narcissist. Martial arts training SHOULD then reduce those weaknesses and make us a more disciplined, empathic, compassionate, tolerant and helpful person, but at this ‘fork in the road’ we may take that route or with our new found power become more greedy, lustful, bullying and narcissistic.

Good quality martial arts should be our priority and helping others to get there is our role as mentor to others. If money, sex, vanity, or the control of others becomes our priority, then we took the wrong road at that fork.

When it’s all about the teacher and not the teachings, it’s wrong. When it’s all about the ‘business’ and not the standard of the art, then it’s wrong. We need to know about the teacher, we need to pay the bills, but the art, the standard and the transmission should come first, if it doesn’t, you’re on the wrong road.

Any mentor of martial arts teachers and coaches should teach this first. Our primary function is as martial artists and then we take care of business and encourage and help others to become better people without harming or damaging them.

The irony is that if we work this way, others recognise what we are and that we don’t see them as ‘punters’ or targets for our narcissism. Students will have confidence in us, we will retain them and have a successful club.

As the business guru’s would say….. win/win…..

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Dealing With Obesity

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No-one will understand the agony of obesity unless you’ve suffered from it.

I posted a while back wondering how everyone had become ‘obese’ according the government.

In my day you were ‘obese’ if your stomach was bigger than your chest;
You were ‘fat’ if your belly hung over your trousers;
Otherwise you were ‘normal’;
Unless you were cadaverous and then you were ‘skinny’.

People that have never had weight problems don’t understand the pain their comments cause. Overweight people know they have a problem every time they look in the mirror or try to buy clothes. They don’t need constant reminding from others, the weight loss moneymakers or the puppet government of big business who fatten people up and then offer ‘miracle’ cures.

Overweight people will hide their pain in humour, but every mindless ‘joke’  or comment from others cuts deep and will be remembered until the day they die. If they could solve their problem by just eating less and moving more, don’t you think they would have done?  The same as a drug addict would ‘just stop taking drugs’ and an alcoholic would ‘just stop drinking’ – it’s not that simple.

People are overweight for a variety of reasons:
Physical disability meaning they cannot move around much.
Illness such as fatigue and immune disease.
Emotional stress resulting in an addiction to food.
Medication that causes obesity.
A genetic disposition towards that body shape.
Ignorance towards their dietary requirements.
Yo yo dieting.

A surgeon’s mistake resulting in 2 life threatening infections, 14 surgeries, powerful drugs and antibiotics that resulted in serious arthritis in  both shoulders, the loss of quadriceps in both legs, one metal knee and one totally fused leg meant constant pain, very little mobility and drugs that increased obesity and damaged gut mobility meant I put on a lot of weight whilst dealing with those problems. I couldn’t lose weight on 1200 calories a day!

Luckily I’m a natural skeptic of big business, the government, ‘miracle cures’, the diet and fitness industry and the general moneymaking machine. Everyone is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ that the NHS would force on us. I’m vegetarian, my body doesn’t deal with starchy and sugary carbs easily, it doesn’t digest food eaten in the evening well and requires reasonable periods without any food to do it’s work. So I fast between 18 and 20 hours a day, eat low carb foods and eat between midday and 5pm, during my fasting period I only drink water,  black tea and coffee. In 2 months I dropped three and a half stone despite trying every other diet and failing.

I monitor my diet by my general health, energy and inflammation levels, the colour and frequency or my urine, the shape and colour of my faeces and my weight. All have improved.

People suffering from obesity need help and support, not victimisation, vilification and isolation (often hidden in well meaning measures). It’s an illness like any other but like many other ‘hidden’ illnesses needs an individual approach to have any success.

We also need to stop listening to the political and financial profiteers and start looking inwards and studying ourselves, our lifestyle, exercise, our current diet and our genetics to find the answers!

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Nature’s Way

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This morning’s neigong:
Don’t look for it…. It cannot be seen;
Don’t try to find that deep state:
Don’t think, instead just be present.

Feelings don’t require words;
Let them come and go;
Just watch whatever comes;
Thoughts, feelings – nothing stays.

Let go, let go, let go…
Just ‘be’;
Be yin, be yang, be neutral;
Be totally in the present.

Nature’s wordless speech;
Can be experienced in this state;
On this late summer overcast day;
Natures freshness has begun turning in on itself.

Soon enough it will hibernate to heal;
The earth, wind, rain and sun nourish us all;
Each one will have it’s time;
Spring, summer, autumn and winter;
As does a human life.

It’s the ‘Way’ of nature – and a wise person yields to it.

 

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Fasting Diet & Buddhism

Photo on 03-03-2018 at 12.03

Fasting Diet & Buddhism

Meditation in the bath in the mornings, rather than listening to a ‘lifestyle guru’ I like to play a ‘Dhamma Talk’ by one of the Buddhist Ajahn’s from the informative website of Amaravati Monastery.

This morning it was Ajahn Metta and just labelled ‘Dhamma Talk’. Her voice was very quiet and was difficult to hear above my abolutery splashing sounds, but I laid still to listen to see whether to change it – and am I glad that I didn’t!

She was discussing fasting and diet and how the ‘switch off’ for religous fasting was easier than a controlled diet and being a meditator and Buddhist, the process of watching her mind on a diet was important. I am currently doing the same thing with both intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet so this was ‘gold dust’ for me.

I will summarise her points and add my own notes in my own way:

Pooh Bear said ‘the most delicious taste whilst eating honey is the moments before you put it in your mouth’. This is the rising of desire (our anticipatory mind).

If you recognise this arising, don’t push it away, investigate it fully. Ajahn Metta received the food, smelled it and put it on her shrine to examine her mind. The desire was to eat, it appeared that her body craved nourishment, when denied it eventually eased, but after a while would come back again. When denied again, it would appear with a different face, like sexual desire or ‘wanting’ something.

Her point was that desire had many faces but in fact was the same thing. Many lifestyle gurus would want us to use that desire to energise us to work for other things we may want in life, but Ajahn Metta was saying that if you just observe it, eventually it calms down, leaving you with an incredible sense of peace. I like that.

The problem is that if you don’t deal with the desire, it will inevitably control you and allow others to use it to suit them all of your life.

I realised that when I fasted and controlled my food the diet worked well, but when my mind fell foul of the different faces of desire I could get confused. When a diet guru says you can eat as much as you like of….. what happens? Gluttony means you overeat whatever you are allowed, it’s crazy but you’re being driven by a demon without realising it, thinking you are still doing good. I remember friends on the Atkin’s diet eating masses of meat and cream because it was ‘okay’ and failing because they didn’t realise that they were not addressing their real problem and desire was simply wearing another face!

Buddhism teaches you to watch your mind. Mindfulness and self examination are the key to success. A greedy person can be chasing ‘success’, food, wealth, sex and be allowing it to control their life from the outside in and their are many guru’s, businesses and politicians happy to exploit those weaknesses.

Diet is about being disciplined, not punishing yourself, but become your more ‘natural’ self by examining your thoughts, wants and desires and their results, that way wisdom can arise and the balancing is permanent.

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Obesity – What Happened?

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I had been really struggling with diet over the last few years, 68 years old with dodgy legs I couldn’t move around enough and years of infection and strong antibiotics, painkillers, stomach and blood pressure meds had really taken their toll.

I have been vegetarian for over 40 years don’t smoke or drink and still practiced Tai Chi and meditation every day so I was in a reasonable place to clean my act up a bit more. I gave up all soft drinks and sugary food and that helped a bit and started to research.

Intermittent fasting was fairly easy for my disciplined mind and I started with a 16hr fast each day and my weight started to drop, I increased that to a 20 hour fast and it dropped faster, I lost 2 stone (around 12kgs) in 4 weeks and then it plateaued, so I researched further.

Humans were originally wandering ‘hunter gatherers’ so would pick the food in the area that they were in from the surface and plants and trees and hunt and ate animals. The further we moved away from that lifestyle, the more obesity and bad health has troubled us, medicine has negated some of those problems but now we have reached a crisis point.

When agriculture started we grew starchy foods underground and wheat and maize and that quickly became our easily stored and ‘go to’ foods. This was also fed to the ‘farmed’ animals changing them radically into nothing more than bloody plant and seed holders. Politicians  and business very quickly took charge of this way of rooting, ‘enslaving’ and taxing people so instead of being relatively healthy and independent people living in small tribes they became ‘working slaves’ to feed the rich and powerful. Add religion and nationality into the mix to bind people into huge cultural and national ‘tribes’ and you can see the build up to the mess we’re in today.

Being vegetarian there was no way I could start eating meat so I looked at the alternative ways to reduce my starch, hidden sugar and general carbo hydrate levels to a more healthier mix.

A friend in Scotland Karim Belgacem out of the blue kindly sent me the book ‘Sapiens’ that helped fill in the societal gaps and I read about ketogenics and paleo dieting and they were on the same path as me, I watched the film ‘The Magic Pill’ on Netflix and that gave me a clearer outline to my thinking and studies, I re-arranged my diet to continue my fasting, now more on a 19 hour fast with a good vegetarian carb lite ketogenic style meal midday and something light a 5pm and my weight has started to drop again and I feel much healthier and cleaner inside.

I realised that I still had cultural ‘blind assumptions’ that I didn’t have the perspective to see before, that I still had to resolve my emotional attachment to food, whenever I saw food my anticipatory mind was already preparing me eat it, so watching my mind became far more intense.  I also learned from friends with a far healthier attitude to food than me.

And the biggest lessons are:
You’re never too old to learn;
Whenever our problems seem big, it means our mind is too small and we need to change our perspective.

Links:
Sapiens book
Vegetarian Ketogenic Diet info
Magic Pill film on Netflix

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Steve Rowe Articles

Steve Tai Chi Pose

These articles have been written over a 40 year period and many appeared in Martial Arts Illustrated, Traditional Karate and Combat magazines.

The Fork In The Martial Road
Dealing With Obesity
The Spirit Door
Fasting Diet & Buddhism
Obesity – What Happened?
How To Change The World
Doorstep Zen
3 Ways To Practice Tai Chi
Putting Your Head In Your Anus
Martial Arts Bullies
My Body Is Like My Dog
What’s In It For Me?
Why Are You Ignoring Your Oldest Friend?
Meditation, Sleep and Dying
Intensity In Meditation
Being A Good Student
Buddha Was A Proper Geezer
2 Triples For Happiness
Making Sense Of The Universe With Kata/Form
Come Together…
Find Your Own Martial Art
Why ‘Positive Thinking’ Doesn’t Work…
The ‘Empty Force’ Of Tai Chi
The Dark Side Of Pain
Cognitive Dissonance In The Martial Arts
Keep Your Child Safe!
Direct Knowledge Is Different
Principled Training And Existence
If I die tonight
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

 

 

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