Teacher Test ™

Author Mike Sigman to neijia list 11 Jan 1995

I had another private email question about how to tell if an internal martial arts teacher (Taiji, Xingyi, Liu He Ba Fa, etc.) teacher was any good, so I thought that I would repost the ole Internal Teacher Test (tm) :^)

Although I usually just wind up doing a bit of push-hands with the person in order to get an idea of where they are, the Push-Hands Test (tm) has a few drawbacks. I can usually tell within about 15 seconds where someones level is, and if it's not very high, I usually want to quit right there.... but of course, that's an implied insult. So I continue pushing hands with someone who often is just using muscle and size. After a few minutes, if I've made them stumble and fall a bit, they get more and more rigid... so just for the fun of it I hang in there and we wind up in some sort of contest that has nothing to do with push-hands, but I try to refrain from just throwing them down.

At some time shortly thereafter I usually hear that we were (a) pretty even in skill or (b) their teacher uses more subtle skills than I do. :^) I have now sworn off the nice guy approach to the push-hands evaluation in order to salvage the tattered remnants of my reputation. That is a public declaration. :^)

So NOW we come to the Internal Teacher Test. This test works on the assumption that if a teacher or long-time student has really been practicing or teaching the right stuff for a period of time, then all of the correct training HAS to have developed the ability to generate internal strength. There aren't 2 different kinds of internal strength, one martial and one for health.... even a health practitioner should be able to do this. And it's not the best test in the world, but it should give a general idea.

Have the person put the palm of their hand on your upper chest (to one side) or, if you prefer, on your shoulder from the side. Then, ask them to hit you as hard as they can....*without* moving their hand back and without cocking their shoulder (9 out of 10 will use their shoulder, so watch for it).

If they have developed waist power and other skills, they can launch you through the air... if they haven't, the most they can do is rock you a bit if your stance is fairly stable (get in a good stance). Watch that shoulder, though....it shouldn't really move.

The last person to send me backwards with this test was Terry Chan, so I suggest that you don't ask him if he can hit you since he seems to take perverse pleasure in it. :^)


Mike Sigman

Author Stephen Chan to neijia list 16 May 1995
> I have heard about the teacher test here. I even have a general feel for what
> it is, but I couldn't explain it well enough to him to have it done. Is is
> explained anywhere. If not, could you give me a definition?

The teacher test is basically that someone puts their palm on your shoulder or chest, and they must be able to push you (or hit you if you want to feel that) without using their shoulder. If you see their shoulder withdraw to cock for the push, then they are relying on local musculature.

The push should also feel very clean and free, if it feels as if they are giving you a very dull and plodding push, then they aren't using peng properly.

This test doesn't mean that the person is qualified to teach you secret internal Chinese butt-kicking. But it does demonstrate a familiarity with using (as some would say) internal strength parameters.

If you are worried about getting zapped too hard, ask them not to use any bounce jing.

Stephen Chan

Author Stephen Chan to neijia list same day again

> 	The feeling from someone that isn't so hot at doing this is one of 
> being caught in an ocean wave. It lifts you and takes you uncontrollably. 
> When someone is really good at this you feel nothing. You just move *like an 
> arrow shot from a bow*.

This sounds right, but a certain amount also depends on how you receive the force. If you give them a relatively unitary target to receive the force, then the demonstration will be cleaner - if you are really soft and yielding, they have to zone in one your center before issuing. On the other hand, the good ones can lock onto your center pretty quickly.

> root. Another teacher test is to gently or firmly push on them and see where 
> your push goes. If it breaks their balance their skill is not great. If you 
> can feel it being channelled into their feet they are getting somewhere

This is a good test if you have developed a certain amount of listening skill yourself, but of you don't have the ability to figure out where the force is going, it may only serve to confuse things.

Stephen Chan


T'ai Chi Collection   Sponsor company logo