Bullets and Rockets by David Dahms

by Dave Dahms on 2007/04/05

Master Chen this email is my thoughts on taiji and other things you have taught me and the reason I am sending this is because I think I am right and now that I think that I can only see how I am right so the true purpose of this email is to find out where I am wrong so any response will be appreciated, and please hold nothing back.

First in practicing push hands I realized what I do is nothing like the form or anything close to that. In fact what I do is  more like the opposite. The way I  saw this was if I stop in the middle of pushing with John or trying a move and then with him away I recreate the same feeling and intent I had when i was pushing him it is as if I don’t even know how to move. What happens is that my whole body is actually going upwards and even my heels the only things that are not going anywhere are my feet and the spot I was touching him.

This reminded me of how you say that it is about how fast your feet are. When I push my feet are as slow as possible. So in reality all my effort just comes back to me and my opponent does the same thing so it is who is stronger and we are both ridiculously weak. I thought up an analogy.

A rocket ship needs a tremendous amount of force to move because what is pushes on moves so easily, pushing on air a rocket ship has to move enough air until the amount of air pushing it is so great that the rocket moves but a gun is much more efficient because of the material and the structure. It is natures way that everything finds the easiest path. So the gun is made so that the easiest place the explosion has to go is through the barrel and the only thing in the way is the bullet. The air moves so easily that is why rocket has so much trouble moving. So I realized if you want to move then you need something that won’t budge and if you don’t want to move you need something to move.This concept seems to me as the same thing as laying the tracks. The form is a restriction and until it is no longer a restriction we can’t use it, and  the truth, is the way i see it is, that the form or proper way to move is actually freedom and that the way I move right now is the restriction. Horizontal movement versus vertical movement. The best way to move is a straight line because it transfers instantly. But we are not straight lines however Hong said seek the straight through the curve so it can be done.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

chen Zhonghua April 6, 2007 at 12:23 am

First about the feet. The rhythm is like this:
no move, move … (both a engaged)
Most people will engage the feet the same way all the time. I am glad you are starting to notice the problem. There are many other instructions about the feet I gave you but at the moment they won’t come in handy yet because you have not reached that stage.
Everything must be internalized. This means whatever I teach you will have no meaning and you won’t remember them until you can manifest them. By then you will feel that you actually have figured it out.
That is the normal procedure.


chen Zhonghua April 6, 2007 at 12:29 am

“The form is a restriction and until it is no longer a restriction we can’t use it, and the truth, is the way i see it is, that the form or proper way to move is actually freedom and that the way I move right now is the restriction. ”
You follow the rules in a way that they totally restrict you, to the extent that you cannot even move. Later on when the rules are internalized, they will give you the greatest freedom. This is something very difficult to follow.
Normal human behavior is to look for things that will work and will feel right. This method will not take you very far.
Remember my example of typing? Everyone will immediately be able to type with one finger and can type up a short message. Using all fingers are quite difficult and restrictive. But after being forced to use all fingers according to the rules of typing given by the book or your instructor, you will be able to type in speeds that the one-fingered typest can never match.


lin lin March 14, 2011 at 6:01 am

Master Chen,
Thank you for mentioning Dave’s post on bullet and the toilet in yesterday’s workshop ( Ottawa, March 13th). After reading this, the penny drops, now realized why practiced the Yilu 100 time a day to set the track and using the example of typing also helps. Why the way Hong’s form moves and feels so odd make sense now.
It was so nice to meet you, and observed how you work and thanks for sharing your insight. It helps me and I hope more people will read/reread this.
Lin Lin


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