Uphill on Walnuts with a Weak Leg

Walking the Bagua circle,

I move like a snake 

Slithering on patchy grass

Or a path etched by other warriors

On dry soil, as they are

Space holders and guardians

Of the world in this vortex,

This circle of yin and yang.

But uphill

On walnuts

With a weak leg, 

I stumble.

Why can’t –

This way –

Be easier!

Why can’t it be smoother!

The walnuts underfoot are like boulders

Throwing me off the path.

I step forward, and

Grip the soil with all my weight

On that leg.

I bring up the back foot

Without it leaving the ground,

The toes turned in

To throw off my opponent with

No lifting of the toes or heel.

This is to be a surprise attack,

My snake step is to be swift

And smooth,

Securing my position in battle

As I throw the offender

Off balance into the tree.

Unless –

I am going uphill –

On walnuts-

with a weak leg.

Is this how it always is

For the aging warrior –

The bramble,

The rocky soil,

The clumps of weeds,

The dips and potholes –

My true opponents,

grabbing me and throwing me

Off balance to the ground?

No one can hear my stealthy step

But for the sound of my grinding hip!

Can I expect the way to battle

To be paved asphalt or even

Polished wood? 

That is no way to train

Regardless of age.

The snake knows how to

Maneuver uphill on walnuts

And isn’t concerned about 

An old weak leg.


(My teacher, Dan Miller, consoled me with his humor one day. No matter how well we cleared away the walnuts and obstacles on the Bagua circle, I felt challenged on my path. So he helped me laugh by saying, ‘uphill on walnuts on a weak leg’.)

Image Wording and Poem: ©Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.com

Image: Sun Lutang

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