My teaching experience tells me that students have a problem learning to be soft.
The following are the biggest obstacles to their desire to be soft :-
a) Inability to stop resisting even when instructed to momentarily let go; they just cannot do so whether physically or mentally
b) They fail to differentiate between learning and competing, and hence keep up the resistance regardless of whether it is appropriate or required
c) They have not practiced the form to the point whereby their mind is calm, allowing them to control their movement and level of resistance in the face of pressure
So what can you do about it?
Dance, I say, dance.
Is this a crazy suggestion?
Yes and no.
Yes, this is a combat art and not a dance art. But this is exactly the problem. By narrowing their point of view students end up being uptight and just have to resist because their ego make them keep up the pressure even when the opponent’s pressure is decreasing. This is an uncontrolled instinct which needs to be brought under control if you want to be soft.
No, the suggestion is not crazy. Sometimes you need a paradigm shift, something to make you see things in a different perspective. So what better than dance?
We don’t have to actually dance. We just need to imagine we are doing a dance. I know if you do a dance you end up cooperating but combat is not about cooperation. Or is it?
Just consider, if the opponent pushes you should you react by pushing back harder? Or is pulling him a better solution? Is dancing just about moving your feet and shaking your hips?
Sure, there is cooperation but there is also awareness, control, adjusting of speed, pressure and angles as both bodies move through space without running into each other and causing the other person to lose balance and the rhythm of the dance.
However, you can practice push hands like doing a dance without losing control, without using too much resistance (use just enough), without allowing the opponent to break through your defence easily.
But you do need to keep your awareness, wits and sensitivity at a heightened stage. It is not easy but it is doable. Take a look at the clip below for an example :-
So on the music and dance………..