Leading the Timing


In a previous post here I mentioned about the OODA Loop which was developed by Colonel John Body. Harry Hilaker who was one of Boyd’s colleagues wrote of the OODA Loop :-

The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible.

Learning to play the push hands game is a way of learning how to think on the move. You do this by building your database of responses. You ask and depending on the answer you get is how you carry the game along.

Because pushing hands can be a fast game, too fast for slow and deliberate thinking you have to learn to think on the fly and better still to automate your movements to a large extent. To do this you do not go the cumbersome and ponderous scientific way; instead you go the way of the arts, by feeling and letting go of your fixated mind. In this respect Matthew Syed said it best in Black Box Thinking : The Surprising Truth About Success (and Why Some People Never Learn From Their Mistakes) where he wrote in a footnote :-

There is something of an analogy with sport. A top footballer can take a free kick from thirty yards and bend it into the top corner of the goal. In order to do this he must solve differential equations and various problems of aerodynamics. But he does not solve these equations mathematically. His knowledge is practical: he solves these problems implicitly. Where does this practical understanding come from? Again it comes through trial and error (i.e. practice). Over thousands of hours he kicks balls at a target and gradually reduces the gap between where the ball lands and the target by varying and improving his technique.

So the push hands game is our way of teaching this. By playing a specific game, in this case the game of grasping the tail of the sparrow we learn how to control our timing to elicit a response to help us along to the end game.

Of course, if the response is not what we hope for then we modify our game accordingly. This is why we study the position and database of responses available to us. For example today the way my student reacted allowed me to do a double handed pull that pulled him to the ground. If his arm had been lower then my response would have resulted in a lock instead or if his arm had gone higher then a takedown would be the appropriate response.

The whole lesson of catching the sparrow is to flow, to lead, not to give the opponent time to impose his game, instead you lead him along. By learning to control our impulse to overreact and use too much strength we can move along in our effort to Master Tai Chi Today.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style (TaijiKinesis) lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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