My Taijiquan journey comes to the fifth year
by Patrick Tan
My Taichi quan learning journey with RCTTC Training Centre comes to the fifth year. In my humble opinion, RCTTC Shifu Master Rennie Chong and ShiJie Jaleen Ho, needless to say their enthusiasm and heart in imparting their skills and knowledge, adopted effective teaching methods by combining traditional training methods with modern scientific explanation and customized fine tuning for individual students. This combination, slowly but surely, lead us gradually towards improving our mental and physical wellness.
The following are some highlights of my understanding of RCTTC Taichi quan training:
1. Focus on foundation building Shijie Jaleen has rightfully pointed out the saying that the level of foundation determines the level of your achievement in Taichi quan. The training lesson always starts with strenuous ('Xiong' in Hokkien) foundation building exercises for at least 40 minutes. The key aim is towards building a 'Song'(shock-absorbing & spongy) and stable structure in your body.
2. Systematic and scientific training Shifu has said before, teaching of forms is easy in comparison to correction of forms, which is much harder; it is due to old habits die hard. Therefore, Shifu and Shijie would use scientific explanation (anatomy and human mechanics) so that students can easily understand the right posture and movement of one form before going into another, therefore, it takes time for a student to understand and internalize. I have seen students having the aim to quickly complete the forms quit eventually due to seemingly slow progress in their opinion, but, I think they have missed the points of practicing Taichi quan, i.e., the devil is in the details.
3. Personalized fine tuning Practicing Taichi quan is an endless process towards perfection. Shifu and Shijie painstakingly correct and tune every student's posture in the forms during the form lessons. The correction is customized and fit the student's level of practice and normally when your posture was corrected and body is 'Song', lower limbs and Kua would take the full weight of your body and it is extremely demanding on your core leg muscles.
4. Traditional wisdom The reasons being, current science can only explain that much. There are many Taichi quan theories that cannot be explained with modern science. However, once you do it correctly, you can always feel it, so, it is scientific as well. E.g. The explanation of qi flow and meridian points, which are beyond modern science, is important to further the students' understanding of Taichi quan theories and practice.
5. Practicality Shifu does not advocate over-reading into theories of Taichi quan, i.e, splitting hairs endlessly, without practicality. I totally agree. I once read a piece of meteorological comics in newspaper about a weather forecaster analyzing graphs and charts at a computer and the next comics strip showed him looking out to the sky to verify his findings before finalizing his forecast. In view that those theories of Taichi quan are rooted from Yi Jing (Theory of ever changes), they can be abstract to beginners. Before the students has acquired some basic foundation, it is pointless to overload them with theories that they cannot appreciate as it will create confusion and do more harm if they interpreted them wrongly and go into the wrong path. In conclusion, I believe RCTTC is for serious learners of Taichi quan and how much you can learn is depending on how much effort you put in in practicing the art as Shifu and Shijie will know your level and help you to go further when you are ready.