Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Swinging, Pretending... Respect?

As a martial arts practitioner, I respect anyone who respects the martial arts. Practising martial arts is a lifelong journey. It is not something to be taken lightly.

So I really hate it when people play around, pretending to be martial artists. Pretending to be the warrior they are not.

It takes a lifetime of commitment to be a warrior. Pretending to be one is, at best, an insult to everyone who has devoted him or herself to such a path.

So when I saw someone recently pretending to be a martial artist... I really wanted to go up there and show him that he is not.

But I did not.

I did not need to prove anything. Not to him, not to myself.

And because I understood this, and held myself back, I think I have grown.

It is a lifelong journey, a lifetime of commitment.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Another Post About Learning

I like to talk about learning. Because learning taiji is a lifelong journey, a never-ending endeavour. Actually, learning itself is something that should not end. For if we stop learning, we stop growing.

The learning process is a cycle. It starts with accepting ideas, concepts, knowledge that one does not currently possess. This can be from people, from the environment, even from existing ideas, concepts, knowledge that is within oneself. The keyword here is "accept". One must be receptive; otherwise, it will pass in through one ear, and out through the other. To be receptive, one must not criticise; this is not the stage for that. This is the "absorb" stage, just like a sponge soaking up everything, be it water or oil.

The next stage is to understand what was just absorbed. Again, this is not the stage for criticism. It is about finding out more about what has been accepted into our minds. What is its purpose? What does it mean? How is it applied? What are the underlying assumptions? What are the enabling conditions? The keyword here is "understand".

Then we can move on to make that "new" idea, concept, knowledge into something that we truly own. After understanding that idea, concept, knowledge, we need to then ask ourselves: how does it fit into what I already know? This allows us to draw links between existing knowledge and new knowledge. And it is through these links that we own that "new" idea, concept, knowledge, and become able to apply it eventually when the situation arises. The keyword here is "assimilate": to make it into our own, because we can never truly apply what we do not own.

Wait. So when do we criticise? Well, in this process of mine, there is no such deliberate act. When we try to assimilate a bad idea, concept, or knowledge, we may find that it doesn't really link with anything that we currently "own". We can then proceed to put it in a separate "box" in the corner of our knowledge realm, along with other bad ideas, concepts, knowledge that we have assimilated in the past. Even these bad ideas, concepts, knowledge have a place in our learning. They teach us what doesn't fit in with what we have. And who knows, these may one day form a component of something else that does work, that does fit in. Maybe we just haven't found the missing link to link them with our existing knowledge.

So my learning process is:
1. Absorb
2. Understand
3. Assimilate
4. Go to 1

Of course, this is a simplification; in the process of understanding, we may happen upon new ideas, concepts, knowledge too, which branches off into a separate absorb-understand-assimilate cycle elsewhere. Still, it does provide a base model for better understanding my learning process.

Other posts about learning:
How I Learn
A Little About Learning
Learning From A Teacher
The Learning Process
Listen and Learn
Continuous Learning

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Pushing Hands in Yokohama

It has been a while since I moved to Japan, and I have yet to find a pushing hands group to practise.

So, rather than try and find one, I am thinking of starting one.

If anyone is interested to join a taiji pushing hands group in Yokohama, I am proposing we meet at Odori Park (大通り公園, the stretch between JR Kannai Station, and Isezaki-chojamachi Station on the Blue Line; specifically, the portion in front of the Fureai Hospital). The place is relatively quiet at night, yet not so inaccessible (JR or municipal subway), and there is the Yokohama Ginobunkakaikan just beside it. The kaikan offers rooms for rent for classes and meetings and such, so if the group ever grows big, we can rent a classroom or something at the kaikan. Of course, since the park is open air, we won't be able to practise when it rains.

Interested parties, please leave a comment (include preferred days of the week and time). I will respond with a comment too about specific time (which will be weekday nights) to set up an initial meetup at the park.

For those totally new to taiji pushing hands, no problem, I will guide you. 😃

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Teacher and the Student--A Teacher and a Student

I have written about learning attitude before, but I want to take some time today to revisit this topic. A person, when learning something from someone, would do so with previous knowledge in many different fields accumulated over time. Some of that knowledge may be relevant to what is being learnt, and some may not. So when a teacher teaches something that is contradictory to our prior knowledge, there is the urge to question the teacher's knowledge: are you sure? Because that is not that I have previously learnt.

And that is when a person stops being a student. He or she has just raised himself or herself to become an equal to the teacher.

I am not saying the teacher is always right. But in a learning situation, there is always a teacher and a student. And yes, those roles are not mutually exclusive; in fact, in a learning situation, both parties are teachers and students at the same time. When I teach taiji to someone, I am the teacher, but at the same time, my student is teaching me something: how to teach. In that, I am the student.

But that does not make us equal. There is always a "power" difference in the relationship, although that difference flows in different directions depending on what we are talking about. That is how knowledge is passed.

Because when we start out by questioning the teacher, we have stopped being the student, we have stopped learning. From my years of taiji, I think the trick is this: do not question (challenge the teacher's knowledge) right from the start. Do not let your previous learning cloud your current learning journey. Take time to absorb what is being taught first. Have faith, and stay faithful to the new knowledge being taught. Spend time to practise it, to understand it through practice and pondering. Because I have found that, what originally looks to be counter-intuitive at first, will over time become assimilated into our knowledge to broaden our knowledge base. And when we broaden our knowledge base, we will have a bigger foundation on which to build a higher pillar of knowledge.

Do not be too quick to judge. Give your teacher a chance to show that he is not wrong, and yourself a chance to learn something new.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Tracking My Training For 2019

Continuing the practice in 2015, carried on till 2018, I have been tracking my training, and will also do so for 2019.


For 2018, I practised:
54 sets of Chen style Old Frame First Routine
54 sets of Yang style 108
98 sets of Sun style taijiquan
(total 206 sets of taijiquan in a year)

135 sets of Chen style taijijian
135 sets of Yang style taijijian
(total 270 sets of taijijian in a year)

225 sets of Yang style taijidao

And also many hours of basic exercises and single moves.

Total number of practice hours in 2018: 259.5 hours

I have not been keeping my training log, though... 😅
Guess it is a... goner.
But the amount of practice has increased slightly from 2018.
And I am looking forward to increasing the amount of practice in 2019!