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.
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)
Happy New Year! We hear this every last day of December, and first day of January.
People always tend to take stock of what was done for the entire calendar year, based on the worldwide approved Julian Calendar. Unless you live in an island on your own, where you are the king, prime minister, president and citizen all rolled into one, everybody else uses the Julian Calendar.
it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough…
After taking stock, comes this ‘resolution’ thingy, which usually means trying to do some things as a goal, aim, or target to hit for the new year, and then take stock again, end of the year. It never gets old, because every January is a Happy New Year!
I’m not a resolution person. I can tell you boys why on a blog, but it will take an entire blog to tell you why I am not a resolution person. I’m just not.
It’s something like don’t sweat the small stuff, except that you do, because when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff will take care of itself.
Well, it’s not as if I don’t know about the small stuff and we need to focus on it, it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough. So reading that book is a good reminder for me to look into the minute details of things, my daily actions, and let the rest worry itself. Of course there will be consequences of our actions, but sometimes, our consequences is beyond our control, what else can we do? Micro-adjust our next steps, and the next and the next, until we get what we want.
Aikido, it is all about the small things.
I ought to know this since I’m in Aikido, as Aikido is all about the small things. Heck, life is about it, and Aikido as a martial art, is only a fraction of what we succeed or fail in life. In Aikido, we work from a large circle as a novice to a small and barely perceptible circle of a long-time Aikidoka. From small circular movement, you can displace a larger momentum. Our aim is to make our circle smaller and smaller, and the only way to achieve that is to focus on our small movements, a little muscle twitch here, or even a fleeting thought there, that might delay our decision to move a fraction of a second, or too soon.
All the small things
This is not a resolution still, but for 2019- I want to go back to basics, and focus on the minute, nano-scopic details of my actions, and how these little small actions can affect me in a large way, positively or negatively.
That means I need to work on being a more sensitive, delicate and considerate person. Not for a better world, but for a better me, which in turns helps to better the world.
Back in my days, when I was mountain biking, I never gotten the rationale of wearing a helmet. But as I read magazines about the sport, I realised the importance, and yet still bike without one, as the price of helmets back then was too expensive for a youngster like me to get.
These days, you can get cheap helmets, that offers good protection. Always try to wear head protection, no matter how stupid you look.
I never forget that day when I went to fetch Ian and I had your bike with me, and helmet of course. You’re off your training wheels but still having some trouble balancing it. You strapped on your helmet and got on your bike.
But you fell, losing balance moving off. You didn’t know it, but I saw it, your head glanced off the kerb, and it was your helmet that absorbed the impact. Well, it could have been your head.
Why a helmet?
Its elementary, stupid.
You have a head, the head have an organic helmet called a skull, and it is always good to have another helmet for the organic helmet, because if you crack your external helmet, you buy a new one, and if you crack your organic helmet, good luck.
When I was in military service, of course we also have helmets to wear. Back in those days, I wore a steel pot type, with a inner liner, it was heavy, clunky and hot. Kevlar helmets was slowly phasing in, and when I was in Reservist, I had Kevlar types.
I used to ride a motorcycle and needless to say, helmets is a must.
And now, when I got mountain biking, I always wear a helmet, and I cringe every time I rode past a cyclist, e-biker, skater, or roller-blader without a helmet. Sure you look cool, until you crash, crack a skull and then we’ll see if that’s cool. I cringe more when I see parents with their kids, not getting their kids to wear head protection.
You speed, you need a helmet
We tend to bike a lot these days, and as much as possible, please wear a helmet.
As long as you are on anything that travels faster than 10km/h, please wear a helmet.
If you go rock climbing, please wear a helmet.
Don’t let your friends tell you helmets are stupid looking, or it is hot wearing one. Look at it this way, even the most elite special forces soldiers wear head protection because they know it saves lives. So if it looks stupid, but it works, then it is not stupid.
Every kind of high risk sport will have their own kind of head protection. Use them, find a good fit and make sure the helmet is strapped on. Even a big helmet is better than no helmet, so try to get one that fits, and tighten it till it doesn’t wobble on your head. Shake your head side to side and front to back, the movement should be minimal.
In your lifetime, you will hear about people getting into affairs and other kinds of unfaithful relationships, husband cheating on wife, and wife cheating on husband.
It’s not so much a bragging (depends on which angle you are bragging from, more about it later), your mother is my only female relationship I have (and I don’t have any male sexual relationships, at all, just so we are clear on that!). I don’t have any girlfriends before her, when I’m with her. Without her, I think I’d probably be single. I’m not a fantastically marketable guy.
Why do people have affairs?
I’m not subject matter expert for obvious reasons, but here is my take on relationships.
One at a time. please.
This applies when I was dating your mum. There is no need for me to get into multiple ones during courtship, and there is no need for me to get into multiple relationships after marriage.
Well some marriage does go south for some personal reason, and if it is because of a third party, nothing good will come out of it. But if whatever it is, annul the marriage properly before getting in bed with another partner, and good luck with that one.
Nothing good can come out of an affair
The most memorable one was the marriage between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (circa 2000-2005). It was a typical glitzy Hollywood marriage, and then came Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (circa 2006-2016) met during their movie Mr and Mrs Smith and not long after that, Brad Pitt divorced Jennifer Aniston, and then eventually married Angelina Jolie, only to divorce in 2016. Well, everyone’s an expert on hindsight, but this was a union built on deceit, and without making sure that the new relationship is build on trust and openness, it will be doomed for divorce just like the first one.
“If you are having an affair, you will be telling her lies so that she can sleep with you, and she will be telling you lies so that she can sleep with you.”
It is built on lies
Getting married and saying that vow is a big thing. Making that vow works day in and day out is a bigger thing. It is much bigger than anything you can accomplish in your lifetime, staying faithful to only one partner, till death.
Once you have said the vow and all, the marriage is legal and official. Don’t screw around after that, and if you want to screw around, don’t settle down. This was the mantra I have when I was with your mum. I was very clear I will only date one, at a time, full and 110% attention and effort to make it work, and if it doesn’t for whatever reasons, call it quits, before we look out for other options. That’s how I told your mum. And she was just as committed to me as well.
The commitment doesn’t change even after we tied the knot.
There is no love in an affair
Come on, don’t kid yourself when your lover tells you there is love. There is no love in an affair, there is lust.
Lust is something you have to manage and control. Biologically, we men wants to propagate the planet with our seeds, but once you have settled down with one partner, stay faithful to that partner. You may let your eyes stray and get attracted to pretty girls and sweet young things (SYT), but always keep your dick in your pants, the moment you are married.
Well, unless you think its a bragging rights to say you are able to have multiple sexual partners to prove your attractiveness and manhood. That is not wrong in anyway, but it will lead you to a different life and consequence.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
I’m a realist. I told your mum, I am 110% against illicit sexual affairs, precisely because of STD. It is not AIDS, or HIV I’m particularly afraid of, it is those venereal disease, which spreads if you have multiple sexual partners. It is just about my love for her, I do not want to get infected sleeping around, then come back and infect her and then both of us are literally screwed, and you boys end up picking up the pieces.
Let’s be frank, your lover will tell you that you are her one and only, and I’m sure to get into her skirt, you’ll probably say she’s the only other one, besides the wife.
If you are having an affair, you will be telling her lies so that she can sleep with you, and she will be telling you lies so that she can sleep with you.
At the end of the day, you will come home after sleeping around outside, contract some weird STD, and when you have sexual intercourse with your wife, you are going to pass whatever rotten disease to her. And as luck, or the lack of it, would have it, both of you will get into a tonne of problem, all because of a loose dick.
It is a zero sum game
It is not exciting, and it is not a very mature thing to do. I don’t know why they called it ‘Adultery’ but it is certainly not one of the most adult thing you can do. Be a good and faithful spouse, to me is an Adult thing. So don’t ever try adultery. This is my parting shot. Like I said it, if things don’t work out in your marriage, that’s fine, shit happens. So end it nicely, legally, before you get into another one. There is no winning sleeping around when you are married, everyone in it stands to lose. And if you have kids, the ultimate losers will be your children.
Karma is a bitch
While I am not a firm believer in Karma, I believe in consequences. Sometimes, the bad shit I do, has consequences on my children, the both of you. As an adult, I am always ready and willing to bear the consequences of any of my wrongdoings. But sometimes, things isn’t so clean cut. Shit flows down, and the last thing I want is for the both of you to clear up my shit, like what I have to eventually do for my parents.
So getting into a sexual relationships other than with your mum, is a big no, no for me. There is too much at stake for me to f**k around. Literally.
People often say that ‘Friends are the family we choose.’ There’s nothing much said about the neigbours living next door to us.
While we have many good neighbours, which is another topic that’s too long to write about, I just want to tell you both about the ‘Kwoks’ well, that’s what we call them.
Hit off at first sight
I remembered when we first got our house keys, we were of course excited about it, and from what I can recalled, The Kwoks was here first, they moved in slightly earlier than us, and has pretty much settled down.
It was quite an occasion, and we did made some noise, and left our front door open, which is typical, then The Kwoks, kind of peeped in, when they got home and we welcomed them in, that’s where we hit off.
They were genuinely very nice and we could click, just like that. It was really a rare thing that both of our families got off so well. They brought a kind of comfort and warmth into our new home that very day and both your mum and I liked them, for their down to earth, unpretentious personality. They weren’t proud or trying to act like they were superior in anyway.
As both were stay at home mum, your mum and Mrs Kwok hit off. Although Mrs Kwok was a good many years older, she could communicate with your mum, and there is no generation gap whatsoever. Over the decades, both families has shared many things, and none of us kept a score. It was pure goodwill where we lend each other stuffs, cooked and shared food, and even shared purchases in this age of online shopping.
We got so close that your mum even taught Esther, their eldest daughter tuition during her primary school days and right now as I typed she has completed her ‘O’ levels, how time flies!
Looking out for each other
It was kind of unspoken, we were neighbours and we shared things. We even share the shoe rack outside our house. The shoe rack’s ours but we straddled it between our door and theirs so they also put their shoes on our rack. It wasn’t overbearing on both side thankfully. They didn’t hoard the rack, and they knew not to put too many shoes on it.
When we go for our respective family holidays, we will lookout for each other and help to clear any flyers stuck to our doors. Sometimes, they’d tell us when they will be away and even if they didn’t, we would know they are gone for a short trip and just clear their flyers.
When you boys were younger and your mum needed to rush off to get somethings done, and leave the both of you at home, Mrs Kwok would gladly babysit the both of you until your mum is back, and sometimes, we would tell her that you both are at home and she’d keep her door open in case you boys needed to shout out to her for help.
And of course, we do, trust her with our house keys, when we need to.
It helps we bind at first sight and it is pure goodwill on both sides. Like everything in life, there are good and bad stuffs, even with neighbors, we are thankful there is more good stuff to share with them than the bad. We are both constantly and unconditionally helping each other, and looking out for each other, which is more than we can look for in a neighbour as awesome as The Kwoks