Friday, November 28, 2008

Whose Force Is It? Part 2

Sometimes, we think it is our opponent who is using brute force, rather than ourselves. After all, we think we know the principles of taiji, we think we are applying them correctly, we think we are relaxing, we think we are correct. We think too highly of ourselves. So how do we know whose force is it that we are feeling? Who is the one using brute force?

Recently, I haven't been practising as much, and thus when I go for pushing hands lessons, and feel that my opponent is using brute force, I sometimes ask myself if it could be that I am the one using brute force, and my opponent is only returning my force to me. But I managed to observe something the other day. My opponent's arm was quivering. Yes, quivering. From using brute force. And thus I got my answer.

When your opponent uses brute force, sometimes, things will get out of hand and pushing hands become very rough. For myself, I am still unable to counter brute force such that I can protect myself yet control the amount of force being used against my opponent. Thus, the more force he uses, the more likely I will use it against him, thus increasing the danger to both of us. It may end up that my opponent uses brute force, I use it against him, and he uses more brute force to counter, and thus I use that against him, until things get out of hand with too much force being used and chances of someone getting hurt. Usually, when that happens, I would let go and let my opponent have his way, so as not to end up getting either one of us hurt. I guess I have a long way to go before I can be like my teacher, and control the amount of force being returned to my opponent.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Are We Practising Correctly?

A question came up today. How do we know if what we are practising is actually correct?

At first, I didn't know the answer, or rather, didn't bother to think much about the question. But now that I have some time, thinking about it, I guess it has to do with pushing hands.

We will know if we are practising correctly (both forms and pushing hands) if, during pushing hands, we are able to feel the direction of our opponent's force, neutralise it, and then return it back to him, without feeling that we are using brute force (ie. the muscular strength of our arms). Because in order to do all that, we need to be able to apply all the principles of taiji, both in terms of physical requirements (sinking/relaxing kua, body straight, etc.) as well as mental/emotional requirements (not being afraid to lose, keeping calm, etc.)

So if you are curious as to whether you have been practising correctly, during the next pushing hands session, ask yourself if you are able to sense your opponent's force, deflect it away and back at him, all the while without tensing the muscles on your arms.