photo is taken by Mark Teo Photography in 2009
This is a lady that you don’t want to mess with. Tao Yijun has represented the Singapore National Team to participate in various competition and won several awards. Her main events are Taijiquan (太极拳) and Taijijian (太极剑) as well as Duilian (对练) which is a group event (choreograph sparring). She won the Team of the Year (Event) Award at Singapore Sports Awards 2012, Women’s Duilian Gold award at the 2011 SEA Games, Women’s Duilian Gold award at the 2011 World Wushu Championships. She has won several other medals since 2008.
Despite her busy schedule, we finally got to speak to her.
Q: What’s your academic path like?
Yijun: I did Electrical Engineering in NUS then went on to do Contract Teaching and do my Post-Graduate Diploma in Education in NIE.
Q: You played lion dance before during your university. Can you share with us why you love lion dance?
Yijun: I did Lion Dance when I was in NJC as that was my CCA. I truly enjoyed my time then because of the teamwork involved. I learned communication skills and how to be a team player through working with my lion tail who became one of my best friends.
Q: You did extremely well in managing between your school work and your passion for martial arts. How do you do that?
Yijun: There is a lot of time management and focus required. I had to plan my time and energy well to be able to manage school, work and Wushu. I was also very fortunate that my NUS supervisor and lecturers as well as my colleagues at Maris Stella High School were very understanding and would be very supportive of my trainings and competitions.
Q: Are there any special reason why you chose Taiji?
Yijun: I did Changquan in Secondary School but my first Taiji coach Master Su Zifang decided that I was more suitable for Taiji as I lacked the explosive power required for Changquan. However I learned to like Taiji because it is not just a sport but also very philosophical.
Q: What were the difficulties faced during training?
Yijun: The main difficulties faced during training was the lack of time and energy, especially since training is after a long day of school or work. Our competitors from Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Vietnam also train full time so the greatest challenge is how to make the best of our 2.5 hour training per day.
Q: I’m sure a lot of girls out there are taking you as a role model. Can you give them some advice?
Yijun: Chase your dreams! You have to be prepared to work hard for it but the effort and difficulties will be worth it.
Q: Are there times where you feel lack of motivation? How do you overcome that?
Yijun: Very often! Especially after a busy day at school or work. It is always important to focus on the final goal, but what really pushed me was my team mates. We all go through the same difficulties and it really helps when we encourage and push each other on during training.
Q: What would you like to do to contribute back to the society?
Yijun: I would like to contribute back to society by teaching and coaching. I would like to pass on my experiences and what I have learned in my journey as an athlete to my students. I am also hoping to learn more about Taiji for health and be able to promote Taiji among the working and retired age group.