SKD for Push Hands

My SKD student is going to be playing push hands with some Tai Chi folks.

However, this group does not allow him to do any striking, locking or throwing. So I am guessing they are going to play pushing instead aka Sumo wrestling.

Given the restrictions how can my student then benefit from playing Sumo wrestling, I mean pushing each other around?

At first glance what we do in SKD does not seem to have any correlation to what this group is doing. But that is if we take a myopic view of things.

In the practice of push hands there are many areas we can work on. Pushing aka Sumo wrestling is just one part of it.

Just because we do a lot of striking in SKD does not mean we don’t examine the question of what can we do if someone can bypass our striking and end up right in front of us, pushing and pulling hard to throw us down.

We can actually use this type of restriction to learn. I had a student who does this type of rush right in and push hard type of training. When he rushed in I let him do so but I also reminded him that if his goal is to ultimately be able to apply what he learned in push hands to combat then rushing in this way can be detrimental to him because I could easily tag him before he even gets near enough to grab or push me.

So we can break down the practice – before the opponent is close enough and when the opponent is close enough – to see what we can practice.

If I can keep the opponent at bay then his excellent pushing skill and pushing strength would be useless. Maybe that’s why Xu Xiaodong can KO a lot of these Tai Chi masters so easily. They just can’t get close enough to apply their fajing push before they got tagged. See the latest video on this :-

So we can play the first game of how to keep the opponent from coming in. The focus here can be to use the opportunity to train our footwork and long range blocking skills.

The second game would be to let the opponent pass our first gate and engage him between the first and second gate. This is our chance to practice the 6-Blocks.

The third game is to work our skill in the space between the second and third gate. This is where you can work your blocks for this range and also the 24-blocks to get him back to the second gate.

If the opponent can get pass your third gate then you can practice your BJJ, Wrestling or Shuai Jiao on him. Ooops, I forgot no throwing but they didn’t mention no ground fighting so maybe you can get away with it.

All this while you can test your striking by either pushing or just gently touching the opponent’s body. Example, you can pull him in and push him back using your forearm to simulate the Sau Chui. Unless the rule says you can only push with the palm then why not push with the elbow, the forearem, the shoulder, etc?

This is how we can benefit from restrictive training by re-looking and re-framing the rules.

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