Monday, March 17, 2014

In praise of cocktail therapy and training philoshopy

Jack of all trades is someone who prided himself to know or to have learned many different disciplines, but master in none of them. A student of general commercial studies know many subjects but specializes in none. A friend of mine who studied industrial engineering jokingly tell me that he was not an engineer because he was not an expert in any engineering subject. Interdisciplinary studies in University usually end up in the same category. It is a fact that there are simply too many subjects. When one ties too many subjects together, it is a matter of time before one suffers from indigestion and become a JOAT.

Yet Dr. David Ho (a Taiwanese American) was made famous for his cocktail treatment of HIV. Ho helped devise the HAART or highly active anti-retroviral therapy, which prescribes a cocktail of drugs to treat AIDS, on the theory that it would be more effective to combine powerful protease inhibitors with other HIV medications.

What is the difference between jack of all trades and cocktail? And how is it relevant to healing and the internal arts in particular?

Take tai chi as an example. There are many family lineages of tai chi (Chen/Yang/Wu etc), and there are many internal variations with each lineage (north/south, wide/narrow, Mr.X vs Mr. Y vs Mr. Z etc), sometimes with contradictory training methods. Moreover, like many traditional arts, many teaching methods are taught as "untouchable" methods, the teacher has no responsibility to explain why he teaches this way or that way, the student on the other hand has the responsibility to follow his teacher's instructions to the letter. As a matter fact, how many people have the time and energy to learn more than a couple of lineages, not to mention the ability to digest them!

What then is the different of learning a number of tai chi lineages (and other internal art forms) and the use of cocktail treatment in HIV? The difference is that the latter starts with a concrete objective - a treatment objective to be specific.

To get the benefit of cocktail, a student of the internal arts has to set up his own learning or training objectives and seek from whatever styles, lineage or training method that he believes will be useful for him to achieve his objectives. On the part of the teacher, his role will have to be changed from one who teaches a set of pre-determined movements/forms to a personal coach who tailor-makes a training method (based on his own learning and knowledge) for his student based on his student's training objectives.

Recently I was introduced to a graphic presentation of different approaches to yoga and meditation. The author asked me to let my readers know. Readers interested in the subjects or the philosophy of cocktail training may find it interesting to have a look HERE.

The concept of cocktail

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