Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sweating during Taichi practice

I used to think Taichi is an exercise that does not cause one to sweat since the movements tend to be so slow and graceful.

It is only when I started learning this interesting art form that I realise I was totally wrong. In fact, it is possible to sweat a great deal but having said so, the perspiration is quite different from those that you experience after a run under the hot sun or after a game of tennis. It is not sticky, just droplets that make you feel alive, make you energized.

Over the past two over years of practice, I have observed different parts of my body sweat at different point. During the first six months or so, sweating occurs in almost every part of the body, especially my arms, even under an air conditioned environment !

I am not too sure if it is related to tension that induced perspiration throughout the body but once I get to learn the choreographed forms, the sweat reduced gradually and now it seems to be localized sweating only at the back. I am not sure it is a sign of progress or not but the fact that it makes me feel rejuvenated and refreshed is what that matters now.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Street Art near Kreta Ayer Community Centre

For those who have been to Ipoh and strolled along the streets in Old Town, it is hard to miss the 7 wall murals with paintings reflecting the culture and rich history of this small town. It not only brings life to a sleepy town but also helps to revive some nostalgic moments.

Back home in Singapore, street art is catching on as well. Of most interest to me are those mural walls near Kreta Ayer community centre, which largely show healthy lifestyle of senior citizens doing Taichi and stretching exercises.
Old man practicing Sun style Taichi?
Old lady doing leg split
Understand from my Taichi teacher the community centre is due for refurbishment in the near future. I will definitely miss practising Taichi at this place when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


喜欢十二月份的到来,是因为这是个雨季,给常年炎热的新加坡带来一股凉意。只是最近几回沿途到联络所练太极拳的时候,巧遇上暴雨,老把布鞋给弄湿,感觉好不舒服。当然我倒可临阵缺席,当个逃学威龙,不过,一想起老师总是风雨不改, 每周一定准时出席,我们这班学徒又怎能不报到呢 ? 更何况太极拳又是一项考毅力的运动。

最近跟一位同事闲聊的时候,谈到他小时候在印度的一个小乡村练书的情况。那里的八十年代还没我们这里这么完善的设备。老师的那堂课是在一棵大树下教的。遇到豪雨打雷的时候,必须停课。相比之下,我们这里的小孩真的身在福中不知福啊 ! 我们更没有理由因为一场大雨,因天生的惰性而缺席 。。。

Monday, December 15, 2014


或许已经习惯了一惯练习三套孙式套路为准, 每当与大伙练习的时候,老强调这一点。师兄再三嘱咐练拳必须重质不重量, 应该把注意力放在每一招的细节,努力把错误改正,才能逐渐提升到另一个阶段。如果没记错的话,要很好的掌握太极拳,必须过三个阶段 -- 顺劲,逆劲,最后升华到化劲的阶段,感觉有点像练气功时的气功状态。可是矛盾就在这儿,没有量哪来的质呢 ?


Monday, December 8, 2014

Taichi for kids

Saw a young boy of age 10 performing Taichi routine using fan recently and was quite impressed. Have this wild thought it will be wonderful if Taichi can be introduced into those PE (physical exercises) classes in Singapore at lower primary level. Afterall, what beats taichi in terms of helping the kids to cope with stress coming from endless assignments, projects and examinations.
Hello Kitty doing Taichi
But there is this misconception throughout that Taichi is an exercise for the elderly, a bold initiative like this is likely to face with challenges in terms of implementation. Perhaps the use of licensed cartoon character like Hello Kitty to promote the martial art as being fun to learn and to teach on some of the principles. Think it is quite appropriate since the soft movements mimic those of cats. The mouthless character also symbolises stillness, to emphasise the importance of seeking stillness in motion and motion in stillness, a simple and yet key principle in Taichi practice.

Oops! My imagination is running wild again ...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The need to revive rare fist form

We had our usual Taichi routines yesterday practising Sun traditional form, the basic exercises for inner energy cultivation and sword form. My teacher decided to wrap up the class with a 10 minute drill teaching us the Yang style fast form. If I am not wrong, this is a rare fist form which nearly faded away from the martial art world several years back.

My teacher mastered this form from master Lin Bo Yan, who was quite well known in Singapore, or least to Taichi practitioners. A few of his students have already mastered this form under his close supervision in the past but I guess it is a wise move to spread the teaching to a bigger group. Hopefully in the near future, some of these students can take over the baton and continue to impart the skills to our younger generation. I see the need to revive an art form like this before it is lost forever.

Continue with where I left about last night's exercises. I am quite fascinated with the way my teacher conducts his class. So light hearted and yet effective. We managed to pick up the first two forms last night. Looking forward to my next class...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cultivating a detox lifestyle

Time flies. Just when I am about to get used to galloping in this wooden horse year, I am drawing so close to the end of 2014.

Reflecting on the past 11 months, the ride has been a rough one like roller coaster at work. Thankfully my regular practices have helped in terms of coping up with the stress and keeping me in a healthy form enough to maintain my past year's track record of one day MC throughout the year. Not too bad indeed.

Perhaps it is time for a renewed commitment into another year of detox lifestyle. This to me means a healthier lifestyle with proper mix of mind body exercises like Taichi and yoga coupled with balanced diet.

To be more specific, my goal is to learn Chen style traditional form by Chinese new year in 2015 and moving on to deepen my practice in this form by learning the self defence aspect of this form.

Todate, we have finished learning the sword form but unfortunately I am still not at all familiar with the moves yet due to lack of diligent practice at my end. Need to definitely put in more effort in this. Haven't been doing enough to declare myself as a good student as yet...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Experimentation with Push Hands

I kind of like the way Taichi classes at Kreta Ayer community centre are conducted on Saturday evenings. Light hearted, multi-level and not having structured classes with predetermined routines all the times give practitioners like me an opportunity to experiment with other aspects of  Taichi, like push hands with my senior.

Push hands (推手)to me is a process of experimentation to test the validity of what I have learnt from the postures and silk reeling exercises.

Through the drills, I come to realise the difficulty to maintain balance and total relaxation when being in close contact with another person. My competitive nature shows up in my first few practices and the tendency is for me to use brute force to push my opponent out, which of course is not what it should have been.

As I learn a little more about push hands from my senior, I've learnt to relax a little more and focus more on paying more attention to where the energy comes from and the path of the energy. In theory, I do understand there are 13 postures in push hands, 8 of which are related to hand techniques: peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, kao but far from knowing how to apply them for self defense.

To achieve the result of 'four ounces overcome one thousand pounds" (四两拔千斤)will require proper understanding of the 13 postures and several years of practice but there is really no short cut sometimes
...Stay passionate and keep learning ...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Taichi and Yoga energy flow

Out of curiousity, I turned up for a Body Balance class at a fitness centre to experience this hybrid workout with Taichi, Yoga and Pilates all in one. Though there are distinct segments for each of these discipline and the music tracks are carefully selected to synchronise with the movements, the Taichi is a far cry from what I practised in the community centre. The only thing in common is the weight shift between legs. 

Perhaps a fusion class is intended to work this way. If one adheres to the proper techniques of doing Taichi, Yoga and Pilates, breathing control may turn out to be beyond imagination. Should one breathe naturally, adopt reverse breathing, follow yogic abdominal breathing or lateral breathing for pilates ?

In terms of energy flow, the bulk of the poses in Yoga nourish upward flow whereas in Taichi, there is a need to sink the 'Chi' down to the dantien (lower abdominal region). My Taichi teacher discourages practice of both Yoga and Taichi on a given day. Whether there is any negative impact on proper flow of energy I'm not too sure, but it is good to take extra precaution then be sorry later.

Based on my current understanding through reading up, all mind body spirit practices follow the same pathway in terms of energy circulation. ie the microcosmic orbit which involves the circulation of energy around the female yin and the male yang pathways. The abdomen, or area around the navel, is believed to be the starting point of the pathways.

The yang path travels from the abdomen down to the perineum and back toward the coccyx region. From here, the path continues up the spine, up and over the top of the head, and onto the face. Yang then moves down the face, into the mouth, and ends at the palate. Yin begins in the abdomen and travels up the medial front line of the body, ending at the tip of the tongue. Based on this distinct path, there is really no difference in energy flow between Yoga and Taichi in my opinion.

Whether this is proven true or not, only time will tell...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Silk Reeling exercises

Silk reeling exercise (aka chan si jing) is part of the warm up exercises I  get to do every Saturday when I turn up for class, rain or shine. These exercises are key to building up internal energy. That's what I was told when I first started learning Taichi.

Though simple, the repetitive spiral movements are somewhat stressful on the knees for beginners especially when you do this with your knees bent.

Two over years into these set of exercises and just when I think I get the hang of it to achieve continuous movements, my senior made a point during last week's training which dawned on me I may not have carried out the movements using the right method.  I have been doing the spiral movements all this while with arm movements and the arm and leg movements are not connected. 

The right way of silk reeling requires sensing of the dan tien and use it to move the body, from the feet , the kua to the waist and then lead the hand movements. So the movements are automatic and in effect circular. Isn't this a perfect representation of chi energy flow, alternating between Yin and Yang as expressed in Taichi symbol  ?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Staying young at heart

I had a printed photograph of my taichi group pinned up at my workstation in office. My colleagues commented my 69 year old Shifu looked healthy at his age and so were his students :)

I guess that is the beauty of Tai Chi. Recent research from Taiwan shows that Taichi helps reinvigorates stem cells. We know that through the renewal process, many cells are replaced daily but this process slows down as one grows older.

The increase in CD34 stem cells boost cell renewal and how those cells are reproduced is determined by the quality and quantity of Qi flowing through your body. This indirectly prevents premature aging of your organs. When Qi flows freely throughout the body, you will feel more alive and connected.

No wonder there is always this child like quality that I see in most seasoned Tai Chi practitioners which I believe has kept them young at heart.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tai Chi sword practice

Started learning Tai Chi sword with Kwek Li Hua Shifu last year November. I find this a good mix to our usual traditional Sun style empty hand form.

Thankful to my Shifu, he has been very patient with us, sharing even on things as fundamental as 'how to' hold a sword during our very first lesson.

Our regular weekly practice in the studio now comprises of 3 segments - typically 3 sets of Sun style practice, followed by Taichi warmup exercises (silk reeling) with the last half an hour on sword training.

So you get the best of everything you can get out of Taichi, building strength, dan tien Chi, balance and great relaxation in preparation for a good sleep at night...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My journey to Tai Chi

I was recently invited to contribute to this blog to share my thoughts and experiences learning Tai Chi. Being a newbie,  it will be interesting to do a self intro talking about what inspired me into learning Tai Chi.
Here’s my story …

Having suffered from bouts of asthma attacks since young, I was refrained from  exercises of all sorts
and was just happy being a volleyball player on standby during school days. At work, exercise was nothing more than dribbling table tennis balls during lunch with my colleagues.

Though I was lucky enough to get by not having to exhaust my medical leaves in my early 30s, the frequent colds left me feeling even more lethargic. So I made that bold move to join my cousin for weekly Yoga practice and this routine stayed on till now.

The interesting about doing exercises like yoga that connects the mind-body-spirit,  the
ability to stay relaxed and in a meditative mood during workout is addictive and has gotten me yearned for more.  For a span of 2 to 3 years, I had static Qi Gong included in my weekly schedule as well. Coincidentally, the fitness centre which I had my yoga practice started conducting Wing Chun martial arts and being curious by nature,  I started my weekly training on this art form to learn more about internal energy.  I fell in love with Chinese martial art since then and this set me on my path to discover Tai Chi Quan.

I started ploughing through the materials available in the internet and was a little lost not knowing which style I should start with in my Tai Chi journey but I do know I need a Shifu who can teach and train with the
correct principles.  Eventually I enrolled for a 3-month course in Kreta Ayer Community Centre learning Sun style to get a taste of what Tai Chi is about.

As I am sharing with you through this blog, I have already completed the traditional 97-form after 14
months and now picking up Chen style sword form.  The entire form may take another several months to complete but it does not bother me anymore. Nature does not hurry…