The Shi Kon Training System - by Chief Instructor Steve Rowe
It’s important to understand the depth, structure and synergy of the system you train in. With many ‘traditional’ training systems because of the lack of documentation and information we end up guessing what the founders of the system who have long departed this world thought.
We also end up trying to understand any documentation and oral tradition through the near impossible cultural filter and language of the source Country. If you are training to learn the language and culture along with the art, that’s fine, but most of my students want to understand the ethos, philosophy, emotional intelligence, deep health, vitality and self defence skills that top quality Martial Arts training has to offer in plain English, using science and anatomy to reference the Japanese and Chinese Classics of Budo and Kung Fu.
I was trained in the ‘traditional’ way for over 40 years with weekly private lessons and classes by top Japanese, Chinese and English Masters. In Karate I was trained extensively by Toru Takamizawa, in Iaido by Okimitsu Fuji and Vic Cook and in Tai Chi by Jim Uglow and his teacher Ma Lee Yang. I have trained with many other top Instructors but with each of these properly and long term.
From the early 1970’s I have also worked in the security trade in a very wide variety of roles teaching self defence, restraint technique, powers of arrest search and questioning to Security Personnel, Law Enforcement Officers, Presidential Bodyguards and Night Club Doormen right up to the present time with a lot of ‘hands on’ experience.
I am also a well renowned writer, writing for the biggest selling Martial Arts magazines with monthly columns for over 35 years and with the advent of the internet a well read blog on the deeper and more philosophical aspects of the Martial Arts. My studies have led me to study in depth, Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, Meditation, Healing, Philosophy, Western Magic and Healing, Brain Mapping, Sports Coaching, Sports Science and Pedagogy.
The Shi Kon System was borne out of the needs of my students and after determining exactly what qualities we wanted as an end result, I worked backwards to devise a system that could be taught in plain English, was principle based, had synergy at each grade, could be remembered easily through mnemonics, was layered in an understandable way and was validated through practical methods .
If you look at the Shi Lon logo, the four circles can represent the learning method, the first one is the heart of the system, working outwards to the second circle representing the neigong and qigong, the third the principles and dynamics and these three underlay the fourth which is the techniques of the system.
The first circle - the ‘Heart’ of the System
Every training system must have an end result. Otherwise you’re drawing a map to an unknown location. Everyone training needs to understand what the end result is so they have the right objectives. The syllabus has to be layered back from the end result so there is no wasted training and synergy is essential, in the Shi Kon system in every grade the basics match both the form and pairs work.
The ‘heart’ of learning the Shi Kon System is based upon:
Mnemonics to enable memory, for this we use the logo, forms and acronyms.
Allusion at each grade we allude to how the current layer of training develops into the more advanced, giving the reason and purpose for what the student is learning at that time.
Validation - each technique must work at varying distances, angles and against a variety of different people. Knowing about something and actually knowing and understanding it and making it work in a variety of circumstances alongside all the underlying principles is true Martial Arts.
The second circle - Neigong and Qigong
Neigong means ‘inner work’ and is centered on the mind, emotions, breath and posture. Qigong means ‘energy work’ and builds on the neigong, it is centered on opening the body’s joints and soft tissue though exercise to animate it energetically building a strong vigour and intuitively finding through core and spinal work how to source deep internal energy andpower.
Qualities of the Mind:
Awareness – Awareness of the mind is gained and maintained through deep breathing that brings more oxygen into the blood and by consequence, the brain. Deep breathing is gained and maintained by continuing good posture and alignment.
Concentration – Concentration is a result of mental exercises, in the Shi Kon system we begin practice through standing or seated meditation, focusing the mind on the posture and breathing and then on the qualities of emotional intelligence in the yin and yang standing postures. The yin qualities being patience, kindness, tolerance and compassion and the yang, strength, courage, resolve and determination.
Sensitivity – Utilising the aware and focused mind we develop sensitivity firstly inside our own mind, emotions and body with the neigong, then the qigong exercises, when we have developed the emotional intelligence and our own sense of kinesthesis and balance we are empathic to that of others and able to use it strategically to negate, hurt or heal.
Intensity – Having obtained the awareness, concentration and sensitivity we need to intensify it and guard it, this is what gives us our power; this is obtained through mind training as we intensify the meditation and physical training.
It’s essential to understand the function of the spine and body core. All ‘internal power comes from the combination of the aware, focused, sensitive and intense mind combined with the core skills. The ‘core skills’ are:
The third circle - Principles and Dynamics
In the Shi Kon Training System we have Eight Principals, we remember each one of these principals by using one word mnemonics for each one, they are:
Each word is a doorway into a realm of learning that deepens the longer you study. The important thing is that you need all eight to be present and functioning for a technique to work properly and if you take one of them away from your opponent his technique fails.
The Thirteen Dynamics have deep and subtle uses and are taken from the Tai Chi Classics and interplay when you come into contact with an opponent and are the strategies for destroying his structure to defeat him. They are again one or two word mnemonics and ideas that can be used in multiples inside any Kung Fu technique. They are:
From the Shi Kon Training System, we start with understanding the journey, and then we work the neigong and qigong into everything we do all day, every day – not just Martial Arts! The Eight Principles underlay everything we do and give us our structure and power and the Thirteen Dynamics the strategies when encountering an opponent. All of these are then expressed in our techniques laid out in our training systems.
Martin Gatter currently holds a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kung Fu and Karate, a 2nd Dan in Iaido and a 1st Dan in Jodo.
He has trained in a range of traditional Martial Arts for over 40 years, taking weekly private lessons and classes with
Steve Rowe - Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Karate
Toru Takamizawa - Karate
Okimitsu Fuji and Vic Cook - Iaido
Jim Uglow - Tai Chi