In Wing Chun it is said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
However, in Tai Chi the shortest distance between two points is a curve.
Why do we say this?
If you regularly practice the use of strikes in push hands or sticking hands you may notice that it is difficult to strike your opponent unless you disengage your arm from his arm that is in contact with you. There are two ways to do this.
The first one is to disengage by the arm that is in contact and trying to strike over the opponent’s arm. I tend to see this a lot in Youtube videos of Wing Chun practitioners doing sticking hands. Why they do this is an interesting topic.
The second way is to use your other arm to parry or grab the opponent’s arm to momentarily detain it, freeing your arm to strike.
It does not matter if you are practicing Tai Chi, Wing Chun or some other styles. As long as you practice a contact platform these are the two common ways to do it.
The first way can work well if your opponent is slow to react. I saw this in a Facebook clip of a Yiquan master doing push hands. When he deliberately lost contact and moved in it was like watching a truck running down a person.
The only thing I would caution against doing it this way is that if your partner uses strong forward force you may find his hand suddenly shooting forward to hit you the moment you lose the contact. Of course, you can move your body out of the way just before you do it but its a calculated risk.
The second way does not always work because not everyone that play hands using a contact platform will keep their arms close enough for you to use the other hand to parry or grab. I found this out when I played hands with Tai Chi people when I was learning Wing Chun.
So what do you do then if you want to do a strike and both ways are not workable?
This is when understanding that a curve is the shortest distance between two points when arms are in contact is useful. What does this mean exactly?
Click here to learn how to use a curve to move quickly between two points when playing push hands.