PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby onenoc » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:01 pm

Hi,

Someone I know went very briefly to a master who was a disciple of Fu Zhong Wen. This master taught him push hands first, and when asked about the form, said he would teach it later. He had some background in TCC, so this may have been why. Polaris, interestingly, he seemed to have a similar "weeding out" technique, but instead of using the form, the master would have beginning students practice different standing positions. I don't know much about TCC, and the person I know did not stay there very long, so I couldn't tell you much else unfortunately. Although I do think that he started most of his students with push hands.
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Postby Michael » Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:11 am

As for "weeding out"...

One of my teachers required you learn 13 Shaolin kicks which you did each in a long string before you could start the form. While everyone else was doing form, you did standing for about thirty minutes. Once you began instruction you still did standing waiting for the others to get done. The class does not grow.
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Postby Polaris » Wed Aug 04, 2004 3:51 pm

I should say that our weeding out process is to identify undesirables, violent people who want to learn martial arts for "bragging rights" or to hurt people. The long form is only the first layer in that process.

Cheers,
P.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Wed Aug 04, 2004 9:12 pm

In my club, you do the form for a loooong time. They say that's how it's always been done and that's how they'll always do it. At this point, I am on my fourth correction of the YCF long form. I look around me and see everyone else doing dynamic push hands, pulling, spear, sword, saber, 2-man, etc. Sometimes it's hard for me but since I really do love it, I really don't mind at all. Actually, after talking to some senior students, they said I should relish in this process and enjoy getting it "right" - at least as right as I can for now. Needless to say, I'm very excited to start push hands, which should be soon.

On the other hand, when I use to go to a 24 form school, they had people on their first day do push hands. Seemed kind of crazy to me, since the newbies really had no idea what PH's was all about. I'm glad I left that school.
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Postby Greyphantom » Thu Aug 05, 2004 8:10 am

Hmmm its almost like giving someone a bike and telling them to ride it without learning about balance IMHO... I have been learning form for a couple of months now so I am certainly not qualified to give an educated opinion but from what I have seen there is no way I am ready to do PH... I am looking forward to a good couple of years learning and getting the forms right before that I would think... also is the theory taught at the same time...??
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Postby Michael » Thu Aug 05, 2004 2:50 pm

Greyphantom,

In most schools I have seen or attended, push hands usually begins once you have learned the long form---first time through anyway. I can see if done well, push hand first would be possible but tend not to be in favor of it.

Polaris,

The teacher I was mentioning, was weeding out those not sufficiently interested. Which seems counter productive to me. I think he lost a lot of good students. In the two/three years I was there, no new students stayed, though many came. He taught the way his Chinese teacher taught(in the San Fran area)--very traditional. There I expect the purpose was to keep the class size down as it was already very large. Along with Taiji, he taught Shaolin....where the Shaolin kicks came from.
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Postby Michael » Thu Aug 05, 2004 2:52 pm

Greyphantom,

In most schools I have seen or attended, push hands usually begins once you have learned the long form---first time through anyway. I can see if done well, push hands first could be possible, but I tend not to be in favor of it.

Polaris,

The teacher I was mentioning, was weeding out those not sufficiently interested. Which seems counter productive to me. I think he lost a lot of good students. In the two/three years I was there, no new students stayed, though many came. He taught the way his Chinese teacher taught(in the San Fran area)--very traditional. There I expect the purpose was to keep the class size down as it was already very large. Along with Taiji, he taught Shaolin....where the Shaolin kicks came from.
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Postby Polaris » Fri Aug 06, 2004 1:25 am

Yeah, one hopes that people can become more interested when they start noticing some health, balance and flexibility benefits from the training.

The people whom I personally don't want to teach are the tattooed nutjobs who subscribe to "Ninja Monthly" and drink blood from human skulls to the accompinament of Eminem CDs, exactly the type who seem to show up fairly often because they hear that we specialize in martial applications. We aren't rude to them, but they generally do NOT like working on the basic stance training and first couple of forms for the first few weeks. They often get very antsy and impatient, and when we explain that this is the way they have to learn, no skipping ahead until they can do it right, then they usually just leave. If the shaved head, body-pierced tattoo guy (or girl) has a spark of spirit, though, if they are at all friendly, we may show them a little thing or two to give them a chance to become interested in the right way. We show the same face to each student in our classes, treating everyone with with basic human dignity and patience and expecting just that in return. How they react to that paradigm is their own business.

Cheers,
P.
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:18 pm

Polaris,

You crack me up! I am with you 100%.

I have always thought the the basic art of taiji itself weeds out most of the "undesireables", simply through a lack of patience. You don't have to do it as the teacher I mentioned. His problem was that he didn't want to waste his time on any but the "true believers". Funny thing is, he didn't understand that "true believers" are not born, they become them.

I had a guy with a gojo rhu(sp?) background. He was pretty accomplished in his art. He did have some understanding of some of the principles, some of which were present in his former training. However, I found fairly soon his interest was not in taiji but accumulating techniques. All I had to do was show him some things he could never understand, or phyically do, because he could not give up his extreme "hardness". This discouraged him quite a bit, rationalized in his mind, I am sure as this is "sissy stuff". And he wanted to do "mix it up". He was decent and respectfull person, but the aggressiveness of his personality had to bring failure in this undertaking. I don't miss him except he didn't return a book to me.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-06-2004).]
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Postby Jamie » Sat Aug 07, 2004 6:52 pm

Push Hands First?


Hi,


It reminds me of the difference in learning a trade or profession through post secondary schooling v.s. apprenticeship. Taiji Form is theory, push hands is applied. One could learn either way. At a higher level though, if there are two people with fairly even push hands skills the one with good Forms skills will be able to go farther in their future development.
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Re: PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby Bob klein » Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:56 pm

We would need to see this teacher doing push hands to see the results of his approach. I have pushed with several teachers visiting from China and have found their push hands to be very tense with no Tai-chi principles. And other people have found the same to be true. Obviously anyone can do what they think is push hands without any training or understanding and if they are strong enough they can toss around beginning push hands students.

For the first few years the external push hands approach would prevail until a push hands student gained some skill. It's the same with fighting. To find people willing to go through the proper sequence of training and the frustration of the painstaking detailed practice is rare. These days people all want short cuts. They want to get their treat of tossing people around to feel they are powerful before learning about the principles of wu (no excess) and its even greater fulfillment (and effectiveness).

Of course, the real elephant in the room issue is, how do we teach Tai-chi and retain enough students to earn a living? Too many teachers, at least in this area of the country, teach according to how the students want to be taught rather than what would be the most effective - and this is true for other martial arts as well. The old business rule is "give the people what they want and you will make money." It is obvious to the contributors of this thread, judging from the comments, that teaching form first results in better results with the students.

With a good grounding in form, push hands practice will help the form as much as form helps the push hands, not to mention a good grounding in chi-gung. The trick is to make form exciting to the students by showing them your own enthusiasm for the principles of Tai-chi and how they can be applied to everyday life and self defense. A little demonstration of how each movement in the form can be applied helps the student to make sense of the movement and to remember it better. It also keeps them interested.
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Re: PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby Audi » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:04 am

Hi Bob,

Vincent Chu has written an article in the fall issue of T'ai Chi that has a bearing in this issue and that somewhat matches my experience so far. He says:

“We can make a comparison in personal finance. Solo form practice is for saving money and push hands exercise is for spending [quote][/quote]money. If there is no money saved, then one has no money for buying anything.

“Therfore, push hands exercise training should begin after one has some experience with solo form practice. It is only after one works hard at the solo form that one has the resource for practicing the push hands exercise.”

I agree with your mention of a feedback loop between push hands and form. I would also say that the two do not help each other in the same way. I find the form helps establish and deepen fundamentals, while push hands sharpens the use of intent and knowledge of function. In the form, you learn about your own energy, and in push hands you learn about your partner's/opponent's energy. If you do not yet know about your own energy, I think it is really hard to learn about anyone else's.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:46 pm

Audi,
While I agree in general with your post: "In the form, you learn about your own energy, and in push hands you learn about your partner's/opponent's energy."
I do feel that an expansion might be in order. I would say that in push hands you will first learn more about your own energy, then about your partners energy, then about the shared energy between you.
Maybe I'm just picking nits though. I do that sometimes.

Cheers,
Bob
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Re: PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby Audi » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:42 am

Hi Bob,

I think your comment is probably a more helpful description than mine. I think the two match, however, if we allow that Yang always includes Yin and vice versa.

If I had to speak prosaically about methods such as ours, I would put it this way. First you learn some standard movement to give you a vehicle to practice with. Learning those standard movements (normally specific circling patterns) may, unfortunately, often involve little or no inner content that is necessary for push hands. Once you reach beyond a certain level after a few minutes' or a few days' practice, you must shift your attention away from yourself and the perfection of the movements and onto the opponent and her use of energy.

For example, Sticking only works if you “move second.” Listening and Understanding both depend on focusing on the opponent's energy, and not your own. Only when you get that far do you again begin thinking about your own energy a little in order to Neutralize and Issue. For these latter two skills, you think about how your energy combines.

Take care,
Audi

I suppose you could learn the standard circles to a certain level without form practice, but I think it would be very hard to go far enough. The techniques in the circling are just about as difficult as any of the postures in the form; however the fact that you actually have to make them useful adds a whole other level of difficuLty. Even people who can do Grasp Sparrow's Tail qute well have difficulty manifesting these energies in the circling, let alone actually using them in application.
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Re: PUSH HANDS BEFORE FORM??????

Postby Isaac888 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:48 am

Hi,

I am new here. Just joined in to this forum and would humbly request your kind patience and forgiveness with my jovial intricacies and mediocrity.

Front or back? Does it matters? Pushing hand practice before or after the form exercise? Chicken and egg story.
Why not do it in the beginning before the form and cap it off again after the complete exercise.
If 16 form is a basis for warm up, then use the 16 form as the start and the push hand exercise at the end. (my 2 cents worth)
Or else , make the push hand exercise as the loosening and warming up exercise before starting on the Form. 16, 103 and the rest.

Are there any YangChengFu regimented warm up procedures? do we need one? Do we need to stretch and loosen up before a tai chi session? .... sigh, so many things to consider.

Cheers.

Isaac888
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