Push Hands in Tai Chi

Push Hands in Tai Chi

What is Push Hands?

There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way.

Benefits of Push Hands

Initially one does this drill for developing physical balance and strength. It also improves the subtler internal aspects of co-ordination, timing, sensitivity, reflexes, groundedness and leverage.

As you practice it more, you move onto the other benefits where the exercise leads to internal harmonious synchronization of the energies.  You also learn about the body’s natural instinct to utilize and direct force, and to rather develop the martial arts style of developing the body’s ability to yield to and redirect a force.

Learning about Self and Others

In our tai chi classes in Johannesburg, we practice the forms, and these types of exercises.  When we do a solo tai chi form, our attention is on ourselves physically and internally.  We gain understanding of our internal energy flows, and any tensions too.  We’re asked to confront our thoughts, emotions and any possible internal struggles.

However, when we do a partner exercise with others in the class, like push hands, we can explore our techniques which we learnt in the tai chi form, together with the application of these moves on or with our partners.

We now not only have to deal with our own internal states, but also with external forces and the energies of our partner.  This brings awareness to how we interact with others.  We learn to listen to our partner, focusing on their intention in the direction and strength that they are moving their hands.

Thus we can, in the safe environment of a controlled martial arts class exercise, learn about neutralising forces coming at us, and at the same time, gain a sense of our own power to generate and carry out an action towards another.

Chi & Li

Push hands is also a method of utilizing and strengthening our other senses. One worth mentioning is our sense of Chi.  This can be likened to our vital force, or life energy.  Thus by focusing on this inner strength’s development, on increasing our Chi, we become stronger from the inside out.

The aim is also to be learning to use chi (our inner strength) and not li (our physical strength).

Push hands helps us to develop finer distinctions in sensing our chi and focusing more on our internal strengths, rather than external strengths.



For more about Tai Chi and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

What is Push Hands? There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way. Benefits of Push Hands Initially one does …

Kung Fu Castrol Ad

Kung Fu Castrol Ad

Get to know your Sifu

Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child?

And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and Japan?

And did you know that he is known to make appearances in TV commercials once in a while?  Like this funny one, for Castrol Oil:

 

 

To get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, contact him on 0833780468.

Get to know your Sifu Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child? And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and …

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

Beijing

Beijing

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing.

This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city.


Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – there are bicycles which can be unlocked via an app from your cell phone.  You can then hop on the bike, cycle to your destination, and then park the bicycle on the sidewalk, leaving it there ready for the next traveller. It has a run-flat tyre too!

 

Palaces

Beijing is also known for their palaces.  A stroll around the Forbidden City within

Elderly man in the Forbidden City

Beijing allowed us to notice the people, and to admire the largest collection in the world of preserved ancient wooden structures.  Therefore, it’s a World Heritage Site.

It took 14 years to build, starting in 1406 and its 980 buildings cover 180 acres of land.  The Forbidden City was the home of the emperors, and for almost 500 years it also acted as the central place for ceremonies and politics of the Chinese Government

Summer Palace visitors

We also enjoyed an outing to the nearby Summer Palace, 15 km northwest of Beijing.  It is a World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved regal gardens in the world.

In 1750 Emperor Qianglong build the Summer Palace, and today it holds over 3000 houses, covering an area of 70 000 square meters.   It has a landscape of hills and a man-made lake, with many beautiful walkways, bridges that arch, corridors innately decorated, and palaces and temples at many turns.

Practicing calligraphy at the Summer Palace

Tai Chi in Beijing

Beijing has a lot to offer, and like in most cities in China, taiji and qi gong are popular arts, together with badminton, playing music, singing, and various card and board games.  All of these are practiced and played by the locals in the parks of the cities.

A festive mood on the Summer Palace boat

 

 

> Missed any blogs about our China Trip?  Check the list here.

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing. This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city. Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army.

These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, pride, awe and wonder.

There is also a sense of the long history linked to these sculptures, as they depict the armies of Quin Shi Huang, who was the first Emperor of China.

We stood fascinated with how the people lived at those times.  As well as how they as a nation came together to build what they believed would be an army ready to protect the Emperor from any ghost armies of his many victims – he was tyrant leader after all. It is said that these warriors would protect him into his after life.

Each warrior is unique with individualised features, and they are in many different positions, like standing, sitting, kneeling and some even crouching. We, however, did not get a photo of any in martial arts poses, but we did get one in a martial like pose, before raising his bow and arrow:

 

> Next blog coming soon: Beijing & the Summer Palace

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army. These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, …

Shanghai

Shanghai

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city.

We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai.

There is a beautifully manicured garden alongside, and one can see a lot of work has been put into the making of this space, in the style of a manor garden.

Tai chi is practiced in Shanghai in the many parks that are in and around the city. Where ever there is a space, it will be used. The locals get out into the park and have activities like taiji; badminton; qi gong; playing instruments; kicking the shuttlecock. This all contributes to a very vibey atmosphere.

> Next China Trip blog: Terracotta Army

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city. We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai. There is a beautifully …

Chen Village Museum

Chen Village Museum

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing you to the tai chi Masters and their life stories.

In this video, about half way through, you will see the painting of a master with numerous hands.  It is said that when a practitioner of tai chi reaches a very high level, his skill is like that of ‘a man with a thousand hands’.  He can thus achieve a lot by doing a little, as in if he gets hit by someone, that pressure will bounce back to the assailant.

Most people in Chenjiagou Village, or Chen Village, practice tai chi.  Hence there is a widespread saying:

“After drinking the water in Chenjiagou Village, you will know how to perform one or two movements of Tai chi.”

 

Sifu Leo’s reflection of visiting this museum is:

“Well, I have read up for years on the history and the various masters and how they passed their knowledge on. It is only when you get there, to Chen Village, that it becomes a reality as you stand on the grounds where the Master’s actually trained. The museum made real the theory that I read in the books.  I recommend students of tai chi to visit the museum, as when you are physically at Chenjiagou , the teachings that you have learned in your taiji class get placed into a real perspective.”

 

> Next China Trip blog:  Shanghai and Zhujiajiao

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing …

Visiting the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall of China

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall.

What is most striking about the Wall is the sheer size of it, and the overwhelming presence it has.  The fact that a million people lost their lives building the Wall, adds to its impressiveness.  And this fact has also lead the Wall to be called “the wall of tears”.

There is a great legend which tells of a lady called Meng Jiang, whose husband died while working on the wall.  Her tears that fell were so bitter that it collapsed a section of the wall, revealing where his bones were.  This allowed the grieving wife to bury them properly.

Another interesting fact is that in the Qin Dynasty, glutinous rice flour was used as cement to bind the bricks.

“The Great Wall symbolises everlasting strength and longevity and protection for my people” contemplates Sifu Leo.

> Next blog: Chen Village Museum

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall. What is most striking about the Wall is …

Wudang Mountains

Wudang Mountains

Part of our students travels round Hubei, China, was time spent in the Wudang Mountains.  Besides the beautiful scenery, these mountains are an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages, as they are one of the “Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism” and thus have many Taoist monasteries and temples.

The Wudang Mountains are also renowned for the art of Tai Chi.  Many festivals and  martial arts tournaments are held here, along side the tai chi training schools.  Here is a yearly celebration of Lau tsu that we watched:

Jackie Chan in Wudang during his movie with Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith

 

Students of Martial Arts in the Wudang Mountains

> Next destination:  Visiting the Great Wall of China

Part of our students travels round Hubei, China, was time spent in the Wudang Mountains.  Besides the beautiful scenery, these mountains are an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages, as they are one of the “Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism” and thus have many Taoist monasteries and temples. The Wudang Mountains are also renowned for the …