Singapore Tai Chi Chuan


On the news last night the story of an old curry puff seller was mentioned in Parliament as an example of skill arising from pursuing a craft. This was part of the debate on the de-emphasis on pursuing a university degree in favor of other paths to a career.

I saw in The Straits Times today that the story of Jiro Ono was also mentioned. This is the famous sushi master in Japan for whom the Michelin panel said that awarding them 3 stars was the very least.

What was left unsaid and unmentioned in Parliament is that the meal that the Michelin panel tasted was not prepared by Jiro himself but by his eldest son!

It is good to encourage students to take up a craft. However, learning a craft is like requiring two hands in order to clap. You may have students who want to learn but unless you find masters who are willing to teach then the sound of one hand clapping will be ……………. silence.

Given the typical Singaporean mentality of wanting to learn everything fast I wonder if encouraging craftsmanship is reaching for the stars. Even if the masters are willing to teach fast mastering a craft still requires a lot of practice time not to mention additional research, trial and error, and so on. So no matter how fast you want to go sometimes you just can’t go fast until you have put in the practice time.

Sometimes when I show students a movement I tell them that its really very easy to do. It is certainly not an impossible movement to master, more so since I can explain how to do it step-by-step. However, the student will almost, always never really get it. The reason is predominantly due to the fact that they do not listen and observe carefully each step in the process. They will inevitably try to do the movement faster and faster before they get the sequence in the correct order with the attendant timing without which they cannot express the nuances that are vital to the workings of the movement.

So the root cause of failure to learn is really very simple. The student must take the time to learn and then give himself the time to practice. He must then test the movement and be prepared to fail. Then he must go back and investigate where he went wrong. Then he must practice again and test yet again. Over and over until success.

Doing Tai Chi is not difficult…………over time once the foundation skills fall into place. If you want to succeed don’t keep thinking of the end like everybody else. Instead, focus on the means because the means by themselves can be an end. Add together all these ends and you will attain the final destination.





Author: ZenMindSword

Mushin is a practitioner, researcher and trainer for Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. He is also author of The Ip Man Koans, The Ip Man Questions and TaijiKinesis series of eBooks, as well as co-author of Complete Wing Chun.

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