Often when I see video of people performing moving pushing hands routines such as Peng Lu Ji An or Da Lu and even performing the taijiquan fighting set, it looks as if they are waltzing. The moves are smooth and graceful. Kao never fully develops and tsai never causes the slightest disruption to anyone’s center. I ask myself, Wow, can they be that good? The answer in most cases is, probably not. They are forgetting that these routines are not dances, they are fight training.
I tell my students that Peng Lu Ji An, Da Lu, and the Fighting Set are designed to develop among other skills the skill of listening jin. When your partner makes a mistake, fails for example to properly neutralize An in Peng Lu Ji An, you don’t just ignore the mistake and continue with the next move in the routine.
To ignore the mistake is to allow a double failure. The first failure is that you shut off the development of your listening jin. When you sense the mistake, you should develop the reaction of automatically exploiting the mistake. The second failure is that by ignoring the mistake you fail to give your partner the honest and immediate feedback that he or she is executing the technique incorrectly.
Another example of a mistake is when your partner lets his elbow move in when attempting to neutralize large rollback #1 in Peng Lu Ji An or Da Lu. Your listening Jin tells you that you have just received an invitation to follow the elbow in with press and disrupt your partner’s center. In order to develop the reactions needed for Taijiquan, you should automatically press without pausing to think about it. The opportunity will only be open for a split second. The shock of being bumped about will help you partner improve faster.