What is good taiji and how do we test this? Is good taiji merely the aesthetically pleasing execution of form? A common way to test a person’s taiji skill is via Push Hands. Consider the quote:
Competitors wish to test ideals and actions analogous to fighting, such as rooting, footwork, sticking and throwing in the best way possible.
I’ve often commented and felt that push hands is not really fighting or applications, however I must agree with the above quote. Push hands training IS a good medium to test techniques used and applied in fighting situations. Can we get the same kind of feedback in just forms training?
But what about the common argument that Push Hands is not taiji, it’s just glorified judo with slightly different rules? I must admit, the first time I saw a Chinese Push Hands competition, I was a bit thrown off b/c it went against my preconceptions of taiji and what it means to do taiji.
To me, it appeared like a common playground shoving match in which the bigger person would always win, however after closer inspection and a bit of experience in the rough, I feel that taiji principles and techniques can be found within the training medium of Push Hands. This reminds me of a quote I ran across that basically went,
If you cannot handle my push, then there is something wrong with your taiji, not mine.
What is the state of Push Hands in the US? I’ve never been to a national Push Hands competition, so I can’t really say with any experience, however after watching Push Hands Competition in America: A Critical Examination I question not only what taiji means in the minds of westerners, but whether or not we understand what it means to do taiji.
For me, taiji is about remaining calm in the face of adversary. It’s about being rooted and being able to stick and adapt to any situation, whether it be physical or psychological. It’s about deflecting the negative so we can proceed with the positive.
[tags]taiji, pushhands, competition, training, testing, application, meaning[/tags]