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SYL Wushu Newsletter

September/October 2007 - Volume 7, Number 4


SYL Wushu Newsletter - September/October 2007 - Volume 7, Number 4

Striving to Be the First and Fearing to Lag Behind

Said of a contest in which one vies with another to win the fast place.
Zheng Xian Kong Hou - Striving to Be the First and Fearing to Lag Behind Zhēng Xiān Kŏng Hòu

DURING the Spring and Autumn Period, there lived in the state of Jin a man named Wang Liang, who was a famous driver. A senior official called Zhao Xiangzi asked to learn charioteering from him. Before he had learned much, Zhao Xiangzi challenged Wang Liang to a contest of driving skill. But he failed to overtake Wang Liang even though he changed horses three times. So he complained that Wang Liang had not taught him all he knew.

"I've taught Your Excellency all I can. It's only that you don't know how to use what you've learned. In driving, one must, first and foremost, have the horses harnessed properly so that they will be able to run ahead unimpeded. Secondly. one must pay full attention to the performance of one's horses so that they may be made to run at top speed. I noted. however, that when Your Excellency fell behind me in our contest, all your thought was on how to overtake me; and that when you got ahead of me, you were afraid of my overtaking you. How could you concentrate on making your horses perform as best as they could when you always focused your attention on me? This was the reason why you could not win."

The Book of Han Fei Zi