An article appeared in The Sunday Times of 24 Jan 2016 which discussed original thinkers. I like what the author said as below. If you want to read the article you can find it here.
Original thinkers never intend to arrive. They just keep questing.
I mentioned the article now because it has relevance to a lesson this week with my student. She said that she has looked into how to do Push and basically discovered that there is only one way to do the pushing motion.
I smiled and said, why not do it this way?, and showed her a different way of doing the push. She appeared puzzled when she saw the different way that I was suggesting because it did not conform to the definition of what a pushing motion should be.
But then who said that the word 按 should translate to Push? In fact, if you type 按 into Google Translate the English translation is given as Press. Which then begs the question what should the movement that is popularly known as Press be properly translate as. But then that is another story.
I left my student utterly confused. So I took a different tack. Since its obvious that Push is a double palm strike we can ask ourselves the following questions :-
i) How do we generate power whether for pushing or striking?
ii) How does our model conform to the principles of the Tai Chi Classics?
iii) How do we leverage our input strength to generate a greater output strength?
I have not even listed important questions that relate to Push as a combat application because if we can’t solve these three questions then it would be pointless to ask further.
One way to test if my student’s conclusion is correct is to get her to try to push me. I don’t know how much she weighs but I have a suspicion that she could be as heavy as me. But it was difficult for her to push me away using the method she thought of. Her method is one that is used by many Tai Chi practitioners and is not very efficient because it failed to address the question of how to borrow strength and more important to convert the borrowed strength to potential energy and then released it as kinetic energy.
Since she has not read TaijiKinesis Vol 2 – Learning the Taijiquan Form she would not have made the connection that the Push method I just demonstrated is the same biomechanics model that I wrote about on page 101.
She could see the point once I explained it but still unable to do the requirements because she kept making two movements that impeded the working of this model. So I showed her a training method that would help to understand how the body should move in order to conform to the requirements of this model. Note – this Push method is different from that described on page 162 which is the method of the model on page 105. The difference between the two is that one makes learning to push someone easy to understand and the other makes it simpler to learn about striking.
Once she worked on the training method a bit I got her to try pushing me. Nope, she still didn’t get it. So it was back to the training method again. It was obvious what she was doing wrong in the training method.
She tried to force herself to do it but it was the wrong way to solve the doing part. I was afraid that if she forcibly moved her body she will sprain something. This was the part where knowing how to use intention came in. By getting the mind to command the body she could soon do it effortlessly and she was amazed that she could do so. So OK, after she got this bit it was time to do testing again.
The second time round she got it the first time she tried it. But then on her second attempt her old habits came back. Tried a third time but no, her old habits were still there. So back to the training method until she achieved a more consistent result.
In learning Tai Chi you must keep reviewing what you are doing. Do not be afraid to try a different way of doing the same movement. If you failed to be able to apply it you now know of one more way that you should avoid doing a technique. This will help you to improve your technique by fine-tuning it and ultimately Master Tai Chi Today.
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