The Aikido Network- Our Gi

The next time you go to class, bring this to your awareness.

The next time you wear your Gi, think of;

the person who grew the cotton plants for the cloth;

person who harvested the cotton;

person who carried the cotton to the truck;

person who drove the truck transporting the cotton;

person to filled the truck with fuel to transport the cotton;

person who unloading the cotton;

person supervising unloading the cotton;

person who owns the factory that turn the cotton into your Gi;

person who stitch your Gi;

person who check for defects on your Gi;

Think of the person packing your Gi into plastic bags;

Think of the person who stored the plastic bags for your Gi;

person who make sure that your Gi reaches your martial arts shop;

person who opened the martial arts shop;

Think of the person who man the cashier and gave you your GI in exchange for a wad of cash;

person who designed the cash register to hold the cash you exchanged for your Gi;

person who is interested in robbing the cash register of the cash;

person who made the Law to protect us from robbery and thefts;

person being accused of robbery and theft;

Well, I can go on, but I think you get the picture, the next time let’s thing about how the mat we roll on came about.

Cheers.

First published  Jun 14, 2012 11:39 PM

Hurt or Happy?

Nobody writes a ‘self-hurt’ book and becomes a worldwide best seller. Everyone is cashing in on ‘self-help’, ways to find happiness, bliss, pleasure, and all the good stuff. It even appears that happiness is so hard to attain that you have to read a book to ‘learn’ happiness!

What about pain, hurt, hatred and all those unpleasant things?

We don’t need to learn them as it appears that we get hurt easily, we get hurt all the time, we experience pain frequently. Pain is easy, pain is commodity. Happiness is gold.

But the funny paradox is sometimes, we are driven by pain, hurt, and all those unpleasant stuff. We became masochistic, we derive pleasure out of pain! and suddenly, pain and pleasure seems all the same!

But it is not.

The other funny thing is, we delve a majority of our time justifying our hurt. We focus an inordinate amount of time getting over the hurt. When we get hurt so easily, we seem to have a problem letting go of the hurt, just as easily as we gotten them. It should be a case of ‘easy come, easy go.’ but it is not the case. We focus on the easy things, and forget to spend our time cultivating the happiness of things!

Happiness on the other hand, gets left out because we spend so much time commoditising hurt, and pain, we get so comfortable dealing with the quantitative effects of pain and hurt, we begin to think that we do not deserve the realm of happiness. We get so comfortable with pain, we are no longer comfortable with pleasure. So it become painful to be in pain, and even more painful to be happy.

First published Apr 9, 2014 9:29 PM

Corporate Parent

family-org-chartDear Boys,

In Singapore, most couples/ parents are working class; thankfully for us, we are able to make do with our finances, enough to keep your mum at home, she do not have to work. But the norm is, we have both mummies and daddies working.

I noticed that this created a problem when both mummy and daddy  comes home after work and unfortunately, brought work home. What I mean is not the ‘work’ work, but their working mindset.

Back when I was working in a bank, I have this ‘not my department’ mindset, you can’t help it; an organization as large as a bank, you cannot possibly know everything. I am in the Collections department, and if someone wants to open a business account, it is truly and purely not my department, it is someone else’s job. Closer to my job, I am a credit card collections department, my colleague may work as a car loan collections department, again, anything pertaining to car loans, not my problem again. It is not that I don’t want to be helpful, but in a work setting, sometimes, being helpful is the least helpful thing to do.

If a guy finishes his work and come home, with a ‘corporate mindset’, he can sometimes say things like, “The children’s education is not my problem. I’ll pay an education centre to take care of that.” If the Wife comes home, and forgets to take her hat off as a Human Resource Manager, will say things like, “The dishes is not my problem, he has to do the washing.”

Lines gets drawn at home, very much the same way lines are drawn at work. 

I’ve seen this kind of parenting becoming more common. And it is unfortunate.

No Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine

Sometimes I get asked, ‘So who is the bad guy at home?’ Or ‘Who is the stricter one at home?’ Or ‘Who is the disciplinarian at home?’

Boys, your mum and I have long learned that if we play the ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ role, you kids will manipulate us over the other. Kids are smart, and as we learn to be parents, we deal with the situation, not who plays the role.

If Wayne does something naughty at home, in my absence, your mother does not say things like ‘Wait till you dad comes home and I’ll tell him to discipline you!’ She will discipline you, immediately. Your  um and I are good and bad cops all rolled into one.

That’s your department not mine

It’s quite funny, from our perspective, when we talk to some parents, and we realised that the wife doesn’t know certain things about the husband, and vice versa. That is where we can safely assume that both are working professionals who are also spouses who are also parents. Sometimes,  the mother will pay for the children’s school fees, and the father’s money is used to maintain the car, that will bring the whole family out.

On the surface, it seems like there is nothing wrong, but such demarcation can only bring so much value and depth into a relationship. When the car breaks down, and the man is short of cash to pay, is he going to get a loan from the wife? Can he justifies that the wife also benefits from using the car and hence, she should start paying for some of the car’s expenses? The wife can argue that the son’s enrichment class helps with the grades which makes the father looks good and he too should look into footing some of the children’s education bills? The argument breaks down the family.

Inter-department feud becomes parenting feud

Sometimes, I will have my bad days in the office fighting other departments over work matters. It happens and within departments, there will be finger pointing and blame shifting. If I don’t clear that, and brings it home, I will start finger pointing when things at home are not going as expected.

This will become exacerbated if your mum is working and comes home with an equally bad day, fighting other departments, and she wants to impose her parental expectations. She is going to pick on the ‘daddy’ department, and the ‘daddy’ department will go up in arms and blames the ‘mummy’ department over the most mundane of things.

 What works at work, does not always work at home
Honestly, I think this happens when parents, as spouses do not communicate unconditionally, instead they communicate expectations, sometimes subliminally. Some of those expectations could have been set when they are still dating. A guy may like the girl, who happens to have a lifestyle of manicure and pedicure. Naturally, the boy will not expect the girl to do the dishes when they settle down as husband and wife. And the dishes naturally becomes the guy’s ‘department’.
There is not such thing as your department and my department at home. Everyone has to chip in as one family unit. Sure, there will be some functional demarcation, like, I will be the one doing the lifting at home, changing the light bulbs, washing the toilets and other more laborious stuffs. That said, it doesn’t mean your mum can’t do it, she can and she will if she have to.
It is more about effectiveness than efficiency
You cannot draw an Organization Chart to run a family, and it is not the same as a corporate life. In a corporate life, jobs and functions needs specializing, so that when we work, we are efficient. Lines gets drawn so that everyone gets paid to do the work we are good at. An Accountant, does nothing but accounting, and not sales. The IT guy fix IT problem, and the customer service people do not manage the warehouse. It works like this at work, and this cannot be how it work at home.
Raising kids is all about being effective, more than being efficient. We need all hands on deck, it is not a ‘your department not my department’ mindset. As parents we cannot sit, with a problem on hand, for the other department to come and fix it, simply because it is not in our job scope. As parents, we have to fix anything and everything because, that is the job scope of a parent!
So to have family success, skills and mindsets that brings us professional success needs to be tweaked. There are habits better suited at work, leave them at work, being a parent and  raising a family needs us to have a different sets of tools altogether!

Everything is protected

Dear boys,

I saw this signage when I was hiking at Bukit Timah hills yesterday. “Everything is protected.”

It was an epiphany for me because, when you think about it, isn’t that obvious?

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the word in question here. ‘Protect’, what does it mean? Well, loosely speaking it sort of means, a kind of ‘shield’ against something untoward. To keep away from hurt, harm, injury and other nasty stuffs.

Well, in reality, can you? Will you NEVER get hurt, injured, maimed, scratched, scolded, insulted, beaten up, scalded and other nasty things? Can you protect yourself from all that?

If you cannot, then what is the meaning of ‘Everything is Protected.’ then? If there is no point since ‘Nothing can be protected, fully.’ Reality sucks huh.

Think deeper, Why isn’t it obvious that everything is protected?

Nature and evolution has a way to handle the adversity that comes our way. Sure, we can never fully accommodate every possible calamity that  is thrown at us. There is a lot of life ending methods out there, we can die from disease, from ballistic trauma, lighting strike, choke on Churros, die from insult. or die for no reason. On the other side of the coin, how many inspiring stories are out there, where life continues despite of being shot at, spat at, maimed, injured. insulted?

There is a level of protection built into everything. Even a cell has its own protective design! Against a reasonable amount of threat, in which the protection is designed to work against, the protection will work. But if you overwhelm the protection, failure is assured,

That is on a mechanistic, and rather scientific prediction.

But this is life we are talking about, and life has its own quirks and some surprising ability to scale the insurmountable. So what it means ‘Everything is protected’ it means that everything has a protective design built into it. We as humans, on the other hand must ‘Protect Everything.’ Protecting everything means that we use, and not abuse things. thing will surely fail when abused. To protect is to use sensibly.

Even when injured or hurt, the protective mechanism is still in place and active. We are constantly protected and will continuously receive protection and we must make sure that we know that and use our protection. One way of protecting ourselves, is to protect others, and through mutual protection, we strengthen our ability to resist adversity.

So while everything is protected, we must make sure we protect everything.

 First published: Oct 14, 2013 9:17 PM

Rolling is hard!

Rolling is hard!

collage_fotor-3Dear Wayne,

Your mum and I has always know you to be an independent child. More often than not, you’ll be the one up to no good, and your elder brother is the one who has to give in to you. You are the one with the mischief. But we love you so, so much!

Happily rolling along

I wanted to learn some advance Aikido rolling techniques, so I brought out these colorful mats we bought some time back, and lay it out, just for this purpose. Not long after that, you boys invaded the mat and started rolling around, I have to end up teaching you boys a thing or 2 about rolling.

You need to get out of your way, and help other people.

We went into YouTube and explore some Aikido rolling techniques and some partner practice. This particular one is something like a circle roll, personally for me it is like a ‘bowl roll’. Imagine you tilt the bowl to its side and the bowl will roll on its curve. It is a basic Aikido roll. Except that this time I have you both seated back to back, in a coordinated fashion, Ian will roll to his left, and Wayne, you will roll to your left, if done nicely, both of you will roll and recover on the opposite side, taking over the pace your partner was earlier occupying. Which is what the YouTube video shows exactly.

collage_fotor

But that was not what you boys have in mind, or specifically what you, Wayne have in mind. You couldn’t roll properly when your brother is around. You could do quite well when you’re doing it alone, but when you brother came into the picture, you have a problem working with him. Having another person in the movement seems to bother you, distracts you, and you end up rolling into and clashing with your brother.

Me, Myself and I

collage_fotor-1So it was a great opportunity to bring to your attention, your egocentric self, where you wanted the whole thing to work, but you could not work with other people to make it work. More often than not, in life, you need to work with other people, and you always have a problem working with your elder brother. He has to give in to you many, many times. Which is fine, as that is what elder brother usually do. Sometime, things will not work even if people give in to you, Wayne. You have to learn to think for other people and work with them. You cannot solve problems simply by having people give in to you every, single time. And this was a great opportunity for you to experience that

You focused for a while and in your own words, you ‘shut the noise’ out and the whole partner rolling technique worked a little. Well, you boys are doing this for the first time, so that is no fault of the both that it didn’t worked out the way as we all wanted.

But is was a good lesson point, Wayne. You need to get out of your way, and help other people.

Ian Stay!

You even wanted Ian to stay at his spot while you do your roll. That would have been impossible as your partner needs to roll away, vacating that space, which you now needs to roll in and occupy. Well, we tried as your prescribed and of course, you rolled right onto your brother’s lap!

So learn that it is not always about you. Learn to work with other people, which is right now your challenge. We know you’re a smart boy, you have ideas, but you have a problem working with other people. You can work hard, you are independent, you are tenacious, but sometimes in order for you to achieve larger goals, you need interdependence, giving up your own goals so that other people can help you get what you want in life. Because sometimes, what you want in life cannot be reached by you alone, and you need other to help you get what you want.

Ceremonial Parents

Parenting is not cool.

Dear Boys,

I noticed a new classification of parents.

Consistent with our ability to pay and outsource almost everything we do in life, many parents have found ways to outsource their roles as parents. Perhaps we humans, living in this era of busyness, are stretched a little too thin, wearing too many hats at one go, we have to forsake and get others to handle the ‘non-core’ functions in our lives.

Parenting is a very time consuming, life consuming role, with little material gratifications. Sometimes, parenting can clash with people’s self image, lifestyle. People want to look cool, being parents it is very hard to look good with a wailing child in your harness, it is very hard to look suave when you have to change diapers, in the hot sun, in the middle of a park. You cannot look Angelina Jolie-chic when you have to pin your kid down just to get them to take a sip of water. Parenting is not cool.

So a lot of parents, with cash to spare, little time to care, have their dirty jobs done by others. In Singapore, the main parenting workhorse is the ubiquitous domestic maid, typically hailing from countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar and other neighboring countries.

But that is not what I’m talking about.

To really qualify as a Ceremonial Parent, you have to make yourself scarce in your child’s life, turn up only at glam events, like your kid’s birthday bash, significant events, like when your kiddos need to attend other kiddos’ birthday bash. Well, ceremonial events.

Ceremonial Parents can pay for day to day duties to be handled by anyone else other than the parents themselves; domestic maids, the maternal Grands, the paternal Grands, childcare centers, the neighbor downstairs, the family pet dog, whoever and whatever has the time to do these mundane, unimportant stuffs.  The caretakers will pat the kiddos to sleep, feed them, medicate them when they are sick, cajole them when they are scared, clean them up when they are dirty. Well, the mundane stuffs.

While ceremonial, glamorous duties only occur like, every now and then, and the mundane duties taking up bulk of a kiddo’s life, already outsourced, doing so actually free up a lot of time for the Ceremonial Parents. Which is very effective time management!

What can Ceremonial Parents do with all these free time?

  • Look as if they are busy;
  • Focus on their job;
  • Make more money;
  • Socialise with their friends, drink party, be merry;
  • Live an image of a childless couple, and go home late after a party, wake up late after a party;
  • They are free to travel, for weeks on end, as a couple to exotic places, and experience ‘life’!

Ceremonial Parents are never tied down, never bothered by their kiddos sleep regime, diet regime, diaper regime, medical regime. When the Ceremonial Parents will return home from their crusades, they will come back bearing presents and bath their kiddos with gifts from faraway land, adorn them with apparatus bought home from their trip.

So why the gripe? Looks like a good life, win/win for all!

As a parent, there is no ‘non-core’ function, everything and every little time I can spare to spend with you makes me a father, upgrades my skills, trains me to be a better one, for you both. You boys taught me so much, everyday, to be a better human being than the one moments ago. While I lament not able to spend more time with you both, and it makes me wonder how Ceremonial Parents can spend so little time with their kiddos, and still qualifies them to be their kiddos’ parents.

And boys, just so you know, it is those ‘mundane’ times I spent with the both of you, that makes me qualifies to be your father, and no one else. Through the doldrums, I learned your character, idiosyncrasies, things you like, don’t like, have an opinion over or not. Through diaper changes, I see your butt grow. Feeding you, I know your diet. And call the both of you my sons.

I dare to call the shots for you because of all the times I’ve spent with you both, 24/7/365. Nobody can boss you both around the way I boss you both around, because I call you both my brood.

I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad.

Ceremonial Parenting don’t work for me, because it does not build trusts between me and you; it does not bond a biological relationship. Calling me ‘papa’ and me calling you both ‘sons’, are only words. There is a lot of work, time, and effort spent in action to make that bond, bond. I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad. Doing this while the both of you are young, under the impression that you both are too young to know anything, is telling myself a big parenting lie. What matters, is that my job as a father starts the moment you both are born, and does not end even when I’m long dead.

Ceremonial Parenting also sets a precedence, once you teach your kiddos that is how parenting works, they will learn to do that when they have kids. They will throw their kids back to the parents, now the grand parents, repeating the whole vicious process. It is detrimental, especially the kids, as they are left to be shuttled around, like cattle from one touch points to another. They will never have a chance to enjoy and experience the postive effects of being love, touch, embraced by their parent.  This is not how childhood is supposed to be.

There is no magic in parenting, being a father; it is hard work, action, and a lot of being present for the both of you, through good times and the bad.

I hope when you boys have your own brood, you both do not turn into Ceremonial Parents yourself, because children of Ceremonial Parents are worse than orphans, having parents and not having them there.

First published Dec 10, 2015 12:00 AM

How your parents bond

How your parents bond
image2
we are currently at level 203

Dear boys,

There are many ways couples can bond, and make their relationship interesting. Some do yoga together, some have similar interests, others have their own ways to weave interesting activities into the fabric of their relationship.

For your mum and dad, we are no strangers to online games (at our age and time, who is?) Personally, I do not like playing with them other than to kill time. But of late we have found an interesting ways to use these games to bond.

Play Farm Heroes Saga together.

Strictly speaking, these games are ‘single’ player games. One player, goes through the stages and these are often tied to a Facebook account. you get certain networkability, when you buzz you Facebook friends for ‘lives’ and other stuffs.

Your mum and I played the game the same way, but we played it together. We will tackle the puzzle together and find all those matching fruits and vegetables and tackling them stage by stage usually after our dinner or before bed.

We have our own terms, when we see ‘four-in-a-row’-we called it a ‘fourble’ or a ‘fiveble’ for obvious reasons. We get upset when the rabbit came up and eat the carrots. We get upset when the chicken flew and eat up some of the vegetables. sometimes the water will splash onto some of our vegetables and we get upset. We also get upset when some of the vegetables turn rotten.

Rabbit
Bad rabbit!!!

farm hero carrot

But when we clear a stage together, we celebrate and give each other hi-fives. We do ‘compete’ to see who gets to the ‘fourbles’ or ‘fivebles’ first and brag to each other when your mum, or me did the last move that helps to complete the game and move us to the next stage. I’ll usually tell her ‘You’re welcome!’ much to a scoff on her face.

Overall, she is a much better player than me, having experience in playing Candy Crush Saga. I just play along so that we can do something as a couple together, in a easy, no stress manner. We win, we celebrate and go to the next stage. We lose? we blame each other for making stupid moves, and also blame the game for getting too ‘personal’ with us. Hey, we just want to win and get on to the next stage!

 

image3
It’s your mum’s fault!

 

First published on: Dec 14, 2015