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 …

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 …

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 …

Chen Village Visit

Chen Village Visit

Chen is the village where the Chen Form of Tai Chi originated.

Over 11 generations ago, and more than 350 years ago, the Chen Family combined martial arts with breathing techniques and Chinese medicine, and created what we know as Tai Chi today, in the Chen Form.

It is still taught today in Chen Village by the descendants of this historic family.

On our trip to China, here are our South African students and our fellow US travel companions mingling with the children visiting Chen:

And the reaction to us:

 

> Next destination:  Wudang Mountains

Chen is the village where the Chen Form of Tai Chi originated. Over 11 generations ago, and more than 350 years ago, the Chen Family combined martial arts with breathing techniques and Chinese medicine, and created what we know as Tai Chi today, in the Chen Form. It is still taught today in Chen Village …

China Trip – Photos of our adventure

China Trip – Photos of our adventure

Here is the start of our collection of photos, of the adventure a group of tai chi students are currently enjoying, while on their trip to China.

They are exploring the culture, places and people to get a more in-depth understanding of the history, people and current practice of tai chi.

Here’s a video of the Fan Form that Sifu Leo Ming just shared on Facebook:

Sifu Leo Ming and 李连杰 Jet Li saving wildlife in Xian, China.
Tai chi in Xian, a small city of 10 million. The old wall was build around it, and is 7 miles long and could fit 4 cars wide on top.
Street market in the city of Louyang
Reading in the street market in Louyang
At the airport, ready to go 🙂


More photos and videos here:

Here is the start of our collection of photos, of the adventure a group of tai chi students are currently enjoying, while on their trip to China. They are exploring the culture, places and people to get a more in-depth understanding of the history, people and current practice of tai chi. Here’s a video of …

Agility as a Team Building Theme

Agility as a Team Building Theme

When asked by a corporate to help with a team building exercise, or fun and yet informative day, Leo uses tai chi as an analogy to highlight the points needed to work together effectively.

Leo had the opportunity recently to enjoy a day with the team at Fulcrum, which was organised by the advertising company Van Damm.  The MC was Bongani Bingwa and a fellow presenter was Chef Benny Masekwameng, also known as Benny the Chef.

Constitution Hill in Johannesburg was chosen as the venue, as it is a place full of history from our country South Africa, allowing a sense of perspective reminding us of memories of the past and dreams for the future.  When we understand our place in the present from this perspective, we gain a useful vantage point.

The themes from Fulcrum that they were exploring at this corporate event included: excellence, trust, relationship, agility and progress.  Leo focused on sharing thoughts on the agility segment, around how to alter your course without changing your destination.

Using tai chi at the metaphor, and with getting the audience moving and involved in the discussion, Leo shared how knowing yourself is true wisdom.  Strength comes when we can master others, whereas true power is developed when we are mastering ourselves.

“When all the team are moving, practicing a tai chi pose together and moving as a unit, it is a very powerful energy” explains Leo.  “Using tai chi to relax the body, and focus the mind, one can get the best out of your whole unit, as each person is moving as one unit.”

“I enjoyed teaching them the skills and the benefits of having the right base and platform from which to work from.  A base of tranquility, strong focus, and a clear mind to make better decisions.”

To find out how tai chi can be used as a metaphor for your teams growth, contact your Sifu Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When asked by a corporate to help with a team building exercise, or fun and yet informative day, Leo uses tai chi as an analogy to highlight the points needed to work together effectively. Leo had the opportunity recently to enjoy a day with the team at Fulcrum, which was organised by the advertising company …

Tips for practicing the Tai Chi Sword Forms

Tips for practicing the Tai Chi Sword Forms

There are forms of Tai Chi, being a practice of the Martial Arts, that use weapons.

Specifically, the straight sword and the broad sword are commonly used in practice to enhance the understanding of this art form.

Besides the sword forms being a way to promote good health and fitness, with their energetic moves and deep lunges, they also require some mental preparation and an inner attitude to gain the most benefits.

Sifu Leo talks in this short audio clip about the symbolic meaning behind the sword that one should keep in mind during practice.  He touches on the respectful attitude required, and the inner mood that is best to develop before even picking up the sword.

He explains how the sword becomes an extension of one’s limb, and with time, how graceful and nuanced the movements become.



To learn more about the benefits of training with swords, and to explore tai chi, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

There are forms of Tai Chi, being a practice of the Martial Arts, that use weapons. Specifically, the straight sword and the broad sword are commonly used in practice to enhance the understanding of this art form. Besides the sword forms being a way to promote good health and fitness, with their energetic moves and …