Single Hand Push Hands Critique

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Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:16 pm

Here's my critique of the way I've seen the single hand exercise taught by a lot of Tai Chi folks. I think it should be replaced. I give an alternate exercise for beginners to work on basic pengjin but there are certainly many other possibilities.

Comments welcome.

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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby cgtomash on Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:38 pm

Yes, if you were to practice the single hand push hands that way, it is useless and teaches bad habits. I appreciate your adapting it to be more defensive, etc.

However, this is not even close to how I learned the single hand push hands training. Done properly, I feel it is an essential part of the curriculum. Even after more than 30 years of practicing, I still gain valuable insights from from single hand pushing.

It is true, as you said, many people teach this exercise that way without really understanding its purpose. A real shame.
Last edited by cgtomash on Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby wayne hansen on Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:26 pm

You think the exercise is of no use because you have not been taught well.
There are so many misconceptions both in theory and mechanically
I didn't watch the whole clip because it was painful to endure
This is not your fault it is just the state of the art at present
You are talking about what is wrong with something you don't understand
I say this to you and so many out there search until you find someone who has the true art
Don't stop searching until you find them
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby daniel pfister on Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:42 pm

wayne hansen wrote:You think the exercise is of no use because you have not been taught well.


Actually, my push hands teachers never taught me this method, thankfully. But I've observed many others teaching it. So if you would like to refute my points I'll listen. I'm just as concerned with the state of Tai Chi nowadays as anyone, that's why I'm trying to address these issues I see wrong with the training.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby wayne hansen on Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:16 am

There are no points to refute because it all comes from your Shen fa
Just the fact you were never taught something you are demonstrating and discussing says it all
In the other clip you were doing the ward off roll press push exercise
That had just as many mistakes in it as the one you are doing here
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby cloudz on Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:57 am

You can tell him what you see as mistakes, I'm sure he can handle it. I think you can be constructive about it and give him a chance to respond/ take things you say on board. He's taken the trouble to put some clips up and it's bad form to just poo poo and then keep the reasons to yourself. That just seems pointless to me. What do you see wrong with his shen fa in these clips Wayne?
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby cloudz on Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:05 am

ok so I watched a couple minutes..

I would say the following.. I don't really use that style of single horizontal pushing. But I have seen it/ come across it I beleive. I've tried it a little, I think, that's all.
I have seen a lot of push hands patterns and really there are lot's of different styles and approaches.
In my experience different groups, even in the same style and different styles (of course) emphasise or stress different things in different exercises.
Sometimes they are technically performed differently, sometimes the feel/intention is different. If it's a style difference the shen fa might be part of it etc.

And this can be the same basic like single fixed horizontal. I'de be curious to hear some different ideas around this and others experience(s) and approaches.
Last edited by cloudz on Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Trick on Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:22 am

Can not se the vid. But as I think/theorize, the single hand 'push' hands is one of the most original training methods of TCMA and that it was and still is in some styles practiced in a more straight lineish way. The 'usual' big yielding way of single hand push hands I don't like, I always seem to end up with people that don't push toward the centerline. I really liked it the way practiced it in Okinawan Goju-ryu......
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby wayne hansen on Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:28 am

Cloudz I am being constructive
It is a thing he says he does not practice so it is hard to give detailed instruction
The things he is saying don't work,don't work because of the way he is doing them.
Give me half an hour with him and I could show him physically but it not possible over the net
That is why I told him find a good teacher
I was honestly trying to help
Too many people seem to be running from teacher to teacher and style to style
Never letting the tea leaves settle
Sorry if I offended him that was not my intention
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Bao on Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:38 am

Cudos for putting something up! :) 8-)

I can see that there is some quality work behind what you do and that it's thought out. Leaving everything about shenfa aside, I must still agree with Wayne that it's better to know more about why people practice what they do and how, and put some work into the method first.

I think that the basic premise of your thought is right on point though, that push hands is often practiced incorrectly or in a way that is quite useless. If you just rock back and firth, there's no point of PH exercises. IMO, this is a most basic following and guiding force exercise. You need to follow the opponent with exactly the same speed and use as little force as possible to guide away the "attacking" arm. Rocking back and forth won't teach the practitioner that subtle use of force, or rather movement, and not the timing necessary. A close distance, a natural stance and working with the waist is important. I think that many would agree with me on this. I think that you would as well. But I don't completely agree with your explanations and your solution. So maybe it would be good to get more into both the mind and the body of those who practice this exercise regularly, right or wrongly. :)
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Steve Rowe on Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:35 am

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...
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby everything on Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:51 am

yup it's just a drill. the "don't give up your back" and things like that would apply more if it's not a drill (no one is going to be "fighting" by first sticking out their right arms anyway); this exercise is just for learning very basic 4 oz, sticking, following, changes, relaxation, etc.

so I guess as far as critique, I don't disagree with any of your video; I'd maybe just give the above disclaimers.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby windwalker on Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:16 am

cudos for the clip. ;)

a lot of things depend on a view point, its nice to see
a view point.

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...


nice ;)

I think its hard to feel what "momentum" is apart from the body itself, acting on and through the body.
PH helps in the process of understanding and feeling this by "doing"

Hiding ones bones, allows the inner momentum to be used directly and felt directly
if ones practiced is geared towards this type of understanding. "doing" ;)

The idea and use of timing, meaning the timing of the intent of action and the action itself
allows one to start late and yet arrive first. One can not move late after the movement has started and
expect to arrive first.

If one can feel the others "intent" to move, and move before the movement manifest
in this way reaching or preempting the intended end point and arriving first, this allows for very
free and live movement practice using the PH medium.
Last edited by windwalker on Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby Trick on Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:46 am

everything wrote:(no one is going to be "fighting" by first sticking out their right arms anyway);

I have no idea how those old lei tai or wathever fights/duels went on, did the duellants first put out their lead arms to touch to begin the fight? Or is that just a Kung fu movie thing.
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Re: Single Hand Push Hands Critique

Postby everything on Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:53 am

Trick wrote:
everything wrote:(no one is going to be "fighting" by first sticking out their right arms anyway);

I have no idea how those old lei tai or wathever fights/duels went on, did the duellants first put out their lead arms to touch to begin the fight? Or is that just a Kung fu movie thing.


good question. maybe single hands ph was super important if that was the real starting point. but it's no longer the case in sport MA or in "reality" so we can't really make too many assumptions nowadays.
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