Some experience with push hands

by Michael Winkler on 2010/12/11

Hello everybody,

Recently I made some interesting experience in push hands situations. This year, after my first stay on Daqingshan I did change nearly all my Taiji practice to “Practical Method” (circles and Yilu mostly), simply because I got the feeling that this way to practice is much more intense and “on the point”.

I did use the picture of looking for something in a dark room. The way I did learn Taijiquan before was like the form is showing you roughly where in that dark room you can find what you are looking for. Practical Method to me feels like it´s mainly about the same, but the form is pointing out quite exactly the corner of the room, where you can find what you are looking for.

That’s how I feel the situation and difference now in my practice with Practical Method.

After time now I did meet some old Taiji brothers from various other schools again, and sometimes applications did start to work on my actual understanding of the principles thought by our Master Chen Zhonghua. So for me, the content of all the teachings by Josef are making sense more and more.

But at the same time discussions are arising … (“Don’t use force!” …) … after some things did start to work … 🙂
So I simply stick to my understanding of some principles: upper body attach – power from the feet/legs – don’t move, rotate

To my understanding the practice of Taiji according to that is about to get another “source for power and strength” on the one hand and get better abilities to feel (“hear” – ting) the opponent on the other hand, so the more advanced we are the less power we will need. That’s how I did experience push hands with various masters in the past.

Further I think, that there should be (another kind of) power in the end, of course, otherwise it could not be martial art at all, right?

So what do you all think about “Don’t use force” / “Taiji is not about using force.” and similar statements?

Thanks everybody and best wishes from Germany,


About Michael Winkler

2003 Chen style Taijiquan (Laojia-Style from Chenjagou) 2004 getting in touch with various Qigong syltes (e.g. Zhong Yuan Qigong with Xu Mingtang, later Xuan Ling Gong with Xiong Chunjing) 2005 Chen style from Xiao Jimin (son of Xiao Qinglin, a student of Chen Fake) 2010 first fulltime training on DQS (6 weeks) 2012 second fulltime training on DQS (3 month) 2013 becoming disciple of Master Chen Zhonghua Since 2010 the only Taijiquan I practice and teach is the "Practical Method" as passed on by Master Chen Zhonghua.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Xavier Santiago December 11, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Before beginning my learning process with Shifu, I also felt as if I had no clue on the practical usage of Taijiquan. I was pushing hands regularly with a group of people at that time from another Taiji style. As I began to seriously train with Master Chen and go to his workshops, and a full time in Edmonton; when I went back to push hands with the people I got together with I also got the “don’t use force lecture”. However, I would argue that according to Grand Master Hong in his book, Taijiquan is not about “don’t use force”, but about applying a method to learn to power up and use force efficiently. That is what Shifu tells us all the time. It turned out that now the people in that group could no longer handle the Practical Method Structure and eventually I stopped attending that group since the way we do Taiji according to the teachings of Chen Fake, Hong Junsheng, Feng Zhiqiang, and Master Chen Zhonghua was sadly not welcome in that group. I have then just stuck with pushing with my senior brother in Puerto Rico and his group of students. I thought, “If those people I was working out with could not handle my structure while my Taiji seniors and (of course) Master Chen easily could, then it made me question what those other people are really doing. Anyways, that is my two cents worth from my limited experience.


Tim Duehring December 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm

When I push with Yang style people I get the same complaint. They say I am using to much force, but what I found out is that they tense up and it is them using force to keep me out at what they think is a safe distance. They seem to understand that being totally soft isn’t going to work and that is all they have.


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