TEACHING SENSING HANDS: LEGACY HOLDERS’ VISION 2019
The Legacy Holders met for a few hours in February to discuss how we teach Push Hands. Here is a summary of our meeting.
☯ Teaching Triad
Study: Learning the Moves:
Curriculum courses (PH 1-7) help students to learn and practice the Sensing Hands movements. These need to be understood and practiced in their functionality, as they are meant to be realistic responses to what is happening between partners. The moves are meaningful in a martial sense.
Contemplation: Embodying the Qualities
Sensing Hands must also be understood and practiced in terms of specific qualities (see further down). We want students to be aware of these qualities right from the start in PH1. They offer good material for workshop-style classes in mixed groups, with enough time for in-depth learning: contemplation, self-observation, experiencing the qualities in your teachers and companions, searching for the qualities in yourself.
Practice: Hall of Happiness
Playful practice as in Hall of Happiness is a time to allow yourself, with all you have and have not embodied, to play with partners in a freeform setting. There are no rules but the basic ones for safety and mutual respect. Free play gives the opportunity to see what you have learned and to discover things that have not yet come up in the regular step-by-step classes or at workshops.
☯ Unity in diversity: teachers
Sensing Hands has a unified goal but different ways of teaching it. We are all headed to the top of the mountain, but the path or the steps may be different. The curriculum gives the outline for each PH course. How an individual teacher brings in specific skills, insights and information will be personalized. Legacy Holders and senior teachers each have their own skills and creativity and these variations are part of the strength of our School.
☯ Unity in diversity: students
Students have different needs and talents and ways of learning. This requires flexibility in choosing what to teach and when and how to teach it. The challenge for teachers is how to give all students what they need and what they are ready for, the talented as well as the ones that need more time.
☯ It takes level to teach Sensing Hands
Teaching Sensing Hands, per PH level or in mixed groups, should be done only by teachers who can see what a group needs and who have enough understanding and embodiment to transmit specific moves and qualities clearly. A specific challenge (koan) for teachers is to help students see and feel how an attitude of trying to do it right, however understandable, undermines the quality of not-doing (wu-wei). And wu-wei is what is needed for the Push of No Push to occur.
☯ Bringing all apprentices up to date
There is much ‘old school’ and habitual practice amongst apprentices and teachers. There is a need to convey to the body of the school that “we need you to practice and play during the time between the trainings”. A desirable Summer Training 2019 goal: everyone walks away from the trainings understanding exactly what we are trying to elicit from each level.
☯ Sensing Hands Qualities
To name the most important: trusting in complete relaxation, no intention, aligned mobility, root, dantian awareness, being connected, listening, being in the moment, letting the qi do its perfect workings, no interference, and practicing together in a mood of cooperation and mutual support.
Insights from the 5 Elements and the PH levels energies, as described by Patti in 2016, contribute in their own way to developing good Sensing Hands.
Human Level Direction is emptying down ▼
PH1, 2 and 3: Stay in our own dantian, retain our vertical axis at the same time.
Hang from the heavens and pivot. Engage with others.
Earth Level: yin Direction becomes circular, spherical •
PH 4 – balance and circulate from center
PH 5 – collect, gather, harvest
PH 6 – transformation and transportation
Heaven Level: yang Direction is up ▲
PH 7 – connecting heaven & earth
PH 8 – pure yin & yang/the push of no push
Level 9 – final step … we’ll leave this open for now.