Is it Still Tai Chi Without Push Hands?

The Importance of Ting Jin -Sensitivity

by Sigung Richard Clear

Can you do Tai Chi without Ting Jin (Sensitivity) and still call it Tai Chi?

Ting Jin commonly translates as Listening Energy but is actually more like “sensing / feeling.” To me it is one of the most important – maybe THE most important – skills in the art of Tai Chi.

Why?

Allow me to explain.

Tai Chi is equally a healing and fighting art. The skill sets that make it a healing art are the same skill sets that make it a fighting art. The difference between healing and fighting is in the application of the skills.

If you are going to heal yourself using your mind, breath, relaxation, etc. then the first requirement is for you to be able to feel the injury and surrounding area. You must be able to discern where the problem is and is not and what the problem feels like to help determine what kind of internal adjustments to make and how much adjustment to make.

To fight with Tai Chi you must learn how to stop an opponent through light force strikes. This skill is important due to many factors including (but not limited to) the likelihood that the opponent will be younger, larger, and faster than you. Along with avoiding conflicts as much as you reasonably can this idea of an unfair fight is a basic understanding of the fighting part of Tai Chi.

Probably the best way to defend against such an attacker is to deliver a fight ending strike that penetrates to the opponent’s spine. The #1 internal target is the spine. If you can strike someone with a focused hit that goes directly into their spine and nowhere else then that will decisively end most confrontations.

To do this you must be either be able to generate incredible amounts of force or you must be able to aim the force you have to a specific area that will end the fight. The ability to feel the spine and into the spine (using your Sensitivity) is the primary requirement to make a hit go into the spine. You must be able to do this the instant that you touch them or that they touch you. In a real situation even a second delay is too much.

The ability to feel inside like this is referred to as Ting Jin. The ability to do it instantly is referred to as Knowing (Dong Jin). These 2 skills are of the utmost importance in Tai Chi Chuan and are specifically talked about in the Tai Chi Classic writings of senior masters from the past.

How do you develop Ting and Dong Jin?

The best way to do this is to play freestyle push hands. You can then use solo form work to practice the skills that you learn from push hands, but playing the freestyle push hands with a focus on the internal qualities is the best way to accelerate your progress. The 2 practices are of equal importance in order to really take your Tai Chi skill to more than just a beginner level.

One more thing. If you commit the “Double Weighted Error” it stifles your ability to properly move and to feel inside yourself and inside your partner / opponent. So, studying what the error is and how to avoid it are essential to your Tai Chi practice. To learn more about the Double Weighted Error please visit my page at http://www.clearstaichi.com/fixing-the-double-weighted-error .

Until then, keep training. 🙂
Sifu Clear

Additional Resources:
Push Hands Training:

To develop Ting Jin / Knowing: http://www.clearstaichi.com/dong-jing

Large Frame Tai Chi

In Tai Chi there are 3 different frames that are used. Large frame, medium frame and small frame. They each have their uses and applications. This post is about Large frame.

Large frame Tai Chi is good for teaching large groups because it is easy for everyone to see the teacher and follow along. It also lends itself to moving a little more slowly without stress. It is pleasing to the eye and is commonly what is used for picture and videos of large groups practicing in the park.

Due to the aesthetics, sometimes large frame can be overlooked as only a health and healing modality and can be thought of as not providing nice internal benefits. However, there are some very nice healing and internal benefits to be gained from large frame. I will explain some of the benefits in the following paragraphs.

Large frame Tai Chi is great for folks who have Parkinson’s Disease and related cognitive and movement disorders such as Palsy. Large frame Tai Chi performed with correct Yi training helps get the mind into the muscles and promotes full movement as well as help in rehabilitation. We have developed a Tai Chi protocol for Parkinson’s sufferers using Large frame, Yi training, and several other skills. Our protocol produces noticeable results in the very first session, including improved mobility and balance.

Large frame Tai Chi is great for working on your Yi (mind intent). You mentally fill up the space you are working in so that your mind perceives and maps the space you are occupying as you practice. This also improves proprioception. It helps create new mental pathways inside of your body, and it helps you to make better connection to any object / person you are trying to affect. The Yi that is developed from practicing large frame can then be used in both healing (yourself and others), and it also can be applied in very martial arts ways.

The proper use of Yi leads to the state of “Knowing” (or “Dong Jing”), which is a high level Tai Chi skill. Dong Jing is not achieved though Large frame Tai Chi alone, but requires specific training. There are concrete steps one must go through in order to achieve Dong Jing. You can learn what those steps are. All of the training you need to achieve Dong Jing is available in our course called “Knowing: Dong Jing & Yi.”

Learn more here: http://www.clearstaichi.com/dong-jing

Take Care,
Richard Clear

What kind of results can I expect from Internal Push Hands?

Last week I mentioned a Push Hands medalist. He went through the training for Clear’s Internal Push Hands before he entered the competition, and he came away with two Silvers.

His name is Harry Legg (yes, that is really his name!) and he is a Tai Chi instructor from New Jersey.

Harry was one of the first people to become a certified instructor in Clear’s Internal Push Hands. You’ll see him in the DVDs.

He is an accomplished Tai Chi player in his own right, so we asked him to write about his experiences with Push Hands. This is what he sent us:

“I play traditional push hands at meetups and in Tai Chi classes every week, and I continue to learn and gain substantial skill from this practice – it is absolutely necessary.

However, there are an abundance of skills and body states in Clear’s Internal Push Hands that are very difficult to achieve or to even realize exist through traditional Push Hands – be it stationary, restricted step or moving.

It is too easy to become skilled at the purely external/physical side of Push Hands if you are only playing the traditional methods.

The skills in Clear’s Internal Push Hands could fill a book. I’ll quickly touch on just a few here.

  • I have learned how to sense my partner’s root without physically touching them.
  • I have increased my root drop tremendously, which brings about the ability to bounce my partner out using root – and there are many other root-related skills.
  • I’ve learned to project Yi (Mind) and to feel my partner’s Yi in ways I never realized were possible.
  • I’ve learned to feel micro-movements in my partner and in my own body. You can lead your partner off balance by sensing those micro-movements.
  • I’ve learned how to “steal” my partners’ breath and use it against them.
  • One of the biggest revelations was in my misunderstanding of what it means to be double-weighted. This misunderstanding is common– even among many high-level teachers. Your Ting Jin
  • (listening/feeling) is greatly increased when you learn to properly eliminate double-weighting.
  • Clear’s Internal Push Hands also teaches very real and effective Fa Jin (Emitting Force).

Every element in this method has both a martial and a healing component. You do not learn this with traditional push hands.

The value to learning and playing Clear’s Internal Push Hands is immeasurable. It will improve your traditional Push Hands, your Tai Chi Form and your daily life.

If you are serious about Tai Chi, you will want to study and practice this method.”
– Harry LeggNew Jersey Tai Chi

I couldn’t have said it better myself. People in the know play Clear’s Internal Push Hands, and there is no better way to bring up your skill than our new Instructor Certification Package.

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The course contains nine DVDs with over 18 hours of teaching. It’s designed to give you all the benefits of real Tai Chi you’ve been looking for but can’t find anywhere else.

This program was put together with one goal in mind: to give our students the skills they need to become teachers.

We’ve laid it all out in simple, easy to follow instruction. Nothing is held back.
Clear’s Internal Push Hands Instructor Certification Package is available now!

Why isn’t my Push Hands working?

Push Hands Drills at the 2015 Clear's Internal Push Hands Workshop

Push Hands Drills at the 2015 Clear’s Internal Push Hands Workshop

There are many different styles of Push Hands games, but they are not all created equal. The most common variations that are played today allow for a lot of external movement.

There are people who have played this kind of Push Hands for years, even decades, yet they are no closer to having real internal skills than when they began.

External movement is the enemy of internal skill.

If the goal is to develop true internal skill, then the internal elements need to be isolated.

It’s just like how a body builder isolates muscles to work, or how scientists isolate variables in an experiment.

Without isolation, results are murky and unreliable.

There is one Push Hands method that isolates internal power better than anything else out there. Developed by Master Ma Yeuh-Liang (one of China’s 100 Living Treasures of the martial arts), he called his Internal Push Hands game “No Style.”

The rules of this game are set up to get rid of every bit of external play that can possibly be eliminated.

There is simply no way to build internal power better or faster than this game.

Unfortunately, Master Ma’s method is no longer taught publicly by his lineage. In fact, the inheritor of the system (Master Liu Ji Fa) revealed that he only teaches this method to his two closest disciples.

The good news is that, before Master Ma died, he taught his game to Sigung Richard Clear.

That is very good news for anyone who wants to build internal skill, because Sigung Clear has a well-deserved reputation for teaching high-level Tai Chi secrets publicly.

Richard spent more than twenty years streamlining and refining the method, making it the most powerful (yet still the easiest to learn) system of internal training available.

Sigung Clear is not only committed to making those secrets available, he makes them truly accessible with proven training methods and step-by-step instructions that are,

…well… Clear!

Richard is committed to revitalizing the Tai Chi community by revolutionizing the standard of Tai Chi instruction.

With that goal in mind, Sigung Clear has not only agreed to teach the Internal Push Hands method, he is dedicated to spreading it far and wide by letting YOU teach it.

Most Tai Chi teachers would hoard a program like this. They would want to keep the secrets for themselves in order to keep the competition low.

Fortunately, Richard Clear is a little different.

He believes that we all benefit when real instruction is taught out in the open, and he is willing to prove it.

Until recently this program was only available through live personal instruction, but after a lot of hard work we are finally able to share it with our fans throughout the world.

The Clear’s Internal Push Hands Instructor Certification package is available now. Nine DVDs packed with over 18 hours of instruction have been carefully designed to get you up to speed quickly and easily.

Clear’s Internal Push Hands was crafted from top to bottom to deliver real, practical internal skills as fast as possible. It is such a reliable program that we have tested and certified dozens of new teachers with nothing more than the material in this package – including me!

Whether you are fairly new to Tai Chi like I was, or you’ve been practicing for decades, Clear’s Internal Push Hands will give you the solid foundation of real internal power that you’ve been seeking.

It covers methods for building a DEEP root that stands up to punishment, target your opponent’s root, and hide yours from them.

It will give you ways to keep your structure solid without adding tension.

It has loads of practical advice for staying soft, but still strong and stable, under serious pressure.

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There is even material on feeling inside your opponent to sense their structure (both where they are strong and where they are weak), their tensions, their organs, and even their intentions.

You read that right. There is a whole section on learning to sense where your partner is targeting inside of you – where they are THINKING about pushing to – before they push to it.

That is a very high-level Tai Chi secret called Dong Jin, which (roughly translated) means Understanding or Knowing Energy.

This is a skill that most Tai Chi players who have studied for decades have still not developed. There are other teachers out there who allude to Dong Jin in mystical terms, but this is the only place where it is really being taught (and that alone is easily worth more than the cost of the whole program).

This skill and many others are taught in detail throughout this course.

Best of all, unlike other most other internal training methods that are boring or tiresome, this is a game! It is actually fun to work on building internal power with this system.

If you already play some type of Push Hands, this will seriously step up your game. At least, that’s what our students say it did for them, and we have two national champions to prove it. One of our students took Silver in the first competition he ever entered, and he credits Clear’s Internal Push Hands for his success. (You’ll see more from him soon.)

Clear’s Internal Push Hands was created as a way to help people build internal skills fast. The Instructor Certification package will take those skills to an impressive level that qualifies you to teach it.

This course is available now.
Go check out the details here:
http://www.clearstaichi.com/clears-internal-push-hands

"I am thankful and grateful to my many teachers including the many push hands students and friends who have helped me train, develop and refine my Internal Push Hands method.  It is my pleasure to bring this method to you.  I hope that it will benefit you and future generations to come as much as it has me." -Richard

“I am thankful and grateful to my many teachers including the many push hands students and friends who have helped me train, develop and refine my Internal Push Hands method. It is my pleasure to bring this method to you. I hope that it will benefit you and future generations to come as much as it has me.” -Richard

How do you build internal skill?

Students practice push hands at the 2015 Clear's Internal Push Hands Instructor Workshop

Students practice push hands at the 2015 Clear’s Internal Push Hands Instructor Workshop

First you have to figure out what “internal skill” means.

By comparison, the external martial arts are easy to figure out. You practice the forms, you do drills and exercises, you build up your muscles, your stamina, and your reflexes.

It’s easy to figure out because it is intuitive. Bigger, stronger, faster guys should make better fighters. It’s just natural.

The Internal Arts can seem almost mystical by comparison. If you don’t know what you’re after, “internal skill” might as well be another way of saying “martial arts magic.”

It comes across as if you just need to feel a certain way, and suddenly you are imbued with extraordinary power…

…And in a sense, that isn’t wrong.

But unless you know which feelings are effective and which ones aren’t, you’ll never build any internal skill.

So how can you tell what’s effective?

That part is actually pretty simple. You need feedback.

The way Tai Chi gets that kind of feedback is with Push Hands.

There are many kinds of Push Hands games that are each designed to develop different skills. The most common variety is best played using internal power, but it still allows for a lot of external movement.

There is another style of Push Hands that minimizes external play in order to focus on internal development. It is appropriately called Internal Push Hands, and it is the fastest way to build real internal skill.

Internal Push Hands has mostly been a closed door, secret training method of a select few high-level Tai Chi disciples.

Fortunately, while studying from Masters in Shanghai, Sigung Richard Clear learned the secret.

Since then he has spent over 20 years developing and refining the techniques to streamline the results.

Until recently, the only way to get this instruction was with live personal training with Sigung Clear or one of his students.

All that is about to change.

After years of hard work and experimentation, Sigung Clear has been able to put the Internal Push Hands method into an easy to learn format for our long-distance students.
Even better, he is blowing open the “closed doors” of the Tai Chi world by making this an Instructor Certification course.

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Anyone who knows Richard understands that he is completely committed to fueling a Tai Chi revolution. He believes that Clear’s Internal Push Hands will play a vital role in making that happen.

With that in mind, this program was designed from the ground up to deliver high-level internal skill quickly.

The course covers both healing uses and martial applications of internal energy. The training is thorough and extensive, and like everything else Richard teaches it is easy to understand.

Even if you’ve had little or no previous training in the Internal Arts, this package will help you build internal power quickly and easily. If you’re already an experienced player, Clear’s Internal Push Hands will take you to a much higher level of play in a very short time.

This comprehensive course is available now.

Go check out all the details here:

http://www.clearstaichi.com/clears-internal-push-hands

4 Ounces Moves 1000 Pounds

4oz Moves 1000lbs

4oz Moves 1000lbs

This DVD contains 2 workshops that where held near Washington DC, in 2013 and in 2017.

Workshop 1

  • 4oz Moves 1000lbs – learn how to use minimal force to manipulate the opponent.
  • Hua Jin (neutralizing) – learn how to neutralize the opponents force when they push or strike you.
  • Borrowing – learn to use the opponents force against them.

Workshop 2

  • Precision Hua (spiral energy) – The greatly enhanced and expanded curriculum on Neutralizing force, shot on location at a private workshop in Maryland, near Washington D.C. This instruction takes you step-by-step, further than ever before on how to subtly Neutralize force while your opponent still thinks he has you. With this instruction, you will even be able to send the force back to your opponent without doing anything extra!

Combat Tai Chi Vol 18: The Power of Relaxation

The Power of Relaxation

Discover the Deadly Softness of Tai Chi

Learn to fight with relaxation.

Softness, relaxation or sung is an important weapon in Tai Chi’s arsenal.

In this DVD Sigung Richard Clear gives in depth instruction in the defensive and offensive uses of relaxation.

You will learn ways to build and deepen your level of relaxation, and you will learn the martial applications of relaxation.

The Tai Chi Way to Better Balance

Balance difficulties are a major problem in the over-60 population, as well as for individuals with medical issues such as neuropathy, poor circulation, visual impairments, inner ear issues, or medication side effects.

Most of us have family members, friends, colleagues, or students who are dealing with these problems. One in three adults over 65 will have a fall this year, and falls are the single largest cause of serious injury in the senior population.

Although Tai Chi has been shown in several studies to be beneficial in preventing falls, it’s hard to find a coherent, systematic, user-friendly program to lead people to better balance through the time-tested methods of Tai Chi and the Internal Martial Arts.

You might not realize it, but what you feel in your own practice can be translated into an accessible, form-free, direct method for improving the balance of someone you love.

Take this exercise, for example. Here, Don Ethan Miller demonstrates an exercise called The Five Movement Centers:

Shifting weight is, for many people, where their balance problems begin.

Neurologically, maintaining equilibrium as you propel the body through space is infinitely more complex than maintaining equilibrium in a static position. But many people make this task even more difficult by the way in which they shift.

Balance loss frequently occurs when our head and/or upper torso are the “origin points” of the movement, such that by the time the brain registers that the weight of the upper portion has shifted, it is already at or beyond the limits of the base of support, and our balance is in jeopardy.

Watch as Don progresses through the Movement Centers in the video, starting with head-driven movement and finishing in the legs. Do the head- and torso-driven movements remind you of anyone? Does it look stable?

As Don sinks his awareness into the Movement Centers of the Hips and the Legs, can you see how much more rooted the movement becomes?

Explore Your Movement Centers

Stand up and shift your weight back and forth. How precisely do you feel the source of your movement? Now, try to “locate” yourself in, or focus on, the designated point or area of the body, and when you move, to move from that point or area, allowing it to “lead” the movement of the rest of the body.

Note the differing feelings, both of physical balance and of psychological/emotional qualities, in each location.

After you have completed Moving from 1 through 5, take a few seconds of stillness, then move without deliberately thinking about any specific area. See how your movement feels. How has it changed from your usual way of shifting

Rooted Movement – Tai Chi’s Specialty

For many people, simply becoming aware of which Movement Center they tend to use will shift how they carry themselves – but Tai Chi goes further.

As you build body awareness, you actually learn how to combine multiple Movement Centers at the same time.

Working with multiple Movement Centers, we are exploring what gives us the most stability while moving.

The sense of stability in motion always varies a little from person to person, but as a general Tai Chi principle: the Upper Centers (Head and Chest) are considered Yang while Lower Centers (Legs and Feet) are considered Yin. The Hips/Kwa is considered to be a mixed point, where Yin and Yang meet–although it is perhaps a bit more Yin than Yang, in keeping with the Tai Chi “bias” toward the earth and nature.

Therefore, moving from the Head or Chest must always be balanced by at least one of the Lower Centers. If you move from only one Center, it should be Hips, Legs, or Feet.

Experiment with this, test it out, observe yourself when you are moving unconsciously and see which Centers are most active, work to balance upper and lower, and pay special attention to the lower belly/hips area, which corresponds to your approximate center of gravity, and is given particular importance in Tai Chi. It holds the key to balance within movement.

When you understand the Five Movement Centers, it almost doesn’t matter what movement you teach your loved one. All you need to do is teach them how to balance movement from the right combination of Centers. In fact, the more you can show them how to activate the Movement Centers in everyday activities, the more profound an impact it will have on their daily lives.

The complete Tai Chi Way to Better Balance is made up of exercises just like this: authentic Tai Chi concepts, free of excessive form and choreography, layered in safe progressions, and accessible to all levels of movement ability. Learn more here.

One final note for practitioners: don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the Five Movement Centers. The correct combination of awareness and intent in the Centers gives you a power, agile root, with the potential to deliver power and stay connected simultaneously. Try it and see.

About the Author: Don Ethan Miller, 40-year Master practicioner of Tai Chi (and Yiquan, Kuntao-Silat, and many other arts), a 4-time National Champion in Tai Chi Tuishou (Pushing Hands) competition, has developed a unique, powerful program that will take anyone—of any age or current state of physical ability—to better balance, and improved health, energy, and well-being.

Don has distilled and adapted practices from every style of Tai Chi, combined with other systems of Qigong (energy cultivation) and martial arts, into an easily-accessed program, in downloadable e-book and DVD format.

The book is profusely and beautifully illustrated, with photos of Don, famous Tai Chi masters past and present, and Don’s students demonstrating and practicing the Tai Chi Way to Better Balance exercises. The practices are organizing in 3 Levels, beginning with basic Tai Chi Standing Work and progressing to Shifting, Stepping, holding and moving objects, and Multi-Directional Movement. The companion DVD presents the material as 3 separate Tai Chi Balance Workouts, each requiring only between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.

To order this vitally important Instructional Set, for yourself or someone you care about, click here.

 

Vol-19-web-CoverIn this 3 disc set Sigung Clear takes an in depth look at the many different jings, energies and expressions of Tai Chi Chuan.

You learn how to use each of these expressions combatively.

…and you learn how to build each of them with the 16 Move Fighting Set or any Tai Chi set you know.

Here are a few of the many different methods taught in this 3 disc volume:

  • Fajing Set
  • Floating Root Set
  • Drunken Tai Chi Set
  • Silk Reeling Set (Chan Si Jing)
  • Iron Body Set
  • Listening Set (Ting Jing)
  • Compressed Spring Kuntao Set
  • Predator Style Set
  • Whip Set
  • Unbending Arm & Body Set
  • Shackled Set
  • and many more…

You are NOT learning new moves or forms on these DVDS.

(Though we do spend a few minutes showing you how to link the the 16 forms of Clear’s Combat Tai Chi into the 16 move fighting Tai Chi set.)

Instead you are learning how to take ANY Tai Chi forms and sets you already know and practice them with the jings, energies and expressions listed above. As well as many others.

https://www.clearstaichi.com/tai-chi-dvd/combat-tai-chi-dvds/combat-tai-chi-vol-19-fighting-set-jings-energies-expressions-4587.html

Combat Tai Chi Vol 17: Combat Breathing

Tai Chi Combat Breathing

This DVD is an in-depth study of the martial uses of breath in Tai Chi Chuan.

You will learn:

  • Fajing with breath
  • The fighting use of Tai Chi’s “secret sounds” Hen & Ha
  • Advanced Dimmak (breath powered)
  • Using breath to neutralize the opponents strikes
  • Add more power through breath
  • Whole body breathing & Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Connecting breath to movement
  • Using Breath to injure the opponent when they strike you.
  • Controlling direction of breath inside of your body
  • Training the dantien for better breath and aim
  • learn to direct breath to and through any part of the body for more power whenever and wherever you need it.