Meet Lay Seng Chng

Lay Seng Chng

How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi?
I started learning Tai Chi Chuan in 1972 in the state of Johor in Malaysia at the age of 28. In 1974, I moved to Penang I have the honour to receive direct instructions from Master Tok Sing Gim of Penang who was one of the first students of Grandmaster Yeh Siu Ting who in turn is the student of Professor Cheng Man Ching (Details on website). I Joined the Penang Tai Chi Association in 1975 as a life member. I was appointed to join the group of instructors at the Association in 1981 and in 1997 I was elected as the Chief instructor of the group of instructors of the Association.

What does Tai Chi Chuan mean to you?
TCC has saved me from the misery of having to suffer the worries and torture of the migraine and heart problems my young age. It might even have saved and prolonged my life!
To me TCC is one of the most interesting hobbies I have ever enjoyed. It is a treasure of my life. It has helped me to lead a more secure life in the sense that I am relieved from worries from health problems many people face; and more important, to be able to impart to others this privilege.
It has not only helped me in my health, it has taught me to live a better life physically, mentally, and socially by adopting the principles of TCC.

What is the most important aspect for you?
Generally TCC is one of the best forms of martial arts/calisthenics/sports/excercises(or whatever one may call it) especially in its ability to help people to recover from chronic health problems and maintain good health and to be free from various health troubles many people face.
It is not just healthwise that TCC is known have benefited people. I am very sure people who have practiced TCC in the right way will agree that one will feel more secure in ones? movements regardless of age race or gender and enjoy benefits leisurewise, sportswise, socialwise, workwise…. In life health comes first, then comes financial stability, d social/communal integration.

Do you have any personal goals in Tai Chi?
My personal goals is to try to improve myself so that I can improve others; help others to achieve what I have not achieved, and to discover what I have not discovered. I believe there is still very much to be achieved, very much to be discovered.

Who or what inspired you?
My poor health and hopelessness (in the ability to get it cured)in my younger days made me give TCC a try and when it proved to me that it helped, I was intent to go in search for a deeper understanding of the art.

What do you make of Tai Chi Chuan’s current popularity?
TCC’s current popularity is a good trend, but there is a danger and be counter productive if it goes on the way it is developing. Instead of studying further into the art people think that they have mastered the art and are good enough to start to develop what they think to be better sets and forms. Before one clearly understands what it means people have tried to teach what it can mean. This will lead to shallow knowledge and thus retard further research into the art. To study an art it is not just to learn to know the forms and to create new ones to give oneself a name for that form he/she has created. Example I can easily create my own set and call it LSChng’s Tai Chi and LOOK! HOW GREAT I AM!!! MINE IS BETTER THAN THE ONE I LEARNT!!! This may make new learners feel disillusioned for they have been given a wrong impression of what TCC is. It confuses the beginners. There has been in existence so many forms of TCC and people are making more sets of forms. In this sense they may retard the growth and progress of the art.

As a Teacher, how do you feel about the Martial aspects of Tai Chi?
Martial applications of TCC is not as simple as one thinks. TCC will not be called an internal art and the name ?Tai Chi Chuan? if it is just to apply this form this way and that form that way. It can be one of the best forms of self defence but it needs much training and understanding, especially in sensing and qi cultivation.
It is strange to many if I say that martial aspect of TCC can lead to prevention of direct clashes in every sense of our daily life, like avoiding direct clashes with people at home, at work, in the community. So, to train martial applications does not mean training to fight but it is as beneficial in our everyday life.
Let us not forget that while TCC is one of the best forms of self defence, what is the use of martial applications when faced with present day weapons? The Opium Wars of China is a good example of the illusions of martial arts.

What are your views on competition? and What direction would you like to see Tai Chi Chuan going in the future?
As TCC is a good form of sports, competitions should be encouraged with proper rules. It helps to develop TCC into a healthy sport which people can benefit. So TCC needs to be presented in a different approach. We have to try to think of a way to popularise TCC as a sports especially to the younger generation, but in doing so TCC as an art for health must not be compromised.
I belief, and to me it is a fact, that TCC is not just for health or as a sports, it can calm and nourish the brain, for the brain is a very powerful creation which most practitioners may not have experienced or may have experienced but not voiced out for individual reasons. In conclusion, I would say that TCC can be a very fascinating art which needs to be researched to much greater depths.