In my learning of Taiji I studied push hands from two different angles. The first approach is to learn push hands in the manner of an orderly drill and sequenced pushing pattern.
The second approach was more on experiential learning. This meant that predetermined drills and patterns of movement was out in favor of learning through feeling.
This approach is traditionally known as wei jing (feeding force) and is normally taught by the master to disciples that he wanted to pass the art to whereas normal students would just get to practice with each other.
In TaijiKinesis we follow use the second approach because we believe that this is the way to properly learn push hands. For example we believe that learning drills and patterns tend to make rigid a student’s ability to respond freely and in a flowing manner.
We can learn a drill but a drill by being regimental and restrictive may hamper our ability to think on our feet, something which the practice of push hands require. However, this does not being that our approach is a free-for-all either. But instead of following drills and patterns we adhere to principles. For example in order to flow freely we have to learn not to use excessive strength. Instead, we have to use just enough to fend off the opponent’s attack yet be able to counter with sufficient power.
In this clip I am teaching my student by just asking him to try applying some simple principles. Who attacks is not important though for beginners they should ideally attack so that they can learn what problems they have with their current way of doing so. Secondly, students can also feel for themselves how I handle their power and attacks. Sometimes if I feel that they don’t put enough power into their attacks I may ask them to increase it or if there is an opening and they don’t seize it then it means that their force is not flowing enough to automatically flow through when a gap opens up.
My student has not completed the learning of the 13-movement form that I wrote about in TaijiKinesis Vol 2 so he has an abundance of bad habits and little knowledge of what constitutes a good technique. By playing this way he can feel first hand why his current habits need to be changed and how the movements of the form are related to the learning of principles which in turn affects his ability to use the techniques effectively.