Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 30 2006


It’s been raining every Wednesday night for three weeks running. I felt really out of practice, however, so I went out to Yonghe last night in spite of the rain to try and get back into the swing of things.

I was the first to arrive, of course. Mr. You showed up soon after, and we went right into tuishou as there wasn’t enough room under the war memorial roof to do a proper sword form.

As I pushed, I felt I’d made progress. It seems that lately I’ve been able to “listen” and see opportunities more clearly than before. In other words, as I’m pushing, if I see a weakness and am in more or less the right position to exploit it, a little light goes off in my head, and if I act on it quickly enough, I can almost always gain the advantage.

That might seem very basic and obvious, but it’s been a long time coming for me. For the longest time I was virtually blind to this essential part of tuishou, so now even a little glimpse here and there is welcome.

I switched to Mr. V and found even more openings, pushing him over literally every time. Despite this, the little new guy who started studying a few weeks ago commented, “They look very evenly matched.” Maybe he was talking about our height.

Teacher Xu tried to teach me when it was time to make your arms inert parts of your body and thus virtually un-pushable, but I didn’t quite get the hang of it. I pushed with his son, who seems to be learning quickly, although pushing him is still pretty much like pushing over a piece of paper.

A short, squat bespectacled fellow, perhaps a bit older than I, was there as well. He’s attended classes on and off ever since we moved to Yonghe three years ago. I remembered him as a particular challenge and wondered if I’d narrowed the gap, so I offered to push with him.


Pushing with this guy was just as successful as it was three years ago. In other words, it wasn’t. He would settle into a stance that looked soft but was anything but. He’d move in like a snake, completely unyielding, his grip contracting inexorably until he forced me to topple over.

In this situation, ideally I should have loosened up even more and tried to find out where his weak spot was. My ego, bolstered up from visions of progress and all the other pushing I’d done that night, refused to accept this, and I ended up simply using force to topple him over. In other words, I lost. Not to him, but to myself. In tuishou, whenever you fight an opponent with raw force, you’re losing an opportunity to learn how to deal with an enemy stronger than yourself. I’d just lost an opportunity to learn because I was being petty and small-minded.

I really have to work on that.

posted by Poagao at 7:32 am  

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