November 26, 2016

Review: Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu: The Four-Corner Push-Hands Training Method

Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu: The Four-Corner Push-Hands Training Method by Stephen Goodson and Billy Fox
CreateSpace, 2015
paperback, 68 pp
US$25
ISBN 978-1508941224

This slim, succinct volume, Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu, presents a moving-step sequence related to the “Four Corners” section of solo taiji practice. Dalu, or “Great Rollback,” serves as a complement to typical Tuishou (Push Hands). Tuishou relies on Ward-off, Rollback, Press, and Push, and is most often done with fixed steps. On the other hand, Dalu encompasses Split, Pull, Shoulder, Rollback, and uses moving steps.

After some introductory material, the authors present the solo practice of Dalu, and then its two-person practice. These are followed by application in the form of tifang (uprooting) and “The Game” of how to play with Dalu. Practice and theory are nicely blended, and throughout the book, adherence to the taiji principle of softness is emphasized. “The two-person exercises are akin to practicing tennis with a friend, rather than competing in a tennis match with an opponent.... The cooperative spirit cannot be overstated; competition changes the exercise into a crude wrestling match, which is useless, and your training will be in vain” The authors acknowledge their debt in these concepts and techniques to their teacher Robert Smith, a leading student of Cheng Man-ch’ing (Zheng Manqing).

Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu is nicely formatted, with clear photography, descriptions, footcharts, and reference materials. It is clearly enough written so that newcomers to Dalu practice will benefit, and those who are more experienced will certainly gain new insights.

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