Monday, March 1, 2010

The Power of Absolute Freedom

[Path to Mastery 3/1/10 – Wk25 D1 (Str 9.12.09)(Ph2 11.15.09)]

Continuing our Tai-Chi Journey:

Free Hand Pushing Hands Training:

You can have the power of absolute freedom when you understand what it means to be free.  

Free hand pushing hand training provides Tai-Chi practitioners with the experience of absolute freedom.  For the Tai-Chi practitioner who understands what free hand pushing hands is about, they also understand what it means to be free in the most tangible way.  

Freedom is a very abstract idea.  What comes to mind when you think of freedom?  Jumping off the plane and sky diving?  Eating all the ice cream you want without the consequences, or having all the money you want in the world to do as you please?  

These things do make you feel free.  Freedom is being able to do what you want.  But is it being able to do whatever you want?  When somebody imposes their desire on you when you don’t want it, and they get their way, we don’t call that freedom. We call that oppression.  So, obviously, to be free does not mean you can do whatever you want, it means you can do whatever you want without having to negatively affect someone else.  

In case someone imposes on you, the ability to stay centered and calm, without letting it affect you, and then asserting your position clearly would be the ultimate act of freedom.  This is what people like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi are remembered for.  This is what every human being wants deep down inside:  The strength to not be pushed around, the strength and ability to not be bullied and stay one's own ground.

That is what free hand pushing hands was designed to train.  For a lot of us being assertive is a nightmare.  There are some exceptions, but on the whole we are nice people and don’t like to hurt other people's feelings.  Of course there are some bullies who ruin it for the rest of us, but even those bullies bully others because they don’t want to be bullied.  They bully first so no one would think of bullying them.  As a matter of fact, bullies are ultra sensitive to being bullied.  Pushing hands teaches us that being assertive does not need to be hard.  Pushing hands teaches us that you can be nice and assertive.  Pushing hands teaches us that being assertive is good for both parties.    

When you learn free hand pushing hands, you learn how to yield to the push of another individual.  You learn how to listen and follow to their push.  Since we stand on 2 legs, and they only have a finite amount of length, at some point they will run out of length.  You learn that you start yielding and before you run out of length, to turn on your center and redirect the push slightly.  While you do that you also push the other person with your other side to return the force that is coming you direction.  If you were pushed on the left, you push with you right.  While doing this, what you learn is how not to resist the other person while keeping your own center.  

Over time you learn it is not about pushing the other person over, or about being right.  You learn what is important is that your own center is not compromised and that you don’t resist the other person.  You don’t fight them at the point they are pushing.  You listen and you yield and then respond from a place of solid center.   Once you learn this, you learn that there are clear boundaries and that these clear boundaries should be respected.  Pushing hands is about understanding these boundaries.  

As you improve in your experience in pushing hands physically, you start realizing that this interaction is not just physical, but also mental.  As a matter of fact, it is more mental than it is physical.  The physical just materialized thoughts and intentions into reality.  At this point, your assertiveness starts having a new meaning.  You yield, listen, and then respond mentally instead of reacting to the situation.  

For free hand pushing hand practitioners freedom is a way of life.  As their ability improves to handle more and more complex attacks calmly and in a relaxed manner, so does their sense of freedom.  And since the boundary of where freedom ends and begins is clear, you are able to be carefree and go full out!  

History of Tai-Chi Journey up to this point:

Before the blog opened to the public, we covered the single person part of the system.
1. Qi-Gong (Taoist Longevity, White Crane Qi-Gong)
2. Standing Meditation
3. Stepping Meditation
4. 7 Basics
5. Basic Form
6. 30 Form
7. 108 Form

Interactive training after we went public with the blog.  
1. 8 Type Pushing Hands (Covered from 2/2 ~ 2/11)
2. San-Shou (Covered from 2/12 ~ 2/15)
3. Ba-Gua.(Covering from 2/16 ~ 2/19)
4. Weapons (Covered on 2/23)
5. Healing System (Covered on 2/24)

Non-Structured System:
6. Introduction (Covered 2/25)
7. Free moving – conditioning (Covered 2/26)
8. Free hand pushing hand (Covered today)
9. Free hand (2 person drills and multiple person drills)
10. Free hand weapon (2 person drills and multiple person drills)


  1. The 7th paragraph is pure gold. Our physical world is the test, so lets do our best!

  2. learning not too push back but yield to keep your center is definitely a mental activity. I can see that with more practice, you can notice what is happening so quickly that you can maintain your center almost constantly. This skill can be adapted to any part of your life.