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.

Glock the Gun






I don’t have any interest to read about guns but I recently came across this book Glock : The Rise of America’s Gun which proved to be an entertaining read.

The author mentioned how the name Glock rhymed very well with some words which allowed gangsta rappers to write lyrics which rhyme with Glock, for example, “I choose droppin’ the cop, I got me a Glock.”

Elsewhere there’s also a chapter on how the NRA and the US government unintendedly helped Glock to sell more guns, perticularly the model nicknamed Pocket Rocket when a law was put up to ban certain guns.

The NRA argued that lawfully armed citizens were the first line of defense in stopping crime cause there’s never a cop around when you need one.

I don’t understand gun culture as over here guns are banned but I get the point about there never a cop around when you need one.

The point that the law do not get is that no one wants to have to fight (well, maybe some people do cause its the thing for them) unless they are forced to. Our natural impulse is to call a cop.

But what if the threat is imminent like right now, right here and you don’t have the opportunity to call for a cop?

Have you called the police post? It takes a few rings before someone picks up. Then they want to know your details and why you are calling. By the time they come it could be at least 10 minutes before any patrol car shows up.

So what do you do in the meantime? Tell the person who is about to attack you to chill and wait?

So we don’t want to fight. Its a hassle, a pain in the ass, not just physically but also legally. The law does not understand because it is not the law that is getting whacked. So on this point I get why there is a need for a gun.

Since we don’t do guns here the next best option is our fist. But it is said that if you are older using a fist against a younger attacker or a few attackers is not to our advantage.

What we do then? Enter the knife. OK, we don’t do knives either. For one its not legal to carry and two its also messy when the blood starts to flow.

Next best option is a stick whether a palm stick, a longer stick, or perhaps a baseball bat. OK, unless we just came back from a baseball game or we are in a car chances are we won’t have a bat.

So I like the palm stick. Its like a blunt knife. Easy to carry. The law does not say its illegal. Easy to conceal too wheres a 28 inch stick is my preference but too long to carry and sticks out like a sore thumb.

It is said in peace train for war and in war prepare for peace. Learning and training to protect ourselves is for those times a cop is never around and we ourselves is the key to a world of hurt, possibly death, or life.

Unlike insurance you can’t buy skill and expect it to take effect in the next minute. You want to have the skill you gotta put in the time and the repetitions. It does not guarantee that you will come out in one piece but it is better to have an option than not.

Interested to learn principles that apply to emptyhand combat, sticks or blades? Write me.

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.