Sunday, August 24, 2014

Learning Pushing Hands in Singapore

My teacher, Master Kwek Lee Hwa, teaches both taiji and pushing hands. In his taiji classes, he does talk about taiji application and a bit of pushing hands too, but otherwise, he also has dedicated pushing hands classes that focus on that aspect of taiji practice.

There are many types of pushing hands, but Master Kwek teaches taiji pushing hands. It is for those interested in learning how to apply taiji, how to relax and use your opponent's force against him. Those interested in learning how to push others need not apply. You don't need to go to pushing hands class to learn how to push someone. A five-year-old can teach you that (at least, the one at my home can).

Details of his pushing hands classes are below:

Every Thursday night, 8:30pm to 10pm
Kreta Ayer CC, Level 2 Activity Room 4
(Kreta Ayer CC is between Chinatown MRT and Outram MRT stations.)

Every Sunday evening, 6pm to 7:30pm
Tampines Changkat CC, Level 1 Dance Studio

You can also get information on the classes from Master Kwek's facebook page.

Come join us! It takes years and years of practice to be able to relax and use your opponent's force against him. The road is not an easy one. But if you persevere, the rewards are there for you to reap! What is important is to have the right mindset towards learning pushing hands. The right mindset opens your mind to the lessons that pushing hands practice can give you, allowing you to gain more from each practice. The wrong mindset closes your mind, preventing you from learning anything from practice sessions.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Learning Self-Defence Is Not Easy

A topic came up about self-defence in the course of work. Well, my opinion is that it is not easy to learn self-defence. Self-defence is not something that you can learn at a workshop over a few days and expect to be able to apply it in the future when something happens.

I have been learning taiji for more than 9 years, pushing hands for almost that long. Yet I don't dare to say that I am confident that I will be able to use taiji to defend myself. Because pushing hands is not self-defence. Yes, it leads to it, but it is only a portion leading to it. There is also the need for pair practice, something which I don't do a lot of. And even then, this will be in a controlled environment. When facing a real attack, there are no rules. I can only hope I am able to remain calm and relaxed so that I can apply what I have learnt.

9 years of practice and I am still at this stage. What more can you expect from a short workshop? To be able to apply a skill takes constant practice. Even then, one can only hope that in the face of danger, one does not forget what one has been practising all these years.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Respect Your Opponent, Revisited

I am revisiting my thoughts, not because there is nothing new to learn, but rather because some things are important enough for me to want to constantly remind myself.

After the incident yesterday, when my opponent fell over and hit his head, I am reminded again on why I act the way I do when I practise pushing hands. My opponents are my training partners, and I treat them with respect. They help me to learn my weaknesses. They are not people to conquer, people to beat.

And that is why when I push hands, I try not to cause my opponent to fall. I just try to use his strength against him to upset his balance. My aim is to make him realise that it is his own force that is being used against him to cause him to lose his balance. It is sometimes difficult, because my opponent may lose his balance, regain his balance and come back even fiercer. Then it becomes a vicious cycle. Things may reach a stage in which his force is so strong that he may fall. I usually try to avoid that happening by letting him push me away to put an end to things and start afresh. But sometimes, his force may be too strong, too sudden, and when it is used back against him, I may not be able to control how much to return and cause his to fall.

When that happens, I feel bad. Because it means I still have not reached the stage when I can control the force that I return. It means I have some way to go. And I feel bad because I risked injuring my training partner.

I always remember what my teacher said. Don't push all the way, don't commit all your force, don't use 100%. Use 70%, leave 30% behind. When you do that, you are not just leaving your opponent a way out, you are leaving yourself a way out.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Playing Rough, Revisited

Something happened today that reminded me of another incident some time back.

My opponent was trying to grab my arm for a reverse arm lock. I followed his force instead and put my elbow against his chest, telling him that he should not use force, else his force can be used back against him. He tried it again, this time with the same result. He then told me that he can sweep away my elbow if I try to close in with it again. I told him that is a very dangerous thing to do because that force can be used back against him.

He tried. Even though I warned him not to.

He fell back felt and hit the back of his head against the floor. Fell like a log because he was using a lot of force and his whole body was stiff.

I felt bad because I wasn't able to control the amount of force that I used back against him, causing him to almost injure himself. But at the same time, I also tell myself that I had given him enough warning not to use force, not to try to win by brute strength.

Pushing hands is not about pushing your opponent. It is about learning to sense and use force. If we are so obsessed with pushing our opponent, we will never be able to relax and learn how to sense and use force.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Leaning Forward

What do you do when someone leans forward to push? Especially if he adopts a long and low stance, like in this video below?

If my opponent adopts a long and low stance when leaning forward to push, it means that it is difficult for him to fall forward. If he is going to fall forward, all he needs is to use his front leg to push himself back up and he will regain his balance.

And that is the key.

When he leans forward to push, relax and he will lose his balance. He will fall forward. If he then tries to right himself, then you should follow through by helping him. When he uses his front leg to push himself back to right himself, add a bit of force to help him, and he will fall back instead. That is how to use his force against him. His force pushing forward to make him fall forward, and his force to right himself to make him fall backwards. Don't resist, but follow him instead. 捨己从人,不丢不顶。