Friday, March 9, 2007

Combat Push Hands

People who have seen or practiced Tai Chi push hands know it to be a sensitivity drill first, and through that sensitivity advantage is gained and you realize combat effectiveness over your opponent. We are told to "invest in loss", or yeild completely to the opponent's power and turn it back at them. Many of the push hands drills are complex hand changes, subtle give and take and framed by rules that keep the drill within practical limitations.
That's why it's exciting to come across a video that shows the combat effectiveness of high-level push hands.
As you watch this, you may wonder "What makes this different than Judo or wrestling?"
In my opinion, here are some differences: In Judo, both players are locked in a clinch until the players go to the mat. Judo relies on grasping the Gi, or uniform. These guys engage, seperate and re-engage using different strategy. In this way it resembles the start of a MMA fight.
In his book "Tai Chi Chuan Martial Applications", Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming describes how every movement in the Tai Chi form has (at least) three types of application. They include Shuai Jiao; Downing the opponent (Chinese wrestling), Chin Na (joint locking by "misplacing the bones" and "dividing the muscle") and finally Dian Xue (cavity or vital point strike - Dim Mak)
Since vital point striking includes cutting off blood flow and damaging internal organs, and some Chin Na tears muscle and "misplaces the bone", the only part that can be safely used in competition is "Downing the opponent". I'm not kidding, this stuff goes further than a MMA arm bar.
At any time in the competition, you see the player has the option to kick, strike or lock -- the "window" is open. The action is restricted to wrestling, however.
There has been a lot of speculation about why Chinese arts resist matwork. My feeling is that on the battlefield, if you could down the opponent you could finish him off with a weapon and move on to the next fighter. I read somewhere recently that instead of intentionally taking the fight to a submission on the ground, one should practice getting back to your feet quickly. That's starting to make a lot more sense.
This guy in the video is an excellent fighter, and uses a variety of techniques.

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