Monday, September 22, 2014

Don't Copy The Master

Yet another inkling from my experience with calligraphy.

I am preparing a piece for a calligraphy exhibition. My calligraphy teacher got a fellow master to write an example for me as a reference for my practice. I have been trying to imitate that master's example during my practices.

My calligraphy teacher told me I should not try to emulate the master. Because my technique is not there yet, so when I try to emulate the master, instead of looking good, it looks wrong. Instead, I should write each word properly.

It reminded me of my taiji learning journey. When I first started out, I was learning Chen style taiji, and I tried to emulate my teacher's movements. But instead of looking like a taiji master, I looked very unnatural. I was getting it all wrong. My teacher told me not to try too hard to emulate his movements, but rather to focus on getting the movements right first. Make sure they conform to the principles of taiji, and eventually, the flavour will come in.

Work on the basics, get them right. Eventually the flavour will come in. Trying to emulate the styles of others when you are not there yet only makes you look unnatural and thus wrong. It takes time to master an art. There is no shortcut.

Back to practice.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Practise A Lot, And Keep Practising!

Constant practice is need for you to improve.

But constant practice is not enough.

You also need to practise a lot each time you practise.

I drew this link between calligraphy and taiji before, and I now draw this link again.

Recently, to prepare for a calligraphy exhibition, I have been practising calligraphy a lot. A lot more than what I used to do. Plus I practised almost everyday (only skipped one day out of the week). The end product was something very much different from what I started out with. I improved. A lot. Within one week.

Thinking back, this is similar to my experience with taiji. I improve through constant practice. But when I practised more each time, the improvement was significantly more. I could sense progress, instead of taking months to realise that I have improved.

So don't just keep practising, but practise more each time too!

Respect Revisited

Yesterday, only two students turned up for class. Myself, and another student (who usually fetches my teacher to class).

Rain or shine, my teacher turns up for class.

But I can't say the same about his students.

It is not about money. It is about respect. Respect for the teacher that took his time and effort to teach the class. Respect for fellow students who look forward to learning together with you. Even if you don't respect yourself, you should respect the people waiting for you, wondering what happened to you.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Taiji And Pushing Hands Go Hand-In-Hand

I had the chance to push hands with someone who has been learning taiji for a very long time. But he does not practise pushing hands. While you can see his strong foundation from his taiji movements, the moment our hands touched, I knew that he was not able to fully relax.

Yes, taiji practice is very important. It is the foundation and it is eventually what taiji is about. But if you don't push hands, you will never know if you are truly able to relax, to truly be able to apply the principles of taiji.

So practise both your taiji routines and pushing hands, because they go hand-in-hand. You can never apply taiji without practising both.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Consistently Wrong

Consistency comes from practice. And when you keep practising the wrong thing, you will always be wrong.

I have been consistently wrong in one of my movements, moving my hand too high. My teacher pointed that out the other day, and I have been making effort to correct it.

It is a lot of effort. Because every time my concentration slipped a bit, my hand goes back to the same height that it is so used to, because that was how I had been practising.

The practice has become habit, and now, I have to spend that much more effort to correct my mistake. And that's why it is so important to be correct in your practice. Because it takes a lot more effort to right a mistake.