Every push must be a pull

by Gary Readore on 2010/11/15

Master Chen:

I was reading through some of the student/user posts and came across a submittal by Wilkin Ng regarding the Maple Ridge workshop last year.  In it he was talking about the concept of not “pushing” in doing push hands.  Your reply confirmed that there is no pushing in push hands, but went on to say that “every push must be a pull”.  Can you elaborate on this last statement.

Also, I was reading another post by Wilson concerning the push-tree exercise and coordinating the alignment of the body structures (triangles).  Your response indicated that “the key is that every part of the body should move except one. In the case you have described, the one point is your rear kua”. I was working on the positive circle exercise (right foot forward) and noted that on the last part of the movement when turning back to the right and the hand goes out I focused on what was happening with my rear kua.  I thought I was keeping it (the rear kua) from moving but realized that it was actually moving forward as I pushed off the back foot.  My back knee was straightening (going forward) and thus the kua as well.  It was slight but noticeable.  I then focused on not moving the kua and felt something totally different.  There was a spiraling downward/sinking of the body onto the rear kua which caused it to open.  This movement also caused (automatically) the extension of the arm and rounding of the back area (ie., lengthening of the body).  I then tried this against of sand bag hung from the ceiling.  I placed my hand on the bag with my front arm bent and in doing the movement it caused the extension of the arm pushing the bag away and out with no real physical effort.  I then tried the push on the bag with the rear kua moving forward and the feeling is totally different.  It is like the body moving into the bag but without the rounding/extension.  Is what I experienced with the rear kua not moving what I should be feeling?  Is this what you meant when you said “every push must be a pull”?

Thank you!

Gary Readore

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chen Zhonghua November 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Thanks for the post. I am in the middle of a full week intensive and don’t have the time to give your questions full answers. Here are some brief points (no answers yet).
1. When you push correctly, your opponent feels that he is being pulled from behind him, this is the point you add a quick move to finish the push. There has to be a feeling on the part of your opponent that he falls into “something”, being pulls into something. Otherwise, it is a push in it’s common sense, not in the taiji sense. For example, if you push a square box on pavement over a distance of ten feet, you are doing a common sense push. When you finish the push, the box is in a position same as when you started, no better or worse. But if you push the box to the end of the pavement where there is a drainage hole and nudge it a bit, it falls into the hole, then that is different. How can this be done? That’s the taiji way that cannot be described easily here.
2. In regard to your rear kua and positive circle front push question, I can tell you that when the rear kua does not move forward and moves, instead, backward, and correctly, there will be a spiral force that comes out of this move, that is longer than the distance between the rear foot and the front hand. This is the taiji energy that we want to produce. This is only possible when there is a connection between the front hand and the rear foot with the manipulation of the kuas, elbows, knees, dantian, etc. In taiji, there is a saying, “when it is moving outwards, there is nothing outside of it; when it is moving inward, there is nothing inside it.” This quote means the outward energy movement is unlimited large; while the inward energy movement is unlimited small. Your rear kua questions touches upon this topic. Again no answers or explanations here yet.
3. There is a concept called “demarcation”, without which there is no taiji separation. Roughly put, whenever you move, there is a point, only one, on your body that is neutral. Everything in front of it moves forward; everything behind it moves backward. People do not have this demarcation in the body without special training and therefore they won’t know the meaning. When this demarcation is present, there is the possibility of “connections” in energy movements in the body. This is again something very difficult to explain. It can be felt very easily and clearly. My online lessons only deal with clear and easy concepts (and yet they don’t appear to be clear to most people).
The demarcation line is also what makes a push a pull.
If you remind me in the future, I will come back to these points. For now, just these additional information to you however confusing they may be.


ek012809 December 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Master Chen, First of all thank you for the informative videos, they have been very useful in my studies. Is it fair to say these concepts (eg. demarcation, dantian rotation etc.) will come to fruition with constant practice of Yi Lu. Do you think it is wrong to dismantle and make things too technical? I tend to take that path but many have warned me against it. Once again thank you, you are a wonderful teacher.


Chen Zhonghua December 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Thank you for using my instructions. In terms of training, there should be a 70/30 split, with 70% of the time and effort on holistic training such as the repetition of yilus, the rest of the time can be used to do research and experimental work such as piece meal testing on concepts. But of course there isn’t such a things as a fixed formula. Hope this helps.


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