Fast Dance 4

In Zhuang Tzu there is a story that begins with :-

Haven’t you heard about the mantis who flailed his arms in anger to stop the carriage coming in his path?

Similarly, in playing push hands the best strategy to adopt is not to be there. Why?

What is the consequence? Take a look :-

Moral of the lesson – don’t be like the mantis and oppose a greater force head on.



Fast Dance 3

When you dance, sing :-

Move, move, move your arm,
Up and down like wave
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Sink and hit liver.

(Note – sing to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)

I think this fast dance is pretty self-explanatory and won’t need any explanation.


Fast Dance 2

This is the dance of the evasive. Sway left, sway right, bob up, bob down. Move the head, move the body. These are ways to avoid being struck.

However, be careful not to fall into a predictable rhythm. This is because if your opponent is sensitive to your movement he can use your rhythm against you.

For example, once you can feel the other person’s rhythm you can feint him to move in one direction so as to set him up to move in the other direction where your real attack is. Don’t you just love fast dance……..



Fast Dance

Its a cold day in hell, I mean Singapore. Its been cold for the last two days, reminiscent of the winters I went through when living at one end of Sydney’s Bondi Beach ages ago.

A good way to keep warm is to play push hands like doing a fast, swaying, rhythmic dance. Take a look below :-

The video was uploaded 5 years ago. It was a sunny day when we shot it.

This is one of the ways we practice push hands. We moved at a brisk pace. We probed, we explored, we sought openings.

We swayed like a willow tree when encountering resistance. And when an opening presented itself, attack like the branch of a willow tree returning the force of the wind onto itself.


To Be Soft 4

I know, I know, all this dancing appears to make for useless combat training.

What if we do a different dance? Let’s call it fast dance. Would it make a difference? Let’s see……


What do you think now? To get your body moving I would suggest to listen to Metallica’s Atlas, Rise!


To Be Soft 3

Did you manage to dance the push hands?

Yes? No?

I shouldn’t be surprised if you still can’t do it. To get you started you need three important key words :-

a) Allow

b) Okay

c) Enjoy

What the key words mean are :-

a) You have to ALLOW yourself to be pushed

b) Tell yourself its OKAY to be pushed; its just training

c) And tell yourself to ENJOY being pushed

Here’s a few more dance, I mean push hands, sequences :-

ALLOW at 0:09 – observe how my friend leaned in and I let him; however, I put up a guard to protect against a potential shoulder stroke. Then I allowed him to move me

OKAY at 0:21 – I let my friend pushed my right hand up. By accepting his push I allowed him to open himself up. Again at 0:26 it was okay for him to push me back and I let the momentum of the return movement to bump him

ENJOY – watch the video below to see how enjoyable it can to accept my friend’s push and let his kinetic energy spin me round and round like a top


To Be Soft 2

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………..