cotton candy generation

cotton-candy

Are we getting ‘soft?’

My predecessors always reminiscent the good ‘ol days where training was tough and how nowadays, we are so much more fortunate compared to them. Prior to Singapore’s independence the armed forces used the British made L1Al SLR(Self Loading Rifle), which is a very tough ‘battle’ rifle, Nowadays, we have a modern bull-pup SAR-21 replacing the M-16, which replaced the L1A1. The SAR-21 is the most evolved design, made for the 21st century soldier, comfortable to use, hi-tech and cool. But the L1A1 chambers a 7.62mm, with effective range more than 3 times that of the 5.56mm rounds which the SAR-21 chambers. The L1A1 is battle proven in the Falklands, and is still in active service, a testament of its durability.  Is the SAR-21 as tough as the old L1A1? Who knows?

Can the same be said for martial arts? if you pit a modern day Karateka against a old school Karateka, chances are the old school Karateka might severely injure the new version. Why? Old School train for real. Many of their techniques are deadly and students die from accidents and mistakes. In order to minimise fatality, lethal techniques are left out as the syllables evolve. Modern day martial arts are much safer, which make training easier, which makes the art popular and popularity is never a bad thing. So modern day focuses on winning a few medals and tournaments.

Many martial arts tournaments uses protection and guards. The use of these physical protectors, while claim to save lives, minimize injuries, dull the reality of a full punch, after all its just a sport. Only through body conditioning and actual bare knuckle sparring can one learn the true essence of pain, and learn to learn beyond that. Steven, during his time, doing sanchin was a daily affair, through intense body conditioning and breathing, he could take punches and he still can, coming to 60 years of age. Steven’s martial arts experience was the tough old SLR, mine was the M-16, the new generation is the SAR 21, bull pup design. People back then, like the L1A1 rifle, were much hardier than the folks of the 21st century.

Sure there is always a danger of permanent injury or death during training, but what doesn’t? Well, then, why join martial arts then? Face it, we are martial artist, and martial arts is hard, tough training. How do you think exponents do those ‘soft’ harmonious moves? Exponents are able to execute those seemingly effortless’ moves because of their intense and hard training. they suffer, everyday at training, so that they do not have to suffer when the time comes. Go to a dojo, expect suffering, do not avoid pain. do not tap at the slightest tinge of pain, tap only when the pain has become reasonable unreasonable. train every time to be reasonably unreasonable, but never tread  beyond the realm of unreasonable. If you go to a dojo and minimise and avoid suffering, don’t go, just stay at home and watch Jackie Chan’s Karate Kid.

First published: Aug 21, 2010 @ 18:00

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Our Road Trip to Coney Island

Dear Boys,

Coney Island is Singapore’s latest island open to public. How ironic it sounds as Singapore by itself is an island too!

Coney Island first visit
Coney Island first visit 11 Oct 2015

I made a visit myself on the second day of opening and found it a haven island, left rustic the way it is. The beach was the thing that took my breath away. Of course the beach is not white sandy beach, Maldives equivalent, but it was good enough for me, there is the sea, sand and shore. There is very minimal human presence such as a BBQ pit, signage (Singaporeans loves signage!) or lighting. It was kept this way by the NParks . Kudos to them for doing a great job!

So I had to bring you both there, and since the exams is over, and you boys are raring for a road trip, we borrowed our neighbor’s (its great to have great neighbors!) adult bikes and off we go!

Lorong Halus Way

We took the Lorong Halus way as it is the one closer to our house, we just have to cross the bridge linking Punggol to Lorong Halus wetland. From there is was a vehicular road and I took the lead, Ian following, Wayne the third and your mother covering the back. I can hear the constant yell from your mother to tell the both of you to ‘KEEP LEFT!!!’

East Gate, entering through Lorong Halus.

We used the East entrance to enter and cycled the inner trail, the one closer to the beach, so that I can show you boys how the beach looked like.

There were threats and news of Sand-flies, and people falling victim to these insects, thankfully, we didn’t encoThe Beach at Coney Islandunter any of those! We continue to take the trail and Ian you, having your mountain bike, surely finds no trouble handling the terrain, your little brother Wayne, with his little BMX, took the trail with gusto, falling innumerable times, getting up, and falling down and getting up again.

We cycled a little further to the heading towards the west side of the island and we could see clearly another larger island, Pulau Ubin. We can clearly see the jetty used by Outward Bound Singapore and was wondering to ourselves if the distance was actually swim-able. Which all of us agreed, it is!

Outward bound Jetty @ Pulau Ubin, as seen from the beach

We carried on with our cycling, and both Ian and I have to slow down and stop occasionally so that your gritty little brother could catch up. We found the sign for Coney Island and your mother asked a Malay couple cycling behind us to help us with the pictures, and we in turn helped them snapped theirs. It’s always nice to be nice to other people.

A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.
A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.

We left the Island via the West entrance and was feeling hungry, we didn’t settle for the usual palate at Punggol Settlement, and we decided to brave on and cycle further up, towards SengKang, and finally ended up at Seletar Mall to have our meal. thankfully, although the dark clouds loomed, rain didn’t happened as we cycled back, the same way we came, and by the end of everything we realized that we have clocked over 20km of cycling in total! The amazing things is, having being bitten by the cycling bug, you boys pounced on the idea of a night cycling, which your mum and I think, you both will be too tired to continue, so we told you both to sleep, when we reached home, which was about 6pm? and if you both can wake up by 10pm, we can go. And of course, without having to mention it, you both slept like a log! through the night!

The total distance we took to cycle.
By the time we reached Seletar Mall, we have covered 14km

Other helpful links

http://www.ladyironchef.com/2015/10/coney-island-park-singapore/

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/coney-island-park-opens-to-the-public

http://www.littledayout.com/article/ten-things-you-need-to-know-before-visiting-coney-island.html

First published: Nov 16, 2015 11:42 PM

New Year’s Eve, The Movie

New Year’s Eve, The Movie

happy new year

Dear Boys,

I was never a person who believes in festivities, much less a ‘Happy New Year!’ which in reality, just another day, another number on a calendar. Well, me, pragmatic to the core. Or so I thought, until I saw the movie New Year’s Eve.

All things end, before any new beginnings can start.

I can still remember vividly catching this film with your mum, in December 2011, at Shaw Orchard. We were on a date, and we wanted to catch a movie, not to sure what to catch we looked at the posters and I felt that New Year’s Eve is a safe bet, as it has Robert De Niro, and other star-studded casts, Hilary Swank, Jessica Biel, Zac Efron, etc, etc.

The film was so good, it changed my mind about New Year’s Day. It still does. In fact, I just caught it again with Ian for 2016’s New Year’s Day movie, when they showed this movie on TV.

So what’s so good about the movie?

Well, the movie was set at 2010’s New Year Eve’s celebration at New York, and what happened to a bunch of really hot, good looking people on the turn of midnight. There are many many events happening, all weaved into the movie. I like it because, all these seemingly independent events, comes together eventually at the end of everything.

It tells a story about all these people, who internally have some emotional knots, unsettled business, some of them want to crawl into their abode, and let the New Year pass, somehow they were dragged out of their negativity and the larger scheme of things caught them and changed them.

It is also about regret. All of us has it, we want things to be better, but we cannot changed the past, we have to look forward, but our past drags us down, we cannot shake it off, when an event like the New Year comes along, it metaphorically tugs at us to let go of those bad vibes, leave them in the old year. Let the regret stays there.

More importantly, it is about taking a chance to take action. The New Year motivates us to take a chance. Take a chance with people whom has hurt us before, give them another chance to change. The New Year gives us courage to charge forward, some in foolhardiness, others with gusto.

How it has changed me?

Like I said it, I’m not a big believer of ‘New Year’ when everything is still the same, people die, plane crash, sun rise, moon set. The dreary daily mundane things goes on.

After watching the movie, I felt that there is a meaning for festivities, especially for something as big as the New Year. Celebrating it (or not) gives our lives meaning, texture, an event.

Like it or not, it will come, like Christmas, Like the impending Chinese New Year. These events, are larger than us, and calls for a celebration no matter what.

No matter what, meant that we have to look beyond our troubles, woes, warts and all. We have to look up, we are forced to, by these events, to look back, and reflect. There is no hole you can dig that is deep enough for you to escape any celebrations. Your birthdays are a celebration. Yay!

We have to celebrate

No matter how bad life is, how terrible a condition we find ourselves in, we will celebrate, invent a season for celebration. Because we humans live and thrive on joy, happiness, and all that irony. I read that even in the darkest days of the Sarajevo Siege back in the early 1990s, the folks would find any form of reason for celebrate. One resident even called for a celebration, and the reason for the celebration? Losing 10 deutschmarks.

Closure

All things end, before any new beginnings can start. The New Year is a time where we can find our closures, make peace and move on. The year may be bad, but having a calendar meant that no matter how bad, it will end. It has to, the sun will set, a year will end. We really need to take stock of our efforts and time, and look into the future, the New Year. It can also be a dreary thing, looking in petrification what bad things is going to happen. But like I said it, we humans live on hopes and dreams, not doom and fear.

Stay positive, the New Year is here

So sons, when you think that life is bad, and you want to skip a celebration, think of it deeper. An event is something abstract, you cannot hold it, nor touch it, yet it will come and everybody will celebrate like crazy, forget all their troubles and hatred for once, drop everything and celebrate! If you have nothing much to celebrate everyday, then these are dates on a calendar you can mark, to celebrate, lose yourself, and let the large scheme of the New Year Celebrations take over you for once!

First published: Feb 4, 2016 12:00 AM

Evolution and Progress

aikido-is-action_fotor

I’ve long pondered this phrases:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.George Bernard Shaw

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.Charles Darwin

The quotes of these two great figures of history has left me wondering how my existence can be measured. Relative to my Aikido experience.

Certainly I am not the strongest, neither am I the fittest, but I’ve seen stronger ones came and went, fitter ones falter. The testament of my continuity in Aikido is the flexibility to compromise. Through the years, I’ve stopped Aikido intermittently to attend to other matters of my life, like setting up a family, studies and others, there were ‘down’ time and ‘out’ time, I’ve never persevered to be consistent, I simply persevered. Of course I wish I could religiously attend Aikido class 2 to 3 times a week, but reality is always a bitch. You can never be unreasonable with reality, reality is always unreasonable with you. So I have to adapt my Aikido training around my life, because life is unreasonable.  Adaptability to changes is the keystone to my life. I am never one, I am many. Adaptability encompasses unreasonableness, but not the other way around. To be adaptable, sometimes you have to be unreasonable. At times, during training, I am unreasonable, in fact, increasingly so because being ‘reasonable’ in training compromise the quality you get out of training. The same can’t be said about being unreasonable. To be unreasonable means to resist adaptation. So to be adaptable, be reasonably unreasonable.

Of course George Bernard Shaw is right to say that all progress depends on the unreasonable man. To survive, be adaptable, to progress, be unreasonable. In terms of my Aikido, my progress is not a matter of meta-programming, visualisation, intellectual reasoning and all those stuff. Nothing will happen, there is no learning if everyone is nicey dicey in the dojo. There is no learning if Harry sensei doesn’t bark at me, smack my head a little bit. There is no learning if your Uke is not being an ass. There is no reasonable-ness in training, making sense of the unreasonableness in training ensures that i learn to keep going against resistance until the path of least resistance is found. Without resistance, there is no non-resistance. My progress till now is having handled so much unreasonable partners, that I learned to be reasonable in the face of unreasonableness. I may seem reasonable by nature, that is in fact cultured by many years of being unreasonable. you cannot learn to be reasonable without first knowing what unreasonable is. Sure, the duality is being either reasonable or unreasonable. you have to walk both ways to find the balance path, the middle way. from there progress and survival cease, and being exists.

Published on: Jul 9, 2010 @ 16:00

The Aikido ecosystem

The Aikido ecosystem

When you come to class, and train with your fellow Aikidokas, you are not training only with that person. Like I mentioned earlier, you are training with the person’s parents, carrying their aspirations, dreams and ideals.

If you kill your partner, you literally destroy a universe, wipe out an entire ecosystem.

You are also training with your partner’s friends, siblings, relatives, cousins, uncles, the nurses and doctors that brought your partner to this world, the bus driver who sent your partner to Aikido, the hawker who sold delicious food, the cleaner who cleaned your block, your colleagues, the retail sales guy whom you bought your latest sandals from. You are training with a partner, who is a sum of a whole ecosystem.

Had there been a hiccup in that ecosystem, that partner would not have appeared in class. the bus driver fell ill, the bus wouldn’t have came. The cleaner failed to clean your block, you stepped on something filthy. fell and got hurt. Well, if that ecosystem collapse, your partner cease to exist.

So you are also part of your partner’s ecosystem too, if you hurt your partner, your partner will not be able to turn up somewhere else he or she is supposed to be.

If you kill your partner, you literally destroy a universe, wipe out an entire ecosystem. So that is why we have to protect and nurture life, it is so vital that we see that inter-connectedness. Everything is linked to everything. You are linked to the doctors who brought you out from your mum’s womb. You are linked to the production worker who works in a factory making milk for your mum to buy, to feed you. You are linked to the cows, who gave you its milk for your ‘calcium needs’. You are also linked to the future people you are going to meet.

So it is rather easy to look at an angry person and launch ourselves into an angry assault and quarrel, insult and belittle our belligerent. When we do that, their entire ecosystem shakes, and rattles, you literally insult that many nameless faces that has brought that person having that angry conversation with you. Sure, his or her anger would have shaken your ecosystem and insulted that many countless nameless faces too. But remember, those people in our ecosystem brought us into existence to be a decent human being, and being decent means not to anger, insult and belittle others! And certainly not to respond in kind!

We need to understand that, contrary to many success stories, where a person’s success is perched on the shoulder of giants, a more down to earth version would be that we are all standing, simply because we are held up by the countless of people in our lives, but to hold our head up, in pride and love, that is entirely us.

So never face hurt, anger, pain and suffering with ignorance, fear and delusion, those are closed loops. Open your heart, and in it you’ll find boundless love, energy, light, understanding, patience, and understanding, which are all timeless. Anger is timed, you have to be directed at a specific event, a person, a single something. but when you open up your heart, you can accommodate that. What we have in our heart is light that is so bright, hate, ignorance and delusion will vanish. Jodi Picoult says light triumphs darkness, that is why we need to face the world with our open heart, because we carry our eternal light in our heart, to close it, cannot hide the light, light will always escape, so why not fully open it, and let your light shine?

Your open heart may look vulnerable, weak and nubile. But it is far more superior to hate. Aikido opens me to that, love is eternal, it will always triumph over hate, which is limited in energy. Love soothes, hate comes in bumps. Once you have experienced love, you will not want to hate, or response to hate, with hate, because, once you’ve known and used a far more superior approach, why revert to plain, reactive hate and hurt? You cannot be hurt any further if you embrace love. Love will protects you, when you fully open your heart.