Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On My Own

From today onwards, I am on my own.

Mr Kwek, my teacher, has given me permission to teach taiji while I am in Japan, as part of my learning journey. I will do my best to uphold his good name and to help spread his teachings and traditional methods.

From now on, all the more I need to be correct in my movements, else those who follow me will get them wrong too. All the more I have to practise, so that I continue to improve and maintain a high level of standard, so that I can bring my students towards that high standard too.

My teacher has shown me the door into the world of taiji, it is time I walk through that door into the world on my own two feet.

For those interested in learning traditional taijiquan (Chen, Yang, Sun styles) in Yokohama, Yokosuka or Tokyo, do drop me a message.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Thanking Mr Kwek

Today is my last lesson with Mr Kwek before I leave Singapore.

I have been learning from Mr Kwek for the past 10 years. Moving to Japan means I won't be able to learn from him as regularly as before (5 to 7 times a week will soon become maybe once a year) but that does not mean I am no longer a student. It just means that I will continue my learning journey in Japan in another mode.

Friday, August 07, 2015

More Haste, Less Speed

Sometimes, we are impatient. We want to be good at something as quickly as we can. We want to rush. So we try to find different ways to improve.

But sometimes, things take time. To be better at something, sometimes, it really is about the amount of time put into practice, and how what you practise.

So by trying different ways to improve, we end up wasting time that could have been spent sticking to one way to improve (and actually becoming good). It is like trying to go in five different paths, and attaining level 3 in each of them (beginner) when if you had stuck to one path, you would have been at level 15 (master).

So yes, more haste, less speed; the more you try to rush, the more you try to get somewhere faster, the more you may end up walking into detours and taking an even longer time to get there.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Don't Teach, Don't Share, Revisited

Well, I once talked about not teaching and sharing until one is ready.

Another thing about not teaching and sharing is about basic courtesy.

We all have our own experiences. Some may have learnt different things in the past. Some may be practising a few different arts at the same time. But when one comes for a lesson, that lesson is about a particular style, a particular art. It is then basic courtesy to stick to that. Because one is a student in that lesson; one comes to learn. Not teach. Especially not teach something else.

A student came to pushing hands class, but started to teach another student about chin na. To me, that is being very disrespectful to my teacher, who is teaching pushing hands, not chin na. If my teacher wanted to teach chin na, he would have started a chin na class, not pushing hands.

Teach and share when you are ready, but stick to what the class is about. That is basic courtesy. If you want to teach and share about something else, start your own class, be your own teacher.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Scientific Approach to Explaining Taiji

So what is "science"?
One of the definitions of "science" at is the "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation".

To many of us, explaining taiji in terms of science is to use what we know of modern science (usually physics, biology, those things we learnt in school) to explain what we learn/experience in taiji. Given the success of modern science in explaining physical phenomenon (and its pervasiveness in our education system), this seems like the correct way to do things.

One small problem, though. Taiji was created (conceptualised, documented, passed down) using a system that isn't based on modern science. So trying to explain taiji in terms of modern science is like trying to explain the monetary system based on mechanics. It may help the physicist to understand the monetary system a bit better (because you are talking his language) but it cannot fully explain everything. To better understand the monetary system, it may be better to learn a new "language" called economics.

So what is this "language" when we need to talk about taiji?

I think it is the system of classical Chinese philosophy and medicine, which was what taiji was explained using back in the past. Yin-yang, the five elements, acupoints/meridians, these are the concepts behind taiji in the past. To truly understand taiji, I think we need to understand the "language" behind it.

And is using this "language" a scientific approach to explaining taiji? Well, it is the Chinese system of expressing "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation". (I am not so sure about the experimentation part as we understand experimentation methods today, but I am quite sure there was a lot of trial-and-error that went into this "language".) I would dare say that it is the Chinese system for science, and a widespread system too, being used in East Asia for a few thousand years (before modern science appeared in the last couple of hundreds).

So while we may want to understand taiji using a "language" familiar to us (aka modern science), maybe it is better to try and understand taiji using the "language" it was created in. Learning a new "language" is not easy, but I think the effort will pay off in helping us to better understand taiji.