Our targets in 2014,
1) Our students will advance in their Kung Fu and find a place for themselves in the world of Kung Fu.
2) More people can know us, connect to us. We in turn will also reach out to all who supports our cause!
3) Our members can increase in numbers and in morale. Our classes and activities will be more organized.
4) We will participate in many Kung Fu events and cultural events locally and overseas.
5) We will release more videos on our youtube channel, and publish more articles on our blog, relating to Kung Fu techniques and anything relating to a Kung Fu life.
I really hope by December we’d be able to see all of these come into place, with our own hard work and with the help of all our supporters!
Let me state our club’s direction again. We seek to strengthen the morale and physique of the people through the Kung Fu warrior’s mindset. We want to restore the life of Chinese martial arts, make its practitioner base sustainable, preserve the standards of the lineages and keep people’s respect for it healthy. In other words, we are also functioning as a preservation organization, just like WWF for endangered animals and activist movements working towards a clean and green environment.
The previous year 2013 we had plenty of experiences, some pleasant, some not-so-pleasant. With a martial arts school, I had all the equipment and training space to train in. I was almost like a Shaolin monk, I trained every day with nothing to look at and think of except for the training equipment. The punching bags, the wall bags, I pounded on them every day. I had a few weight lifting and circuit workout sessions a week. Within a short time, I became very seasoned and it somehow raised my level as a martial artist. However if you zoom out your perspective, me being very good didn’t make much difference, it didn’t make me happier, it didn’t give me the true sense of achievement of a Kung Fu trainer.
Why is that so? Our place is actually situated in a corner in Yishun, the industrial estate. I’d admit that it’s a wrong move for us. While I was grinding away happily in our school, my students and my potential students were struggling to make their way to our school. For my potential students, Yishun is too far for many and they had to take the bus from the Yishun interchange to come to our school, many them got on the wrong bus and gave up their search for our school in the heartlands. Even for those who drive, the place is nowhere near the SLE exits and they easily lost their way coming to our school.
For my faithful students, they have to face this same problem every time they come to training. Two hurdles, 1) Yishun MRT is far away 2) A’posh is far away from Yishun MRT. It was time consuming; eventually they found it wasn’t worth it. They were really nice and passionate, they gave their all during training and asked me many questions every time. I didn’t feel good to make them travel so far. I had many students, those living in Bedok and Tampines will have to spend more than an hour of bus ride, those in Choa Chu Kang and Clementi areas too. Our martial arts school couldn’t cater to their passion to learn. My aim is simply to make my students become stronger martial artists and better people. I was thinking, hey perhaps even if we opened in Punggol it might be better because there’s the LRT, not so lehchey. There wasn’t much to see in Yishun either.
At the end of 2013, we went back to teaching group lessons in the parks. Some students who lived and worked in Woodlands area left us. Some introverted students who didn’t like training in public also left us. That was really sad, but some students stayed with me and new students started learning. Every time the old goes and the new comes, I had to teach all over again, from the basics. Some newcomers had really poor coordination and body awareness after living a haywire lifestyle, I had to stand in horse stance and show them the moves over and over till these confused people understand. Now I know why those old masters who have taught all their life have such solid horse stance while their friends all lost their lower limbs to osteoporosis and arthritis.
After my little getaway to our neighbor Malaysia, I went back and carried on teaching, group lessons in parks this time. It was relieving as I didn’t have to wait for long hours, I could focus on my quality of teaching. I could also resume writing in my blog after a period of hiatus. I recalled my students who stayed far away from Yishun and some of them joined my lessons again. This year of experience seemed to make me a couple of years older.
Teaching in Singapore is unlike many other countries. In Singapore, the culture is to live life hard and fast. It is a place centered around money, and much of the world’s money circulates here. People stash money here, people like to spend lots of money here too. Singaporean locals take Kung Fu as a playtime activity, just like clubbing, karaoke and golf. Many want it to be fun and easy. They thought Kung Fu is interesting, but didn’t expect it to be challenging at times. Let me re-emphasize this fact: Kung Fu is about challenging yourself. It’s about doing what you can’t already do, what you are not comfortable with doing, and makes you a stronger person in the end.
That is why so many people cannot start to integrate the practice of Kung Fu into their life. They are trying to fit it into the endless cycle of [degree > work > more degree > more work]. For the expatriates, it’s slightly different [work > clubbing > work > clubbing]. So perhaps if you really want to excel in Kung Fu you should start to change your perspective to look beyond the rat race. Due to the education system and social mentality here, people are programmed to go for quick results.
One of the differences between teaching in Singapore and teaching in China is that the practitioners here are multi-racial. I have local Chinese students, mainland Chinese, Indian students, Malay students as well as Caucasian and other non-Chinese students. I have to teach Kung Fu in English(many people take it for granted), while those teachers in mainland China will teach in mandarin or even their native tongue. I even have to teach most of my local Chinese students in English. Perhaps I should start offering Chinese language tuition together with my lessons next time.
Singapore’s a little similar to Hong Kong in terms of economy and pace of life. It is different in that when Westerners learn from a martial arts school in Hong Kong they will learn the language first and will have no complaints about the language barrier. However in Singapore the local martial arts schools are very very commercialized and present a service oriented approach to foreign students. In Singapore Kung Fu is often taught in English as some teachers are bi-lingual. There is not as much as respect for the Kung Fu teacher as the locals has a tendency to treat Westerners as big bosses. Much unlike Hong Kong where the Westerners respect the school and the fact that they are in a Chinese country. Here in Singapore I even had a Western student complain that I didn’t go with his pace, when he joined a group class and is supposed to follow the class. He told me I should never ask him what he does not want to reveal, and that I should always be available to attend to him. He told me to treat him like a ‘customer’. I am quite a perfectionist, so I pondered and pondered if it’s really my fault. But hey, this guy is simply asking for too much, even my private students know their place better.
You can ask any of my students, they’ll tell you I am very attentive and particular to every little detail in every movement they make sometimes they wish I can give them some space to figure things out themselves. Besides my own attention on him my students even helped explain and demonstrate things to him. This man(which I won’t announce his name or nationality) is simply taking the locals’ hospitality for granted. He wants me to treat him like a customer, here I do not teach customers. Customers do not develop good Kung Fu. Disciples do. If you want to learn real Chinese Kung Fu, Chinese or not you better learn some respect first, have some self discipline.
To round it up, the atmosphere here is that education is a service. People are used to lawsuits and complaints for whatever they don’t see fit. Maybe the Westerners introduced our young generation to it but some locals tend to take consumerism one step ahead of the West. They should not see learning Kung Fu as a service, it’s insulting. We Kung Fu instructors are not service personnel out to serve the customers. Learning Kung Fu is a responsibility and discipline you bear on yourself, not luxury knowledge spoon-fed to you by your Sifu.
Let’s not dwell on it. After learning from my experiences I reinforced my stand that students must know the martial ethics as a beginner.
We will make some improvements in 2014, such as revising the training locations. We will find the most conducive training locations to make it comfortable and assessable to students island wide.
I am driving my Hung Gar Kung Fu students to finish learning the entry-level minor forms as well as learning and understanding all the individual techniques. This is because they are going to start doing Gung Ji Fuk Fu, our ultimate strength development form. Doing it hundreds of times will drill them into truly mighty Hung Gar warriors.
Our Shaolin guys are also working on the fist forms and techniques. They will move into Southern Shaolin, conditioning and weapons from there. Possibly by end of the year we will be ready to deliver exciting performances and demonstrations. The rate we are going is smooth and strong. I can already see the Kung Fu practices changing the lives of many students who were once sickly and hardly athletic.
We are also considering making a uniform for every member of our community. It will be comfortable and also serves to give our students an identity. For members who are really interested we will also make ceremonial dress for events. I will set aside a list of dates for our own festivals which we commemorate our forefathers such as Wong Fei Hung, and major historical events in China.
We are planning more R & R trips and events for 2014! I believe some of you have seen our BBQ picnic pictures. We couldn’t do much during the rainy season though. When the skies clear up again we will be planning trips to Malaysia. We are also thinking of holding summer camps during the June and August holidays.
My admin helpers and I are coming up with eBooks for download and notes which serves as study aid for all our students. We will make teaching and learning more systematic and effective. We are also sending students for competitions and courses to increase their achievements and certifications. I foresee that our systematic teaching will make us a Kung Fu university.
In 2014, our group is inclined to take up collaborations with both corporate and government run organizations. We look forward to giving informative talks to the public as well as unique performances. Like I’ve said, we are a culture preservation group, we will make our stand in preserving endangered Kung Fu culture in our heritage. If you have an interest in working with us, please give me a call or an email, I’ll be glad to discuss.
Lastly, to all the martial arts geeks out there, I will definitely be making more videos, and with more variety to them so please stay tuned. Our Kung Fu knowledge is really precious, more of the public must know about its goodness. I’ve been hearing many thumbs up and support from the anonymous all over the world, keep them coming. Let me say again, I can’t achieve any greatness just on my own, any achievement have to be a collaborative effort of connected passionate hearts. If you have suggestions and requests simply feedback to my email which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be putting up more articles about health, martial arts ethics, various styles of Kung Fu and voice out the heart of the Kung Fu man. For those who want to learn Kung Fu, I will make it more clear and detailed what syllabus to expect when you begin learning with us. If you still have any queries or doubts, please send me an enquiry over email. If you haven’t known yet, I am available on facebook, whatsapp and wechat too.
Chinese New Year is round the corner, I hereby wishes all of you prosperity, good health and happiness in the year ahead..