Push Hand Discussion Tai Chi Caledonia 2005

Published Tai Chi Chuan Magazine Issue 22 Summer 2006

The following discussion group on push hands took place at Tai Chi Caledonia in June in 2005. Ronnie Robinson

Having spent many years traveling to various events, pushing hands with many people, one of the things I became aware of as a teacher was that many people were doing pushing hands often had different education systems so sometimes problems arose because one person thinks they are doing something and the other person has a completely different mind-set. They are often doing something different and there is little common understanding between them. I thought it might be interesting to explore these and other difficulties. I’m also aware that many people distance themselves from pushing hands because they have certain ideas of what they think it is, and feel that it’s not something they want to do. I also feel that tui shou is an integral part of the work we are doing and it’s a great shame that people have this difficulty. I’d like to look for a way to encourage people to really think about what we they get from it. For the purpose of this discussion group, no matter what experience you have, or whatever feelings you have, then it’s fine if you express them; in fact we really want you to express them, and then we can look at ways of perhaps creating a platform for you to get involved, or not, if you feel that you don’t want to do so. To this end we’ve brought a panel of people who are involved in the work of push hands on a day to day basis, and also somebody who is not, to try and create a balance.

The Panel include: Dan Docherty (UK) who includes tui shou as part of his syllabus, Mario Napoli (Italy) who considers tui shou as the prime motive in his approach to taijiquan, Nils Klug (Germany), who organises the International Push Hands Meeting, Marianne Plouvier (France), Wang Haijun (China), Luigi Zanini (Italy) and Elaine Gibbs (UK) has kindly agreed to represent the view point of someone with little experience of the art.

Ronnie Robinson : The title of this discussion is “Why Push Hands?” and what I’d like to do to begin with going round each panel member asking them to tell us what they were told push hands was. You may have different ideas now from what your teacher said you were doing but I’d like to know what your initial exposure to push hands was.

Dan Docherty: Well, it’s not one thing. If you look at taiji classics they do not talk about pushing hands, they don’t mention the term pushing hands at all. However, they do mention various concepts which we train in pushing hands, various concepts we train to develop skills which we can apply in a real situation, in self-defense. Then we have drills to train these concepts. We then have, to a greater or lesser degree, free pushing. The free pushing we did was fixed step, we did do moving step but that was with sweeps and throws, but we didn’t refer to that as pushing hands, we refered to it as taiji wrestling.

Mario Napoli: I wasn’t told what it was or what it wasn’t, I didn’t know anything. My teacher just threw me on the wall and said we’re going to do a lot of this. So I didn’t know that it wasn’t something that you weren’t supposed to do, or if there was something to sort of debate between doing it or not. My first lesson, if that’s what you call it, I got slammed into the wall. Five years later I was still being slammed into the wall, thrown down, sweeps, blocks, I thought I was doing tai chi. I didn’t know I was doing maybe a part of tai chi. I think in taijiquan push hands, or this part of what I call a two man work out, is part of a whole. To take it away, it may not damage the thing but it diminishes what it can give you.

So maybe the question could be changed to, “Why do form?” Form can take a second hand place because two man, two people is two minds, there’s learning, there’s exchanging and of course there’s many different levels like Dan just said; he also does sweeping and throws which I did not know was not part of push hands because we did sweeps and throws. Maybe I was taught a little differently than the average player. So form is something I always assumed you did when you were alone. You don’t have a partner to push with but you want to practice, so I always thought that form came second.

Nils Klug: I learned it more traditionally, first form, then pushing hands, and on occasions free fighting. I wasn’t allowed to do pushing hands class until I had learned the form. I was taught that push hands was the best training to get flexibility and rooting, that’s what it’s for. There is no hitting in our push hands, no sweeps, no punching, nothing like that – we just try to have flexibility, be rooted and also to get an idea of issuing energy. It’s more or less a game and can’t really get injured the way we play it in our school.

Luigi Zanini: Three points – in all the systems that I’ve been introduced to, or have contact with, I have been taught that when you want to know someone you just your hands on them – without doing anything, you already know them. In martial arts, in my experience, it is very important that you pay attention to partnerwork – it is fundamental. Partnerwork means tuishou, applications and sanshou. Basically the skills you acquire are connected to your senses – sight and touch.

The first way when I went to different places was – oh you are coming, come, come – just feeling the hands, the way you move, the way you are, then you know, and people immediately understand the level – that’s what I think is still fundamental today. Second point, from encyclopedias, according to your experience, your techniques, to your teaching, you can get out what you need and work on it. It is like to have a big encyclopedia – wonderful. Wonderful, but if you don’t pull it out and read it then it will make no sense.

Marianne Plouvier: My teacher didn’t say this is an exercise, my teacher said now we do tui shou – he didn’t say what it was, just that we would do it.

Wang Haijun: You train the taijiquan, relaxation and so on first of all. After training in the form you then look at training with other people like in pushing hands. Everyone’s got their own different situation, their own methods of training. The first step to train the body to be soft and relaxed, you get the qi going to the Dantian and circulation working properly and so on. To do tuishou effectively you need to be relaxed so the second thing is listening, this is called, ‘ting jing’, listening for the jin of the other person, listening for their force. It’s a sensitivity of the contact between yourself and the other person, the feeling, to follow. After being able to listen effectively then you have to be able to discharge strength.

Elaine Gibbs : Before this week, I thought it was just a quiet gentle waving your arms about in contact with someone else, just feeling where they are going and that seems very different to what people are doing here, so now I don’t know what it is.

Ronnie Robinson : (to floor) – So where to do you fit in to this? How many people like Mario were slammed against a wall and just told to get on with it, and how many were told that it is being sensitive and being in touch with other people. Where are you in this? How many people here now are in this end, and how many are closer to this end?

Belinda : The reason I started tai chi was I heard that if you are doing this push hands it enables you to use very little energy and you can move a taller person. Then I was told before you could learn pushing hands, (which I wanted to) first you had to learn the form, like Nils, so I had to learn the form of tai chi even though I wanted to learn push hands.

Ronnie Robinson : How long have you been doing tai chi now?

Belinda : About 20 years.

Ronnie Robinson : And are you able to move the big force with very little energy?

Belinda : I understand, yes but I don’t know if I am able to do it. I am able to sometimes move it, yes. I am closer to what I wanted.

Ronnie Robinson : It’s interesting: here we have a whole range of differences. We seem to have distanced ourselves somewhat from what it is, so may be there’s a western interpretation of it. Are doing something else entirely now and I think this is where a lot of the difficulties come from. Ken (Van Sickle), you worked with Cheng man Ching, what was your remit when you started?

Ken Van Sickle : Basically I got translations from two or three different people, but what I was told was that you do the tai chi form, which is the repository or encyclopedia of martial art movements and health exercises, and to do that you need to be able to relax and align and root and find your centre and maybe manage energy levels. But then that’s subjective; you’re not sure you’re really doing that so push hands is a test and a task to see if you can do that – to stay aligned and rooted and relaxed when someone is trying to push you. That was the case at first. And then there was an interim between doing the form and free-fighting.

Ronnie Robinson : Just a curiosity – those that were more to this end – “How do you feel when you are standing opposite somebody that’s more to this end? – Frightened? Intimidated?”

Stuart : I often feel a little resigned when I do it.

Ronnie Robinson : So back to this end, do you guys have an awareness of this, and if so how do you deal with it?

Dan Docherty: I’ve seen Wang in action for example and it’s very evident that he’s got a lot of power, but I’ve also seen other people in action (I’m talking about teachers now) and they are working on two different things. I think a number of the people at the so-called “this-end” as you put it, are interested in martial efficacy, but I think a lot of other people that are going into taijiquan at a certain age, and I think age and fitness is a factor in this – so you go into taijiquan at the age of 40 plus, and you haven’t done martial arts before. All the teachers at this table have a lot of knowledge, a lot of years of experience but they are not necessarily the most appropriate teachers for every individual in this room. It depends what you are want to get out of tai chi chuan, and all of us, I don’t know what everyone’s specialty is exactly, but all of us have different specialties, different things that we can work on more than other things. Equally there are many other teachers, who are more concerned with softness, with feeling, instead of trying to do something, they are trying to feel something. So I think one of the things is to choose a teacher who is appropriate for you.

Ronnie Robinson : So would you, adapt your teaching when working with a mixed group in this kind of environment?

Dan Docherty: You have to look at what you can do – you can’t teach people who are 50, 60+ and beginners the same way as you can teach young fit strong people.

Ronnie Robinson : So you are tailoring what you are doing in this?

Dan Docherty: You have to. If you look at Chen style for example, it’s the most demanding style of tai chi chuan in terms of athleticism and it’s not necessarily appropriate for everyone in this room, particularly the way Master Wang demonstrated – which was very nice for a demonstration.

Mario Napoli: I think Dan said it clearly. He said that this taiji thing seems to let a lot of people in, where unlike boxing, judo, or kick-boxing; mixed martial arts only lets a certain select group of young, strong, tall, etc, people in. So I concur with what he said. As far as what I did, I didn’t know that this world existed, because for about 10 years I was with my teacher, Stan Israel and I didn’t see anybody else. During this time I vomited, I injured myself and I thought that was it. Even the so-called neutralization that seems to be a Cheng Man Ching thing that we did, I did it until I cried, he left you on a leg and he wouldn’t let you go, you can’t move unless he moves, so even that was to excess. When I came out and I saw all of this I was in shock – I’d go wow what are they doing? And then I started talking because I was a greenhorn, I didn’t know. I was mixed with people who said you’re not doing taijiquan, so wow I was in another world; then again I started to understand the approaches that Dan just refe Ronnie Robinson ed to.

I was younger in those days and you can’t work with older people without giving some ideas, they want to feel, they want to be calm. I came up with the idea that they do as much taijiquan as they can; they can do a little bit, or they can go deep, but the deeper they go the more the pressure’s going to be on them and the longer. “What is it that you want?” I was young, I enjoyed the idea of being slammed, I don’t know why, I thought it was fun!

Nils Klug: I know for sure that there are a lot of ways to do push hands. I call it push hands, but to me it’s not really pushing hands, it’s what some people do. I respect all these things but it’s not push hands. When I was taught I also wanted to move someone with effortless power and so on.

I want to ask a little question to the group, “Who of you practices push hands? Who is practicing once a week? Who’s practicing more than once a week? So it’s like three people doing it more than once a week, and I think if you really want to learn push hands you have to put a couple of years with daily training to get something like effortless power. So that’s my experience.

Luigi Zanini: The thing I have been taught in tui shou is basically that there is a lot of work to do. There a lot to do and a lot of things to understand, and the growth is continuous, it can never stop. What I saw is as Dan pointed out there are many different levels and many different needs today in many respects and since the times have changed also the needs changed and we have different perspectives of the same thing. It is very important to know, to have a little bit of the complete picture of what is really taijiquan in many respects, not to dissipate, this devalues the work and the art which is in it. I understand it as a martial art. And then be able to get the levels of the different degrees that everybody needs. Then there is a more social component in what we do, sometimes tui shou, it is more a way to understand each other and to understand ourselves and this is far away from what has been said on this panel.

Marianne Plouvier: As far as I’m aware nobody is really concerned about real fighting because real fighting has no limits. If you are in a real fight it can be to the death. I don’t think here there is anyone who is interested in fighting to the death. In my experience I think that schools need a more academic approach – to train fixed step, moving steps, one hand, two hands and all techniques to improve sensitivity, ability to feel the partner, to hear the partner, and to improve looseness and work on qi.

Elaine Gibbs : I think that if you don’t know somebody that you can’t know where they are can you? If I wanted to explore it I’d have to get involved to get a taste of what different people mean in their approach to push hands.

Ronnie Robinson : Do you get what you feel you need from your teacher?

Elaine: I think if you are good teacher then you know where your students are at and you can give them what they need. Some people say you must do form first, but how do you know when you are at the right level in the form to move on to pushing hands? May be you shouldn’t do it too soon.

Ronnie Robinson : (to floor) Do you feel that when you were introduced to push hands by your teacher, you were clear in what you thought it was you had to do? Did you have clear instruction for your development? How many people feel that everything was fine and that they had a clear path and how many people didn’t? Of those that didn’t, what do you think might have helped you?

Jeanne Kellet : I think if they’d focused more on the quality of listening and sticking rather than just throwing you around and saying do something, I think if they’d introduced the concept of listening and connecting to the chi and the softness in yourself, as a development on from the form, it might have helped – taking the form and then exploring another person.

Chris Little : When I learned, I was doing tai chi for health, I was taught form and push hands and chi kung all at the same time right from the beginning and we were just told it was a form of testing and increasing the sensitivity and that’s how the class was run, but then as I became more interested and I wanted to go deeper. My first teacher opened a door to this other world that wasn’t actually there in the original classes. Once I’d started on the road I soon realized that I could go out and meet others who were also interested. There’s a lot out there and my teacher was very supportive in his encouragement, but he did leave some doors for you to push open yourself and I found that very helpful. I think if I knew everything was there at the beginning I probably wouldn’t have done it, because I’d already rejected Kung Fu.

Joyce Hurd : The first year I came to Tai Chi Caledonia there was a pushing hands session outside by the chalets and I can remember being totally put off by people saying – oh no you don’t do this and it really made me so i Ronnie Robinson itated that I never wanted anything more to do with it, and then I came back and saw Jan Silberstorff doing an advanced pushing hands class and I thought to myself when I came up here that I must try and overcome this anger I have about pushing hands. I asked him if I was suitable to join the class, and we worked on listening which was immensely helpful to me. I’ve since been to a few of his workshops and it’s that quiet listening and then going into it that really helped me.

Ronnie Robinson – This leads us to how do you actually teach pushing hands? What is your emphasis? Some people are thinking about listening and some people are thinking about pushing over, and somewhere in between there are a lot of different things going on, so just give us a sense of your emphasis and how you teach it and what you do.

Dan Docherty: It depends – I was teaching an old chap in his 70s and all I wanted him to be able to do was to react to an external stimulus and to relax and go with what was being done to him – I didn’t want to actually teach him to push anybody. Whereas I’ve got some other people that I train for competitions, and they are in the minority, most people are learning pushing hands to develop skills which are useful in self-defense.

Mario Napoli: I believe Marianne was talking about fighting or killing, I don’t do any of that, if I can call what I do sports fighting, we have certain rules, try not to tear each others eyes out, don’t bite the neck, don’t hit the groin, and just slam each other and eventually we can concentrate what it means to be soft, relaxed, pliable, centered, rooted, all this stuff may actually have a meaning, but I’ve learned them not through with trying to understanding them first, thinking I know what it is or it isn’t, my body has done the learning, I’ve tried to get my mind out of the way and I’ve listened to my body – and what I’ve found out what worked, I kept; what didn’t work, I didn’t keep, and then I kept concentrating and concentrating where that I thought when I heard these words – sung, relaxed, suspended, rooting, it meant something physical to me. I enjoy what I do so much and I do want people to understand that even if I do what I call sports fighting I try to make them understand that it’s also about health. If your legs are strong, pliable, you are able to let go, your muscles will help your heart, the blood is moving – they say there is something called chi, which they say is in your blood, it circulates, it invigorates your organs, your breathing becomes longer and deeper and calmer. This thing changes you, so even if there is something that’s maybe a sport, that gives you a hobby, an enthusiasm of taijiquan that you really want.

Nils Klug: I try to first teach a little neutralizing – yielding – how to react if someone is pushing you – so if energy comes in, how to react, what to do. How not to be stiff, force against force, we want to yield it, so be flexible in the mind and in the body, to me it’s the same, and it helps me to deal with daily life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The next step is to give direction, true direction in the terms of being a good partner, They do things that no one would really do in real fights and it might be good to do these things for, listening and this and that, I’m not sure, but I find out that a lot of people who have done pushing hands for years are stuck because they don’t really have true direction and they do not even know that there is room for experiments. I see my school like a laboratory, like doing research, so you have to have a couple of rules and I call them true directions, That is what I am mainly concentrating on. It’s not like hitting each other.

Luigi Zanini: As Nils was pointing out the sequence is neutralizing, managing, after a while being able to really find a way out, but this depends on the basic request and agreement between the people and the teacher. I’ve a few students and a few teachers, friends, in Italy – we meet together and we work, deciding where to go and what to do, and that’s the best way I think it can be done, we agree, and we go on, then it can be everything. With students it is always a question of negotiating needs, teaching what the person asks for, if more, then we go on.

Marianne Plouvier: I’m not teaching tui shou very much because my level is not very high at all. But I have a question to ask Wang because, lets say that you know we have academy approach, so one and two hands, fixed step, moving step, all that and we have what we call here free tui shou, but before we have da lui and san shou and then maybe free tuishou. My question is, “When do you think students should go to free tui shou – at what moment can you tell your students – okay you can do free tui shou – when do you think it is possible to do it and how?”

Wang Haijun: In Chen style, pushing hands has different stages, fixed step and moving step and they are all designed to show different parts of the skill. The first skill is called wrist power – sticking hands, and you are just trying to do circular movements and you stick to the other person’s movements. In this exercise you don’t have fa-jing, you just listen and follow and try to develop good contact.

The second stage is fixed step using peng, lui, ji and an and this trains these four techniques making sure you do them co Ronnie Robinson ectly, following the same directions, not doing it off-side, leaning back or forward or sideways, but always following the guideline for the technique. The body shouldn’t lean to the side but is there is a quite precise way you should do them.

The third stage is moving step. This stage you both do the same posture and try to make sure that no force is used against each other, just going through the routines and going through the postures. You are trying to find out whether your partner is doing the right technique at the right time. If the technique of your partner is out of line, poor body alignment or whatever, then you can use that force of your opponent to move him.

At this stage you are trying to find the other person’s faults and mistakes; you don’t create confrontational strength against each other but through the following, listening and moving steps you are trying to identify opportunities. To avoid any confrontation against each other in force you learn to neutralize if there is any potential or intention of incoming force. The next stage is called da lui – a very long stance, training for your roots and stamina and co-ordination between the roots and waist so you can go up and down also practice the exertion of power from the hip and waist.

Ronnie Robinson : This idea of meeting someone who is doing something that is contrary to what you want to do is an on-going issue. Joyce, you said the first time you came here you wanted to try some pushing hands and you felt something was a bit hard or i Ronnie Robinson itating. How do we overcome this, what would you say to people who are in a free arena, who want to try something, but they come up against something that they find i Ronnie Robinson itating?

Dan Docherty: As I said earlier, not every teacher is going to please every student because their approach is going to be different. Different students want different approaches so you have to find someone who has an approach that suits you and if somebody doesn’t have that approach then you are not going to have much fun training with them, it’s as simple as that.

Mario Napoli: I guess maybe I agree with everything he’s saying. Obviously when I work out with my friends we do something completely different, but when I come here I try to stick to the basics, or what I call the foundation, and see if I can make them work, or let the body work a little harder so they can feel parts of their bodies they never felt before.

I just do the basics and try and make them go a little lower, or a little longer, or let go in such a way that they are not used to, just using the upper parts of their body. They get to use every part of the body so I’m finding that they are finding that it’s difficult and tiring, so their legs shake a little bit, so I’m hoping that all of this will make them think about it a little harder. They’ll get the results, and obviously since taijiquan is for health for most people, they’ll also get the health benefits as well, just that with the moves, it’s a lot.

Nils Klug: With my students I have lessons for form and hours for pushing hands, so if someone is interested in push hands they can do it. But I don’t teach just that but try to give a different point of view. If they really want it then I will do it in my private time. You have to talk before you start the game. It’s what usually doesn’t happen! Once I had a big guy and he looked straight at me to push. He was a total beginner though I thought he was stronger. He didn’t tell me that he hadn’t done any push hands before. So the first thing is talk, then tell your partner if you want to play soft, I don’t want to do this or that, if you want you can teach me, but don’t talk all the time, I just want to have a little experience. That’s what it is. So in these meetings this is what it is all about.

Luigi Zanini: The experience in Jasnieres was quite enlightening to me. I think that negotiating is the right word in many respects. We should talk about what we want to do, and understand really what the meaning is and adjust during the work because sometimes things change. What I really do with my students is to create the good premise – to let them be hungry – to want more, to keep them not frustrated with a good approach, but stimulate them into wanting more.

Marianne Plouvier: I share Dan’s opening, – not everyone can be taught the same way – age, motivation etc of the teacher, of the school, all is different.

Elaine: I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen people being thrown around and know that I don’t want to do that. I would have liked someone to ask if I’ve ever done this before, do you know what you are doing, and to start really slowly.

Ronnie Robinson : And does that not always happen?

Elaine : No.

Bill Webster : Why should any of the teachers compromise in order to make push hands into something that it’s not?

Ronnie Robinson : I’m not suggesting any one compromises and I don’t think anyone does that. I’m trying to find out what they do.

Fiona : It’s an opposite experience for me. As a relative beginner for pushing hands the first time with some people with a lot more, 10 years or more, -experience than me and I came to a point where one person in particular realized that I was a complete beginner so he just got bored, put no effort in, lost the connection, looking around. It happened a few times. He was being soft, giving me a chance, but he was giving me no connection, no challenge. The same day I pushed with some one a lot more experienced than me, but they pushed, and that gave me permission to push back and I made mistakes, but it gave me permission. Whereas with the other person felt I couldn’t do anything, I didn’t have the confidence.

Wang Haijun: When you do partnerwork, usually things happen because one party is too strong and wants to dominate. You must do a role, separate with one lead, one follow, one listen, one move. You must co-ordinate and be considerate of your partner and to avoid any strength against strength – you must agree between partners the role definition.

Nils Klug: Usually it’s communication, non-verbal, but it’s the most important thing to talk before. In taijiquan I didn’t really see any one get hurt. It looks from the outside that there is more force going on than is really the case.

Ronnie Robinson : I don’t know if it is possible to put in a few words, but as teachers, do you have a sense of common problems that need to be overcome. There are a lot of different things in push hands, but I’m trying to establish if there is something general that sticks people that can perhaps be helped.

Mario Napoli: When I do these seminars, I just stick to the basic, the foundation and try to give them a little more pressure, not mental but physical pressure, so that they get a little excited about doing more. I don’t know how to teach different types of people without a foundation.

Nils Klug: For me the truth is that if you really want to learn push hands, you have to do it 3 or 4 times a week for an hour each minimum. This is a common problem – they don’t really train, they say I do push hands but who is really doing it. 3 do it more than once a week. If you don’t have a partner, you do the form. The other thing is as I said before – to be a good partner you give directions and you do it slow motions and you can do different things to play like it is real.

Luigi Zanini: I think that one main problem is the main tension about people working together is when intention is applied in the wrong way. It is very important to understand clearly what is the goal of working together. To enhance skills, or maybe not, but always to check what is the intention. I agree with Mario – intention is important – to grow up, stimulate, dominate, to work – but just establish it, then you can work.

Marianne Plouvier: There is no special problem, everyone is free to work or not, to practice or not. This is maybe why we do not learn tuishou at the beginning, but after the form. They have to work enough to enter it.

Wang Haijun: The biggest problem is that people come to tui shou for health purposes so they come once a week. They get stronger 1 day out of 7 and they go back after 7 days and they’ve lost the work out and have to start again. This is the main problem. If you want to do tui shou to increase the strength in your limbs etc you need to do 2-3 times at least.

Ronnie Robinson : It looks like the work of push hands has in some ways ended up in two different camps with a bit of merging in between – people that are doing it for health and people that are doing it for martial. I’m not saying that either is exclusive or divisive, there is a cross over in between. Do the panel feel that there is anything beyond the physical in pushing hands?

Dan Docherty: Spontaneity, which is a Zen thing. If you don’t practice something that has a degree of unpredictability about it then you can’t be Zen as the French say. The French used to say that the thing to be was cool, now they say it is to be Zen. To be Zen you have to have the unpredictability element and so pushing hands to be effective as a training method should have that unpredictability element in it. If you practice something that has an unpredictable element to it you are training all the senses. If you listen for the opponent’s force and you analyze the Chinese character for listening it has the following components – it has a disciple, and we are all disciples in different ways, the figure 10, eyes, ears and mind. So it’s a disciple 10 times using the eyes, the ears and the heart mind. Listening and hearing are not the same, just like you can look at someone and not see them or eat something and not taste it. So pushing hands needs to have an unpredictability element and the top skill in it is this listening.

Mario Napoli: Where does the physical start and where does it end? I think taijiquan talks about the three stages and each stage is sub-divided three times. The first stage talks about waking up the body, loosening up the joints – it gets very physical in the with the joints of your arms, legs, spinal column. Then it talks about paying attention to the dantian and qi and breathing – I think it’s talking about the central nervous system – so if you learn to strengthen the body and the nervous system then you learn to strengthen the mind which basically means quietening down whether you are quieting the body, the central nervous system and maybe the mind, whether it’s from all these crazy thoughts and not paying attention or being scatter-brained, being confused. So where does the body start and end? It’s all inter-connected, and you can’t leave one component behind and still be balanced and whole. You can do different things, but I think it’s difficult if the end result is to quiet the mind and achieve something then the mind is extremely difficult to quiet.

So maybe taijiquan and other arts similar to taijiquan do it slowly, one step at a time. I’m sure there are some arts where you just meditate, and you meditate, which hard because you can’t stand still, you fall asleep. If the body is weak, chances are your central nervous system is weak, and if your central nervous system is weak and you’re going to talk about meditation I just don’t know how you can talk about it. People talk about meditation as if you buy it in a store – oh I meditated today for 10 minutes, or half an hour, 3 hours a day – may be they do – I don’t know how they do meditation or quieting, having no thoughts, not having scattered thoughts – it is a strong human being, balanced and strong in every way. You can’t let go of the body, it goes with you. You let go of the body you are slowly stopping working out, even if you are concentrating on things.

Nils Klug: It helps me to deal with daily life – so if someone yells at me in the morning then this is really now what I want or like at all so taijiquan has helped me to yield from this for time to time. I try to put these things in my daily life and it helps me to deal with people.

Luigi Zanini: I have been taught that everything flows through the arms, through the connection of two persons working. The choice has to be careful for who we have to work with – physical work, mind work, emotional, special work, everything flows through – it is not one piece – it is everything through the connection, the hands, everything – the quality of the person.

Ronnie Robinson : Any thoughts on this more than physical

The aspect beyond the physical would be when you have completely worked well with your partner, then you have a total focus, total concentration, the body moves in a way that gives you a lot of pleasure and enjoyment – that’s is beyond physical. When you do the postures, peng lui jui an with two people doing it well together, you can read each others minds and you basically work well together and this increases the enjoyment beyond the physical.

Ronnie Robinson : Thank you all for your participation. We started from the point of why do push hands, very simple, perhaps after the discussion you now have some reasons why, we also looked at reasons why not to do push hands or perhaps why we were not getting what is possible, and we got some ideas I think as to how to get even more from of it and a look at some of the ideas that are possible.