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Teaching Older People

Ted

 

Many of us these days teach people in their 70’s and above and it’s important for us to understand that even if their memory and body is breaking down, they are still a senior citizen and should command respect.

Don’t talk to them like they are a child, don’t get frustrated with them, be courteous, polite and break technique down until you find that which they are comfortable with.

They deserve dignity, they have often served their country, bought up families and paid their dues. Don’t put your ambitions and expectations on them, often they only want to stay alive, keep moving and mix comfortably with people of all age groups instead of sitting in an old people’s home singing ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’.

Have patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion, courtesy and respect. Inside that arthritic, aged body and forgetful mind is often a person still as sharp as a razor with more to teach you than you can teach them.

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Rules Of Self Defence and Bullying

Photo on 06-06-2017 at 15.53

Rules Of Self Defence And Bullying

YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can touch it unless you give consent.

YOUR PERSONAL SPACE BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can enter it without your consent. The perimeter of your personal space is the point that you must react, reactions can range from “get out my face” with a polite hand to their chest to raising your hand to meet theirs with a redirection and maybe joint lock as it crosses that line to a pre-emptive strike in a dangerous situation.

BEYOND PERSONAL SPACE IS YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!
Stand tall, breathe deep and keep an aware and and focused mind.
Look people directly in the eye and speak and act confidently.
Use positive body language.
Be polite, courteous, kind, tolerant and patient with others.
When needed, be firm and do not allow anything you are not comfortable with.

CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE TO ACCOMMODATE THESE POINTS!
If you don’t, you will fail when it really counts, these aspects need to be practiced 24/7.

These 4 basic rules for both children and adults require training and changes to your lifestyle to be able react in this way under pressure. Any good martial arts club will focus on maintaining these rules under ever increasing pressure and technical training will give practical methods of dealing with any problems.

Training will include:
Knowing the law regarding self defence
Mind and emotional intelligence training
Street strategies
Work on distance, angle and avoidance
Grip releases
Street weaponry and their defences
Striking
Locking
Throwing
Strangles and chokes
Groundwork

I’ve kept this simple and to the most important points so they don’t get lost in a complex article.

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I Should Be Dead

Dead

I know it, the reaper came, hovered and left. I stood between the worlds for months after a collapse with a second serious infection, 5 life saving and crippling surgeries on top of the 9 I’d already had and a second round of months of a cocktail of life saving, gut wrenching, antibiotics and hallucinogenic pain killers left me in serious doubt as to whether I was still meant to be here.

But here I am… still feeling ‘out of place’ and on borrowed time. Pain is a constant reminder and fatigue is always pulling at the back of my eyes and keeping the handbrake on my body. Everything has to be done slowly and carefully, teaching me ‘mindfulness’ in a most unexpected way, death always feels like it could it come with the next breath.

But this is not bad. It gives me perspective and vision that was not available to me before. Other people have a ‘bucket list’ when on borrowed time and try to fit everything into whatever time they have left, frantically running round like headless chickens trying to be distracted from their future demise having lost all perspective due to fear. I’m lucky because a lifetime of meditation and study allows me to sit in the ‘Tao’ and to see my finite life from an infinite mind.

What is important? It’s important to be ‘at ease’ with what and who you are and what part you have to play in this theatre of life. You are born out of this world and not into it. You are a part of everything in this theatre and have always been here in one way or another since the ‘big bang’.

My disability slows me down, this makes me pay attention to everything I rushed past before, ‘paying attention’ to everything, time, places, things, people, their characteristics, actions, words and this opens doors that I never saw before. Sitting still and in constant pain allows me to find that ‘place of refuge’ in my mind where the infinite me that holds all wisdom exists and pain is put into perspective.

I stopped contacting people that didn’t contact me and I let them go. I stopped talking to people that only contacted me when I was ‘useful’ and I let them go. I stopped taking part in the circus of ego feeding, back slapping events that only fed the negativity of needing to be an accepted part of it and fear of being excluded.  I stopped worrying about people, things and places because everything eventually turns to dust, all matter is impermanent. I learned that sometimes anxiety, depression, pain and suffering just arises, but it will pass if you let it be and don’t hang your hat on it. Nothing belongs to me – it’s all transitory.

If I smile with my face I immediately feel better, if I smile from the heart, I feel content and at peace, ‘letting go’ is the capacity to just watch everything as it passes, pay it attention but see it for what it is. If you know the names of your demons, they can’t touch you. Helping people is better than harming them, allowing them to be what they are, without imposing your wishes on them creates a healthy relationship. Building bridges is better than blowing them up, food parcels work better than bombs, inclusion works better than exclusion, ‘spreading the load’ in society makes ‘being human’ turn into humankind.

I don’t need to go anywhere, I don’t need to do anything, I don’t need to become anything, on the contrary, the best me is when I let go of all that desire and then intelligently engage with life from the right perspective and let it all happen naturally.

The more you stir the pot, the more trouble you create, the more you try to ‘make your mark’ and impose yourself and your views over others, the more they will reject you. When you create harmony in yourself, when you spread that into your environment, when you support all the building bricks of life on this planet – then you’ve really got the right perspective.

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Giri

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Steve Rowe talks with Doorman and Martial Artist Dennis Jones…

 

Giri:  a debt of gratitude, duty, justice, obligation, a sense of honour

 

SR  Dennis, we were discussing the concept of “Giri”  within the book  “Hagakure” by Yanamoto Tsunetomo and the following story…..

 

“Among Takeda Shingen’s retainers there were men of matchless courage, but when Katsuyori was killed in the fight at Tenmokuzan, they all fled.  Tsuchiya Sozo, a warrior who had been in disfavour for many years , came out alone, however, and said, “I wonder where all the men are who spoke so bravely every day?  I shall return the master’s favours to me”  And he fell alone in battle.”

 

And you were relating it to Giri amongst Doorman, can you explain this to the readers?

 

DJ  Well Steve, I’ve worked with many Doormen in my time, some of them were high grade Martial Artists, others Body Builders and so on, and in the “quiet time” on the door most talked a great fight.  To listen to them you would assume that when “push came to shove” on the door, they’d be right there with you backing you up, or in front dealing with the problem.

 

But I found, as you’d expect, the best talkers just seem to disappear at the time that you need them most.  But I’d like to talk about a guy we’ll call Robert, he was neither a Martial Artist or Body Builder, in fact he didn’t train at all, but he did say to me “Dennis I can’t fight like you but I’ll tell you one thing…”  he put his hand on his heart…  “I give you my word that when it “goes off’ and you’re surrounded, I may not be able to fight like you, but I’ll always watch your back and at least take one of them out, and if you’re getting a kicking; I’ll be on the floor tasting the leather boots with you.”

 

I looked in his eyes and could see that he was sincere.  Many of the other Doormen would put him down and call him useless, but they were also the ones that talked a good fight and were not there when it really counted.

 

Well, one night it’s “gone off” with what seemed like everyone in the Nightclub fighting, bottles, and glasses being used as weapons and glass ashtrays (why do nightclubs still persist in using them when they are used so viciously as weapons?) and women screaming everywhere.  I’m right in the middle of this melee, god knows where the other doormen had disappeared to and I’ve looked down to my right and there was Robert being true to his word.

 

He’d leaped on this guy from behind and dragged him down to the floor using a technique I call “the octopus” with both his legs wrapped around an attackers waist and his arms around his throat and he was choking him and biting his face!  Bless him, he was true to his word – bound to me by obligation –  he had taken one opponent out of the equation!  The other Doormen with all the talk had run away….

 

When I read that story in Hagakure I think of Robert.

 

SR  I can remember someone saying to me that when you choose your friends, imagine yourself in the trenches of the first world war and about to “go over the top” and think would I like this person next to me?  When I was in the Fire Brigade many years ago your life did depend on the guys you were teamed up with and the trust and camaraderie was an important part of the job.  The security world is very similar….

 

DJ  You’re right!  It’s important on the door, but you often just end up with people that someone else has employed and you never really know how someone’s going to react until it actually “goes off” bad.

 

SR  “Giri” is an interesting Japanese term as in feudal Japan a Samurai owed his life to his Master and “obligation” meant something quite different.  The term has been quoted many times to me asking for blind loyalty to a Japanese Sensei and yet I feel that it’s meaning for us in the Martial Arts that respect has to be earned in both directions between Instructor and student.

 

DJ  Another passage from Hagakure reads:

 

“Lord Naoshige once said “There is nothing felt quite so deeply as giri.  There are times when someone like a cousin dies and it is not a matter of shedding tears.  But we may hear of someone who lived fifty or a hundred years ago, of whom we know nothing and who has no family ties with us whatsoever, and yet from a sense of giri shed tears.”

 

Funakoshi talks about taking his children to meet his Sensei Azato and Itosu and how they bought his children sweets that he couldn’t afford, and how: “… the two generations of us, have all benefited enormously from the teachings of these two Masters.  Where shall I find the words to express my gratitude?” That story strangely bought a tear to my eye because I could understand that it’s more than just a Martial concept.  You can even have “Giri” towards a respected enemy, the Chinese say that “if two tigers meet, one will surely be maimed and the other killed”.  Often seasoned warriors have mutual respect for the effort they know each other have had to put in to develop their skill and character.

 

I felt “Giri” and respect for Robert because of his actions and eight years after this event I found out that he had died all by himself in a flat of a heroin overdose and when I looked back, he had given me his word and when faced with a really bad violent situation that made most of the other doormen “lose it” and run away, he did exactly what he had promised to do.

 

I don’t know why or how he got into drugs, but when I think of him dying on his own in that flat I feel sad and empathic towards him, because in his own way he was a real man.  You remember in our first column when we talked about the guy who stole my pen at school dying of a drugs overdose and I felt nothing towards him?  Strange isn’t it that the death of Robert can bring a tear to my eye…..  I think in my world that is “Giri”….

 

SR  One of my reasons for writing the EKGB column is a sense of Giri toward the people who started Karate in England.  I feel that we never give credit to the people who were there from the start and put in so much work.  New generations of Martial Artists are coming through and might never know the history and names of their Founding Fathers.  In the Medway area it was people like yourself, Mick Gooch, Norman King, Roger Wilkes, Pauline Bindra and so on who made the Martial Arts known to the general public.  There are so many people with extravagant claims around nowadays that are benefiting from all the work put in by others and not giving credit where it’s due.

 

DJ  I’ve known Roger for 26 years – and yet I’ve probably only spoken to him 6 or 7 times, yet I have respect and “Giri” toward him because of what he is and for what he has done.  Our paths have been linked all the way through that period of time.

 

SR  Nothing gave me more pleasure than to get you all together teaching at my Medway Summer Course this year!

 

DJ  I’d like to end this month’s column with a little poem that epitomises “Giri” to me.  When I was a child my Father was in the S.A.S and he would come to me before going out on special operations and would give me a kiss and say “I’ll see you”…  of course we both knew that maybe he wouldn’t…  as luck would have it, he did, but some of his friends didn’t come back and I’d like to also dedicate this poem to them and Robert.

 

“The sound of the bell of Gionshoja echoes the impermanence of all things.  The hue of the flowers of the teak tree declares that they that flourish must be brought low.  Yea, the proud ones are but for a moment, like an evening dream in the springtime.  The mighty are destroyed at the last, they are but as the dust before the wind.”

 

From The Samurai  by S R Turnbull

 

 

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Standing Neigong

standing

Standing Neigong

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:

Good posture
Good balance
Good rooting
An understanding of left/right and upper/lower body harmony
Good breathing
An aware, focused sensitive and intense mind
Emotional intelligence
An intuitive understanding of yin and yang

The 5 basic postures are:

Neutral
Upper Yin
Upper Yang
Lower Yin
Lower Yang

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:

Neutral
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:

Upper Yin
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:
Patience
Kindness
Tolerance 
Compassion

Lower Yin
Is the same apart from the arms being down in the same frame in front of the Dantien.

Upper Yang
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:
Resolve
Determination 
Courage
Power

Lower Yang
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.

 

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Mindfulness

mindfulness

 

MINDFULNESS

Our use of the word ‘mind’ in English can be quite versatile.  As a noun it describes our awareness, consciousness and thought, as a verb it can mean ‘to take care of’ like in ‘mind the child’ or when getting on a train ‘mind the gap’, so to be ‘mindful’ is to increase our awareness and consciousness and to take care of our thinking and feelings.

So we ‘mind the mind’, we take care of it.  All the time we remain mindful, we are watching our thoughts, emotions and actions and this act in itself is life changing. Most of the time we are not aware of them because we are them, this is the mindless state as written in the Dhammapada – ‘The mindless are as if dead already’.

When we start to watch and take care of ourselves we begin the process of investigating why we think or do things and the effect those actions have on ourself, others and our environment, this means we become aware of our karma and also begin ‘minding’ others and the world around us.

We realise that we have the choice  – ‘alive, aware, caring and careful’ or ‘dead, thoughtless, not caring and zombie like’, it’s scary when we realise how many ‘zombies’ there are in the world and that we were one of them – and will continue to be if we don’t practice mindfulness continuously!

Any activity that brings us to this calm, aware, focused and sensitive state is mindfulness training, focusing on our breath and/or a calming activity like Tai Chi, walking, sitting, standing or laying down, with good posture and deep breathing will help, too often people become ‘result driven’ and try too hard finding it self defeating. Good posture, deep breathing, allowing and watching the thoughts come and go will gradually reduce the activity of of the brain and bring us to that lovely mindful state where we become aware that we are far more than just one individual, isolated, emotionally damaged, zombie.

When we are in this engaged, mindful state we realise that by letting go our negativity, life becomes much easier as we become more emotionally intelligent, can see all points of view and not want to create unnecessary harm and friction. The irony is that we are more likely to live a happy successful life with meaning and purpose when we can ‘fit in’ with the right kind of lifestyle and people.

Good posture and deep breathing alleviates excessive tension and calms both mind and body, this reduces damage in the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke and many other related illnesses.  It helps us to engage with others and a learning environment, meaning that whilst alive we are learning and using the brain cognitively, reducing the chance of dementia and other forms of early demise.

‘Mindfulness is the path to the deathless – the mindful never die, the mindless are as if dead already’ – Dhammapada 21

There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t begin a mindful life from this moment on, I started 40 years ago and have not regretted a single ‘engaged’ moment….

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Back To Front Martial Arts

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I think I live in an alternate universe.

Or everyone else in the Martial Arts does.

I see Instructors putting together their training/grading syllabus…

“Erm, for red belt we’ll do this… for yellow this…. for orange this….”

They do one set of techniques for basics, different moves in a form that don’t relate to the basics and then different pairs work that doesn’t relate to either basics or form.

And I’m like…..”That’s not only back to front – it doesn’t make sense!”

I ask, “what’s the end result you’re looking for at black belt and above?”

And guess what…. I get a blank look because they haven’t thought about it!

“Erm… good basics?……”

“Is that it?”  I certainly wouldn’t want to train in a club where even the coach doesn’t know where we’re all going!

So how did I do mine for Shi Kon?

I started with the end product.  What kind of student and Instructor do I want to produce?

I want my students to develop emotional intelligence, compassion, patience and tolerance, along with courage, resolve and determination.  to have good health, mental and physical.

I want them to be competent ‘peacekeepers’ to be able to defend themselves and others. To be able to neutralise anything an opponent throws at them, to competently punch, strike, kick, lock, throw, choke and strangle.

How am I going to train that?  They need progressive meditation and neigong for the mind, posture and breathing, then qigong  to prepare the body by softening and connecting the myofascia, opening the joints and learning how the body gets connected power.

I put the 8 principles in place that MUST be within every technique to make it work and mnemonically brought each principle into one word. Put the 13 strategies in from the Yang Family system that dynamically flow through combat and respond to whatever an opponent does these too mnemonically into one word for each one.

The major forms from brown to black had to contain those qualities, Sanchin for the internal system manipulating spine and core with breathing and connection, Tensho to add the core work powering the 5 Animal Boxing and Naihanchi for the fajin  and different ways to power the techniques.

Then I continued to work backwards listing all the techniques that can express these principles and strategies and grouped them into a principle for each grade.  Then each grade would have the techniques as basics, that had to be demonstrated against a range of attackers as pairs work, strung together for combinations and all put together for a mnemonic short form for them to remember what they have to do.  That’s obvious synergy!

I used allusion, mnemonics and application, right from the start they are learning towards a goal at higher grade without realising it, they had an easy way to remember everything and the grading was the ability to make it work!

A white belt is already training to be a black belt, everything has to be practical towards that end and used without any ‘fluff’ or ‘padding’, all training is synergistic with a specific goal in mind and everyone knows where they are going, why they are doing it, what they are doing and how it relates to the end product and what that end product is!

It makes me a genius in the martial arts world but normal everywhere else, if you wanted to be a top athlete you would be taught this way, or a musician, or dancer, or taking a university degree and so on….

So it ain’t me that lives in that alternate universe!

 

 

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