Taiji Culture, Philosophy and Technology

Something is morally wrong when hospitals are listed

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

The issue of the milk prices, driven up in part by tie-ups with private hospitals, is just the latest in the slow moral degradation of the mainstream medical industry.


Over-pricing of medicines, services and medical procedures. Over-diagnosis leading to over-prescription and over-treatment. These are now norms.


The medical industry’s support for inflated claims by food companies is nothing new. By now everyone should know that drinking cow’s milk has very little benefit for your bones and in fact causes digestive problems for a great many people. For decades we were sold this dubious claim wholesale. GPs and specialists alike both tout drinking milk for bone-loss. My elderly mother-in-law drank milk and took calcium tablets from the hospital for 3 years, with no halt on her bone density loss. All it gave her was constipation and related discomforts. Her bone loss only started to slow down when we switched to TCM.


I myself remember the mass encouragement to buy and drink milk in my primary school days. Only later did I know about lactose-intolerance and that’s probably what made me bloated and had loose stools all the time.


It’s also untrue that you don’t get enough calcium if you don’t drink milk. There are many other foods that give you calcium. It’s just marketing touted as science.


That’s why I take it with a pinch of salt when people say this and that medical claim is backed by ‘science’. Most of the time it just means its backed by sponsors, tie-ups and specific interest groups pumping money into agenda-based ‘research’ to sell their wares.


At best, it just means that’s what their narrow study has shown so far. So chocolate is bad but then later, sometimes good. So cholesterol was bad, later had bad type and good type and now we are so unsure so that the US FDA has removed its 4-decade long advisory against cholesterol. So what happened for decades? It was another tie-up between medical ‘science’ and the food industry to sell you expensive cholesterol-free food.


As my wife says, when a hospital or medical chain becomes a listed company, something is already morally wrong. You think first of shareholders and the profit-margin rather than patients and the healing service.
I remember reading a few months ago in the Straits Times a report on the profits of Raffles Hospital. The tone of the article, the tone of the hospital came across as cold and factual and figures-obsessed. Its weird to me, reading a hospital article that mentioned nothing of care, compassion or even medical science, but just how much they earned from which parts of their business in what amount of time? Do they think of their patients in the same way too, as facts and figures? Is that why my wife’s doctors (not from Raffles) stared mostly at the test results and barely looked at her person during her cancer treatment years?


I sometimes go to the newly opened Raffles Medical Centre at Holland Ave for a teh-o. They also rent spaces to DBS, atas eateries and Virgin lifestyle gym.


Have they, like our MRT, forgotten their core services and are now just geared towards expanding their revenue sources and share prices?


Unlike the MRT though, medical services should be a calling for those who work in it. People’s lives and well-being are at stake. But if you are making astronomical sums from people who are sick, deep down, do you want them well or sick? Or perhaps, just well enough to keep coming back for your services?


I don’t believe yet that doctor’s consciously wish people ill. But I do observe and believe that subconsciously, something twisted has happened in them collectively. Not just doctors, but the entire medical industry.



In Taijiquan practice, we aim for xing, qi and shen (形,气,神)to be united as one. The movement form, the energy supply and the mental intention (or attention) to be simultaneous.

For example, if you are turning your waist to the right and releasing your qi through the right arm, check if your head or eyes are turning faster than your waist.

The eyes and head often follow our mental attention. So if your head is turning to look right faster than your body or arm have moved right, it can mean that your thoughts are ahead of your actions. And your qi has not arrived to support the action yet. Thus your three aspects are not unified.

In some people, or sometimes, your head can be moving around intermittently, even when the body is relatively calm. Sometimes these head movements are jerky, done without awareness or just too often. This can mean the attention you are paying to the qi movement through your body, while good per se, lacks a detached calmness.

In short, one can get too caught up in the changes rather than ride the changes.

This might mean a lack of ease in the attention-intention (淡意).

Our brain, eyes and most senses sit in the head. Thus we use the head most of the time for attention-intention, such as when the a-i is turned to the body. But the hardest is to see itself or see close or see in, thus the head n eyes often aren’t aware of themselves. So some people can bring a measure of awareness and calm to the body through Taijiquan, but neglect the awareness and calm to the head and senses.

If we can calm the head and senses, we can also effect a low but beneficial level of awareness and calm to our mind.


Don’t miss the super moon qi!

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Taijigong people, great training opportunity, don’t miss! Singaporean students will be in the Botanic Gardens tomorrow night to connect to the moon energy. Hope you folks do too. Gather your students and enjoy. Ding gongs, song gongs, vibration exercises will all be more powerful than usual. If you are practising the moving sequences, pause in selected stances and practice Ding gong absorption of the lunar energy. Select parts of the body or the whole, it is up to you.



Song as activity vs state, part 2

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

So from the beginner’s course (yang sheng gong, 养生功,基本功), we start by having good alignment posture. This allows the body to stand with minimal effort. Because when a structure is not well built you need lots of forces, counter-weights and counter-balances to keep it up. Think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Alot of effort is used to keep it up due to its ‘bad’ posture. These constant effort creates tension. So unless u want to become a tourist attraction it is better to have good alignment and posture.

Moving on from here, we are working with Master Wu Tu Nan’s insightful description of Song. Song is 无牵扯.
Detached. Unfettered. That is what true relaxation is.

Think about our physical sensations when we feel tense. A part of our body might feel like it exist as a hard chunk. It might feel knotted. It might feel blocked. A particular joint or area of body might not be able to move freely. Often when we bypass a blockage there is a clicking sound or feel, or even a snap. We suddenly feel looser and freer. All this means that when a part or a joint is tense, it is 2 things not free of each other, locked or tangled or meshed together. To be relaxed therefore is to unlock, untangle, unmesh.

It is a long journey to deep unfettering. How to start?

We can start by dividing the body into parts and becoming aware of the parts individually. So we start by thinking along the 15 major joints and sections(十五节), the internal organs (五脏六腑), the trunk and the limbs (干和枝). We become aware of one and all.

Into this awareness we start to practice 拆开, physical detachment, dismantling. There are many ways we can chaikai. In the next part let’s talk about some of them.

Song is a big topic in Taijigong. As Master Wu Tu Nan said, the soul of Taiji is Song (松是太极拳(功)的灵魂).

Song can be translated as relax (放松), relaxed (松弛)or even released, open (松开).

Song is firstly a good state that we want to acquire. Physical, mental and energetic state of being relaxed. A condition or a quality to achieve. Not just in the superficial and gross material like muscles, but also in deep materials like our internal organs, deep tissue, bones and ultimately at the cellular level.

However, saying that is to talk about an aim, not a training method. Nor even a step by step simple instruction.

This is where Taiji teachers and students have to know better. It is not enough to keep exhorting self or student to ‘relax’, or worse, ‘Soften! Relax! Why can’t you relax?!’ It is more useful to start thinking of methods and instructions to practice Song. That is, what can we do to acquire the state?

Fundamentally, we have to start by realizing that Song is activity, instructions and methods and not just a state of being. Then we will concretise what is nebulous, and help ourselves immensely.

In part 2 I will share what we can do about Song in our traditional and systematic Taijigong.


A Fascinating Bio Vid for Taichi people

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Taijigong people, spare some time for this fascinating video, superbly narrated. These info brings to mind so much of deep Taiji gong principles, and might even form the material basis for them. The endless extensions. Fragmentation. Automatic response. Taking care of all directions. Neither a feather nor fly can land on you…弥深弥长,支撑八方,虚空粉碎,应物自然,曲中求直 直中带松,一羽不能加 蝇虫不能落…thanks Julius for sharing

Strolling Under The Skin



Author: Sim Pern Yiau

one hundred years on stage

Just experienced this moving performance on Wed. Gratitude to Esplanade for bringing it in.

The play about Beijing opera performers, by Beijing opera performers. When the characters talk about the utter discipline and perseverance that this job demands, you know in your guts its true. Because the grace, power and intelligence displayed by the performers themselves are testament to the sweat and tears their characters talk about.

Like Taiji Gong at the highest level, what moves people the deepest in Chinese opera are the subtlest things. That turn of the wrist, that sideways glance, the inflections in a word, the control and finesse in the hips embodying a masculine femininity…

“No matter how coquettish or winsome, you will never be as attractive as a real woman. What you need to do is not to replace the woman on stage, but to bring to the woman what only a man playing a woman can. You need to find the yang in the yin.”

“If Bai Su Zhen is truly angry and hateful of her Xu Xian, why would she bother coming here to rage at him? Therefore playing rage is wrong. You need to find her Fear, her fear of losing him. She needs her yin within the yang.”

But it is not only the leads that moved me. From every supporting character, chorus and ensemble actor, some of them very young, and from every department from the musicians to design to costumes, the passion and commitment is truly inspiring.

This play brings together two of my loves. Traditional practice and the theatre. They both make great demands on the body, mind and heart of the practitioner. In the case of the theatre, on the voice too.

I have also taught actors and dancers at a couple of performing arts schools. I have a group of disciples of Taijigong. Those among them who work hard never fail to move me with their dedication and enthusiasm. After this play, I am thinking of some of the others and wondering if they would ever know what it means to truly sweat for your craft. They should come and see this play.


On the importance of Power, 功力

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

What is big? Big is something that u can take away from when u need a little. What is little? Little is not something that u can increase anytime u wish.

Thus in Taijigong, the ability to use little force to overcome big force, depends first on having big force. Then you can learn to use this force in little ways. Thus power (gongli, 功力) is of fundamental importance.

Any practice of deep relaxation with qi work will grow gongli, for example long years of Taijiquan movement practice. However, in our traditional Taijigong system, we have dedicated practices called Ding Gong series that grows gongli in a focused and quicker way. Without this, Taijiquan is not very practical as defence until many years down the road.

Still, great power takes time and hard work to acumulate, so all disciples should get going sooner than later!

Only when u have big power, then can u speak of techniques of using small against big.

The greater the power, the more refined are the techniques available to u.

These techniques are to be found, embedded and hidden from view, in the movement forms of Taijiquan, Sword and Sabre.

But when you h ave not accumulated enough power, these techniques remain just ideals and stuff of legends and wuxia dramas. You will have no practical way of grasping them, either in mind or body. Soon, the form becomes opaque to you, and just like every other practitioner you meet, you are just cutting watermelons in the air, year after year.

This is what has happened to mainstream Taijiquan. Without qi, without gongli, everything is just talk, and soon loses meaning.


Momentum in Taijiquan, Taiji Sabre and Taiji Sword

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

以气运身,步随身走 Move the body with the qi, and your feet with the body.

In the beginning stage of taiji, you place a lot of focus on deliberately and consciously fulfilling the physical requirements of Taijiquan in every shape and phrase. These requirements include matters of coordination, flow, unity and dissection of the form. When those have become naturalized and you don’t have to think about them so much when doing them, you shift to 以心行气, mentally engaging with qi to support all the physical practice.

After years of practice, you gradually reach again a level of naturalization, this time not of physical requirments but of the qi activities. Of how the qi takes precendence in executing bodily movements. At this stage, you must allow the qi to move the body, and the body to naturally lead the steps.

In low level Taijiquan, and often in normal walking, we see people lead with the step. That is the leg and foot steps out and then the trunk follows. But in advanced Taijiquan, qi moves the trunk and then the qi and trunk leads the legs naturally. The legs should not ‘think’, should not be deliberate, but should move and change as and when the energy in the form requires them to change. In defense and sparring moments, they change in natural requirement through the interaction with the opponent.

This principle becomes clearer for those of you now learning the Taijigong Xuan Xuan Dao (太极功玄玄刀). Because the sabre or broadsword is the extension of the arm, so when you extend your qi from your arm, both the physical and qi extensions are more pronounced. As always, open the earth gate, build up the qi through the lower sections and on into the trunk. As the qi moves from trunk to the upper sections and then the sabre, it takes over the momentum of the body and draws the legs, in a natural coordination along with it. The result, when practised well, is the unification of body and qi in every moment of defence and attack (完整一气). Not only does this give you great power in dealing with the opponent, but also ensures that you always stay balanced on your feet and cannot be toppled.


Discover your Qi! at Wellness Yogi RESET

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

EVENT: Discover your own Qi in 45 minutes!
by Master Sim Pern Yiau (in English)Sim-Pern-Yiau-198x300

Dear Friends

We invite you to join us and discover your own Qi in 45 minutes at an event on 11 July Saturday at Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.

For more information about the event, please visit the organizer’s website: http://www.wellnessyogi.com

Kindly direct all your enquiries to the organizer, at ing@wellnessyogi.com

If you would like to register and purchase a PASS for the Event, please CLICK HERE

EVENT: Discover your own QI in 45 Minutes! (by Master Sim Pern Yiau)
@ Wellness Yogi Reset
Date: Saturday, 11 July 2015
Time: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Venue: Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade

Feel Your Own Qi!
It doesn’t take forever to actually feel Qi (bio-energy) in your body. Taiji Qigong wouldn’t have existed for thousands of years if it did. Without Qi-work and the principles of flow, coordination and yin-yang balance, most Taiji have become diluted and nothing more than aimless arm-waving. Join us for an hour where we introduce you to real Taiji where mind, body and Qi comes together in a meaningful way.

About the Instructor
Sim Pern Yiau is a certified 5th Dan Shifu under the Wu Tu Nan Taijigong lineage. This traditional system has its roots in the holistic teachings of the great sage Lao Tze. Shifu Sim has been teaching since 2005. He has students in U.S., Chile, Germany, Norway, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. He researches into traditional Taijigong as well as modern applications for various contexts such as healing and enhancing performance in dance, acting, singing and music performance.

Other than our Taiji class, there are many more Yoga and other Wellness events awaiting you. Make a date today!