The greatest thing you can do in a dojo, any dojo, is to observe, observe and observe.
It is not just observing the sensei, which is the obvious thing to do, we, as students have to observe one another, and if your dojo happens to have a full length, and breath worth of mirrors, good for you. But you cannot be looking at the mirror, while you do your waza, right?
So the next best thing is to observe each other, other than the sensei.
There are many good and not so good things we can learn from observing one another. After all, we are all humans and are endowed with the same bunch of tools, hands, legs, hips, spine and all, so geometrically most of us move in the same way, most of us do irimi nage the same way, and if we observe carefully, we will notice we all makes the same mistakes, the same way.
Same same but different
Well, other than observing the similarities, right and wrong way of doing things, we have to look out for some of the different ways we do things. Some of us while trying to follow sensei faithfully, but we always have our own interpretation of what we see and our actions is never 100% accurate. We are not machines.
So we need to see with our own eyes, how our training partners move, and why they move the way they move.
Recently, I’ve been kind of obsessed with observing my fellow Aikidokas in the dojo, I will stare and stare at how my partners move, and try to understand their physical interpretation of sensei’s techniques.
I want to observe until the observer melts away and while that is not always successful as there is a critical part of me remains while I looked at my partner’s techniques. Why is he/she moving like that? And why is he not able to see his own mistakes? Why is his/her circle smaller than necessary, so much so the uke can stop him/her?
Call it nit-picking but that is what we need to do for each other when we are on the mat. We have to help each other be our own worst or best critic, depends on how you look at it, and in doing so, helps us correct what we cannot see.
It is also perhaps my own personal way of getting back to basics. Remember when we were all white belts and coming to the dojo is a matter of monkey see, monkey do? We as beginners, will not be able to understand the intricate whys, hows, or the rights and the wrongs.
By observing intensely how my fellow Aikidokas work, I am trying to deplete myself of the self, and understand Aikido at a fundamental level. While we all want to critic, and point out what is wrong with who’s technique, it really takes an open mind and heart to drop all that opinion and just observe.
Sometimes I succeed in that, often I don’t. It’s a habit of mind, to make distinction so as to justify our ‘self’. It is a wonderful feeling in those rare times where my monkey mind can silence itself and just move with what I’ve observed.
Aikido in Singapore has evolved since the first day I joined more than 20 years ago.
For the most part, it has made the Aikido ecosystem very vibrant and multi-faceted. As there is no one fixed way to climb the Aikido mountain, these schools gives Aikido students a plethora of ways to experience the art and find the teacher that most suit their personality and timing.
The list is in no way exhaustive as there are Aikidokas giving lessons on a free-lance basis. These listed organisations has their own stable dojo, training facilities and followed a structured martial arts curriculum.
Disclaimer: These information was complied off a Google, a public domain; based on the information on the school’s respective website. Please inform me of any errors and clarifications, and I’ll correct them soonest.
I promised you guys a visit to the fabled SuperPark since late last year when it first opened November 2018, so we decided to visit it for the March holidays.
First of all, the park has an EXPANSIVE array of activities all in one roof, which is great because we can get to try out many types of sports, all in air-con comforts. And this come at an EXPENSIVE price tag.
As we could only make it on a Sunday afternoon about 1-nish, we were deciding on the Middle Session which was priced at S$40 or should we go for a S$48 still, despite of only being able to enjoy the later half of the day. Your mother, the better economist, argued that the One Day Ticket is still a better deal, because if we were to purchase the Middle Session Tickets; we have to exit the park by 5.30pm , and for another S$8 more, we can use all the way to 9pm, park closure.
That comes up to $195 in total for the 4 of us, inclusive of a Grip socks for Wayne.
Yeah talking about the Grip Socks, Super Park only allows a specific type of grip socks.
This one Can
This one Cannot
Both Grip sock was from a Tramopline park we went to before and we got these socks, Wayne’s sock was the one on the left, and this wasn’t allowed, perhaps the grip surface wasn’t big enough. So we have to get one pair for Wayne, that’s S$3.
Then off we go!
We were thankful for your mum’s foresight. We played from 2pm all the way to closure, and it was worth the S$48, in a specific way, as we really make sure we played all the stuff within Superpark. And there was more than enough time for us to go through everything twice or 3 times over.
And the spoiler alert was for us One Day Ticket folks, we get to enjoy a lull, between 5pm to 6pm, as there was a ‘shift change’ for those Middle Session Tickets players leaving at 5.30pm, and those After 6pm crowds coming in only at 6pm.
So if you pay a One Day Ticket and goes in the morning when the park opens at 9am, you’ll enjoy 2 lull time one when the Morning Mayhem crowd leaves at 1pm and the Middle Session Tickets crowds comes in at 1.30pm, and the afternoon lull.
Making a fool of ourselves
Personally I enjoyed SuperPark, as it was a place for me to make a fool of myself, without being self-critical or self-judgmental. I confessed I’m not a good ball guy, but I played basketball, soccer and ‘dodgeball’ just for the sake of having fun. Oh, not forgetting baseball and I managed to hit 2 out of 5 balls.
It’s basically a big activity buffet place. There is a skate park where you boys tried skateboarding ( you boys didn’t liked it) then there was skate scootering, which was good fun. You can also try rock wall climbing just round the corner, after you are bored being a skater, and then you can head off to play the slides!
So technically you can have never-ending fun, running crazy all over the place, from balls to carts to slides to more balls, trampolines, rock walls, and more balls.
With activities like these, there is bound to be injuries, as one girl had her nose broken when a baseball hit her. Thankfully nothing major of that sorts happened, but Wayne was hit by the ball a few times on the lips, and it caused some slight bleeding. I was hit in the face by a ball, and thankfully my glasses didn’t break.
But what the heck, if you want to play sports, injuries are bound to happen, just hope it wasn’t a serious one.
Little or no wait
One thing they did right was to time the activities, and most activities have a one-minute timer which the anyone playing must exit when time is up. There was a few times some folks playing ahead of us didn’t activate the timer, and continued to play (of course the system isn’t counting the points, since the timer didn’t start.) but people are usually civil and they realised that and promptly exited after their pressed the timer, and played till their time is up.
The long wait
The long wait was for the rock wall, at the Super-Climb, this one no choice as it is really up to the climber’s finesse and climbing skills. The walls are relatively easy to climb, but it still takes different people different amount of time to climb it.
Besides, the safety aspect of it cannot be speed up; everyone has to be harnessed well and hooked up properly.
Overall verdict is…Been there, done that.
Your mum and I thought through the whole thing and it was a park that we came, saw, did, and we can move on. While the park was a good mix of activities, each of these individual activities alone isn’t novel to us. We have been to a trampoline park, we have climbed rock walls before, skate scooted, played soccer (downstairs, on the field), basketball at our HDB court. Baseball? Well, yeah, hadn’t done that before. Go-cart? Not really a novelty, since the circuit was a tad too small.
But I can understand where the Finns’ argument for such a park. I guess it is cold most of the days there in Finland, and there are times it’s too cold to play basketball outside, heck it’s too cold to play anything, so you need an indoor park like such to have everything under one roof.
Here in sunny Singapore, we don’t face such cold weather, and whenever we want it, we can take our basketballs out, play to our heart’s content, changed to roller-blades and go skate till the cow come home. If there’s a sport we would like to try out, we can always go to shop at Decathlon for these games and their products are cheap and good.
Call me a stingy Singaporean, pinching every penny, I had to agree with your mum’s
Cost Benefit Analysis, comparing a SuperPark day with an Adventure Cove day, with an adult tickets costing S$38 and kiddo price at S$30, the latter would have been a better day spent. We would get the sun, sand and sea, as well as the thrills and spills too.
Two days back, there’s the annual Inter-University Aikido training at NUS and you will get to train with a lot of new folks from other universities, as well as bumping up with a lot of old pals, chronologically these pals are still significantly younger than me, so the ‘old’ in the pals here, refers to them as familiar faces from other university dojo.
For an Ikkyo-omote waza, I paired up with this petite girl from Singapore Management University. Harry sensei was showing a kind of a leading hand technique which will be quite technically difficult if there is no blending.
With this girl, there is no blending.
She was asking me if she was doing it correctly, and I replied. ‘Wait, there’s a problem I need to sort out.’
One of us is too hard and one of us has to soften.
No prize for getting the right answer.
Anyway it is not a matter of ‘seniority’ or ‘superior’ skills. She’s quite hard, and there’s no way that I can make her follow my leading hand, it’s a slippery fish analogy, the hard I try, the worse it becomes and eventually, both of us will walk away unable to execute the technique nicely.
So I soften, and try to blend; it was still awkward for a few cycles, then I caught her vibe and rhythm, and the technique begins to work. As a nage, she was quite hard and linear which is not what Harry sensei wanted us to do, nonetheless, I followed and let her leading hand, lead.
When it was her turn to be uke, she couldn’t follow, too hard.
So I soften some more and things begin to work, I could lead and she could follow.
And eventually we managed to get along with the technique, and enjoyed the session.
It was a problem
After class she came to me and we chatted a bit, and I found out her name was ‘Shuling’, so I asked her if she’d figured out the problem, she admitted that she’s too hard.
To make a fair argument, that’s life. She is not ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ being hard, neither am I the ‘better’ one being soft, I just want the technique to work, and the technique not working is a problem I need to fix with her. It is not a competition to see who is better than who. Which is why there is no element of competition in Aikido. We want to work with people, and make the situation work, so in order to work with people and get the best out of a situation, we open up, soften our stances and try to understand the other party, and help the other party open up as well.
We try to understand how our partner works, and help them help us. In a myopic spirit of competitiveness, we try to understand our partners, so that we can exploit them, and their weakness, so that we can win, the competition, the medal, the glory. What and who did we end up destroying, for us to become a champion?
Every time we partner someone, we have to calibrate our synchronicity, no two person is the same at any given time. Every touch point is unique and very much one in a gazillion event of a lifetime. It is a very precious connection and it is also a problem, because even with familiarity, it doesn’t always works. Even those Aikido friends’ I’ve been training with for years, I mentally prepare to meet them for the first time, every time. That’s beginner’s mind for me.
We can never fully understand our partner. In an Aikido context, how Shuling worked is only one part of the equation. Of course, I being more senior to her allows me the luxury of choice; to slow things down, soften and go along for the ride. I could have bumped into a chap more senior than me who is oblivious to how skillful he or she is, in that aspect, I as the uke/nage, too have to blend, in a soft way in a hard way, depends on the partner you got.
So we have to solve that working problem, and the technique can be the killer breaking up the work, or the technique can be one that brings two differing people together. One has to back down so that another one can step up, and once that person has stepped up, he or she can help the other one who backed down in the first place. So this is Aikido in a back and forth movement, nobody wins, but everyone one wins big. If you compete, there can be one winner, with a bigger problem. Isn’t it a better idea if everyone comes together, forget about the competition, solve the problem and win bigger?
You can’t choose your partner
Well, actually you can, but you have to wait your turn. I told Shuling that the dojo mimics life. How many of us has friends who became not friends, and our ‘enemies’ coming to our aid? Sometimes, as much as we mentally choose our partner, it is also a kind of cosmic fate that chooses our partner for us, and who we end up with is who we need to blend with, hard or soft, it all boils down to how hard and how much you treasure that brief fart of a connection you have with your training partner.
It might not be much, but that’s all we’ve got to give.
I didn’t get your mum a diamond ring for our wedding. She didn’t wanted one as well.
We’re not big fan of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson; yes, but not the Diamond. We are not fans of buying diamonds.
Phew! That is a relief for me, since I was going to make your mum my wife, had she asked for one, it’d been a bummer for me.
Anyway, diamonds are overrated. Seriously.
Personally to me, I’d rather keep gold than diamond, as diamonds is basically like most of the material items are value added by humans via marketing and salesmanship. And the market is very much monopolized by one company De Beers, who is one of the market leaders in the Diamond trade, and in the 1950s, they came up with a creative campaign which helps propelled this rock into mainstream consumer demands. Now most men can’t get married unless they have one of these rock on a ring to be able to confidently propose to a girl of his dream (nightmare). Putting much grief in a man’s pocket, and much joy on a woman’s face.
All that glitter isn’t gold
Well, let’s be frank, there are crystals and there are diamonds, both glitters, perhaps one better than the other. There are also glass cuts shaped to look like diamonds, and if you drop both on the ground, will you be able to tell one from the other?
There’s so many times I find one of these glass looking diamond cuts and I wondered if they are the real thing or not. To a layperson, it is really difficult to tell one from the other.
Basically this is a marketing campaign by Frances Gerety, a copywriter who came out with this 3-worded phrase that has endeared long after she has died.
It is a catchy phrase that let’s people think that in a tumultuous and uncertain world, having a diamond to seal the union of a couple, would helps provide some longevity in the relationship. Let’s get real, it doesn’t.
It is the magic of marketing that let’s us think narrowly, and spend stupidly. While there is some truth as to diamonds being forever, relationships certainly doesn’t. And certainly diamonds have no power whatsoever as a good luck charm or romantic talismans that glue a marriage together. It is all about hard work and the willingness of a couple to work with each other to make the union work, and stay together, till death.
(Blood) Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
While I knew long before I watch Leonardo DiCaprio‘s 2006 thriller Blood Diamond, which basically tells a story about the suffering and pain brought about by our demands for this glittery stones.
While the story was fictitious, the background of the story is real. The demand for diamonds is fueling conflicts in Africa. People are going to war and killing each other for diamonds, and these diamonds sometimes makes it to the consumer markets. so much so that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was implemented in 2003 to ensure that diamonds brought to the market are not harvested through illegal means, or gotten through conflict, fighting and other less than humane means.
The bottom line is, there is a lot of people hurt or being made used of just to bring this piece of rock into the market for a man to make a woman happy. All thanks to Hollywood for the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend“, the rock is certainly a man’s pocket’s worst enemy!
I bought 2 cartons of Soya Bean milk back one day and you handled the groceries for me, and I realised later in the day, that there only 1 of the 2 carton is in the fridge. To my suprise, you put the unopened carton with the milk carton at the shelf, which is not in the fridge, obviously.
There’s an opportunity for a life lesson.
You came over and explained to me that all cartons are to be place on the kitchen shelf, together with the milk.
Then I showed you the difference.
The soya bean milk is pasteurised, which means it was not treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) like the Milk carton on the right. Pasteurised products need refrigeration constantly and has to be treated differently from the UHT Milk, which can be kept in room temperature, and only needs refrigeration after opening.
It’s not your fault you didn’t know, but had you paid closer attention, you would have noticed the soya bean carton was kept at the refrigerated area at the supermarket, and the UHT milk isn’t.
Anyway, the life lesson is that you really cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge the carton all the same. The cartons might look the same, but the produce inside is different and has to be treated differently. You need to read and understand the content and of course know where it came from and give it a different treatment.
This is of course the same for people, never assume that when people came from the same place, country, religion, race and/or education, they are the same. Always read the ‘labels’, understand where they are from, and treat them the way they need to be treated. Of course, if people are so easy to read like they have instructions printed and labelled, the the world will be a much better place.
I hope by the time you boys grow up, you can learn a thing or two about speaking in hokkien. It is a dialect from China and the way Singaporeans says it is so different from the way Taiwanese says it.
To start off, let’s look at some simple three worded Hokkien (TWH).
Ang Moh Lang
Chinese simplified: 红毛人 ( hóng máo rén)
Caucasian, or loosely speaking, in colloquial sense, ‘red hair people’, when the Chinese first bumped into Caucasian, with their red hair, the term got stuck. The more common form will drop the ‘Lang’ and simply regard Caucasians as ‘ang mohs’
Boh Kiam Lui
Chinese simplified: 不欠钱 (Bù qiàn qián)
It means, doesn’t owe money
Boh Lui Lang
Chinese simplified: 没钱人 (méi qián rén)
Char Bor Lang
Chinese simplified: 女人 ( nǚ rén)
Woman. in some context, it can means The Wife
Huan Kiah Lang
Chinese simplified: 马来人 ( mǎ lái rén)
Malays. In the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ the American General mispronounced them as ‘May Lay’
Inn Dor Lang
Chinese simplified: 印度人 ( yìn duó rén)
Indian, more specifically, people from the country of India
Jiak Liao Bee
Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent
It usually means that person is good for nothing. loosely means ‘eating wasted rice’. We all eat to do something, so the rice will not be waste when eaten
Jing Kek Sim
Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent
It is a ‘heart pain’ feeling. Like when you see your favourite team losing very badly, you feel that desolation. It is a feeling only express in Hokkien. ‘Kek Sim!’
Jiak Jiu Jwee
Chinese simplified: 喝醉酒 ( hē zuì jiǔ)
Drunk. ‘Jiak’ usually means ‘to eat’ but sometimes when you are that drunk, you wouldn’t know if you are drinking or eating your beer! ‘Lim’ should be the correct hokkien verb for ‘drink’
Keeh Si Lah
Chinese simplified: 去死拉 ( qù sǐ lā)
Go and die!
Kuah Si Mee
Chinese simplified: 看什么 ( kàn shén me)
Again, this is under a more provocative tone. An English equivalent will be ‘See what see?!’ It is usually used in a staring incident and a challenge of a stare-down
Luan Gong Way
Chinese simplified: 乱讲话 (luàn jiǎng huà)
It usually means that the person is talking nonsense, or trash
Mai Tu Liao
Chinese simplified 别耽误/不要等 (bié dān wù/ bù yào děng)
Do not delay/wait. It usually implies a sense of urgency, after a period of impatience
Mai Luan Gong
Chinese simplified: 别乱讲 ( bié luàn jiǎng )
Do not talk rubbish, or in Singlish term, ‘Don’t talk cock.’
Pui Chao Nuah
Chinese simplified: 吐口水 ( tǔ kǒu shuǐ)
Spit. This is done with a feeling of disdain, or disgust
See Beh Song
Chinese simplified: 非常爽 ( fēi cháng shuǎng)
Usually, it is crudely used to imply a very good sensation and feeling. Say after a hard day’s work, to kick back and enjoy an ice cool beer. ‘See Beh Song Ah!’
See Mee Sai
Chinese simplified: No Chinese Equivalent
It usually means crudely, ‘What the hell do you want?’ Or you can reply in annoyance “See Mee Sai???’ meaning, ‘What?! What?!’
Ta Bor Lang
Chinese simplified: 男人 ( nán rén)
Male, Man. in some context, it can means The Husband
Tiah Tian Way/ Gong Tian Way
Chinese simplified: 听电话/讲电话 (tīng diàn huà/ jiǎng diàn huà)
Answering or talking on the phone. Loosely speaking it means ‘listen to the phone’ Contextually, it means pick up the phone!
Tio Beh Pio
Chinese simplified: 中马票 ( zhòng mǎ piào )
Tau Kar Chiu
Chinese simplified: 装手脚 (zhuāng shǒu jiǎo)
Being helpful, offering assistance to your fellow human beings in fixing things and solving problems
Uu Lui Lang
Chinese simplified: 有钱人 ( yǒu qián rén)