Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tai chi pushing hands and massage therapy

Tai chi pushing hands can be applied to achieve two objectives: as combat training foundation tool or as a healing tool. In both cases, it is an application of activating one’s internal power. In this post, I shall discuss the tai chi pushing hand as a healing tool, applied as massage therapy.

The better known method of massage therapy in tai chi chi-kung is Dantian massage. A practitioner rubs or massages his lower abdomen with his palms in circulation motion (without rubbing the skin, instead carries the skin along). In most massage therapy, the masseur loosens or relaxes his client’s muscles to achieve his healing objective. Tai chi Dantian massage is different. A practitioner massages his own abdomen. His objective is not to loosen or relax his abdominal muscles. Rather using his chi-connected body (tai chi lingo: muscles-as-one) as the medium, he massages, in the first stage, his pelvic floor muscles; in the second stage, his diaphragm and in the third stage, establish a chi point inside his abdomen so that chi can radiate from this chi point.

The use of pushing hands builds on what has been achieved in Dantian massage. Specifically, the practice of pushing hands aims at activating chi to the muscles of our torso. In body building it is called core strength, in martial art, it is called iron-shirt, and in healing it is called chi-filled. Our aim is to direct chi to flow towards and around our torso, always with prior foundation of whole-body chi-connectedness or muscles-as-one.

In pushing hands, a healer and a client (student) are involved. The touching point is at the upper forearm next to the wrist. The healer does the pushing and the client does the receiving and channeling the pushing energy to his torso and to generate chi in the process. In the beginning level, in order that chi can be generated, the client shall allow the healer to push his (client's) elbow and arm touching his body, while maintaining the triangular force between his upper arm and forearm (at about 90 degree, otherwise withstanding power will be lost and the healer's pushing palm will collapse the client's arm structure and will directly push against the torso via client's forearm which now touches his own body. In that case, the healer's palm power will push the client's whole body away instead of be transformed into internal massage force. This is a very important point on concept). The pushing force from the contact point, via the arm-triangle will be transmitted to the body of the client. To facilitate such transmission of power or energy, the torso of the client shall be relaxed like into a dead weight, so that the healer will be required to move slightly the dead-weight of his client’s body. The 90 degree triangular shall maintain tight at all time. The power base of the triangle is the shoulder (supported by the pelvic joints and soles). In tai chi lingo, it is called dropping our elbows and loosening our shoulders (沈肩墜肘) It is also another manifestation of tai chi chi-kung concept: points-stretched-body-relaxed. When the healer push continues, at the limiting point of being moved (or maximum stored energy), the client simply turns and spirals on incoming force to the side. The client gently pushes back (in due training the client now turns into healer). The whole process can start again. The above is sequence of single hand pushing hands used as massage healing. In advanced pushing hands, an important requirement is needed: not losing the touch (不掉不顶).

Needless to say, a student needs an instructor, healer or teacher in learning pushing hands.

Tai chi single hand pushing hands

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