Our Tai Chi Learning Journey with Master Chong
by Lim Lok Chiang
Meeting Master Rennie Chong in 2011 was a first for me but a sort of reunion for my wife. My wife first started to learn Tai Chi from Master Chong way back in the1980’s. She was in the university and Master Chong was holding Tai Chi classes for the students. My wife stopped her Tai Chi lessons after graduation. However, since I met her, she would never fail to let me know how she had enjoyed Tai Chi and that she yearned to be able to continue where she had left off.
As fate would have it, my wife was “reunited” with Master Chong in 2011 after a search on the Internet. As she was very keen to resume her Tai Chi lessons with Master Chong, it got me thinking if I should join her, more to express my support for her to do something to get herself fit and healthy!
I have always looked at Tai Chi as a slow paced yet graceful form of health preserving exercise. Hence, when the opportunity came for me to join my wife in signing up for Tai Chi lessons under Master Chong, I thought it will benefit me in regulating my pace of life, even if it was for only two hours a week. My wife and I thought we could handle it quite easily. But little did we know!
My wife nearly blacked out during her first lesson. I joined her class two weeks later and “suffered” more than her on my first lesson. Slow paced and graceful, Tai Chi may appear to the uninitiated, but the pre-routine exercises were physically demanding and we were in less than ideal physical condition then. Both of us so lacked the “chi” that continued Tai Chi practice will help develop.
Indeed, after two years of learning from Master Chong and his able student, our Senior, Ms. Jaleen, it soon became evident that it is not how fast one can complete all the 37 movements. For both of us, it is more about building and establishing a firm foundation first and foremost. Though we may now have completed the 37 movements, we are only beginning to understand a little more of each of these movements.
Both of us agree we may never master all the 37 movements in our lifetime, but with each new session with Master Chong, he has provided us with a window to better understand the virtue and intrinsic value of each of these movements. The art of Tai Chi appears graceful extrinsically, but beneath its fluid movement there lies many intrinsic co-ordinations that are required of the mind and body for effective execution.
We admit the above is a challenge. But it makes learning and practicing Tai Chi ever more meaningful for the two of us. The awareness of the importance of fundamentals and foundation has helped us gain more insight into the practice of Tai Chi. It has also had an intrinsic influence on how we approach our work and lifestyle. For both of us who are in our 50’s, this is frankly quite profound. We never thought there would be anything that could still have such an influence on us at this stage of our life cycle. We both believe our Tai Chi learning experience has only just started and will only grow deeper over time with regular practice.
We are both truly grateful to Master Chong and his team of Seniors for imparting the knowledge and techniques to help us in our understanding of Tai Chi. We have been in awe of his wealth of experience and knowledge and inspired by not only his willingness but zeal to share with all who are willing and ready to learn.
Our best wishes and congratulations to Master Rennie Chong on this very auspicious occasion.
Your humble students,
Isabel Foo and Lim Lok Chiang