Thursday, July 9, 2009

Set your sights further

It's the time of the year again where it is supposedly the "lull" period in SG Cheer; time to next year's Nationals is still quite long to go. This is the period teams are regrouping themselves, getting new members, and re-training up their teams. Exchanges between teams are also during this period, this also includes getting overseas cheerleaders down to teach us, and also going overseas ourselves to join their camps or just have some training sessions with them. Basically everyone are trying their best to improve their skills and techniques during this period to better prepare for Nationals next year.

I myself have been no exception to these and no stranger to interacting with cheerleaders from other countries during this period. For the 5 years I have been in cheer, in this very same period, I have always had help from overseas cheerleaders 1 way or another . In 2004, I went for JCA 2 days workshop in SG and for the first time in my life saw a cupie live. In 2005, I went over to RSU in Thailand and really brush up my basics and then our Thai friends also came to help us for our annual cheer camp. In 2006, I went over to Thailand again and got my first single liberty with Xuewei right after I came back. In 2007, we had the privilege to invite our Taiwan friends down, I was impressed once again and totally had a new insight into stunting and changed my techniques totally from scratch again. In 2008, Xuewei and I went over to Taiwan and I got to learn my first ever full around with a Taiwanese flyer. In 2009, I recently just came back from Taiwan and now got a chance to learn from Kentucky, my all time idol team. So you see, every year around this period is pretty exciting for me.

It is true that each time I learnt something new and different and all these interactions are very valuable. However there is also 1 thing that I know from all these experience, that is you do not improve over night just because you get to breathe the same air or eat the same food as them. You do not just go for a 1 week overseas training and come back doing what they can do already; most of the times you come back at the same level as before you went. If you are physically and technically not at that level yet, it will not change overnight. You will only master what your body is ready to do, meaning learning something that you probably already "can" do, but just that you did not realise it, or your mind did not think you can do it. So think of such overseas exchanges only more as a "mind opener" or "mind training", it does not actually train you physically.

For example, before my recent trip to Taiwan, I could not do tick tock low tick tock, but over there, after a few tries, I got it. What this means is that probably I already had the potential and capability to do it, only that I did not actually had the mind to do it yet back in SG. The opposite is also true with rewind, I am not ready yet, and it will not change over night. This led me to come up with, "what you can do - you can do, what you cannot do - you cannot do". This applies for your present phyical and technical abilities. Of course, with training physically and technically, you will get it 1 day, but as of the present moment, if your ability is not of that level yet, you will not master what is beyond you. Personal training long after the overseas coaches are gone is the key to improvement, not the few days spent with them. See as much, listen as much and absorb as much as you can in these few days, then take them and apply to your training, only then you can really improve.

Currently, as I am typing this now, we have argubly the world's top coaches and players from the eastern and western worlds on our little island shores. There is no doubt, and not a surprize that everyone is trying to get a piece of them, as they all want to learn and improve. They can teach you everything, from shoulder sits, to elevators, to hands, to extensions, to cupies, to rewinds and anything there is on the market. But ask yourself, are you ready for all they have to offer? And also different techniques and methods of the east and west may be provided, but which is correct? Nothing is wrong, as long as it works for you. Different methods and techniques may work better for individuals at different levels, so learn to listen, absorb, discern and take whatever works for you and then make it your own; do not only blindly follow and not understand the underlying principles.

Someday, I hope that Singapore cheer will develop to the stage where people from overseas are inviting us down to help them, and not always us inviting people down. We already do have many coaches in various teams in Singapore who are very good, who have more than sufficient knowledge to impart and bring the overall local standard of cheerleading up. At the current average level of cheerleading in Singapore, this is sufficient and not an overkill. Listen to what your coaches have to offer after our overseas friends have gone, they are the ones who will make more impact on your trainings; do not rebute them with statements like:"I could do that with so and so from US or Taiwan, I am not wrong, you are wrong etc". Even harbouring such thoughts will only impede you from improving and progressing.

Utimately in many years to come, we want to create our own local style of cheerleading and be as good as our overseas friends, and not only always to be living in their shadows. We do not always want to depend on them. Afterall, as the chinese saying goes:"yuan shui jiu bu liao jing huo" (Water from far cannot save you from a fire that is near you). In times of real need, help always come from a source near to you.

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