Single Hand Push Hands Critique

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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:08 am

Bao wrote:
no one is going to be "fighting" by first sticking out their right arms anyway


Exactly, it's a cooperative game.
Free style push hands requires a completely different mind-set. You must dominate your opponent's space as soon as it starts and keep dominating it. You shouldn't give your opponent a slice of opportunity to do anything. You shouldn't exchange give and take, there should only be instantly finding the gaps, fill in and continuing to fill in. The exchange between forces in drills: single, double or four corners, can really develop the wrong habits. If drills resemble the water moving back and forth on the beach, free play should be a flood or tsunami, completely flooding your opponent giving him no room for returning or even to flee.


Would you agree that perhaps there is spectrum of cooperation in drills? At the far end of the cooperative side of MA drills, mostly of the aikido variety, clearly show this duality that your describing, with one person doing the technique (nage) of the other receiving it (uke). Although I realize this kind of mentality in training is unavoidable to some extant, I try to have any "drills" shed the sense that there is this route give-and-take; rather, at any point in a good TJQ drill IMO, either party should be able to find the gaps (or protrusions) and assume the advantage. That's a big part of what I'm trying to express in this video, and really the main critique I have of much of the SHP I've seen.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:33 am

cgtomash wrote:... this statement alone suggests to me that you have a very shallow understanding of the traditional methods for Single Push Hands, part of which is the way that Wayne Hansen has described the exercise.


The thing is Wayne didn't actually describe the exercise, or what he thought I was doing wrong, in any meaningful way. So I don't really take that as criticism, nor can I really take what he says seriously. At least you have attempted to describe where you think I'm off.

This exercise works to reinforce those principles of movement, which over time and much work will result in the practitioner having "Tai Chi Shenfa". This Shenfa has a different quality to it than the Shenfa of other Kung Fu styles.


That is exactly the point of the video. I was showing a bad TJQ drill that IMO does not reinforce the movement principles (in this case peng jin), but leads to bad habits.

In regards to your Shenfa, what I notice is . . .


I think the confusion here is that you might be criticizing what, again, I was depicting as a bad example. Otherwise, perhaps you could tell me the exact time you saw certain things and we could have a more specific discussion.

I hope you see this as more of a critique based on my experience of Tai Chi Chuan, rather than any kind of attack. I also realize that many times what is seen, is quite different than what one might feel when people get to touch hands. Maybe one day we can touch hands and explore Tai Chi deeper together!


Happy to touch hands with anyone. I believe there is a lot that can be improved upon in traditional TJQ practices. I fully realize that by criticizing in this way I'm bound to ruffle feathers. But the conversation is necessary for the art to evolve.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby cgtomash on Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:56 am

daniel pfister wrote:
cgtomash wrote:... this statement alone suggests to me that you have a very shallow understanding of the traditional methods for Single Push Hands, part of which is the way that Wayne Hansen has described the exercise.


The thing is Wayne didn't actually describe the exercise, or what he thought I was doing wrong, in any meaningful way. So I don't really take that as criticism, nor can I really take what he says seriously. At least you have attempted to describe where you think I'm off.


My bad, you are right it wasn't Wayne I was thinking of. Steve wrote a little bit about what he felt Single Push Hands was... So it should have read "part of which is the way that Steve Rowe has described the exercise." Again, your statement in your other video makes me curious as to your understanding of the Single Hands Pushing done in the traditional methods.

Too many times people have not had the opportunity to learn the deeper teachings that exercises such as Single Hand Pushing has to offer, and will dismiss the exercise as useless, or change it to fit their understanding.

Steve Rowe wrote:I had a similar conversation with a kickboxer, I asked him how he fought with his skipping rope.

It's a basic drill. It teaches receiving skills and the value of a circle. You learn how to 'hide your bones', how to stick, follow and redirect. How not to lean backward but soften the back knee, how to pass from leg to leg, how to circle the waist, how to soften the chest. Bring in the other arm and you learn when to apply peng, lu, ji and aun in the destructive cycle. It's a very versatile drill. You can run all the locks off it using the opponents energy.
It's just one very versatile basic drill...


daniel pfister wrote:
cgtomash wrote:In regards to your Shenfa, what I notice is . . .


I think the confusion here is that you might be criticizing what, again, I was depicting as a bad example. Otherwise, perhaps you could tell me the exact time you saw certain things and we could have a more specific discussion


No confusion... My thoughts about your Shenfa was based on your other video "Push Hands Demo", in which you demonstrate the sort of push hands that you practice.

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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Bao on Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:20 am

daniel pfister wrote:Would you agree that perhaps there is spectrum of cooperation in drills? At the far end of the cooperative side of MA drills, mostly of the aikido variety, clearly show this duality that your describing, with one person doing the technique (nage) of the other receiving it (uke). Although I realize this kind of mentality in training is unavoidable to some extant, I try to have any "drills" shed the sense that there is this route give-and-take; rather, at any point in a good TJQ drill IMO, either party should be able to find the gaps (or protrusions) and assume the advantage. That's a big part of what I'm trying to express in this video, and really the main critique I have of much of the SHP I've seen.


Sure, there are a lot of different methods and philosophies. What I personally don't like is when it becomes an issue of claiming style differences or when visual performance become more important than substance. We do some drills with seeking gaps and weakness in the opponent's frame, movement etc. I prefer to do this with both of the two hands instead of just one. Then you can protect from the elbow, you can try to fold the arm at the elbow, pull etc. :)
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:23 pm

Steve Rowe wrote:It's a very versatile drill. You can run all the locks off it using the opponents energy.


Might not the devil be in the details here?

I think the tricky part is how the drill is set up. If it's done in such a way that the locks are very easy to achieve on someone precisely because of the way you've taught the person how to move, you're training to react to an intent that you've already determined ahead of time. It becomes compliant, choreography even though it may not feel like it.

This is also a problem in competition PH when participants are told to make contact and circle the hands prior to actually trying find their opponent's center. What is going on when they are circling hands? They are required to make a circle (or two), so they cannot change according to what the opponent does. They both must mentally come to some agreement about how fast they are going to perform the circles. It is complete cooperation. Doing it as a drill, IMO, reinforces this cooperative mentality, and is something we should avoid.

You'll notice at one point in the video I have to ask my student to relax a bit and play along, so that I can demonstrate something for the viewer. This is important because during normal practice sessions I have people try to react, change, and adapt to my movements all the time, rather than set up situations where they are simply going through the prescribed motions.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:26 pm

cgtomash wrote:No confusion... My thoughts about your Shenfa was based on your other video "Push Hands Demo", in which you demonstrate the sort of push hands that you practice.


Please note the specific time on the video that is an example of what you're talking about, and we can discuss further.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby windwalker on Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:42 pm

What is going on when they are circling hands?


not a fan of nor endorse PH as a competition.

Helping some friends I have acted as judge for PH in my time.
What the circling was supposed to do was to give each a starting point
also to prove that they understood some type of taiji ph training.

The pattern used the pung lu ji an
that most taiji people are familiar with.

others may find different.
Last edited by windwalker on Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby wayne hansen on Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:04 pm

In single hand pushing the other hand is always in play even though it is not used
I like Huangs version where the other hand caresses the attacking elbow
It should not disrupt the elbows path but guard in expectation
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby cgtomash on Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:03 pm

wayne hansen wrote:In single hand pushing the other hand is always in play even though it is not used
I like Huangs version where the other hand caresses the attacking elbow
It should not disrupt the elbows path but guard in expectation


Wayne,

I agree. In our lineage, as you sit back and the connected hand withdraws, the other hand almost caresses the shoulder area of the partner. When sitting forward and the connected hand releases out to the partner, the other hand circles back down to the side. This helps keep the balance of left and right, as well as upper and lower.
Last edited by cgtomash on Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Steve Rowe on Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:26 am

daniel pfister wrote:
Steve Rowe wrote:It's a very versatile drill. You can run all the locks off it using the opponents energy.


Might not the devil be in the details here?

I think the tricky part is how the drill is set up. If it's done in such a way that the locks are very easy to achieve on someone precisely because of the way you've taught the person how to move, you're training to react to an intent that you've already determined ahead of time. It becomes compliant, choreography even though it may not feel like it.

This is also a problem in competition PH when participants are told to make contact and circle the hands prior to actually trying find their opponent's center. What is going on when they are circling hands? They are required to make a circle (or two), so they cannot change according to what the opponent does. They both must mentally come to some agreement about how fast they are going to perform the circles. It is complete cooperation. Doing it as a drill, IMO, reinforces this cooperative mentality, and is something we should avoid.

You'll notice at one point in the video I have to ask my student to relax a bit and play along, so that I can demonstrate something for the viewer. This is important because during normal practice sessions I have people try to react, change, and adapt to my movements all the time, rather than set up situations where they are simply going through the prescribed motions.


It's a drill - you start with compliancy in one set drill and then keep 'upping the anti' until you reach fighting level - here is a video I made about locks and pushing hands some 10 years ago. Maybe the problem with your approach could be that you're trying to run before you can walk?

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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Steve James on Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:54 pm

Nice video, Steve. I appreciate the principle/s you illustrate. I think they are on point afa the phs practice, and in general.

I don't have any critique of the op video. Single hand phs are just the beginning of a progression to applying the variety of possibilities illustrated in the form. Critiques of it also apply to all phs exercises.
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