I was interested in the martial arts since I was a young boy. I started formal kung fu lessons when I was twelve and after half a year I also began training in taekwondo. My passion for martial arts continued to grow through out my tertiary education, which lead me to teach and share my knowledge. After a few years as a mechanical engineer, I decided to dedicate myself totally to martial arts and make it my professional career. I have met and learnt from many of the best masters from all over the world.
In my martial arts training, I have always tried to attain the highest possible level and have spent a lot of effort researching the various systems of the martial arts.
It was ten years ago in 1994, when I was introduced to Professor Yek Sing Ong. Professor Yek explained to me that the essence of tai chi was about using the mind and not physical strength. He proved to me how he could instantly anticipate, neutralise and trap every move I made, without using any effort whatsoever, unlike anyone else I have ever met.
My previous martial arts skills were quite irrelevant in learning tai chi because the principles of tai chi contradict all other martial arts. Using "soft to overcome hard", "slow to overcome fast" and "small to overcome big" defy all kinds of physical culture and common sense. It is said: "If it is not pointed out, each of the thousands of clever features of tai chi may not be discovered by the student in three life times training." Perhaps the only advantage I had, was the fact that I could follow and believe in the theoretical potential of tai chi before most others when it was explained to me by laoshi.
As a result of many years of hard martial arts training and sparring my body had accumulated numerous injuries. Some of these were from impact with opponents and others from incorrect and excessive exertion in the earlier years of training. My muscles, tendons, bones and joints have their fair share of problems in varying degrees. After a few months of training with laoshi, some of my chronic discomforts disappeared and others gradually diminished. In the last few years I wake up in the morning feeling very little discomfort in any part of my body, as if I am a healthy teenager. I can feel that I am still improving and rejuvenating myself through tai chi. Almost all of my students from all ages have reported similar effects at varying levels.
In the ten years of training with laoshi, I have stopped training in any other martial arts. Nevertheless, I found that I can still perform all my previous techniques with even more skill and efficiency. My improvement in tai chi seems to translate into improvement in my other martial arts. However, I would rather respond with tai chi if I am in a self defence situation as it is much more efficient and elegant.
Laoshi can send a tiny ripple of movement to any part of his body to exert tremendous power in an instant. It is very sudden and small and is therefore very difficult to detect its direction and almost impossible to defend against. If this kind of power is applied to a vulnerable pressure point the outcome can very very grave indeed. This release of energy, called "fa jing", is the way an expert tai chi exponent dispatches his or her opponent. However, laoshi taught us that tai chi training for combat is more like playing a game of chess. Even though a high level of skill can be developed, the students do not risk any injury from training. The method of training push hands ensures that we develop sensitivity and the right formations without force.
I am thankful and privileged to be a student of laoshi as I believe there are very few masters of tai chi in the world of his calibre. Not only are his skills so exceptional, he is so generous in sharing his precious treasure with us. I hope he will live to a ripe old age and continue to teach us for a long long time.