About ideal and real pushing hands

From translator: This is an excerpt from chapter on pushing hands from master Yao Chengguang's book "Yiquan xinfa" (Yiquan concepts). I have chosen this small part for public presentation now, because it talks about some very common problem. Too many people let themselves being deceived by those who only can talk about miracles or make astounding staged demonstrations, making audience believe that they would be able to present such skill in real fight. Those people who are deceived this way, look for miracles only, and are not able to see what is real, what the actual training process is like. They dream only and never learn anything. Please remember words of Wang Xiangzhai: "Some people only seek miraculous. They don't understand that miraculous is to be found in normal and usual".

 

ABOUT IDEAL AND REAL TUI SHOU

 

Ideal tui shou is what some people imagine: that in tui shou there should be no using force to oppose opponent's force, that when there appears contact of arms, you will project opponent without any effort, as if casually. When such people watch real tui shou training and competition, when situations of opposing and tension appear frequently, they come to conclusion, that this in not proper yiquan pushing hands. Their understanding of tui shou is based only on the impression received from listening to the stories about how Wang Xiangzhai was able to throw opponents effortlessly, with slight movement. But they don't understand that achieving such amazing level of skill was result of long and hard process of training.

 

In tui shou, when you do something, opponent reacts. You use some strength, and opponent too, and sometimes his strength is bigger. When your opponents possess similar strength and skill, winning is not so simple matter. But when there is big difference between strength and skill of both opponents, what meaning has comparing them? Actual possibility of making progress of many practitioners was hindered by listening to wrong opinions of people who think only about astounding effects, but don't want to see the hard process of achieving high level.

 

Actually in tui shou training you need to go trough stages of skill: from opposing, through no opposing, to rapid changes. In this process solid basic practice is necessary. You will not be able to omit hard training. Thinking that getting great results without hard training is possible is dreaming and deceiving yourself. Finally people will laugh at you, if you keep such attitude. When Yao Zongxun was explaining the relation between basic training and tui shou, he talked about when he just started learning from Wang Xiangzhai, he practiced tui shou with Yang Demao. Young and strong Yao Zongxun was not able to do much against Yang Demao, who used proper yiquan methods. Then Yao Zongxun started practicing basic methods very hard, training many hours a day. After just some half a year he was able to make a tremendous progress in tui shou.

 

Realistic attitude wins over beautiful stories. Those who talk only about not opposing force with force in tui shou, are dreaming, not understanding the training process and the process of developing skill in tui shou. Such "experts" simply have not went through proper training process, were not able to master right use of strength, of rapid changes in tui shou, changes between relax and tension and ability of issuing force at any moment. They have not practiced the violent. combat-like tui shou and san shou. They can only talk useless, empty theories.

 

FIVE STAGES OF TUI SHOU SKILL

 

Stage of circles with intention of attacking

 

At the first stage, although practitioners just start this kind of training, the intention of attacking must be included in exercise. You do fixed forms of circles, but all the time you must keep force pointing toward opponent's center. At the same time you develop sensitivity of reaction.

 

Stage of "bulls pushing" After some time of circles practice, when you have some experience and understanding of strength, you should move to learning how to use basic methods: pulling, tilting, turning, pushing etc. You should observe opponents strength, and attack immediately when opportunity arises. But because at this stage practitioners' skill is not ripe yet, they have not enough experience, there appears stiffness, they tense a lot and oppose with force, this is known as "bulls pushing". You will need to pass through such stage. This is stage of skill "sprouting", from where you will advance.

 

Stage of attacking with proficient use of various means After the stage of "bulls pushing", when technical strength and skill gradually increase, experience enriches, there will be less of "dirty force", you will be able to freely use various methods, you will develop the ability of observing opponent's strength and fast reacting to changes. At this stage there is a lot of attacking.

 

Stage of proficient controlling

 

After some time of practice, you will see that even without attacking, you will be able to control opponent. Controlling is advanced stage of tui shou. At this stage footwork is swift, changes of hands movements uncountable, body work free and natural, issuing of force is clear, movements compact. In the point of contact there is controlling opponent or affecting his balance. Both controlling and attacking are as if casual, as if Buddha was playing with Monkey King on his palm.

 

Mixing pushing and hitting together.

 

Putting pushing and hitting together is an intermediate form of practice between tui shou and san shou. In yiquan we issue force with any part of body: palms (fists), arms, shoulders, head, elbows, knees, hips. There is no part of body which is not like a spring. Attacks often come when there is contact with opponent - this is typical for yiquan. Tui shou training should serve to help in developing free fighting skills. When in a fight there appears contact with opponent's arms, you use the skill developed through tui shou training, in order to immediately gain control over him, destroy his balance, hitting him and projecting, using all parts of body to attack him. It can be said that tui shou is a jewel of yiquan, the key to winning.

 

When Wang Xiangzhai compared skill with boxing world champion - Yingge (it might be Hungarian Imre Harangi, Olympic champion in 1936), he used tui shou skill - when there came contact of forearms, he used ability of controlling and issuing force, projecting opponent. Yao Zongxun defeated some Chinese master the same way in 1940s. The skills developed through tui shou training are very important in free fighting. Of course you need solid basic and technical training to be able to use them. Those who would like to achieve skills like those presented by Wang Xiangzhai or Yao Zongxun, without hard training are like idiots daydreaming.

 

Yiquan tui shou is very specific, because it is directly related to violent fighting. The highest stage of tui shou is actually san shou. High stage of san shou is putting san shou and tui shou together. Just think, is there any point discussing with those who talk only about ideal tui shou, and don't understand that it is not possible to achieve high level of skill, not going through lower stages first?

 

Translated from Chinese by Andrzej Kalisz

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