Develop Root, Structure, Line & Energy
The key and cornerstone of Tai Chi or any internal Martial Art is the daily practice of Standing or “Standing Meditation”. It develops one’s root, structure, internal energy, and contributes to overall good health.
At the beginning of learning Push Hands we will focus on the mechanics, imagery, and sensations of standing and explore how they relate to push hands practice. Secondarily, we will link this focus to the concepts of getting into the proper contact with one’s partner, expanding and contracting one’s energy, aiming, neutralizing and working with the “The Point” of contact.
Most people have no patience with the practice called standing meditation. This is mostly a problem of motivation, which in turn springs from a lack of understanding of its meaning, purpose and the beneficial results from this important practice.
In this beginning stage, the essential forms and practice of standing shall be explored along with goals of using them as a means to understand and develop the “internal power” of Tai Chi. With this one can also get to bring this understanding into the practice of one’s moving Tai Chi form.
The development of the quality of “rooted ness” is the special stability to withstand being easily pulled and pushed. This is an essential aspect of push hands and like most other body and mind tai chi qualities, having root involves a combination of factors. Rooting involves a high level of relaxing and the sinking one’s energy that allows one to use the force of gravity and the stability of the ground and the lower members of our body as a constant ally in the balancing game of Push Hands. Through a system of practice of Standing one can understand how one’s practice can lead to this quality.
Structure & Line:
This refers to both the architectural integrity of one’s skeletal and muscular frame, and its interplay with the dynamics and qualities of rooted ness and balance that is based on a flexible, movable, central line of axis.
With a physical structure that is stable, balanced and relax, one can then input the energy as a palpable sense awareness and a focused feeling intention through the whole body. This would provide an intensified sense of developing one’s roots, structure and line. A basic sense of the “heaven and earth” energies is developed through the intension of the “suspension of the head from an imaginary string above” and a “pull on the tailbone from an imaginary string with a weight underneath.”.
Standing and Push Hands:
The “rightness” of the qualities of Standing should be checked with push hands realities which is, if these are correct from a martial and energetic viewpoint. One’s Standing qualities will be “tested” with the required qualities to do push hands.
Thus, we develop qualities in standing to put to use and test in push hands. In push hands, we will discover the extent of our understanding of a particular concept and the level of our ability to put it into practice. While push hands itself is also the occasion to deepen and increase our understanding and ability, it would be necessary to personally isolate particular realizations and perform more focused practice by bringing these into contemplation in our daily standing practice.
There are many realizations that can come only through doing push hands with a competent instructor. These concepts are good to explore at this stage of one's learning:
1. Contact Intention on One’s Partner – Simply stay neutral to listen to one’s own and the other’s energy. To distinguish the quality of our own and the other’s structure.
2. Covering Lanes of Attack on You – Avoid being double weighted and ensure "exits"so that one is not jammed into a “corner”.
3. Aim: Without "aiming", you cannot affect a person with your contact. Unless you affect them, they will continue to affect you, thus pushing you around.
4. Neutralizing: Probably the hardest to do without pushing back and not press on the point of contact.
These are a few of the understandings we discover from pushing hands with the teacher, that we can bring into all our practices - our standing, our form and our own push hands with others.