Reflections on Pushing Hands with Master Chen

by Ming on 2012/02/12

Recently, I was fortunate enough to practice push hands with Master Chen during one of his seminars. I found the experience quite enlightening.

In order to understand the nature of my musings, I must provide some background about myself. I am a martial arts enthusiast practicing for more then thirty years. Over this time, I have meet founders of different styles, martial artists of the highest caliber and international level athletes. In my adventures, I have seen and experience remarkable feats of strength and skills. There were exquisite techniques that represent the highest achievements of a particular style. I consider myself knowledgeable in martial arts trivial – If I have not personally encounter a particular martial arts style then I have research it or am aware of it.

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Master Chen and the Practical Method by a friend. I was intrigue by the theory and the training system. Over the course of the several seminars, I began to train in the Practical Method.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to play with Master Chen. Initially, Master Chen was quite generous, easily tossing me out with his moves. As I become more comfortable, I started to use some of my old tricks – finesse approaches: A slight turn wrist to trap the hand, the hip contact to prepare for a throw or a leg trip. To my surprise, none of those techniques worked. Frustrated, I tried more external approaches – rushing in for a take down or using more power and speed in my technique. To my surprise, even those techniques did not work. I was easily bounced out.

This led me to a period of introspection. What was troubling me was not that my techniques did not work – I have met many that can counter my techniques. I can generally understand why my technique did not work and understand how I must train to adjust my technique – change the speed, strength or angle. My experience with Master Chen was different because I see and feel no technique! There was nothing I can adjust. One moment I had contact and the next moment, emptiness and I was bounced out. This seems ridiculous.

I tried push hands with other Taiji practitioners and I could not reproduce this feeling. I compared my experience with others that have push hands with Master Chen but they cannot verbalize the special property of Master Chen’s ability.

In frustration, I approach Master Chen with my conundrum – What is this uniqueness? How do I get this Taiji secret?.

His reply “I don’t have techniques. I only rotate.”

Grandmaster Hong writes:

法不離圓, The method does not depart from circles,
旁求徒勞。 Other methods are futile.

Master Chen clearly demonstrated these ideals.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

studentofmethod February 13, 2012 at 1:33 am

hahaha love it. thanks for sharing.


Calvin Chow February 13, 2012 at 2:48 am

Good sharing. “Only rotate” is great. That is why I love to study Taiji.


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