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Tai chi question

Ok, I need a little bit of education from my Chinese martial arts buddies - particularly from some folks with some taichi push hands experience. I have done no taichi, so I'm having some trouble figuring out what I'm seeing.

Renli recently posted a link to the following interesting video discussing some potential problems with American taichi competition rules.
What I'm really interested in is the 'uprooting' action demonstrated at about halfway through the above film. Is this flying backward with both feet a thing that the tori (thrower) is doing to uke (the backwards flyer) or is this a type of ukemi, a trained behavior that uke used to disperse tori's force? What stops uke from lifting one foot and taking a step instead of flying backward with both feet? Or, if there is so much force that a step won't disperse it, what stops uke from being thrown off of one foot?
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I rarely, if ever see this sort of hopping/floating backward in judo/aikido applications, and even in the video above, some of the competitors do throws analogous to some judo throws and this flying backward motion does not happen.
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I've had a taichi trained student in the past and he did this type of flying backward thing to get out of bad situations. It seemed to dissipate my force but it left him unable to follow up, so it was frustrating but unclear as to who had just attained the advantage.
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What's going on here with this hoppy flying backwards action?

6 comments:

  1. It is indeed a type of ukemi.

    What stops uke from stepping backwards? Could be standards, rules, or just bad habits. Taiji spends more time than Aikido in fixed-step training methods, where taking a step is frowned upon.

    In real application, you won't see much hopping.

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  2. C'mon Patrick, don't you know a chi-push when you see it? ;)

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  3. Going backwards (or flying) can be (and in most cases is) a trained behaviour.
    This can happen in any martial art, you can also see that in boxing too. In some tai-chi schools there are people who are deceived with the powers of so called “chi” and the generation of it. They simple react in such way as if they have been stroked with the invisible force or strength. Another reason can be as simple as muscle tension or stiffness in a particular position. The guy who was pushed tried to get his hips under the centre of gravity of the partner, which means he almost backward leaning. You can see how he gets his hips under his opponent already at 3:18 of the video and on the way back (flying back) at 3:08 of the video. That position created tension or "stiff-connectedness" throughout the body and he was easily lifted up from the ground.

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  4. Indeed, in this type of push hands, there is an "uplifting" dynamic. It clearly involves getting under the opponent's center. I'm not sure there is a similar technique in Judo or Aikido. In Judo, the balence is taken by hip throws or sweeps. Aikido, by spiral motion and leverage to the joints or deeply checking the opponent's thigh with your leg. The rules in this lame competition are so restrictive only one or two techniques can count. I've seen this video on the groups website, and they are really trying to get some American tournaments to get real again. True push hands has Chinese wrestling techniques, as you see in the China competitions. I think the guy being pushed (airborne) is just trying to get back to his stance, so it may be learned behavior, but in this case, not improper. The alternative is to take a fall.

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  5. Hi, Patrick. Nice blog, but for some reason blogger doesn't display in english for me because my hostname has .tw in it. I would consider switching to wordpress or something else if I were you. Blogger is a real pain.

    Anyways, to answer your question;

    "What I'm really interested in is the 'uprooting' action demonstrated at about halfway through the above film. Is this flying backward with both feet a thing that the tori (thrower) is doing to uke (the backwards flyer) or is this a type of ukemi, a trained behavior that uke used to disperse tori's force?"

    I am not familiar with all of these japanese terms. But in my opinion the guy who had both feet leave the ground *should* have yielded/stepped back/redirected/whatever. The fact that he had both his feet lift the ground like that means that he "failed", in a sense, given the "proper" restrictions on the push hands exercise.

    "What stops uke from lifting one foot and taking a step instead of flying backward with both feet? Or, if there is so much force that a step won't disperse it, what stops uke from being thrown off of one foot?"

    Answer is simple.. the lack of the skill in the guy who got uprooted :)

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  6. Hello, Renli here ;)

    Actually, have a question for you as well, since (i think) you're a judoka/aikidoka. Could you please check out my latest blog entry ( http://renli.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/judo-simulacra-push-hands/ ) and let me know your perspective? I need some friendly advice from someone who knows judo well.

    Actually I was kind of thinking aikido might be better suited for what I am trying to do - but judo seems to have a more "organize" and "pidgeonholed" number of techniques, which seems to make it easier to approach for me.

    -

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