1) What are you looking forward to?
What I am looking forward to the most this year must be kenjutsu on Saturdays if only because that is the only activity I am not being “forced” to do (of the ones that I am using to fulfil requirements). All the other experiences I’ve kind of decided to do within the last few weeks in order to fulfil requirements whereas this is an activity I’ve been doing for years now already and therefore not something I’ve picked up solely because of CAS. That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the other activities of course just that there’s something incredibly artificial about “inventing” something to do when you hadn’t even thought about it before CAS.
That being said, I think there is a certain aspect of CAS giving me the justification to do things that I haven’t done before in the sense that if I have to do it anyways I might as well try out the things I’ve always wanted to do right? So, that’s how I’ve come to pick up Chinese calligraphy. The strand here should be obvious I hope… martial arts, calligraphy. Part of that is of course being a history student I suppose. I wouldn’t say many of us live in the past, nor should we, but we wouldn’t be history students if we didn’t have some sort of interest in things of the past. The other aspect of it is that with these particular activities I feel like I am contributing more to everything else. As far as calligraphy goes for example, I am a Chinese student (SL B). What better to do for my creativity than to well… write Chinese characters. I also have a certain fondness for visual arts (hence why I take DT) and those two things really come together nicely here. I’ve also been a somewhat devoted student of language since IGCSE and I could go on and on and on about the Chinese underpinnings of the Korean language for example. So, calligraphy is art for sure, but academically it feeds into more than just that.
To go even further though, and to bring the kenjutsu into the mix, I am probably the only person in the grade or the school who could write a full essay on Eastern esoteric concepts. Not necessarily an accurate one, but there’s very very much an interest there and that I suppose is where a lot of this does come together. Both calligraphy and martial arts have of course been very very much aspects of the spiritual worldview. Take for example a Korean classic that I’ve read so long ago that I can’t quite remember the name (or if I even finished the book) but which from a quick google search I believe to be the “최고운전”. Its probably a somewhat obscure example but it highlights quite well the Korean (or even Chinese I would think) way of connecting scholarship (which at the end of the day, meant long essays written with a brush) to well supernatural powers. Or take the fact that talismans in Korea are still written in ink (or engraved) once again in Chinese characters. Martial arts is much the same and to say the least I would think myself quite an avid martial artist, with kenjutsu (Japanese swordfighting) being the manifestation of that within the CAS context. The Japanese do seem to have a certain focus on the martial arts as an engine of spiritual development through its connection to buddhist ideas about developing the mind and to local beliefs. The tengu after all do wield swords. Not a topic I am entirely familiar with to be honest. And since we’ve gone there the Chinese esoteric side of the martial arts is absolutely fascinating. Its quite a very very deep rabbit hole to start reading about how very poses in tai chi connect to the conception of human anatomy found in traditional Chinese though （大周天 (the large orbit of chi from feet to hands)，小周天 (smaller orbit of chi restricted to torso and head)、下丹田 (not really one that requires a lot of explanation for those in the field but basically one of three centers in the human body meant to store and circulate chi) and so on). When most people look at the movements in the park, I would not think they even stop to consider which meridians are being stimulated and in what manner for what effect.
2) What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenge?
Project Week obviously. It sounds like a pain to be honest. Just the extreme disruption in schedules, work. It feels ‘unproductive’ I suppose. And also, the possible problems getting along with people… I am not that worried about anything we will be doing in and of itself. Just about the things I won’t be doing because I will be in some place in the middle of nowhere instead of Singapore being usual productive me.
I suppose the above really applies to the rest of CAS as well. All the things I won’t be doing because I will be doing CAS. CAS itself sounds fine. Its just that we only have 24 hours in the day…
Which also means of course that as I’ve said above, I’ve tried to connect what I do in CAS to what I do outside of CAS. Efficiency of time does matter, yes, but also by doing so I think I can enjoy the experiences I have chosen quite a bit more because at the end of the day, it connects to something I enjoy doing anyways.