Monday, March 25, 2019

Turning at the waist for push hands

Fundamentals of Push Hands (turn at the waist)  Click link for video

Jim R. Wu's Disciple and then 1st Certified teacher of Classical Tai Chi

“When you teach or demonstrate the internal move “turning at the waist” in Classical Tai Chi, you likely will encounter questions “why not using kua/hip”. Most external martial arts and large numbers of tai chi schools practice the use of kua or hip for that turning motion.

Jim Roach, the author of this Blog is the  first certified instructor of Classical Tai Chi. Jim spent his early years of martial art training using “turn with kua/hip”, then switched over to learn Classical Tai chi using “turn at the waist”. He has good insight to the many discussions whether one should use  the hip or the waist in push hands. Here’s his comments regarding such discussion.” Master Stephen Hwa
Jim Roach on Turning at the waist vs. turning using Kua/Hip 

It is said nowadays in Wu's Style that one cannot develop any power (to do such things as punch) from turning at the waist, that one must “use the hips”. 
Another Wu Style says one must "turn the body around the waist not using the hips.” 
That commentary says one will lose their balance if they turn in those postures from the hip. 
"Ma Jiangbao: This is connected to the last question. In the Wu style, the feet are often parallel. If you turn in these postures from the hip, you will lose your central equilibrium. So we turn the body around the waist. In this, it is also easy to divert an attack and let it fall into the emptiness without losing your own central equilibrium."
Anatomically, the hips and waist are different but one could certainly turn the waist without turning the hips but the reverse is not possible. "Distinguishing the Hip and Waist"
May I humbly submit, I have direct knowledge of that apparent conundrum. I studied with both sides of that question with the Wu Family, then with Master Stephen Hwa. 

Not stated is how frame size has such bearing on whether unjudicious, called “overturning” hip causes feet to move upsetting the balance. Also, one can indeed turn such amounts of hip in a larger stance. What is also not mentioned is that the legs play a major role in such movement. What really happens is that one leg is literally pushed down at the ground resulting in the body moving into the other leg. However, in the smaller frame of Classical Tai Chi, one leg is used to pull the body into the other leg.

Left unsaid is proper “timing” use of the hips. For instance one can turn the waist, THEN turn the hips in a follow up movement. Another example is the fact that the hips always turn by default when one does such movements where “hands follow the feet, elbow follows the knee”
Proper use of hips in coordination with waist as shown in the cooperative push hands (although push hands is not shown in this clip one can certainly see the up close "fa jing" power and it is minus ANY hip it not?) training of Tao of Martial Applications DVD . This is indicative that turning the hips is not eschewed, it just means that it should be done with the right timing. For example, one could offset an opponent’s balance in a close-up confrontation using internal discipline (internal movement) then a much larger step (stance) could be taken whereby the opponent is thrown to the ground using the motion of the hips in the process (external movement). The motions of the "Repulse Monkey" section of the form come to mind there as an example "Repulse Monkey"

Monday, March 18, 2019

Push Hands or NOT to Push Hands, that is the question!

Push Hands
Push hands is really an application of Tai Chi form practice. Usually, a student is not taught push hands until the student has practiced tai chi form for a while and has a feel about the form movements, in particular: a. The sitting back movement appears very frequently in the tai chi form and is not easy to master. It is the defensive position in the push hands. b. The forward movement when you move your body weight to the front foot, such as in the walking forward brush knee is the offensive position in the push hand. c. Turn of the upper body with pelvis essentially not moving as shown in the section of Internal Discipline in the Tai Chi Overview is the ward off move in the defensive position and push off move in the offensive position. d. There are several other more subtle moves. All these moves you will learn in the form practice. What is unique about the push hands is that it provides the opportunity for extended contact time with your opponent, so-called stick to your opponent, when you can learn how to control your emotions, your body, and how to detect your opponent's intention and respond accordingly. Other kinds of sparring exercises all have such short contact time with the opponent. There is no time to learn such subtle aspects about yourself and your opponent in sparring as opposed to push hands. 

Liked on YouTube: Qi and Internal Energy In Classical Tai Chi

Qi and Internal Energy In Classical Tai Chi
The interaction between Qi, Internal Energy, Martial Art Intent (Yi), and movements which could block Qi flow, inherent in Small Frame (Small Circle Tai Chi) are discussed. More detail learning: More Information:
via YouTube

Liked on YouTube: Learning Push Hand Fundamentals

Learning Push Hand Fundamentals
Learning Push Hand Fundamentals from Tai Chi Form practice. Some notable examples are shown here. Learning Tai Chi Form see For more information see
via YouTube

Monday, March 11, 2019

Some footwork fundamentals

Tai Chi Walk

A question from S.T. "The beginning forms of Classical Tai Chi are very difficult to learn. There are just too many things going on at the same time, without even including any internal discipline yet. The few movements that I think I can do feel very awkward, not the smooth movements shown in your video. Help!" 

MASTER HWAíS REPLY: "One way to simplify the learning process is to first concentrate on the footwork and the corresponding shifting of body weight, pay less attention to the upper body movement. In that way, the amount of complexity is reduced greatly. Once you are more comfortable with your footwork and its corresponding shift of body weight, you can pay more attention to the upper body movement. A common mistake of the beginner is that they are attracted by the graceful upper body movements and therefore eager to learn the upper body movements. The footwork appears to be unremarkable and attracts less attention. The fact is that footwork and its corresponding shifting of body weight is the foundation of tai chi and any glitch in that area will result in a loss of balance, awkwardness, the heaviness of the foot and worse, a foot glued to the ground cannot be moved. It is very important to practice the Tai Chi Walk. This will give you a good foundation in footwork. "

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

No winning applications, only winning execution of applications

Jim K. said:  I fluctuate from wanting to be a Tai Chi fighter to just being happy mastering the 108 forms.  This dilemma comes from my age. When I hear you learning push hands, and sticking to your opponent takes a long time, it seems that in my late 60's, I may not have enough time to accomplish my first love - martial application. So the question is: Should I take on a lesser goal of mastering the form or should I when the time comes to push on to do push hands, sticking and sparring?
Master Stephen Hwa's reply Hi Jim: Practice of Tai Chi form is to develop power, especially explosive power such as fa jin. Practicing the form cultivates the internal power and the ability to maintain a relaxed body with the flow of internal power. This enables one to develop explosive power and the ability to deliver it. All these are best accomplished by practicing Form only, not depending on practicing push hands or sparring. Push hands and sparring are important to develop the "Timing" - when to use the power, the "Strategy" - how to take a position of advantage and put the opponent in an inferior position and the "Sensing" - knowing what the opponent is trying to do. When one reaches the stage that internal discipline becomes second nature, then one could concentrate more on push hands and sparring. Otherwise one might develop bad habits of using external move during sparring. The problem is that people try to study and learn the 13 Movements: "peng, lu, etc." without first developing the internal energy for fa jin.  It is like putting the cart before the horse.