The practice of taijiquan two-person tactile exercise has been known by many name for example “Pushing Hands” (Tuishou), “Sticky Hands” (Zhan Nian Shou) another is “Sensing Hands” (Gan Shou). But no matter what name it is given this particular taijiquan tactile exercise is practiced to develop each individuals ability to bring the Eight Gates or Energies of Ward Off, Rollback, Press, Squeeze, Split, Elbow, Bumping and Pluck into its many applications and variations. It is the bridge between practicing the Eight Energies in there fixed state while performing the taijiquan solo form and to then bring them alive through the practice of the two-person taijiquan Pushing Hands Exercise.
Basically the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise is the laboratory were each individual can fully test their own ability to skilfully apply each of the Eight Energies (Ba Jing) in a friendly and enjoyable exercise in all of it many variations both from a fixed or moving step practice that really brings the whole study and practice of taijiquan in general alive. Practicing the taijiquan solo form alongside the practice of Taiji Pushing Hands can help each individual to improve the accuracy of their taijiquan formwork, as certain actions of the Eight Energies like Bumping (Kao) and Elbowing (Zhou) are hidden within the movements of the many taijiquan postures and many students can miss out on when and were they can be applied within the practice of the solo taijiquan form. But it is only through the practice and study of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise can these two particular Eight energies for example can be brought into application.
Obviously if students are not taught were the Eight Energies are applied to the practice of their taijiquan solo form, then they will have difficulty in being able to fully appreciate the practice of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise. Yes obviously they can learn how to develop their ability to listen (Ting), and to stick/adhere (Zhan Nian) to each other’s limbs, but when it comes to understanding how to connect their Taiji solo form postures to the practice of their Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise then they need to understand the usage of the Eight Energies within their solo taijiquan form work.
The practice of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise is great fun and very enjoyable, yes it can take a while to learn and to gradually become proficiently at it. But it is a great way to improve your Taijiquan form practice and skill, as everyone can learn and practice it, irrespective of age or gender.
At the highest level of proficiency in the study and practice of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu a practitioner should be able to “Naturally Flow” (Zi Ran Lian) by connecting all areas of their Kung Fu training into a skilful, and spontaneous expression of themselves. Master Chee Soo used to teach a method of training that he called the “Three Star Principle” (San Xing Yuan Li) which basically allowed the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu to develop a multitude of fighting techniques that incorporated and connected all of their defensive and offensive methods together into vast amount of fighting techniques. Learning the Three Star Principle taught every practitioner how to Naturally Flow from a defensive Ward Off into a variety of offensive striking and kicking combinations that then could end with a particular joint lock, that then turned into a takedown or throwing technique. The Study and practice of the Three Star Principle allowed each practitioner to research, experiment, find and develop what defensive and offensive techniques fitted together naturally to create a practical and effective fighting method that allowed each practitioner to flow, change and adapt to any situation that their opponent could offer.
Learning how to Natural Flow combining defensive and offensive fighting techniques together should be of the highest priority of every practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system. As the ultimate aim is to be able to defend yourself if attacked by using effective and practical fighting methods that have been researched and developed allowing each practitioner to spontaneously and instinctively defend themselves by changing and adapting their techniques to overcome what their opponent offers. Master Chee Soo would demonstrate many types of fighting methods were the Yin & Yang defensive methods could be united with the offensive Poison Hand Striking and Foot patterns methods, sometimes he would show how to combine strikes and joint locks into takedowns. It is only through the practice of the Three Star Principle that practitioner can learn how to flow naturally from technique to technique smoothly with great skill.
Sadly in our present state of the development of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu system to many students are not being allowed to research, experiment with and develop their own ability to connect their defensive and offensive methods together. As there are many teachers of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu system who have not been taught the Three Star Principle or how to join up all of the areas of their training together, allowing the students not to be able to express their Kung fu in a multitude of variations. Sadly students are still being taught to perform their foot patterns (Kicks) with their arms hanging down by the sides of their body doing nothing, whereas they should be combining their defensive or offensive hands methods (Shou Fa) alongside their foot patterns. Students are still being taught to apply joint locks without using any defensive or offensive methods alongside them, takedowns are performed without any finishing methods, such as a strike or kick.
Learning to Naturally Flow combining and connecting the many defensive ward offs with the many offensive striking and kicking methods then entering into joint locking to takedowns to throwing should be of the highest priority of all practitioners of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system. Being allowed to be self expressive, confident in their ability to be Naturally Flow.
Within the practice and study of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan the use of the Eight Energy Methods (Ba Jing Fa) are seen throughout the practice of both its short and long forms. Another of the Eight Energies is the “Pluck Method” (Cai Fa) which basically means to grasp or take hold of any part of the opponents body and just within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan Short Form there are at least two postures were it is applied. The “Plucking Method” involves the action and usage of the fingers, palm and wrist to seize & grasp (Qin Na) mainly the opponents limbs, the two obvious Li/Lee Style Taijiquan Postures were you ca clearly see the “Plucking Method” is the “Single Whip Posture” and the “Grasping the Birds Tail Posture”.
As I have already mentioned in other blogs covering the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan Eight Energy Methods. Each of the Eight Energies can be used alongside each other, for example to apply the “Plucking Method” (Cai Fa) can be used alongside the “Rollback Method”. (Lu Fa) or it can be used with the “Ward Off Method” (Peng Fa) or the “Splitting Method” (Lie Fa) or the “Squeezing Method” (Ji Fa). There are many combination were the use of the “Plucking Method” can be practically applied, especially within the Taijiquan paired exercise of Pushing Hands (Tuishou) were the “Plucking Method” can be used alongside strikes, kicks, joint locks and throws.
In the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the “Single Whip Posture” (Dan Bian Shi) of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan short form is a typical example of the Cranes Head (He Tou) hand shape with the fingers and thumb touching each other in a claw with the wrist bent giving the appearance of holding something up is the “Plucking Method”, while the opposite arm can be applying either the Splitting, Elbowing, or Pressing Methods. When I first learnt the Single Whip Posture from Master Chee Soo students we’re taught to not touch the fingers and thumb together of the Cranes Head hand shape, which allows the Qi to be dispersed out of the fingers and palm, I think some teachers still teach it this way to their student. Whereas, touching the thumb and fingers together when forming the Cranes Head hand shape in the Single Whip Posture allows the Qi to be gathered in through the fingers and palm, as seen in the photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers in the “Single Whip Posture” of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan.
One of the most difficult foot patterns (Kicks) to perform is what we call the “Spinning Side Kick” (Fang Bian Ti) and within the LFIAA OriginL Feng Shou-Kung Fu we perform both a long (Chang) and a short (Duan) Spinning Side Kick. Obviously all foot patterns should be combined with both defensive and offensive hand methods (Shou Fa) as the hands can create the opening for the kick to become successful in reaching its target, practicing the foot patterns with the both arms hanging down by the sides of the body is a very lazy and dangerous way to practice the internal fighting arts, as the saying goes “The way you train will be the way you fight” and if you are still practicing the foot patterns with both arms down then your Kung Fu is simply exercise and not learning how to protect t yourself.
In the accompanying video that is attached to this blog Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen performing the Long Spinning Side Kick Method (Chang Fang Bian Ti Fa) or as Master Chee Soo used to call it a “Number 4 Foot Pattern”. Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen combining both offensive and defensive hand methods before and after the actual Spinning Side Kick is performed, over-al learning to combine both hand & foot methods (Shoujiao Fa) together helps to develops both the co-ordination, timing, precision and accuracy by each individual, raising their proficiency levels to a high standard.
The current method of practicing foot patterns (Kicks) by many teachers and students in other Li/Lee Family Kung Fu Groups is way so over relaxed with their arms hanging down by the sides of their bodies. The difficulty that these particular groups will suffer with is then being able to practically apply their foot patterns against an aggressive opponent, as they think that their hand work will naturally spring into action and they will be able to flow into their striking combinations or flow into various takedowns and throws. How is this going to happen when they especially don’t even practice combining their strikes and kicks together just begs believing.
Simply it is much easier to practice foot patterns in a lazy over relaxed way with both arms hanging down, with no sense of enemy in front of themselves, rather than trying to develop their skill by being able to combine all areas of their Feng Shou-Kung Fu together in a natural and expressive style which obviously takes more time and practice to acquire. I have said this before in other blogs and I will mention it again, how sad it is when you see so called black sash grades (Dengji) performing their foot patterns with their arms down by the sides of their body, exactly what kind of an example are these so called black sash grades sending to the lower student grades, when both students and black sash grades are practicing foot patterns with their both arms hanging down below the waist. Where is the skill in that.
Yet another of the Eight Energies (Ba Jing) that can be found in the practice and study of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan is the use of the “Elbow Methods” (Zhou Fa) for which there are many of just within the short form alone. The use of the Elbow (Zhou) is not resigned to just being used in one direction alone, it can be used in a forwards, backwards, sideward, downward and upward direction which are all found within the postures of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan form. You have to remember that there is no such posture within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan that is called the “Elbowing Posture”, like the Bumping Methods (Kao Fa) the Elbowing Methods are hidden within the many postures and movements that make up the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan.
Just within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan short form there are well over ten postures were the Elbow technique could be applied. An Example of one usage of the Elbowing Method can be found in the “Cobra Unwinds It’s Body Posture” if you take the first action of this particular posture were the both arms are drawn back towards the body, with the right arm on top of the left, as the waist turns to the left performing a Rollback Method (Lu Fa) as the bodyweight is placed onto the right leg. It is the turning of the waist from left to right that allows the individual to apply a sideward Elbowing Method with the left arms Elbow as seen in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the “Cobra Unwinds its Body Posture” of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan short form.
The Elbow Method cannot just be used on its own, it has to be paired with another of the Eight Energies (Ba Jing) like with the Bumping Method (Kao Fa) or the Splitting Method (Lie Fa) or with the Ward Off Method (Peng Fa) or as mentioned above with the Rollback Method (Lu Fa). There are loads of variations were each of the Eight Energies can accompany each other to create loads of techniques and these can only be found in the practice of taijiquan’s Pushing & Sticking Hands Practice. As each of the Eight Energies are placed into a rigid sequence when each individual begins to practice their Li/Lee Style Taijiquan form
As with all of the Eight Energies of taijiquan to actually bring them all alive into a practical application based practice, then everyone needs to practice the Taijiquan paired exercise of sticky/pushing hands (Zhan/Tui Shou) exercise. Which allows each individual to bring the Eight Energies of taijiquan into action in a multiple combination exercise that can be performed from either a fixed position or from a free moving step practice. It is only through the practice of the Pushing & Sticking Hands exercise that every individual can truly become skilled in the usage of the Eight Energies as a means of using their taijiquan as a form of Self Defence.
If you are not interested in learning the Self Defence aspect of Taijiquan. Then simply understanding were each of the Eight Energies are being used within the practice of your Li/Lee Style Taijiquan form work will help you to become more accurate and precise with your actions as you change from Yin to Yang and vice-versa. Learning the Eight Energies in the practice of yourTaijiquan form also gives the individual a much better understanding were to place their intention when performing a certain movement, rather than simply doing a empty movement with no understanding of what type of energy should be involved in the actions only leads to a low standard of taijiquan practice.
Because the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu is considered as a Chinese Internal Martial Art meaning that its power source is a combination of both external and internal harmony. To many practitioners spend to much of their training time just developing their external qualities and do spend the same amount of training time on developing their internal fighting qualities. The Chinese masters of old mentioned that the six external and six internal Harmonies must fully connect together as one unit, simply practicing the the Six External Harmonies (Wai Liu He) will not produce the whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) that every practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu strives to achieve within their defensive and offensive fighting methods. Developing and training the Six Internal Harmonies (Nei Liu He) involves the study and practice of Martial Qigong exercises (Wu Gong Fa) such as the Standing g Post Qigong Methods(Zhan Gong Fa) and moving Qigong Methods ( Dong Gong Fa). These particular exercises will help each practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu develop their ability to use their intention (Yi) to connect to their energy (Qi) and to then combine their energy with their strength (Li) to produce whole body power.
One of the Moving Qigong Methods (Dong Gong Fa) that Laoshi Keith Ewers teaches his students to connect their intent (Yi) to guide and lead their energy (Qi) is through the Four Corner Blocking Qigong (Si Jiao Dang Gong Fa) exercise which is performed from a fixed position to allow each practitioner to begin to listen and feel for the sensation of Qi movement throughout their entire body, once the practitioner can begin to feel the sensations of their Qi mobilising freely and strongly by using their intention ( Yi) to guide and lead it. The next stage is to then learn how to combine their Six Internal Harmonies with their Six External Harmonies to begin to produce strength and power into every fighting technique.
In the accompanying video that is attached to this blog Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen performing the “Four Corner Blocking Qigong Method” (Si Jiao Dang Gong Fa) in a linear stepping exercise that allows him to connect both the external and internal Six Harmonies together to begin to produce Whole Body Power (Zheng Shen Li) into both his defensive and offensive fighting techniques. Harmonising his shoulders & Hips, Elbows & Knees, Hands & Feet with that of his Mind connecting to the body, Mind connecting to the Energy, The Energy then connecting to the Strength to produce power (Fa Jing).
The study and practice of the Martial Qigong by the practitioner must be maintained throughout their whole life, while still practicing the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu so as to maintain a skilful ability to produce Whole Body Power as without it, then everyone’s defensive and offensive fighting methods will become hollow and weak and rather in developing their health and martial strength, they are actually weakening themselves with useless fighting methods.
Another of the Eight Energies that can be found extensively within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan is known as the “Splitting Method” (Lie Jing Fa) just within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan short form alone there are well over six Taiji postures were the usage of the Splitting Method can be performed. As I have already mentioned in other blogs covering the Eight Energies of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan they cannot be performed on their own, they have to be in company with another of the Eight Energies to make them become more efficient in their application. So to perform a good Splitting Method the student must also apply the “Bumping Method” (Kao Fa), or it could be with a “Elbow Method” (Zhou Fa), another aspect is that to perform a good Splitting Method the student or individual has to place their body weight into the technique, meaning that the body weight aids the power to the “Bumping into Splitting” combination by placing the body weight onto just the one leg and not both legs as many of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan seem to do.
Splitting is also a combination of the legs (Stance) and bodyweight in combination with the upper bodies arms and waist. As the leading arm performs the Splitting Method being guided by the waist (Yao) and is placed across the front of your opponent, the legs or stance (Shi) steps behind the legs of the opponent, entering with a Bumping Method using either the shoulder (Jian), hip (Kua) or thigh/knee (Xi) to uproot the opponents balance, then with a strong turning of the waist and sweeping action of the leading arm you perform the Splitting Method to throw or knock the opponent to the floor. splitting is not just used to apply a Taiji throwing technique (Taiji Shuai Fa) it can also be used to strike or apply a joint lock as well.
It is through the Taiji paired practice of Sticky Hand (Zhan Shou) or Pushing Hands (Tuishou) that each student of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan can begin to develop the skill of applying the Splitting Method in many types of combinations and variations alongside the rest of the Eight Energies from either a fixed or moving step exercise or position. In the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan 2nd Brush Knee & Side Step Posture from the short form you can see the Splitting Method being performed with the bodyweight placed onto his left leg and the Bumping & Splitting Method being performed with his left arm as both areas sweep outwards to shoulder height.
Learning to understand each of the Eight Energies within the study and practice of Taijiquan in general, irrespective of what particular style you study and practice can only benefit the accuracy, precision and timing of the Taijiquan form. As They will give each individual a better way of discipline in making sure that their movements are accurately performed with the correct angle and bodyweight placed onto the correct leg to add strength and power to your Taijiquan Eight Energies.