Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Oct 28 2007

10/27 Tai-chi

“Your left and right hands should cooperate in your strategy,” Teacher Xu told us on Saturday morning at CKS Hall. I’d missed the previous week due to having to be in a parade featuring a naked man on a truck. “While one is opening the door on one side, the other should be closing the door on the other.”

I’d run into Mr. V in the subway on the way to class that morning, which took place in our old practice space, which was vacated by the black-shirted kung-fu group for some reason. I should note that Mr. V isn’t really that Violent; there are many students, especially the newer guys, who are much more egregious than he is. Still, he hasn’t expressed a desire to practice with me since that time when he was pushing with one hand.

Actually, Teacher Xu says that we should abolish the word “push” from tuishou, because it’s detrimental to the real practice of give-and-take actions and intent that is Tuishou. I agree, in that I can’t bring myself to push on command. I tend to concentrate more on being fluid and only “attack” when I see an opportunity that I just can’t pass up and sticks around long enough for me to recognize it, as I’m a little slow. Oftentimes my partner will tell me to attack them, but I find that if my intent is to attack I do much worse.

While watching other students push, I paid particular attention to their feet. I noticed that the newer students’ feet rolled around and left the ground a lot, while the more experienced students’ feet stayed more or less flat. Then I noticed that Teacher Xu’s feet rolled and lifted as he pushed, but the difference was that his feet seemed to be making those motions at his command, rather than in reaction to being pushed as seemed to be the case with the newer students. I suppose it’s a phase-by-phase thing. Later, practicing with Mr. Hu, I found that concentrating on his feet would occasionally call attention to an opportunity I would otherwise have missed. But I still found that by relaxing and using circular re-direction of his force helped a lot more. It was very instructive, as he’s a lot more forceful now than he used to be, and if I directly countered him I’d end up losing or “winning wrong” i.e. relying on brute force instead of relaxing and manipulating his energy. Also, people tend to expect resistance, and when they don’t meet it, they get confused and don’t know what to do. It throws them off.

One of the violent new guys was trying to throw the UPS guy around the balcony, resulting in a lot of thudding and tumbling. Little Mountain Pig was teaching while his wife minded their small son and daughter, who were crawling around their dual-seat stroller. No sign of Little Qin. In the middle of the square, a group of enthusiastic foreigners kicked and played tag, counting up as far as “three” in Chinese.

posted by Poagao at 4:09 am  


  1. hi. an old post of yours mentioned your teacher possibly coming to the u.s. to teach. do you know when and where?

    also, thank you for making such a nice blog.

    a longtime reader/lurker of your highly enjoyable blog

    Comment by counterpart — November 7, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

  2. Wow, I didn’t know anyone actually read this thing. I’ll try to remember to ask him next time what dates he’ll be there and where.

    Comment by Poagao — November 7, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  3. my predictable but sincere comment: thank you!

    Comment by counterpart — November 9, 2007 @ 12:13 am

  4. I’m afraid he hasn’t exactly solidified his plans. If and when he does, I’ll try to post about it here.

    Comment by Poagao — November 16, 2007 @ 12:17 am

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