Its funny how years of form practice cannot make my student flow smoothly when playing push hands.
Until he had learned to play the long pole for a few weeks.
Why would this be the case?
An interesting mystery.
But not really, not if you know how the mind works and which principle is involved.
It is simple to play form with coordination. However, this typically falls apart when engaging in push hands, particularly when speed and pressure are thrown in. Then the hands become stuck, unsure what to do, freezing like a deer caught in a car’s headlights.
The long pole requires both hands to be coordinated. This is made simpler by the fact that the pole is straight and both hands must hold it, and work it as a team. So the pole trains the hands to work as a team, and the body as well.
A punch (or palm strike) can deal a painful strike but only if power is applied. With a pole, the weight (mass) of the pole is such that even if you don’t use power the momentum from its motion can impart enough power to hurt. So one thing a student learns quickly is don’t freeze up or he will get hit.
Take the above pole learning principles, put them into push hands and what have you? Faster, smoother reaction, just like doing pole combat.