Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pushing Is Important, But...

A fellow student (who also trains under another teacher besides attending Mr Kwek's pushing hands class) was sharing that his other teacher taught him that to learn pushing hands, he needs to push so that the partner learns to neutralise. Which sounds right, except that when he proceeded to push, he was using quite some force. His force was strong, but not rooted. It was stiff and it was not difficult to just relax and neutralise his force. But he seems to think that his other teacher is right.

I think there is truth in what his other teacher says. After all, if we don't push, our partner can't learn how to neutralise our force. The thing then is how to push. My teacher Mr Kwek teaches that to push, you have to relax, listen to your opponent's force and follow it in. His push can be slow and soft, yet strong. Trying to neutralise this slow but soft force is so much more difficult compared to the hard, fast but stiff force. And the soft push is not necessarily slow; it can be as fast or as slow as you want it to be.

So yes, during pushing hands, it is important for you to push so that your partner can learn to neutralise your force, but it is important to push correctly so that he learns how to listen to your force and then neutralise it. You can give him a discount and make things easy for him by using brute force to push him, but he is not going to benefit much from that, and you won't learn how to push correctly as well. Lose-lose. Push correctly, and your partner learns how to listen and neutralise. Win-win.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pushing Hands and Taiji Practice

Before I went to Japan, I was worried if I could find a pushing hands class in Japan to continue my practice. But my teacher advised me not to worry. He told me that instead of trying to find a place to practise pushing hands, I should just focus on my taiji practice during that one year in Japan. He really knew what he was talking about.

Just the other day, I was told to try pushing hands with my teacher's assistant (who has been with my teacher for about 30 years now). He doesn't practise pushing hands, but he has been diligently practising taiji for the past 30 years or so. The moment our hands touched, I can sensed that he is someone who knows how to relax, and as we are pushing hands, I can sense that he knows how to push properly as well. So here is someone who doesn't practise pushing hands, but because he has been diligent in his taiji practice, he is able to meet all the requirements of taiji (like relax, linking hands and feet, turning the kua, etc) and thus can straight away pick up pushing hands easily. Each year of practice really counts; it all adds up.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Taiji Classes by Mr Kwek Li Hwa (Updated Jun 12)

Updated as of 14 Jun 12.

My teacher is Mr Kwek Li Hwa, and he teaches taiji at a few places in Singapore. Below are some of those places.

Tampines Changkat CC on Mondays, 8pm to 10pm
Toa Payoh East CC on Tuesdays, 8pm to 10pm
Poh Khiu Temple on Wednesdays, 8pm to 10pm (Mr Kwek has not been teaching at Poh Khiu Temple for some time now because the new management there has discontinued his class.)
Hong Lim Green CC on Thursdays, 6pm to 7:30pm
Toa Payoh Lorong 1 shed between Block 96 and Block 98 on Fridays, 8.30pm to 10pm (This class is for his students from other places interested in learning more about the basics of taiji. Focus is on foundation training.)
Kreta Ayer CC on Saturdays, 11am to noon and 7pm to 10pm (see link)
Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 Blk 323 multi-storey carpark (top floor) on Sundays, 7:30am to 9am (Due to circumstances, Mr Kwek no longer teaches at the carpark in Ang Mo Kio.)
Kampong Ubi CC on Sundays, 10:30am to 12noon
Tampines Changkat CC on Sundays, 7:30pm to 9pm

Pushing hands classes are:
Kreta Ayer CC on Thursdays, 8.30pm to 10pm
Kreta Ayer CC on Saturdays, 5.30pm to 7pm
Tampines Changkat CC on Sundays, 6pm to 7.30pm

Most of them are at community centres, so do feel free to sign up for these courses if you are interested. For some photos and videos of his classes, you can take a look at the blog for the class at Kreta Ayer CC.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Share What Is Appropriate

I believe that it is okay to share what we learnt with others, to help each other learn. However, we must also be careful about what we share. First, we need to be sure that we are not sharing the wrong things. We need to be correct in what we share. Next, we need to know if what we are sharing is appropriate for the person we are sharing with. Will he understand what we are trying to say? Has he reached that stage in which he already has a foundation to understand the more advanced stuff? Or is he still in the beginner stage, and sharing with him too much may end up confusing him instead? Just like teaching is done is stages, if we are to share what we learnt with others, we must also be aware of the stage that he is in, so that what we share is appropriate to his stage of learning.

Friday, June 08, 2012

What Is The Aim?

What is your aim when you do pushing hands? Because your aim shapes the way you learn, the way you practise.

Is your aim to learn how to push your opponent?
Is your aim to learn how to neutralise your opponent's force?
Is your aim to learn how to use your opponent's force against him?

I had thought that my aim should be the second... until today, when after my pushing hands class, I asked myself what is it that I should really be striving for. Interestingly, I came up with the third answer. I will be letting this aim guide my practice for a while.

Monday, June 04, 2012

It Takes Time... And Conscious Effort

I have talked about the importance of being correct. But in taiji, it is difficult to be correct from Day One. Otherwise, we would all be taiji masters. So that means we are start out wrong. What is important then, is to know what is correct, and make conscious effort towards being correct. So being wrong is okay, as long as you know you are wrong, and are making effort to correct yourself. One day, you will achieve what you set out to do. It just depends on how much effort you put in.

So firstly, know what is correct and what is wrong. Then, continue to put in effort to right that wrong. Otherwise, you will just stay in the realm of "knowing what is wrong" and never getting into the realm of "being correct".

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Inkling on Pushing... Again

I don't know the science behind this, but somehow, when I push, if my opponent resists, all I need to do is relax, then push again, and I will be able to push him. I can't seem to figure out the science behind this, since it doesn't make logical sense. After all, if he is resisting, once you relax, shouldn't he be the one moving in towards you? But instead, once you relax, you can move in towards him even more.

Well, I may not understand the science, but I guess taiji is about faith as well. Have faith in doing what you have been taught, have faith that it works. You will eventually get there.