Articles, Uncategorized

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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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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Articles, Uncategorized

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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Articles, Uncategorized

Cognitive Dissonance In The Martial Arts

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I posted recently on Facebook about Firemen who rescued some piglets from a fire and how the grateful farmer then slaughtered them and rewarded the firemen with sausages made from their carcasses. As a meditation I suggested that if that made the readers uncomfortable it might be because they were experiencing ‘cognitive dissonance’ because they might hold two opposing views about the piglets, one because they are cute and cuddly and the other because they like them as food.

This then made me think that it might be a good idea to draw some of my teachings together under this label to explain the difference between blind assumptions that create the condition and using it as a tool in our martial arts and in stressful times.

Let me explain.

In the book ‘The Prehistory Of The Mind’ Steven Mithen explains the development of the human mind as like ‘a Swiss army penknife’ with utilities like the need for survival, the need for love and affection, the need to procreate, the need to communicate and recognising what we need to eat and so on that develop faster than all other parts of the mind. These utilities are separate from each other and this explains why we can see baby pigs as cute and cuddly one moment and then be eating them later; as it utilises different parts of the mind.

Steven then relates how as humankind developed, some people have developed channels between these utilities and can start to relate one to the other, bringing about in some the need to reconcile the apparent dissonance between the two.

So in our meditation and self study we need to recognise the ‘blind assumptions’ about everything that our culture and upbringing has given us as a set of views and values and then apply our own critical thinking to them to decide if we really do think that way and to find what our views really are. This process dramatically changed me as a person as I realised that I had previously just adopted the views and values of my family and culture without challenging them!  I had been wearing a mask all this time and not known it, my deep rooted fears and anxieties were borne out of cognitive dissonance because the views I thought I held weren’t really me and deep down I felt uncomfortable with them.

Good meditation took me through this process of self examination to find out who I really was and to find my own resonance.  It was a huge relief to eventually discover who I was and the views that really resonated with me.

Then as martial artists we can train this dissonance as a tool when life serves up it’s usual unpalatable fayre. If we have to defend ourselves or someone else, or fight to keep the peace and we don’t like hurting anyone or anything, we need the skill to be able to disassociate our connection to another person to see them purely as a target to hurt them enough to stop them and this is where a trained ‘cognitive dissonance’ can work for good.

When I’ve had to take a loved pet to the vet to have them put down, when someone close to me is dying painfully, when all I want to do is to collapse in a sea of emotion but someone has to take action to get things done, that necessary separation, if well trained, can come to the fore.

If you are an empathic person and naturally link into someone else’s anger, pain, suffering or depression you end up taking on their emotions and life can be really hard! The person might feel better after an hour but you can still be walking about with their depression for weeks if you’re not careful! Again training for that separation, so you can deal with their emotions positively, you create that ‘cognitive dissonance’ until you can bring the resonance between you back is a real skill.

The ability to be able to ‘wake up’ using mindfulness, to examine our mind and opinions, to discover who we really are what we really think, to understand and connect the different parts of our mind and draw on that embedded ‘utilitarian’ part as a skillset takes regular daily training can be truly life changing – and it helps to develop the necessary toolbox to make us more emotionally intelligent.

That has got to be worth the effort!

 

 

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Articles, Uncategorized

Principled Training And Existence

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My Shi Kon training system is ‘principle based’. Principles are what makes everything work and we have 8 of them. If all 8 are in place, whatever you do will work. I only think and train in principles and strategies, techniques will be the result of them and can vary from situation to situation. This means that there is a area that techniques will appear different and still be ‘right’, many people find this confusing, “is it like this, or is it like this?” can sometimes be answered with “yes” because both are correct as they employ all 8 principles. Fighting is spontaneous and responsive and needs to vary according to the conditions, this is why principle based training is essential. I will vary what I’m doing according to the opponent or training partner and therefore don’t really have any ‘set’ routines, only ‘set’ principles and ideas. Narrow minded, linear thinking people find this intensely frustrating because they want a definitive ‘right and wrong’ and not what they see as a ‘fuzzy logic’ – but that’s the way fighting and life in general works. The resolution is whether it works in a spontaneous exchange or not – and definitive structured linear thinking techniques don’t work in a fight.

My club and association work in the same way.  Courtesy, kindness, compassion, patience and tolerance rule until we touch hands, then it becomes resolve, determination, courage, the 8 principles and 13 strategies. To mix these up is to lose, to understand how they function is essential. If you make rules, you will just keep making them to cover the exceptions until everyone is confused and they don’t work, but principles underlay all behaviour and are quite clear to people when the ideas are grasped.

Understand quite clearly what principles are, without them the technique and the person will be weak and easily fail, with them both will always be strong, connected, harmonious and powerful.

Strategies are dynamic, interchangeable and will flow through technique combining to make it useful but will not be ever present.

Truth just is. The principles that work in the microcosm of martial arts also work in the club and association structure, in business, family and in life generally.

Learn how to tell the difference between principle, strategy and technique.

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Articles, Uncategorized

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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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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