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Making Tai Chi Your Own

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Making Tai Chi Your Own

At 68 years of age, after nearly 5 decades in the Martial Arts and 15 surgeries and 2 life threatening infections in my legs leaving me with one leg 2 inches shorter than the other, one with no knee and fused straight, the other with a metal knee and 3 quads missing on both legs, the powerful antibiotics have ruined all my joints and left me with severe and painful arthritis, I have to use a crutch to walk and have terrible trouble balancing on my legs with no ability to control a forwards pull or push.  Without my Tai Chi I would have been relegated to a wheelchair many years ago.

The meditation and neigong have been invaluable in helping me cope with an immense amount of pain and illness giving me the ability to accept what I have and don’t have and the power to change that which I can. It has helped me to cope with ageing, sickness and cope with the possibility of death. It has helped me to develop emotional intelligence and the ability to work with a support team at the Dojo and in my seminars and coaching programmes.

The qigong has helped to maintain mobility, opening the joints and soft tissue enhancing blood, air and neurological flow and to assist the lymphatic system. It also encourages the power lines through the body.

I have to adapt much of what I do, I can do the form without the crutch but adapt, stances, turns and kicks, taking my body through it’s full range of movement every day and when my legs are tired I train leaning or seated. I can still do the full range of the Yang family system, the standing, exercises, Yang Chen Fu form, Long Boxing, all the weapons, push hands drills and 2 person Sanshou Form, albeit in my own way.

I still teach and train every day, do seminars every weekend (68 last year) and teach the Shi Kon Tai Chi Coaching Programmes to many Instructors.

So many people give up when they can’t do technique the same way as others and yet we all teach that martial arts should be for everyone, many students enjoy learning from me because they know that I can teach anyone to train well and having been ‘through the mill’ myself, will have the patience to work with their problems.

Until you’ve been there, you can only guess what many people are going through, having been in the very worst of crippling pain and mental anguish, I can validate what I’m teaching to others from personal experience.

The moral of this story is that no matter what problems, physical, emotional and mental you may be going through, Tai Chi is an adaptable and useful tool for you to utilise to maintain and improve what you have and a focus to move forwards with, whatever your age or ability.

I make sure that all my Shi Kon Coaches develop the patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion and knowledge to be able to teach whoever comes to them for help.

I have coaches all over England and the Czech Republic, if you would like to find one close to you get in touch with me.

 

 

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Dieting Is Mind and Emotions

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Dieting Is Mind and Emotions

Dieting is about manipulation and business. They know how to appeal to your basic instincts and emotions.

If you’re fat no-one will love you, that instills fear and you can’t even love yourself. How deep and sad is that? That leaves you vulnerable to those that know how to manipulate you at that level.  Self loathing is a powerful demon that can drive you into all sorts of unnatural thoughts and actions and everyone from the dieting, plastic surgeons, make up and clothing businesses and even narcissistic friends and partners love it.

So take control of your mind and emotions, it costs nothing but a bit of effort and wisdom. Watch them, watch how you react to food and to how others try to take control and use your weaknesses.

Your self loathing and weakness looks for rewards, note how you eat to reward yourself, notice the triggers in your mind. It’s been a hard day so I will ‘treat’ myself. When you see food how do you react? Does your mind already start to ‘taste’ it? Do you make yourself ‘hungry’ simply because it’s there? Does your body require food simply because it’s a certain time or place? What are your personal triggers?

Watch and learn. You think that this is ‘you’ but it’s not, it’s simply learned behaviour or habits that arise because you weren’t watching your mind.

Who is manipulating you? Watch your response to advertising, that which subliminally makes you want food or drink, that which makes you feel guilty because you don’t look a certain way and those that make themselves feel good by putting you down albeit subtly, often ‘encouraging’ you like you are some kind of dog or simpleton.

Recognise and acknowledge your bad habits and weaknesses, just that act of recognition means that you have already initiated change. People yoyo diet because they give the control over to others or panic out of weakness so as soon as the control ends or the regime is unsustainable, they fold and return to entrenched habits.

Your body is always talking you and if you know how to listen, not in words but in feelings, your mind and body work through anticipation, so your habits will dictate how you think, feel and react. See advert, feel guilty or hungry, see food, feel hungry, see slim, fit, people, feel guilty.

DO NOT HATE YOUR YOURSELF! That is other people doing that to you. work with your body and mind, they are on your side, all they want is a bit of care and mindfulness. watch and listen, take care of them and they will take care of you.

They say that when you know the name of the devil he can’t touch you. When you see how you are being manipulated – it won’t work, when you see how you have formed bad habits through being mindless, they will stop working.

You don’t need other people putting you down, you don’t need those trying to sell you something to manipulate you, so don’t get taken in. Change the way you are permanently and understand your mind and emotions to change your life forever.

And that my friends – is free.

 

 

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Poems, Uncategorized

Tai Chi Is About Depth

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This morning’s neigong:
Tai Chi is all about depth;
It’s an iceberg rather than a mountain;
Not how much you know;
But how deeply you can experience.

Buddha means ‘one who is awake’;
Living fully in the present;
Experiencing life in all it’s richness;
We have a body and senses for just that purpose.

It is at is, right now in this moment;
The pressure of moist summer air on the skin;
Invigorating the internal system from the lungs;
Tasted on the tongue, smelled in the nose;
The sweet fragrant mix of roses and jasmine.

The softness of yin;
On the inside of the limbs and down the front of the body;
The empowerment of yang;
On the outside of the limbs and up the back;
The perfect harmony of the two…

The more yin your mind makes the yin;
The more you empower the yang;
And vica versa;
The depth of the experience becomes richer.

Tai Chi power is all about the depth of the awareness, focus, sensitivity and intensity;
And your ability to direct it.

 

Steve Rowe— at Shi Kon Martial Arts.

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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

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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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3 Ways To Practice Tai Chi

Steve Tai Chi Pose

3 Ways To Practice Tai Chi

Monk Style
Always begin with Monk style… Neigong, Qigong, the Yang Chen Fu form and basic push hands drills. Practice like a monk in the temple gardens, with no ‘martial’ applications in mind, get rid of violence, aggression, fear and anger by clearing your mind, making it aware, focused, sensitive, intense and bringing it to a state of peace and stillness. Do this by working on your posture and breathing, this will bring forth these qualities of mind. Be gentle, soft, circular, continuous and let the mind be at ease. Until you can practice this way, DO NOT MOVE ON as you will not progress.

Warrior Style
Now you have the ‘yin’ and have cleared your mind and emotions, have good posture, balance and free movement without excessive tension, you have ‘cleared down’ or ’emptied your cup’ and are ready for the martial fairydust.  The ‘Chong Chuan’ introduces the powerful, focused and intense intention to direct the 13 Dynamics and skills such as the ‘fa geng’ (jing) and work with an opponent in mind. Learn the weapons forms and their proper skills and drills so you understand the strategies and skills of using that particular weapon. We use broadsword, double edge sword and spear. Push hands drills now also become dynamic, to include applications of the techniques, ideas and principles in the form and can also become enthusiastic ‘play’. Wall training also helps with combative training and adrenaline release.

Sick Man Style
Sometimes called ‘Drunken’, is to exaggerate the power sourcing of the moves, utilising the bodycore and spine and taking all positions to the absolute furthest point to ‘fire’ the power. ‘Sick Man’ because it’s using the core in a vomiting way (without actually doing it) to project the power.

I cannot stress the importance of ‘Monk Style’ first to ‘clear down’ ready for ‘Warrior Style’ training and ‘Sick Man Style’ is an additional way of building those essential power skills. Many practitioners never get past the ‘Monk Style’ and many don’t want to, but for those interested in the complete art, ‘Warrior’ and ‘Sick Man’ are essential for vigorous health, self defence and strategies for life.

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My Body Is Like My Dog

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My dog is my old friend, when we were young we used to run around and wrestle and for 13 years where ever I’ve been he’s been there with me, at my feet or on my lap. Now his doddery old legs barely carry him and his arthritis and old injuries are a constant nag and need medication but our intertwined lives means that we are still the best of friends and know each others thoughts and emotions.

My body is my oldest friend, for 68 years it’s carried me through 50 years of martial arts and every sensual pleasure and trauma that’s beset me. Now I treat it the same as my old dog, I talk to it every day and the constant pain reminds me of everything we’ve done, the many scars, the arthritic legs and shoulders only cement our long term friendship and remind me of the great life we’ve had together. I couldn’t have done it without him.

Like my dog, I love it and take care of it.

Never punish or hate your oldest friend because it hurts and doesn’t work so well, if you do, you only make yourself suffer….

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