This morning’s neigong:
Don’t eat breakfast;
Drink a pint of iced water;
Find your place to stand;
Then find your balance.
Find your natural breathing rhythm;
Don’t breathe in until you would have to stop yourself;
Don’t breathe out until you would have stop yourself;
Let your body, not your mind deepen and control the breath.
Use your entire dantien to breathe;
Stomach sides and back draw the diaphragm down;
Filling the lungs with air;
Calming you down, making your mind aware and focused.
In Tai Chi the joints and fascia act together as a pump;
Expand them naturally as you breathe in;
Let them rest naturally as you breathe out:
Let the bows of arms, legs and spine work with them.
Go to the feet first to breathe in;
Open the body to expand to receive the air and energy;
Allow it to rest and soften as you breathe out;
Feel the elixir of life refresh and heal you.
As the wheel of the year turns;
There is a different kind of balance;
The air is not dry and warm:
And the earth is chilled and moist.
Balance brings me to the Tao;
The line down the middle of yin and yang:
The harmonies in the body:
Allow me to find the door.
Left and right in the joints:
Upper and lower connections;
Front and back of the body;
Inner to outer of limbs and body.
Inner is yin, outer is yang;
Front is yin, back is yang;
Focus on one and the other is the small circle in the symbol;
Still felt and giving ultimate balance.
Hands and feet press the same;
First physically then energetically;
The biggest step is from muscle to energy;
When in stasis, it’s perfect harmony.
Shi Kon Tai Chi Coaching Qualification
This one day a month for 10 months intensive course will be taught personally by Steve Rowe 9th Dan, an internationally renowned Tai Chi teacher, Chairman and founder of both the Martial Arts Standards Agency and Shi Kon Martial Arts International. It is designed to certificate and give Tai Chi Coaches the ability to teach Tai Chi and run and administer a club to gold level standard. Participants will be registered with Shi Kon Martial Arts International Association, the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts (the Sport England registered Governing Body for Chinese Martial Arts) and the Martial Arts Standards Agency. The coaching part of the qualification will be the BCCMA level 2 and through these registrations we can lead you to the required DBS and Child Protection courses and the work required to gain the prestigious Sport England ‘Clubmark’ accreditation for your club.
The course will cover the following in depth and enable you to teach:
Meditation and Mindfulness – standing, sitting, walking and laying down.
Neigong – the 5 standing ‘yin and yang’ and neutral postures for breathing, emotional intelligence, postural alignment, the 3 bows, left and right and upper and lower body harmonies.
Qigong – the Yang Family exercises that soften the body, open the joints and myofascia and categorise the energies needed to do Tai Chi techniques,
The 8 Principles – that underpin and support all martial art movements.
The 13 Strategies – of Tai Chi that thread through all movement to make it effective.
The Yang Forms – The ‘Grasp Sparrow’s Tail’ Form that is suitable for beginners and short courses and contain all the essentials to begin learning Tai Chi and the 20 minute ‘Yang Chen Fu 108’ ‘gold standard’ form of Yang Family Tai Chi that you would expect any Yang style teacher to be able to teach.
Pushing Hands – Push Hands is the introduction to partner work. It takes the ‘constructive cycle’ of the form and utilises the ‘destructive cycle’ giving points on a circle that the cardinal strategies would be used. For this qualification, coaches will learn horizontal and vertical circle push hands drills, along with wrist and forearm rolling and the 4 ‘receiving’ technique drills.
Application – From the forms and pushing hands, participants will learn applications of the techniques and why Steve Rowe is the acknowledged expert and his knowledge used and respected by security and law enforcement services across Europe.
All the techniques will be videoed separately using top practitioners of the system with guiding ‘voice over’ by Steve Rowe and uploaded to a private FB page for technical support.
The Cost – of the entire qualification is £1500. This can be paid in advance or by £150 deposit to secure your place and 9 subsequent monthly payments when the programme starts by direct debit of £150.
The Qualification starts in January 2020 and the training days will be at Steve’s full time Dojo in Chatham Kent UK from 11.30am – 4pm
Anyone needing any extra help or training will be able to take additional private lessons with Steve at a ‘members cost’ of £50 per hour.
If you are interested in registering message Steve Rowe on FB, call or text on 07545 23 22 21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What 2018 participants say…
From Carl Jephcote….
A few years ago I was introduced to Sifu Steve Rowe, who luckily for me, accepted me as a private student.
Little did I know how much this ‘down to earth’ knowledgeable guy would impact my life.
When he put together the Shi Kon Tai Chi Coaching Programme I jumped at the chance.
The well structured course far exceeded my expectations.
On a personal note, my health and wellbeing have improved dramatically as a result and I have a far deeper understanding of the internal aspects of my own art of Wing Chun.
I have also been running a successful Shi Kon Tai Chi class with the help and guidance from Sifu Steve.
If you are looking to improve your health and your chosen art, I highly recommend that you get in touch with Steve and sign up for the next course, you will not regret it.
From Mikey Wright…
I was fortunate to start training privately in Tai Chi with Sifu Steve Rowe a few years ago after years of following his teaching and philosophy online.
Steve’s depth of knowledge and structured, principle based approach to martial arts is in my mind virtually unmatched.
The Shi Kon Tai Chi coaching program has given me the information, skills and confidence to now offer Tai Chi as part of my offering as a martial arts coach.
I chose to continue my development Under Steve and his team on the 2 year advanced coaching course which started this year and look forward to many more years learning and training under his mentorship.
I highly recommend the Shi Kon Tai Chi coaching program to anyone looking to broaden their skill base and offering.
From Wayne Challoner-Keough
Wayne Challoner Keough took the 2018 programme and is now running successful classes in his karate club and is now on the advanced programme. This is his story.
I started training with Steve Rowe around 4 years ago, straight away I knew that Tai Chi was what I had been looking for in my martial arts journey.
I had practised Karate for around twenty years and since starting tai chi both myself and others have noticed the difference in how I move and the connections I am able to make when both training and teaching.
Last year I made the decision to take part in the level one Tai Chi coaching programme with Steve, it was the best decision I have ever made. I have found a new passion alongside my karate and I have now opened my own Tai Chi classes in the Walsall area. I am teaching people and they leave feeling positive.
I would highly recommend the course to anyone, in my opinion there is no one better to learn from than Steve Rowe. I have just started the level two course and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to what’s in store.
From Sifu Keith Collyer
“I have been training and teaching martial arts for over 20 years and as I have got older looked at training and teaching a system that can have some longevity, so I can teach and benefit from the wealth of health benefits into my old age.
I have followed Steve’s Rowe’s posts and read articles his written over the years, so when he put together the Shi Kon coaching program I thought this the ideal opportunity to train with such an experienced martial artist.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Tai Chi coaching program, and love the depth that this art has, also the way the course is presented and taught, with great assistants there to guide you and assist Steve’s fantastic instruction.
To me, learning the application for techniques reafirms and helps me learn, Steve has so much in depth Knowelege that you get this in abundance and apart from learning the many other benefits Tai chi can give you the martial applications are there which are often not taught in other Tai Chi Systems.
It has also helped in other areas and enhanced the other arts I teach so a no brainier if you all ready teach or want to start something new.
I enjoy the sessions so much that I have joined the level 2 programme so I can look forward to the monthly training with a great bunch of fellow martial artists and have something to train that’s more for ‘ myself’ though I am looking forward to opening my class very soon.
From Matt Hudd
I have been studying under Sifu Steve Rowe as a long distance student since 2013, Steve is a very knowledgeable and experienced martial artist and the sort of person you could listen to for hours.
Going back to my first seminar and any other time I have trained with him any confusion I had about the arts was cleared up and I would have loads of eureka moments. Things would just fit into place, even in my own art. It isn’t necessarily about his style or your style, I’ve never trained in Karate and had done little Tai Chi at that time but Steve’s principles and teachings fit into any style of fighting.
Because of the 4 hours’ drive from my home town of Hereford to Chatham and my own clubs’ commitments, I was finding it hard to get to train with Steve, it was frustrating and slow gaining the knowledge I wanted that he so freely gives. Therefore, I didn’t have to think twice when Steve invited me to attend his Tai Chi Coaching Programme.
Since starting it, my whole martial arts training and teaching skills have dramatically improved, beforehand, I was just dipping into Steve’s training and taking away what I could, but the Tai Chi Programme starts at the beginning and as I have mentioned previously, it fits together and makes sense as the course continues.
Now I am doing level 2, it is so obvious why Steve teaches the way he does. His own years of training under great masters is evident and he has developed a formula to teach that is structured and layered. I believe that anybody that says that they are a true martial artist needs to be on this course, it will bring about a new meaning to your own art.
On a final note, for me martial arts is all about personal development, take away the martial aspect of this course and it is also up there with the top personal development courses that I have done, in today’s society where it is all about material items and social media, we need to be able to look into ourselves and work from the inside out. Steve teaches you all this and more at an affordable price.
I am truly humbled and will be eternally grateful for all the knowledge and wisdom that Steve has given me. This course really will change your life!
From Jeremy Hicks
After completing Steve Rowe’s Shi Kon Tai Chi Coaching course last year, and benefiting physically and emotionally, in both my training and my personal life, it was obvious to join the Advanced Coaching programme this year.
Even this early in the course it’s extraordinary the extra depth and layers, in Tai Chi, that Steve and his team are teaching us. Showing, demonstrating and explaining techniques, moves and concepts in a pragmatic, open way that leaves you hungry to achieve what you’ve been shown and understanding why and how the techniques are done in a certain way and why they work. No ‘smoke and mirrors’, but sometimes it does seem like magic.
Long Term Students who also run successful Tai Chi Clubs in the Shi Kon Family
From Gavin King Karate and Kung Fu Instructor
When I was a kid I used to read my Dad’s Martial Arts magazines. There was a column in one called “A Voice from the Deep” written by Steve Rowe. It was a series of tales about a wise Karate Sensei and life in his dojo. They weren’t stories simply about learning to kick or punch, but lessons about how martial arts had the power to transform lives. Those stories shaped my whole view of what studying martial arts should be and inspired me to take to the path of a life long student of the fighting arts and philosophies.
About 10 years ago my martial arts journey led me to have a private lesson with Steve and the entire direction of my life changed. Through Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Meditation Steve has guided me to becoming a full-time Instructor running my own full-time martial arts centre. But he’s become far more than that, he is a mentor, a counsellor, a business coach and most importantly one of my closest friends. No matter what he is always there for me for support, advice and friendship.
In a very short period of time, Steve has helped transform my life to the point where now every day is like one of his stories that inspired me as a child. He has helped me turn my passion into a way of life. When you study with Steve and the Shi Kon system you are not becoming a student, you’re joining a martial arts family. Being part of that family is the sole reason I have the life I have now.
‘Empty force’ sounds nebulous and difficult to understand, but it isn’t. The body is a spring, when the posture is correct and the joints unlocked, when the soft tissue carries no unnecessary tension – the compression and release of a combination of the joints, including the spine, bodycore and soft tissue is a skill that can be trained in a multitude of ways.
The first level of skill is to unlock the body and keep it unlocked, start with good posture and then unlock the ankles, knees, hips, back and chest with the mantra ‘soften and connect’ when you can drop your bodyweight into the arches of your feet and feel them spread to the floor with the weight you’re ready to pump.
If you were to then jump in the air you would bend the joints and spring upwards, making the body ‘float’ upwards with an emptiness – and that’s what we’re looking for. Then try it without leaving the ground making the arms raise and float upwards with the Tai Chi technique at the beginning of the form called ‘raise hands’ although the hands float up they should still be connected to the feet so it they contacted the opponent at any point, the power would still come directly from the feet.
Then practice a series of exercises, (the Yang Family qigong is specifically designed for this purpose) making each part of the body float in every range of movement with that ’empty but connected to the feet’ sensation constantly unlocking and springing through the joints and soft tissue.
The next stage is the Tai Chi form with every technique practised in the same way so that you ‘float’ through the form with that characteristic soft, smooth, spiralling but still powerfully connected manner where at any point you can repel an opponent and also send an additional pulse in the same manner of a dynamic ‘pinball’ of energy into an opponent without overextending into them or collapsing from their pressure or your own technical failure.
This can then be applied to push hands and application work in a variety of skillsets.
The idea is simple. The action takes considerable training, but the skill is layered in at each stage. The purpose of this blog is to give you the vision of where to go and be able to recognise the training plan to get you there.
In Karate you may recognise the same process as ‘sink, swallow, float and spit’.
It’s an old internal skill that is rapidly getting lost as martial artists move from principles to technique only and a gym style of muscular development, throwing the baby out with the bathwater as they do so.
It wasn’t called ‘Soft Cotton Boxing’ and ‘Deceptive Boxing’ for nothing!
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:
An understanding of left/right and upper/lower body harmony
An aware, focused sensitive and intense mind
An intuitive understanding of yin and yang
The 5 basic postures are:
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:
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:
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:
Is the same apart from the arms being down in the same frame in front of the Dantien.
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:
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.
The Importance Of Qigong In Form
Tsou lou hsih au pu!” Sifu called the name of the technique known as ‘brush knee’ in English, it’s repeated several times in the Yang Chen Fu tai chi form, signifying it’s importance for training the basic ideas and principles of tai chi.
“Claire, you’re coming out of your legs and loosing your root as you step forwards,” Sifu advised.
“I can’t see how I can stop doing that,” Claire said with a look of confusion on her face.
“You need to soften down into your legs before you move and use your body skills to lift the leg without coming up,” Sifu said
“Body skills? What body skills?” Claire asked.
“Precisely…” said Sifu with a humorous wink of the eye. “The body skills are in the chi kung exercises, just about all of the 24 exercises are contained within the stepping movement, can’t you see that?”
“I don’t really practise the exercises that much,” said Claire emptily.
“Then I’m not surprised that you haven’t developed the necessary skills in the form!” replied Sifu.
“I can’t see the point if I’m going to practise the skills in the form anyway…” ventured Claire.
“Maybe now you can see the point, because if you haven’t worked the specific skills in the exercises you aren’t able to apply them in the form” said Sifu in an exasperated tone.
He continued – “Each exercise awakens and trains a power source, that’s 24 specific ways of empowering a technique, by realising them in the exercises, you are able to discover them in a multitude of ways and variations in the form, as you move, your body will ‘find’ them as it recognises the familiar signals trained in the exercises.”
“But surely, doing the form we’ll learn them anyway?” Claire asked.
Sifu answered “you’ll be training them in many different ways and will have to learn hundreds of different ways of applying the skills, when you have the exercises; you have a basic reference point that can be applied to each of them, like a code.”
“But I know the exercises; I just don’t practice them much…” Claire was getting confused.
Sifu was having difficulty in getting his point across.. “The exercises provide the feelings that your body will recognise, there’s knowing with your thinking mind and knowing with your body, once you understand the exercises with your thinking mind you need to practice them everyday to own them with your body, when you’ve done that the body will react to the signals and connections in movement reflexively.”
“How’s this going to help me understand the stepping?” asked Claire.
“Okay take Tsou lou hsih au pu position” instructed Sifu. “Now turn to the corner for the beginning of the step, instead of rising up as you transfer your weight into the other leg place your head upright over the supporting foot and soften up to let your body weight cascade down, this skill is in your head to foot exercises. As you turn your head, this turns your torso and allows you to lift from the ribs, this is in your torso twisting exercises, this rotates your hips and stepping foot on the floor.”
“That really hurts my thigh muscle on the supporting leg,” moaned Claire.
“That’s what we call ‘good pain’ as your thigh muscles are taking your body weight instead of your knee joint and being trained so that you don’t move upwards to alleviate the pain,” instructed Sifu.
“Ooooookay….” Trembled Claire as her leg started to shake under the pressure.
“Now pulse from the unweighted stepping foot and flinch the leg so that it floats off the floor, this is in the second of our twisting exercises, step out and place the foot moving the unweighted and floating arm and leg together, Sifu instructed.
“It’s amazing how one side can be so heavy and the other so light!” – exclaimed a surprised Claire.
“This is referred to in the classics as the substantial and insubstantial” answered Sifu. “Now as you transfer the head goes first as in the head exercises, the body leans as in the leaning exercises, it also coils as in the twisting exercises, the striking yang hand remains at the L1 point as in the chest and back exercises, as you uncoil and move upright, the hand floats to the strike as in the chest and back exercises and the spine takes the ‘parked’ position as in the spine exercises. The transfer of weight in the legs goes directly from muscle to muscle from one leg to the other as trained in the leg exercises. The spiralling through the ankles and knees are as in the lower joint exercises, the vibration in the hips are as in the hip exercises. All these skills are then combined and harmonised for a smooth transition of power – and that’s what the form is for!”
“So the form uses the exercises in all manner of movement and technique and I won’t be able to use all these skills in harmony if I haven’t practiced them sufficiently in the exercises first,” realised Claire.
“Bingo!” Sifu exclaimed as the light went on in Claire’s brain. “The exercises give us the basic skills and power that are then expressed in all manner of ways in the form, applications and pushing hands. This is another holy trinity of training. As you use them in the form it deepens your understanding for the exercises and the applications and as you use them in the applications – it deepens your understanding of the form and exercises.”
“Could this not be used in any martial art, because we all have to step?” Claire queried.
“It’s essential learning for all martial arts” answered Sifu.
“So why do most martial arts do athletic exercises as a warm up and warm down?”
Maybe because they haven’t learned these ones” smiled Sifu…..