Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 22 2006


“Whoever’s kung-fu is the strongest, that’s who should yield more,” Teacher Xu told us as I grappled with Mr. V this last time. I wondered if the instruction was for actual practical use or more for psychological reasons, i.e., both students would want to be the better one, thus more yielding would occur, which is one of the goals of tui-shou. He was probably trying to get us both to yield, as Mr. V tends to shove, balls-to-the-wall with all of his force, and if I don’t counter with something I find myself balanced on one food and almost falling down backwards very quickly.

To his credit, Mr. V usually attempts the softer approach first, but resorts to brute force after it fails. I’ve become known, though I’m not sure how true it is, for my solid stance and difficulty to topple. Ironically, it’s probably overcompensation on my part due to a chronically poor sense of balance.

I’d spent the first part of class practicing the 64-step form, or at least the part I know. Every time I think I know a move, Teacher Xu divulges another, deeper aspect to it that I previously had no idea about. It seems that there are levels beyond levels in this art. Sometimes I think it’s bottomless.

After Mr. V, I did pushing hands with Yang Qing-feng, who is a court policeman in real life. He’s small and extremely flexible, and I always have a hard time forcing him off balance, though I’ve slowly been getting better at it. Teacher Xu says since we’re all improving at the same time, it may feel like none of us is improving at all. I can certainly sympathize with that sentiment.

At one point we were trying out one-handed pushing on each other, and I found I could easily push Mr. V over with one hand, but I could angle my body so that his hand just brushed off when he tried it on me. Qing-feng was another matter, however. Pushing him is like pushing jello pudding.

One move we were taught, or rather one idea I should say, is to isolate and trap one part of your opponent, preferably close to your own center, while rotating the rest of him in another direction. By separating him into components (figuratively, I would hope), you’re making his body move in ways he can’t deal with.

Of course, pushing is different with different people. Qing-feng goes slowly and waits to trap you, while Mr. V just rushes in, and the best hope with him is to deflect his force into a new and hopefully unexpected direction that he’s not focused on.

“Imagine a bridge between you and your opponent,” Teacher Xu said to us towards the end of the lesson.

“What kind of bridge, like a suspension bridge?” I asked. “Or a highway bridge, one of those?” Teacher Xu just shook his head.

“Just a bridge, an invisible connection, that’s all.”


I sure know how to ask stupid questions.

posted by Poagao at 11:28 am  

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