Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 05 2007


It’s been cold lately, and a light mist was falling when I got to the park last night. I thought I was the first there, but one guy was going through forms underneath the Kinmen battle memorial. It wasn’t that wet, so I went through the sword form and empty-handed form out on the square. For some reason I felt my energy flowing more than usual, and afterwards I just stood there, eyes closed, just feeling it.

Pushing went better this time than the last few times. Actually I shouldn’t use the word “pushing” as Teacher Xu says that’s a pretty bad description of what we should be doing. Anyway, I was closer to my “old” style than the past few weeks, but I think going a month without using any force had a bit of use. Now I’m discovering that, in order to put up a front of “false resistance,” I need to separate it from my own energy with a layer of emptiness. Otherwise the false layer is pushed up against my own energy, and the two become the same, which makes the whole technique useless. Doing this, of course, requires that I extend the range of my potential movement. Well, I need to do that anyway.

My tuishou partners seem to have a hard time distinguishing between the false resistance and real resistance. I’ll put up a wall behind which I leave reserves of energy and flexibility, and when they hit it they’ll tell me in a knowing manner: “Ah, you’re much too tight. I can push you easily now.” Then, of course, they break through it, and, if the layers aren’t smushed together, I’ll have left a nice little trap for them. Done well, it confuses them mightily.

As we practiced, a thought came to me: Whenever someone exerts force towards me, it opens three doors. Picture a room with four walls, a door in each one. When someone pushes me, it shuts the door facing the push, but the other three doors fly open, because the power is only in one direction. I am free to move in any other direction.

Of course, this is just a symbol, and not very accurate. I should have a round room covered with a million doors, but it doesn’t work as well in my head. And according to Teacher Xu, that’s what counts, your intent, what you’re thinking, more than going over and over a certain technique or set pattern. By using this mindset as well as defining tuishou as an exploration of your opponent’s energy and being a spinning ball, I found I was better able to participate, even with the “tree-root” guys. It’s all about being able to see. Some days I can see well; other days are fuzzy.

Teacher Xu warned against telegraphing too much information to your partner with your hands. “They should be like empty water pipes,” he said. “Only fill them when you’ve found an opportunity. Other times, pull back your intent into your spine.” I also found that I was pushing my partner’s body rather then the empty shell of their energy structure, a mistake I often make. It’s hard to keep so many things in mind at the same time without “thinking too much.” But I suppose it’s a matter of training your mind to consider things in a certain way rather than training your body. Teacher Xu said that we should use Tai-chi for everything. “Even drinking tea,” he said, making a pouring motion with his hands. In his opinion, weightlifting is the antithesis of Tai-chi. “It trains your muscles and your body to do exactly the wrong thing. Stay away from it.”

posted by Poagao at 2:11 am  

1 Comment »

  1. “It trains your muscles and your body to do exactly the wrong thing. Stay away from it.”

    That’s exactly what running coaches used to say.

    Comment by mark — May 6, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment