Chan Seng Chee's newsletter for Sing Ong Tai Chi branches affiliated through him.
This year we had a very good start with many new students joining our classes. The new students are generally very enthusiastic and are making excellent progress. This can be attributed to the much more efficient teaching programme using the standardised syllabus introduced at last years SOTC Instructors Camp. The other is the high morale of the existing students and assistant instructors who are making good progress. The proof of the benefits of training Tai Chi Chuan with our programme is probably the ultimate reason for this growth.
Professor Yek’s visit to Christchurch in March was very warmly received by the South Island students and instructors with many coming from Dunedin and Invercargill. There were some who came from Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei. A number of students were graded in parts of the 42 Step Universal Tai Chi Chuan Form.
In the Level 1 seminar, Professor Yek demonstrated and explained the mechanism of springing action against a push into the stomach in great detail. In the Level 2 seminar the emphasis was on the extremely valuable training to improve the function of our internal organs. In the push hands session, he used the method of training Chinese Caligraphy to compare with the technique of push hands training.
I also taught TCC seminars inWellington in March, Melborne in April, Invercargill and Picton in May. We also had a big seminar at HQ on Queens Birthday weekend on the history of our lineage, correct protocols and the ten classical points of TCC.
In June we had the SOTC Annual Instructors Camp. This year it was held at scenic Snells Beach north of Auckland. There were twenty of us representing Chans Martial Arts at this very special event. All the senior SOTC instructors were there including Master James Lim and his wife Julia from Montreal, Canada. We were very lucky to enjoy the fine weather till its was time to leave. The food was catered by the camp hosts and it was very satisfactory.
Professor Yek talked about the criteria the senior instructors to be used to invite instructors to future camps. The character, correct attitude and ability to work with the organisation as well as serious commitment to training are the most important points.
He talked about our objective to teach the real benefits of TCC so that the students can grow and achieve alot of improvement and how it can only be done by teaching the fundamentals carefully. He said this is the only way the body, mind and health will change with training. With deep understanding of the fundamentals, TCC can then be used as a martial art without substituting applications with forceful techniques. If we only get a bit of the exterior of TCC, we can only teach it for commercial purposes. We do not need the true essence of TCC to be successful commercially. All we need to do is learn and teach a large number of forms quickly to dupe the unsuspecting public.
It is Professor Yek’s heartfelt desire to have a group of people who really understand and practise TCC and pass it on properly. TCC is something that is very very deep and advanced. It is a really wonderful thing. However, if you really wish to have it you have to sacrifice a fair bit of time and concentration. If you do not spend the time on it you will not be able to have it.
The teacher could be very good and able, but the student does not apply himself, or you may have a totally dedicated student but the teacher has nothing of real substance to teach, the student will have nothing as well.
There is an old kung fu adage, “You have to go a thousand miles to find a good teacher, but you have to go ten thousand miles to find a good student.”
His last ancient proverb of advice for the instructors was, “When you get to the treasure mountain, do not come away empty handed.”
He wished that whether we were advanced or elementary we would take something useful away from the camp. The group comprised of practitioners of many levels and the same words could have a wide range of meaning to those at different levels. He said that he used to think when he was training with his old teacher that he knew what the teacher was talking about, but a few years later, he realised how little he knew initially. It is clear that when he was first exposed to the information, he was unable to go deeply into its meaning.
He said alot of people only believe what their eyes can tell them. He said they do not realise that the eyes, like the mind, have many levels of training and development. He asked if we could see how deep he was ‘sinking’ down. What is visible is just the physical movement. It may look just like another person’s stance physically, however, Professor Yek has the ability to witstand and repel a strong push by several people by sinking down with his feet together unlike an apparently idendical stance by someone else. Nevertheless, someone with a high level of training can see the difference in the stances.
Likewise, when he tells students that they are using force, grabbing or blocking in push hands, they often cannot see or feel it. Those at a slightly higher level will be able to see a bit more. It means that there are many levels of sensitivity and understan ding. For those who cannot see or understand, his advice is not to worry about it and just get more practice. Over time they might be able to see and feel it and yet cannot do it any other way. If they continue to practise they will be able to change step by step. Those who are still in denial or complain that it is too difficult will just move around in circles. Whereas those who are the first to realise their problems will be the first to improve.
Successful training is about having the right information and the faith to see it through inspite of the lack of success initially. If the student lacks faith he will start to doubt the validity of the information and speculate on alternative ways which invariably diverge further from the answer. Many of the concepts of TCC are very difficult to accept and understand, such as: “Soft will overcome Hard,” “Slow will overcome Fast.” They defy commonsense and you cannot hope to understand or carry them out successfully in your own way. Just because you cannot see or figure it out, does not mean it does not exist. He said that if you do not have faith, you could say that you are wasting your time.
After that introduction, Professor Yek taught us another way of looking at the Pakua and Five Elements transformations along with much other material. There were alot free inter-action, notes sharing and informal push hands practice during camp. As usual Professor Yek pushed hands with everyone at the end to show us individually how it should be done.
After an event like this I usually find it hard to stop thinking about TCC for weeks. My body is almost involuntarily trying to experiment with or practise the new ideas when ever I think about it. I hope our instructors who attended the camp will be aware of our extremely fortuitous opportunity to be learning such rare information from Professor Yek. It will be a shame to,“Arrive at the treasure mountain and return empty handed.”
May Chi be with you.
S C Chan