Links between Push Hands and Form

Links between Push Hands and Form

Postby Audi » Sun Nov 25, 2007 3:50 pm

Greetings everyone,

I recently returned from a push hands seminar. I found it to be a lot of fun, very interesting, and very informative. One of the things I brought back with me was an interest in finding more explicit links between push hands and the form. What I mean by "links" are places in the form where you can look for the same sensations or feelings you have in a similar position in push hands.

Now, I guess that in theory, the entire form should contain such links, but in actual practice I do not explicitly feel them, or at least do not feel them strongly.

A few things I do now feel strongly are:

1. The link between the small circle (figure eight) and Deflect Downward Parry and Punch

2. The link between the coiling needed to switch from Roll Back "energy" to Push "energy," which occurs in the Vertical, Four Energy, and Open Arm Brush Knee and the coiling used in the Form in Brush Knee in the striking hand (I can also see it in the Brushing hand, but I feel more Pluck there than Push).

3. The link between the "reverse" coiling needed to switch from Ward Off to Pluck, which occurs in the horizontal circle, the small/figure eight circle, and the Cloud Hands Open Arm Circle, and the
"reverse" coiling that appears in Fist Under Elbow, Cloud Hands, and Ward Off Right.

In general, I also find I have even more respect for the principles of circling, "going left in order to go right," the difference between a straight and a seated wrist, "walking like a cat," and the general usefulness of the Ward Off arm.

Are there any links between Push Hands and form you would care to share?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Steveg219 » Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:54 am

Hi Audi,

One thought that comes to mind is to look for the places in the form where the movement implies that you have been hit or pushed and you are responding by neutralizing and returning.

The most obvious one is press because from push hands we know that the shift back is neutralizing the others push, when you have absorbed their push force it turns into the opposite and you return with press.

What if in fact you were pushed in the chest before ward off and actually you neutralized it internally and returned that force with the ward off itself?

What if in preparation for single whip you were struck on the side and you yielded which folds and closes you and the energy is returned with the spring of the single whip?

just some thoughts....
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:31 pm

Audi,
Well, beyond the obvious Grasp the Birds Tail movements...
I would have to say I feel most similar to horizontal Push Hands during form in the posture of Single Whip.
Single Whip comes through clearly to me during single or two arm horizontal circling. I feel this posture quite clearly as I engage my partners incoming push with my forward arm, Ward off that push, then comes the "push" aspect of Single Whip as I return a push against my partner before I circle out and it all turns into more of a "left Ward Off" feeling as I circle back, then it starts over into Single Whip again.
In fact, when I work with beginners of push hands I often find they connect quite quickly with the single armed horizontal circling if I explain that it is very similar to doing Single Whip.
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Postby Anderzander » Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:17 pm

Hello

I don't really do much fixed step push hands, but I work on all the postures of the form in exactly the same terms of receiving and returning that I do in push hands.

Neutralising my own centre, sinking to one side,(with an emphasis of having the suggested intent/movement I am receiving penetrate through my hips and leg), and then continuing/following (through a rotational 3d feeling) back into the imaginary opponents root.
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Postby Audi » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:00 pm

Greetings everyone,

Thank you three for your replies. It has taken me some time to study them and get back to you.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The most obvious one is press because from push hands we know that the shift back is neutralizing the others push, when you have absorbed their push force it turns into the opposite and you return with press.</font>


Steveg219, could you elaborate on what you are referring to here? In the push hands drills that I have been taught, I cannot think of anything that matches up to this scenario.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Single Whip comes through clearly to me during single or two arm horizontal circling. I feel this posture quite clearly as I engage my partners incoming push with my forward arm, Ward off that push, then comes the "push" aspect of Single Whip as I return a push against my partner before I circle out and it all turns into more of a "left Ward Off" feeling as I circle back, then it starts over into Single Whip again.</font>


Bob, at first I could not follow you at all; but after reading your post again yesterday, it suddenly clicked! This is exactly the sort of thing I was after.

I have struggled to explain the subtle character of the energy involved in this neutralization. Many people have a tendency to incorrectly use the Ward Off to block or deflect the oncoming Push, instead of using sticking (nian2) to "pull" the Push around. Some people also find it hard to use the waist properly. The imagery of the Single Whip transition would be great here.

The second trouble I have explaining is the tendency many people have to "lose" (diu1) the opponent just before using the palm to begin the Push. Thinking of the motion that leads into the Single Whip hook (or perhaps, the Push hand in the Fist Under Elbow transtion), would also help with this.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I don't really do much fixed step push hands...</font>


Anderzander, by this, do you mean that you do mostly moving step drills or that you do not do any type of drills. If you do moving step, I would think that the issues would be the same, only more complicated to feel, execute, and explain. If you do not do drills at all, then I would agree that the intent behind my post would be difficult to translate.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Neutralising my own centre, sinking to one side,(with an emphasis of having the suggested intent/movement I am receiving penetrate through my hips and leg), and then continuing/following (through a rotational 3d feeling) back into the imaginary opponents root. </font>


I can relate to your description somewhat, since it seems to flow from some very classical formulations of tactics. How do you, however, visualize the Press and Push of Grasp Sparrow's Tail? Does your "receiving penetrate the hips and leg" in those postures? How about Needle at Sea Bottom?

What I have been taught to focus on, is a little different: distinguishing full and empty and affecting the full and empty of the opponent. For me, this translates in the form to concentrating on various uses and properties of big and small circles and rotations. That is why I have become so excited about finding links between the circles in the push hands drills with various circles and rotations in the form that I had not understood as fully.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby shugdenla » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:09 pm

The way how I was taught Yang taijiquan is completely different from how I learnt PH.
Push hands, as I was taught, is a sensitivity training activity only and it has have some benefit in showing 'emptiness' and 'fullness' within an encounter but the linchpin for me has been a 2 man form (which I despise and have learnt repeatedly about 5-6 times and always seem to forget it!), and this, most of the time does not even reflect the form!

Only about 1/3 of the time did I see in the 2 man form, a correlation of form and usage that matched! What I did realize was that most of what I thought I saw, was/is reflected in Grasp Birds Tail (pung, lu, ji, an, kao etc).
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:52 pm

My experience with the teachers I have known in Yang and Wu style suggests that push hands is very central to taiji as a martial art. An essential route to really using taiji principles in an encounter with an opponent, I think. Alas, it can be very hard to work push hands into one's daily life in the U.S.!

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 12-15-2007).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:13 pm

Audi,
I'm glad you picked up what I was putting down.
The feeling of Single Whip is just so clear to me during Single Armed horizontal push hands that it always surprises me that others don't feel it. But I hear your type of reaction more than any other when I mention it.
When I teach push hands for the first time though, I specifically tell the student I am teaching to pay attention to the feeling of the Single Whip posture. They pick that up almost immediately.
I then tell them to use the feeling of Left Ward Off as I specified in the earlier post and between those two "form feelings" I can get most students to begin doing basic single armed push hands pretty quickly and with a fair amount of accuracy.
The same feelings come into play in double armed horizontal push hands, but you have to add the off arm into the equation so they do get slightly altered, but are still there.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:15 pm

Jerry,
You got that right.
I am lucky if I can get in one good hour long push hands session once every couple of weeks.
And I have a group of people to push with!
It's just not easy to find someone with the requisite skill to practice with regularly.
I definitely do not feel that I am getting in enough push hands practice.
I have tried everything I can think of to change this, but it's just not been in the cards.
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Postby Audi » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:27 am

Greetings,

I want to add a comment about another angle that makes practicing Push Hands difficult. For many years, I felt that I had far more material in the form to practice than what I had for Push Hands. Now that I have learned a little more, the situations have reversed.

The longest I could imaging practicing form in a normal setting would be for two hours. In that time, I could cover three reps of the long form and one rep each of the 49 and 13. After that, I would still have time left over for individual form practice (assuming I did not collapse first). If I added Fajin practice, maybe I could add another 20 minutes.

In Push Hands, I can practice for three hours and feel that I am nowhere close to exhausting all the practice material. In my ideal session, I would want to go through at least: 5-6 circle patterns (left and right and sometimes also clockwise and counterclockwise for each), discussion and practice of 3 or 4 points of applied theory, 15-20 transitions between and within circles, 16 applications of the 8 basic Jins, 16 counters, 8-16 counters to counters, free circling (noncompetitive and competitive), two stepping patterns (right and left for each) encompassing all the earlier material and a little more, and 3 or 4 sensitivity drills. I find what I do to be tremendous fun, am hungry for more, but tremble at the thought of finding time to practice everything regularly.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Jamie » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:15 pm

Hi Folks,


I was reading through some old topics on the Forum and came across this one, finding it very interesting. I hope you don't mind me restarting it - maybe since 2007 somebody will have a new feeling and enjoy talking about this topic again.

I practiced Taiji for about 10 years focusing on Form only until I met my Shifu. Push hands is a central part of our curiculum. Over those 10 years I developed some listening energy, etc. but did not truely understand Form or Taiji until I began regular, correct Push hands practice.
Through Push hands my body changed and my understanding of posture and energy in the body changed dramatically. I would say that without PH that much of the Taiji Classics don't make any real sense. When I practice Forms now I can feel a dynamic relationship to the movements and transitions throughout my whole body(,mind and spirit).
If I make a movement now I can check several important factors. Can I keep root in this posture? Is the path of the neutralize correct or forced by me? Are all of my body parts in the correct position to make the technique connected to my heel(like threading a nine bend pearl)? Is the movment too yin or too yang? Are Yin and Yang in the correct places in my body?
Most of these questions couldn't be thoroughly understood without practicing PH as well as Form. Or if it were possible it would take 10 times as long to make the same progress.

I have video of my grand teacher, Lin MoGen practicing Form that I watch and can see the support and root connected through the entire body in every movment and transition. Before practicing PH I would have overlooked this as just is particular body posture. Now I see that shape as a sign that when Master Lin practices Form his inside feeling is very strong, his mind is very strong, and his energy is balanced/changing correctly during Form according to the reality of Taiji PH.

In this way the pure energy of Taiji can be practiced and understood during Forms and Pushing, both taking on a dynamic nature reflecting the other.
I say this because if somebody just practices PH with no Form they would have a difficult time developing relaxed light energy and listening energy from PH only - or at least it would take much longer. Also I believe that practicing Form in the way described above is important to correct practice of moving step PH. During Moving Step PH there can be no break off points in the body where I fail to (potentially)support my partner's energy in a connected way. So practicing Form is as important to learning Moving Step PH as Standing Meditation is to Fixed Step PH. Of course Form training is important for Fixed Step PH as well.
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Postby shugdenla » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:08 pm

Jamie observed
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I say this because if somebody just practices PH with no Form they would have a difficult time developing relaxed light energy and listening energy from PH only - or at least it would take much longer. Also I believe that practicing Form in the way described above is important to correct practice of moving step PH. So practicing Form is as important to learning Moving Step PH as Standing Meditation is to Fixed Step PH. Of course Form training is important for Fixed Step PH as well. </font>



DISCLAIMER ONLY
This is for discussion purposes only regarding some insight so please bear with me.

Over the years I have come to realiae that tuishou is more than push(ing) hands. It may be called/categorized as 'sensing hands', touching hand or even 'rou shou' (rolling hands). Through this process, one 'senses' direction and 'flow' then through the concept of preliminary exercises, one adjusts one's position accordingly according to the Classics.

To do rou shou/tuishou (I use interchangeably) one does not need to do taolu (taijiquan choreography) because other arts like baquazhang/quan, tongbei, and similar mthods use principles associated with and complementary to taijiquan. Even shuaijiao in its former life had a system that interacted/interacts with tuishou as evidenced by General Li's actions against well know taijiquan adepts.

Form is function, function is form! To my mind even basic tuishou/roushou is form and function at once meaning taolu (taiji form) is not important. After all it comes down to choreography. I am not saying "do not do taijiquan form". Only observing from the tournament/competition side in modern times that the form winner is rarely the tuishou (oush hands) winner.

Enjoy your taiji style and prosper, fellow klingons!
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Postby Jamie » Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:08 am

Hi Friends,

Shugdenla writes:

Form is function, function is form! To my mind even basic tuishou/roushou is form and function at once

I really like this sentence. This is what I was trying to get at as well! Form should be practiced as if pushing and pushing should be practiced as if doing Form.
If students practice PH with the same feeling as proper Form then that is excellent. But it could be difficult to get this feeling without some Form. Certainly being guided by a good teacher helps.
I think in Ba Gua(I'm no expert)I have seen old video clips of masters drilling sequences of (solo)movements over and over up and down the room. So this is still practicing Form even though the choreography and elaborateness may be different than that of Taiji. There is a link between PH and Form- even if it means that PH should BE Form.

Also, in Taiji today 95% of it is taught just for health and PH is not part of the curriculum at many schools. If it is taught it is just offerred as an exercise in two person Form - not as a martial art. This is just an observation of things in my area and from what my teacher told me of Taiji in China. I have had students come to my school who have had years of PH experience who are unable to neutralize, keep root, or even support and follow. I think this is what is happening at the competitions.
Even of those who compete in PH not all use Taiji energy and adhere to the Classics - many are Wrestling with Hard Power. So it's difficult to judge by a competition who is practicing correctly or how they interpret the link between PH and Form.

How do you say Best Wishes in Klingon?


Best
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Postby shugdenla » Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:39 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Jamie:
<B>How do you say Best Wishes in Klingon?
Best</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have no idea! Sounded off the wall and cool!
I use it to mean friends who share the same interest!
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Postby Jamie » Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:02 am

Ha! Ha! Right on.

Live well and prosper.
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