Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't Let the "Balloon" Flatten

A common mistake, which I came to realise when pushing hands with my teacher, is that I let my "balloon" flatten. This "balloon" is my peng, and when I let it flatten, I mean my elbow bends more than it should, creating a corner instead of the arc/circle that is required in taiji.

Sounds hard to understand? An illustration: When I push, my arm is slightly bent to create an arc. When I hit resistance (my opponent's force resisting back), my teacher taught me to relax and then continue to push. But the mistake is in the relaxing part. What my teacher meant was to relax the kua and then continue to push using the strength of my legs. What I did was to relax my arms (lessening my peng) and allow my opponent's strength to move in, bending my arms a bit more than it should, creating a corner when it should only be slightly curved. When my arms are bent too much, I cannot push properly with my legs, and in order to straighten my arms a bit, I end up having to use muscular strength, and that is when my opponent can use my muscular strength against me.

So the lesson here is that when your opponent uses force, relax the kua, don't let your "balloon" flatten, and then continue to push with your back leg. By relaxing your kua, you draw your opponent's force out, straightening his force so that you can then use it against him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gauging Your Opponent

My teacher would tell us that the moment he contacts another person's hand, he knows how good that person is, and whether he can defeat his opponent or not.

I think I was able to experience something similar the other day. I was pushing hands with someone whom I have not met before. Although I was not able to come to any conclusions when our hands first touched, within one circle, I knew what I could do and what I should not try. I owe it to my teacher for teaching me the right mentality, which is to be relaxed and to be willing to lose. By going in with that mindset, I was able to discern just how good my opponent was and thus react accordingly.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You Have The Answer... Again

Yes, the important thing is to reflect, because that is one way to learn. And sometimes, you will find that you have the answer within yourself, if only you take the time to think and look for it.

Like today, when I was thinking about how to handle an opponent if he refuses to move his legs, pushing and pulling using only his arm muscles. It was a question that I was thinking about as I was walking, and I was going to ask my teacher the next time I see him. Then the answer came to me. If he doesn't change his stance, then use that against him. Move him perpendicular to the line joining his two feet. Either lead him forward or push him back along that perpendicular line, and he will fall. His unmoving stance will actually work against him.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pushing Beyond Balance

There are two ways to push a person beyond his balance.

One is to push him until he is at the brink of balance, and continue pushing till he is beyond and loses balance.

The other is the lead him to move until his brink of balance, and then push him slightly to make his lose his balance.

The first way uses more force, the second is about listening to his force and guiding it towards the desired direction. In the first way, the push is the main tool. In the second, the push is the finishing touch.

There is a third way, which is to lead him to move till his brink of balance, and continue to lead him to move beyond his balance. In this case, there is no push.

You can easily replace push with pull in the above three examples.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Teaching As Reflection

I have talked about teaching being a means of learning before.

Teaching is a means of reflection.

After a long break from helping my teacher lead some of his classes, I went back again today to help out. Instead of the students that I used to lead, I helped with a group of newcomers. This gave me a chance to see those older students that I used to practise with. It made me feel ashamed and enlightened. Their mistakes were mine, and I am guilty of causing them to make those mistakes. They copied my mistakes when I made them, and continued to make those mistakes without being corrected.

The student is the teacher's reflection. The student's mistake is the teacher's. I have written about that before. In a class, the one who learns the most is actually the teacher. The student learns only from his own mistakes (as pointed out by the teacher) but the teachers learns from the mistakes of all his students.

When you lead a class, you need to be correct in your own moves. And that is why I appreciate my teacher for giving me the opportunity to help him lead some of his classes. I learn a lot more helping him lead his classes compared to when I practise on my own.