Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 20 2007

6/20 Tuishou

Only Not From HK Guy was at the park when I arrived last night. He was busy doing slow forms, so I busied myself with sword practice. Mr. You appeared, and then Teacher Xu, his son, and the rest of the students in a group walked over from another area of the park where they had congregated before.

I leaned against the railing and did vertical sit ups while Mr. You and NFHK guy pushed at each other. After a while Mr. You called me over to push with NFHK, saying, “You’ve got to try this out on TC.” We lined up, and NFHK reared back and gave me a big shove. That’s your big discovery? I thought. We lined up again and I gave him the same. Mr. You laughed, saying, “You see, he can do that, too!” I just shrugged. Anyone can do that, after all.

“I practice three times a week, so it’s natural that I am improving faster than you,” NFHK told me as we resumed. My session with him was actually pretty good after that. I learned that, as he tends to go for shoulders and long reaches, all I have to do is let my shoulders go limp and lower my stance, and he has nothing to push. From there all I have to do is twist around, he he goes flying. The only problem is knowing what he is going to do before he actually does it.

Actually, I’ve found that with most sports, and even other things, being able to see a moment into the future is a useful skill. The best athletes I’ve seen seem to know exactly what’s going to happen before it does. The world-class badminton matches I’ve watched are straight out of H.G. Wells, in that the players get into position to hit a ball that hasn’t even been sent over the net yet.

As usual, what works with one opponent doesn’t work with another, I found when pushing with Mr. You later. His performance and tactics differ every time, it seems. Last night he was all about the quick shove, but I could see he was getting ready to do it well before he did, as he would tense up. The shoulder-relaxing thing didn’t work so well because he tends to go for torso push points. It seems everyone is a different language to learn.

I sat for a while on the curb watching the Tree Root Master teach his little group of followers. It seemed all about meeting force with force, but I have to admit he does have a great grasp of angles.

Teacher Xu told me about using leverage to gain the upper hand in a bout. “You have to make your opponent into a straight line,” he said, “so you can get the leverage to push him over.” He called over the interior designer I pushed with last week. He had been practicing with the tree root group, and we started pushing. It went well enough at first, but he quickly got frustrated and began shoving violently with all his force. If I had to guess, I’d say he was working through a fair bit of anger. It was easy enough to deal with for a while, but it quickly got repetitive and boring. I was tired, but I went along with it until he exhausted himself.

“Think of your opponent as very light, like air,” Teacher Xu told me as the other students were leaving. “Overreaction only gives him the advantage. You must move so that even a mosquito can’t quite land on you,” he added, quoting the Jing Lun, which is sort of the bible of Tai-chi. “If you overreact you won’t be able to take over his power and use it against him.”

posted by Poagao at 11:45 pm  

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