Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When new isn't that new and smart isn't that smart

TVB, the largest television broadcaster in HK has been serving the Chinese community in Europe for many years. Originally it was only available in the UK under satellite subscription. Which means that it wasn't something that everybody could get. To get it, you need a Sky satellite dish. This means you have pay for services you don't use before you pay extra for TVB Europe. Some people live in places where you can't possibly get decent reception. This is hardly ideal and it seems they've not tried to tap into this market via cable. Perhaps cable might not be the best way of delivery. Virgin Media have no shortage of reliability issues. Sky, who's parent company News International, is currently mired in plenty of controversy. Do you want to part your hard earned cash and give it to an ethically shortsighted company? 

 TVB Europe in recent years have launched a new delivery platform. This is via the the Internet. This ought to be a no brainer, but whilst it sounds good, it is not. You need a high bandwidth Internet connection and then connect via special box which you connect to your tv. However, in this day and age where we're trying lose as many wires and boxes, this concept is not smart. 

 It would have been better to manage subscriptions and deliver content via platforms such as BBC's iPlayer or YouTube. This is what people want to use and it can easily be piped to the TV. I'm sure a powerful broadcaster like TVB can deliver in such a manner. After all RTHK can, and their material is free to all, even to users based overseas. Even going as far as providing an iPhone app free to all. 

It all comes down to short term financial gains. The BBC can definitely make iPlayer profitable by making this service available to users outside the UK. And it would be worth every penny. The content on TVB Europe is very limited. If I'm paying, I want what is available in HK. I want live news reports. It's not too much to ask. People often think everything in HK is smart. Not so.

Three legged fame

I believe in karma, I really do.  Its not about doing a good deed today and receive good luck tomorrow.  The Laws of Karma doesn't always work like that and it isn't like that for a lot of the time.  Good deeds should be done and the good karma ought to be banked.  Over a period of time, possibly a lifetime, you may receive the good karma like interest.  You might never receive this during this lifetime, so when you come back in another life, you might receive it then.  The same can be said regarding bad deeds.  For every bad deed, bad deeds deduct from the good deeds accumulated.  It sounds weird, but that's how I understand it and it is in layman's terms.

I was listening to RTHK R2 this morning and they were talking about the three legged cat of Kowloon City.  The story goes that a stray cat was sleeping under a goods vehicle one night.  It woke up the next morning limping about.  So it seems that one leg was under the wheel and the driver drove away unaware as to the fact there was a cat sleeping under the vehicle.  There were sightings of this cat and one day it came to one butcher's stall to see if anybody would be good enough to give it something to eat.  The cat got got lucky and the butcher began to take notice.  He got worried the next day, when he noticed that the cat never came back.  So he went to find it and did so.  The cat was in a very poor state anyway and without immediate care, it would eventually die.  The butcher took the cat to the vets to have the necessary operation done.  It cost him about HKD 20,000 (nearly £2,000) of his own money.  The cat had the bad leg amputated and the butcher adopted this cat as his pet.  The cat now can be seen outside the butchers, near the market complex.

A lot of people would have pitied the cat, but it took a kind heart to do what the butcher did.  The sum was by no means a small amount of money, but how many would have spent this kind of money on an animal that wasn't even his.  I think in circumstances such as this, it shows us who has the biggest heart.  But it is also karma at work.  The cat lost it's leg due to a bad deed done in a previous life.  It was saved because of good deeds done in a previous life.  It was a stray who had nothing to eat and nowhere to stay.  This was because of a bad karma, but it will probably live out the rest of it's natural life in relative comfort, because of good karma.  The butcher rescued this cat, because it owed it in a previous life.  Being a butcher is not a trade that enables you to accrue much good karma, but that doesn't mean the people are not kind.  The butcher will have accrued positive karma as a result of this kind act and it will counter a lot of the bad karma from being a butcher.  Whoever said cats have nine lives, is probably right.  Hong Kong needs more kind animal lovers.  This story made me happy.  Namo Amitoufo!!!  _/\_  南無阿彌陀佛!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Moderation

I came across a quote from the Dao Te Ching (道德經) today.  


"Continuing to fill a pail after it is full the water will be wasted. Continuing to grind an axe after it is sharp will soon wear it away. Who can protect a public hall crowded with gold and jewels? The pride of wealth and position brings about their own misfortune." Chapter 9.


持而盈之,不如其已﹔揣而銳之,不可長保。金玉滿堂,莫之能守; 富貴 而驕,自遺其咎。功遂身退,天之道。 道德經 第九章 運夷


I often talk about moderation and generally live by it.  I happen to find this quote quite apt since I had this thought yesterday.  Keeping up and attaining status can be hurtful to one's mind and health.  I learned the hard way earlier this year when I was upset over not winning any medals.  For a long time, I was very angry with myself, but I did not see that it was my time.  There was no pointing blaming anybody, I just have to work harder and one day my time will come.  Yesterday, I saw the futility of my plans.  I see other people and I see a dead end road.  Other people have said this, but perhaps it was my time to understand it.


Neither Daoism or Buddhism are against ambition, but actually for it.  The balance has to be something you do that you enjoy, be profitable and in accordance to the Dao.  I am not without ambition, but I need to do it a different way, my way.  I might not know what that is, but a solution will present itself when the time comes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When dieting takes the wrong path

Recently, I heard something very stupid that I feel I have to share. A lot of Hong Kongers, especially women, like to be thin. Okay, there is nothing wrong with that, a lot of women elsewhere want this as well. The odd thing is, some of these women look fine. So what's the problem. If your partner can't take you as you are, then the problem is theirs. So there are many crazes that people do in order to lose weight. Here are a few... 

Do yoga, because yoga is good for losing weight
Do Qigong, because qigong is good for losing weight
Do Tai Chi, because tai chi is good for losing weight
Join a gym, because working out is good for losing weight
Take certain medicinal herbs, because they are good for losing weight
Go anorexic, because you're bound to lose weight

These ways of thinking are flawed. If they ate less junk food, they probably wouldn't be in this mess...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Film review: Shaolin Temple (2011)

I watched the New Shaolin Temple film earlier in the year.  At the time I thought it was pretty good, but perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind.  I didn't rate it that much.  I recently brought my own copy on DVD.  I sat down and watched it one night.  I felt very moved and the moral and spiritual message was very clear.  The characters were very real, the monks showed the spirit of Shaolin.  The villains showed what people can be like.  Unlike many other films based on the Shaolin Temple.  A lot more emphasis was made on the heroic actions of the monks.  It wasn't about flashy fight scenes, it was about the strong moral fibre and goodness in them.  The monks in Buddhism are called the Sangha.  Monks are not people who just sit and meditate, but people who teach or serve as an example.  It was all about helping those in need and not consider one's own safety or comfort.   I liked how they expressed compassion for each other and how they looked at all the strife in the world with a certain perspective.  Andy Lau was the leading man, who's character went from warlord to somebody who lost everything.  He accepted his lot in life, he accepted the wrongs of his past.  His character made becoming a monk, repeat and changed for the better.  He understood the wrong done by his underling was itself caused by himself and therefore it was his responsibility to put it right.

Not many films have moved me like this.  The last film was Jet Li's Fearless.  This is definitely a film I'll watch again and again.  I'm sure many will watch it just for the fights.  To be fair, there wasn't much in terms of fighting and it is better that way.  It ought be be about the characters and here it was.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing up

It is a custom for Westerners to dress up for parties during various festivals.  Some go to great lengths to come up with something special. Sometimes the themes extend to the exotic. This might mean cowboys and Indian themes, African or the Orient. The latter is a common source of inspiration for the British Christmas pantomimes. 

Whilst I firmly believe in the freedom of speech and expression. I do feel that these Oriental themes are rather patronising to Asians. I also feel that they distorts the true nature of Asian cultures. Moreover, they reinforce the Asian stereotypes. I mean how many people of South Asian origin, apart from the Sikhs, who wear turbans on a regular basis.  But the media sometimes gives you the impression that might be the case. But in reality, South Asian and Middle Eastern life is not like something out of Aladdin.

Students at Ohio University have launched a campaign as part of an effort to prevent cultures from being translated into stereotypical costumes. These posters represent some of the offensive costumes and the cultures they affect.    

Then there are the Madam Butterfly stereotype that blight Japanese women. Chinese men are thought of as having Dr Fu Manchu moustaches. That or the Bruce Lee stereotypes. Try as you may but in reality you won't see people that would fit into these silly stereotypes. 

I don't think that many Westerners might have thought about the impact of this sort of perception. We Asians are born into the colour and the cultures that we're in. We don't see the trivialisation of our cultures as something people can do for fun. We're people with feelings. After the parties have finished and the lights have gone out, we're still who we are.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Be inspired by Iceland's natural beauty

Iceland is a very beautiful country with much to offer.  But it is not for the faint hearted.


Cherish every minute

Earlier this year renowned kung fu legend, 56-year-old Gordon Liu (劉家輝), suffered a stroke. Gordon Liu, the star of The 36 Chambers of Shaolin is now disabled and is dependent on a wheelchair. This is such sad news. Liu is such a great guy who has such presence on and off the screen. He has over the decades attracted a global fan base. Life can never be the same following a stroke. As a martial artist, this would not be easy for somebody like Liu. Liu is known to have followed a healthy lifestyle. Like his brothers in the Lau family, have taken the traditional kung fu lifestyle to heart. Regular training protects you from many things, but who would know when something like a stroke would come. It is very sad, but we ought to learn from this. We ought to cherish every living minute. The enemy comes from within. Even after decades of training and spiritual cultivation, who can say they are indestructible? Martial artists too are only human.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Chinese Domestic Goddess

I often see in the Blightly how popular Ching-He Huang (黃瀞億) is.  She sells herself as the Chinese Nigella Lawson.  I have to hand it to her, she has come a long way and is doing quite well.  Not many non-Western celebrity chefs make it in Blightly.  Ken Hom is an authority on and by far the most famous face of Chinese food in Blighty.  But there's a problem, he's a bit dull and doesn't really promote Chinese well.  He is no Martin Yan (甄文達), who can deliver technique, wit and charm at the same time.  It is rather sad that Martin Yan never made it big in Blighty.

Ching-He Huang first came on the small screen in a minor role during the early 2000's.  Here was a fresh pretty face, in a business where female cooks are usually older and not usually considered sex symbol material.  Nigella was different, but she was older.  However, the early days were a disaster.  There was no technique, it was a desperate effort to cook something and sell a face.  Ching-He Huang had no knowledge or technique at all.  It was all about mixing ready made sauces together.  Which, if you're Chinese and you knew about food, would make you cringe.  She even wrote cook books, which surprisingly, sold.  Over time, she has improved and had moved to better slots on TV.  I could only imaging that she had done some research in her spare time. Watching her on TV, I get the feeling that she doesn't really know what's she's doing.  Some of the things that she's trying to do is well out of her depth.  Her views and opinions on the Chinese catering trade is somewhat unsavoury.  I certainly wouldn't class what she cooks as Chinese, but fusion.  But she sells, not because her cooking skills are awesome, but because she is pretty.  I see she now has her own range of kitchenware.  If only her cooking skills were up there with her marketing skills.   The Chinese Nigella she is not!  But she's got guts for trying, for that I give her some credit.

On Youtube there is Nana Chan, with her wokwithnana series. Nana is better known with the online community as Nanamoose, the lawyer turned blogger and food writer.  Watching her, I get the feeling that she knows what she's doing.  Though not a chef by profession, she is actually very good.  The camera is pretty close up and you the audience gets a clear idea as to what is happening.  The show is free on Youtube and it is well worth following.  There is no silly fusion, half-wit recipes here.  It's all real and it is all things that you could try at home.  Nana knows and appreciates good food, it's her passion and she seems like somebody with real substance.  One thing I do find odd, is how somebody who has spent some time in Blighty has such a strong American accent.  Nana Chan get's my vote!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't throw CDs away

I'm pretty law abiding and I do respect copyright of artists. If people can't get paid rewarded for what they do well, then why should they bother. I don't have a problem with paying for what I want to enjoy. Then it comes to region restricted DVDs. I have never liked the idea. I can understand the studios wanting to protect against piracy and illegal copying. However, what about consumer choice? I follow certain Chinese, Korean and Japanese genres. However, the movies I like might never come to Blighty. If they do, they're going to be out years after they were released in the Far East. Then comes the fact that I want the original non-censured or extended version. Why should I settle for second best? For this reason I don't find unlocking DVD players to be a problem. After all you've paid for your DVD. But you don't get region restricted music CDs. Recently I thought about purchasing more music via the likes of iTunes. After all, if it is just one of two tracks I like, why buy the whole CD. Then comes the reality, the lack of choice and the fact that they don't come in Chinese characters. They come in pinyin that looks neither Cantonese or Mandarin. It is odd, I mean are there many people who buy Cantopop or Mandopop on iTunes in the UK? But they're there. Somebody must buy it. The other gripe is that online venders like iTunes are region restricted. So great, I can't buy from iTunes back home. So the CD still rules. I can still rip for personal use. 

 To date, I've not brought much from iTunes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The top 10 things that annoy me about Hong Kong

I've just read this interesting blog article and I just thought I'd give it a try.  There are many things I like about about HK and there are many things I don't.  However, since I come from HK and my family's links to the region go back a long time, I can't really separate myself from HK.  I know that sounds funny, I suppose, because I'm not BBC, I don't see it any other way.

10.  People always have to be in a rush.  I'm sure people who know me will say the same about me, but actually I do find time to relax and unwind.  Hk'ers have at their disposal, the best transport network in the region, perhaps one of the best in the world.  However, there seems to be a massive need to rush everywhere.  People get tense, rude and lose themselves.  Why?

9.  Considering English is suppose to be an official language in HK, it is often spoken poorly.  The language ability of the average of the average HK'er is hardly great.  English is the international language to learn.  Most people elsewhere will speak it and even where it is not somebody's first language, English will be understood. Whilst we might find some Chinglish or code switching cute, it is not acceptable on many levels.  It is odd that British English or the Queen's English is not widely understood, yet there are many who speak with a funny American twang.  It doesn't work, it's not clever and to make it worst, they still get many words wrong.

8.  You can go to a number of shops in any shopping centre, large retail outlet or department store, and you will encounter annoying shop assistants.  From the greeting you walk through the door, to the "anything I can help you with?".  It is all rather repetitive and if I need help, I'll ask.  I know they're only doing their job, but it doesn't always work.  Unless I am actually interested, I'm not going to shop at such places.

7.  Tourists who decide to stop in the middle of a busy street to take pictures or just stand around and chat.  This is very annoying and it is like they have no idea that people live and work here.  I am fine to walk around such people when there is time and room on the pavement.  However, tourist seem to forget there is such a thing as rush hour in HK.  So whilst you're on holiday, the locals need to get to and from wherever.

6.  Mainland tourists are (almost) everywhere.  I have no issue with tourist of any colour or creed who come to HK.  However, Mainlanders are very often loud, rude, offensive and have no respect for the local HK (or Macau) residents.  You might have the brass, but you don't have the class.  Face and respect is earned, but they are winning very few friends in HK.  They don't really bring many benefits to the local economy.  They might create jobs via the retail and service sectors, but they also buy up a lot of property, many left empty and  resulting in many locals unable to get on the property ladder.  I'm no socialist, but the blame ought to be shared by the lame duck HKSAR government.

5.  The BBC prejudices.  The moment you say that you reside in Britain, you'll get the "you're BBC!" b/s.  If I said I live in Norway or Bhutan, I probably wouldn't get this.

4.  The general prejudice against Britain.  The majority of HK'ers have not set foot on British soil.  You know jack about Britain.  The food isn't bad, it doesn't always rain, not everything is expensive and technology wise, hardly in in the dark ages.  The only time some of HK folk have been to Britain would be to go shopping for designer goods or visit relatives.  Since the latter probably don't go out, they know nothing about what what Britain has to offer.

3.  The obsession with shark fin or the eating of any wild or exotic animal disgusts me.  Even eating cats and dogs annoy me.  You say how civilised you are, you say you now believe in Jesus and how Westernised you've become, yet there is this unhealthy and perverted desire to eat such things.  This sort of behaviour ought to be named and shamed.  It is good that there are pressure groups who are doing something, but there's is so much to do.  Let's face it, would Jesus consume shark fin soup?

2.  People are generally too materialistic.  People spend far too much time and hard earned cash buying things they don't need to impress people they don't like.  Which is why there are so many shopping centres (not malls, I'm not American), with at least one in every major town.  Some better than others and some are very posh.  The latter generally cater for the local and Asian tourists.  Anybody from Western Europe would not need to come to HK to buy designer goods that are likely to cost more.  What's the point?  That status symbol thing is also very annoying.

1.  Cultural vandalism.  This is something I find very annoying.  People who come to HK are not really there to see shiny skyscrapers.  They actually exist in many major cities in the developed and developing world.  Sure, some are quite impressive, but in reality, they are quite conservative.  London might not be covered in skyscrapers and they are hardly the tallest.  However, the ones that have gone up over the last ten years are least original or different.  What a lot of people want to see is some of the old.  They want to see what makes HK special, her past and the local culture.  That's the character.  Who cares about HK Disney?  The only one that really counts is the one in Florida.  Ocean Park is so much better value and much more to see and do.  When people ask me about HK, I'll always direct them to the older or working class areas.  That's the real HK.  Tony Blair in the earliest phase of his dictatorship had a policy of promoting Britain as a cool and trendy land of bars and nightclubs.  It didn't work.  People came to Britain to see her cultural gems, like castles and places of historic interest.  HK isn't Dubai.  Dubai has nothing much to offer, but new buildings and artificial islands.  HK should not be anything like Dubai, at least there is freedom that can't be enjoyed in many other countries.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If I could go back

Sometimes I wonder if I am making the right choices.  I try to do the right thing, but it is clearly not working.  I  am trying hard to make it work, but the goalpost keep changing.  I keep getting conflicting messages.  Some people are worth fighting for, some aren't.  I hope it isn't the case, but I have to keep my options open.





I know you need a friend, someone you can talk to
Who will understand what you're going through
When it comes to love, there's no easy answer
Only you can say what you're gonna do
I heard you on the phone, you took his number
Said you weren't alone, but you'd call him soon
Isn't he the guy, the guy who left you cryin'?
Isn't he the one who made you blue?
When you remember those nights in his arms
You know you gotta make up your mind

Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you
Or are you goin' back to the one you love?
Someone's gonna cry when they know they've lost you
Someone's gonna thank the stars above

What you gonna say when he comes over?
There's no easy way to see this through
All the broken dreams, all the disappointment
Oh girl, what you gonna do?
Your heart keeps sayin' it's just not fair
But still you gotta make up your mind

Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you
Or are you goin' back to the one you love?
Someone's gonna cry when they know they've lost you
Someone's gonna thank the stars above 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bring some new into the old

I've rather fancied getting a toy camera for a while.  However what turned me off is the fact that I have to get the film processed.  I've never really owned my very owned 35mm camera.  However I do remember that it used to cost a small fortune to get films processed.  It would cost me a similar amount to get the experience.  However I love to experiment and I love the iPhone4 with the current crop of great apps that can recreate these old school effects.  For now I will be happy using them.

I rather like this concept of a digital Holga camera.  It speak the right language in terms of what enthusiast want.  I'd buy one in the instant.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to basics

Over the last ten years, China has been hit by various health and safety crisis regarding food.  The problems with fake eggs, tainted milk and pork is enough to put a lot of people off.  So what's the deal with fake eggs?  Eggs by their very nature is suppose to be a cheap foodstuff.  Yet there was a need to create fake eggs that sell for less, yet there were people gullible enough to buy these.  Tainted milk, which killed and harmed a great many children.  The tainted mild saga was a public relations disaster for China as the export of food products that contained milk was going to be related.  Then there was the pork that was injected with a solution to make it heavier, thus selling for a higher price.  All these are cases of corruption that exists in China.  The need to make hefty profit far outweighs the need to respect the consumer.  The lack of respect of humanity and society is something that blights many modern China.  Can this sort of behaviour be thought of acceptable?  No, it is not.  But China, now as it was then, there will always be people who were willing to gamble high stakes in order to make a profit.  Clearly the need for moral education should be reintroduced in Chinese schools.  People need to understand the concept of shame.

So now we have a minority of people who have gone back to basics and started to grow some of their own food.  And why not, because if you can't trust what is out there, then you have to take control.  Clearly not everybody can do this, but it might be a start and hope that it will catch on.  I wish them well.  Please see this link for the article.

I recently read that there is a keen bee keeping community in Hong Kong.  This is something I quite like.  Almost everything in Hong Kong is imported and for a city that aims to be greener, not a lot has been done about this.  The food miles for Hong Kong alone must be huge, yet few in Hong Kong have thought about growing food or doing more to promote home grown agriculture.  This idea I know will not go down well with the ill-informed, land grabbing, money worshipping Hong Konger.  Perhaps I am crazy?  Actually I am not crazy, but Hong Kong can produce some foodstuff.  The days of cultivating rice has long gone, but what people don't notice is that Hong Kong has much in undeveloped hills, parks and gardens.  Bee keeping is ideal.  I like how HK Honey is trying to promote bee keeping.  It is good for the environment and it helps educate people about the alternatives.  Bee keeping in Central London is well known and we should keep the cities as green as possible.  What's the point of having trees and plants in your parks, if there are no insects to pollinate than.  I am all in favour of making the urban environment greener. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why is it so hard?

I never knew it could be so hard. I only thought it was only a question to ask. I thought it was simple, but clearly it is not the case. I'm confused. It is so much effort, but nobody really knows or understands. I wish people would see my point of view for once.  Perhaps it is hard, is because I don't like to lose...

I suppose it was all rather sweet at one point, but it being the optimist, I will always try. I love this song by Jacky Cheung called You didn't know, which about a crush...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Part 2

Chinese families do not discuss family matters to outsiders.  Chinese people do not get involved in other people's domestic affairs and if other people know their place.  Then they too will not interfere.  The matter of how to bring up children is therefore something that is, each to their own.  Sure, we all have our own ideas and we might feel our methods are correct.  The book Tiger Mother was originally intended to be about one women's quest to bring up her two daughters and how she was humbled by them.  However, a lot of people saw it has a manual for bring up children in the traditional way.

The opening chapters really did set the tone.  Chua was forthright with her views, they were strong words that told the readers, she does not back down.  However, the more you read into it, you will see that it isn't a manual for bringing up children.  She has admitted she has made mistakes and she knew she wasn't always right.  But what is important is that her daughters don't hate her.  They acknowledge the fact that Chua's efforts made them who they are.

It is rather strange that Chua chosen to raise her daughters this way.  Sure, she was raised in a traditional household and had strict parents.  But her parents came over from overseas, so of course they would have these values.  As she is of a different generation, one might have assumed that she would at least have a slightly more liberal way of dealing with things.  I have noticed that she did have a narrow way of thinking.  A lot of things are assumed, such as Western parent methods, where there are few rules and children are rewarded for underachieving.  Also how classical music is important in the development of a person.  Her opinions were wrong and it shows how little she understood and appreciated the arts.

The good thing about this book is that it has opened up a debate.  There are some things in Chinese society that need to be thrown into the open and only when we look at the pros and the cons, do we understand what is good and what is bad.  The world can have a glimpse of what traditional Chinese parenting is about.  It is about time Chinese people themselves look at themselves.  People will come to agree and disagree and that is good.  People will need to understand that Western parenting is not just about liberal attitudes and rewarding the underachiever or the non-achievers.  There are reasons why Westerns parents might do this, such as having children that aren't easily motivated.  Moreover, some children just aren't gifted academically.  It would be wrong to force children to do something that is not possible.  Perhaps they have other gifts and talents in practical matters.  Then there are the strict Western parents, who put their children through just as much and expect excellent grades.  Children are expected to conform to certain standards and master discipline.  If Chua measured success of Westerners by simply her own benchmark, then all Westerners would have failed in life.  There would be Oxbridge or Ivy League.  Success can be measured in many ways.  Academic success does not necessarily mean success in life.  Those who don't do well at school, end up doing well in other fields and until somebody has truly made it in their profession, we simply can't judge.

Considering how Westerners see Chinese people, they will find that there are actually liberal Chinese parents as well.  Are these parents breeding failure?  They hope that isn't the case.  Chua asserted the importance of education, whilst few parents will disagree.  They will argue that there are other things in childhood that are just as important.  Things like a happy, stable family life influences how children see life.  Yes, we should study hard, but children are not robots, they need time to rest and do something different.  There is nothing wrong with a little time to play computer games or participate in sporting activities.  There has to be balance and Chua did not factor this into her parenting approach.  We have to be realistic here, not all children are academically gifted and no amount of extra-curricular coaching or beating will squeeze the few marks that lead to excellent grades.  So long as they grow up into decent human beings, lead happy lives and earn a decent living.  Chinese parents would be happy enough.  In reality, some of the most successful Chinese people were not grade A students at school and some probably never read at university.  They became successful because they worked hard.  They probably also had understanding, broad-minded parents and lived in the kind of environment that encouraged rather than forced progress.

Westerners often have a lot of misconceptions regarding Chinese people.  Whilst Confucianism came form China, Confucianism does not live everywhere where Chinese people breath.  Often a corruption of Confucianism is seen, which is taken for the real thing.  Confucius believed in education and cultivating benevolence.  Making children's lives hell is not a Confucian concept.  Westerners often include Daoism and Buddhism into the mix.  Many misinformed Chinese people tend to say such beliefs are Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist influences in Chinese culture.  This is actually far from the truth.  Confucianism teaches about benevolence and duty.  Daoist preach about balance and goodness and Buddhist teaches us about liberating ourselves.  The three should mean Chinese people would live in a spiritual paradise.  But it is not so.  None of the books of the three religions mention anything to promote strict parenting as the way.  Yes, there are rules and discipline, but there is also common sense.

Its might surprise people that there are mothers that are far stricter than Amy Chua.  I am not surprised at all.  There are some that push children to the extreme.  These children, I have much sorrow for.  They spend every waking moment studying and practising their music.  Everything has been planned for them.  By the time they have reached adulthood, they find they can't relate to other people.  They have never experienced what others have.  They lack personality and people skills, which will hinder them in certain circles.  That's fine in a science lab, but that's hardly going to well on a date or social events.  On the whole, the rote learning and constant drilling on musical instruments have turned out a lot of people who have excellent technique, but lack the ability to express themselves or the music.  I don't think these types of parents understand that money spent on holidays (besides visiting relatives) actually help cultivate somebody's personality and perception.  Technique isn't everything, without the ability to express oneself, good technique only produces a nice sound.  This isn't artistic interpretation and perhaps that is why many Chinese people fail in the arts.  Chua's two daughters were special, not because of quantity of practice, but because they were artistically gifted also.  I could see that this gift came from the father and not Chua herself.

There is a lot of crassness in Chinese parenting, in Hong Kong alone, the level of stupidity begs belief.  In any balance society, you will have people doing different things.  This produces the kind of talent to fill every niche in society.  You can't have everybody being doctors and lawyers alone.  If you did, who will fulfil the other roles in society.  Not so in Hong Kong where the myopia is rife.  Parents are pushing their children to the same narrow fields, which then result in course become over subscribed.  The education are also proving their wisdom by concentrating  their resources in promoting these profitable vocations.  As usual the arts and sports suffer, then people wonder why Hong Kong doesn't produce talent in these areas.  Children in normal societies don't start studying until they reach primary school.  In order to get children into the mindset, Children will be packed off to nurseries to learn to interact with other children, long before they can crawl.  They will be learning to French, before they can mutter anything in Cantonese, but English is the other official and commonly used language right?  By putting a French book in front of a dribbling baby, the baby is not going to absorb any French at all.  I suppose babies will learn by osmosis.  Putting a laptop in front of a baby won't help either.  It won't by chance start writing programming codes for Apple or Microsoft, any time soon.  By the time they start kindergarten,  they will live a life of school, after school classes and non-stop extracurricular activities.  They end up doing so much, they became jack of all trades, yet master of none.  All the while, parents will be forcing their children to work harder and harder.  Did anybody every tell them, that in the West, nobody goes through this kind of nonsensical hell to get into Oxbridge or Ivy League.  Its all about aptitude and character... 

End of part 2...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The weekend that'll most of us will never forget


The Royal wedding bank holiday weekend will be one that most of us will never forget. The lovely wedding of Prince William to Katherine Middleton wowed the world over. We've not seen a royal wedding of this scale in decades and we spent the next couple of days mulling over how great it was. Then on the morning of the 2nd of May, we woke up to the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid by the US Navy SEALS. It was certainly a sobering thought.

The SEALS found the largest collection of terrorist material ever. It was found that it was bin Ladin who masterminded and controlled Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda were responsible for some of the greatest terrorist acts ever seen. The most noted was the events of September 11th 2001. On that day, more than 3,000 lives were lost, these were unarmed civilians and members of the emergency services who were there to save lives. It was somewhat ironic that bin Laden was killed unarmed (though there was a struggle). It was also ironic that the man some consider a holy warrior used one of his wives as a human shield before he was killed.

As a follower of the path, it is hard to express one's feelings over the matter. Certainly, bin Laden was responsible for a lost of a great many lives, but would killing him stop future killing? No. Some suggest he should have been taken captive and tried. But at the end of the day, under who's laws? Keeping him alive would have aroused more attention and for the wrong reasons. There might have been more suicide bombings, which would have resulted in more innocent lives being lost. What has been achieved is that Al-Qaeda has been in part exposed, questions are being asked, answers have surfaced. Al-Qaeda will live on in some form or another. Another terrorist leader will arise to fill bin Laden's shoes. Killing bin Laden offered only a temporary solution, but it was a necessary evil.

As a follower of the path, I feel good people the world over must make a stand against Al-Qaeda, Islamic extremists and all that they represent. People need to understand that what they believe and preach is evil and we must draw the line to protect what is right and our freedom. I must say, it will certainly be a weekend most of us will never forget...

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Today is Royal Wedding Bank Holiday.  HRH Prince William of Wales marries his partner Catherine Middleton.  The whole of Britain (minus the republicans and religious fundamentalist groups) and the Commonwealth cheers.  A lot more were watching as the event was broadcastered to many more countries.  We've not had a proper British royal wedding for a long time.  The last time we had one was that Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles, which was a pretty low key event. However, so were that for Princess Anne's second marriage and that of Prince Edward.  It was a big deal, because there has not been a Royal wedding backed by popular public celebrations to this scale for a a very long time.  The last time there was anything to this scale was the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.

Prince William has grown up to be a very grounded and well respected figure in his own right.  He is well liked and he represents the hope for the future of the British Monarchy.  Both he and his brother Prince Harry represent a a modern look for the Royal family.  Things have not always gone well and they have not had the smoothest childhoods, but they pulled through.  The reputation of the Royal family took a tumble.  The old fashioned ways of the establishment persisted, even though the Royal family has changed a lot since Queen Elizabeth came to the throne.  This was not the main factor, but the way the public view the House of Windsor, when they took sides with Diana, Princess of Wales.  Prince William's marriage will make the Monarchy, hopefully popular again.  The Will and Kate brand will do a lot for Britain. 

A lot of people in Hong Kong would no doubt be watching.  Despite being no longer a British Colony and not even a member of the British Commonwealth.  Hong Kongers still follows British events with interests.  The wedding and the events of the day were broadcasted live and of course Hong Kongers would be watching with great interest.  This is about a handsome prince marrying a very pretty girl (who is not of royal or noble descent).  This is of course just like in a fairy tale and the sort material Disney features are made of.  It was a good show, nobody does military marches, pomp and circumstances like Britain.  Royal weddings in other European countries are nowhere this grand.  Prince William is not the heir to the throne the event is not a state occasion, but due the his popularity, it was pretty much so, unofficially.  Hong Kongers love sentimentalism and add the glamour, this is right up their street.  There was a lot of comparisons between his wedding and that of his father to his mother...

This is where it gets annoying, as Hong Kongers and Asians (actually many uninformed, liberals and no-brainers) will at this point take sides.  Princess Di, ever so beautiful and charming, could do no wrong.  The perpetual princess of hearts to many people.   Prince Charles will always  be the villain.  Whenever this topic is raised by Hong Kongers or other Asians, I feel I have to run.  I doubt they want my opinion on the matter.  I respect the late Princess Diana and all she has done that is good.  However, I have lived through the highs and lows of the matter.  I've read and heard it all in the press.  The British public have moved on, Mohamed Al-Fayed hasn't been heard in public for a while.  If I was asked, my response would be "It takes two to tango, you weren't there or directly involved and it certainly isn't your problem...."   

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Part 1

Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has been a much talked about and very controversial book. It is certainly the topic of discussion regarding how Chinese people raise their children.  For years, there has not been a book from a Chinese author that has caused such a stir.  The last book was from Jung Chang (張戎), called Wild Swan.  This book like Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club, was about personal journeys of Chinese women, their experiences of the East and the West.  They are a matter of personal taste, but I haven't read Wild Swan, but regarding the Joy Luck Club, I have read the book and watched the film.


When I read in the press about this Tiger Mother book, I was actually quite excited and judging by the title, I kind of guessed what it might be about.  There were a lot of negative reviews and comments in the media.  I myself had my own opinions and prejudices.  I guess many other Chinese or Asians had them also.  I guess parenting is a private affair for Chinese people and it is certainly not something you tend to read about.  If you are Chinese, you'd know about it and the usual mention in stereotypical jokes.  Until now, it has all been an open secret, but now people the world over get a brief look into Chinese parenting ethos.


Amy Chua (蔡美兒) had a list that she enforced on her two daughters that they must not do.  
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin
This list cause a furore with all who had read or heard about the contents.  It was shocking and it was something generally not heard of outside Asian communities.  There are split opinions, some feel her approach is wrong in a liberal and democratic society.  However, there are those who feel Chua hasn't gone far enough.  Many people thought this book was a manual as to how to bring up children, it is not.  You have to read it to understand what Chua wanted to say.

Amy Chua was born to an immigrant Chinese family who were very traditional.  Chua eventually married an American-Jewish man, but it is somewhat odd that she intended to bring up her daughters her own way, the traditional Chinese way.  Yet, the daughters were raised as Jewish.  Being Chinese and Jewish is nothing new (I'll explain another day), but it certainly gave her daughters unique personalities.  The Chinese and Jewish parenting methods differ greatly.  Chinese parents are generally conservative and strict.  Jewish parents are often more open and allow children the space to develop.  But there are no right or wrong here.  If you look at the list of the most influential players on the world stage, there are no shortage of people of Chinese or Jewish backgrounds.

Yes, Chua was very tough with her daughters.  I could imagine growing up with such a mother was very tough.  Imagine being with friends, but generally being different.  In a way, it looked really extreme when compared to the liberal attitudes in the West.  If this was in Asia, then it would be not a big deal.  Chua wanted the best for her daughters, she cared and that is why she went to these great lengths.  Sometimes she went to far.  The relationship with her youngest daughter Lulu was strained at times, because she insisted on fighting fire with fire.  Whilst they were growing up, it was always about living to a strict schedule, e.g.  school, homework and practice their musical instruments.  There was no breathing space and this continued whilst on family holidays.  The daughters will practice before they will be allowed to engage in any sort of leisurely activity.  Often this will mean the practice sessions will over-run and the intended schedule would be ruined as the attraction had closed for the day.  I give credit to her husband.  He's been supportive and had the patience of a saint.  I can see that he didn't always agree with Chua's actions and even he feels at times, his wife had gone too far.

My fist impressions of Chua was that she was self-opinionated, pushy and lacked understanding of the way things when her children were concerned.  I also thought she was quite shallow in that she had little understanding about the arts and she didn't really respect the opinions of people that were quite different from her own.  Chua believed classical music was the path children should pursue.  That classical music was a civilised activity, I agree with this.  However, when she was going through the third piano teacher for her eldest daughter.  I thought she was shallow in dismissing the ideas of this particular teacher.  I say this, because this teacher had a deep way of thinking regarding music, but it was about appreciating arts in society and not academic or status related.  This way of thinking is quite common in Chinese society, where the unconventional artist is not tolerated.  In the West, this sort of thing is a gift.  It is obvious that her family had little appreciation for animals and it wasn't until she had her first dog (her suggestion) that she started to appreciated dogs.  It showed that she has no understanding of animals, when she declared she had plans for her dog.  I guess in her traditional psyche, pets must have a function.  In the West, pets are to be appreciated beyond their practical abilities.  It was odd that she actually wanted second dog and by the end of the book, a third.  I have no idea if they ever did get a third.  

You have to appreciate though Chua.  She did a fine job balancing home and work life.  Her daughters might not have appreciated her efforts back then and readers might have felt she was stretching herself too thinly.  She did it for her daughters.  Not many successful career women could do that.  She might possibly be an inspiration to the stereotypical Chinese Super Woman (女強人).  If only, if only they had the desire to make children as well as money and obtain power and influence. 


End of part 1...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When my eyes roll back

Anybody of Chinese extraction who has lived in the West would have been asked about the routine stereotypical questions (you know the ones).  There was a recent web article from CNNGo which I found quite interesting and I thought it is a good idea to jot down the five questions I loathe.

1.  "Are Chinese or Japanese?"  This is a question I've heard many times and if I got a £1 for every time I answered this, I'd be rich.  The next question would be "what's the difference between Chinese and Japanese?"  Then it is "can you speak Chinese/Japanese?" followed by "how are they different?" - Yawn...

2.  Do you have a Chinese name?  and How come you have an English name?  I get this a lot when you meet new people.  I bet ignorant Westerners have a field day when it comes to  Chinese names.  I have seen loads of jokes, especially in these Chinglish topic websites.  Yes, they are hilarious aren't they?  Well it is human nature to laugh at things that look funny to you.  After all, there are plenty of English surnames that are equally funny.  Then we have the Chinese person with an English name.  Unless you're family have been in the West for many generations and don't really follow Chinese naming traditions.  Many Chinese people would have been born with a Chinese name.  The English name comes later.  It might have been given when you or you might have found one you like when you were at school.  Have Westerners ever thought that it makes communications easier when you have a name that everybody can pronounce and you don't have to explain yourself.

3.  Do you speak Mandarin or Cantonese?  If you knew where I came from, do you need to ask?

4.  Do you do kung fu?  and can you show me some?  This is actually rather mind-numbing.  The real answer is yes I do kung fu and no I won't show you any.  Any traditional martial artist would not show off their skills and abilities, we're not circus monkeys.  If you're respectful and genuinely interested, then that's different.  Then there is the compulsory Bruce Lee monkey noises.  Real kung fu is no joke and no I won't trivialise my tradition.

5.  The issue of eating cats and dogs.  *sigh* This is very, very tiring, but many Westerners feel it is ok to harp on about it.  I don't eat cats and dogs, I don't believe in this sort of behaviour.

It is quite funny how Westerners love talking about these things to Chinese people.  Just because Chinese people will generally just take it, it doesn't mean we enjoy putting up with it.  If you pose the same sort of nonsense to  members of other ethnic or religious groups, you'd probably be sued and the press will have a field day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dating non-Asians

I have always been into just Asian women, I'm not sure why.  I went to school where the only other Chinese person was my sister.  I went through university and my intention was still to meet Asian women.  I really have to broaden out my experience.  In light of past events, I ought to try a little harder.

On the subject of dating, this song really makes me laugh.


The lyrics are greats:

Verse 1
Tell me was it my xanga? My anime or my manga?
Did I turn you away with all my references to Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist and such?

I know, I stood in line to reserve my Pokemon Pearl
I admit my share of raiding in that Warcraft World
Please give me a chance, am I asking too much?

Chorus

You are the best thing that's ever happened to me
I love you more than I love rice and kim chee
At times I may be timid, at times I may be shy
But just because I'm not the white guy doesn't mean I'm not the right guy

Verse 2

You like to watch him eat with chopsticks, it's so cute to watch him try
But I've got crazy ninja chopstick skills that'd make a grown man cry!
Is it really wrong to still live at home? (with my mom...)

Not a single soul can match my skills at DDR
You know that I don't drift every time you're in my car
Is it really a crime to keep the plastic on my couch and on my phone?

Chorus 2

I need you more than "fortune" needs "cookie"
You're more important than my computer science degree
At times I may be nerdy, but that don't mean I don't try
Just because I'm not the white guy, doesn't mean I'm not the right guy

Bridge

You said I was selfish cause I spent all my time on my medical degree
But you know, I was only trying to take care of you and our extended families

Chorus 3

Can't you see, I'd rather have "us" than have a wii
For you I'd get straight A's in school, never once get a single "B"
My arms are not hairy, Korean dramas make me cry
Just because I'm not the white guy doesn't mean I'm not the right guy

© 2007 Christopher Toy


*Otaku is a Japanese word for people who follow a particular interest group with great obsession.  The equivalent in English would be nerd or anorak.  However, when the term came to Taiwan and Hong Kong, the meaning extended to mean people with social phobias.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pin your colours

I have lived in Blighty for many a years and I have noticed that unlike most countries, it is some sort problem if you fly the national flag.  You are free to fly the flag of any country or pseudo-government, but not the Union Flag.  Apparently it offends minority groups and makes members of these groups feel oppressed.  But hang on, you're in Britain, you live here and most likely a British subject.  What is the problem?

If you are in the USA or in France, the national flag is proudly flown the from the mast and nobody questions this.  Its a free country and the national culture, customs and faith are not questioned.  You are free to be as you are.  Even in less free countries like China and Iran, being foreign and believing in what must is not a problem.  If you don't annoy them, they don't annoy you.

It is only in Britain that the very welcoming and liberal natives welcomes foreigners with open arms and let themselves be walked over.  Multi-culturalism has clearly failed, communities don't talk, never mind trust each other.  Clan feuds and backward customs are imported in Britain.  As a Christian country, Christians or being Christian is some sort of problem.  Whilst I am not Christian, I have no issues with Christmas and Easter.  Being Chinese, we are not hindered in celebrating Chinese New Year.  On a contrary, the Brits come out in force to celebrate with us.

Britain is very welcoming and tolerant to people of all races, religions or sexual orientations.  You can practice what you want, so long as it doesn't break any laws.  It is rather upsetting that clan or religious feuds are imported and so the fighting and bickering continues.  Its important to note that where they originate, they most definitely would not have enjoyed the freedom they do in good ol' Blighty.

For the record...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A clean break

This week I feel very relaxed and considering what I am up against next week, even I am surprised.  I broke up last year after an 18 month long distance relationship.  People say that long distance relationships don't work and   generally it is true.  However, in my case, it is because I found myself with an introverted otaku* girl who has serious personal and social issues.  Facebook can be a great way to connect, but not when you are being stalked.  Some people need to get out more, but I have moved on.  I should probably done it sooner.



So why am I relieved after a year, because I no longer like being stalked and after hearing about her poor behaviour from others.  I feel I have to disconnect.  I didn't do it back then because I respect her enough to give her face and allow the thread of friendship to continue.  All this, despite many factors.  I feel very happy and refreshed.  Now that I am officially single, I am going to start meeting new people.  I am going to try and do things differently.





Friday, April 1, 2011

R U BBC?

One the things you get when you go to Hong Kong is that people you meet will ask if if you are BBC?  Well  so what if I am and so what if I'm not.  Is there a problem?  I suppose if you're coming back from overseas, you are going to look different.  The way you dress, your body language and also your lack of Chinese language ability.  You are an obvious target for eager sales staff in shops.  I do find the term BBC rather annoying.  After all, you'd think your fellow Chinese would be a bit more considerate towards their own kind, no not so.  Do Hong Kongers enjoy being called Hongkies by Malaysian Chinese?  Probably not, but what is sauce for the goose, should be sauce for the gander.  If you can dish out, you ought be be sportsmanlike enough to take it back.  You can spot a BBC a mile away, in Blighty as well as back in Hong Kong.  A BBC usually sticks out like a sore thumb.  But let's put the shoe on the other foot.  Put a native Hong Konger in Blighty and the chances are they're like a duck out of water too.  So how would they enjoy being called names? Without a doubt, not at all.

I don't feel I have to explain my background, I am comfortable with who I am.  I rather not be bored and suffer your stupidity and ignorance.  As a matter of fact, I wasn't born in Britain.  Over the years, I've heard every joke and insult about Chinese people.  To the point, it no longer bothers me, actually I find some of them rather funny.  What is funny is the term we Cantonese give to white people Gwailo is suppose to be a derogatory term.  However, white people in Hong Kong have accepted this tag and embraced it as their identity.  This is much the same as how white people accept the Japanese term gaijin (foreigner, outside person).  So my advice to all BBC's is to embrace the term, even if you don't like it in the beginning.  If you like it enough, the negative tones will go.

I am well aware of the intra-Hong Kong prejudice and discrimination that goes on.  There is always one group against another.  Before becoming a British colony, it was the Hakka Vs the local Punti's Vs the boat dwelling Tanka.  Now we all live in apartment blocks, we speak the same and dress the same, who really knows your background.  That spirit of discrimination hasn't gone, its now Catholics Vs Protestants, who themselves have issues with Buddhists and Taoists.  Then we move onto the prejudice and discrimination towards the Filipinos, Thais and Indonesians.  Pound for pound, BBC's get it easy.

A lot of BBC's are second or third generation descendants of the local Hong Kong clans that have moved abroad to scratch a living.  After all, there were few prospects in farming left in Hong Kong.  If you could earn a living abroad you did.  Then you sent money home, which helped your family, your clan and the local economy.  A lot of Hong Kongers really don't understand how or why we moved abroad.  The subject is often missing in the history of Hong Kong, possibly because people don't know how to tell it.  The clans of Hong Kong have been in the region for a long time.  Some have been there for centuries.  Hong Kong is the land our ancestors, overseas Chinese have every right to feel at home there.  On the other hand, a lot of Hong Kongers you see are descendants people who came to Hong Kong to seek refuge from the problems during the waning years of the Qing Dynasty, the Republic era, the Japanese invasion and later the Communists.  A number of them  weren't even from Canton Province.  So who are they to talk.  However, I'm not going to go there.  I believe Chinese people of any description should unite, help each other and live in peace.

BBC's might not be too clued up on Hong Kong culture, but that doesn't make them stupid.  A number of them are graduates and have employable skills.  The talent that Hong Kong might actually need.  Hong Kong might be a modern city, but in many ways, they are still quite behind with the times.  If locals still ask if you are BBC, the best way forward is stand up and positively say YES!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tai Chi for sale???

Bruce Lee is the ultimate kung fu icon, so much so that decade after his passing, people come far and wide to Hong Kong to breathe the very air he breathed.  Love him of loathe him, you can't deny that without him, Hong Kong's status in the global film industry would be much less significant.  Bruce Lee was very much the first kung fu action hero.  His films sold, they still do and there is a certain mystery about his personality.  Sadly, Bruce Lee died young, he was Hong Kong's James Dean.  Each year thousands of locals and tourist pose in front of the famous statue on the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui.  To many people both East and West, Bruce Lee was the inspiration that lead to people taking up Chinese kung fu.


Without going into the East meet West clichés, Hong Kong is a very unique place.   Over the last hundred of so years, people have migrated to Hong Kong for a number of reasons.  The unique way the British Colonial government worked, meant there were many things that survived and flourished, but could not on the Mainland.  Martial arts was one of these things that took hold in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong, then as it is now is very much a dog eat dog society.  The weak will be bullied and those that had resolve went to learn kung fu to protect themselves.  The martial arts community thrived and tradition meant something.  As the colony prospered, the interest to train in kung fu waned.  

What people now seek and want have change.  Young people might idolise Bruce Lee, but how many of these actually practice kung fu?  The answer is very few.  Kung fu is hard work, it takes time, it hurts and you get dirty.  But I suppose to advance in any profession or field, is it any different?  Are Hong Kong people getting softer?  Not really, the drive and energy is still there, but its just geared for something else.  Its ironic that only a few decades have passed since Bruce Lee's passing, the kung fu landscape in Hong Kong has changed.  Kung fu is not so about fighting, but money.  The Bruce Lee brand is still highly profitable, its all about the art of making money.

People are now interested in health.  So let's do some Tai Chi?  Well Tai Chi might be best known as a health exercise, but in actual fact, Tai Chi started off as a style of kung fu.  Over the years, Tai Chi has been diluted. In Mainland China, Tai Chi has been transformed into a wushu set.  Yes, traditional forms do exists, but you perform the national set routines for certain events.  And of course, there is the Tai Chi that virtually all elderly Chinese people do in the parks every morning, without fail.  Hong Kong in her former glory also had representative from all the major Tai Chi styles.  Yet today, for various reasons, the spirit has been much watered down.  Elderly people still head to the parks every morning and the health benefits are still respected.  But the true meaning is somewhere else.

Are outsiders to consider Tai Chi an exercise for old people, where we meaninglessly wave our arms in the air in a slow manner?  There are many teachers, perhaps more so than an other style of kung fu in Hong Kong.  However the quality needs to be properly assessed.  Anybody who can do Tai Chi can call themselves a teacher, master or grandmaster.  Whether they can teach anybody beyond arm waving is another matter.  But it doesn't matter, so long as people pay to learn.  But it should do.  Because just because I can whip up a pasta and boil an egg, that doesn't make me a candidate for a Michelin star.  Kung fu masters need to be assessed on quality, knowledge and skill.  There are too few young people coming to train in Tai Chi.  Too many believe in the clichés and don't have any faith in the practical aspect.  If they considering practical fighting, they'd train in Karate or Taekwondo.  Young people don't want to lose face in front of peers when they tell them about Tai Chi.  In many ways, Tai Chi is probably the most abused, misunderstood  and most poorly taught of all styles of kung fu.  

Just because it is slow and looks easy, it doesn't mean everybody can master it.  Yet, there are those who learn form a DVD and only properly trained martial artist could tell.  The Chinese sword is the king of Chinese weapons and the hardest to master, yet many Tai Chi people in Hong Kong do sword play.  Some have even invented the Tai Chi guitar form.  That is somewhat eccentric and unless you have a high level of skill and experience in Tai Chi, its not going to work.  Tai Chi can even suit you if you can't stomach the original theories.  There has been a subtle trend in Hong Kong where practising Chinese Christians find it necessary to culturally vandalise or whitewash the traditional meanings.  By doing this makes things easier to swallow.  This is a bit like in the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864), where Confucius was demoted from sage to just a learned man.  So Tai Chi is no longer a martial art, its not an exercise, it is a philosophy and just a philosophy.  Tai Chi now has no connection with Taoism.  But then again, there are those who won't train in other styles of Kung Fu, because of their links to Buddhism.  That is just bizarre.  It is like saying, I'm not a Christian, so I can't celebrate Christmas (Santa won't give you a present, but there's nothing stopping you enjoying the festive spirit).  Its silly and it is shallow.  So come on people? Tai Chi now comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and flavours.  There is a Tai Chi for you.