Push Hands: Should we do it?

Push Hands: Should we do it?

Postby Audi » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:54 am

Greetings everyone,

I have had the privilege of attending some great push hands seminars over the past year or so, and that has led me to recall conversations with fellow practitioners who either had doubts about the usefulness of push hands or who had apprehensions. Having gone through those great experiences, I just wanted to post to encourage more people to practice.

The more I have practiced push hands, the more I have found how vast a subject it is. I am continually amazed at how vivid, immediate, and practical so much of the theory becomes while doing Push Hands applications, and often in almost the precise way in which it is framed in the Classics.

I would like to become good at Push Hands, but I would like even more to be able to sample the magic of the theories through Push Hands. To some extent, I like the test of skills; but even more, I like the feeling of working with someone to raise both our levels of skills and create some joint magic. Playing solo can be nice, but nothing beats harmonizing with someone else in an impromptu duo (or maybe in a quartet).

Why do you practice Push Hands? Why do you not?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby ruben » Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:03 pm

Well Audi, I think that martial applications should be the final goal of practicing Tai Chi Chuan. I know most people just stay in form, fewer people go on weapons forms and very few ones try push hands. I ´ve practiced more than ten years external martial arts and it is remarkable how you can get similar or better results with less efforts with Tai Chi Chuan. But, unfortunatly, you have to know the wright technique, so, you have to practice tuishou. And it is very enjoyable, too!
That´s my vision
Take care.
Rubén
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:36 pm

Audi,
I practiced at first because it was a lot of fun to do and really cool.
A former instructor started me out doing push hands nearly 20 years ago, there was no question about whether or not to do it, he taught us that push hand was part of the cirriculum.
I learned the entire push hands repetoire from that school but certainly did not do it well. I was still using external force, not internal energy, and while I could go through the motions I don't know how much I learned from it.
Then I started training at my Yang Cheng Fu Center and our Center Directors absolutely insist on us using the principles during push hands. It wasn't easy, at all, and it took me a long time to break out of the worst of my bad habits but I eventually got the rocks out of my head and began to do it more correctly.
Not correctly by a long shot, but at least more correctly.
I understand, now, that push hands isn't a battle royal, it's a unique practice technique that requires a LOT of concentration and internal effort.
I'm still not doing push hands well, but I am learning from it now.
I guess that's about all I can ask of it until I can find someone to train with every single day instead of twice a week.
I'm just glad that I found good teachers who understand what push hands is all about and aren't afraid to teach it.
Taking push hands seminars with Yang Jun has helped to somewhat refine my knowledge, but I am still only able to practice twice a week and so have not made as much progress as I'd like.

I don't know if that really answered any questions about "why" I practice though...
I guess I practice push hands now because I can clearly see the need to understand the energies of both myself and my opponent. Push hands allows me to feel how the principles apply to Tai Chi Chuan and to some extent how to use its energies to good effect.
Without proper technique there really is no energy, push hands teaches that proper technique (when done correctly).

Still not sure that's a definitive "why" but it's all I've got for now!
I could say "Because I love to do it", and that would be true as well.
That same reason is why I train the hand form, saber form, sword form...
At our last seminar Yang Jun and Sergio demonstrated "push swords" and I'm sort of keen to learn how that works. Alas, I'm no where near ready for that yet but I will keep plugging away at this until I am!

Bob
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Postby DPasek » Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:57 pm

Audi,

I think that interactive work like in push-hands training is not only beneficial martially, but also for those practicing exclusively for Taijiquan’s health benefits. While forms, standing postures, meditation, etc. train certain aspects important both for martial ability and health (e.g. integrated body structure and mechanics, proper breathing, increased use of energy over untrained strength, etc.), the sensitivity to energy is, in my opinion, best felt through interactive work. This sensitivity to interactive energies can in turn aid in feeling (and increasing) ones own energy during solo practice. An increased sensitivity to energy in interactive work should improve ones martial ability, and an increased sensitivity to ones own energy should improve the health benefits derived from Taijiquan practice.

While someone may think that their solo principles are good, interactive work where someone is searching for weaknesses in your abilities should act as a feedback mechanism pointing out where those weaknesses manifest. If ones abilities are sufficient to recognize what weaknesses are exposed during interactive work, then their solo work can be used to make improvements in those areas. This should result in improvements in both martial ability and the health benefits of this art. If someone never exposes their energy to testing, then can they really ever be certain that what they are practicing in their solo work is correct? Though perhaps possible in exceptionally sensitive individuals, I doubt that someone practicing exclusively solo Taijiquan would be able to progress as rapidly as someone obtaining feedback through interactive work.

I suppose it depends on how and why one practices push-hands, but from my perspective, all Taijiquan practitioners should definitely practice push-hands. If done with the proper principles, attitude, awareness, sensitivity, etc. then one should be able to benefit greatly from this practice.

DP
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Postby livefree » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:57 am

I have been studying tai chi around 13 years.

I also teach tai chi and wing chun.. I started out as a wing chun student.

Tai Chi is the key to understanding all martial arts. What you can learn from pushing hands is deeper than what you is apparent to a novice student. (5 years or less) I would say you are just scratching the surface at 10 years. That's for another discussion.

Push hands while it does not help your fighting directly. It does teach you how to control energy in-directly.

Regardless of style, you can learn a great deal by studying tai chi.

A Tai Chi student who only has a few years and no other martial arts background will not be able to win a fight.. However if the student is patient over the years Tai Chi alone will be enough to conquer all foe's.

If you are studying tai chi enjoy the ride. You will learn more about yourself and your opponent.

Softness will always beat hardness.

By the way - I started a Tai Chi community site I am looking for participants to help grow the community. If you are interested visit http://entertaichi.com

My mission is to show the world the true awesome nature of Tai Chi...

I personally study the yang or yong style of tai chi... I love push hands.. I hardly practice Chi Sao in favor of push hands.

Peace
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Postby Audi » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:56 am

Greetings everyone,

Thanks for the interesting replies.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And it is very enjoyable, too!</font>


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I practiced at first because it was a lot of fun to do and really cool.</font>


If I am honest with myself, I have to say that these are the reasons I practice push hands. I simply enjoy the fun.

A good part of the fun comes from being able to execute martial techniques without getting bruised or sore for the next day (except maybe in the legs). Almost nothing beats being able to effortlessly toss your partner around through the air, except maybe having him or her effortless toss you through the air. Those are the moments I crave. Who doesn't want to fly?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Well Audi, I think that martial applications should be the final goal of practicing Tai Chi Chuan.</font>


I am not sure if I agree with the literal meaning of this, but I definitely agree with the sentiment. I have found such richness in studying Push Hands through a martial lens that I cannot believe that everyone would not want to do it.

I find it hard to get much from doing more than an hour or an hour and a half of form; however, I find two hours of Push Hands to be not nearly enough to go through everything what I would like to accomplish in an average practice session.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I guess I practice push hands now because I can clearly see the need to understand the energies of both myself and my opponent. Push hands allows me to feel how the principles apply to Tai Chi Chuan and to some extent how to use its energies to good effect.</font>

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">While forms, standing postures, meditation, etc. train certain aspects important both for martial ability and health (e.g. integrated body structure and mechanics, proper breathing, increased use of energy over untrained strength, etc.), the sensitivity to energy is, in my opinion, best felt through interactive work.</font>

Above all, the more I practice T'ai Chi, the more I too find that what interests me revolves around energy/Jin. In fact, I would say that the interactive work feels like more than merely a deepening of what I have learned by doing solo form, but more like an opening of whole new fields of understanding and areas of inquiry.

At the moment, what I am enjoying most is working on applications that come out of the standard circles, as well as counters to the applications and counters to the counters, etc. Examples of what I am currently finding interesting to explore are:

1. The differences between using my arms and hands to block, to touch, and to stick (the latter is, of course, what I really want).
2. The different energies that seem to correspond to changes in the seating of the wrist.
3. Finding more and more circles and exchanges of Yin and Yang in the applications.
4. Finding more uses for being centered and neutral and trying to find a Taiji center amid the Yin/Yang changes.
5. Finding truth in soft overcoming hard and stillness controlling speed.

These may sound quite abstract, but what I find exciting is that I can experience them in absolutely concrete ways. It is actually the union of the abstract and the concrete that I find to be most fun and interesting.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited April 28, 2009).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:12 pm

Audi,
I love to "fly" as well. ;o)
My instructors seem to enjoy sending me flying, so it works out for all of us.
Seriously though, I learn more from these flying lessons than I ever could without them.
I have begun to appreciate the statement "invest in loss" more as I learn push hands. It's the "losses" that make us learn. We learn what NOT to do, mostly, but that is quite an important thing!
If you lift your shoulder in response to an incoming energy you give a clear path to your center to your opponent, they can use that against you in any number of nasty ways, and do, so you learn NOT to lift that shoulder!
These small "losses" lead to large gains. It takes time, but in the end if you "lose" often enough you will gain quite a bit of knowledge.
I have been doing my best lately to "invest in loss" during my push hands training and practice.

Have to run for now!

Bob
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Postby fumin » Thu May 07, 2009 12:36 am

The demonstration is to show the coordination of yielding and stick in push hand by the postures: single whip, left ward off, bending bow and shooting tiger, single whip squating down, turn and swing the lotus, and press.

Enjoy my life and hopefully this enjoys your eyes.

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/_IbBRRknzkU/

Fumin
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Postby fumin » Thu May 07, 2009 12:46 am

Try and watch what continous postures I apply while in reaction with each other.

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/_XAJk-s4gr0/
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Postby taiji-jim » Sun May 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Audi:

My short answer to your question is a resounding "Yes, we should do it!" I especially like what you said in your 2nd post and the 5 things you said you're working on, and I agree with what you said about especially emphasizing sticking.

[Yes, Bob, I finally got around to registering/posting]

[Yes, Audi, I know (yet STILL practice regularly with) Bob. He's been after me for years to get on here and start reading/posting.]

On some levels I'd be tempted to say I enjoy push hands more than form; but that's mostly because most of mr previous teachers left town just as we were getting to it and I don't do enough of it yet for it to be automatic yet. I just wish the Yang family had had a center here in the early 1970's when I first started practicing so that I could have saved myself a lot of bad habits that I'm still trying to break.

Push hands teaches me to perform/express the energies better in the hand form; and the hand form does the same for my push hands. I don't treat tui shou as a bridge to applications/sparring at this point in my development. I treat it as a sensing tool. It helps me feel/maintain my center in real time movement/interaction and it helps me sense the center in those I interact with. It also teaches me to feel/interact with the eight energies.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>Greetings everyone,

I have had the privilege of attending some great push hands seminars over the past year or so, and that has led me to recall conversations with fellow practitioners who either had doubts about the usefulness of push hands or who had apprehensions. Having gone through those great experiences, I just wanted to post to encourage more people to practice.

The more I have practiced push hands, the more I have found how vast a subject it is. I am continually amazed at how vivid, immediate, and practical so much of the theory becomes while doing Push Hands applications, and often in almost the precise way in which it is framed in the Classics.

I would like to become good at Push Hands, but I would like even more to be able to sample the magic of the theories through Push Hands. To some extent, I like the test of skills; but even more, I like the feeling of working with someone to raise both our levels of skills and create some joint magic. Playing solo can be nice, but nothing beats harmonizing with someone else in an impromptu duo (or maybe in a quartet).

Why do you practice Push Hands? Why do you not?

Take care,
Audi</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Postby yslim » Tue May 26, 2009 6:30 am

[QUOTE]Originally posted by taiji-jim:


[Yes, Bob, I finally got around to registering/posting]


Hi Taiji Jim

Welcome to this Discussions Board.
Yes, Bob is a good man and I am glad that you put your listening energy to work.
When Bob speaks I too listen but not as close as you do since I went West.

Give my Taiji best regards to Bob

Ciao and have a good Taiji day.
yslim
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Postby yslim » Tue May 26, 2009 7:00 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fumin:
<B>The demonstration is to show the coordination of yielding and stick in push hand by the postures: single whip, left ward off, bending bow and shooting tiger, single whip squating down, turn and swing the lotus, and press.

Enjoy my life and hopefully this enjoys your eyes.

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/_IbBRRknzkU/

Fumin</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Master Fumin

As always, your demo is definitely enjoy my eye and feast for my brain!

THANK YOU VERY MUCH ONCE AGAIN

Enjoy your good life with Taiji.

Ciao,
yslim
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed May 27, 2009 8:03 pm

Jim,
Well it's ABOUT TIME!

Everyone,
Jim is the mysterious "training partner" that I talk about from time to time and a senior Tai Chi brother to me.
We try to do push hands a couple of times a week, but lately that's not been happening.
I've been quite ill for the last several weeks and even doing form work took too much out of me.
Yesterday's practice was the first time I've done the entire long form in over two weeks and I barely was able to finish that, so push hands was pretty much out of the question.
Not to mention it was 86 degrees with 100% humidity.
So we passed.
On Saturday morning we will, hopefully, get back to doing some push hands as I am nearly feeling fit again.

Bob
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Postby shugdenla » Thu May 28, 2009 4:51 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
We try to do push hands a couple of times a week, but lately that's not been happening.
I've been quite ill for the last several weeks and even doing form work took too much out of me.
Not to mention it was 86 degrees with 100% humidity.
So we passed.
On Saturday morning we will, hopefully, get back to doing some push hands as I am nearly feeling fit again.
Bob</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Bob,
Try more neigong type routine as in
a. Raising and lowering hands (front)
b. raising and lowering hands (sides)
More breathing (diaphragm) and do for about 10-15 miinutes.
Stand in wuji for about 5 minutes and do shougong. This is essence of yangsengong.
As you see doing taolu when not is good health taxes the system more!
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri May 29, 2009 3:43 pm

Shug,
Thank you for the advice.
I have mostly been doing post standing, as I had bronchitis bordering on pnuemonia, which made it very difficult to breath at all much less move very much, and my doctor told me that doing any form of exercise was out of the question for at least a week.
So wuji meditation was about all I could do during that time.
I've since gotten back to nearly 100% functionality but I took my return to full practice VERY slowly as I did not want a relapse.
Other than an occaissional cough for no apparent reason, I am back in fighting shape and will be able to fully resume push hands training tomorrow morning with Jim and our fellow students at our regular weekly class.
I think after this much time, we will need it very much.
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