A Beginner although I have learnt Tai Chi before
by Charles Sih
The first time I learnt Tai Chi was as a teenager and later as an adult in a martial arts school. The focus of the training was on the various steps and completing the full set. I enjoyed the discipline of the art and how the slow movements could induce a full sweat similar to a good workout. I stopped for many years and decided to take it up again for health reasons.
I found Master Chong and started lessons with him and Shi Jie Jaleen. At first I was impatient and wondered why we only advanced a few steps every session. I wanted to jump into the full set as soon as possible. Each time they would in their usual amiable manner pick on every move.
From Master Chong I realized the importance of correct posture, knowing where the source of the power should come from and harnessing it with minimal effort. The force comes from a properly rooted stance with the torque or leverage coming through the Kua. These are the important fundamentals of Tai Chi that I never learnt in my past Tai Chi training. Master Chong who is not a very big man can stand in a way that it is almost impossible to move him and a small movement from him can topple you with great strength. I was also taught to sense not though brute power but through yielding force. Therefore, it is important to get each movement correct and to know the logic of each move that is designed to sense, yield and apply a counter force in the most effective manner. This will take many years of training.
The usual comment from my Shi Jie Jaleen is "how come your mind cannot slow down?" I was amused with her observation at first, but shehad summed me up well. My mind was all over the place. It is important to focus. Tai Chi is more about the internal rather than just the external. Attain a calm mind without distractions and the movements will flow naturally. I have begun to slow down my movements in the set and not rush through the motion. That's when one starts to feel the flow of the Qi in the body.
After one year, I have just managed to complete and appreciate the movements of the complete set and be more focused. This is just the beginning. There are many more elements to learn in order to truly experience the full potential of what Tai Chi has to offer. I am sure that there are deeper elements that include the concept of Yi or intent, the actual flow of Qi and much more that Master Chong has started to introduce to me.
I look forward to my continued journey into Tai Chi under the guidance of Master Chong and training with Shi Jie Jaleen