Step One: The Push Hands System of Awareness Energy
From the preceding account of the skillful practice of the set, you have arrived at the level of Push hands. Awareness energy is acquired through the practice of Push hands. Two people must practice this together, and this practice is very important. If your Push hands opponent does not have a high level of skill, then you will fall into bad habits. Get the best-qualified Push hands opponent in order to mutually refine and polish this art. Then you will move on to the higher level of the method.
You must practice Push hands in accordance with the sphere of the T’ai Chi boxing books or you should not Push hands. You cannot get this from drawings or photos. If you try to learnPush hands from pictures or an unqualified opponent, you will develop the defect of slipping hands, and the technique will not be effective. The rules for Push hands practice follow:
T’ai Chi theory says that T’ai Chi was born from Wu Chi, and Wu Chi is the mother of Yin and Yang. When there is movement, Yin and Yang separate, and in stillness they recombine. Theory also says that this subtle reasoning is the foundation of T’ai Chi boxing. The idea is to contain stillness inside. If the Ch’i is peaceful and harmonious, then you can distinguish the opponent’s energy. In stillness there is movement, then you can transfer the refined Ch’i to spirit and change the opponent’s energy.
With movement, the Yin and Yang are separated. This is called opening, and it is outward drawing of silk; it is attack. When you are still and the Yin and Yang are combined, this is inward drawing of silk; it is defense. In all of the T’ai Chi movements, don’t forget these two functions. In the use of opening and closing the body, you must implement the achievement of Yin and Yang. Inside you contain empty, solid, receiving, and releasing. One arrives at the level of using tension and relaxation. The two must strive to be corresponding and then you can change in any direction. If you do not fully understand Yin and Yang, regardless of how clever you are, it is of no use in this skill. The T’ai Chi is born of two ideas. Only if you adhere to the above category can you attain the function of Yin and Yang. Never be without this principle.
2. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow
Boxing theory says that you must utilize the movement of Yin and Yang. Use the opponent’s posture to follow his form, and use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time. Then the light can overcome the heavy. It’s all in the timing. The term “ not arrive” means to get rid of defects. When you “arrive” you have sticking energy.
The term “ not passing” refers to having light energy. To “follow the bent” is moving energy. If you cannot bend, then you have the defect of stiffness. To “follow the stretched” is following energy. If you expand to excess, then there is the defect of resistance. These four uses of energy are only learned through the practice of Push hands. There is no other way to get the actual use. You must complement these skills with the qualities of categories three and four, below.
3. Hard and Soft
Shifting between hard and soft smoothly and easily. T’ai Chi theory says that if an opponent is hard, I am soft. This is called evading. I follow the opponent’s back and it is called adhering. When his strength comes toward me, I respond softly. Soft and hard dwell together. During soft energy you must especially conceal Peng ching. Don’t forget the top of the head, then you can evade. If you are soft without Peng ching and attempt to become hard, the movements will be stiff. This cannot be called evading. If you can change from hard to soft in a smooth and easy manner, you can limit someone who is not smooth and easy. The person is drained of his power. To adhere is to attack; it is hard. Evading is the defense; it is soft.
Evading is called draining energy, and adhering is called replenishing energy. When a man possesses this adhering and evading energy, then he can regulate the opponent’s energy. After the skill of adhering and evading is acquired, the opponent’s energy can be felt or intuited.
4. Quick, Slow, Adhering, and Evading
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that when the movement is quick, then respond quickly. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. Although you use evading to draw someone in, adhering is used to break the opponent’s root or balance. The opponent’s motion must be followed whether it is fast or slow.
So, if the movement is fast, then respond fast. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. When you have this achievement of responding with the appropriate speed, the quick and slow support each other. This is the way to feel the opponent’s changes between motion and stillness. Examine these four categories when you practice. If you are not in the habit of using Open, Close, Yin, and Yang to move energy, then you can’t judge the degree of fast and slow motion because you have not learned to distinguish the hard and soft. When you Push hands, also pay attention to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, and the smooth and easy change from soft to hard. How can you expect to correctly use T’ai Chi boxing if you can’t distinguish Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, or if you don’t get the essence of Adhere and Evade?
In order to receive this awareness energy, you must do what is required, which is to Push hands for along period of time and gain deep experience. Afterwards, the real Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow can beborn. This is learning T’ai Chi boxing. You cannot excel without this stage of practice. Although the category of Adhere and Evade has many facets and complications, the principle is as stated. You must Push hands to maturity and gradually comprehend this awareness energy. From this awareness energy you can attain the class of the Gods. To avoid using strength takes a long time, and it is not possible to understand it suddenly. This is to learn Push hands, and the process of learning awareness energy. Study and research the above four steps.
I. Do you have opening and closing energy in all of your movements? Do you have outward and inward drawing of silk?
2. Are Yin and Yang clearly distinguished in all move‐ ments? Are empty and solid clearly distinguished?
3. Do you have fast and slow power in all movements? Can you move between fast and slow smoothly and easily?
Step Two: The Posture and Force of Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that empty and solid energy are also at the top of the head. You must have lightness and dexterity in order to utilize Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. After achieving lightness, you can know the heavy. The energy of the top of the head is empty and suspended. It is said that the top of the head has Peng ching. This is when the spirit of vitality‘is aroused. Then you won’t have to worry about being slow or heavy, and the changes will benatural and lively.
Boxing theory says that the Ch’i sinks to the Tan T’ien. In order to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the ability to sink. After sinking is understood, you can overcome opponents and not be overcome. Make the Ch’i sink to the Tan T’ien. This is the power of lower Peng ching. The mind moves the Ch’i, then you must sink and get the Ch’i to penetrate into the bones. Then when you push hands, you won’t just be blown by the Wind.
3. Upright and not leaning
Boxing theory says that to achieve this Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow you must not lean or incline. Your body must have the power of being upright, then you can sustain anattack from any direction. This upright body will provide you with a good position, enabling you to deal with all circumstances. This way a rigid posture won’t be your downfall.
4. Don’t lean on, don’t sink into
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that if you want to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow it is harmful to lean against an opponent’s body or allow him to lean against you. This is important in learning awareness energy. Also, if the body rises up , then the root is broken. So you draw in the opponent but do not let him lean.
T’ai Chi boxing theory says “suddenly conceal, suddenly manifest.” In order to use Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the power of dexterity and liveliness. When you conceal you are soft and light. When you manifest you are hard and sinking. You can interchange soft and hard, lightness and sinking. Your dexterity is rapid. Opponents can’t measure you, yet it is extremely easy to understand their methods.
The above five categories must beunderstood. Relaxation and tension are only focused on one thing at a time. Later, the two I shoulders will each have a different purpose at the same time. If the left is heavy, then the right is light. If the right is heavy, then the left is light. This is the power of dexterity. If the opponent leans back, then you adhere high. If he leans towards you, then stick deep. If the opponent enters, then make the connection long. If he retreats, then closely follow. Attain this power. This is the consciousness of dexterity. A feather cannot be added without the body coming to life. Even a fly landing on the body will set it in motion.
Boxing theory also says that “Men do not know me, I alone know men.” A hero is without peer because of this, because of learning Push hands. Study and research this second step.
I. Does the dexterity rise to the top? Is the t o p suspended? 2. Is the Ch’i sunk to the Tan T’ien?
3. Is the body upright and n o t leaning?
4. Is there the defect of leaning against the opponent?
5. Is there a smooth and easy transfer from hard to soft? From lightness to sinking?
If you have the above categories mastered without defects, then you have the proper posture of Push hands. You can say that you have the spirit of vitality. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. Don’t worry if this achievement does not happen right away. Seek out the awareness energy and you can prevail over other systems.
Step Three: Seeking Awareness Energy in Push Hands
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that in order to seek out awareness energy, the body must stand like a scale. The top of the head is the top of the scale. The two hands at the left and right are the weighing plates. The two shoulders linked together form the scale’s horizontal beam. The waist is the scale’s root and the sacrum is the base of the upright post, threaded from the sacrum to the top of the head in a straight line. When the body stands like a scale, it can weigh the opponent’s energy‐whether it is great or small, light or heavy, rising or sinking. Everything is manifested in this scale. This is called the light and heavy method of awareness energy.
2. Neutralizing energy
T’ai Chi boxing theory says be lively like a wheel. Seek awareness energy. Although the body is like a scale, the wheel still needs to be installed. You need to think of measuring an opponent yet not being measured. You must measure and follow. The Ch’i must move the wheel. The waist is the axle, the two shoulders joined together wait, and the wheel moves horizontally side to side. The wheel moves in an erect position. One touch from any direction and it turns. This is how to get the measurement. This is called the directional method of awareness energy.
3. Pulling and attracting
T’ai Chi boxingtheory says to sink to one side and follow. If your body is double-weighted, then it is impeded. Use awareness energy to know the opponent’s direction – whether it is coming or going, or whether it is light or heavy, and to what degree. If you can do this, then you have the method of awareness energy. The body stands like a scale, not leaning. Also, it is lively like a wheel.
If the opponent adds strength in any direction, then you feel the sinking of your weight on one side in the direction of the movement. This is to “sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent.” If the energy comes in, then the wheel revolves and you can draw in the opponent. If the energy goes away from you, then pull and four ounces can topple a thousand pounds. This pulling energy is very important in learning Push hands. The parent of pulling energy is the power of sinking on one side. If the opponent adds strength, you must adjust the sinking on that side. Then the body can revolve. This action of the wheel is hidden in the sinking of one side of your body. This hidden and uneven sinking can be to the left, right, up, down, front, or back, and the wheel will drag as it revolves. If you try to form the wheel at the left, right, front, or back with equal weight on both feet, you will have the defect of double-weightedness. Equal weight will impede the wheel and the body won’t be able to move. If you lean past the balance point, the wheel will be toppled. You can measure another’s energy level by this sinking on one side. Note that this is a hidden leaning.
The above three categories comprise the method of awareness energy. The body must be like a scale and a wheel simultaneously. The pulling action lends impetus to the movements. Boxing classics say that you may study for many years to gain this awareness and power, but if you have not corrected the defect of double‐weightedness, you still cannot prevail over an opponent. To avoid this defect you must know Yin and Yang as well as the dexterity, solidity, lightness, and sinking, and the theory of reversal. You also must know how to adhere and evade. The hard and soft changes must be smooth and easy. When you have mastered these flowing changes, then adhering is evading and evading is adhering. Yin does not leave Yang, and Yang does not leave Yin. Evading and adhering are actually one response. Yin and Yang are combined. This is called awareness energy. When awareness energy is understood, the more you practice, the more refined you become. Gradually you can do what you intend.
Learn the steps of Push hands and study the following:
I. Does the scale feel the strength and weakness of the opponent? Can you distinguish it inside?
2. Outside, you have the wheel’s rubber band; inside, is the degree of Ch’i enough?
3. When pulling, does it follow your intentions? Is it lively when changing from light to sinking?
4. Is your mental concentration good? Is dexterity never awkward or forced?
If you can answer yes to the above and fulfill the requirements of high-quality T’ai Chi, then you have the achievement of awareness energy. From this you can be sure of success. When this energy is understood, the body can follow in any direction that is required. You can strike without effort. From awareness energy alone it becomes possible to “sacrifice yourself to follow others.”
When following others, you are in control, but if you follow blindly it has no effect.When following there must be a fixed spot to follow. Following can’t be effected without knowledge. Respond from the nearest point to yourself and adhere. After you adhere to this point you turn and there is no escape for the opponent. Then follow, and regardless of how the opponent changes, adhere to this point’s center of gravity. Follow one point not two . Follow closely, because if you do your body can become a lever. Then it is easy to get the opportunity and position of boxing. If one point is followed, then you won’t grasp at shadows and miss the opponent. This is to seek awareness energy. This is understood from paying proper attention to adhere and evade. Most men can’t function close in. T’ai Chi boxing theory says the foundation of this boxing method is to sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent. This is the ultimate conclusion of the T’ai Chi boxing theory. Learn to respond with extreme attention and focus. When you practice ask yourself questions and discern the answers.
For reference, the study of the above three steps is for Push hands. Study and research these main points as the foundation of this exercise. It is imperative that you know Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow without the defect of leaning or inclining. If you fall short in any way, the movements are less than skillful.
Reference: The Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle by Kuo Lien-Ying p. 33 – 42