My Taiji Experience
by Khoo Chen Shin
My first foray into taiji was in November 2013. I was looking for an activity to occupy some free time in the weekdays. Why did i pick taiji among so many other courses offered in the CCs and sports complexes?
Having never been an active person nor taken part in any sports before, my thought was taiji would be a good choice as a slow, relaxing and easy activity. How wrong i was in thinking thus. My first lesson in taiji was anything but slow, relaxing and easy.
In his video, Master Chong had termed the warm up exercises as "relaxation exercises". To me, the first few months in class doing the exercises was more excruciating than relaxing. Keeping up with all the exercises was a struggle. It had crossed my mind if i should just quit. My sister who started going for the lessons the same time as i, dropped out after a few months. But with Master Chong's encouragement and seeing my classmates, some more senior in age than me, able to perform, kept me going. For me now, the warm up routine is rejuvenating. It has improved my strength, flexibility and endurance. Master Chong's warm up exercises during the first half of every lesson is a great prelude to the second half of taiji practises.
Having attended weekly taiji lessons at Bedok for two and a half years now, i have managed to learn and memorise the 37 steps of taiji. However, there is still a long way for me to go to fully comprehend the meaning of each step and executing them correctly. I am humbled to have Master Chong's guidance. His in-depth explanation of each move, patience in correcting our mistakes and interesting anecdotes of his past experiences make attending his lessons enriching and fun.
For the past year, my weekly routine has been taiji class followed by yoga the next day. Last month, taiji lesson was cancelled for one week as Master Chong was on a trip to Wudan, China. Without taiji lesson and not practising on my own for that particular week, doing yoga was not the same. I was out of sorts and could not hold my yoga poses for long. It was then that i was aware that taiji has given me benefits which i had not realised. Be it increasing my energy or qi, or enhancing my strength and balance, taiji has indeed improved my wellbeing and physical resilience. This has strengthened my resolve to practise taiji more regularly, and not put to waste Master Chong's efforts in imparting his knowledge and skills to us.
Another benefit of learning taiji is the friendship built among fellow class participants. The many good friends i made while learning taiji together, plus the weekly lunch hangouts after lessons, are part of the motivating factors to continue attending class regularly.