Thanks for all your responses. One of the things I realize is that I was probably not clear enough in explaining the precise variation I had in mind. I should also provide some additional background as to why I get to this point.
When I was taught applications for most of the 8 major jins, I was taught them from one of the primary circling patterns. What struck me most about the applications was that they seemed to be smooth continuations of the circling. They got the opponent into a position that seemed impossible to defend. If you then issued correctly, the opponent would "fly" out.
After being taught each of the jins, I was then taught a representative counter, sometimes even two or three. What impressed me most about the majority of the counters is that you allowed the opponent to get you into the same position that seemed impossible to defend and even allowed the opponent to issue against you. Having made some fairly discreet adjustments in a seemingly inconsequential place, you were then able to send your opponent flying even further than before, since it was easier to borrow energy.
As I said in my original post, my current understanding is that this type of ¡°countering with continuity¡± is not the only strategy available. I do, however, believe it is an important one to master.
Too often when I do free pushing, there seem to be too many gaps and too much jerky movement. Some people would diagnose this as being because of a lack of relaxation. Although I think this is correct in a sense, I find that such an analysis is not helpful for me.
I find that most people have the ability to relax in this context. It is just that they choose not to. They choose not to, because they have success in being stiff and jerky and because being soft and relaxed feels very risky. Others relax for a time, but then use that relaxation to generate speed when the action becomes urgent. To me it feels as if there is no stillness in the movement and that there is simply a race to get the other person into a vulnerable position or to eliminate a vulnerability. This is not the calmness in action I associate with high-level Taijiquan.
I find I can counter these bad tendencies best if I focus on gaining success with other tactics that are incompatible with a sense of being rushed, jerky, or stiff. This helps me to be calmer, which then helps me do the techniques better and with more confidence. Success with these other tactics greatly diminishes the tendency to resort to rushed, jerky, or stiff tactics. You go with what works.
The dilemma I face with the particular shoulder stroke application that is the subject of my post is that attempting it always seems to end the continuity of the action. It results in bouncing the opponent out or in an impasse. Let me describe it more specifically.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">My thinking is that once someone is inside (past your hands and arms) then the only thing you can do is step back, or grab and step back as in da lu. Just a thought. I'd be interested in hearing more on this subject.</font>
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If you are getting stuck in the end of your retreat, it just means that you didn't choose appropriate length of the stance or didn't make small pre-retreat to adjust your position.</font>
I think this is good general advice; however, the application I was envisioning presumes fixed-step pushing or a situation that would imitate that. In such a situation, you can yield somewhat, but you have no real room to retreat.
Imagine that your opponent is shifting weight forward to push you on your chest. You meet his advance with double ward off and do Cloud Hands simultaneously to both sides. This spreads the opponent¡¯s arms wide apart and leaves you with control of both wrists.
You can borrow the opponent's forward motion to make spreading his arms easier. The spreading can also increase the force of his forward motion.
Roughly about the same time as the opponent's arms begin to spread, you circle your torso backward, then down (under the opponent¡¯s advance), then forward, and then finally upward, to issue against the opponent¡¯s chest using the shoulder over your lead leg. You also pull the opponent somewhat downward with your sinking, to pull him somewhat on top of you and prevent his escape. The lower you can get, the better.
In apply this technique, you must be careful, because you can generate a lot of power and can injure your partner if you do not apply the energy carefully.
In countering this technique smoothly, you cannot grab your opponent's arms, because your own wrists are held.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Speaking about empty and full, at the beginning of this situation I am empty since he is quite full and straightforward. Then he definitely will become empty but just for the moment. If you catch that moment, he\she will be yours.</font>
Yuri, do you think this applies to the details I have given? If so, please do give details as to "how he will be mine." This is indeed the crux of my problem. Whereas I can normally feel a clear cycling back and forth between full and empty, here I get stuck on empty with no obvious way to counterattack.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To apply shoulder strike, you opponent must really want to do you in so if one is competant, then you have him!</font>
"Do me in?" I must admit that I have had my doubts about my teachers and partners from time to time.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Is the kao application you're referring to such that your arm is controlled or being pulled tight and the opponent's shoulder is in contact under that arm?</font>
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As far as the impasse is concerned, I'd read this as luring into emptiness. You float on the attack and when the energy has passed you use the moment to sink, loosen and pull - flow resumed!</font>
How can you sink past the point of the opponent¡¯s shoulder? How can you ¡°loosen¡± if you are held at two points and contacted at a third?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> One response that I was tought is press. Of course, if you allow the opponent to get in past your basic guard, this may prove more difficult.</font>
I cannot press, because my wrists are held. As for letting past my guard, my understand of Tai Chi theory is that there are three levels of guard: the hands/arms, the elbows, and kao/shoulder stroke. In the case I am describing, the theory would seem to say that I should be able to use kao in some way as a last layer of defense.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Then raise your one knee attacking like chicken standing on one foot.
This seems to be a good self-defense suggestion; however, in our training, we are not allowed to move the feet in fixed-step push hands. I am not so much looking for self-defense options as trying to understand the full limits of the principle of circling.One response that I was tought is press. Of course, if you allow the opponent to get in past your basic guard, this may prove more difficult.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> another idea might be to not have a guard at all. if there is no guard there is nothing to get past.</font>
I think that talking about having no guard is a rather sophisticated idea and is stated in a way that can provoke thought. I would like, however, to defend lalsup¡¯s formulation as well. From what I understand, classical Tai Chi theory talks about three-levels of defense: the hands, the elbows, and the body. From this point of view, talking about changing tactics when someone gets past your guard makes sense.
I think the real truth lies in understanding Taiji, which is difficult to describe succinctly, but I think phrases such as the one above hint at the whole truth. If you guard at one place to eliminate a vulnerability, you leave somewhere else unguarded and vulnerable; however, if you leave some place unguarded, it allows you to guard somewhere else to eliminate a vulnerability. If you guard everywhere, you leave everywhere equally vulnerable. If you guard nowhere, you leave everywhere equally guarded. Guarding and not guarding are united by Taiji in a dynamic relationship. I think the key is to guard only what can be attacked and to leave unguarded what cannot be attacked; however, these relationships change from moment to moment.
Since originally posting my query, I have experimented a little and think I now understand my problem. When I was first taught, I was cautioned not to think of any particular pattern as a foolproof counter to another pattern. If your skill is great enough, you can apply a technique in such a way that the other person cannot counter.
What I think I was experiencing was one person applying kao in such a dominant way that there really was no way to counter. With a more even display of skill, I find that you can circle the force back with the body and regain control of your hands.