Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Dear Boys,

As you both know, I don’t have a family past which I can be proud of. My parents, and my elder brother, well…they’re difficult to manage, they have never been in my life, for the good times, and they’re always there in my memories when I think of the bad. That’s a fact.

The Letter-it’s not that bad…

The story of my life is one of waiting, for the dreaded. When it finally came, well… it didn’t feel so bad. So…moot point, nothing in reality is as bad as you imagine it to be. Whatever happens, you can deal with it.

The letter was from the government, sent when my mum went to them to get money from me. My dad did that to me about 7 years ago. I’ll go into the details later in future, but the gist of it was both my parents think of me as a kind of ‘gold mine’ where they can milk money out from. This leaves me in a bad mental state, and oh let’s not talk about my elder brother.

Wishin’ and Hopin’

Celebrating my elder brother’s birthday, circa 2000

So I carry them as my ‘family history’ as a burden on my shoulders, always gnarly and bitter about not having a more supportive and loving parents. Well I guess I am always kind of wishing for something better, the wishin’ and hopin’ was actually not doing anything good for me. There’s really nothing nice I can say or mention about them, they are not my source of pride and joy.

Whoever or whatever they are or were, they are literally poisoning my personality and reality without even being there. The best part was I was allowing them to do so, lurking in the fringe of my mind and psyche.

Turning the bad to good

The relationship is so aloof with them that they’ve never found a good reason to contact me, and this caused me to develop a doubt over the good things that has happened in my life. That cynical person in me (usually my mum), who is always suspicious over a positive turn of events. ‘Cannot be! There must be a catch!’ ‘How can it be so good! You just watch it, it’ll always turns bad!’ And things always do.

While I was thinking about the bad stuff they’ve caused me, bad personalities they’ve endowed me with, twisted stories my mum (especially my mum) and dad has told me; a silent voice in me grew louder of late, whispering softly to me that they also did left me with something good. I just need to find out what that is, while my dad was a failed businessman, who was probably a bankrupt, he was after all an entrepreneur. My mum was at times a good judge of character, she has a wonderful smile in better days. Even if all they left me was something bad, I didn’t turn out bad, I learned from the bad things they left me with. The trap was I was learning so much, I was slowly turning bad. I was learning to avoid the poison, by eating them to get rid of them, not very smart right?


From what it seems, they’ve very much unwittingly done me wrong and left me a little twisted. If we were to move on, forgiveness is a mental closure for everyone to heal and become a better person. Sometimes our perpetrators might be self vindicated, to think they are right and you are wrong. and you are the one who have hurt them, therefore they hold the ‘key’ to your forgiveness, and they’ll punish you and hold you psychologically hostage, by not forgiving you for the hurt you did to them.

Relationship is always a 2-way street and for my case, I don’t think I can get them to forgive me, and I don’t think they will ask for my forgiveness, after all, I cause them the hurt, didn’t I?

I forgive them

My mum

I forgive them anyway, never mind that they’ll never know I did, ignorant to the reality that they have left a son, a younger brother alone, lonely and a little bitter almond seed in my heart.

I forgive them anyway, as I have to accept the judgement they’ve passed to me. I’ll never be the good son, or little brother in their lives. I’ve punished myself enough to try and live up to that fantasy, and the reality is, I am a good husband, decent dad, and okay guy.

I forgive them as I need to forgive myself, for being unfilial, for ditching them, and for being the bad guy in their narrative. I don’t live in their narrative, I live in my reality. I have to forgive myself for playing this sad sorry tune in my head for the longest time.

Always give and quit asking for it

An old polaroid photo of my dad and my elder brother. My only photo of my dad.

Don’t beg

If you are waiting for people to give you their forgiveness, you’ll always be begging. While in a healthy and balanced relationship, you can ask the person whom you’ve hurt; for forgiveness, and it’ll heal faster for both the victim and the instigator, when you give forgiveness, ask for forgiveness and gets it. Nonetheless, if you ask and you’re not given, it’s okay, forgive them for not forgiving you and move on, some things are never meant to be solved and some sour relationships are meant to be sour, no matter how hard we try to better it.

Don’t do what your dad did for the past 20 odd years, waiting in vain for my history to better. History is history, no matter how hard we try to rewrite it. What has happened is not something we can understand, I can never fully understand why my elder brother is the a**hole, he still is, why my mum tells lies to everyone about everyone. People are people, they’ll change to their whims and conveniences, a lot of us live like this and will be like this for as long as we live, you boys can be better, and start being better by learning to forgive yourself, and forgive those who have hurt you.

And boys, if I’ve hurt you, please forgive me, I forgive you for any and all the hurt you’ve caused me.

Your first Aikido sensei

Christmas 2014

Who is your first Aikido sensei? Who is my first Aikido sensei? The fellow teaching you how to turn, roll and wears a funny black pleated skirt-looking pants?

You first Aikido sensei is your parents.

Your mother showed you love, and affection, your father protects and nurtures you. They are the foundations of love and harmony that Aikido is all about.

I watch last evening as Harry sensei taught this young Aikidoka how to roll properly. As I watched, I came to this realization that he is like a father teaching his son. I can feel that because I am a father myself, and I would use the same energy, attitude, of unconditional effort, openness, hands on to teach my sons, whatever they are learning. I saw that in Harry sensei last evening, the effort, and unconditional love is the same.

It was a very profound experience as the whole relationship paradigm in my Aikido training was radically shifted. I left the class with a feeling of total awe, and more importantly a renewed sense of humility.

It was more than that.

Training with NUS students has opened another level of understanding for me. These young boys and girls, is easily 20 years my junior. And I had almost 20 years of training in Aikido. That said, what about Harry sensei, he has close to 50 years of training! He has been training long before anyone one in class was born!

So when I look at the faces of my young fellow Aikidokas, the youth is still there, the innocence are still present. I can sense that because, given another 10 years, my elder son, Ian, will be 19 years old, about that age of a NUS student.

With Ian in Hong Kong 2011

They still carry the dreams and aspirations their parents have for them. Edna, Jia Hwee, Tri, Glenn, Jade, Darius, Cathryn, Rachel, just to name a few names, their parents gave them the names, very much like how I bestowed upon my sons, theirs. They came to class, to NUS with their parents, in spirit and in faith. Hence, you are not simply training with that person, you are training with a person who has been exposed to love and affection, with understanding and attention long before they stepped into an Aikido class. So they are an expert in their 18- 19 years of living, and me? I’m just a beginner in their lives!

That can be said for Harry sensei himself! He has parents, his parents has aspirations for him, perhaps they’d wanted him to become someone of stature, or they had other expectations, I wondered, had his parents came back and look at him now, taking a class, 6th Dan in Aikido, would that had been what they wanted from him? Certainly my parents didn’t expect me to embark in Aikido training.

More often than not, we did not choose to embark on our Aikido journey, but somehow stumbled into it, and continued because of certain circumstances that compels us to continue, it was probably one of the last thing our parents expects of us.

We need to give back, our parents has been our first Aikido sensei, and now when we learn how to love and live in harmony from someone else, we need to give this back to them, perhaps now that we’ve grown up and our parents might have thought that their kids no longer need so much love and care, but they still do care and love us, just as much, or perhaps more. Now that we are adults training in Aikido, we need to love them back. Things we learned in the dojo, we need to practise it with our parents, let them know that their love and efforts has manifested, their kids has not wasted their love and effort, well we may not be everything our parents wants us to be, but we can let them know that their love and efforts hadn’t gone to waste, their children has done fine and is now learning how to love on the foundations that they have given us.

First Published: Nov 26, 2014 6:32 AM

As of current: Harry sensei is now 7th Dan Shihan.

Why Ip Man 3 is the best martial arts movie

ip man 3 1

I watched Ip Man 3 with my wife and it was the best movie you can catch if :

1- You are a martial artist

2- You are a martial artist, and a husband

3- You are a martial artist, and a husband and a father

I don’t what to be gender stereotypical but I’m a guy, I’m a husband and a father. If you are a woman martial artist, a wife and a mother then perhaps this movie can connect with you in a different way.

The movie is highly realistic in the portrayal of pragmatic difficulties any aspiring marital artist face. Any decent martial artist, having a family, with kids, given the same 24 hours, the same decent martial artist is torn between many, many roles.; to train hard and be good at our discipline, to be a good spouse, and a good dad, and if it is not too much, start a school, contribute to society, make a living.

Ip Man 3 showed all that, the tension is real. As much as I love Aikido, I cannot practice it as often as I can, my family is intertwined into the fabric of my martial arts training and vice versa. Sometimes The Wife will need that attention, kids do fall sick. House do need attention from time to time. In order for us to have a balance in our art, we need to have a balance in our life. Without a balance in our life, there cannot be excellence in our discipline.

For any marital artist to be successful, the spousal support is the spine. Without the wife’s support, Donnie Yen, who play Master Ip Man so brilliantly, will not be able to achieve his mastery so completely.

Knowing when to let go

There are times where we need to drop our training completely, this is one of the toughest test for a martial artist. Because we are under the constant fallacy of wanting to pile the ‘mileage’ into our training. If we stop for a protracted period of time, we might ‘lose’ our edge.

But there are times where we have to let go, so that we can pick up other parts of our lives which is just as important. True that martial arts is important, but it is not everything. Ip Man knows when to let go, and did so, so graciously. His wife is more important, and putting his wife first, even when his reputation as a martial artist is challenged,  makes him a man of great strength and character.

There was never a choice, you never see Ip Man choose, or deliberate over a decision. He knows what to do, his wife, who is dying, comes first before anything, even his Wing Chun. This is a testament of a real Martial Artist, a highly enlightened individual who is able to see priorities clearly, and decisively, no regrets, no lament.

No deaths

For such an action packed movie, there was no killing, no one died. (Well actually there was one death, and it was not a direct outcome of any martial arts move.) Which proves that for someone as powerful as Ip Man, he can control his output, and preserve life. There are many situations where the circumstances are greater than him, but he didn’t lose it, he didn’t kill; he could. But he didn’t as he probably knew that if you take a life, there will be a larger, more uncontrollable consequences that will ripple out beyond his control. Call that ‘karma’ but if you don’t believe in it, you have to believe in the Long Tail of Cause and Effect. You may not bear the direct consequences of your actions, your children or your children’s children might.

While we must inflict harm on others to prevent harm from being inflicted on us and our loved ones, we must be skillful not to take life. We are trained martial artist, there are ways to end violence without the loss of life, and we must hold true to that belief, because if we don’t then any form of violence applied will be suffice, no need for years of marital arts training.

Ip Man 3The Wife

Lynn Hung who played Mrs Ip Man in all 3 Ip Man film, filled the role in the 3 installment very powerfully. Mrs Ip let the husband practice and be consumed by his passion with Wing Chun, and kept her stomach cancer diagnosis to herself, until she can no longer hide it. From then you can tell that Ip Man has decided to drop everything and spend as much time as possible with his wife.  Her role as Mrs Ip Man is so subtle and yet so pivotal, so poignantly powerful.

It was the Wife, who told him to pick up the challenge and continue practicing his Wing Chun. For any martial artist who has a wife, this tension is real. My wife would like to have me home, be the husband, the father to her children, more often than she prefers. But to take me away from Aikido is also to see me less happy, which is also something she doesn’t want to see. And yet, more often than not, she will not be able to understand why we martial artist do our martial artist thing.

So for a martial artist to thrive, we need our spousal support, and we also need to support our spouse, for without our spouse, we will not have time to practice, and concentrate our our art. We are also tested again and again, if we are willing to let go of the very art we enjoy so much, so that we can appreciate something greater than marital art, that which is our life, our wife and our family.

Without a balance in our life, there cannot be excellence in our discipline.