Saturday, August 30, 2008

Training Together

My teacher talked about the importance of training together today. When you practise taiji in a group, keeping pace with each other, you will inevitably find that the pace is sometimes too fast or too slow for you. That is because everyone has their own pace when practising. However, it is important to keep pace when in a group, so that everyone is more or less doing the same action at the same time. This is actually good training, since it trains you to react to what is happening around you, to either move faster or slower in reaction to the action of the people around you.

Once you can react to people around you, when your opponent suddenly changes pace, you will be able to keep up as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Spirit of Competition (Again)

This is not my first post on the spirit of competition. But it is something that is important enough to talk about.

Recently, the National Wushu and Taiji Competition 2008 took place. Besides the post on, there is also a forum post at as well. Reading all the comments and posts, it seems that this year's competition wasn't that well organised, and wasn't that fair too.

The main complaints?
1. The judges were too young.
2. The judges don't seem to know how to differentiate between traditional and competitive forms.
3. The judges seem to give higher points to their own students to help them win.

If we are going to have a national competition to spur people on to greater heights in their practice of martial arts, then the competition must be fair. And that will depend greatly on the judges. If the judges are out to help their students win the competition, even if they don't deserve to, then they are not fair. If the judges are giving points to those who perform impressive moves such as jumps (something which is usually not found in traditional forms), then they may not be qualified to judge traditional forms. If the judges are too young, they may lack experience in judging, and knowledge in what is good and what is average.

And most of all, by not having a proper competition, it is the students, the competitors, who suffer the most. They go away with the wrong lessons. The average ones who win medals go away thinking they are good, which may make them proud when they should be humble. The good ones who went away losing may become disheartened, which is contrary to the competition's aim of spurring the level of wushu/taiji in Singapore to greater heights.

In the end, if a competition cannot be open and fair, then maybe it is time a watchdog steps in to correct the situation. If there is no checks and balances, eventually, the organising committee will run things their way, get away with it, and all at the expense of the wushu/taiji circle in Singapore.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Singapore National Wushu and Taiji Competition 2008

I didn't manage to take part in the competition this year, because of work constraints.

My teacher decided not to be a judge this year, even though he was asked to be one. Because he thought it strange, even demeaning, to ask a seasoned, qualified judge to attend another 3 more days of judge training.

And here are some comments on

Seems like there were quite some comments about how the competition was organised and executed this year. I heard they even charged an admission fee, something that they have never done in the past!

I wonder where our National Wushu Federation is going... sigh...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Left and Right

Just when I thought that my taiji journey has slowed down, today, I managed to learn something again, just by observing my teacher while he was talking to another student.

I used to wonder why is it that my teacher can so easily cause an opponent to lose his balance by opening his arms. Today, I realised that is what Sun style's "open" is about. Relax your kua, then turn in one direction to draw your opponent forward. If your opponent stops resisting and goes with your force, he will eventually lose his balance as you bring his centre of gravity further and further away. If he resists and tries to pull in the opposite direction, just reverse your force by turning in the other direction, and he will fall backwards.

Tired = Wrong

Do your arms start to feel tired during pushing hands? Do your arms suffer from muscle aches after pushing hands? If so, you are doing it wrong. It means that you are using the muscle strength of your arms, rather than the force generated by your legs. It means that you do not know how to relax, that you are unable to relax your kua, unable to relax your arms.

So while you may think that you are not using muscle strength, while you may think that you are relaxing your arms and kua, if your arms start to feel tired during pushing hands, it means you are not. It is one of the easiest gauge of whether you are using brute force, or following the principles of taiji.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lose With Meaning

As I like to say, winning is not everything. But does that mean we should lose?

Yes and no. Yes, we should lose, if losing means we keep to the principles of taiji, but somehow just get bested. No, we should not lose, if we cannot learn anything from losing.

The important thing is that, when you lose, you need to know why you lost. When you make a mistake that allows your opponent to gain an advantage, you need to know what that mistake is, and why you made that mistake. Only then, is there meaning in losing, and ultimately, you get to learn from defeat. Otherwise, you just lose big time.