What is meant by Applying Techniques Skillfully?

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Editorial Note: This is originally meant to be a private webpage for students of Shaolin Wahnam Institute. Nevertheless, as there is not much information on Pushing Hands and Striking Hands although they are crucial aspects of Taijiquan, some explanation is given so that other Taijiquan practitioners may also benefit.

After you have acquired some skills in sensing your opponents, flowing energy, following your opponent and leading him -- but not before -- you may proceed to the next stage, which is learning the techniques and practising the skills in single attacks from the front, and the defence against these attacks.

The important point is not merely knowing how to perform the techniques (this can be learnt in 5 minutes), but being able to apply the technique skilfully (this requires a bare minimum of three weeks' training).

Applying the techniques skilfully means you are able to do the following reasonably well.

The pictures below show the front attack sequence.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Javier and Ricarrdo are at their "ready position" with the "peng' technique.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Sensing an opportunity and following Ricarrdo's retreating movement, Javier moves his back leg forward and places it just behind his front leg, simultaneously closing Ricarrdo's both hands. This "closing" is very important, otherwise Ricarrdo would strike Javier.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Continuing smoothly from the previous position (which is a transitional position), Javier moves his front leg forward and pushes Ricarrdo away. The picture shows what would happen if Ricarrdo fails to respond correctly. Remember the push starts from the back foot and ends at the palms -- not the reverse, which is a common mistake made by many students.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

The picture above shows Ricarrdo's defence move. Sensing Javier forward movement with his back leg, Ricarrdo moves his front leg backward and places it just in front of his back leg. Ricarrdo must move just at the right time, not before Javier's movement, and not too late .

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

As Javier pushes forward, Ricarrdo moves his back leg backward. Again Ricarrdo must move at the right time, just when he feels Javier's push -- not too early and not too late. Make sure that the spacing is correct, and especially at the completion of the sequence the form is perfect. It needs time to develop the skill of getting into right timing, right spacing and right form spontaneously.

The pictures are arranged in a sequence to show the front attack mode and its defence.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands Taijiquan Pushing Hands Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Only when you can perform the front attack mode skilfully (not merely knowing the technique), should you proceed to the left and right attack modes. These are explained in subsequent webpages.

Training Points

  1. Flow with the opponent, not against him.
  2. Lead the opponent by following.
  3. Sense your opponents with your arms, not with your eyes.
  4. Exploit an opportunity if your opponent offers it. (But beware of tricks. This will be dealt with later.)
  5. Create an opportunity if aren't any.
  6. Always ensure you are safe when you attack. Let the opportunity pass if you are unsure.
  7. The onus at this stage is correct timing, correct spacing and correct form.

Taijiquan Pushing Hands

Taijiquan Striking Hands


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