Get out of the way

by Kelvin Ho on 2018/05/26


During push hands practice, Master Chen Zhonghua often says, “Get out of the way”. The result is that the opponent falls right into a hole (to the ground). I had a recent understanding of this phrase. Whose way that I need to get out of? It’s opponent’s path to the ground, and I am right in the middle blocking it. In theory, if I can remove myself from that path, the opponent will happily (or not so happily) reach his/her destination (the ground).

In more practical terms, I need to lure the opponent into using me for support without him realizing it, I then put a lid above/behind him. Without losing the lid, I get out of the way to remove my support for him. With no further pushing, he will fall right into where my support was originally. A differential is created at that time. A related article on differential: Opening the trap door from below.

Examples of the opponent using me for support:

  1. I can’t move a foot because a lot of pressure was put on it.  If I can switch from that kua to the other kua for support, I can free the pressured foot, and move it to somewhere else (to get out of the way).
  2. The opponent is holding onto my arm when he/she falls backwards.  I lock everything and only allow the part that he/she is holding onto to move in the direction that he is falling.

As I was searching for a graphic for this post, I found the current one. It said “lead, follow or get out of the way”. It led to think in terms of taiji the following:

  1. Lead – I am in front of the opponent. We are moving forward together. When his/her action stops I am leading him to do a little more than he/she wants (length differential). If I stop earlier than he/she expects, he/she will run right into me unexpectedly (timing differential)
  2. Following- I am right behind my opponent.  We are moving forward together.  I add a small amount of force in the same direction as he/she is going, he/she will happily go along without knowing (power differential). If he/she wants to go backwards, I am right there blocking it, and he/she will bump right into me (timing differential).
  3. Get out of the way – As mentioned above.

About Kelvin Ho

Kelvin Ho, Master Chen Zhonghua's 97th disciple, is the instructor for Practical Method Toronto. He has been teaching and promoting the Practical Method system in Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill, Canada since 2011. He has received numerous medals in various Taiji competitions. He is also a vice-president of MartialArts Association Canada. Like his teacher, he feels an obligation to pass this great art onto others. Contact:

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