It’s a quiet rainy day—a good day to do some translating—so I’ve done a rough translation of Yang Zhenji’s Important Points section from the Single Hand Push Hands section of his book, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_, (Guangxi Minzu Chubanshe, 1993, pp. 172-173). One thing that I find interesting is his reference to split energy (liejin), which one does not often encounter in discussions of single-hand push hands. There are many good points to ponder here. I welcome comments, questions, or corrections on the translation.
1. Single-hand push exchange is the most basic of push hands methods. Its essential attribute is training the jin methods of an (push), peng (ward off), lie (split), etc., while simultaneously training huajin (dissolving energy). The entire process consists of push, ward off, split-dissolve, in a revolving cycle. The attack is push, the defense is ward off, dissolving energy is split, and the controlling mechanism resides in the waist, not in the hands. The push must push until it reaches its position; ward off must ward off completely. The waist leads the splitting hand, so that a retreat becomes an advance.
2. Single-hand push exchange is a cooperative practice between partners. It is a cooperative practice in accordance with prescribed movements. If one partner does not cooperate, it will be difficult to practice successfully.
3. In single-hand push exchange you must pay attention to “stick, join, adhere, and follow,” with both partners adhering to one another at the wrist. During changes [of direction] you must adhere and follow; the hands and wrists of the two partners must not part from one another. This [method] also includes training of sensing energy (juejin) for both partners. The intention must be focused in the area of the wrist; within sticking and yielding there is a flowing with the force of the transformations (shunshi zhuanhuan), not letting go or butting against, neither too near nor too far; and within “stick, join, adhere, and follow” you must accomplish whole-body movement.
4. Although the movements in single-hand push exchange are simple, you must implement all of the various requirements of taijiquan, including “an intangible and lively energy lifts the crown,” “contain the chest and draw up the back,” “sink the shoulders and drop the elbows,” loosen the waist and qua,” “sink the qi to the dantian,” and “use intent, not strength.”
5. A crucial idea is to employ whole-body jin. Implement the requirement from the boxing treatise: “rooted in the feet, issued by the legs, governed by the waist, . . .from the feet to the legs, then to the waist, always there must be complete integration into one qi.” No matter whether warding off, pushing, or splitting, in all cases the lower frame must be stable. When the root of the lower frame is firm and steady, then the jin arising from the feet will penetrate through to the waist, shoulders, arms, and transmit to the wrist, so that when you move there is no part of your body that does not move. The whole-body jin is governed in the waist and focused in one direction, and issued toward one point. In this context, “threading” is extremely important. If you do not employ threading [i.e., guanchuan: threading from joint-to-joint], it will only be local jin. If you employ threading, it will be the jin of the entire body. The old boxing classic expresses this as: “Once in motion, the entire body should be light and agile, and even more importanly, must be threaded together.”
6. In using the ward-off hand to bear the pushing energy while sitting back, the process contains the meaning of “attract the advance to fall into emptiness.” One partner advances, one partner sits back. Use the ward-off hand to attract the opponent’s forward advance. The “attract” here is not a case of your taking the initiative to retreat to the rear, but rather one of going with the force of the opponent and attracting his advance. Whatever amount the opponent advances, draw his advance in that same amount. When you have attracted the opponent to a certain degree where his advance has run out, then split and dissolve. Split can either dissolve or it can issue. If the opponent’s incoming force is too fierce, then follow that force and split forth, causing the opponent to lose his balance. However, this would exceed the requirements of the partnered, cooperative practice. When practiced as a drill for training push, ward off, and split-dissolve, you will always know to stop before going too far (shike er zhi).
Enjoy, and Happy New Year!