There is always a mountain higher
On the trip to China in May 2007 by Gilbert Teo
Recently in early May, a group of our fellow Tai Chi classmates went on tour to China: the Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou regions. One of the highlights of that trip was a trip up Hu Shan in Hangzhou to do some push-hands with the locals there.
So we set off early one morning and got to the clearing near the middle of the hill and our group was welcomed warmly by the group of Tai Chi practitioners there. We got introduced to different push-hands partners and got to work. My first push-hands guide was a guy dressed in brown called Mr. Yu. He was a friendly man with a ready smile and we got down to some Si Zheng tui shou. Let me describe what I felt when I did push-hands with him. Once we started on our free-form push-hands, I felt what is meant by sealing in Tai Chi push-hands. Every move I made seemed to be cornered by Mr Yu. It was as if he was using my movements to corner me into a bad position and seal off any roads I could escape by and I could not do anything about it!!! At the same time, when I tried to sense his centre, it felt insubstantial as if it were there and it were not. Itís a peculiar feeling that canít really be described in words. When I pushed him, he seemed to flow about, moving his whole body and yet remaining upright and maintaining his centre. And more often than not, once I started moving, I already could feel my centre disrupted!!!
After Mr Yu, I got introduced to Mr Song. Mr Song was a small man with a bald head and looked pretty fit. He seemed to have many students and he probably entertained us, because we were guests. Pushing hands with Mr Song felt different. It had a different flavour. On movement, Mr Song led me in, at the same time deflecting my force away. No matter how I moved, Mr Song would just move back and no matter how I tried - and I tried different positions from high stance to low stance to medium stance. I just could not to find a centre to push into. It seemed like there was nothing there to push, but the hand contact still was there; and then you move and get led off somewhere and soon you find yourself in a bad position you cannot recover from. Mr Song also did some fa jing on us; his jing was very strong and felt very solid and fast. Due to his speed, it was a bit intimidating to push with him. I was a bit wary and so my body became a bit stiff and got many ďdead pointsĒ to be exploited. Mr Song pointed that out to me and told me to not be afraid and just go with the flow.
I am really amazed by the level of skills these guys have and they all adhere to the Tai Chi principles and willingly share their knowledge. Itís a real eye-opener for me and makes me realize that there is always a higher mountain, even though you have trained for many years. And it is heartening that such masters willingly pass on their knowledge and it excites me that there are even more masters who are better than Mr Song and Mr Yu and no matter how good you are, you can always be better.
Tai Chi is like a never ending journey, you discover new things everyday.
Gilbert Teo, June 2007