Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 25 2004

We had a little shake-up at practice last night. A…

We had a little shake-up at practice last night. As I was warming up and going through a sword form on the grassy area next to the square where we do tui-shou practice, I noticed a couple of guys, one older guy in a white shirt that read “Taipei County” on it and a younger guy with a green shirt and glasses. I realized as they did their exercises that the younger guy was the older man’s student. I heard the older man make some typical comments to his student along the lines of “Look, even foreigners know how to use a sword!” I ignored them as I try to ignore all such comments, and kept on with my practice.

Not long after Mr. Xu, our teacher, had arrived and we were busy practicing tui-shou, the two others came over, all smiles, saying “Do you mind if we practice with you, teacher?” Mr. Xu said it was fine with him.

It soon became apparent that, despite the outsiders’ friendly demeanor, a challenge of sorts was being laid down. The older fellow went straight for Mr. Xu, while the younger one grappled with one of our students. Things got a little fast and furious, as their style was more suited to official tui-shou competition than ours, and was based more on straightforward force and rigidity than the complicated flexibility and trap-laying Mr. Xu teaches.

I tried not to stare, but everyone couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen when two such different styles clashed. At first it seemed like the Taipei County guy had the upper hand, but at the last minute Mr. Xu would make some little move and the guy would go flying, either back or forward. Still, he didn’t win every match. It wouldn’t matter if he did, because I study with him not because he’s some kind of world champion, but because he’s a good man and his method of teaching makes a lot of sense to me.

Tui-shou ability, I have discovered, can’t be easily ranked. For example, I might be able to “defeat” one guy 90% of the time, while he can beat a third guy 90% of the time, but the third guy can still beat me 90% of the time. It’s all different. A lot of it is learning how your opponent works and adapting to it. Mr. Xu quickly learned what Taipei Country guy was up to, and soon he was giving the guy and his student tips on how to improve. Some of our students, especially Yang Qing-feng, who had a part in Clay Soldiers, made impressive performances as well. “I don’t think they were expecting a soft response, rather a hard one, and it surprised them,” he told me later, after the two had left.

“They’re the type who go around and learn a little bit here and a little bit there,” said Mr. Xu diplomatically. “They don’t make very good students, but we should welcome them as guests.”

posted by Poagao at 2:19 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment