Aikido, Parenting and Everything in Between

Why have Children?


Dear Boys,

In case you are wondering, why should you be having children in the future, please read this.

In Singapore, you don’t need to have kids.

the boys with the toys
The boys with their toys

Kids adds no value to our society, regardless of what the government says.

Farmers needs kids, Cosmopolitans do not

It has been my long held beliefs, that in our urban, concrete society, there is no need to have kids. What do you need the extra ‘headcount’ for? You need to spend a long amount of time, energy to raise little humans, and despite of all that, as parents you might not get to reap the benefits. There is no economic benefits having kids.

But in an agricultural landscape, farmers, need kids, that additional manpower, when properly invested can help to till the fields, feed the livestock, and do other farming stuff. it will be ‘cheaper’ to have 6 to 8 kids and these additional hands will help around the household.

In modern Singapore, apartments are getting smaller, and it is made for couples in mind. Despite of what the government says to encourage making babies after marriage, houses these days are simply not big enough to have more people living together. Kitchen is getting smaller, because people are cooking less now. Everyone is out working, husbands and wives, who has time for cooking, much less taking care of babies???

Gender equality

Speaking of which, I am not a chauvinist. Women and men has equal rights, but vastly different biological responsibilities. Everyone has earning power these days, and some women earns more than men, why would these women give up their monetary superiority to become a mother? What’s the cost benefits analysis for that? Women these days spend better days getting branded bags, going for Pilates, and yoga, than to stay at home, nursing unreasonable babies, sucking off their sore nipples, looking all unglam and so uncool.

Again, I would like to say I am not a chauvinist. To have kids, sacrifices has to be made, men are not reliable, so women has to earn for themselves, and make themselves independent. That’s fine, but becoming a full -time mum doesn’t mean that you are not independent. In fact I see your mum, not earning, living off my salary, a very independent and strong willed woman in her own right.

We have biologically different responsibilities

Feminism is good, but when feminism goes Amazonian way, then it is bad. For child bearing, it takes 2, male and female. Until science comes along to change that, it will be like that, most animals are like that.

Humans want to be different. Women wants to think that they can be equal to men, better than men. When women starts to think like that, then that is the end of our race. Women can never be equal or superior to men, because women are different from men. Men need women to be women so that there can be a balance.

Things loses equilibrium when women fights for a zero sum game of gender equality. We are never made to be gender equal nor neutral. But our society and workplace demands that we do, for the sake of equal employment, and avoiding politically sensitive gender discrimination. We refrain from calling female ‘manageress’ and stick with manager, to represent both genders, because we do not want to discriminate the sex.

But we have to.

Because both men and women are different. until we can learn to accept that difference and let women be women, then there is a chance that there will be balance in a marriage.

Money talks

It is all not that bad. Like I said it, a society like Singapore, you don’t need kids. You just need money. You have money, you can buy things that makes you comfortable. Your mum and I agreed all the money we spend raising the both of you, could have helped us traveled the world. We could have car(s) and nice houses.

When we are old, can we depend on the both of you to take care of us? Not quite, but as childless couples,  we can employ maids, or check ourselves into retirement homes. Or if we keep ourselves fit enough, we might live a longer healthier lives. Anyway, our demise, if we do not have the both of you, will be the State’s problem. The government will make sure we die properly and our bodies disposed off. Who needs kids? Our personal effects? That’s the government’s problem.

Just have enough money to pay for that to be settled, even when our heart stops beating.

So why?

Since there is much more pros to not having children why did we end up having not one but two?

The Kiss

One recent afternoon, I was lazying, half slumber on the couch, my eldest son, came over and gave me a peck on the cheek. I’m one satisfied dad.

Wayne on my chest
Wayne on my chest, 9 years ago

Aikido vs MMA…again???


Well, we all have our fair share of arguments, pros and cons, yadah, yadah, blah,blah, blah.

So why am I adding more noise to the already noisy?

It is just to share my experience, period.

To begin with, MMA is a much superior fighting system, period. If you want to fight, learn MMA. Let me quote a lady who was trying to ‘sell’ MMA to me, a few months back, when I just did a casual walk-in to a locally famous MMA school, she asked me if I want to learn MMA, ‘To beat someone up?’ Yes, that was how she said it.

Fight G

Anyway, I took 3 months worth of MMA years back in this very good MMA school known as Fight G. Well, it is probably very biased for me to say that, as I hadn’t been to any other MMA schools. Well, Fight G have nice guys, they gave me a good experience, so they are good, in my opinion.

So why did I took up MMA since I am already so deep into Aikido? Back in those years, I was kind of in and out of Aikido, and since I’m not so full on, why not try to switch? Perhaps MMA?

So I went to Fight G, one day with Steven, see how they train and I decided to give it a try. And after 3 months, why did I decided to stick with Aikido?

The more important answer I got out from that 3 months was I know I can most likely handle myself well enough on the ground, in a tight physically testing fight.


You can’t fight if you cannot breath. I was out of breath during one of their 3 minutes 5 rounds, round robin training. there were 10 of us, we faced each other, goes for a 3-minute round, the switch partners, so we will have 5 different partners for each 3-minute round. I called for a timeout on the third round to catch my breath, the joined back the 4th and the last round.

So before we can pin a person, throw a person, or lock a person, we need to be able to breath, and not get too excited, and fill our minds with drama, and our bodies with adrenaline. Excitement is good, too much, robs us of a grounded perspective. Getting knocked around in MMA helps teach me to take a few punches, before I justify putting my assailants to the ground.


Unless you are in a real fight, you will never know how you perform in a real fight; and no, I do not want to find a real fight, just to find out how well I’d fair in a real fight.

MMA helps me train hard for the real thing, while it is still not the real thing, it gives me enough confidence to know I can handle it when the real shit hits the fan.

On top of that, MMA also helps me become better rounded, since Aikido does little tutelage in kicking, or punching, nor ground work, it is not a limitation of Aikido, but a design in Aikido.

My little training in MMA helps me kick, punch relatively well, and I know enough ground work to get me off and on my feet, where I have a better chance in a fight. So I use my lesson in MMA ground work, not to pin nor arm-bar a person on the ground, but to help be disengage in a ground fight and get back up.

A more confident Aikidoka

The reality is, a typical Aikidoka seldom gets hit, punched nor kicked. To receive one for the first time, can be quite a showstopper, and a showstopper in a real fight can means injury, maiming or death. MMA helps me bring that mental confidence to receive punches in form of a tsuki (突き). from my fellow Aikidoka. I’ve often told my junior belts to punch me, harder, like they mean it, since projection of that tsuki is very important for the understanding of leading and redirecting. The common fault is to punch too lightly, literally holding back the punches, and the Aikido technique will fail, if the punch is not projected properly.

Aikido in MMA

In a close struggle, there will be wrist grabs in MMA. and I was partnering this guy and he was relatively new to MMA like me; we were in a full guard, he was on the ground and he grabbed my wrist. It was a perfect position for me to apply Nikkyo on him, I did. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t recognize it as a lock, and while I continue to apply pressure, he resisted it, not sure if his adrenaline filled brain is registering pain or not. He didn’t tap, most likely didn’t recognize the kind of damage he will be getting.

I let him go, anymore more turning and the results will be predictable, a badly damaged wrist, heck, I might have broken it, but I don’t want to be the person in his memory as the one who broke his wrist. What is the point? It was training, not life and death.

There is no conclusion

This debate will go on, but as an Aikidoka, I have a deep appreciation of what a well trained MMA chap can do. But there are some tricks in Aikido that can be effective especially when your opponents don’t know about, never trained for it, and never see it coming.

So it is always good to keep an open mind, in reality, Aikido taught me that there is never really a “this Vs that” thing. If we do that, we did not escape the duality we are trapped in. Aikido trains me to free myself from that, and look at things, issues as it is. Aikido is neither better nor is MMA superior, let the singer decides how well the song ought to be sang and the proof is, in the singing, not the song.


Kotegaishi Story

There’s a time, when I was a brown belt working in as a retail shop assistant. My colleagues didn’t know about my martial arts background.

One of my colleague was a funny, peppy fella who knew what Steven Seagal and his martial arts flicks. He was impressed with how Steven Seagal took out people using his fighting skills and I asked him to show me one of his moves.

He promptly went to show a kotegaishi and I asked him to try it on me. He took my hand and deftly did what he has seen on TV and I helped myself with a break fall, which looked pretty dramatic.

Until now I can still remember the look on his face, when he saw me flipped and landed as he did his kotegaishi. It is just one of those crazy things you did when you were younger.

First published on: Jun 25, 2015

Handling with Weapons

Handling with Weapons

In this safe island city of Singapore, when will be weapons be used in a violent confrontation? And when we do, do we know how to use them?

In Aikido, we handle ‘classical’ weapons like Bokken, Jo and Tanto. These are made of wood to minimize injuries, but we still need to handle them like the real thing. I ‘cut’ Sunny’s left eyebrow when my Bokken slipped during after class training many years ago. Bokken, although blunt, but when used applicably, it is still a weapon.

Rules are rules, always use common sense when handling anything labeled as a ‘weapon’ or anything seemingly dangerous.

1- Always be alert, and never take it for granted, be it a training weapon, an M-16 rifle, or a rubber knife. When in training, always practice due diligence. Training time is not playtime. Weapon, any weapon, is not a toy.

2- Know the weapon parts well. We all know the ‘bladed’ part of the Bokken is actually not the real blade. Duh. Train with an attitude that the ‘bladed’ part is the REAL THING. If you are not careful, you WILL lose fingers.

3- Practice safety distance. know your ma-ai well. Empty hand ma-ai and weapon ma-ai is very different. Footwork, body movement changes as well.

4- Never fear the weapon. Practice point 1,2,3 well, apprehension should go away. A weapon is simply a manifestation of the user’s intention.

5- Train long and hard with your weapon. Time invested in conditioning will help us become more familiar we become with it.

To sum it up, weapons training extend our reach and improve our understanding on how it works, so that we can be skillful when we use it, and when it is used against us, we have some understanding on how to deal with it.

Its not much to take away, but then again its never, ever enough.

First published: Jul 28, 2010


My Bokken, 木剣

Any decent Aikidoka will own at least one bokken, 木剣. Or two; or more.

I have two, and each has its own story, well, perhaps the later one.

my first bokken at the bottom, the second bokken on top

The one at the bottom was my very first one, made in Taiwan, bought in Liang Seng. Anyone who is a decent martial artist fanatic in Singapore, will know about this martial arts shop, still located at Marina Square. It was a casual purchase, and since everyone who is ‘on’ enough in Aikido, will get one of these training weapons.

I also have a jo, of course. But with any Samurai influence, the bokken, a wooden representation of the Katana, is the ego status of any budding Japanese martial artist.

Choosing a Bokken

There is no special way in choosing a bokken. really, nothing special. Wood is wood. Of course, these wood are carved, very often by a machine to take the shape of a practice sword. And other than checking for surface crack, there is really no way to ensure that the one you have is going to be the one that last.

So it is very much an economic purchase, which comes with a need. I needed a bokken for practice, which is why I got the ‘Made in Taiwan’ type. What is the difference anyway?

My Second Bokken

The darker coloured one was my second and a very expensive carved, curved wooden stick. but it reaffirmed the way I looked at a bokken, because it felt like a very different bokken.

I bought it when I went to Japan in 2000, for the 8th IAF congress, some kind of once-every-four-years pilgrimage most devoted Aikidoka will go, at least once in their life. I was out with my fellow Aikido friends, and we walked into…a martial arts shop in Tokyo!

We were just browsing and didn’t really thought of buying anything. Sunny, my friend and I went up to the weapons rack and ‘toyed’ with some of their bokken and jo. They have some big-ass bokken for some really heavy-duty training. But it was this brown looking one, that I serendipitously picked up; that caught my attention.

It felt…right.

The bokken feels solid, and balanced in my hand. It got me excited, and I let Sunny held it, he nodded his head, agree in assessment that the bokken was balanced and felt good. It gives a kind of assurance and confidence when you held it, very skillfully crafted.

I was in Tokyo, on kind of a shoestring.

I didn’t plan to buy anything from that martial arts shop, maybe a good set of Japanese Gi, hakama, perhaps, certainly not a bokken.

I bought that bokken.

It was a happy purchase and it felt right in my hands. And to affirm my happy purchase, Sunny said he’d have bought it, had I not buy it first.

My made in Taiwan bokken on top, and the made in Japan bokken below

When I brought it back home, and excitedly pit it against my first Taiwanese made bokken, it really felt different. The Japanese one really does have a certain balance when you swing it.

It is a very precious purchase, and of course, I’d bring the Taiwanese one out for training, I wouldn’t want to damage my ‘silver bullet’!, but that was my mindset back then.

These days

Although that Japanese piece of wood has been with me for the past 18 years, and I liked it fondly, I’m not so attached to it so much as to not want to use it. In fact nowadays, for combined training, where the school says bring your bokken/ jo for weapons class, I have the tendency to use those already in the dojo.

It is not that I won’t like to scratch or damage, or worse, break my precious Japanese one, it is a matter of pragmatics. I have to train myself to be able to use any weapon, not just my own personal one. so my mindest these days is to use any bokken available, never mind if it is made in Taiwan, old, banged-up, I’d use it, I’d train with it, being less selective, is to be less judgmental. It is just a bokken, why get so attached to it?

On the other hand, I’m also lazy to carry 2 wooden sticks out, especially when the place of training will provide for those who didn’t have it, or didn’t bring it.

the Japanese bokken on the right have some carvings on it… the Taiwanese… just have my initials for markings
a close-up on the carvings.

The Japanese bokken

It is a valuable training tool, having the proper one, because it does help correct my swing, and balance, and you know it when you got it right, the sound of the quiet ‘whoop’ as the bokken cuts through the air. The Taiwanese one, or any bokken for that matter, will make the same sound, if you swing hard enough.

The difference is, the Japanese bokken, you don’t really have to swing it that hard, you just have to swing it correctly, and when you hear that sound, you know you are corrected.

(I have a blue band around both bokken, as it is a universally accepted colour, especially in the military to represent dummy, training, inert equipment. Besides, it is quite signature, and provide me with easy identification, in a mass training classes, with too many bokken and jo mixed together.)


Mistakes and falling

Mistakes and falling

Dear Boys,

You both have very different ways of learning.

This is very evident as I watch the both of you get the hang of in-line skating or rollerblading. Your mum took the both of you to a very quick course and over the holidays, your grand-parents bought a pair for you both.

I’d wish we had more time to skate, we only managed to squeeze in some blade time here and there. and from the last one, I can see a different approach you boys use to learn something.

Wayne: Fall, break, smash, fail until you get it. Fall, get up. Fall, get up. Fall, get up.

Ian: Try to get the technique right, fall and fail less, it matters when you fall less, never mind, you clock less in mileage.

We went to the playground downstairs; the one we call ‘Aunty Genevieve Playground’, no she don’t own the playground, it’s just that her apartment, faces the playground.

So there was a small running track, 260m in all, and it was just nice for the both of you to skate, or get the hang of skating.

By and large, the both of you already got it, it is just getting more road time, mileage, more practice.

Wayne, you clocked more road time, and he felled a lot more as well, sometimes, in an overly dramatic manner.

Ian, you on the other hand, felled less, focused on getting it right, and in the process, you skated slower, lesser distance covered.

Fortune favours the bold

There are always some smart quotes about everything and boys, don’t get caught up by it. Like what I told you, Ian, there is nothing wrong either way, it is just the way you boys learn, different.

Compliment or Clash

You both decide, if such differing style will tear the both of you or stitch you closer, there is no right or wrong answer to that, if you focus on the small stuff. The bigger stuff is your brotherhood, there will be clashes if you allow your own personality and how you do things to get the between the both of you. Don’t let that happen.

Cover for each other, know who is the more meticulous one, and who is the daredevil. Some situations favours the bold, others, could be a time for prudence, always consult each other, and have a healthy respect for the way you brothers do things. Talk through things, and always remember that being brother supersedes everything.


What Technique? 

“What’s your technique?”

“My technique is practice.” 

Sensei is still in practice