Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zhan zhuang as cultural exchange

Helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia is a key domestic manpower for Hong Kong families. In particular Indonesians helpers who are more empathetic towards old people and willing to spend extra efforts to needy people. With the aging population, their services have become vital to the population. We thank them a lot. Their kind attitude towards the elderly, I reckon, is partly due to their religious devotion, though I can't claim myself to have more than a surface understanding of Islamism. One thing for sure, they are more religious than more cosmopolitan Hong Kong citizens.

The exercise of zhan zhuang and tai chi is getting more and more popular in Hong Kong. Unlike doing yoga that you need to go to a gym to practice, students of zhan zhuang and tai chi usually practise in a public park under the tutelage of a teacher or sifu. Those are classes-for-the-general-public 普及班 which essential means for an average student regardless of level. An average class will have some 20 students doing the routines after their sifu. Individual coaching is seldom, due to the large size of the class. Imitation is the key method of training. With 1 - 7 lessons per week, a student will find no problem in picking up the routine within a short period of time. For more serious students, a private, or at least small group of 2-4, under a sifu is required. Some of these private students later will become sifus themselves. However, one must not lightly discredit the method of imitation. I shall explain more in a future post, suffice to say here that the famous Indian guru Sri Ramana Maharshi primarily used this method for his spiritual training, and he believed it to be the best method. I agree with the guru. More on that in the future.

In addition to local Chinese, the number of foreigners practising the art is increasing. The picture below was taken by my Indonesian helper who, as I explained in some previous posts, has taken lessons from me with very good progress. The lady sifu depicted is an Indonesian helper and the students are fellow Indonesian helpers. According to my helper, the lady sifu has been trained privately under a Chinese sifu in Hong Kong for a number of years. And that "she really knows the internal tricks of zhan zhuang", my helper told me.

I am glad to see the art of zhan zhuang is being served as a means of cultural exchange. The helpers can get good mind-body relaxation and conditioning after a week of labour in their employers' respective houses.  In time, I trust that we can expect to see many Indonesians practising the art in Indonesia, when the helpers get the benefits and go home after their contracts in Hong Kong.

Indonesian helpers doing zhan zhuang in Hong Kong

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