Taijiquan, push hands, fighting, and Cheng Manching

I’ve been rereading Wolfe Lowenthall’s book, “There are no secrets, Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing and his Tai Chi Chuan” and there is a section about Cheng Manching’s thought on push hands and fighting with taijiquan. Considering some of the recent posts about taijiquan and fighting I thought this was an interesting perspective. Also I found it interesting because I have said push hand is a learning tool not actually taijiquan fighting. However, I feel some parts can be directly applicable to fighting. It also clarified, for me, the distinction between the form (application of the postures) and push hands. I came across this in the book and I wanted to share it

“If a fight is unavoidable, using the techniques of push hands should be sufficient. Yield with the attacker’s blows and then send him flying. After one or two times any attacker will probably be discouraged from continuing the fight.

However, if you are attacked by a group of men, or men with weapons, and they are seeking your life, then you should get mean. That quality comes more from the form than push hands.” (Lowentholl, p38)

Senior Student Lou Kleinsmith explained to Wolfe Lowenthall afterwards

“If someone takes a swing at you, you ought to be able to push him away if your push hands is any good, and that should take the fight out of the attacker. But if he is trying to kill you that is going to take more significant discouragement. For instance, breaking an arm or rupturing an internal organ. And that kind of stuff comes form the form. So you see, it is a mistake to think of the form as exercise and push hands as fighting. In a certain sense it is the form that has to do with fighting, not push hands.” (Lowenthall, p38, 39)


From
There are no secrets
Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing and his Tai Chi Chuan
By Wolfe Lowenthall

I have said for many years, when training with my Yang Shifu that it would get rather discouraging for someone attacking him. He’s be relaxed, with a little smile pushing the acker all over the place. They would be getting frustrated, angry, getting tired and he still would have this little smile….

Push hands is a tool, but it can be applicable to a self defense situation, but it is not fighting. All the real nasty stuff does come from the form.

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