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Steve Rowe

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Why Me?

Why me?

I’m a good person,

I don’t do anything wrong,

So why do I have to suffer?

All the horrible evil people in the world,

And this has to happen to me,

That can’t be right,

Is there no justice?

Do you think there is a God sitting in judgment of you?

That people that do good get a ‘nice’ time?

A God making sure that evil people suffer?

Look around you….

There is the law of the universe,

That is true,

Then there is a current law of society,

That is attempted by humans.

It is cultural, founded in religion,

Devised by politicians,

Intended to make people live in peace,

It often fails.

Human law won’t stop you getting cancer,

It won’t prevent sickness or accidents,

It won’t stop wars, floods or earthquakes,

It’s designed to help people live in peace.

Even that doesn’t work all the time,

It’s not usually there when crime happens,

It only tries to clean up afterwards,

So justice has limited effect.

It is a cultural way of thinking,

That we ‘deserve’ a good or bad time,

It is false and wrong,

And will create a victim mentality.

There is cause and effect,

We can work with that,

But what happens, happens,

And we have to deal with that.

If we develop warriors mind,

Good and bad are the same,

We work with what we get,

And always make the best.

We don’t look at others,

With envy, greed or jealousy,

They have their own problems,

No one gets away free.

If they did, what’s the point of being alive?
Why Me?
Why Me?
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“Tonight is kata…” We had warmed up performing standing basics, followed by moving basic technique up and down the dojo focusing on individual skills and mindset – and from that work, most of has deduced what the rest of the content of the class would be. Sensei gazed around at the brown and black belt class… “Last week we worked on ‘kushanku’ – a system kata in our style and this week we will work on the other major ‘system’ kata… can anyone tell me what it is?”

The hands shot up. Sensei had always taken the time to explain why we practised the way that we do and how the structure of our kata was so important and the skills that we need to focus on at each individual grade in each kata.


“Chinto kata, Sensei!”

“Well done Paul… how many of you know the history and legend of the kata?”

Around half the hands went up, mainly from the black belts… time to give a reminder to those that knew and to inform those that didn’t.

“The legend behind this kata is that Chinto was a Chinese sailor shipwrecked on Okinawa and hid in the caves by day and was forced to steal food by night to survive. The King sent a group of men several times to capture him and he was able to outwit and out manoeuvre them utilising his cunning and superior fighting ability. Finally the King sent one of his retainers, a warrior named Matsumura to deal with him.

Matsumura was also unable to defeat Chinto in his encounters and was amazed by his ability to subtly evade his attacks and rapidly move in close with his own. Matsumura decided on a peaceful solution and fed and clothed Chinto in exchange for instruction in his art, reputed to be northern Chinese Chuan Fa. Most certainly, it can be seen to contain many snake and crane boxing and grappling skills and techniques.

Chinto kata is the result of those teachings and passed into the Shorin Ryu system from Tatsuo Shimbaku to Chotoku Kyan and has undoubtedly been adapted along the way, but the snake and crane boxing and grappling skills are still very much in evidence.”

Sensei scanned the sea of faces, “everyone here knows the sequence of the kata, so find yourself an area of space and practice. I’ll come around to each of you and give correction.”

As everyone practised, sensei went around to each student and made some personal correction that would have been too time consuming in class if everyone was moving together and waiting while he did so.

Suddenly he stopped, looked thoughtful and then stopped the class.

“Sit down… How many of you had an opponent present whilst you were practising?”

About half of the class put their hand up… “If you’re working on a technique sensei, you don’t tend to think of the opponent…”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re working on the technique, or if you’re working fast or slow, you must ALWAYS have an opponent on the end of your technique and present in your mind. You don’t have to picture a person, in fact it’s better if you don’t, just feel his body mass and arms and legs, it’s simply a body that you’re professionally controlling or destroying.”

“I always have an opponent present sensei..”

“Yes you do Terry…. The only problem is that you give me the impression that the opponent is winning…” Everyone laughed… “You may well laugh, but many of you give that impression – and how sad is that!

When we’re children, we play at being ‘super heroes’ and win against all manner of opponents, this is excellent visualisation for a child and the positive aspects need to be brought into adult training. The problem is that somewhere along the line we can become negative; often we start karate training because we’re aware of that negativity creeping in to our life.

Watching you practise, some of you look ‘desperate’ and are trying very hard, in fact too hard! You’ve lost your confidence and act in a negative, desperate way. Others are weak and negative with no power in their mindset.

You need to practise in a confident and positive manner, body language plays a vital part, keeping the spine erect, looking and projecting your energy to your opponent helps. Remember you only become what you practise, practise desperately or negatively and that’s how you’ll react when it counts.

‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ is a good quote. You may not feel positive and confident, so fake it. ‘Pretend’ to be that way and keep it up until it becomes a part of your nature. Remember you cannot be positive and confident 10% of the time and negative 90% and expect to develop a strong spirit. You become the way you train.

When working to overcome fears or phobias, challenge them in small ways and then increase the pressure until they are utterly defeated. Remember they are likely to return unless you maintain that awareness and keep a positive outlook.

The Chinese used animals not just technically but also in a shamanistic way, they ‘became’ the animal so that the relationship went deep into their psyche. When they fought, they didn’t just fight with the technique of the animal but with its character and spirit.

Chinto is primarily snake and crane, when performing the movements, take on the character, when applying the techniques, do so with the spirit of the animal in combat, dig deep to access the reptilian and mammalian parts of your psyche. This is more likely to ensure victory in combat than any other factor. Now practise with these factors in mind…”

The spirit of Chinto, of the Shaolin – and the shamans of Kung Fu were finally resurrected…… as the students took Sensei’s advice on board challenging their inner demons with the tried and tested methods of the warrior priests of the past, using posture, breathing, movement and arcane technique empowered by a focused and vigilant mind.
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Iaido came to England by various routes and mention should be made here of Fuji Okimitsu (Jikiden style) who was born in 1939 in Saga Prefecture which is the old province of Hizen, a mecca of Martial Arts, famous for the Hagakure (Samurai spirit), he started training at the age of 7yrs playing Shinai Kyogi wearing white trousers, T shirt and rubber shoes using Fukuro Shinai (bamboo sword split into 16 canes and covered with a canvas bag) as the Martial Arts were banned by the American GHQ.

Fuji Sensei was my Iaido teacher and a much loved and respected Sensei based in Dartford Kent for many years and will be fondly remembered by us all from a variety of disciplines as a real character and one of the most friendly Japanese Sensei that we have ever met. In 1988 he named my association ‘Shi Kon’ and drew the kanji that still hangs on my Dojo wall.

He moved back to Japan returning to live and teach in Cornwall for the remainder of his life. I will write a personal account of my training with him at a later date.

Below is a history of his Muso Jikiden Ryu of Iaido and when it branched off into Muso Shinden Ryu.

The warrior Hayashizaki Jinusuki Shigenobu was meditating at the shrine when the vision came….. born in the year 1543 in Tateoka Oshu (now known as Murayama – Shi, north of Tokyo), his father had been killed in a duel by Sakagawa Ichiunsai when he was very young, he had studied Budo assiduously until at the age of 19 he traced Sakagawa to Kyoto and avenged his father by defeating and killing him.

The vision became his inspiriation for Iaijutsu and laid the foundations for modern Iaido as we know it today. Many technical skills in the Japanese arts of Karate (particularly Wado Ryu), Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Judo, Ninjitsu and other Kobudo arts have their roots in this lineage, most Japanese warriors trained in the way of the sword primarily and their unarmed training was Tegatana (hand sword) adapting the same techniques that they used in sword training for other forms of combat.

Hayashizaki had the Ryu (style) named after him and it was also called Muso Ryu meaning “dream” or “vision”, two of the most popular styles of Iaido in Japan and the rest of the world today, Muso Shinden Ryu (Muso meaning “vision” and Shinden, “shrine”) and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (the Kanji for Muso here being different meaning “unique and without equal” Jikiden meaning “transmitted direct” and Eishin is the name of the 7th Soke Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin who became Soke in 1610 and made many changes to the style and was regarded a very skilled exponent).

Tamiya Heibi Shigemasa inherited the Ryuka and the main line for Jikiden and Shinden can be traced through him, Hayashizaki also had two other outstanding students, Katayama Hokinokami Hisayasu who founded Hokkiri Ryu and Sekiguchi Hachiroemon Jushin who founded Sekiguchi Ryu.

It was with the 9th Soke in 1675, Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa that Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu became firmly established in the Kochi area right through to the 19th Soke. Hayashi was a retainer to General Yamanouchi with the Shogun Tokugawa, up until this time the Iaijutsu forms only incorperated Tachi Waza (standing) and Tate Hiza (a way of kneeling wearing battle armour) as they were all that were required for battleground techniques, it was Hayashi’s Kenjutsu teacher Omori Rokurozaemon who invented Omori Ryu to incorperate into the style utilising Seiza techniques for an indoor situation. He used Hakama Sabaki (methods of manoevering the Japanese traditional costume when moving), Metsuka (way of using the eyes), Nukitsuke (drawing and cutting in one flowing movement) and Chiburi (blood shake of the sword) all techniques that would not be required on the open battlefield.

The 11th Soke (1742), Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu had two outstanding students, Hayashi Masunojo Masatake, who became the 12th Soke in 1779, continuing the Jikiden line and Matsukishi Sadasuki who using the same style renamed it Muso Shinden Batto Jutsu which later became Muso Shinden Ryu.

Around 1910 Iaijutsu ceased to be confined to definite areas and various Ryuka became popular throughout Japan and at the beginning of the Showa period at around 1925 that Iaijutsu became known as Iaido (Do meaning “the way” as in the Chinese Tao).

The Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Seitigata Iai came into being in 1969 producing at first seven forms, building them eventually to ten (reflecting the ten Kendo kata) categorising the basic movements of Iai from the Shinden and Jikiden styles with some characteristics from the Hokki style. The Seiti forms are used at gradings enabling practioners from all styles to grade together, it is a bit like Shotokan and Wado Karate practioners integrating the Pinan and Heian Kata producing a standard set of forms to reflect both styles and using them for grading purposes so that the other Kata reflecting the differences in their styles could still be practised!

The following is a list of the lineage for Jikiden and Shinden ryu:

Hayashizaki Jinusuke Shigenobu
Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa
Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
Dede Gunbeinoje Mitsushige
Arikawa Masaemon Munetsued
Manno Danueimon Nobumasa
Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin
Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa
Hayashi Yasudaiye Masataka
Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu
Here the style splits into the two branches:

No. Jikiden Shinden
12. Hayashi Manonoso Masatake Matsukichi Sadasuki
13. Yoda Manzo Takakatsu Yamakawa Kyuso
14. Hayashi Yadayu Masataka Shimomura Ichisada
15. Tanimura Kamenoso Yorio Hosokawa Yoshimasa
16. Goto Magobei Seiryo Nakayama Hakudo
17. Oei Masamichi
18. Hokiyama Namio
19. Fukui Harumasa
20. Kono Minoru
21. Fukui Torao
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I’m not going to give you collected information on the Chakras, no wiki information from the internet, no aura colours or gemstones – all that ‘academic’ information can be gathered via the internet and in my opinion can be untrustworthy.

What I will give you is my direct experience from 40 years of martial arts training and healing in a way that I hope that you can directly relate to and experience for yourselves. I’ll also map out the alchemy and healing of a human being through the practice of the Martial Arts and how it reflects through the Chakras.

I don’t ‘believe’ anything. I either know it because I’ve experienced it for myself or I don’t. This is how I, and in my experience, other people like yourselves, experience energy in your chakras, how to ‘read’ them in yourself and others and how to effect a level of healing through them…..

Chakras are intense energy areas of the body and we experience a lot of our life through them, when we are troubled they get either more intense or void of energy.

Let me explain how….



The Root Chakra is located at the ‘root’ of the torso around the genitals and anus. This is the Chakra that is tied to the Earth and therefore deals with survival and life and death, we experience the urge for procreation there, (sexual feelings) and if we are in mortal fear we definitely feel it there. The energy drive from this area is very powerful and exciting and is known in Kung Fu as jing. Because it’s the same exciting energy, the sexual urge, the urge for domination, survival instincts and death can become confused and the base instincts can end up controlling our mind and emotions in a deviant fashion. When the energy at the Root Chakra is disciplined and directed by the control of sexual urges (to natural and not necessarily complete abstention as some would believe) and mortal fear (conquering the fear of death) immense power is realised through the body as it is directed upwards toward the other chakras.


The Sacral Chakra is located in the abdomen at the centre of the body in relationship to the gravitational pull of the earth and is where we feel our ’gut instincts’. We know the feeling when our mind tells us one thing and our gut instinct tells us another, we might go with our mind because it’s more ‘logical’ and then regret that we never listened to our instincts. We just ‘know’ when someone is right or wrong, when a situation is right or wrong and what someone is going to do next. We have to learn to get in touch with our instinctive self to always use it alongside our thinking mind and learn to rely on it. This is not only an essential skill for a martial artist in spontaneous combat but for all of us – as life is spontaneous and our instinctive mind comes from the deepest and most natural part of ourselves. The energy here is known as chi.


Having conquered our fear of death, gained control of our sexual urges and got in touch with our deepest instinctive self, we move on to the solar plexus chakra, this is where we have to deal with anger and fear and the energy is known as geng – ‘warrior energy’. It’s said that when the energy at this point is well controlled we become the ‘warrior and the gardener’ – able to kill for our country and self-protection and then go home and tend to the roses in the garden.

We all feel fear and anger at this point in our body, often called ‘worry pains’; this is where we get ulcers and sore spots due to stress it’s where we naturally put our hands when we feel anxious and treating patients at this point with Reiki or Katsu they will often burst into tears or uncontrollable laughter as the energy is released.


This brings us to the Heart Chakra and we all know that we feel love, patience, tolerance and compassion here. These qualities can’t really be expressed properly without having gained an element of control over the Root, Sacral and Solar Plexus energies first; this is why although we are always working on all facets of our life at the same time, there is also an ‘alchemical’ process taking place.


Developing these qualities means that you are ready to express them to the outside world and this is where the Throat Chakra comes in to play. We hear the expression that we ‘choke on the words’ or experience difficulty in expressing ourselves, this is because of a blockage at the Throat Chakra.


Having now become a reasonable human being that can control our sexual urges, not fearing death, in touch and able to trust our instinctive self, able to control our anger and fear developing love, patience, tolerance and compassion and being able to express it to the world, the ‘spirit world’ or the higher aspirations of our mind want to talk to us. This is when the Brow Chakra or ‘third eye’ becomes more important and the energy turns to shen or ‘spiritual energy’.


The ‘third eye’ gives us inspiration from our higher self and this can be through meditation, dreams, visions or instinctive thought and actions. The saying ‘when the student is ready, the master appears’ is relevant here in that you either find good and inspired people as friends and teachers or you may just walk into a book shop and just instinctively pick up the right book to read that you need at that moment. If a person opens the third eye too soon, (maybe with drugs) they could well be troubled by disturbing dreams, visions and thoughts.


Finally, having understood the energies of life and death, being in touch with our instinctive self, controlling our anger and fear, developing compassion patience and tolerance, being free enough to let our ‘higher self’ through to communicate with us, we become a complete human being. This is when the alchemy is complete and is reflected at the Crown Chakra. In pictures of all the old sages from Buddha to Jesus Christ they are depicted with a golden light or ‘halo’ at the Crown Chakra, showing that their alchemy as a human being is complete…


The best way of healing through the Chakras is to work with them on a daily basis and to increase the energy flow through the system. In my opinion, the best way to do this is with meditation, Neigong, Qigong and Taiji. If you have a problem that you find difficult you should refer to your Sifu who may treat you with bodywork or hand healing or refer you to a specialist in that area.

Neigong (inner work) is the best way to balance and heal your life through Chakra work. Good posture and breathing brings more oxygen to the brain making the mind more alert, discipline focuses the mind to meditate on life, death, your true self, your anger and fears and helps you to develop kindness, patience, tolerance and compassion toward others, the ability to communicate it to others and be inspired by them and your own insights.

The Qigong takes the Neigong and works the body through its movement processes and the Taiji gives form to the Neigong and Qigong and then tests and validates it in lifestyle situations, giving psychic, emotional, mental and physical self defence.

By training this way and developing your sensitivity, you are able to diagnose problems in your body and life and put them right before they need dramatic medical intervention. By ‘healing’ yourself first and gaining that essential life experience through daily practice, you are also able to help others from your first hand experience rather than from some pseudo academic therapy course.
The Chakras
The Chakras
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Death Is A Warm Blanket…

You don’t even know you’re born,
Well actually, that’s true,
Because no-one can remember it,
We become self conscious at a few years old.

So why can’t we remember?
Because we are still fully connected,
And are pure universal energy,
Until someone gives us a name.

Drifting into sleep, is our name slipping away,
We commune with our unconscious,
While our name disappears,
And we can regenerate.

Meditation brings us back,
Back to where we were as a child,
The uncarved block,
Energy without a name.

The illusion of ‘self’,
That which is named,
Disappears when we are in harmony,
And communing with that which cannot be named.

The nameless nourishes and replenishes,
It reminds us of who we really are,
It is a place of refuge,
Reminding us from whence we came.

When it is time to return,
Death is a warm blanket,
It is from where we started,
And where we shall return.

We don’t know we die,
Like we don’t know when we’re born,
Like we don’t know when we fall asleep,
Or when we replenish in meditation.

We are born from the nameless,
We return to the nameless,
During life we replenish in the nameless,
Our name and self are illusory.

Death is a longer sleep,
It is a time of nourishment,
The universe regenerates,
And we suddenly appear again.

Once again we don the mask of self,
It is one of self awareness,
It appears and disappears throughout life,
Just for a bit of theatre.

Remember who you are,
What you were as a child,
Where you go in meditation,
The nameless is your real ‘self’.
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“Any questions?”

A sea of blank faces look back.

“Did you understand the principles taught?”

Did I almost see a nod from one person?

The Martial Arts is a funny old game. We are told that it is traditionally taught by blind acceptance/faith. The Instructor stands out the front of the class and barks orders occasionally moving an arm or leg of the student and if anyone DARES to ask a question he is immediately used as the demonstration model as to how the technique works and is left in no doubt as to what the consequences of asking questions in the future are.

But I love questions. My whole life has been one string of questions; I discovered that finding the right question is so important because that’s the only way to get the right answer. Your Instructor can only know what your understanding of a principle is by the questions you ask and the answers you give to his questions.

Now, I appreciate that some academic questioners are a pain in the backside and some ask questions because they are lazy and don’t want to do the physical training and some people are naturally argumentative but questioning is a skill and needs to be taught like any other. We have to encourage students to seek out and ask the right kind of questions….

So when I ask “any questions” I’m dying for a bit of feedback! I’m not looking for praise, which is often assumed by students, but a genuine desire to know how much of my teaching has gone in. It also helps me to structure my future teaching and is an aid to work out how to frame it.

It’s a two way street. As a student you require properly structured feedback on your progress. In my club we do this in writing to each student every month and verbally every lesson. The Instructors make sure that they get around to every student every session and give them some “personal” assessment and instruction, if the student is a child we try to talk to the parents on a regular basis as well as the child and support that with the written assessments.

We then need to encourage proper questioning from the student and (quite often) teach them how to do it! It amazes me how “dull” the minds are of much of the youth today. I recently gave a lecture on Buddhism to a group of 6th formers as part of their religious education and expected a lively discussion on the subject – I even deliberately made it a bit controversial to get the discussion going…. At their age I would have had a million questions but…… nothing. I was amazed! The feedback I got from the teachers later confirmed that they had enjoyed the session but seemed to be unable to phrase their questions!

I received much of my best teaching by having private lessons because it gave me the chance to ask questions without holding up the progress of other students. Much of the information that I was taught had never been taught before because the no one had ever asked the question!

It had never occurred to my oriental teachers that we would either want or need that kind of teaching, yet it was vital to my progress! Often it would involve my Japanese Instructor drawing the Kanji for a principle and explaining the pictogram and its parts to help me to understand the cultural background to the idea.

There is another aspect to questioning that is important, we don’t just teach a student and then they know it. It’s more like they “give birth” to the understanding. The instructor acts as kind of “midwife” by encouraging the idea and understanding to take place. To produce this a positive interaction of 2 way questioning and feedback is essential. If you’ve been training for a while you will understand what I’m saying, it’s just that a negative training environment where the Instructor doesn’t encourage or use the tool of questioning and feedback stifles this.

You only have to look at those clubs to see the clones that look like robots on the outside and have no understanding or development on the inside and the instructors act like Sergeant Majors in the army – and god help you if you think for yourself!

So questioning and feedback is an efficient tool to be used both ways between instructor and student, it can also be an effective tool between instructors as well, to improve their efficiency and working relationship, often they are too wary to discuss each other’s shortcomings and qualities directly. This is why we have Instructors sessions and courses in my club and association that are not just “advanced” technical courses but include a heavy dose of personal development as well – and this doesn’t exclude the Chief Instructor!

It is also a useful tool to use with the parents and families of the students, it gives you background and feedback as to the effect that the training is having on the student and his family outside of the Dojo.

If the company that you work for does not use it effectively, or the school that you attend, then why not suggest that they learn to employ it? By bringing up all the problems and challenges that you face working as a team it means that you will all be “singing off the same hymn sheet” once they have been resolved and function far more efficiently.

The same for your home life and any other relationships that you have, it encourages more openness and honesty and the more that you learn the skill of honest questioning without rudeness and are genuinely aspiring to be the best that you can you really will be able to live in “harmony” with those around you!

I’m writing this in a hotel room in Hong Kong – I’m here to train with my Taiji teacher and there is mo finer music to my ears than when she asks “do you understand?” or “any questions?”….
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“Tensho!” We all prepared for the ‘5 animals’ kata.

“Snake, crane wing, tiger, leopard, standing dragon, laying dragon, remember to sink from the chest, find the feet, float from the waist, use the ‘asking’ hand, come on now, stay connected…. Manipulate, swallow the energy, now…. Release it, spit it out!

Breathe from the stomach… now the back, soften the midline, use your eyes, tongue to the top palette…. C’mon guys…. Don’t make it hard work!

Who remembers what the trinity of kata is?” The hands shot up. “Marcia?

“Firstly medical, secondly, skill and thirdly, boxing Sensei!”

“Well done!” Sensei gazed around at the sea of faces. “And how well balanced do you think these skills are in the Martial Arts today?”

“I don’t think they’re balanced at all” said Marcia thoughtfully. “Everyone is talking about bunkaiforgetting that it’s the trinity – and focusing on the third part, ohyo, the practical application.”

“Which means?”

“That they’re forgetting the other two steps that lead up to the application.”

“Exactly. Why is this a bad thing?” The hands shot up again. “John?”

“Is it because obsession with the application stops you from learning the skills?

“A good point. But I’m looking for more……”

Marcia couldn’t help herself, “if you’re not healthy and you can’t do the move properly, how the hell are you going to apply it?” Sensei roared with laughter

“Say it like it is Marcia, don’t beat around the bush! Again, you are partly right. What do we actually mean by ‘medical’?”

“Good health Sensei?”

“As bunkai means ‘to break down and examine’ lets just do that on these terms. How can kata improve your health?”

“It’s good exercise Sensei – knackers me out!” Everyone laughed

“I’m sure it does, but let’s view the subject more historically, don’t forget that martial arts are also a yogic exercise. We work on posture.”

“Yeah, good posture is important.”

“Yes it is, for several reasons, it is said ‘the body stands on itself’, this means that when the skeleton is erect, ‘it stands on itself’ in the sense that there is no unnecessary tension. This means that when achieved, you can move easily and freely. The Chinese classics say that when your posture is aligned and there is no tension, it allows ‘free passage of chi’ this is of vital importance in our training.”

“This is getting deep, Sensei…

“It’s only just beginning, you learn in layers and there are many, many more layers to come. When we say ‘health’ we mean of course health of mind as well as body. Metal alertness means that our ‘aliveness’ – and thus our ki or chi is bright, giving a good vigour. Concentration means that we are able to focus and direct it. No good having ‘free passage’ if we have nothing to move is there?”

“How do we make our mind more alive and concentrated Sensei?”

“By good breathing, getting more oxygen into the bloodstream and thus to the brain, makes the mind very bright, which of course, is greatly assisted by good posture, the focus is sheer will power and training.”

“The resolution of the conflict of 3….. Sanchin!”

“Well done that man…. This then brings us on to the ‘greater heavenly cycle’ of the Governor and Conception Vessels, with good posture, breathing, mental alertness and concentration in place, we are able to focus on manipulating the energy through the internal system. This engenders good health, vigour and vitality. It’s like having acupuncture without the needles.”

“Now I see why you use the term ‘medical’ – in the old oriental system of qiqong, longevity through self help!”

“It’s not just that, the good posture, breathing, mental alertness, concentration and ki direction empower our techniques, and it’s where the real secrets of the Martial Arts lay. These skills underpin the next part, which is skill learning.”

“But surely the skills are in the ‘boxing’ aspect?”

“Then why do kata? As many people have observed, direct application of kata into fighting technique is a farce.”

“My head hurts already with this conversation….”

“Then let me finish the train of thought. When you look at kata ask yourself why the founder would put these techniques together. What you’ll discover is that the sequences naturally compliment the skills of the previous and/or the following ones. In other words, they enhance the skills of the others. Some kata work on specific skills and others are ‘system’ kata, but the skills are usually put together in an ingenious way for skill learning. They wouldn’t work in a fight – but for training they are brilliant!”

“But you can’t kid me that the techniques are really good for fighting!”

“Depends if you know where to look. You have to view the form as a continuously moving sequence with no stop points, then look at the body and limb weaving, the classics say ‘study in feet, then inches, then hundredths of an inch and then thousandths of a hundredth of an inch of each body part’.”

“You mean metres, centimetres and millimetres Sensei?”

“Whatever…. But only with all this put together do you begin to understand the first layer of bunkai.”
Sanchin To Tensho
Sanchin To Tensho
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Pain eats your soul.
You want to move but you can’t.
Life is out there waiting,
Calling you to come out and play,
People to see, places to be,
Exciting, active and fun…
The spirit is willing, but the body is tired,
Every move jars the soul,
Pain screams around the joints,
They give way and are unstable,
Medication has a price that is just as bad.

Everybody assumes you will fully repair,
That is the confidence of youth.
You end up joining the pretence,
Because it’s easier than trying to explain.
In the end life can only get worse,
It comes sooner to some than others,
But why tell them that?

Bed becomes your torture chamber,
No position has rest,
No sleep, no respite.
The dark quiet hours make you think,
You feel the reaper in the shadows.
Death is a warm painless blanket,
Where sleep finally awaits.

No seat is comfortable,
No shoes or clothes fit without discomfort,
Everything comes with a problem,
Can’t stand, walk, sit or lay without pain,
Every bit of furniture has to be examined,
So you don’t get stuck and embarrassed.

Your painful gait gets in everyone’s way,
Too slow, with that painful limp.
No disabled parking means going home,
Having to fully open your car door,
Means traffic slows with impatient horns.

Paralympians put you to shame,
But they’re disabled not sick.
Others can’t tell the difference,
And if your sickness isn’t visible enough,
People think you’re lazy.

Many are worse off than you.
Their struggle makes your problems seem small.
It’s all a matter of perspective,
But you can only speak from your own.
Why bother to write?
Because that old man/lady hobbling in your way,
Created the world you now inhabit,
And could probably save you from many mistakes.

By Steve Rowe
The Dark Side Of Pain
The Dark Side Of Pain
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