Beautiful art of Taiji Quan
by Francis Tay
I absolutely love the beautiful art of Taiji Quan, which is my surely my ultimate passion. It has brought such a fulfilling sense of meaningful enjoyment into my life. I have an incredible honour of being under the amazing guidance of a truly respectable Shi-fu Rennie Chong, along with the blessing of being in an awesome group of fellow Taiji buddies.
Back in my early teenage years, I had briefly performed the external martial arts termed as 'Shaolin Ngoh Mei'. I subsequently formed the childish impression that Taiji was only practised by the slow-moving older generation of senior citizens and was even foolish enough to belittle it. It appeared to be nothing more than a slow dance routine in my bias opinion. I arrogantly assumed then that those weak Taiji practitioners were incapable of countering a strong blow of attack from me!
Following my semi-retirement a couple of years ago, I gradually felt that I was advanced in my ripening age to give Taiji Quan a shot. This fantastic form of martial art totally proved my initial negative mindset to be completely wrong! The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Quan can be translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. The notion of 'supreme ultimate' is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. 'Force' (or, more literally, 'fist') can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ying-yang, or 'supreme-ultimate' discipline. Taiji is practised as a graceful form and involved a series of movements performed in slow, focused manner and is simultaneously accompanied by one's deep breathing. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that one's body is in constant fluid motion. Taiji nonetheless has many different styles whereby each may have its own subtle emphasis on various principles and methods. There are also variations within each style. Some may place the focus on health maintenance, while others do so on the martial art aspects of it. Taiji are currently being widely studied. The art has been associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and enhanced mood, in both healthy people and those with chronic conditions.
It is definitely not as easy and relaxing as I had originally thought of it to be. There is a limitless amount of knowledge and skills to learn as well as absorb with required focus, to the point that I actually wish I have immersed myself in Taiji at an earlier stage!
I have personally started off with 'Chen Style Taiji Quan' in 2010. After several years of arduous training and diligence, I was gravely disappointedly upon realising that I failed to relax my body sufficiently to obtain the internal sense of the 'Qi'. To my utmost gratitude, I gained tremendous self-improvement after eighteen months of patient guidance from Shi-fu Rennie Chong with the kind help of Shi-jie Jaleen and Shi-xiong Alvin. The path and journey was less than a smooth ride but it was extremely fruitful and eventful. The beneficial experience has slowly enhanced my understanding towards Taiji, towards an increasingly deeper level of clarity as it motivates my sincere appreciation for its historical culture.
Through my Shi-fu's keen teachings, I have learned in depth that the real acquisition of this art is not merely through the external forms but by additionally mastering its principles and philosophies. Shi-fu is such a sincere and caring mentor who cares much for all his students. Without any doubt, an earnest student who is willing to learn from him with a non-prejudiced mind will progress very far under Shi-fu's teachings should he or she invest the necessary effort that must be genuine instead of a half-baked attempt.
Mastering Taiji Quan is, needless to say, not a piece of cake. It seeks its practitioner's lifetime commitment for the learning journey is endless. One's quality of skill will only be promoted through the merits of hardwork which shall be applied with intelligence and consistent practice. I am absolutely prepared to continue my Taiji journey with Shi-fu in my striving quest for better skills.
With utmost appreciation, I wish to sincerely thank Shi-fu and all the helpful instructors who have graciously shared their passion and knowledge with me. I am simply anticipating the long journey ahead in their delightful companionship with much enthusiasm!