Saturday, February 27, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Now, there is no one to talk to, no one else to look at. Breaks are only for myself, so no one to wait for too. Which means almost the entire practice session is devoted to practising. Which is good.
Looking forward to more practice!
Posted by Teck at 13:13
Monday, January 18, 2016
Posted by Teck at 18:11
Friday, January 01, 2016
For 2015, I practised:
71 sets of Chen style Old Frame First Routine
140 sets of Yang style 108
127 sets of Sun style taijiquan
(total 338 sets of taijiquan in a year)
156 sets of Chen style taijijian
125 sets of Yang style taijijian
(total 281 sets of taijijian in a year)
185 sets of Yang style taijidao
And also many hours of pushing hands and basic exercises.
Total number of practice hours in 2015: 342.5 hours
I am also keeping a training log to note down the exact details of what I have been training on.
Looking forward to more practice in 2016!
Posted by Teck at 12:10
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Two persons pushing hands. Pulling and grabbing at each other, one trying to throw the other, the other struggling to keep his balance. Not exactly my idea of pushing hands, but still, this thing about balance kept me watching. Yes, there seems to be something in there about maintaining balance.
Then I think back about myself, losing balance sometimes when I practise my routines.
Taiji is practise slowly, because it is only by practising slowly can you pay full attention to all the details. And one of the details is balance. About sensing how you shift your weight, how to maintain balance at all times. With practice comes proficiency, and with proficiency comes confidence. And with confidence, you can relax. You won't be tensed up when facing an opponent, because you have confidence in what you can do, because you know you have put in a lot of effort into training.
With training, everything becomes second nature, including maintaining balance while moving. Knowing your own centre of gravity becomes second nature. Knowing how to keep that center of gravity stable becomes second nature. No matter how you or your opponent moves, you are able to maintain your balance. That is half the battle won.
And that is why I practise. And practise.
Posted by Teck at 01:00
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
This not only helps me track my training, but also serves as motivation to train too. I am more motivated to train daily so that I have something to write in the notebook. And when I don't train for a day or two, I am reminded of this whenever I flip open the notebook (all entries are dated). Guess this is a habit from a career that worked with logbook entries.
But it is great motivation, so I am going to keep this up for a while.
Posted by Teck at 23:03
Monday, November 16, 2015
I just finished reading this book, and thought I would introduce it.
It doesn't talk about how to train, there are no pictures on styles, but this is a good book to read to understand how martial arts in China evolved into their current shape. Martial arts in China is very much a part of China's history and its evolution was heavily affected by the times.
For the serious practitioner who is interested in history, this may help provide some hints on how to go about improving your own practice, by understanding how things became the way they are now.
Posted by Teck at 12:00
He said that just knowing something in one's mind is not enough. Your heart and body must be able to do it for it to be meaningful.
Thinking back to taiji, I think what this means is that just knowing how the movements are like, and how they can be applied, these are all in the mind. But if these do not come out naturally, if these are not part of your heart and body, then they become just empty talk. Yes, it is important to know something, but mental exercises can never replace actually physically practice in developing skills.
Practice leads to better understanding. Understanding leads to better practice. Both must go hand in hand in order to grow.
Posted by Teck at 11:53
Sunday, November 08, 2015
Totally agree. I was practising the other day when I discovered yet another way to apply one of the movements in Yang style 108. And how it is but yet another variation of the basics of taiji.
As you practise, you understand more. As you understand more, you realise that they are all the same.
Posted by Teck at 23:39
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Because everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another.
So when someone finds something that works for him, he practises it. And passes it down. If it suits his student, that student passes it down too, forming a style. And because everyone is different, we have so many styles. Even within the same style, every practitioner is different, adapting small portions to suit him or herself.
Which brings us to the question: is there an authentic style?
People claim that what they practise is authentic. "This is how the founder practised it." "My teacher's lineage is so and so, right to the founder himself."
Yet, do authenticity and lineage mean something is practical and can actually be used?
Maybe styles that are passed down are just broad systems. Each style works for people within a certain category. But in order to be effective, the style still needs to be assimilated into oneself, and adapted to one's needs, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.
So maybe authenticity and lineage are important, but what is even more important is to eventually bring everything within oneself to create something that works for oneself.
Because we are all different. And that's why there are so many styles. Because there are many categories of people.
Posted by Teck at 11:58
Saturday, October 31, 2015
23 sets of taijiquan (4 Chen, 12 Yang, 7 Sun)
24 sets of taijijian (12 Chen, 12 Yang)
12 sets of Yang taijidao
I am slowly getting back on track... yes!
Besides routines, I am also spending time on basic exercises. These take about 30 minutes to an hour each day, and especially good for busy days when I know I won't be able to practise full sets.
Posted by Teck at 09:49
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Recently, I have started to include this as part of my own training. Nothing complex, just that basic spear technique. And I kind of have an inkling as to why martial artists of the past all practised with the spear.
Because the spear is a long and heavy weapon. Yes, you can use it with muscular strength, but your arms will eventually grow tired. But if you learn to use your body as a whole, you can thrust with more force, and pull back the spear faster. And repeat this for more times.
Seems to me that lan, na, zha is one of the keys to learning fa jing. So it is going to be in my training regime for a while.
Posted by Teck at 22:04
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Sunday, October 04, 2015
After all, most of my practice had been indoors, and even when outdoors, the practices were at community centres. Which means that when it rained, the CC staff would find an indoor venue for practice to continue.
But not now. Not when I practise on my own in a park.
When it rains, I end up doing basic exercises in my room.
Hopefully, I can settle into a rhythm for practice soon... and with it, find a suitable venue for indoor practice as well.
Posted by Teck at 23:34
Thursday, September 03, 2015
So busy that, for the month of August, I only managed to practise 16 hours of taiji, including:
15 sets of taijiquan (3 Chen, 6 Yang, 6 Sun)
14 sets of taijijian (7 Chen, 7 Yang)
13 sets of Yang taijidao
Compared to July 2015, when I practised 54 hours of taiji, including:
35 sets of taijiquan (5 Chen, 14 Yang, 16 Sun)
39 sets of taijijian (24 Chen, 15 Yang)
28 sets of Yang taijidao
The whole week of rain didn't help, especially since I have yet to find a place indoors to practise (I practise outdoors at the nearby park).
Hopefully, I pick up some kind of practice rhythm soon.
Posted by Teck at 00:03
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Mr Kwek, my teacher, has given me permission to teach taiji while I am in Japan, as part of my learning journey. I will do my best to uphold his good name and to help spread his teachings and traditional methods.
From now on, all the more I need to be correct in my movements, else those who follow me will get them wrong too. All the more I have to practise, so that I continue to improve and maintain a high level of standard, so that I can bring my students towards that high standard too.
My teacher has shown me the door into the world of taiji, it is time I walk through that door into the world on my own two feet.
For those interested in learning traditional taijiquan (Chen, Yang, Sun styles) in Yokohama, Yokosuka or Tokyo, do drop me a message.
Posted by Teck at 12:23
Saturday, August 08, 2015
I have been learning from Mr Kwek for the past 10 years. Moving to Japan means I won't be able to learn from him as regularly as before (5 to 7 times a week will soon become maybe once a year) but that does not mean I am no longer a student. It just means that I will continue my learning journey in Japan in another mode.
Posted by Teck at 13:45
Friday, August 07, 2015
But sometimes, things take time. To be better at something, sometimes, it really is about the amount of time put into practice, and how what you practise.
So by trying different ways to improve, we end up wasting time that could have been spent sticking to one way to improve (and actually becoming good). It is like trying to go in five different paths, and attaining level 3 in each of them (beginner) when if you had stuck to one path, you would have been at level 15 (master).
So yes, more haste, less speed; the more you try to rush, the more you try to get somewhere faster, the more you may end up walking into detours and taking an even longer time to get there.
Posted by Teck at 01:03
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Another thing about not teaching and sharing is about basic courtesy.
We all have our own experiences. Some may have learnt different things in the past. Some may be practising a few different arts at the same time. But when one comes for a lesson, that lesson is about a particular style, a particular art. It is then basic courtesy to stick to that. Because one is a student in that lesson; one comes to learn. Not teach. Especially not teach something else.
A student came to pushing hands class, but started to teach another student about chin na. To me, that is being very disrespectful to my teacher, who is teaching pushing hands, not chin na. If my teacher wanted to teach chin na, he would have started a chin na class, not pushing hands.
Teach and share when you are ready, but stick to what the class is about. That is basic courtesy. If you want to teach and share about something else, start your own class, be your own teacher.
Posted by Teck at 00:58
Saturday, August 01, 2015
One of the definitions of "science" at Dictionary.com is the "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation".
To many of us, explaining taiji in terms of science is to use what we know of modern science (usually physics, biology, those things we learnt in school) to explain what we learn/experience in taiji. Given the success of modern science in explaining physical phenomenon (and its pervasiveness in our education system), this seems like the correct way to do things.
One small problem, though. Taiji was created (conceptualised, documented, passed down) using a system that isn't based on modern science. So trying to explain taiji in terms of modern science is like trying to explain the monetary system based on mechanics. It may help the physicist to understand the monetary system a bit better (because you are talking his language) but it cannot fully explain everything. To better understand the monetary system, it may be better to learn a new "language" called economics.
So what is this "language" when we need to talk about taiji?
I think it is the system of classical Chinese philosophy and medicine, which was what taiji was explained using back in the past. Yin-yang, the five elements, acupoints/meridians, these are the concepts behind taiji in the past. To truly understand taiji, I think we need to understand the "language" behind it.
And is using this "language" a scientific approach to explaining taiji? Well, it is the Chinese system of expressing "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation". (I am not so sure about the experimentation part as we understand experimentation methods today, but I am quite sure there was a lot of trial-and-error that went into this "language".) I would dare say that it is the Chinese system for science, and a widespread system too, being used in East Asia for a few thousand years (before modern science appeared in the last couple of hundreds).
So while we may want to understand taiji using a "language" familiar to us (aka modern science), maybe it is better to try and understand taiji using the "language" it was created in. Learning a new "language" is not easy, but I think the effort will pay off in helping us to better understand taiji.
Posted by Teck at 10:08
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Then, I pulled my left hamstring.
As I start thinking about these injuries, I realised they are probably related, and there is something to learn from them.
I pulled my hamstring because my right knee was too weak (after too much strenuous exercise) to push me up from 跌叉, causing me to overly exert strength on my left leg to get up.
In turn, my right knee is weak because it still feels sore.
And why does it feel sore?
Because I have not been able to properly relax my right kua, thereby placing undue stress on my right knee. As I practised with all these injuries, I finally realised what led to the other, and the root cause (right kua not properly relaxed).
So just because you are injured does not mean you should stop practising. Practise what you can, and who knows, you may just learn something from the injury too!
Posted by Teck at 13:29
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Lesson: stamina is important.
Lesson: one-to-one is very different from handling multiple opponents.
Lesson: it is important to take down an opponent quickly, preferably with one blow.
Lesson: safe = not realistic; with foam sticks and the "no hitting head" rule, your opponent doesn't go down, no matter now many blows.
Although it was a game, there are many things to learn from it.
Posted by Teck at 13:30
Monday, June 15, 2015
For example, a simple lyu, but once my teacher has managed to upset the balance of my fellow student, he stops. He holds back. If he did not, and had carried the lyu to fruition, my fellow student would likely have hit the floor with his face, plus have his arm broken, at the very least.
And the trained martial artist knows this. He knows and therefore he holds back. Because the aim of practice is not to hurt your partner. It is enough to be able to do something and know that you can carry it through to fruition if need be.
So while some pushing hands classes may look very cordial, look again. It could well be that those in the class have reached a certain stage to know that they can carry things to fruition. And recognises that practice is just practice.
Posted by Teck at 23:57
Saturday, June 13, 2015
When you push a rock at water, the water swallows the rock.
When you push water at rock, water may carry the rock away, or even break it. Look at waves smashing away cliffs over time, or the power of tsunamis sweeping away everything in their paths.
Maybe being rigid or relaxed (fluid) is just like rock and water: they are a medium for transmitting force.
Posted by Teck at 00:06
Thursday, May 21, 2015
I think the key may be in "moving together 上下相随" and "moving continuously 绵绵不断".
To keep moving, and keep moving as a whole. With the power from the legs, transmitted through the torso, manifesting in the hands, I think it means that power generated in all parts of the body, moving towards the same direction, eventually reaches the contact point (usually the hand, but not always).
So if every part of the body from the leg upwards is generating force in the same direction, that entire sum total of the force can be made to act on the contact point.
If any part of the body is stiff (not moving), it becomes deadweight. Any force generated before that will need to first be used to move that portion of the body, before any left over force can reach the contact point. I guess that is why taiji tells us not to be stiff, because any part of the body that is stiff will mean force is wasted in moving it, reducing the total force that can be brought to bear.
And the key to learning how to keep moving, and move as whole, is to practise slowly. Because it is not human nature to keep moving as a whole. Only by practising slowly can we force ourselves into the habit of moving together as a whole. But once we form that habit, we become able to move together as a whole, fast or slow. And that is when you can push effortlessly.
Or so I think...
Back to practice, and more practice.
Posted by Teck at 16:26
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Last week, I was pushing hands with someone who was very rough. He kept trying to pull me and make me fall forward. Once, I used his pull to move forward, get behind him, and turn around, causing him to fall forward instead. But instead of letting him fall flat on his face, I held on to his arm, keeping his face inches from the ground.
To the untrained eye, things would have happened too fast to catch what actually happened. After all, it was over in a split second. But not to the trained eye. My teacher saw it for what it was. He told me today, "If you had not held on to him, he would have fell." A simple sentence, but it told me that he had caught everything that happened, and knew exactly what was going on.
There is really no escaping from the master's eyes.
Posted by Teck at 22:07
Sunday, May 10, 2015
It is about sensing force and how to use it.
To learn to push people is easy. My six year old son can push someone without learning.
Learning pushing hands, though, is something else. It needs practice, the right mindset. A lot of effort. It is not easy. And you need the right teacher to guide you along.
So ask yourself, are you here to learn pushing hands, or pushing people?
Posted by Teck at 22:23
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
The only way to find out is to walk the path till the end.
Hopefully, we each find what we want to find at the end of the road.
Sometimes, there is no right or wrong, we just walk the path that we want, the path that suits us.
So for those who believe that pushing hands is about pushing, that relaxing to neutralise force is not the way, well, you can walk your path.
I will stick to mine. Because I am following in the path of my teacher. It is what he has achieved that I want.
Posted by Teck at 23:39
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Got a new inkling.
It has to do with balance.
Our weight is supported by our contact points with the external world. As long as our centre of gravity is within this line or area defined by the contact points, we will not fall (we won't lose our balance).
And we are very good at shifting our centre of gravity to keep our balance.
The trick to getting your opponent to lose his balance could then be about getting his centre of gravity outside of the line or area. Either by your own doing, by his own doing, or a combination of both. What it means is that even if you don't push towards his centre of gravity, he can still lose his balance if the result is that his centre of gravity moves outside that line or area.
Food for thought, time to try out.
Posted by Teck at 00:11