Culture clash / hopping

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Culture clash / hopping

Postby Giles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:53 am

(If this is better in Off The Topic then please move accordingly)

Background:
Recently I was in another city, at a kind of tai chi get-together/picnic in a park, a lot of people centring around an established Chinese teacher. Most of the people were his students but not all. The teacher doesn’t teach much tuishou, mostly forms, but he himself has some experience in this area. The teacher had met me before and when he saw me he asked if I would like to demo a little form. OK, I said, be happy to. Later I was out at the back edge of the gathering, just started doing some friendly free tuishou with another Chinese guy who I had never met before but who, friends had told me, similarly to me also liked to do tuishou. This other guy has been doing tai chi for maybe 30 years, so he told me, but hard to understand because his German is not so good and I have almost no Chinese. And he’s a little guy, much smaller than me. Then the teacher comes over and asks me to demo my form in front of the crowd, which I do for a couple of minutes. Then the teacher says, now show us some tuishou, and with fajin, and sends out the other Chinese guy to me. That put me in something of a quandary: in principle I was OK to demo a little tuishou since some people there hadn’t seen it or only the fixed-pattern, back-and-forth variety. And yes, I’m comfortable ‘on stage’ with my dance and theatre past. But I didn’t want to really start throwing the other guy around, do all macho and make him lose face or even hurt him. On the other hand, I didn’t want to look like a total no-hoper in this demo (yes, that’s my ego waving it’s arms here…). So I thought (and whispered to the other guy): ‘let’s take it slow, we’ll push free but we can take turns to be ‘got’ by the other one, OK?’ I hoped this would give the crowd something nice to see while we could both acquit ourselves honourably in the few minutes of the demo.

The issues:
So off we go; after a moment I get his balance/structure and I give a gentle impulse, just enough to move him a step or two. And in response he jumps up in the air and does the double-foot hop backwards for three metres!! Never experienced that before in real life! And I felt really embarrassed because anyone with knowledge could surely see it was faked. (And also assume that I want this kind of reaction). So then I whispered: ‘Please don’t jump, not necessary, just respond naturally!’ He whispered back (his German not so good): ‘Demonstration, must show people big energy, we jump high.’ Me: ‘No, please don’t, it’s better the natural way.’ I get him again but give just a soft impulse, and he jumps/hops back 3 metres again. Ho-hum. After a moment I offer him my centre, he pushes and moves me one step back, which I’m happy to do (but I go no further than that, no hopping). Dammit, I’ve let myself get into a situation where every option feels bad (just stop and walk away? go along with his fake hopping? me start hopping as well so as to give him some face in return?). Then I get his centre again, do a relaxed ‘an’ kind of push, it feels like nothing to me but this time he really is uprooted, stumbles back several metres, falls and rolls backwards. The Chinese teacher laughs and shouts out ‘Ha, good, this is first time for real!’ The other guy is wide-eyed as I help him up, dust him off, apologize and feel something of a jerk. But maybe subconsciously I was p****** off and did it on purpose? We do a moment more circling with no more ‘fajin’ and then I bring it to a close, we bow to the audience, I shake his hand and we leave the ‘stage’.

So two things from this:

Firstly, I wonder if this kind of hopping in demonstrations is even more widespread than I thought. Which doesn’t mean it’s always faked, but still…

Secondly, in retrospect I think I should have found an excuse not to do this tuishou demo in the first place, with someone I didn’t really know, or even the form demo. Maybe the teacher was using me to make the other Chinese guy lose face? I don’t know what kind of relationship they have. Or maybe it was just a kind invitation, but one that led to a culture-clash dilemma for me.

Your thoughts on the story?
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby charles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:25 am

If it was a picnic mostly for and about this teacher and his students, I'd not have demonstrated. It's their get together and it should highlight that teacher and his students, not an "outsider" guest. Also, in that venue, in those circumstances, I'd not have pushed hands with anyone, particularly knowing that that teacher doesn't really teach it much: that probably wouldn't be an appropriate time and place as a guest and in a push-hands-free environment.

On the other hand, if it was a truly friendly, informal venue, I wouldn't spend much time dissecting it: it happened, everyone was happy, no one got hurt, carry on.
Last edited by charles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby Giles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:33 am

Thanks for your thoughts, Charles. In retrospect, I think I agree with you.
As you say, nothing dramatic or terrible happened, but it didn't really feel right. Doing the form on invitation was OK, but in the future in such situations I can leave off the tuishou in all aspects. Not really wu de on my part, I think.
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby GrahamB on Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:00 am

I’d ditch this passive aggressive crap and take up jiujitsu :)

But then all you do is swap one set of problems for a different set (“hey let’s just roll light” followed by attempted murder :) )

No, the problem is human beings - there’s just no way around it - dealing with people is difficult, but we can only achieve great things when we find a way to work together.
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby MaartenSFS on Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:22 pm

You should have said: "Everyone who wants to learn this, here's my card!"
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby Giles on Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:19 am

GrahamB wrote:I’d ditch this passive aggressive crap and take up jiujitsu :)

But then all you do is swap one set of problems for a different set (“hey let’s just roll light” followed by attempted murder :) )


Well, nowadays I mostly manage to avoid the 'passive aggressive' level by training and teaching tuishou as a great means to several ends - some of them definitely martial (i.e. people moving around and trying to hit/throw each other), others more about affects, emotions and self-insight. But none of these goals being 'good at tuishou' as an end in itself.
However, in the described situation this level reared its head again.

No, the problem is human beings - there’s just no way around it - dealing with people is difficult, but we can only achieve great things when we find a way to work together.


Ah, indeed. And I'm people too ;)
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby windwalker on Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:47 am

[My thoughts are the culture clash as you titled it was yours.

The teacher seemed to understand it well as probably those looking on.
The guy you demoed with, learned a lesson not to completely trust some one he doesn't know.

It could have also went the other way, with the teacher using you as food for his students and those looking on.

being a picnic everyone is there to have a good time,,,

You didn't mention if you had one or not.
Last edited by windwalker on Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:58 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Culture clash / hopping

Postby Giles on Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:13 am

windwalker wrote: It could have also went the other way, with the teacher using you as food for his students and those looking on.

Yup, could have gone that way too. Although when a few of the teacher's German students (who have little idea of Chinese culture) asked him if he might like to push with me too, he said "no more time today". Which was fine with me - I didn't want to land in yet another tricky "face" scenario.

being a picnic everyone is there to have a good time,,,

You didn't mention if you had one or not.


Apart from aforementioned story, yes, it was a lovely afternoon with lots of nice people and yummy food :D
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