Think Differently

We must constantly look at things in a different way……. Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way.

John Keating (as played by Robin Williams)

I was reminded of this today when I read page 397 in the chapter Think Different in Luke Dormenhl’s The Apple Revolution. Below is the classic scene from the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams’ character uttered the above lines.


Do you know why so many Tai Chi players even masters don’t really understand the use of intention even as they speak eloquently on the subject? Its because for most of them it is something they tried to figure out for themselves. This of course begs the question – how do you know that you are on the right track if you have no one to verify your mastery.

Some people are convincing talkers yet others convincing writers. However, the use of intention and how to know you are on the right track is not information that you can easily find. So because of that those who are convincing can pass themselves off as knowing about the topic. For those who know that these convincing folks are not for real they would refrain from exposing them because to do so would be to let the cat out of the bag and inadvertently help the pretenders to pass off even better the next time around.

If you ask me even if you let the cat out of the bag a subject as intricate as how to use intention is not easy to digest much less pick up. This is why we should not fear writing about it if only to educate those who really want to know.

For those who don’t want to know and prefer to be beholden to their cults there is not much you can do and you should not waste your time trying to convince them. Now and then I get students who keep doing the form the way they were previously taught. I would ask why do you do it this way?

The predictable answer is almost, always this is how I was taught. I would say let’s test it. Here, let’s do a power issuing test first. I would get into an awkward position, invite the student to fajing and the student would fail to do it.

OK, let’s try a second test. Try to apply the technique and see if I can get out of it. That’s when they find that not only is the technique they had previously learned not secure but it would expose them to counters.

At this point I would normally not go further unless the student also know push hands. Then we would test to if he can apply the technique at anytime during the pushing process. The first sub-test is to let him try it without me trying to counter. The second sub-test I would inject in an attempt to prevent his technique from working. The final test calls for me to not only defend but also counterattack.

So you would think that after seeing how their previous method has failed they would change. But they won’t. As they say old habits die habit and within a minute its back to old habits. This is why if you go into learning any proper method of Tai Chi thinking that you can bring what you previously had learned over, don’t. Many times this will obstruct you from learning. You have to stop your one way thinking and be prepared to think differently even as you thought you already know the subject. Then perhaps you will really begin to Master Tai Chi Today.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style (TaijiKinesis) lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today

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