Interesting video clips from Mike Pekor (Long Island CMC Taiji)

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Interesting video clips from Mike Pekor (Long Island CMC Taiji)
   By Richard S. on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 10:10 am: Edit Post
Martial Arts View
Tournament Push Hands Conditioning
Applications and Freestyle Play

   By Elliot on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 12:19 pm: Edit Post

I think that shoving each other like that looks like fun. But I wonder why they don't just learn to wrestle for real so they could take each other down alot better without wasting so much strength. They could learn at any highschool.

   By chris hein on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 02:40 pm: Edit Post

How do you think those guys would do against a sumo guy the same size as them?

   By Backarcher on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 03:52 am: Edit Post

The Nature of Push Hands Competition in America
Michael R. Pekor

The person who is able to physically dominate the opponent within the framework of the rules wins the push hands match. Sounds simple right? Wrong. The rules vary greatly depending on the particular tournament and which judges are scoring your match. Use of "excessive force" and "double grabbing" for example, are two of the rules that are a constant source of debate and disagreement at push hands competitions.

Excessive force is a joke. Some judges feel that if you shove a person across the room in a "brutish" way, with no poise, that it shouldn't count. Not only does it not count, you get a point off in some places! Forget the idea that the opponent should be able to handle any type of pushthis is a sport. It has rules. Neither the rules nor the experience of the judges are standardized. It's very tough to train for these tournaments as a result.

Double grabbing means that you grasp the opponent with two hands at the same time. If you do this, you either get a warning or a point off. The idea is that this is not a "Judo" match and you should not use throwing or grappling techniques. Again, depending on who the judges happen to be, you may get away with grabbing one arm and pushing the opponent with the other. In another ring at the same tournament, you could get a judge calling "excessive force" or "double grabbing." So how do you handle this wide discrepancy in judging?

First of all, realize that you are participating in a sport. It is not the same as participating in a fight. If you want to win at push hands competition, forget punching, kicking, grappling, throwing, striking and anything else related to martial arts. Just get as strong as you possibly can. Find the biggest, strongest, most athletic opponents you can and practice pushing them. Play with your left foot in front, your right foot in front, and with your feet wherever the heck you want. Get strong. Become flexible, but flexible under the full pressure of a big, tough opponent. Forget points. Just play rough and tumble push hands. Play so that it's almost a "sumo" match, without the strikes and throws. This is the best way to prepare for a push hands match in an American tournament.

Personally, I realize that "martial arts" training is a different pursuit entirely. Push hands is a sport in Tai Chi tournaments in America. Martial arts training is much more comprehensive and difficult. Within Tai Chi Chuan training, push hands is an excellent training activity. The goals are not to "win" or "defeat" the opponent. The goals are to develop the ability to sense where the opponent's center of gravity is, stick to his limbs limiting his ability to attack and to neutralize incoming forces. Push hands training also helps develop root, improve strength and flexibility and provides a bridge from form to fighting.

My goal is to help you decide what you want to do, and how to do it. Are you interested in going to tournaments and winning in push hands? Get strong and push like an animal against the toughest opponents you can find. Then observe all of the matches before yours. Pay attention to the judging. Do what they want to see. Are you interested in martial arts? Tai Chi Chuan as a whole can be a fantastic martial arts experience. You need form, push hands, da lu, sword and fighting. Have no shame about being a "push hands" person. Just keep in mind that there is more to being a martial artist than pushing people around.

   By Richard S. on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 11:37 am: Edit Post

Mike has the video of the actual match up now.

Superheavyweight (mens 200 pounds and up) division at the USCKF Freestyle Push Hands Division this past weekend (July 28th)

You apparently get points for clean "uproots". Everyone goes for throws, but neck and leg contact are not allowed.

Seems like a fun way to get Taiji-ers out on the mat and working :-)

   By Richard S. on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 03:06 pm: Edit Post

Hi Chris,

Good question about Sumo. Someone on the TCClist asked Mike about facing bigger people and the comparison to Sumo came up. This is what Mike himself said about tournament freestyle Push Hands vs Sumo.

"Well... Sumo is much more demanding and the level of competition is light years ahead of this stuff. Sumo allows full out slaps and
palms to the face, throws, foot sweeps, arm bars, etc... Sumo has hundreds of techniques and demands incredible toughness, strength,
balance and specific conditioning."

   By Tim on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 06:54 pm: Edit Post

An honest answer about "push hands" compared to Sumo.

   By Sugarshrimp on Saturday, August 11, 2007 - 03:49 pm: Edit Post


Can anyone give me the rundown on what pushing hands is supposed to be used for?

At the pseudo-cma school I used to attend, they did pushing hands but it was just a contest to see who could make strike contact with the other guy's face first. Personally, I thought that was kind of lame and didn't learn much from several years of such practice.

What then is the traditional purpose of push hands?

   By Tim on Sunday, August 12, 2007 - 12:09 pm: Edit Post

Push Hands drills are designed to teach contact sensitivity to force, and methods of neutralizing incoming force (keeping your partner's force from controlling your center of gravity) while seeking to apply your own force to control your partner. The drills are done within set parameters designed to insure the practitioners focus on certain attributes and skills.

The drills are only for training certain skills, applicable to fighting but Push Hands is not "fighting," or even realistic sparring.

At more advanced levels, Push Hands skills are combined with technical skills and used in free form, contact sparring against resisting opponents.

   By William F Orff on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 06:41 pm: Edit Post

Nice answer Tim. So what is that Push Hands competition training rubbish? A bunch of blokes who can't fight trying to push each other out of a ring when some sumo guy could do it in half the time with less effort.

   By Tim on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 07:37 pm: Edit Post

Most Taijiquan practitioners learn very few fighting techniques and do little or no realistic contact sparring. They do however spend a great amount of time doing various types of push hands drills.

I believe "competition" push hands came about because people have a natural tendency to want to compete, so Taijiquan practitioners began to compete with the only contact practice they had left, push hands.

   By Troy on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 02:59 pm: Edit Post


You learned "Taiji fighting" by going from push hands to slowly adding striking, grappling, and throwing techniques until it's full-blown sparring? Or am I just oversimplifying it?

   By Tim on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 07:39 pm: Edit Post

We practiced push hands and related sensitivity drills and separately practiced techniques. After a sufficient time, the body method and strategy of the push hands and the technical applications combined in free sparring.

   By Jamie on Saturday, November 24, 2007 - 12:41 am: Edit Post

I believe force against force (ding-jing) l -force like two rams butting heads, is stand up grappling and not what the original exercise of push hands was intended for. The exercise is like any drill (a speed bag to cultivate speed and timing) Push Hand drills can enhance and cultivate sensitivity in off balancing (Kasushi in Judo) ^ˤ the opponent and intended for nothing more.
It has been perverted into a stand up grappling competition that is as extremely limited in measuring martial skill similar to a boxer's ability to hit a heavy bag would translate to his success in a bout in the ring.
I believe it is such back grabbing, wrist locking, shirt stretching, force against force push hand competitions around the world that have driven the true American Tai Chi Masters like Mario Napoli of the Brooklyn Push Hands Club into forgoing Tai Chi (Push Hands) as a Martial art for more pragmatic venues such as Judo.
Humbly opinionated

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