Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Start Teaching From the Basics

At one of my teacher's classes, the students have asked to start learning taijijian. I am helping out there every once in a while, and was about to start teaching them when my teacher stepped in.

He started off by teaching the students how to hold the sword. How to hold it using the left hand when preparing to start, how to transfer it from left to right hand, how to do a "sword greeting". How to even grip the sword hilt properly.

All these are very basic movements, things that never crossed my mind, things that I never thought of teaching them (I actually knew all these from the days I learnt wushu, long long ago). But looking at the students, seeing how awkward some of them actually are when holding the sword, I realised that my teacher was right to start from such basics.

This little incident taught me an important lesson. Start from the basics, don't assume that the students know.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Inkling: Moving While Relaxed

Another inkling... this one after my teacher told me that I am still using too much force when practising my Chen style routine. The hard part about Chen style is the mix of fast and slow, hard and soft. It may be easy to remain relaxed when moving slow and trying to be soft, but when I need to move fast, the tendency is to use more force instead of staying relaxed.

So how to stay relaxed and yet move fast?

I think it is all in the mind. Maybe if I just focus on linking the force from my feet to how it is brought to my hands through the movement of my kua? That way, speed is controlled by my kua instead of my arms. Something to work on in future practices.

Consistency Comes From Practice

I was helping a fellow student out, she wanted to take a video of Yang Style Taiji Dao, so I became the "model". We didn't have a professional studio, so it was done with one camera inside our usual practice place (a dance studio).

With only one camera, she needed me to do the routine a few times, so that she could take from a few different camera angles. She then pieced the pieces together to get a single video that showed the entire routine from the best angle for each part.

She told me that while video editing is never easy, she had an easier time because all my movements over the various times that I did the routine were very consistent. It made it easier for her to cut and paste different portions to string together into the final product.

That consistency, though, didn't come easy.

It came from lots of practice. Lots of practice means I know how much space I need for my entire routine. It means I place my feet at the same place time after time, my hands at the same height time after time. Every time I deviate from the expectations, I bring it back at the next practice, to try and close the distance between what I practice and what is the expected/standard/requirement. Basically, practice is a reduction of error (difference between actual and ideal). With lots of practice, I get close to the ideal, allowing for consistency.

The downside is that if you get the standard/requirement/ideal wrong, practice will make you consistently wrong too... so practice makes you consistent in what you are aiming for; it is up to you to make sure that you are aiming for the right thing.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Recent Performance on 26 Oct 13 at Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore)

My teacher, Mr Kwek Lee Hwa, teaches taiji at Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) every week. Twice a year, there is a performance by students who take classes (not just taiji, but also calligraphy, yoga, etc.) at Tzu Chi Foundation to let the public see what they have learnt.

The most recent performance was on 26 Oct 13, where besides a performance by the students on "Taiji for Health", there was also a Yang Style Taiji Dao and Yang/Dong Style Taiji Fast Form performance.

Watch the performances at Mr Kwek's Facebook page:
Yang Style Taiji Dao
Yang/Dong Style Taiji Fast Form

Friday, November 08, 2013

Self-Reflection: Differing Treatment

This is not really a post on taiji, but just a self-reflection that came up after pushing hands class.

I came to realise that I treat people differently. There are those whom I am patient with during pushing hands, taking time to give feedback on how to improve, what I have previously been taught by my teacher, and pushing them just enough for them to lose balance but not fall. Then there are those that I just push hands with, without much talking, not really giving much feedback, not really sharing with them what I sense or feel, and pushing them beyond just losing a bit of balance, and even locking their arms and getting a bit rough.

The question is, why the differing treatment? Is it their attitude towards learning? Their attitude towards me? Am I jealous of their progress? Or am I just inconsistent in the way I treat people?

I have been told that I am inconsistent in applying rules at work. Maybe this inconsistency goes beyond work? Maybe I am just an inconsistent person?