I had actually responded earlier, but then thought better of my response and removed it until I had some time to think this through more clearly. My post rambled a bit, as I wasn't really clear on what I was trying to say.
That's the "disregard this post" above.
I have thought about the practice of push hands, and I seem to have come to some of the same conclusions that you and Chee have, that pushing hands is really not the same today that it must have been 100 years ago, maybe even fifty years ago, and the problem we're having is that we're comparing apples to oranges here.
I have only trained the Yang style push hands as a training drill to this point, there is no "real" combat involved and the way I understood it there isn't going to be. Others obviously view PH's as a competition in and of itself but that is not how I see it.
To that end I feel that thinking of PH's as a drill to increase listening, sticking, adhering, following skills and to get to know yourself (ie; knowing how to stand correctly and having that tested by being pushed against, only one example) is only the first step on the way. There are certainly more steps after that point that I have not seen. I was speaking from my current perspective on PH's, not about the entire lexicon involved, and so my responses are from the perspective of apples, yours are from oranges. Still, they are not so far apart as we have seen.
As in form practice you first begin by copying the movements of your teacher, at this time you have no real concept of what you're eventually shooting for. Do you? You are mimicking what your instructor does, putting your hands in roughly the same location, moving your feet roughly at the saem time and generally in the same direction. But there is no understanding at this point of proper frame, proper rooting, the Ten Essentials are not present in your form. No matter how closely you mimick the movements your instructor makes the basis is not there for true understanding of the form or its movements yet.
After some time you begin to understand that there is a reason that the left hand goes here, the right here goes there, and you begin to make more proper form movements. However at this time you still have no understanding of co-ordinating upper and lower, so while you are moving slowly into the Ten Essentials you are only exhibiting one or maybe two of them.
Time goes on, you learn more correctly, you begin to exhibit a greater and greater proportion of the Essentials in your form work until you reach the point where you have incorporated all Ten Essentials and it can be said that you are truly doing TCC, or at least doing a real TCC hand form.
Such will be the case with PH's training. You have to start somewhere, we all do, and that somewhere may be different for everyone.
One of my biggest problems is that I had some prior experience with PH's, but it turns out my training was less genuine than I had been lead to believe. I had sunshine blown up my heiny by someone who supposedly knew what he was talking about, and for quite a while, but that turned out to be a waste of time.
It really doesn't matter, the important thing is that I was misinformed. I wasted a LOT of my time, not to mention money, taking training that was not worth the time of day I spent on it, but now I am on the right path with someone who does know.
It took me quite some time to understand that but now I can move forward.
I imagine this happens to a lot of people in TCC as there is no TCC police force to ensure that all instructors are qualified or honorable. Anyone can hang up a shingle, skilled or not, honest or not, and claim to know and teach TCC, whether they do or not.
Caveat Emptor applies here.
It took me a while to get over my belief in a flawed system and begin to understand that what my current instructor was giving me was pure gold. Now that I have begun to train with an instructor who demonstrably knows his stuff, perhaps I'm a tad too overenthusiastic and blow the trumpets a bit too much about it.
If I have, I apologize now to everyone I have offended by doing so.
However, perhaps you can understand when I say that to feel the transfer of energy between my feet, up my legs, one knee pushing back against the other in a controlled fashion, my center under my control, my lower body rooted, my waist turning freely, my upper body relaxed and pliable, my whole self under my control...
To really, truly know these things at last after a long time THINKING I did...
Well, it's quite a rush. Sometimes I get carried away and gush a tad too loud and long about it.
Sorry. I'll try to stick to the program and not gush anymore.
I agree, wholeheartedly, with both you and Chee that the practice of PH's is going through a redefinement in the TCC world, not just in Yang style but in all disciplines.
It seems to be taking on a life of it's own, outside the realm of a training exercise. It has moved into "competition mode" and is now an end in and of itself in some places.
PH's tournaments are becoming more and more popular. I see them taking the same place as tournaments for things like Karate. They offer a way to test your skills without the danger of being really hurt. They offer some competition, a good way to score coup, a feather in your cap if you win.
I don't know if this was the original intent, but it is what is happening now.
I, however, still only see PH's from the perspective of a training exercise. I haven't infused a higher meaning to PH's. I only think of it as an effective way to train skills that I will require when I move into the realm of free style sparring, which is a tad more like "real" fighting than PH's can be.
Even there, I view sparring as only the next step to learning more skill towards the end of self defense. Maybe more advanced, hands on skills than form work or PH's but still only a practice method to achieve those skills, not as a way to score points in a competition or count coup against my partners or others who I may train with.
I say "train", and I mean that. I don't consider my training partners as "opponents" I view them as "partners". We are working together, not fighting each other.
The fighting may come later, with someone who is temporarily, or permanently, insane and is attacking me or others who it is my bounden duty to defend. I don't "fight" my training partners, I train with them.
The dynamic is entirely different. Do you see this?
So I guess I needed to clarify my position. I am not viewing this part of TCC training, PH's, as a "win or lose" proposition. I view it strictly as a training method to be practiced with diligence and due care for everyone's safety, with the goal in mind of increasing our skills in self defense for a time when we may really need them. I do NOT view PH's as something I can either win or lose. I always win. Whenever I learn something new or increase my skill of something I may allready understand THAT is the true definition to me of "winning".
THIS is how I see the practice of PH's, and TCC in general, other will see things entirely differently. Neither will be incorrect, just different.
Eveyone is entitled to their opinion on this or any other subject, and that includes me. This is my opinion. No one else needs to agree.
Right or wrong, it's merely my understanding and not some kind of cosmic guideline and was never intended to be.
[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 07-20-2005).]