Monday, January 25, 2010

To Continue Or To Change

My teacher told me not to be afraid of using a bit of strength and resisting a bit when trying to peng. But when I follow what he said, my arms started to get tired again whenever I push hands with an opponent that uses more brute force. Yes, I am able to ward away his force, but I feel that I am missing something, that I have not fully grasped what my teacher meant when he said that it is okay to resist a bit when learning to peng.

When I push hands with my teacher, my arms get tired (he is able to draw me into using brute force). When I push hands with someone who uses brute force, my arms get tired. Only when I push with someone who is trying to relax, my arms don't get tired. Something must be wrong. My arms shouldn't get tired no matter who I push hands with. After all, taiji is about using the least amount of strength to defeat an opponent.

I have been following this advice for some time now, yet I don't seem to be making progress. Why? Is it due to a lack of practice? A lack of a good partner to explore with? A lack of reflection on mistakes? Am I not thinking hard enough? Or am I thinking along the wrong road? Do I continue to follow the advice in hope of a breakthrough in understanding? Or do I adopt a different approach, since this advice is not getting me anywhere?

Lost... wandering around in search of the truth...


alexander said...

if you find out, please let the rest of the world know :)

i feel exactly the same way unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

my teacher taught us that the use of strength is very brief and temporary. it's meant to be an illusion or a trap for your opponent.

i hope this is useful for you.

Nando Raynolds said...

This is a common experience in push hands that can be reduced. Muscularily, Peng is an isometric (non-moving) extension of my whole body to both be able to withstand pressure and to help me move as one unit. Imagine this as inflating a ball.
When my partner pushes on me, I use first my leg,then my arm and finally my body to yield to the pressure and then neutralize the push. As I yield, my partner extends more from his base until he becomes in danger of overextending at which point he will stop pushing (or I will pull him over). This is in fixed step.
When my partner pushes, I am in charge of the pressure at our point of contact and can reduce it by moving back. So if some one pushes me harder, I simply move back faster. Whether they are doing it with "force" (li) or nice integrated whole body power from their legs really doesn't change my response, I still move back to reduce the pressure at the point of contact. Taking clear responsibility for the amount of pressure you experience when yielding is the key. Then when you are pushing, the other person is responsible for that pressure, so feel free to make it large if you have good whole body movement (push by extending your legs, not extending your arms).
I hope this is helpful, for more tips check out my book, The Push Hands Workbook at
Nando Raynolds