Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Ugly

Here is the beginning of a couple days at looking at push hands videos I am calling the good, bad and ugly. I mean no disrespect to the people and art forms that will be shown here. After all we are all students walking the path. I feel some people's practice gets clouded with some thinking errors, or some people do not look deep enough to find the correct mechanisms. Poor methods are adopted and sometimes a cult like following happens around people and flawed exercises.

I would happily train with all of these people in the videos, so we could all grow together. I am always open to being proved wrong.

In order to understand better what push hands is...let us first see what it is not IMHO.

Ok. Hmmm. This is Professor Huang Zhen Huan, the founder of unidao tai chi. I don't really know what's going on here. I get the feeling watching this video he is trying to pinch their nipples, and they are tired of it so they jumping out of the way. Perhaps they are playing a martial game that translates poorly to video. I do know the apparent cause and effect is questionable in this display.

Now we join a Buddhist compound ran by Lama Dondrup Dorje also known as Dr. Yeung. From my perspective they simply checked out the realm of reality long ago. They are doing hypnosis show like martial arts, that are surprisingly common in the martial arts world. (FYI - I used to tour with a big name hypnotist, and have done a few small shows myself) I find this film fascinating, and an excellent example of what legitimate marital arts is NOT. Wait till about a minute and a half in before it starts getting really interesting. Now perhaps they have unlocked some keys to energy work that I have never experienced before. I am genuinely open to be educated, but I highly doubt it. More power to them if they find value in their practice.

Now we go to the world of competition in push hands. Sport competition is the same plague that damaged Tomiki Ryu Aikido and Judo - again just my opinion. Principles, in sport, are sacrificed for rules and the desire to win at all costs. Artistry is killed.

I like competition. I like a good round of rough randori. Sport however makes things goofy. These guys are simply failing to do anything I would call Tai Chi at all. Its cool, I guess, but when a training method takes you so far from the ideals that you practice - you either need to reexamine the principles of the art form or the validity of your exercise. These guys are doing some wrestling but they are failing to employ the art of Tai Chi, from my outsider's perspective.


  1. Nice post, I agree with you this is the ugly part of push hands... in particular the second video becomes kind of weird, never seen anything like this before. While I might give them the benefit of the doubt I would usually avoid this kind of display without an adequate explanation as it tends to bring more misbelieve to some aspects of martial arts. The last one... I cannot believe they call it push hands.

  2. I agree, I agree, I agree.