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How Matt Fiddes Tai Chi Happened

For some time I’ve been watching Matt Fiddes. I didn’t know him, had never met him, but still felt offended on his behalf when other people who had also not met and didn’t know him were calling him names and joining in with others like bullies on a school playground. I knew he was quite capable of looking after himself, but felt bound to go to his defence as he had done nothing wrong and broken no laws.

I followed him on social media and looked into his business structure. I found it difficult to run a couple of clubs and an association, so was intrigued to find that he successfully ran a 700 club franchise. Feted as ‘trainer and bodyguard to the stars’ I realised that he couldn’t be an idiot and must have both skill and business acumen. He supported many charities and charitable causes and when he appeared on the TV programme ‘Rich House, Poor House’ he broke the rules and bought the other ‘poor family’ a desperately needed mobility scooter and gave the unemployed father a job in his organisation.  He even met the school ‘bully’ whose actions made him start martial arts and gave him a job as well!

On Instagram you could see he was in the gym every day, often twice a day and training hard, he attended every event in his organisation, meeting everyone, shaking hands, supporting the charitable causes and visiting sick and cancer patients in hospital. He certainly didn’t come across as a bad person!

In his own way he is ‘old school’ – a WTF Taekwondo champion as a youngster he started teaching early and quickly built a good club base, by studying world renowned experts in all areas from business to training he came to the attention of the rich and famous and established a solid franchise structure.

To keep standards he doesn’t grade his own black belts, but gets Master Frank Murphy, graded to black belt by the founder of Taekwondo and International Champion to vet their standards.

He is now very much a family man, married to South African pop singer Monique, he spends a lot of his time with her and their children.

We had spoken occasionally through Facebook Messenger but nothing of any real consequence, when I put my Tai Chi Coaching Programme together and recruited my first batch of martial arts instructors I quickly realised that I had something very special and that it could go really well, that I needed someone who was expert in the areas of business structure and promotion who I could form a long term relationship with – at that point the choice was obvious.

 

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Tai Chi Coaching Programme 2019

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Shi Kon Tai Chi Coaching Qualification

Introduction
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 10am – 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 steve@shikon.com

Proposed Dates 11.30am – 4pm are:
12th January
9th February
9th March
6th April
11th May
8th June
6th July
10th August
7th September
12th October

 

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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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Why Are You Ignoring Your Oldest Friend?

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Why are you ignoring your oldest friend?

It’s always been there with you, holding you up in the hardest of times, crying and laughing with you, always supporting you from the ground up – and yet you steadfastly ignore it!

It talks to you all the time, tells you when it wants to exercise, rest, eat, drink, and yet you treat it rudely.

Well STOP IT! And start paying attention.

Your dog doesn’t speak your language and yet you understand everything he says, when he wants attention, feeding, drink, walkies, you treat him well and love him.

You body does the same. In it’s own language, it tells you when it needs attention, feeding, drink, exercise and rest – so why don’t you listen?

Your ego, your vanity, your fears and desires constantly over rule your oldest friend. You hate it, you punish it, in the gym, ‘no pain no gain!’ stuffing it with food that the media pushes on your subliminal desires, forcing it into uncomfortable clothes, painting it and still looking in the mirror and hating it.

Why don’t you listen? The reason is that your ego won’t shut up, it’s either distracted to every shiny object the media pushes toward you or it’s lazy, because you ate the wrong foods, drunk the wrong drinks, exercised the wrong way ands are obsessed with the little electric square you carry around all day and react like Pavlov’s dogs to every chirrup it makes.

How do you change this and listen?

Be still and aware, let your thoughts and feelings subside. Learn to be mindful.

Let your sensitivity grow. Take your mind through every part of your body, with kindness.

Talk to your oldest friend. Ask it how it feels, listen to all the minor aches and pains, because if you wait until it has to shout – it will be major illness.

Treat it with appropriate exercise and rest whilst paying attention to exactly what it needs and is asking for. Your Friend loves to exercise, to play, to have fun, to rest, to be fed, watered, there’s no need to punish it…… ever.

Treat it the same way you treat your oldest friend, it’s always been there for you and the more care you give it, the more it can give you.

 

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Meditation, Sleep and Dying

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When you can’t sleep, or you’re sick and terrified of dying it’s because you can’t let go. Going to sleep is like dying, you stop thinking and drift in a state of just being and if you can do this through meditation practice, you sleep deeply and restoratively. Similarly when you are sick and death is inevitable, you drift in to that state of just being and returning to the source of all things dying peacefully.
See how the two are connected?
When you meditate you loose the shackles and burdens of life, resting in that beautiful place of refuge and your broadest perspective on this blink in eternity is restored. Sleep or death, the process is the same.
A student said to me “as my meditation improved, I felt like I was losing myself, I thought I was dying, I got scared and pulled back”, he needed the reassurance that he was in the doorway of experiencing his true, infinite self and wouldn’t physically die until it was time.
This is how to meditate and then falling asleep and dying can be done peacefully and the fear and mental blocks of both are removed, improving both mental and physical health.
Living from the inside out and not letting anything or anyone influence you negatively because you have direct experience of the truth.

 

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Intensity In Meditation

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I teach that for mindfulness, meditation and Martial Arts, the mind needs to be aware, focused, sensitive and intense. The right kind of intensity is a key factor and often misunderstood.

You cannot be half hearted. The enemies of the mind are apathy and distraction, to avoid them the mind must be intensely focused and that requires the right kind of effort.

To me, after posture and breathing are correct, it’s like getting into an elevator and dropping instantly 100 floors down. This is both my meditation and fighting mind, it cannot be disrupted.

Sometimes it feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, with my toes curling over the edge and precariously balanced.

Bad intensity is disruptive, good intensity is incredibly focused. There is no thinking mind, no ego, no individual, no ‘self’, just an open awareness where everything is in the right place.

The mind has the widest perspective with no barriers, this is where our innate wisdom resides, it’s a place of refuge where the mind can heal – without anger, fear and worry but full of kindness, patience, tolerance and compassion for itself and it’s environment.

In martial arts and intense mindful state is able to respond instantly and appropriately in a natural to any attack, it’s where you are ‘in the zone’.

It requires practice, every second you are mindful, you are alive and ‘awake’, every second you’re not, you’re a distracted, apathetic zombie.

Your choice….

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Being A Good Student

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We often talk about what makes a good Instructor and what makes a good club, but what happens when we turn that on it’s head and ask what makes a good student?

The one thing that I discovered was that if I knew how to be a good student I could get far more out of my Instructors than anybody else and that as an Instructor I am far more inclined to teach a good student thoroughly than a bad one.

The inescapable facts are that many Instructors don’t get to choose their students, sometimes they teach because they feel it’s wrong to favour students and therefore ‘stick it out’ with what they consider a bad one and sometimes the reasons are financial, but either way I quickly discovered that there are ways to get far more than anyone else was getting and I didn’t have to compromise my morals to achieve it!

You don’t have to like a person to teach them well, a student doesn’t have to like an Instructor to learn from them, all it takes is a bit of patience and tolerance on both sides to get there. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with many students in the past and I can understand that they hate me for being blunt with them and for making them do things that they didn’t want to, if you don’t push them beyond what they think are their limits, how are they going to improve? If they don’t have that basic faith and trust in me even if they don’t like me, or what I’m making them do they can never grow as a martial artist. I never worried about popularity, just results.

What can a student do to make the relationship work better? This is the magic formula that I used to get that extra tuition and information that the others never got.

Always pay your fees. Seems obvious but isn’t to many. Never barter on a price. Always pay for your lesson whether you turn up or not. If you want that regular spot, book it with money, then it’s always yours and a bond of trust is formed. There is nothing worse than a student that books an instructors time, cancels and doesn’t pay. If someone who does pay regularly comes along they will naturally give the time to them and you will forfeit yours. The Instructor will also not be inclined to teach an irregular person well because they will see them as untrustworthy and think that they are wasting their time. If you are a long term student, raise the fees yourself, it is unlikely that the Instructor will do it and when you show that you value their time and consider their well being it will be appreciated.

Always make notes. Learn a training shorthand of matchstick men, arrows and keywords so that when you get home you will remember what you’ve been taught. Ask the instructor to film you doing what you’ve just learned on your phone and if you’re lucky he will give advice whilst doing it. If he doesn’t want to do this get someone else to do it as soon as possible afterwards. Between lessons train continuously on what you’ve been taught and think about it all of the time. Every time a question arises, write it down to ask on your next lesson. There’s nothing more encouraging for an instructor than a student who pays attention, makes notes, trains hard between lessons and then asks questions on the next lesson.

Listen and pay attention to what you’re being taught. Don’t give your opinion. Don’t talk about what you’ve done or what you think because you’re paying the Instructor to give you the benefit of their experience. There’s nothing more boring than a student who pays the Instructor so they can talk to them for a couple of hours about what they think and have done. Every minute is important not just from a financial point of view but that instructor could be dead tomorrow and you’re wasting precious time with your own ego. If you’re asked, “what do you want to do?” the Instructor is being polite, answer “whatever you think I need to work on”. You are likely being taught a system and it’s best to learn it in the right sequence put together by the expert, not randomly by your own desires.

Develop respect and care. If the Instructor is doing their best for you and you are for them, mutual respect is earned naturally. If there’s anything you can do to help or support in their home life, club and association development do it, because it means that your teaching environment is less likely to be affected by outside influences and it’s good to care. I’ve represented my Instructors on Governing Body Committees, helped them to write books, shoot videos, buy houses, helped with legal problems, opened clubs for them, taught on their seminars and helped them bring over their Instructors to the UK.

Every time you reach a milestone in your training, like a grading, winning a tournament or opening your own club, always thank your instructor before doing anything else and always give them credit for what they’ve taught you. Nowadays that courtesy has all but disappeared and you can see students prancing around with their new grade or trophy and everyone patting them on their back whilst the Instructor sits quietly in the corner. It’s not inappropriate to buy them a small thank you gift or at least give a thank you before celebrating yourself.

It’s easy to teach just the surface of a system and the student would never know. Often that’s done as a test to see if they’re worthy or capable of receiving deeper instruction. Courtesy is a given, respect is earned both ways. When the student and instructors ‘chi is in agreement’, respect has been earned and they are capable of working through the hard times together; the ‘hidden levels’ can be taught. Nothing is being held back, it’s just that the environment has to be right. The surface teaching is known as ‘eating sweet’ and the deeper levels as ‘eating bitter’. ‘Eating sweet’ is full of flashy moves and certificates and ‘eating bitter’ is made of sweat, blood, pain and a system that gradually alters the body and mind.

By all means find the right club and instructor, but remember that they are also looking for the right student.
By Steve Rowe

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