Monday, September 27, 2010

Pushing Hands is Not About Accommodating... (Huh??!!)

After telling me that pushing hands is about pushing the hands, the same fellow student told me that he cannot accommodate what I tell him when we were pushing hands. The context was: I was trying to tell him where he should place his hands so as to counter my push when we were practising two-hands pushing hands, so that we can work on drawing the circles first.

As I said, he probably did more years of taiji than me and thus know what he was talking about... but still, isn't taiji about trying to follow your opponent, and from there counter him? Isn't taiji about accommodating to your opponent (舍己从人)? But still, there is still a lesson to learn here.

Pushing hands is not about learning how to push someone. We can easily do that, just by you pushing me and I pushing you. Pushing hands is about learning how to sense your opponent's and your own force. I think the important thing when learning pushing hands is to know why you are even learning it in the first place. If the objective is to be able to push someone, you will learn how to push people. If your objective is to learn how to sense force, you will learn how to sense force and use it against your opponent.

And of course, if your objective is to learn to push but mine is to learn to sense your force, while you may be able to push me around at first, I will soon be able too use your force against you. The more I let you push me, there more I learn how to sense your force and eventually use it against you. If you never let your opponent push you, you will not know how to sense force.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pushing Hands Means to Push the Hand (Huh??!!)

Life is really about learning, and we continue to learn new things each day.

Like today, when a fellow pushing hands student told me that pushing hands is about pushing the hand. Thus, I am not supposed to push anywhere else except the hands... of course, the definition of hand (手) here is a bit wide, it includes the arm (手臂) as well. So if his hand moves down, I am supposed to follow. I am not supposed to push his chest even when he leaves a big opening, because I am supposed to follow (随) and his hand has moved down.

I tried saying that taiji is about not giving up and not resisting (不丢不顶), but that seemed to fall on deaf ears since my fellow student was quite certain that he is correct. Well, he is older than me and probably learnt taiji for a longer period than me, even though he is new to the pushing hands class. I guess that gives him the right to say things like he knows what he is talking about and doesn't need to listen to others.

It reminded me of the famous Zen lesson. When your cup is full, you cannot receive anymore. When we come into class with pre-conceived notions about what is right and wrong, we cannot learn what the teacher has to offer.

One thing positive that I learnt. I learnt how to push with my back leg better. It is still something that I don't do well but I am slowly progressing. And I must thank my fellow student for that. He was the one who pointed to me how to push with my back leg better.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

After 3 Months

3 months not training (much) set me back by a lot (I think). My teacher has yet to comment but I think he is just trying not to discourage me. A lot of catching up to do...

What did I do for the last 3 months?
Silk-reeling exercise for about 15min each session, plus some other basic movements for 5min, total 20min of training each time.
Trained about 3 sessions each week, after averaging out. Sometimes I trained daily for 2 weeks, sometimes I missed one whole week of training.
Zero pushing hands... no one to push hands with.
I think I can count the number of times I practised routines... maybe 4 times of Chen style and 4 times of Yang style...

The other day during pushing hands class, I sort of lost control. My partner was using force and I was returning it to him. He then told me not to use force to push him... and then he started using more force, so it felt to him that I was pushing harder. Then he got a bit rough (elbow, two-handed arm lock, grabbing) which was okay at first. But he kept saying I was using brute force to push him. Every once in a while he tried to use two hands (we were doing single-hand push hands) so in the end I also used two hands and pushed him. This got him a bit mad, he became real rough, tried to throw me and when I didn't fall but instead sprung back towards him, I did a double-handed push on his stomach quite unintentionally. But the end result is the same. I hit him when I should not have.

Lesson here? When things start getting rough, break off. Find another partner. No point ending up sparring. That is not pushing hands.

A lot of catching up to do... and a lot of distractions to take me away from focusing on the training...