Greetings to all,
In practicing the basic Yang-Style four-hand, vertical push-hands drill with fixed steps, I have noticed several different rhythms. I have used some of these to correct my form. I would be curious as to how others experience this drill and whether you perceive the same or different rhythms.
All this is fiendishly difficult to describe in words and may represent my crazy perceptions; nevertheless, I will do my best. I have not really worked out all of my thoughts, let alone their implications, but thought I would go ahead and post.
First, I experience the unity of the drill as a series of single beats, as if one were simply counting single numbers corresponding to each repetitions of a cycle.
Next, I experience a series of two beats corresponding to the back and forth movement of the knees. This could be represented by counting: one, and, two, and, three, and, etc., where the number corresponds to having the weight fully forward, and the “and” corresponds to having the weight fully back.
Next, I experience a series of three beats, corresponding to being fully advanced, in the middle, and fully retreated. This is the path described by the push and the pull of the interaction and may correspond to the number of waist rotations executed in advancing or retreating. It might also correspond to how the “kuas” open and close, but I have not fully worked this out.
If one visualizes the right foot forward the right arm positioned in Ward Off, I can give the following description of the three beats. The first curve is roughly forward, upward, and backward. The second is leftward, backward, and rightward. The third is backward, upward, and forward. There seem to by three loci of interaction with one’s partner at these three points, and I experience three curves or partial circles corresponding to each. The path of the interaction seems to follow a figure eight that is lying on its side and its edge, but which is bent around the central vertical access. This arrangement yields a feel of three distinct curves or partial circles and is the predominant rhythm I perceive. Does anyone else perceive this?
Next, I experience a series of four beats. This is the same as the three beats, but counts the middle circle twice on each cycle, once while advancing and once while retreating. These four beats correspond loosely to the four major techniques practiced—i.e., ward off, roll back, push, and press--; however, I am not sure that the length of each technique or “beat” is really equal. I also have difficulty figuring out where to place each technique within the four “circles.”
Next, I count five techniques, if Ward Off is counted twice. One does ward off once while retreating and raising the arm and once while advancing and spiraling the arm downward. If these five are “real,” how does this rhythm correspond to the three/four circles and the other rhythms?
Next, I have begun to perceive six beats, three curves going forward and three coming backward. Some of this corresponds to the storing (Yin) and releasing (Yang) of the three loci of interaction, but I have difficulty with the overlap between the four techniques and the exchanges between them.
Lastly and most recently, I have begun to perceive eight beats that correspond to the storing and releasing phase of each of the four techniques. Again, I am not sure how these eight should correspond to any of the other rhythms. I am particularly unsure whether to count Ward Off and Rollback as separate beats or whether to link them together as two components of one technique. The former supports a count of eight beats, and the latter supports a count of six beats. The choice also has implications for how offense and defense should match up between you and the opponent.
Let me ask some concrete questions to add shape to what I am trying to describe. Should one do the releasing aspect of Ward Off while advancing the arm, moving it rightward, or while lifting it? Should one do the storing phase of it while lifting the arm or while beginning to retreat? Similarly, should one do the releasing aspect of Press while moving rightward or while advancing. How about the storing aspect? Does this happen before the release phase, while the waist is rotating rightward or leftward, or perhaps as the legs advance forward?
I suppose there are also ten beats that correspond to doubling the five beats described above, but I do not strongly perceive the spiraling Ward Off (performed while advancing) as a clear technique that can be subdivided. Any takers?
What is the essential “rhythm” of the four-hands drill? What other rhythms do you perceive?