Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pair Practice

When I was in Japan two years ago, I joined a pushing hands class there. Although they practised a different style and did things a bit different, I think I can now see the benefit of their training too.

In their training, they take turns to be the one who pushes. Draw a circle, then another, and then push. But both sides try to be as soft as possible. I see the benefit as:
- It trains the one pushing on how to push with as little brute strength as possible.
- It trains the one being pushed on how to relax so as to neutralise force.
Such pair practice is actually useful in learning how to use force.

I actually came to realise this when I was pushing hands with my teacher the other day. He was teaching me how to push, and it became a pair practice with me trying to push him. It struck my mind that this was very similar to what I did in Japan, not in terms of the actual movements, but the form of practice.

To learn to apply taiji, pair practice is thus very important.

Pushing hands teaches you how to sense force and neutralise it. It will also teach you how to use force. Repeated practice trains up a reflex action that automatically neutralises force when your body senses it.

Practising the application of the taiji movements (with a partner) allows you to feel for yourself how the force that is applied feels like. Repeated practice also helps train up reflex action, in terms of reacting in a certain way in a certain situation.

But never forget that the foundation lies in the routines. Without a strong foundation, everything else is nought.

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