Friday, September 27, 2013


Self-confidence is one thing, but being overly confident of oneself can lead to self-conceitedness, which blinds one to his own weaknesses, and ultimately prevents one from becoming better.

As we become good in something, we start to gain confidence in our skill. We know we are better than others. But if we stop at that, if we only know that we are better than others but do not realise that we still have weaknesses that need to be improved upon, then we have reached a wall in our development.

It is a wall that requires a lot of effort to climb over or break down. Because self-conceit feeds itself; each victory makes us more conceited, and when things don't turn out as planned, we start blaming every other thing except ourselves.

And that is why I like pushing hands with my teacher. Because every time I push hands with him, I am able to remind myself that I still have a long way to go. I may have started to get an inkling of how to use force, how to neutralise force, but I still have a long way to go before I can really relax and use force like a true taiji master.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pushing Hands Is About Practice

Actually, not just pushing hands, but everything is about practice. Practising taiji routines, practising pushing hands, using pair practice, practising with a partner on how to use each move, these are all practices that will help you become better and better.

And that is what I like about the pushing hands class in Japan that I went to (a few times only, though...)

There is a lot of practice there. Because it is not a class but rather a gathering of like-minded individuals. Yes, there is a pushing hands master there, who gives his advice to the rest, but everyone there is there to learn from one another, to practice with one another. They are all there with the right mindset, and there are many of them. So there is no lack of practice. You can practise with different people, each with his strengths and weaknesses, his own experiences to share. Instead of learning only from one teacher, in a way, everyone there is a teacher and you learn from all of them. (In fact, quite a few of them are actually taiji teachers teaching taiji classes of their own.)

I guess it means that each time I go for class, I should maximise the time for practice. And maybe one day, who knows, Singapore will have a pushing hands group that is big and with people of the same mindset (there to learn, rather than there to push) that I can join to further my learning journey.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Same Mistakes...

I talked about "not following through" some time back. I thought I had gotten a better understanding of how to push, yet my body still does not react the way that I want it to. When I push, I still follow through. And end up using brute force towards the end.

I think the reason for not following through is that the force is just enough to move your opponent. Move in, then stop before he can use your force against you. If you continue to follow through, he can use your force as a leverage and eventually use it back against you. Or just simply use your force as a counterweight to avoid falling.

So by not following through, once his centre of gravity has been upset, he will start to fall, and has nothing to use as a counterweight to hold on to, to prevent himself from falling.

But still, even though the theory is in my head, I can't get my body to behave.

Back to form practice...

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

To Be Strong, Know Your Weaknesses First

In our learning journey, I think this is one principle that remains true. In order for us to become stronger, first, we need to know our own weaknesses.

But knowing our own weaknesses is not enough. It is about accepting them that the journey to becoming stronger actually starts. If we don't accept our weaknesses, we will not work to overcome them; instead, we run away from them, hide them, push them aside, pretend not to see them. That doesn't make those weaknesses go away. Not acknowledging our own weaknesses does not make them go away, it only makes them stay on.

So it is about finding our what your weaknesses are, accepting them (taking ownership of them), and then working to overcome them. That is the path to growing stronger.

In taiji terms, it means being willing to accept being pushed around, because that exposes our weaknesses. Then we think about why we were able to be pushed; that is about accepting and understanding our weaknesses. After that comes practice and practice and practice, to overcome those weaknesses.

Do you have the courage to face up to your weaknesses and then work to overcome them? Do you have what it takes to be strong? Can you face up to the fact that you are not as good as you think you are?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Shifting Weight and Keeping Kua Relaxed

A common mistake of mine is to think too much about using the back leg to push, to the extent that my back leg's kua becomes stiff towards the end of the push. Too much power is generated by the back leg and that actually upsets my centre of gravity, resulting in something that can be exploited.

Stances are always about how much weight to put on each leg. 40% on front leg, 60% on back leg; 70% on front leg, 30% on back leg, and the list goes on. Every time, it adds up to 100%. Weight, in this case, is actually the amount of force being generated by your legs. What this means is that as you shift your stance, the force generated by each leg changes, with one leg using less force while the other using more.

My mistake is to use one leg to take up more of my weight, while using the same force from the other leg... which means the resultant force is more than 100%, which means there is a resultant force that continues to move my centre of gravity (instead of maintaining it within my two legs) and thus something that my opponent can exploit to upset my balance. Especially in pushing. When pushing, as you push with the back leg, the front leg will take up more weight. Which means you are supposed to push with less force from your back leg as the front leg takes up more weight. If you don't, you end up overextending the push (which is my common mistake).

Another thing that arises from this mistake is the kua of the back leg won't be able to remain relaxed if your back leg continues to push with the same force even as your front leg is taking up more weight. The back leg's kua becomes stiff. So as you push, focus on keeping BOTH kua relaxed; that would take away the force from the back leg as you shift your weight forward, keeping your centre of gravity within your two legs.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Sharing An Article On Peng

Found this blog article on peng, which offers great insight into what peng is about, and consolidates understanding about what peng is. I think it is a very well written article that summarises everything that I understand and have written about peng so far.