Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 15 2007

8/15 Tuishou

I bought a new practice sword today from the martial arts supply store on Nanchang Road, which is only open until 6pm on weekdays. Instead of the cheaper, lighter plastic retractable practice swords I’ve been using, this time I spent a little more and got a solid steel one. It’s bigger, longer, sturdier and most importantly, heavier. When I was practicing at the park it was like doing a whole new form; the weight really makes a difference. The extra length took some getting used to as well, but the weight made each move different, using different muscles and creating new dynamics. Actually, many of the moves in the form make more sense with a heavier weapon, and I think it will be smoother after I get used to it. Definitely money well spent, though the first time I tried it the sword rattled. I’d already removed the tassle as well, and was worried that they might not take it back, but the second time I used it the rattle was gone. It must not have opened all the way.

I practiced with one of the Tree Root guys first. “You’ve really improved!” He said. Lots of people say that, but I have my doubts. “Why don’t you say anything? I just told you that you’ve really gotten better,” he said.

“I still have a lot of problems,” I said. It was better than expressing any doubt in his sincerity. Good or bad, comparing different people…it’s all just an illusion of what’s really going on. I find the less I think about such things the better. There was a new guy there, pushing rather successfully with Mr. V. I wondered if he’d studied before.

I pushed with Mr. You for a while, but he wasn’t feeling well and quit after a short time. Then Teacher Xu walked up accompanied by the new guy, a young, excited-looking guy wearing black. “He’s just started tonight,” Teacher Xu told me. “Practice with him.” We began pushing and the new guy immediately flew into a frenzy of pushing this way and that. Most of the time all I had to do was wait for him to push himself over. He was almost sparring, but I refused to accelerate to his speed and tried to take each move as it came. He wore himself out fairly quickly.

Next up was the small guy with whom I had the disastrous encounter at Sun Yat-sen Hall a while back. I was very cautious and bailed at the first sign of trouble, lest anyone get hurt. “Why don’t you attack me?” he said.

“Because I don’t think I can handle your counter-attack,” I said. It was true enough, but he thought it was stupid.

“How can anyone learn anything that way?” he said. But I’d rather come away with a little less knowledge and nothing broken than vice-versa. He did slow down, though, and at least talked about not using force. “I’m not using force, see?” he would say, as he used a considerable amount of force. I couldn’t help but laugh at this, and I’m afraid he took offense as a result. Oh, well. It was funny.

Last up was Weeble, who gave an impressive tree root-inspired performance. “Relax, relax!” he told me as he grabbed my wrists in a tight, inflexible hold.

“How come you’re telling me to relax; you’re tight as a drum!” I said.

“I can’t relax,” he said. “I don’t know how.” I’m not sure that he meant by that. Isn’t that one of our big objectives, after all?

But it was getting late, and the lights of the 8/23 Battle Monument were switched off. Students were leaving. I left as the new young guy chatted with Teacher Xu. He seems really into this stuff; I wonder what inspired him to this degree.

posted by Poagao at 12:36 pm  

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