Solo Push Hands?

Solo Push Hands?

Postby Audi » Sun Feb 12, 2006 5:05 am

From time to time, someone asks whether it is possible to learn or practice push hands without a partner or a teacher. My own feeling is that this is not really possible; however, once you have a certain foundation, doing solo form or other exercises can indeed improve your push hands.

I remember being very frustrated by not having a partner to practice with or a framework similar to the solo form. My solution was to travel to see a teacher in order to receive some instruction and then to make a concerted effort to find (a) regular practice partner(s) in my area. Although I am eternally frustrated by my rate of progress, I nonetheless feel that I have a tremendous amount I can work with and am reasonable satisfied with my practice regimen. During a practice session, I am never able to come close to exhausting all the drills and applications I would like to practice. In other words, I now find that I have more than enough material to work with.

Before I found my current solution, I did happen on a practice that I found interesting and that thought I might share here for those who have no alternatives. What I did was roll around a Swiss exercise ball against a wall, using both sides of my forearms and my palms. What I got from doing this was a little sense of the different pressures that were possible and how to feel them throughout my frame. I also got a sense of how closely and consistently one must stick to maintain the desired pressure.

These exercise balls have a slightly sticky surface that gives good feedback during rotations. It does not allow any slippage. This characteristic made clearer for me one reason why Taiji sticking requires such precise rotation.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I do not think it is really possible to learn or practice beginning push hands without a partner; however, I think this exercise can still give a taste for those who have no other alternative and little experience of the real thing. By rolling back and forth among Push, Rollback, Press, and Wardoff, you can get some sense of what Push Hands trains and how these jins might be used.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Ten » Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:10 am

You should always take what you learned how to feel in tui shou, and then apply it to the longer forms.

This is way you practice tui shou solo..
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Postby shugdenla » Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:26 pm

Audi,

It is difficult to do tuishou by oneself because there is no one to 'test' the frame and mechanics of ba fa (peng lu ji an etc).
One may pretend all is good when doing the form as in grasp birds tail but it isn't the same.
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Postby bamboo leaf » Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:00 am

I suppose it depends on what level of practice one is talking about. From my own perspective no it is not possible to practice push hands by ones self. Exercises involving equipment or other things I would also advise against, as these things would tend to build resistance in the body and an idea of shape. the repeated use of patterns is also not a good idea past a certain stage of practice as the idea is to be formless in ones movements.

In the type of pushing that we practice what is pushed is really the mind, a very diffferent distinction from using the body to affect another. The higher the level the less outer movement, just as the higher level of form practice in gen. One sees the use of small frame and movement used.

form work and push hands is part of a complete system that can lead to understanding. this understanding is not possible with out both practices supporting each other. In this sense the form practice is probably more important, both really being a practice of the mind. Form gives one the way to understand and train the mind, push hands gives one the feedback necessary to understand if the practice was correct or not.


happy new yr all

david



[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 02-15-2006).]
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Postby chris » Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:39 pm

IMO, the purpose of tui shou is not to make yourself equal to your partner, or even necessarily to match your partner. That is just one method. Keep that in mind during the periods when partners are in short supply.

When you cannot find a partner, you should perform your solo practice all the more diligently. Decrease the noise within yourself, to maximize the benefit from whatever limited interaction is available. See clearly and learn quickly.

Also, consider that human Tai Chi players are not your only partners. A strong wind or uneven ground, for example, can assist your practice more than a confused or disinterested person.
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:11 am

Hi Audi,

First off, I agree with what you and everyone else said about the importance of actual training partners and forms practice. That said, though, I do think thereÕs some value in solo push hands practice practice (that is, practicing for the practice of push hands).

I like the idea of using a weighted medicine ball for testing structure. A refinement might be to eventually move off the wall with itÑmore like a Harlem GlobetrotterÕs type exercise. This would train how to distinguish between empty and full to a fine degree without someone moving consciously in opposition (or agreement) with you. I find itÕs easier to read people than inanimate objects. People often give a slight warning that theyÕre going to move. But an object thatÕs rollingÑwell youÕd better be Òin the nowÓ with it or itÕs going to fall on the ground.

I once saw Yang Jun do a similar thing with a teacup. At a restaurant, his small son dropped an empty teacup. Yang Jun caught it on the back of his hand, rolled it over the top, and presented it to his son like a magician flourishing a flower.

My favorite form of solo push hands practice isnÕt quite solo: I practice with my cat. Her favorite game is Foot. I stand on one leg and wave my foot around in the air. She attacks. If she bites me, she wins. If she draws blood with her claws, she wins. If I scare her away, she wins. I win if she launches a continuous and unsuccessful attack with both forepaws wrapped around my foot.

This game trains balance, root, listening energy (etc.), speed, sensitivity, agility (or whatever dexterity for the feet is), staying calm, and hiding intention. If I get rattled or excited and throw energy at her, she will panic and bolt in classic scaredy cat style. If I get mad, she bolts. If I get distracted, she bolts. If I send energy into her, she bolts.

After all, weÕre supposed to walk like catsÑwhy not play push hands games with them? (IF they consent to play with you! IÕm not advocating torturing animals!)

A variation of this game works nicely with puppies in the Òchew toyÓ phase. HereÕs the game: stick your hand in the puppyÕs mouth. DonÕt get hurt. This means, donÕt let them gain purchase enough to really bite. Of course, their owner will probably get angry with you for training their dog to bite people. Or their cat to bite people for that matter.

This has been Kal, taking push hands practice to a new level of insanity.


[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 02-22-2006).]
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:48 pm

Kal

You should build on your training - work your way upto tigers and the like!

All

I think the key is that you need something with a mind to train with. Didn't YLC say the only people he couldn't defeat were made of Stone, Wood or Brass?

The danger of practicing solo patterns for neutralising etc is that you enforce following yourself rather than the other person.

In-keeping with this, the form works well to help the pushing when it's emphasis is change and neutrality.

(Rather than fully manifesting a particular intent or technique, or release of energy.)

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 02-17-2006).]
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Postby shugdenla » Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:43 pm

It seems alot of people talk about tuishou but never the application (martial output). Why is this so? Tuishou is a training tool and it seems few go above that level. Am I wrong here while saying even at competitive events, despite the exposition of push hands, it still ends up as a shoving/pushing events as opposed to be a smooth exchange between the particiapants!
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Postby tccstudent » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:15 pm

Shugdenla, to my knowledge and in our times, there has never been a traditional tai chi chuan practitioner who has ever competed in anything other than push hands, or form competitions. Although it is the "gateway" into the martial, it appears not many take it there.

[This message has been edited by tccstudent (edited 02-17-2006).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:32 pm

Shugdenla,
Master Yang Jun has already answered this question. When I read your question I remembered reading this from the Yangfamilytaichi website, Tai Chi Info section:
When we practice tui shou, we should first be aware of the purpose of practicing it. Tai Chi is a martial art. As a martial art, the ultimate goal of it is the practice of free fighting. Tui shou is a transitional stage of practice, coming between form practice and free fighting. This trains us how to 'listen' to the opponent (listening energy or ting1 jing4), next is 'understanding energy' (dong3 jing4), and last comes a kind of intuition about what the other will do. Thus, tui shou is just a means of training, not the ultimate goal. When we push hands we are still following a number of restrictions and conditions, and we are especially seeking to learn sticking, following, not opposing directly with force, and not losing contact. My personal opinion is: at a competition, people are not thinking of applying the rules and principles but rather how to win. In this way it is very easy to violate the principles we mentioned. When you add on the various rules and restrictions stipulated by those running the competition, it's often difficult for the judges to really focus on the actual details of who let go, who opposed with force and so on. This often may result in the phenomenon of people pushing with force and letting go at the competitions. When this happens it is a violation of the very principles, meaning, and purpose of push hands. So we often see very different behavior in normal training and at the competitions. (Yang Jun)
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Postby Anderzander » Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:27 am

Patrick Kelly wrote this about the function of push hands and form:

"Pushing hands is for sensitivity, the Form is to train internal strength. This is their original purpose but poorly trained students reverse this, training the Form lightly with awareness but no intention looking for sensitivity, then using strength combined with elementary mechanics in the pushing hands in an attempt to find internal strength.

Pushing hands teaches you to expand and extend your awareness to include others. It allows you to practise awareness of, and a correct response to the partners intention whereas in the Form it is your intention that produces the movement in response to the stored body memory of the sequence. Over time and with the correct method you become sensitive to the intention to move in the partner's body, energy field and mind. Pushing hands is also a teaching method where the students can interact with the teacher and learn from that contact. "

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 02-17-2006).]
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Postby Icini » Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:59 pm

Just for the sake of perspective, respectfully: you can find solo single and double push-hands practice that is both detailed and structured in at least one Taijiquan lineage. The view is that whilst the objective is for two people to have a free push-hands "conversation", its language, grammar and syntax have to be sound. Yes, it is a drill. One is repeating precise technique with the aim of making it automatic. The same approach is then brought into the two-person drills. Flexibility of response can be built on that, eventually, after a long time, and when "one questions, the other answers". It's not for me to say if this is better than any other approach - I simply wanted to point out that it is there as a teaching method.

Regards.
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:16 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
<B>Kal
You should build on your training - work your way upto tigers and the like!
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ha! Good one Image It could take me awhile though. I don't have any tiger-proof socks.

Kal
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