Push Hand Strategy

Postby JerryKarin » Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:45 am

Hmnnn. I don't know, I think you can consciously demonstrate hanxiong babei. The hanxiong (reserve chest) is extremely easy to demonstrate. I've seen the Yangs do it tons of times. Puff out the chest - wrong. Bring it in just like this - right. Babei, pulling up the back, means elongating the back and raising the head upwards such that the back, from waist to head, goes up and from waist to tail elongates downward. Remember back in school when your attention was wandering and your teacher had a few sharp words for you and you very quickly straightened up in your chair - that's pretty much it.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 07-29-2005).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:06 am

Here's my suggestion for hanxiong babei. You need to observe a good player so you see what it looks like. If you can't actually get close, any tape or DVD by Yang Jun or Yang Zhenduo is full of it. Look at their chest, back and shoulders. Imagine yourself looking like that. All the good players show it: the famous Chen masters, Bruce Lee... etc.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:43 pm

Greetings Image

<<when your form has reached a stage where it really is internal guided by yi directed by qi this will happen by itself not something to be forced.......<<The key and main gate is really that of sung and really using no force in practice all else will follow.>>Bamboo Leaf

I have heard it repeated often on this board that everyone has different learning methods. So I will assume that for each stage and individual the method for acheiving understanding is subtly different. One can enter through same door/gate? with different keys.
[[ For example, for Hand clouds...I could not find the threaded connection through the HIPS ~ break my head over it all I wanted~ I had to find my WAIST & dantian (the area all around and above my hips...THEN my hands felt the whole body connection...such a subtle discretion, but just the way it worked for me. Even now I find I can still lose this awareness...the feeling of this connection with my waist. I expect to have to repeat this connection many times more before becoming comfortable enough, familiar enough, with this connection to induce it with only mental will (yi) at whim, with consistency.]]
So I can imagine that for some, perhaps more senior students? those with more experience? that the simple use of yi will indeed induce song, as you state Bamboo Leaf. I have had moments like this, but they are rare and I am seeking some semblance of consistency in the stage I am at right now. Maybe with a few more years of practice I will be there...maybe not...I don't know. Right now it is mimicry of the external posture, as Jerry explains, through observation, and striving for the essentials which delivers, most often, for me, the inner "relaxation" I require to find that elusive ( yet great feeling Image ) song state of being. I do not find it easy to capture this essence through abstract inner ideals...yet. I find it much easier to mimick external shape/postures through the essentials and observation of those who have mastered it~blatant external physical quotients.

Personally, I have found that using the thought of "using no force in practice" just leads me to feeling like mush...just does not work for my mind...yong yi bu yong li...still not effective for me...at least not yet Image

<<Don't mistakenly treat concaving of chest or pulling of back as a posture to attain. This will add more stiffness and even obstruct qi flow. You can achieve concave chest by simply dropping your shoulders and relax your chest by sinking upper weight into dantian and kua. To understand its purpose, you must search internally to see how by relaxing and dropping the chest and shoulder, you create an internal connection between upper body and dantian, espeacially the kua (hip). Its purpose is to align the connection so that any exertion of force by the kua can be transmitted up to the upper body. In short, the whole upper and lower body acted as one unit. You need to experimental yourself to find the internal connection and the energy path, then `aha!' concave chest will become second nature.
Pulling of back too needs to be explore using the same manner - force or energy. Once you established the connection with kua, you then experiment how to connect it to the hands and pulling the back is the trick. Don't do this on physical level but apprehend them based on internal connection and strength. Once you get that, your taiji will have great internal strength.>> Cheefatt TC

I THINK, I understand and agree with what you are saying...let me repeat then my own understanding and if you disagree please let me know...Once kua is relaxed one can attempt to capture hanxiong Babei?...on this I agree from experience...its 4am right now, I woke up recently and my kua is just too stiff and groggy to relax properly...hence I could not demonstrate hangxiong Babei at this moment if my life depended on it.
(( Master Yang Jun, bruce Lee and TC masters kua's are always relaxed!? Image ~ I am unfortunately not in their physical condition...but these people are definitely the sparks which have helped me realize the existance of hanxiong Babei in the first place and I can learn much from observing them~absolutely Jerry, thank you.))
So I think I am agreeing, Cheefatt, when I say it is a union of both relaxed kua, dantian full and finding hanxiong Babei which helps me to achieve the song state. All the yi in the world right now, at 4 in the morning cannot induce me to be song...my body will not cooperate. I am standing up now, trying to try these techniques of hanxiong Babei and relax kua...but cannot with all the yi or essentials in the world...need to go warm up first Image In other words I feel one must be physically prepared to use yi with such whim, and I am not on several plains~often~
In other words, it is still a long and conscious process before I can "apprehend them based on internal connection"

For me, personally, the formula for acheiving that would be something like
relax body~warm ups, lubricate joints, unknot muscles etc... THEN...try to song~ how? by trying to employ the ten essentials...esp the ones revolving around settling kua and tandien....then trying to hanxiong Babei...~I find once the body is warmed up and "relaxed"~free from blatant stiffness~ that I can then attempt to tuck and round the tail, loosen waist/ hip/ kua, and fill the dantien....then, I can TRY to hanxiong....then, if all has gone well, I am feeling pretty song and have developped a half decent root Image THEN I can consider the other essentials with reasonable justification.

So, again, I think I understand and agree with what you are saying Cheefatt....in my own complicated, novice manner.

I will try to go for loosen kua, fill dantien THEN relax shoulders THEN move onto conscious awareness of hanxiong Babei...this might help...for I find that last step of pulling up back conflicts with lowering/relaxing shoulders....maybe a little more conscious preparation of shoulders FIRST will help eliminate that conflict. Thanks, I will try.

Sorry for this rambling, meandering, perhaps difficult post to digest...

I am just a novice trying to understand...not meaning to sound cocky in any way about anything. If I have , please forgive it is unintentional. And please feel free to correct my thoughts on these things...still sorting everything out in my mind. Patient repetition in different ways is often helpful. I am not disagreeing with anyone, simply trapped in the level I am at, striving for understanding. I could easily be repeating the same errors of comprehension even after an explanation...and not because I wish to, or am deciding to confirm my present understanding...but simply because I have not "caught it" yet...

So...thanks for your explanations and patience! Image

Best wishes,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 07-29-2005).]
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Postby goto » Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:17 pm

Hi All
I agree with the statement that' hold in the chest' means the chest is slightly reserved inward.In forms sometimes,hold in the chest clearly,and most time hold in chest slightly. If one hold in obvious chest for a long time in forms, it will effect one's breathe.In my experience with holding in obvious chest for a long time, i feel uncomfortable.So in my opinion,to slightly hold in chest inwardly should occupy more time than to hold in chest clearly. To slightly hold in the chest is benifical for flowing of qi.

I have question about the sentent:"but I doubt sincerely that he is incorrectly performing this Essential as espoused by his father"
Could you explain it?
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:37 pm


Here’s my translation of Gu Liuxin’s explanation of hanxiong babei, from _Taijiquan Shu_ (The Art of Taijiquan). This is from his section on the back and spine:

“Contain the chest (hanxiong)” and “raise the back (babei)” are interconnected. When one is able to contain the chest, then one is able to raise the back. “Raising the back” is when the chest is contained slightly in, the musculature of the back loosen and sink downward (wang xia song chen), and the vertebra between the two shoulders (the spinal vertebra, the third fundamental beneath the neck), have an upward rising stimulus and a slight leading or drawing toward the rearward upward direction—it cannot simply pull toward the rear. In this manner, the muscles of the back have a certain elongative tension and springiness, the skin has a sensation of being drawn up. Since the spine, shoulders and arms are mutually linked, therefore the taijiquan treatise states: “the strength issues from the spine.” In actuality, it is the musculature of the shoulders and back working together in the application of strength, rather than one group of muscles working independantly in the application of force.”

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:05 pm

Greetings Mr.Swaim,

<<Since the spine, shoulders and arms are mutually linked, therefore the taijiquan treatise states: “the strength issues from the spine.” In actuality, it is the musculature of the shoulders and back working together in the application of strength, rather than one group of muscles working independantly in the application of force.” >> Louis Swaim

Ah! Most excellent Image I have been trying to understand this expression of 'issuing power/strength from the "bow", the "spine" for a very, very long time now...Very good! Thank you very much for these translations Louis.

Best wishes,
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:32 pm

I have only recently begun to understand properly the idea of "hold in the chest, lift up the back". This is an elusive Essential as we can see.
My first suggestion was the same as Jerry's, observe a good player as he exhibits this Essential and emulate his actions.
But I think I may be able to help point you a little further on the way and will do my best to do so.
I can only give you my observations on this, and they are in no way to be construed by anyone as being "official" Yang family doctrine. This is how I currently understand this Essential, and others will have followed a different path and have a different understanding.
I found my path to a beginners understanding of the Second Essential by being conscious of and coming to a beginners level of understanding of the First Essential and the Fifth Essential. I feel that if you don't properly execute these two other Essentials you will not be able to successfully execute the Second Essential.
Actually ALL the Essentials come into play, you can't do any of them well without doing them all correctly, but I have found that for the Second it's extremely important to be able to execute the 1st and 5th properly.
The 1st Essential is:
1. Empty, lively, pushing up and energetic *

'Pushing up and energetic' means the posture of the head is upright and straight and the spirit is infused into its apex. You may not use strength. To do so makes the back of the neck stiff, whereupon the chi and blood cannot circulate freely. You must have an intention which is empty, lively (or free) and natural. Without an intention which is empty, lively, pushing up and energetic, you won't be able to raise your spirit.

The 5th Essential is:
5. Sink the shoulders and droop the elbows

Sinking the shoulders means the shoulders relax open and hang downward. If you can't relax them downward, the shoulders pop up and then the chi follows and goes upward, causing the whole body to lack strength. Drooping the elbows means the elbows are relaxed downward. If the elbows are elevated then the shoulders are unable to sink. When you use this to push someone they won't go far. It's like the 'cut off' energy of external martial arts.

In my opinion, the 5th Essential has a crucial prompt for proper execution of the 2nd Essential. Reading them closely I have often found that in the wording of one Essential comes a clear road map to the proper execution of others.
With that in mind here, in my opinion alone, is the key phrase to understanding the 2nd Essential by understanding the 5th: "Sinking the shoulders means the shoulders relax open and hang downward."
There is a further road map in the 1st Essential as well. Here is the relevant wording: "You may not use strength. To do so makes the back of the neck stiff, whereupon the chi and blood cannot circulate freely."
These phrases from the other Essentials I've listed lead pretty clearly to a better execution of the 2nd Essential. And here's why I believe this to be so.
If you are using strenght to lift your head upright and therefore are cutting off chi, you will not have proper alignment to be able to hold in the chest. If you allow the shoulders to lift, again you are in improper alignment and the chest cannot be held in.

This leads me to my most important point. I will do my best not to confuse anyone but I feel it must be stated in order for my opinion to be properly understood.
The 5th Essential tells us clearly that the shoulders should "relax open" as well as "sink downward".
I find I cannot do this properly if I'm not holding in my chest.
The one Essential leading directly back to the other.
However, both have to be consciously executed at the same time.
Here's my opinion, and again it's only mine and subject to question, even and most especially by me.
At this point in my understanding, I feel that "lifting up the back" and "opening the shoulders outward" are two sides of the same coin.
Let me attempt to explain.
When I hold in my chest AND sink my shoulders downward and outward, I feel a seperation between my shoulder blades that almost makes my back flat. It creates a straight line in between the ends of my shoulders that seems to work with the sinking of my shoulders and elbows and the holding in of my chest to create a pathway of energy to my waist.
This flattening of the back, at that point in between my shoulder blades, "lifts up" the ENERGY of my back, not my back itself, but the energy channel of my back. There may be a physical manifestation there as well, I can feel a definite change, physically, that could be described as "lifting up" from a certain point of view. I'm not clear on this at this time, however, and further observations and testing are required before I could say for sure.
When I do this properly, my push hands partner is able to put his entire fist into a hollow that gets created under my armpits.
This lead me to a bit of theory I've heard from time to time, the one that goes something like "have the feeling of a ball of energy under your armpits".
I've seen this many times, in many places, though I'm not too sure on the stand of the Yang family on this one. I know Bill W. has mentioned this to us, but I don't know the veracity of its use as an absolute for Yang family TCC beyond that. With that in mind, take this as an observation on my part, and not anything too important.
I always wondered how to implement this "ball of energy" without lifting my shoulders. The idea of a "ball of energy" under my armpits always seemed to violate the 5th Essentials mandate to sink the shoulders. If I've got this ball under them, I'm lifing them up to make room for that ball.
However, using the concept stated clearly in the 5th Essential to open my shoulders outward as well as downwards, and using the concepts of the 2nd Essential of holding in my chest, simultaneously creates all on its own a hollow under my armpits and directly in front of my shoulder blades which gives me an immediate and palpable feeling of "energy" under my arms, between my hands and in a direct line between my hands and my back and waist and legs.
And not just on me, my PH's partner does the exact same thing and mentions the same feelings.
So again, we see results with this practice method immediately.
Until I have more information on the use of the theory of keeping a "ball of energy" under the armpits in Yang family TCC, I want to make it clear that this is a personal opinion of mine, based on observations and experimentation with these concepts and not anything to get too excited about.
Perhaps Jerry would be kind enough to commment on this for me? I would appreciate it greatly if he did so.

The concept of "lifting up the back" raises some misconceptions, I feel, in the minds of Westerners who are trying to decipher the meaning of this Essential. I don't know if the Chinese speakers have this same problem, maybe the original language doesn't give rise to this same kind of misunderstanding.
The idea of "lifting up" an object, at least to me, indicates that physically something is "lifted", something goes "up". This gives us the impression that we should lift our back up somehow, physically. To do this most of us would have to assume that we are to raise our shoulder blades upwards. This raises the shoulders themselves, which raises the elbows, which violates the 5th Essential.
However, if we change our mind set a bit and re-read the translation with a different idea in mind, it's not so hard to do.
My concept here is built right into the 2nd Essentials wording. Here is what I'm talking about: "If you are able to hold in the chest then you will naturally be able to pull up the back."
Reading this, my first impression was that this is merely verbage to say that if you can do one, you can do both. However, thinking it through and experimenting with it I've found a new way to think of this statement that may or may not be correct.
If you are holding in the chest properly, then your back will naturally be pulled up as well.
This seems to work better for me as an aid to understanding this concept of holding in the chest and pulling up the back. Whether or not it's correct...?
I'll leave that to time, experimentation, research and better minds than mine to determine.

I sincerely hope these rambling, long winded thoughts and observations of mine help others.
Debate is expected and welcomed on all these things I've spouted forth on. Be gentle and remember that I've done my best to state clearly that this is ONLY HOW I UNDERSTAND these things right now, my understanding will certainly change over time and these thoughts and opinions of mine are not any kind of thing to carve in stone. My understanding is suspect, at best, and I only offer it as a way to further that understanding by myself and hopefully in others.

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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:45 pm


I was responding to your statement:
"I guess the cause may be ne is that yang chen pu only taught it to Tung Yin Chieh,did not taught his son, yang zhen duo-But the cause is impossible. Another cause yang chen pu and yang zhen duo practice wronly.--the cause is impossible as well."
My statement was in response to this one. I, too, was saying that it would be nearly impossible for Yang Zhen Duo to be performing this Essential of his fathers incorrectly.

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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:50 pm

Your short post went a far way to making my long winded ramblings unecessary. Had I read your post before I made mine, I would not have bothered!
It took me over an hour to write mine out. Had I waited a short time, or looked in before I hit "submit reply" I could have saved myself the trouble.
Thank you for some amount of confirmation on at least some of my thoughts. I'm glad to see that at least in the opinion of Gu Luixin I am not too far off the beaten path on some of this subject.

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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:33 pm

Hi Bamenwubu,

I tried some of the things you mentioned...flattening the back and feeling for senstion in the armpits...experimenting with suspending the crown.

I found that conscious flattening of the back really accented that feeling under the armpits, though I personally am not able to distinguish if it is a physical, mechanical product feeling or an energy feeling...there is a distinct feel to it though. I do feel a certain spherical palpability produced therein.

And about your mention of the correlation to sinking the chest, and raising back, Hanxiong Babei...to me it feels like someone is depressing the breastbone slightly and somehow it penetrates through to the back.

I think I often alternate between the correct "depression" and the incorrect "raising" ( which affects the shoulders).

Thanks for this interesting feedback...got me experimenting more with it, brought in some new sensations.

Best wishes,
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:13 pm

That's what I was going for. Glad I could get you going.
I, too, cannot distinguish if this "hollow" under my armpits correlates with a "ball of energy". I can't imagine that they are not connected, but I've been wrong before.
Here's something else to try while you're trying this out. I only mention this because in my recent experiments it has worked equally well for me and my PH's partner.
First though, let me give credit where credit is due.
This mysterious PH's partner of mine. Without him I would still be flailing in a vacuum of ignorance on a good deal of Yang family TCC. His name is Jim. He is an Association memeber but he doesn't spend as much time online as I do. He does come on here from time to time and read up on some of the stuff I tell him about, but he's not the posting type.
His help and knowledge of TCC, he's been in the game nearly as long as I have and had some excellent teachers along the way, has been invaluable to my current level of understanding. We work together on these things, twice a week, and further each others skills as much as possible.
There, credit given.
Back to something to try...
I once read that Chen Man Ching, if I'm remembering correctly, claims to have had a dream in which both of his arms were broken, and that lead him to a greater understanding TCC.
I didn't understand this for a LONG time.
However, after making the discovery of a seemingly more correct interpretation of "hold in the chest, lift up the back" and the consequent feeling of connection between my hands, arms and back with little intervention by my shoulders, I gained an insight into one possible meaning of such a thing.
Here's where Jim comes in. He had the initial insight using his memory of CMC's dream and our current "aha" moment. Once he put that forth, we experimented together to see if we had indeed found some insight.
Get into preperatory posture, observe the Essentials in your stance.
Oh, this requires pockets, a belt around your waist or some other means of loosely restraining your arms at your sides will sitll allow you to maintain the holding in of your chest. That said, I'll use pockets as my example, because that's what we used.
Put your hands in your pockets. This should imobilize your arms nicely.
Now, do your form.

See where that leads you and let me know if you feel anything... different.
I'll leave it up to everyone to describe what they feel while doing this.
I'm curious to see what feedback I get, so I won't put any pre-conceived notions in anyones mind.

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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:53 pm

Hi Bamenwubu,

Another interesting experiment...very hard to define the first impressions though...subtle things...

~felt good...made me smile? lol...
~better awareness of lower body.
~was quite easy to maintain what I "felt" was a decent posture.
~felt good on my spine...up to my head...kind of freeing?
~a tad easier to maintain the crown in suspension.

~ but then several minutes after stopping I started getting a headache, still have it...and I am not one prone to headaches... hmmm...what does that mean? Can you tell if something is wrong with my posture by this?

These are my impressions...don't know if it is what you were looking for...I am curious to hear your results and deductions on this...

Best wishes,
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:01 pm


It definitely gave me a BIG headache...ach...

I am very interested in hearing the results you've deduced...because anything this powerful must be saying something!

Best wishes,
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:39 pm

I have NO idea why you would have gotten a headache, and I apologize for the experience.
I don't get a headache from this, rather the opposite, I feel quite light and well after, pretty much just like doing the long form.
All I was going for was the feeling I get, which is a clearer understanding of whole body movement.
By taking the arms out of the experience, I found out how superficial my arms are to proper whole body movement. The connection between my back and my arms works whether my arms are up and out or held in close to my body, and doing the form this way also allowed me to have a clearer understanding of how to use my arms in my form work and PH's.
Quite a feat, considering my arms weren't doing anything but being parked in my pockets, but since I've started doing this I find I can extend my energy into my arms much more clearly using my whole body just as soon as I put them back in.
That's all I ever took away from it. Never got a headache.
In fact, after reading your post I quickly trotted into our storage room and did section 1 and section 2 and a goodly part of section 3, hands firmly in pockets, before I got interupted and had to stop.
Nothing. No headache or bad feelings at all.
Please, don't do that again!!!!
I'm sorry. My experience has been that this is a good thing. Neither of us seemed to suffer any ill effects from it, but if you are please stop.

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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:44 pm

Hi Bamenwubu,

No problem, don't worry about it, I chose to do the experiment...

I was just going to specify something though...I used the drawstring loops on the sides of my training pants...they extend about three inches outwards on each side, I looped my thumbs...uh...tigers mouth, through those. It afforded me enough space to open my armpits but not fully, which I did...

I cannot imagine what the headache is all about...but thought I would mention that. Do you think that made any difference?

And it did feel good, as I mentioned, nice experience, until the headache struck.

I remember...vaguely...talking about something similar with you a couple years ago...but do not remember fully what it was about....just that it gave me a headache similar.

Best wishes,
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