Really interesting Video comparing Push Hands judging in America and China

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by aaradia, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Agree! IMO, the proper training steps should be

    be able to "use brute force to deal with brute force (beginner level training)" -> be able to "use 4 oz force to defeat 1,000 lb of force (advance level training)".

    If one doesn't go through this beginner level training before moving into the advance level training, his training will have a big hole in it.

    To develop "leg skills" such as:

    踢(Ti) - Forward kick,
    撮(Cuo) - Scooping kick,
    粘(Zhan) - Sticking kick,
    彈(Tan) - Spring,
    挑(Tiao) - Hooking kick,
    纏(Chan) - Foot entangling,
    合(He) - Inner hook,
    撿(Jian) - Foot picking,
    沖(Chong) - Inner kick,
    掛(Gua) - Inner heel sweep,
    刀(Dao) - Inner sickle,
    蹩(Bie) - Break,
    撩(Liao) - Back kick,
    切(Qie) - Front cut,
    削(Xiao) - Sickle hooking,
    勾(Gou) - Back sickle,
    裏(Li) - Back inner hook,
    擓(Kuai) - Leg bending lift,
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  2. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I couldn't agree more.

    The problem as I see it is that with most of the competition pushing hands video clips I've seen, the competitors appear to have very little experience and therefore a very low level of skill. As a result, the contests simply degenerate into shoving matches, or at best resemble really poor quality sumo wrestling. And that makes me question what benefit the competitors are actually getting from it. They don't have the experience to overcome brute force with skill, so they simply try to match force with force, and nothing is learned.

    Its rather like a boxer getting his first match without spending much time on padwork, bagwork or sparring. Throwing him in at the deep end before he's had a chance to get the basics down. Why should Taiji be any diferent from boxing in this regard? I think people need to do a lot of pushing hands before they start testing themselves in competition. Because as you put it so well, there is no shortcut to deep skills. And I suspect that too often, competitive pushing hands is ful of people looking for that shortcut.
  3. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    That is true. I think a huge amount of what used to be taught back in the 'old days' has been dropped since Taiji started being taught to the wider public.

    The forms are full of punches, kicks, joint-locks etc, but hardly anyone teaches the applications. They know what they are, but if no-one practises the applications or tests them, then they become like 'museum pieces' in the sense that they aren't really used.

    I suppose the most obvious example is the weapons. The weapons forms are still taught by those who know them because they help improve the empty hand forms and especially the pushing hands. But I wonder if anyone actually teaches the application of things like spear and sword? I doubt it somehow.
  4. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    I might be wrong - and please point it out if I am - but a lot of push hands looks reminiscent of chi sau competition in that it's essentially an exercise used to develop a subskill within an art rather a fighting approach. I think push hands looks awesome as a tool for building 'rooting' ability, redirecting force, feeling and exploiting the holes in an adversary's structure but as a competition format it seems lacking, overly restrictive and reductive of the overall combative approach of tai chi? Bit like a BJJ comp that started in 50/50 guard and ended after the pass.
  5. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I'm not familiar with Chi Sau, so I can't comment on that, but everything else you said is spot-on. Pushing hands is a training excercise. Or more accurately, a whole series of training excercises, which grow in complexity.

    You would typically start with single hand, then progress to double hand, of which there are lots of different 'patterns'. So far all of these are 'fixed step', i.e. you don't move your feet.

    But then you get all the moving step patterns, some of which include trips, low kicks, and blocks with the feet. It gets increasingly complex.
  6. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Or a wrestling comp that ends with an throw?
  7. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Being a cheeky git I took a chance to ask if I could push hands with Sifu Tayam this week and he absolutely OWNED me. His flow and ability to move didnt just stop my clinching he broke my whole structure with zero effort - was like wrestling water

    However, I also noticed a lot of things watching him push with Singh that many were not looking for or else did not see; in the push flow I saw eye, throat, groin, jaw, heart, solar plexus hits going in at the same time. It is a very interesting experience going against such a high calibre taiji player

    He also said something very interesting in light of recent MAP discussions and that is that all arts intrinsically follow the same principles and that they are a compliment to each other not a hierachy

    Yeah he was pretty awesome!
  8. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    I don't even know anymore haha
  9. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    There is no such thing as "high quality Taiji skill" and "low quality wrestling skill". It doesn't matter what style that you may train, if you can make your skill to work, it's high quality. If you can't, it's low quality.

    We all know that it's better to borrow force than to use force to against force. But when 2 persons are on the same level that nobody wants to commit on anything, there will be no force to borrow and your own force is the only thing that you can depend on. Unless you want to wait for your opponent to commit on something and your opponent also waits for you to commit on something, in order to be able to borrow force, you have to give before you can take.

    when you

    - give, that's "force against force".
    - take, that's "borrow force".

    In wrestling, it's better to attack and lose than to defense and win. The reason is simple. The person who has the courage to attack, he will be able to develop some good finish skill. the person who always plays defense, he will never be able to develop any finish skill. The wrestling attitude is different from the Taiji attitude.


    - wrestling attitude is more aggressive.
    - Taiji attitude is more conservative.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  10. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Since I am, and have done aikido, and a bit of taiji let me give this a go.

    Chi sau is all about forward pressure. You press forward with good structure and your structure and the opponent's structure jam. If they unstick you just hit. Since they stick and jam forward you try to find or make a way around through redirection, countering, but you can also head straight forward and eject power forward through your arm structure from the stance.

    Taiji push hands is circular. When you apply forward pressure there is not the same iron structure as the foundation as with the luk sao basis of chi sao. When I look at the video and see Chen Man Ching resisting people I saw him using lan sao from wing chun because it is very forceful. When you see the Chinese guys doing push hands and going body to body it is because they are using hard forward pressure and the structure collapses but you can't hit when that happens. You can redirect before the collision happens but it takes committed energy from your opponent and even if they do that (without striking) it is easier to collapse and go body to body.

    The only way I ever pulled anything from the limbs in taiji was by using aikido techniques like ikkajo or wrestling techniques like arm drags where you gain position and initiate onto your opponent. Countering doesn't work when no one commits. That's the same reason why you see slap-happy chi sao from wing chun folks. No one wants to lose.

    It seems the American judges don't like the hard forward pressure but as the wing chun kuen kuit says "do not be lax when the opponent is not advancing." That goes for all martial arts. You better be baiting for a counter or attacking. Passivity gets you killed. There are wing chun people with the same idea that everything should be the height of skill and softness with no hard pressure but only countering skills. Usually they are the people whose defence I can forcibly tear down straight through the middle with a few lap sao and jut sao. I get the firm feeling the taiji judges would be suitably demolished by most Chinese taiji practitioners.

    Most of the good taiji guys I've trained with were very hard to wrestle with and I think would be great at something like Greco.
  11. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Not exactly.

    To put it in very simple terms, when one person goes forward they should be aiming for the other person's face or body (depending on which pattern they are practising.) Once countered they 'retreat' and the other person attacks.

    The overall pattern therefore becomes like a circle (or a figure eight, again it depends on the pattern being practised.) But it's only really a circular movement when you've got two beginners who are either unclear of what they are meant to be doing, or else a bit shy about the possibility that the other person might fail to deal with getting a bonk on the nose!

    Really you should always be aiming at the other person, not past them into space! No-one can learn to deal with an incoming force if it isn't actually aimed at them. Which is what happens when two practitioners simply get into a nice comfortable circular rythm and just go round and round and round....
  12. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    You've just contradicted yourself, so I'm not at all clear what you are actually trying to say. You either think that skill exists or you don't, but short of tossing a coin, I can't decide what you think! ;)

    One of the fundamentals of Taiji is borrowing force from your opponent. But in pushing hands, one person has to initiate an attack in order for the other person to defend against it. When you attack, you need to avoid overcommitting because that is where a skilled opponent will easily unbalance you.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  13. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I was trying to say that "internal" is not superior than external.

    You don't really need body contact to borrow your opponent's force. Even without body contact, you can still borrow your opponent's "intention". For example, when your punch your opponent's face and he tries to block it, before his blocking arm contacts on your punching arm, you can pull your punch back, let his block arm to pass through, you then punch back on the other side of his blocking arm. This way, you just borrow your opponent's "intention" and not his "force. This may get into "striking" discussion.

    If you do make body contact, you still want to be sure that the angle that you apply your force will be hard for your opponent to borrow. For example, if you use both arms to under hook both of your opponent's shoulders, it will be hard for him to borrow your force at that moment. This may get into "wrestling" discussion.

    Since both concerns such as "non-contact" and "full clinch" are not addressed in the Taiji push hands training, IMO, this make the Taiji push hands difficult to be integrated into the striking art and the wrestling art.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  14. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I see.

    I agree, it isn't a question of being 'superior'. If your goal is to try to master the 'internal' skills of Taiji, then getting stuck at the 'external' level could hamper your progress. I'm not saying that that is unique to Taiji though. Other arts have 'internal' aspects to varying degrees, as far as I understand the concept.

    This is broadly true, but it overlooks the fact that in pushing hands, the contact with the opponent is never broken (or at least not until the opponent is unbalanced!) So sensing the opponents intention is a constant thing from the moment that your hands touch. It is absolutely fundamental.

    There is no combat application of Taiji pushing hands. It is purely a training excercise.
  15. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I was trying to simplify my post and your respond has already arrived. :)

    In reality, your opponent either tries to avoid "bridging" (such as boxers), or your opponent tries to make "full clinching" (such as wrestlers). If you want to transfer your Taiji push hands skill into boxing ring or wrestling mat, other training will be needed.

    But the goal is still for "combat".
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  16. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I'm afraid I don't follow what you are saying here.

    I think that goes without saying.

    Well yes, in the sense that you are learning skills which have a combat application. But you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that pushig hands is a training excercise. It isn't an end in itself.
  17. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    If your opponent always dodge your attack, or bounce your punching arm away, it will be very difficult to create "bridge - arm contact" as used in the Taiji push hands.

    If your opponent gives you a "bear hug", that may be more body contact you will need for Taiji push hands.

    So in reality, it may be either "not enough", or "too much". IMO, all MA training should address the "reality" issue in order to be practical.

    Here is an example of "too much body contact" form Taiji push hands point of view.

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  18. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I see what you mean.

    But I would simply repeat the point that pushing hands is a training excercise. It has a specific purpose, a specific 'remit' if you like. It isn't meant to be a simulation of fighting. It is intended to teach specific skills.

    As the practionier gains greater experience, they will do increasingly complex types of pushing-hands training. And I'm sure that it could be used as a 'jumping off point' for other things, such as adding striking or grappling. For example, the Chinese chaps in the original video were using throws, which wouldn't be part of a beginners's 'ruleset'. To repeat a point I made in a previous post, I think it's important to learn to walk before you learn to run.
  19. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Competition push hands is not one and the same as push hands exercises/ patterns.
    I have been banging on about that point for a number of years now, but people still conflate them and therefore expectations and opinions seem to get muddled in my opinion.

    What knee rider said in comparison with chi sau is I think applicable to the fixed feet competition format. But the moving step format is quite comparable to other formats of stand up grappling. The best I have seen rule wise are still more restrictive than say Judo, Sumo and Chinese wrestling but probably not by as much as some might think.

    I'm quite ok with that, because it is worth remembering that TCC is mixed style with a bit more than wrestling in it. The kind of wrestling/grappling it does have can for the most part be tested against resisting opponents in this format and all said and done - this has to be a good thing, if not everything.

    In the UK and Europe rule-sets there is quite a lot allowed including leg grabbing, trips and sweeps. There are a few odd restrictions (such as holds) that could probably be done away with, but comps I have been to I have seen a decent amount of techniques available and used.

    Regards that clip, yes, it's quite old now, but it is way too restrictive. In Asia and the UK and Europe it's a lot better.

    I don't really accept some of the things YKW says as TCC does have it's own "style" in terms of techniques and strategy. It is inherently defensive/conservative, in the counter attacking sense. If that style is not for you, then great. But it might be worth remembering that some of the best fighters I have seen have employed a solid defence and counter attacking style to great effect.

    If you do (free)moving step and layer your striking on top of that base and employ a counter attacking strategy, you are getting there.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  20. ned

    ned Valued Member


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