Monday, July 29, 2013

Different Types of Pushing Hands

There are actually many types of pushing hands, because different martial arts may have different ways to practise pushing hands.

When people talk about pushing hands, we usually think about taiji pushing hands, because taiji is something that is most commonly associated with pushing hands. Taiji's pushing hands is about learning how to sense your opponent's force and how to use it against him. The basic methods are more about how to sense force, while the moving methods progresses towards limited application.
But although taiji pushing hands is probably the most common and also the oldest type of pushing hands, other martial arts also have developed their own type of pushing hands for their training.

For example, yiquan has its own type of pushing hands, that looks different from taiji's. The emphasis seems to be in finding an opening, though I can't say for sure since I don't practise yiquan.
There is also pushing hands in baguazhang. It seems to be a mixture of taiji's and yiquan's pushing hands, with a lot more emphasis on footwork, the trademark of baguazhang.
Even less commonly known is the pushing hands in xingyiquan. I haven't been able to find something about this, but it is probably similar to yiquan's pushing hands.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Must Be Fast When Pushing

My teacher was sharing that in order to push, you need to be fast. Fast in terms of reaction, in terms of being able to relax, and once you sense that your opponent's force has all been absorb, to quickly push back gently.

Relax so that you absorb his force, and once you sense that there is no more force, quickly but gently push back with the back leg.

When you relax, his force gets absorbed, but if you are slow and don't push back in time, his force continues to build up, you continue to relax and end up flattened instead.

So everything is in the timing... that split second determines if you are able to use his force against him, or end up being overwhelmed by his force.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Inkling - Don't Follow Through

Okay, the title for this post sounds weird. After all, we have always been taught to follow through on what we do, right?

Well, for this post, I am talking about using force. It is still an inkling, something that I haven't been able to fully pursue down through my thoughts yet.

When we push, we continue to apply force until we achieve the effect that we want, that is to say, when the person we are pushing loses his balance. That seems like the way to push, right? We follow through with our initial push until we achieve the end state.

Well, it seems that the right way to push, or rather, to apply force in general, is not to follow through. Instead of pushing all the way until he falls over, we use just enough force to cause him to move. Then we stop. So instead of following through (which usually results in us stiffening up and using brute force), that short and sharp use of force seems to be able to achieve the end state using less force.

There is probably some science behind this too, just that it is probably a bit too confusing for me right now.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Equal And Opposite Force

Physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think that is actually part of the physics behind taiji.

When you push with your arms, there is an opposite reaction that works to push you backwards. I think this opposite reaction is that force is can be used against you when you push using brute force. How? It probably has to do with direction. When you push in one direction, and the opposite reaction moves in the opposite direction, there is balance and thus no resultant force working on your centre of gravity. But if your original force is being redirected somewhere else, the opposite reaction still works in the opposite direction of the original force, which could thus end up creating a resultant force that works on your centre of gravity, thus affecting your balance.

I think it can also be used to explain why we use the back leg to push. When you use your back leg to push, the original force moves backwards. It creates a reaction force in the opposite direction, ie. forward. Since nothing is going to change the direction of the original force, the equal and opposite forces are somewhat in equilibrium and is thus controlled by you. It allows you to move your centre of gravity, and the opposite force generated is the one that can be used to push towards your opponent.

I am not a physics expert and thus can't say that this is definitely the scientific theory behind force in taiji, but this is just an inkling that I got when talking to a fellow student.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Finding Mistakes 8 Years On

After 8 years, I am still finding mistakes.

When my opponent tries to push upwards, I have a tendency to stiffen my back leg's kua, which actually allows him to use that opportunity to lift my centre of gravity upwards. The consolation is that my upper body and front leg's kua is usually still relaxed, and I am thus able to still somehow neutralise his force. But that is a mistake that I need to correct. I need to continue to remind myself that I need to relax my kua at all times. All the more when his force goes upwards, I need to sink downwards.

Relaxing the kua is still a big issue.

I sometimes still find it difficult to link the hands with the feet.

Often, I am not using my kua to move my upper body. Instead, the lower half and the upper half are actually moving independently. But because they are both moving at the same time, it looks like they are linked, but they are actually not.

Many years more to correct these mistakes...

Friday, July 05, 2013

Relax When Pushing, Not Stiff When Pushing

In taiji, we are always told that the power comes from the legs, and we need to push using the back leg, channelling that strength from the legs up to the hands where they can be applied.

However, that does not mean we stiffen our upper body, then use the back leg to push. Because when you do that, your force has taken shape, and people can easily deflect it or avoid it.

Instead, it is about remaining relaxed. The upper body is still relaxed as you use your back leg to push and shift your weight onto the front leg. When you sense an opening, that is when your force takes shape and goes in. Otherwise, remain relaxed and search around for openings.