On the surface, the transition from Wing Chun Sticky Hands to Tai Chi Chuan Pushing Hands should be easy. Of course, a fire drill is always easy, until there’s a real fire. Thus, to understand this change one must make a few adjustments in their thinking. Check out the video, then I’ll tell you how to make the change.
First, the Sticky Hands of Wing Chun is commonly done with a certain springiness in mind. Someone pushes on your arms, and you give away enough to deflect, and then spring into the opening created. This is a generality, and there is a lot more, but it is what we must focus on to make our transition.
Second, the pushing hands of Tai Chi Chuan is actually a bit misnamed. It should be called ‘emptying the whole body,’ simply, one must give way until the opponent over pushes and thus unbalances himself. This summation of Pushing Hands is quite insufficient, but, again, we are attempting to bridge from one exercise to another, and this is what we must focus on.
Now, we go from giving way with a certain ‘spring back’ within the motion, to a giving way completely with the whole body. One is giving way with the arms, and the other is to give way with the body. Thus, if one can take the ‘spring back’ quality out of the arms, and just concentrate on emptying the arms (giving way with the arms until the opponent unbalances himself), we can make the transition easily.
When an attacker comes at you feel that the springing quality is inadequate for the situation, or you just feel like translating into Tai Chi, match the velocity of the incoming hand, turn the waist, and guide him past. It goes without saying, that he should not feel you guide him. It should be a manipulation not of flesh to flesh, but of hair to hair. Your touch should be so soft that he accepts it without protest.
At this point you should be able to question whether you are doing Wing Chun or Tai Chi. The only difference, you see, is in the stance you are working out of. You may be standing (goat riding) or in a single leg stance of some height, versus being in the deeper shifting stance common to Tai Chi Chuan.
So we come to the crux of it all. Give way in sticky hands and let the attacker fall through (or into a lock). Or give way in Tai Chi and then use the spring back quality of Wing Chun in that art.
We are not really talking large differences here, merely subtle differences that are, to be honest, inherent in either exercise should one take the time to study long enough and with a correct eye to the potentials. The whole point here, is to help people who have been trained in one art to adjust to new training and new methods, and new (sometimes just stated differently) awareness. That is how you make the transition from Wing Chun Sticky Hands to Tai Chi Chuan Pushing Hands.
If you like what I’m saying here, check out my Tai Chi Chuan vid at Monster Martial Arts.