Quick, what’s the solution to this? I asked my student when his arm was about to get caught in my trap.
He blustered and he flustered but he did not know what to do. So what was the problem here?
Have you seen how Tai Chi students look very competent when they do drills but when it comes to playing push hands freely with unscripted attacks they suddenly do not know how to react and basically tense up each time they are being pressured?
Tai Chi is an art that teaches you to flow like water so if you do too many drills instead of being able to flow freely you will only be able to flow as long as the attack corresponds to a reaction you have drilled in.
However, the whole point of doing push hands is to teach you to be able to react freely using the movements of the form as a frame of reference to train you how to change. To focus on doing drills one too many is to retard your natural flowing response.
You don’t have to believe me. The next time you play push hands just grab one of your partner’s wrists suddenly. Apply power and pressure him. Observe what he does. Did he tense up before responding. The moment he tries to apply a counter don’t let him do so. Go with his movement and continue the pressure. Is he now desperately trying harder, flailing his arm about in a bid to get away?
You can also ask your training partner to try this on you. If your response to an unexpected attack is to momentary freeze before resisting with strength and countering then you are probably doing too many drills. Drills tend to be situational and there are only so many drills you can so to counter the numerous types of attacks that your training partner can think of.
On the other hands, push hands are not situational in that the whole idea is to use it to test different attacks. Yes, sometimes surprise your partner. When he expects a push, do a pull instead. If he thinks you are going for his head change suddenly and go for his leg. Learn to draw him out. Sometimes let him draw you out; go with his attack. Try not to resist and see how far you can get go before he catches you. You can also try to use back his own technique against him – sometimes I would let my student try to lock my wrist; if he fails to do so I would promptly use back the same technique against him.
This is how we Master Tai Chi Today. Do not expect the unexpected. You cannot expect what is random. Just go with it. Really. Its OK to get pushed. Don’t worry about losing face. Without investing in loss you will never learn the real you. Let Tai Chi push hands liberate you today.
Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.