My Tai-chi Learning Journey
by Sim Siam Khim
Learning Tai-chi has never been my top priority form of exercise. However as my age caught up with me, I thought I would give it a try. Without any hesitation, I enrolled myself to the nearest community center which could accommodate my time schedule.
I remembered vividly that my first few lessons were probably not very interesting and slow. The question of how a centuries old form of martial arts, known to be of health benefit, be considered as boring, surfaced in my mind. Hence, I decided to persevere and challenge myself. As a result, tai-chi has taken me through a lifelong journey in attaining health enrichment.
Tai-chi is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It may appear to be slow and simple, but practicing the right tai-chi movement certainly could make your legs twinge with muscle pain. Sitting on your “kua” and shifting from left to right position can be very challenging. Feeling the movement of “qi” and channeling it to various parts of the body, right to the palm of our hands is also not an easy task. It requires focusing of the mind wholeheartedly, coupled with the gentle graceful movements, subsequently entering into a state of mental calmness and clarity. The warming-up exercises are certainly good for mild muscle toning. However, if done incorrectly, it can result in severe muscle injury. My favourite part of tai-chi is the short meditation incorporated in the workout. More often than not, it gives me a refreshing effect after the hand nibbling massage of the whole ear rim.
The most invaluable and beneficial takeaway from tai-chi lesson is acquiring the knowledge of inner understanding of the five Chinese characters. They are 清、灵、沉、松、静. Incidentally, they are not synonymous but equivalent to the English version of clarity/stillness, agility/sensitivity, rooted, relax yet alert and finally calmness. The incorporation of these five processes into tai-chi workout would tantamount to be the perfect score of tai-chi learning. At the moment, I seem to be remotely away. Nevertheless, I would strive on. Tai-chi is certainly an exercise to take me to a ripe old age. In short, tai-chi to me is a soft martial art with the essence of moving meditation in a nice and conducive background music. It certainly helps a person to relax and enjoy it beyond the purpose of health and exercise. It includes gaining inner peace, vitality and confidence. I sincerely hope that tai-chi would be able to reach out to the younger generations in years to come. Maybe, someday “Tai-Chi Rocks!” would be a colloquial statement in our society.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my kudos to “Shi fu” and all the “Shi jie” for all their relentless patience and utmost diligence in guiding me throughout my tai-chi workout.