Pushing with Tian Qiutian in Beijing.
Tai Chi Meet-ups (Pushing Hands).
Back to the UK!
Where I live, I like to get together with different people and practice Tai Chi. I have found that Pushing hands is the best platform for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences, so that is what we do during the meet-ups. We maintain a learning environment, without confrontation, and the only challenge you will get is to your ideas, and maybe what you place on yourself. For this reason, we welcome all styles of Tai Chi at all levels of experience.
As we advance in our studies in Tai Chi, it becomes more difficult to find the exposure to different situations we need as martial artists to keep growing and to keep us thinking and evolving. Any art that is advancing need a community of people that are constantly testing the art and pushing and adapting it to new situations.
What I find lacking in the west is that we don't do enough pushing hands. There are a lot of fragmented schools, and in each school there are not enough experienced people and not enough time to give pushing hands the intensity of attention it deserves. Fragmented schools also breeds mono-culture in each school, which is the death knell for a vibrant martial arts community.
When I was living in full time martial arts schools in China (in Chen Village and Beijing), there was a lot of open Pushing Hands exchange with many different people from many different teachers and schools. Some practitioners were good, others they were mediocre. Some of their Tai Chi was pure, others had baggage. Some they were focused on learning, others were focused on winning. Some open shared insights, others left it up to you to figure it out. Regardless, it was a diverse and healthy environment to be in. Similarly, when I was in the parks of Beijing, and lessons didn't have a time constraint, people just pushed as much as they wanted.
Tai Chi is primarily a system of movement based on a set of body mechanics. There are many benefits to these body mechanics, such as good health and ease of movement and explosive expression of power. The prime objective of learning and practicing Tai Chi Forms and Pushing Hands is to learning these body mechanics. The secondary objective is to learn a body of fighting techniques.
So long as we are true to the primary objective, we can be flexible as far as the secondary objective is concerned, and adapt the fighting techniques to the modern context of self defence or of competitive martial arts, but we need a lot of time to explore what works and what is suitable, without violating the primary objective.
Our Pushing Hands meet-ups will cover both objectives, but obviously the primary objective will come first.
If this is something that you would like to do as well, please jump into the Facebook group, and get involved!