You got “kut lat” or not?

My mother in law has never stopped offering her grandson, my son extra dose of her important beliefs and life perspectives every time she caught a chance. She always makes time to remind Zen to eat more, drink more and sleep enough. Occasionally, she would say to him, you must be hardworking “Kut lat” in hokkien. It was not the best piece of golden advice but got me into play of words mood.

In hokkien, “Kut” means bone and “lat” means strength, if literally translated is bone strength. Amazingly, buried in this simple word is our Hokkien ancestor’s wisdom to see the relation between hardworking attitude and bony strength. That seems obvious to me that it takes someone to have bony strength to reflect a hardworking personality.

Yesterday, I had a beautiful and fun filled evening thanks to a school play by group of 14-year-old. I have to confess up front that I am a bit of posture freak and therefore cannot help but to scan every frame that entered the stage.

Posturally, “Growing older” seems to start as young as puberty, the sunken chests, permanently raised shoulders, divided head and spine outlook, stand sloping on one leg beings are everywhere.

People rarely do enough to maintain good posture. On hindsight I must have a terrible posture too. Since I was in high school at least, and probably for even longer than that. We have a serious problem. Our image of who we are, what is our innate potential and what we can do is profoundly diminished. We have all seen it, the loss of our “kut lat”. Yet we underestimate its damage.

How can science and medicine, which protect us from diseases and virus infection, working towards expanding our lifespan to 80-odd years, but fail to protect us from simple body stiffness, aches, pain and musculoskeletal disability. Why do we assume and accept that as child grows, the body will start its “wear and tear” decaying effect?

My generation is widely condemned as lazy by the generation above us. Whatever the reason, it seems that elder folk are largely in agreement: young people are simply not “kut lat”. Our ability to be hardworking is closely related to posture—the way we move our bodies affects our own moods and habits.


It is difficult to change our attitude with our mind. If you can change the chemical balance in your body using balancing different muscles group, you can actually change your attitude quickly. When we are stressed we react and we release chemical in our body which reflected in our posture habits. And those chemical affect our brain, our capacity and ability to perform.

I used to work with the smartest people with PHD, master degree and so forth. But when they are stressed, they become lazy and stupid more or less like anyone else.

To zeroize or reduce stress strategy most people talk about is akin to prevent usage of your fully charged phone and hence render its existence redundant. What we need is a technique to apply stress to create body resiliency so that stress does not leave an impact in the body? One way is to change the chemical balance in the body so that our “kut lat” will regain its momentum. So it will bring you to straight position and the pressure is equalising up around you like structural strength in aeroplane.

The founder of Critical Alignment Yoga/Therapy, Gert Van Leeuwen has found 4 steps to work with the body so that you can reduce the impact of stress on your “kut lat”. 1) Relaxation 2) Mobilisation 3) Coordination 4) Strength.

Anatomically, we need to bring the body weight in the center of intervertebral disc so that there won’t be any compression of nerve here and there that cause pain. We need to change the bone memory from closeness to openness where openness will still operate without you thinking about it. Your spine is fit to do its job in a reflex. The four steps aimed to bring you into the spinal alignment where there is no stress or tension stored in the body. Just like posture of little child before stress enters and ruins our “kut lat”.

I hope by now you have a little idea of how your child’s “kut lat” is important for total wellbeing of a human being. If your child continues to lose focus, being branded “bo kut lat” (not hardworking), easily give up, one big reason would probably be the lack of “kut lat” to drive the living force to continue life with passion and enthusiasm.

The great change to introduce posture education in school need to happen. Do you agree?