Michael’s Answer

Sorry I haven’t posted much. Got real sick around Thanksgiving. Feeling better now, just real weak. Been doing alot more qigong than usual, hopefully it will help. I’m just going to post the letters here.

Hello Michael,

Your recent comments have hit a bit of a nerve with me, though I couldn’t say why exactly. My teacher obviously ‘had it’, where as I do not. His teaching method consisted primarily of ‘relax, do the form, don’t worry about it’. He didn’t charge me a dime and even refused to let me buy him coffee. He was reluctant to teach me initially, until he realized I was sincere and there wasn’t anyone else in the area (new orleans). One source of his reluctance was his belief that teaching is it’s own skill, quite apart from the discipline being taught. That makes for three types of taiji teachers: good taiji/bad teacher, good teacher/bad taiji or good teacher/good taiji. I was led to believe the last type to be 1 in a million. My teacher put himself in the first category. After several years, I began to get the feeling that I was missing something and I sought out every teacher I could find. To my suprise they all told me the same things my teacher did. In fact, my teacher apparently showed me everything in the first 10 mins. Every time I hit a block in my progression, I just go back and relearn ‘the basics’ he showed me, I’ll see them in a new light, realize something I didn’t see before and viola… progress.

After the storm (K), I went out and rounded up all the taiji practitioners I could find and started a push hands group. My roll-back has gotten real good, but my push sucks. Despite my teacher’s ability to ‘bounce’ me at will, he told me I was better off ‘not pushing’ as the roll-back was harder to learn, yet was infinitely more practical. Besides, he said the roll-back was like drawing a bow and if I did it well the push would come naturally. Well, it’s not and here is where the fustration comes in. Do I just need more practice? Is my practice missing something? My teacher is long gone, so I can’t ask him. All the other teachers I’ve talked to either don’t have his level of skill or want to charge me an insane amount of money. Sometimes both!

I have practiced for almost 10 years now. 2 to 6 hours a day. While I’ve made steady progress, I don’t have the first clue as to fa jing. If it’s something you can tell someone else, please tell me. If you have to show them, let me know how to go about it. Commitments keep me from travelling and I, myself, am poor, but I’m sure our group can scrape up some money and find a place for you to stay. Just to warn you, my teacher taught me for free and I plan on doing the same, so if you don’t want the cat out of the bag don’t hand it to me! =)


Hi Aedh – Get into the Push posture, in the phase after you’ve shifted your weight forward, but just before you push; slowly start opening your knees until they straighten at most about 1/4 inch (both of them); you will feel the energy travel up to your sacrum; that’s your cue to start opening your spine, again just a little bit, maybe another 1/4 to 1/2 inch; you will feel the energy travel up your back from the sacrum to between your shoulder blades; that’s your cue to start stretching the elbows (this part’s VERY important) both forward and downward; that will pull the energy down your arms towards your elbows; that’s your cue to (this part is also VERY important) start pulling your wrists horizontally straight forward AGAINST the forward and downward pull of your elbows – the idea is to create a DIFFERENTIAL between the vectors in the elbows vs the wrists; as your hands advance, there will come a point where you just naturally want to “seat” the wrists – make sure that they bend just the right amount; as your wrists bend, pull your fingertips SLIGHTLY back towards your forehead – the energy will come to your palms.

The trick is too keep everything “small”, and practice the “sequencing” of each cue until it becomes “second nature”; don’t “try” to work it into your push-hands practice just let it occur “naturally” when it wants to – some will be good, and some not so much….

Just keep practicing this for 100 days, as a “isolated” drill separate from your push-hands practice and then please report back to me with your progress; everything else proceeds from this one simple exercise – the clue is that everything is kept very “small”; most people make the movements in their Push posture way too “big”, so they miss the energy transfer between each part of the body.

Happy Thanksgiving,

It’s only been a week or so, and getting sick interrupted my practice, but I can already see improvement in my push hands. Michael’s practice is so close to what I was already doing, but you know what they say “off by an inch, miss by a mile.” Now it’s ‘simply’ a matter of unlearning my old ‘bad’ habits and ingraining the new ‘good’ ones. I’ll have more to say after I get to play with it more. Though it’s looking good so far!


~ by aedhcarrick on December 4, 2009.

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