NOTE: This post is aimed at existing taiji practitioners, who understand the basics of what taiji is and can do some form of pushing hands. Beginners are of course more than welcome to have a read but might need to do a little bit of digging/reading/learning some Taiji to get the most from this article.
Under lock-down? Social distancing getting you down? Yes I can do lots of training, on my own but where are my pushing hands partners! Have no fear, all you need is one simple training aid to brighten your day. If I mention holding or catching the ball most taiji practitioners will have something pretty clear in mind. Maybe something that looks a little like this:
So I'm not talking about the modern Yang style posture where it looks like you are catching a big old beach ball. Still the select few may, nod and stroke one eyebrow knowingly. "Oh you mean the little known weighted Taiji ball". Nicely demonstrated by someone like this chap:
Now that is a little closer to what I had in mind but still off. I am a huge fan of adding resistance to things (I like picking up heavy objects and compete in heavy object picking up on occasion), and the weighted Taiji Ball lets you gradually add resistance to you normal taiji movements. I am talking about using a regular old football (soccer ball) as your very own full time pushing hands training partner.
As you can see all you need is a regular old size 5 standard football (soccer ball) and a wall with flat even flooring in front of it. From that position you can undertake nearly any form of double pushing hands you are familiar with.
As far as I am aware this is a fairly modern invention on the British side of the Old Yang Style Taiji lineage (footballs not being common things in Ching dynasty China!). I was shown how do do the basic pushing hands drill by my teacher (Sifu Dr Mark Green) who had it mentioned to him by his teacher Paul Brecher. I don't see why any taiji practitioner of any style cannot apply the same idea, just using their own styles particular method of pushing hands practice. I have subsequently added a few extra drills to the basic pushing hands pattern. Here area few ideas below:
Large Circle push hands
Small circle push hands
Putting it all together
So there you go! A short guide to using a regular old football as a pushing hands training partner. Of course its nothing like training with a real partner, but during these difficult times it is a hell of lot better than not getting any practice time in at all.
Let me know how your Taiji football training goes! Please do comment, like and subscribe on our website as well as on social media.