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.

Learning to be Soft

Being soft is not an abstract concept.

Telling a student to be soft won’t make him soft.

If he practices a lot he might end up being soft but this is not always the case. Most students end up not being as soft as they could.

If you want to be soft you have to learn how to be soft. Meaning deliberate learning.

A simple principle that can make you soft is to be circular, to move in a spiral.

I know the argument for moving linearly. One argument is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

However, did you know that this argument only applies to two points in space? If there is an obstruction in front of you, say an arm, then the shortest distance between two points is actually a curve!!!

You should not take my word for it but do your own research on this. I came across this mention once in a book, probably a book on physics. I can’t remember which book it was.

Knowledge that you find yourself has higher value than knowledge given to you particularly if the knowledge is free. So that’s why its good to find out for yourself. Then you will cherish it more.

Shield & Sword

This is an illustration of the concept of one hand acting as a shield and the other as a sword.

The principle is simple – one hand attacks and the other clears the way for the attacking hand.

We learn this from understanding how our basic strikes and the 6-blocks work with each other.

There’s nothing complicated here, just straightforward basics put together to work together.

Big Movement

This is part of our previous SKD session last Sunday.

The development of striking skills begin with bigger movements rather than smaller movements.

Why we begin with bigger movements is because it is easier to feel what we are doing. It is also easier to develop power through a bigger motion.

When we can feel what is happening, example how our arm is moving relative to the waist, how our legs is assisting the swing by coordinating the rise-fall movement that allows us to use gravity to accelerate down and use the same movement to come up etc, then its time to work on reducing the size of the movement.

A smaller movement is faster and is more useful when used for probing and entering.

Minimize the External

At one time I did not like wide, circular strikes. When I learned Wing Chun they used to tell us that circular strikes are slow.

However, if this is true why is it that many styles use circular strikes?

Once I took a closer look then I discover that a circular strike can move just as fast as a linear strike. It is a matter of how you apply it.

You do need to train to do wide movement first to get the power before you minimize the outer movements so that you can move more efficiently.