OPEN-HAND PUSH HANDS

OPEN-HAND PUSH HANDS

Postby CheeFattTaichi » Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:32 pm

Cheng Man Cheng's student Huang Hsin Hsuen uses open-hand push hands instead of crossed-hand push hands norm in Yang style. In opened-hand, your right hand attach to opponent's left hand and vice versa, contrary with crossed-hand where your right would attach to the opponent's left. I can handle crossed hand push hands pretty well but opened-hand, I am a novice. I am not sure if authentic Yang style practises this kind of push hands.

Anyone could provide some guidance on what are the differences in principle (if any), techniques and mechanics that we need to be minbdfull-off when doing opened-hand push hands? It would be a great help.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:54 pm

I think that in most push-hands exercises your two hands/arms are ideally always controlling one arm of the opponent.
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Postby Kalamondin » Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:47 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Anyone could provide some guidance on what are the differences in principle (if any), techniques and mechanics that we need to be minbdfull-off when doing opened-hand push hands? It would be a great help. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi CFTC,

Master Yang Jun does teach an open-hand push hands exercise. He calls it “open arm” but maybe it is the same: your left arm makes contact with the opponent’s right arm and at the same time, your right arm touches their left arm.

I only learned this within the last year, but I can tell you a very little bit about it. First, let me describe the circling itself so we know if we are talking about the same thing. At first, the circling goes in only one direction (inside to outside or outside to inside) and touches in one area (wrist, elbow, or shoulder), later it can change directions and contact points. For example, the circles could transfer from up and in towards the center to down and out from the center.

These circles train several things:

1) Palm technique. We practice rotating the palms while maintaining good sticking energy so that our wrists cannot be locked or trapped. This exercise trains sensitivity and speed and correct palm placements—particularly if your opponent is “assisting” by trying to lock your wrist.

2) Smooth circular evasion. This exercise trains an intimate knowledge of each joint so that each joint can yield, deflect, turn, and return. It trains the feeling of the ebb and flow of force between partners. It’s very important to maintain the same level of pressure at all points. This is not an exercise about pushing your partner off balance; it’s about developing listening skills and creating something together that is smooth and even.

3) Rotation of each joint. The wrist circle is different from the elbow circle, which is different from the shoulder circle. The wrist circle uses the whole arm to coordinate the rotation of the wrist, which can also make small circles. The elbow circle must be larger—as large as you can make it. The shoulder circle is like the shrugging circle athletes use to warm up their shoulders. When your opponent pushes with their palms on your shoulders, circle the shoulders and return your push to their shoulders with your palms in time with the rhythm of the circle. Be wary of making the circles too small too soon. I was doing a kind of twining circle for the elbow exercise: when my opponent pushed to my elbow I was just twining my forearm around his to contact his elbow and begin my push. This elbow circle was too small: “It means you don’t really know how to use it,” I was cautioned. So larger circles are also useful and it’s best not to neglect them.

4) Sticking to make smooth transitions between points of contact. This trains us how to make a smooth transition from wrist to elbow to shoulder. If one wants to change the point of contact, it’s important to make the transition without separating, sliding, resisting, or making it awkward. This exercise trains us to stick keep sticking no matter what the transition is. If transferring from wrist to elbow, use the forearm to twine around the opponent’s forearm like a snake around a branch. If transferring from elbow to shoulder, use your elbow area to stick to your opponent’s palm while circling your palm to contact the shoulder. When transferring from the opponent’s palm on your shoulder, stick with the shoulder until you can place your palm on their wrist or elbow.

5) Sticking in the midst of chaos. At this point, the transitions can go freely, inside to outside, outside to inside, wrist, elbow, shoulder. The arms don’t even have to be doing the same thing anymore. They can be doing completely different things within those limits. There are limits, so it's a bounded chaos: any circle can happen, but it's not necessary to worry about your opponent trying applications on you yet so you are free to listen and relax. There can be a wave hands like clouds formation. Or one arm can change while the other does the same thing it was doing before. Or both arms do different things simultaneously. This exercises one’s listening energy, so that a response can be more felt than reasoned, so that the brain can learn not to think too much.

6) Chin na. There are some joint locking techniques that can be practiced from these circles once the circling is smooth and uniform and both partners have a good understanding of palm technique (twisting the hand with a sticking-palm in order to avoid a locked wrist). I think we just trained a few applications, but I don’t doubt there are more. Some were: locking the opponent’s wrist or fingers using whatever was touching it (every point between the fingers and shoulder). Single arm roll-back: lock the opponent’s wrist against your chest or in the crook of your elbow. Then use the same hand to roll-back using the snake twining motion. You can roll-back to the elbow or wrist. This is used very carefully because it can easily be transformed into split energy and hurt your practice partner.

Well, that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, or if you do things differently. I’m also interested to know about different techniques, emphasis, or mechanics. Oh—one last thing about footwork. It’s fixed step, and has a very standard weight-transfer: as you push, move forward; as you ward off or roll back, move backwards.

Best wishes,
Kal


[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 04-06-2005).]
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Postby Audi » Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:50 am

My understanding is that the Yang Style practiced by the Association potentially includes many, many different circles, including some that are "open-hand." One can also switch between horizontal and vertical circles and between "crossed-hand" and "open-hand" circles.

In theory, once you know the horizontal circle and the vertical circle, you know every circle in between; and once you know the crossed-hand and open-hand circles, you can deal with any orientation with the opponent. If you can switch smoothly between and within the circles, you can deal with lot of a different circles and different situations.

Once you reach this stage, you can circle the hands independently and can begin to see the circles that should be present in free style. In other words, you begin to "understand Jin" as it exists naturally, without have it pre-structured. If I could reach and master this stage, I would be a happy man.

I can speculate that it is generally best to manipulate the opponent so that one of his or her arms is unavailable for use and you are able to use two arms to control the other one. I have, however, never been taught this as a principle and have been shown "basic" applications that do not seem to respect any such rule. Since the opponent is supposed to have the initiative, you must, of course, take what you can get.

As far as I know, the rules for "open-hand" pushing are the same as with the "crossed-hand" variety, except that the circles are necessarily different. I also find open-hand much harder, because the control must necessarily be subtler. With crossed-hands, you can have the illusion of being able to forcibly manipulate the opponent's entire arm through the wrist and elbow and so manipulate his or her root. With open hands, it seems to require a higher level of understanding to do the same things.

An important difference I find is that changing the attachment point is more difficult, since the other hand cannot alternate to help in the way that is customary in the "cross-hand" drill. Sliding up and down the opponent's arm is not permitted.

Another important point is that necessary changes in the orientation of your palms must be understood, since certain circles can lead more easily to dead ends or awkward positions that are not permitted.

Lastly, many applications that seem fairly easy to find in the classic crossed-hand drill seem to require more work in open-hand play. It also seems that you must find the necessary circles out of thin air and nurture them over a longer time frame to make them work correctly.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Kalamondin » Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:01 am

Hi Audi,

Yes, I've seen a few different kinds of circling techniques now but I don’t think I've seen them all! There have been a lot of new ones introduced to our class in the last year.

Here's a list of what I've seen to date in a very rough progression :

1. Single arm level circle (cross arm).
2. Touch hand level circle (just add empty hand to cover elbow as it passes in single arm level circle).
3. Double arm vertical circles (standard pattern in most places)
4. Double arm figure eight.
5. Open arms fixed circles.
6. Open arms free circles.
7. Torso yielding exercise. This one alternates pusher with pushee. Start by pushing opponents shoulder, one trajectory. Allow them to yield and circle away. Come from different directions. After awhile, do a double trajectory (change directions in the middle of your push). When that is good, push freely, changing your pushing direction to counter their counters. When that works, move your pushing hand closer and closer to the center of their chest. This is more difficult and requires flexibility of the spine. The spine itself must learn to yield and circle. Don’t push hard when training this. It’s too easy to wrench the back.
8. Single arm figure eight.
9. Single arm vertical circle (cross arm, diagonal trajectory, as though tracing a vertical wheel placed between you at an angle).
10. Double arm horizontal circle (a kind of flat variation on traditional double arm vertical circles).
11. Moving step (standard, cross step, cloverleaf, free step).
12. Da lu – big roll back.

And then, of course, we trained applications and counters for most of the above. This is not the order in which I learned these things. I have the feeling our class took a more organic progression according to who was in the class, what levels people were at, what our teacher wanted to focus on that month or year, and what he hoped we could do.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
I can speculate that it is generally best to manipulate the opponent so that one of his or her arms is unavailable for use and you are able to use two arms to control the other one. I have, however, never been taught this as a principle and have been shown "basic" applications that do not seem to respect any such rule. Since the opponent is supposed to have the initiative, you must, of course, take what you can get. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I’m not sure about two arms controlling one arm (earlier post) or your speculation above. I’ll have to think more about it. I’ve never heard that specifically. What I have heard has more to do with points of contact than arms or hands. If you can control three points, you have them. Three is better than two. If you have two points you can use them to triangulate and find their center. Two is better than one. If you have one point, then you have to be very precise and get exactly the right place (perhaps by triangulating two or three points of contact on the palm or internally?). It’s easier for an opponent to counter a single point of contact than two points. If you have two points, the opponent can still change, but if you have three points, then they’re in a very difficult position.

Kal
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Wed Apr 06, 2005 1:07 pm

Thanks guys. I find open-hand is much harded than crossed-hand but probably because I am new at it. Friends practising Yiquan told me one of the criteria in open hand is not to allow each hand to cross centerline when circling and waist is continuously turning left and right following the hands. Do not allow opponents hand to touch the body. I think there is logic in it.
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Postby Audi » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:31 am

Greetings Kal, Chee Fatt, and everyone else,

Kal, thanks for the post. After I read it, I realized that I had missed your previous one (edited 04-06-2005).

One thing that I can add to your list for those who may have less familiarity with this type of training than others is that there are means for switching between many of the sets of circles. In this way, there are quite a lot of options for training in a challenging way that does not involve completely unstructured activity or entirely competitive pushing.

Another thing I wanted to mention for those who may not train in this way is that the exercises themselves require a high degree of external detail that is comparable to what is done for postures in the form. In other words, it is not a matter of simply looking at a general pattern and then doing what one likes. This is one of the reasons why this type of training requires some foundation from practice of the form.

At the same time, the object of this "circle training" is not to pay attention to oneself, but rather to one's partner, which necessarily requires a much greater degree of variation and flexibility than is generally practiced overtly in the form. The circles are merely an external manifestation of something that should be going on internally. Pushing with one person is not the same as pushing with another. Even pushing with the same person from one day to the next can be quite different.

Another principle is that although there are applications, counters, and counters to counters that can be practiced in many combinations of the circles, there is neither a mechanical application of postures nor total freedom to do whatever one wants. Some things make more sense at some times than at others. There are even some potential circles that are not trained. Understanding what makes sense and where is part of what constitutes learning to "interpret/understand energy."

Also, even if one applies a counter against an application, someone with a high enough level can simply shrug off the counter and continue with the original application with only slight modifications. In other words, the applications do not work by themselves or in an absolute fashion.

A good practitioner can change quite a lot with only minimal movement if he or she has a good understanding of energy usage. In fact, this "struggle" can take a few seconds to play itself out as both practitioners play with full and empty and fight over how the energy will flow. This fact means that overemphasizing a repertoire of "applications" and "counters" to the detriment of understanding fundamentals is not a good idea.

Kal,

I like what you said about points of contact. I think this is a more sensible approach than worrying about whether one is on the inside or outside or whether one is attacking one or two arms.

CheeFatt,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I find open-hand is much harded than crossed-hand but probably because I am new at it.</font>


I do not think this is just your experience. Open-hand is harder since there is no obvious way to coordinate the hands, except in the simple symmetrical circling. It maybe easy to intuit how one would apply An (Push) with "open hands," but I do not think it is at all obvious how one would apply Lu, Ji, or Peng without help from a teacher.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Friends practising Yiquan told me one of the criteria in open hand is not to allow each hand to cross centerline</font>


I have read a similar principle with respect to Wu/Hao Style, but not with respect to Yang Style. I have some doubts about whether it would apply, given other requirements. I am curious about what others think.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">waist is continuously turning left and right following the hands</font>


I wonder if we are talking about different exercises. I believe that most of the open-hand circling involves symmetrical movements that require no waist turns at all. When one is allowed free movement that includes asymmetrical movement and waist turns, practically every combination will occur. As far as I am aware, the waist should lead the movement, but there is no fixed relationship between any of the joints.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Do not allow opponents hand to touch the body. I think there is logic in it.</font>


I think I see your point. This is an issue you mentioned before. I know that one of the reasons that Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun stress leaving space under the armpits is to avoid the opponent trapping your arm against your body and being able to issue energy.

On the other hand, I think that the Association training stresses that body contact may occur and that one should not fall into a habit of "resisting" to avoid it. Instead, one should be able to apply elbow and body techniques to make sure that contact to one's body is not the end of the story, but just one more challenge in returning the energy back to the opponent. At a high level, one should also have enough Peng energy at any point in the body so that one can issue even with one's body into the opponent's striking arm.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Bamenwubu » Wed Apr 13, 2005 2:02 pm

Audi,
Excellent post.
I am just beginning to train Yang family push hands in earnest, so I'm fascinated by your insights. Bill tells me to read your posts diligently, so you must be doing something right.
I just want to concur with you on the point of the space under the armpits. Bill constantly traps my arm up against my body when I don't do this and I, in turn, do the same thing to my partners. It's not natural to me yet to do so, and he traps my arm against my chest to remind me of this. I'll learn, one of these days.
Which leads me to the next point of not allowing contact to the body.
Again, not a natural thing for me to avoid. I am used to another style of push hands and in that style we welcomed contact to the body after basic push hands was learned correctly. That style used a lot of traps against the torso, integrating a waist turn you can very easily offset or throw your opponent and even break bones or weapons in this fashion. The Cloud Hands of that style is a perfect example of this, you place your arm down the side of your body, palm out, trapping your opponents arm, leg, spear, staff, whatever in there, while your other arm either accepts energy or strikes.
I feel that being touched on the body is inevitable and should be trained for. I know I'm not good enough at evasion to be 100% certain I'm not going to take a strike to my torso. Since it's a near inevitability that this is going to happen, I feel it only prudent to train effective measures to deal with it. Bill also shows us that even if your arm is trapped up against your body your body still moves in the same way and you can use the turning of your waist to not resist against the contact and even turn it into an advantage. If you can turn your opponents energy out without resisting then once he is in an empty space you can circle your arm back around his and trap it against your body. Another waist turn back again and you've done as I've said above, trapped his arm against your body for whatever purpose you see fit.
Again, a good practitioner will not let you do that, but a hard stylist will likely not be good at circling, sensitivity and non-resistance.
You can hope so, anyway.

I'm still working on sensitivity and sticking with basic push hands right now, hopefull someday I'll develop those things and we can move on.
I guess I should practice harder!

Bob
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Thu Apr 14, 2005 2:09 pm

Hi everybody. Audi, you are right to say waist move hands...I think I had written wrongly that waist follows hands. What I meant was in open hand, waist is turning to lead hands too,just like cross-hand push hands. But I still have to work on open hand more before I can reach the same proficiency as cross hand. And I am still wondering if original Yang style does practise open hand because according to a VCD on Yang style push hands by the son of Fu Zhong Weng, he demonstrated all the push hands in Yang style and missing is open hand. Same with other Yang stylist authorities like Tung family, Yang Sau Chung and even Cheng Man Ching.

Yang Sau Chung said when Taiji is used in combat, always enter from side...which means cross hand. Therefore, it seems logical Yang style emphasize cross hand. Cheng Man Cheng's student Huang Zian Zhian advocates open hand probably because of his white crane background.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:14 pm

That position makes it easier to protect one's center; hide the center, while looking for the opponent's center.


Jeff
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Postby Anderzander » Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:43 pm

just for information - Huang had a full range of push hands sequences in his syllabus
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:30 am

I study the Yang Sau Chung syllabus and we do also train open hand push hands.
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:50 pm

WB,
Do you practice the "dynamic push hands" of that lineage?
I've seen it mentioned, spoke briefly with Dimitri Mougdis of the Florida Gin Soon Chu Federation School, The Internal Arts Institute, about it.
However, I was hoping to ask someone who has actually done it some more about it.
Mostly interested in how that works as opposed to good ol' fashioned push hands as most others do it.

Bob
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Postby CheeFattTaichi » Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:27 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bamenwubu:
<B>WB,
Do you practice the "dynamic push hands" of that lineage?
I've seen it mentioned, spoke briefly with Dimitri Mougdis of the Florida Gin Soon Chu Federation School, The Internal Arts Institute, about it.
However, I was hoping to ask someone who has actually done it some more about it.
Mostly interested in how that works as opposed to good ol' fashioned push hands as most others do it.

Bob</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

We do another form of push hand which is called `lou niu jin' (old bull's force) when each will apply force into the normal push hands circle and it is done very slowly, much slower than normal push hands. Even when yielding, we have to yield very slowly and purposely allow our posture to witstand/ absorb the opposing force inch by inch in the retreat. However we must be care to ensure than we are using peng jin (whole body force) instead of brute force. If brute force is used, we can get tired very quickly, can't even last 3-5 circles. This exercise is to ensure every inch of our movements is filled with peng jin, correct posture and alignments. I don't know if this is the dynamic push hands you are talking about. This exercize is aimed at building jin as Tung Huling puts it, 4 ounces to deflect 1000 pounds doesn't means taiji players should neglect the development of force to its maximum. Force is your capital, the more force/ stronger you are, the more capital you will have to deal with enermy. Yang Cheng Fu's hand is said by Cheng Man Cheng to be 10 times more forceful that ordinary man and yet he is as soft as cotton.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:51 pm

http://www.nytaichi.com/onpeng.htm



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 04-17-2005).]
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