Friday, August 3, 2007

The Difference Between Sticky-Hands And Push-Hands

Freestyle Sticky-Hands

Freestyle Push-Hands

OK, I promise this is the last Emin Boztepe video I will put up, his ego is starting to get to me finally.
Here are some of the differences between Wing Chun Sticky-Hands and Tai Chi Chuan Push-Hands: Sticky-hands is mostly about hitting, Push-hands is mostly about grappling. This reflects the nature of both arts.
While it's somewhat inappropriate to criticize a master who could surely kick my ass, let's examine Emin's posture: Notice how he carries himself with a high center of gravity. He is strong and powerful, easily overwhelming his students. But notice how his root is light, and during the punching sequences he even arches his back and leans back slightly. If his hands weren't so fast, a good grappler would take advantage of his light root.
Now, not to compare with the great Emin, but the second video is me and my friend doing some push hands. Push Hands is much more of a grapling art. My friend has a much better root than myself, and uses it well. Some Tai Chi people are simply too rooted, and barely move, while I find myself moving around a little too much. I too, have to work on keeping my weight downside.
The other thing I see in Emin's Sticky Hands is this: His opponent's carry their elbows high and to the outside. Ron Ogi (Via James DeMile, via Bruce Lee) had us keep our elbows down and close to our centerline, with bridging arms extended. Once you raise your elbows to the outside, you loose your centerline protection. That's one way Emin dominates his opponents.
Ultimately, I don't see how a stronger root could fail a hitter. I think that is one thing that practicing Bagua stepping patterns may help improve; a solid yet mobile root, elusive yet with rooted hitting power.
I'll try to work on a sticky-hands video clip when all the crazy summer activity settles down.


Scott said...

In my experience sticky hands uses a sudden thrust which causes the opponent to tighten up, they then "ride off" the tension in order to strike.
Push-hands attempts to keep a constant match of contact so that any thrust will create an openning, if your opponent locks up or freezes you throw them.
Both systems use locking and grappling techniques if they can get them.
Root, like power is a very important part of all martial arts, but in my humble opinion they both get too much attention. If you've got enough power to brake bones you can focus on another aspect of the art.
A person who does a lot of push-hands where maintaining a solid root is the main focus can usually be slapped up by someone who doesn't play so nice.

A really good sticky hands person can ride off of the slightest tension. A really good push-hands person will have nothing to ride-off.

Dojo Rat said...

Thanks Scott,
After watching Emin's stance, it got me thinking a lot more about root. I do agree with you that too many Taiji players are not mobile enough and remain in a fixed, rooted position. Not so good for self-defense.
But it sure looks like Emin carries his center very high...

JoseFreitas said...

I can assure you all that Emin may look up a little high, but he's probably capable of eating Taiji pushies for breakfast. In my opinion, and being a Taiji practitioner I can hardly be thought biased against it. Push Hands is a game that develops a few skills that are handy and important for Taiji players. but should evolve into other things through the use of Two person sets, lots of applications spontaneous play and eventually sparring. Most Taiji players get stuck into Push hands for ten times as much as they should. It's OK to play Push hands forever but you should do all the rest of the stuff.

Having said this, Sticky hands is also a game, and should also develop into something else. One of my main concerns re. both Sticky and Push is that both seem to be lcking in the area of "entering" or "bridging". at which Bagua for instance excels. Both games start from a certain fixed position, and don't develop the initial stage of the fight.

Also, Liu Shichang (a student of Xie Pei Qi) once said that in the beginning, Bagua (for example, but this is applicable to most arts) was 50% strikes and 50% grappling, with the student eventually choosing exactly which ratio to get for himself, depending on personal strengths, preferences, etc... Some masters might be 40% striking and 60% grappling etc... But today, he said, most everyone was 90% grappling, because of sports orientation, safety, lawsuits etc... He himself always teaches two basic applications for each move or palm change: "I strike in a fight, I grapple with my friends". It is my feeling that most teachers of Taiji have gone the same way, forgetting striking, they don't have bag work anymore, focused striking, hardly anyone teaches fajing strking etc... These things tend to change Push hands when you allow a little more "freedom" in playing it.