Student Notes-The Circle

I first mentioned the Defending Frame in this post.

After understanding the significance of the Defending Frame we can learn to do push hands by doing some basic circling. Most of the time I see practitioners circling without really understanding what is going on in the circling. Its a pity really because they miss out on learning something really useful.

What are the things we can learn? Let’s see ……..

1) We learn that there is more to circling than just moving the arms round and round. If you have to do so then at least make the circle properly round. When students attempt to do this they end up using too much strength which brings with it a different set of learning challenges.

2) We learn how to prep our defence properly. To do this we must investigate carefully the properties of the circle and its implications. I have already introducted a model that is suitable for this in TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form; take a look at page 113. If you had read it previously I bet you didn’t realize the usefulness of the three shapes shown in the context of push hands until now.

3) We are introduced to the use of the circle and by extension the spiral for attacking. You can’t attack successfully without understanding your training partner’s vulnerable points and how to overcome them. One of the things about our training in push hands is that whilst we don’t go all out into competition mode neither do we just stand there and get pushed around. Training on the fly is actually better because you just don’t know what to expect. Its only when the need to explain something is there that I would slow down and go through it step-by-step.

4) Understanding the circle will teach us how to put up a defence. In this aspect we first learn a few specific modes of countering different attacks to start off with. We can divide this simply into defending the right side and defending the left side. As we go on we can move beyond this simplified learning model.

5) After we have a good grounding in (1) to (4) we can next take each and every little thing learned and work on them until we can react easily, naturally and quickly with minimal effort in keeping with the requirement to adhere to the Tai Chi Classics.

6) Different opponents react differently. Hence, you must learn to move beyond the fixed to the free. This means from the initial fixed responses you must learn to adapt and move beyond them. Once you have a good grasp of the use of the circle you will be able to conjure up you own solutions on the fly. This is why I keep harping on the fact that to Master Tai Chi Today you must master the form because in it lies a great training method for using the circle to move naturally.

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