Sunday, May 30, 2010

Important To Be Correct

I was thinking through what my teacher said, and plus a bit of inferring from past experience. The result? I realised the importance of being correct when teaching.

What am I trying to say?

The important thing when teaching is not being able to demonstrate the difficult moves. It is in being correct in every move that you demonstrate. Because your student will imitate your every move, it is all the more important that their example is correct. Thus, a teacher/instructor must be able to perform each move, simple or difficult, correctly. That is so much more important than being able to do difficult moves. For example, being able to perform the basic stances correctly (meeting all requirements with regards to body, distance between the feet, etc), rather than being able to jump and flip. It is important to be able to correctly perform each move, big or small, rather than being fanciful.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nervous (aka Lack of Confidence)

I tried again today, but still failed. And after thinking about it, I think I know why I failed.

It was not because of lack of practice. I had a year to prepare.

It was not because of lack of guidance, my teacher provided plenty of that.

It was because I was too nervous during the actual exam. Even before I entered the grounds, I was feeling nervous. I was so nervous since last night, I had difficulty sleeping. I was so nervous, I couldn't find appetite to eat until I grew so hungry I had to grab something. I was nervous when entering the exam ground, I was nervous in front of the examiners. I was nervous and rushed through my routines, wanting to get out of there as soon as I can. I was so nervous, I forgot the most important thing about taiji: staying calm.

My teacher said my routine was so different from what I usually do during practice, that he felt nervous for me watching from the side.

The cause of this nervousness? Lack of confidence, that is the conclusion I came to after reflecting.

I never suffer from this during practice. I am confident in front of my teacher because I know I have put in effort to correct the mistakes that he pointed out. I am confident that I have not let his teachings gone to waste.

But in front of others, I lost confidence. I lost confidence because I wasn't sure if what I am doing is acceptable to others, I am not sure if they appreciate what I am doing (I know this has some link to the need to answer to myself and not to others, but I will leave that discussion to some other day). I didn't have confidence in myself, in what I was doing. I was so concerned about passing that I lost sight of the need to be ready to lose. And thus, the nervousness.

The way ahead? Practise practise practise until I am so good, even I cannot dispute my own worth. Continue to seek the guidance of my teacher. And also, find opportunities to practise in front of others, to perform, so that good or bad, I put myself up for criticism, that I learn to accept criticism and from there learn about how others view my routines. In summary, practise a lot, follow my teacher's guidance and listen to the criticism given by others.

Hopefully, in a few years time when I try again, I would have gained the confidence in myself and remove the nervousness.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Neutralise and Move In

My teacher was telling us about how he moves in while neutralising his opponent's force. I was thinking, how do you do that without resisting? After all, if his force is moving towards you, how do you neutralise his force, yet move in towards him at the same time?

Maybe it has to do with the spiralling of the arm? As his force comes in, you spiral your arm so that you draw his force in. As he tries to prevent himself from being drawn in a direction that he doesn't want to go, he will pull back a bit. That may be the chance for you to move in. Or so I think...

Friday, May 07, 2010

Another Inkling

How to absorb an opponent's force and use it against him? Maybe the key lies in drawing him beyond the force provided by the legs, such that he uses local muscular force (ie. the arms muscles) instead of moving his body as a whole. Maybe the key is to draw him in, and once he stops using the force from moving his body as a whole and relies on the local muscular force of his arms, that is the time to return his force?

The Learning Process

The Chinese verb for acquiring a new skill is 学習, which comes from the word for learning (学) and practising (習). The important thing in not just to learn, but to practise as well. Sometimes, it is not that the teacher is not teaching, but because the student has not been practising, there is nothing new for the teacher to teach. Thus, if you think you are stagnant in your learning, maybe it is time to ask yourself if you have been practising enough?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Firm Base, Relaxed Body

My teacher again emphasised the importance of a firm base (strong stance) but warned against being rigid. The stance must be firm, but the kua must be relaxed so that the body can move in response to an outside force.

Still, the important thing is a pair of strong legs to achieve that strong stance. And strong stance doesn't mean low stance, though it starts out that way.