Push Hand Skills

Push Hand Skills

Postby CheeFattTaichi » Fri Feb 18, 2005 10:49 am

I have been practising Taichi for 20 years now and I would say my skills in push hands are not bad. I can easily neutralize and push a great distant an opponents who are smaller and unskilled. I can do that to a bigger guy who will graciously give-in and let me push too but when faced with opponent who are bigger, uncorporative and skilled, even if I have the superior skill...my push becomes not as neat. The bigger opponent often was pushed only one or two step back and in a clumsy manner. Is this normal? I've heard masters who can throw a much larger opponents a great distance but personally I have not seen it happen in a real contest. If the bigger opponent is skilled and uncorporative, sincerely do you guys believe even a master can push him a great distant? Most of the push hands videos of past masters I have seen were with their cooperative and small size students. Can anyone please share experiences on this.
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Postby chris » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:24 am

What does "skilled opponent" mean, if not that it is difficult to control or push them?

Two opponents can make each other struggle and/or look foolish if they are at a similar level. It doesn't matter if they are beginners or high hands. It doesn't matter if they use a nominally "internal" or "external" style. What matters IMO is the depth and clarity of their understanding.
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Postby gene » Sat Feb 19, 2005 10:06 pm

A master can definitely bounce an uncooperative larger opponent, skilled in taiji, a good distance. I have personally seen it. Kan shr rungyi, dzwo shr nan.

I have the same issue. But the reality is I don't (can't) push hands enough. Not enough partners, not enough time, not enough partners WITH time. (Don't you hate it when your job gets in the way of things that are really important?) But I think that reaching a high level in push hands is like reaching a high level in anything else. A lot of practice with a lot of different opponents, primarily those with better skill; and a lot of contemplation and research. There is no magic bullet. Also, I think if you become overly absorbed in trying to push someone a great distance, you will get worse, not better. Someday I would like to get to the point where it just happens - that is, instead of me doing push hands, push hands does me.

The following is from Kuo Lien-Ying's book, The T'ai Chi Boxing Chronicle:

"If your Push hands opponent does not have a high level of skill, then you will fall into bad habits. Get the best-qualified Push hands opponent in order to mutually refine and polish this art. Then you will move on to the higher level of the method. You must practice Push hands in accordance with the sphere of the T'ai chi boxing books or you should not push hands. You cannot get this from drawings or photos. If you try to learn Push hands from photos or an unqualified opponent, you will develop the defect of slipping hands, and the technique will not be effective."

I do not know what Kuo meant by slipping hands, but I get the gist of this. I also note through observation and experience that masters do not play around with hands, trying to gain good hand position. They connect centers immediately and gain control of the opponent's centerline (kind of like Wing Chun theory, but a different method). When they move, everything moves, including the opponent. A beautiful thing to see, even better to experience on the receiving end. As for being able to do it consistently? Somewhere, over the rainbow...

Gene
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:16 am

Thanks Gene and Crist. It is very true in the statement that push hands with good opponents will do many goods as compare to with lesser skill opponents. We tend to be lacken when dealing with a lesser skill partner, one most common one is the intensity of concentration which tends to be more lacks when faced with a weaker opponent. I usually adopt a notion of not letting figuratively speaking 4 ounces of force to land on my posture during push hands, this makes me very vigilant and `sung' so to speak and when I care to maintain such alertness in push hands, my opponent usually find it very hard to penetrate my defence or `neutralization'. When dealing with somewhat bigger and skillful opponent, I can get a clean and smooth discharge only if I am patient enough to engage in push hands for a longer period of time and siege opportunity in his lapse of concentration. If I discharge eagerly then it will be very clumsy and sluggish. I guess I still have to work on my patient and concentartion more. I do zhanzhuang more nowadays to get proper body alignment and to me, it helps a lot. What about you guys?
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Postby gene » Sun Feb 20, 2005 3:39 pm

I agree that zhan zhuang is very useful in developing a calm mind, good root, and exppansion in all directions - vital skills for push hands and taiji self-defense. I do it every day. I pause to note that there is a major difference between "no stepping" push hands and zhan zhuang, on the one hand, and self-defense, on the other. Nimble use of the feet is generally a prerequisite for effective self-defense.

Gene
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:34 am

Do you guys practise each of the 8 tech separately (Peng, Lu, Ji, Ann, Chai, Lieh, Zhou, Kou)? I usually practise them separately with a partner where each of us issue Jin on another using each posture repeatedly. Surprisingly many Tai Chi guys I know (some of them are instructors and teaching for many years)do not do this. They simply engage in push hands and also pay very little efforts into exploring and looking at the proper body structure and alignment. Many have the false belief that simply by practising the form over and over again they will after a while get `it'. Some have done it for decades and still insist that this is the way because their sifus told them so. Many of them I have bettered in push hands though....some people just don't think for themselves. Is this kind of attitude common in the west too? By the way, I am leaving in Malaysia.
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:22 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by CheeFattTaichi:
Do you guys practise each of the 8 tech separately (Peng, Lu, Ji, Ann, Chai, Lieh, Zhou, Kou)? I usually practise them separately with a partner where each of us issue Jin on another using each posture repeatedly. Surprisingly many Tai Chi guys I know (some of them are instructors and teaching for many years)do not do this. They simply engage in push hands and also pay very little efforts into exploring and looking at the proper body structure and alignment. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Hi All

When we practice basic jins, we usually start with doing the form of basic push hands in soft manner. Then we add an element of surprise – one unexpected movement of the push or the press between each 4-6 movements in order to 'awake' the partner.
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Postby gene » Tue Feb 22, 2005 3:29 pm

Hi CFTC, Hi Yuri:

The methods you have described are the proper way to go. I confess to getting sloppy quite often, and when I do, having the session turn into a shoving match. I can always tell when I have practiced incorrectly because I am sore the next day.

Gene
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Postby Audi » Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:10 am

Greetings to all:

CheeFatt,

I do not have time to say all that I might say, but I can say now that part of my push hands practice tries to include exploring the 8 "Jins" separately, as well as how one might attempt to counter them. For a few, I even try to explore how to counter the counters. This training is not an attempt to learn movement sequences or specific "applications," but rather the nature of how these "powers" work and how one might use them in one's martial "artistry." (I am stealing a reference here from something Yang Jun mentioned recently in a seminar.)

Take care,
Audi
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:48 am

Hi guys, nice and comforting to find they are people agreeing and using the same training methodology. Many people don't care about Tai Chi martial aspect anymore. I learned frm my sifu (who is the inner student of Dong, Fuling -son to Dong, Yin Chieh) that traditionally the Yang family and Dong trained Jin by using a long and heavy pole. They would applied the 8 Jin by channeling all the energy to the tip of the pole. I think in the past, masters train Jin the hard way and then applied it in the soft way, hence explained why they were so powerful.

I do separate-up the 8 Jin and train on proper applications and then the countering move. Sometime one of us will apply strong Peng Jin while another apply Chai, other time one will apply Ann while another do Lu etc. We also train Hua (neutralization) by one party attack and another yield. Our push hands mimic actual fighting scenario where if possible, we will not let the pushing hand to touch our body. Some people like to let the opponent touch their body and then neutralize, we think this method is not that practical in martial perspective because a touch is equal to a hit. Nice if some of you could share your methods too.

Best regards.
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Postby gene » Thu Feb 24, 2005 12:06 am

Wish I could say I had a more structured approach for training each of the energies. Typically, we will practice the standard four-corners pattern for awhile and then flow into freestyle training.

CFTC, I am intersted by your statement: "Our push hands mimic actual fighting scenario where if possible, we will not let the pushing hand to touch our body. Some people like to let the opponent touch their body and then neutralize, we think this method is not that practical in martial perspective because a touch is equal to a hit."

For a long time, I was preoccupied with keeping the opponent's hands off me. An excellent teacher criticized me for doing this (and in fact, I noticed that when I pushed hands with him, if I placed a hand on his torso, he would immediately use it to connect to my center and either send me stumbling backwards or ensnare me in a lock of some kind).

He said his theory was simple: "I take what you give me and use it."

I kind of like that point of view (which is not necessarily antithetical to what you have said). If I am only deflecting hands from my body, then I am reacting, not blending. I found his way to be economical and effective.

Gene
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Thu Feb 24, 2005 5:26 am

Gene, thanks for sharing. My sifu Yip Seong is the inner student of Dong, Huling, who is the son of Dong, Yin Chieh the most senior student of Yang Cheng Fu. When they did push hands, Dong never allow them to touch his body as it would be similar to a strike. Even if touch, they will not be able to excert more force onto Dong's body as it got neautralized right away. In the same light, they don't deflect the pushing hand away too, they would adhere and follow and lead into emptiness. At times according to my sifu, Dong's Peng Jin will be so strong that no one could even penetrate his defending posture less so touching his body. Dong was very good at detecting the slightest tendness in the opponent's body and he could attack this hardness from the contacting hand itself. maybe traditional Yang style is more hard relatively. I noted traditional Yang style approach push hands slightly differently than other Yang decendents like Cheng Man Cheng's style, Wu, Huang etc. Traditional Yang focus more on martial I guess. Cheng Man Ching style is very soft comparitively and they usually allow people to touch their body like the method you have mentioned. I don't know if Chen, Wu, Ng and other style do the same.
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Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Feb 24, 2005 6:40 pm

I can answer one of the questions about the training methods of a differing lineage.
In the Wu schools I uset to attend we did all kinds of push hands. Most are quite recognizable as the same basic set of push hands drills that the Yang family uses. The stance was different, but the same basic rules applied and we used the same set of basic drills when you boil them down.
One set of drills I have not seen in the Yang family lexicon is the one where you keep your own arms out of the mix. In other words, what you are describing here. The "pusher" would push with his arms, the "pushee" would not use his arms but allowed the "pusher" to contact his body directly and then would respond with only his body.
Another set of drills I have not seen in this transmission is "Nine Palace Steps".
Now, that I haven't seen these done in the Yang family style represented on this website should be no basis whatever to determine if they teach them or not. I haven't seen the entire cirriculum yet, so I can't say if they do this training or not.

Cheers
Bob
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Feb 24, 2005 7:16 pm

Hi All,

Bob:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
One set of drills I have not seen in the Yang family lexicon is the one where you keep your own arms out of the mix. In other words, what you are describing here. The "pusher" would push with his arms, the "pushee" would not use his arms but allowed the "pusher" to contact his body directly and then would respond with only his body.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Actually, we also train this drill at Yang Jun's school in Seattle. It's used to practice concealing the center, even when the oponent is very close or right on it. These are the stages: it starts with one arm on the shoulder, pushing in one direction only. Then the pusher can change directions once. Then the pusher can change directions at will and the pushee must neutralize. When that works, the pusher's hand goes closer to the center of the chest, the "dead space" that's hard to turn or evade. We use it to train flexibility in the spine so that it too can yield and redirect.

I haven't seen the "Nine Palace Steps" yet, or nothing by that name anyway. But like you, I haven't seen the full curriculm as the school I attend is only 5 years old.

CFTC: I think its useful to train to never get hit by keeping the opponent at a certain distance. But I also think its important to train how to yield, deflect, turn a strike, and fa even at the point of impact on the body. It's always possible that a highly skilled person could get to the inside and land a blow. I hope to learn to neutralize even this. So we also practice some close in work. My teacher likes to say that we can learn to fa with any part of our body--which ever part is in contact. So if an opponent strikes the chest, presumably someone could train to "swallow and spit" the energy right back, striking with the chest.

Although opponents can often be turned away from the body early and far away, allowing them in close allows one to borrow more of their energy and momentum.

Best,
Kal
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Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Feb 24, 2005 11:10 pm

Kal,
Good to know. As I said, I haven't seen that yet, but I was pretty sure it would be coming up...
Eventually.
Nine Palace Steps is a moving push hands drill. It's not easy. Fun though.
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