Singapore Tai Chi Chuan


In retrospect its a funny comment. One day we were discussing applications and my student Z mentioned he didn’t know how to follow up after countering an attack.

However, months before this comment I had taught him an entire sequence made up of linked strikes. I even explained how to practice the footwork component by using a short portion of the sequence.

If Z had put in consistent practice even if I do not explain further to him his hands would automatically react to put out the strikes if he had been practicing regularly. That his hands are still wooden means he did not practice at all or not enough. If he had put in the practice he would have questions but he never asked. So it means he understood; he did not know what to ask; he knows enough and so no need to ask or he still is not interested in investigating the sequence of strikes further.

This is what I call teaching a person to fish but if the person is not interested to fish there is nothing much we can do.

On the other hand, another student X has taken the time to practice. He stopped when I saw him practicing but I wanted him to continue. This is because if he does not show me the practice I would not be able to offer corrections unless he was not interested to improve on the movements.

At this point I should point out that students can improve their learning if they read the book The Invisible Gorilla.

Moving on, when I saw how X moved it was obvious what he was doing wrong. So I set to correct what was wrong and emphasized the importance of certain elements and why they were vital keys to using the art.

For example a missing movement in the leg meant that power cannot be projected out as strongly rendering the strike much less penetrating. Also the same tweak to the leg would also improve the ability to move and kick with power.

These corrected principles can also improve form performance and provide a different understanding to how a movement can be used. Thus, a movement that seems to be a run-of-the-mill defensive move suddenly becomes one that emphasizes penetrating, sharp strikes at weak points of the anatomy.

When the mind is open to learning it is possible to improve one’s skill. The danger to learning is that of the “smart” mind, the student who thinks he knows what is going on when he does not. This is the illusion of knowledge that is written about in The Invisible Gorilla.

It is only when the mind is receptive that knowledge can be transmitted. Transmission does not guarantee mastery but it is the first step to take for those who want to master an art.




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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