The Change of 3

A simple game of push hands can be broken down into 3 changes.

First you have the process which goes something like this :-

a) Make contact

b) Open and enter

c) Attack or bait

When you arrive at (c) this is when you have two scenarios :-

1) Attack is successful

2) Attack is intercepted

If your attack is intercepted then you have the first change which is seal and lock. There are variations to the basic seal and lock depending on the opponent’s response. If he fails to counter your attack then he loses his balance and placed in a painful lock. End of attack.

If the opponent tries to prevent you from applying your lock by bending his elbow then you have the second change. This allows you to seal the opponent’s arm and you can possibly push him off balance as a mild response.

At this point we can initiate the third game by either the opponent trying to fight back or we offer a bait by attacking first. Be sincere to attack and the opponent will offer you the reaction that you want. He cannot really refuse your attack because the result of not reacting is to receive the strike.

When the opponent’s attempt to stop your attack happens quickly seize the opportunity to momentarily freeze his posture and get into your position. Be careful not to immobilize his position too long because if he falls and you are not quick enough to release him the possibility of injuring his ankle is there. If you are going to apply a throw do remember to hold on to his arm because he will not be able to breakfall and his attempt to break his fall will injure his wrist.

These 3 changes is like a game of paper-rock-scissors. It is what we would term as a rule-based game in that if A occurs then do B, if B occurs do C and so on. It is an easy game with a number of variations within and a gateway to other techniques. By confining to a set of basic responses, the change of 3, we will be able to explore our push hands game deeper and move on further 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

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