Learning from a teacher of great understanding
by Bernard Sew
In every major discipline of learning, it's always important to seek for a quality mentor and/or master. This is especially so in acquiring the supreme art of Taijiquan. In every major writings about Taijiquan, the saliency of following and learning from a teacher of great understanding (i.e. 明师; master with great understanding of the art) became a cornerstone to success. I've been blessed with the great fortune to have met mine in Master Rennie Chong. Moreover, to have the greatest honour to be received and accepted by him as his disciple on 6 October 2017.
In my journey of learning Taijiquan, I've been fortunate to have a taste of this supreme art when I'm still a boy; accompanying my father to learn Taijiquan. And just like most children, my practice stopped when my father did. However, the invaluable experience planted a seed of great interest in Taijiquan and, also martial arts in general. Before making a full circle back to practise Taijiquan, I've also tried a number of other martial arts like Karate, Aikido and Fengyangquan (凤阳拳) Finally, five years ago, after watching the movie Taiji-O, I was inspired by it and began my journey back to Taijiquan.
Before meeting my Shifu, Master Rennie Chong, I've tried the Chen style and Yang style with other teachers, for about a year. Although I was badly injured once, my hunger for the art grew as I embarked on my journey back to Taijiquan. I was extremely fortunate to have chance upon Shifu when I was seeking more training. The other teachers could not accommodate my timing and request, so I've to search through the internet for other avenues of training.
In retrospect, it might be my deep, immerse and sincere intent (意) that had led me to meet Shifu. It was during my first training with him that I was already convinced that he is the master that I had always been seeking for. During my first lessons, I vividly remember that he carefully explained to me the meaning of Taijiquan and guided me intently on how wide my foot should be opened and how it should be done. His careful explanation and great guidance led me to experience Taijiquan in depth, even its my first lesson.
Since then, under his careful and strict, training and guidance my health has improved tremendously. Shifu shared his knowledge generously and appropriately to my level of development. He also allowed me to experiment with my understanding of the art form and will refine and challenge me whenever he sees right. I deeply believe that the power of Taijiquan is shown through its actuality i.e. the improvement of your bodily health, mental capacity and character. Shifu has guided me to experience and taste the power of this supreme art. Although I have only practice for a few years with him, under his quality guidance and excellent training system, I am already begin to experience the actuality of the supreme art as espoused in major theories of Taijiquan. As I glide along the road to learning and understand Taijiquan, I yearn for more and humbly accept that the art form is indeed profound and deep. I owe so much gratitude to my mentor, my Master and my Shifu in guiding and supporting me to opening my door into this supreme martial art form.
Moreover, the community of practitioners and my fraternal brothers and sister in RCTTC (Rennie Chong Taijiquan Training Center) are fantastic. They are very encouraging and a fun bunch to be learn with. Shijie Jaleen will always provide great guidance and support for my training. She is like a great elder sister that will always be there whenever we need advice and support in our learning. She will teach me patiently and relentlessly, sharing whatever she knows with me. Shijie Jaslyn and Shixiong Jaws was always gracious, generous and patient in teaching me the form. And many others that have made my experience in learning wonderful and pleasant.