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 2019 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 email@example.com
Proposed Dates 11.30am – 4pm are:
‘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…..