In the Wednesday night Advanced class Pat asked: "Is the ultimate non-weapon activity Fixed Step Push Hands?" Master Ni distinctly said "No." Then in the Saturday class he made the surprise statement that free form sparring was the ultimate.
Very him. Referring to something that he had never taught as most important - as if pointing in that direction will make it happen. His ratification of free form sparring certainly encourages me to encourage others. It gives me more impetus to move Gladys in that direction. It makes me grateful that Tom & I have been sparring for years. His statement ratified my instincts, which were to explore the active steps rather than remaining in the fixed step.
As to why he never taught free form sparring:
Every so often a student would approach Master Ni and ask him when he would teach free form sparring. No matter who asked he would inevitably reply: “In about two years.”
At one point I mentioned that I had been doing free form sparring.
Me: “Is that OK?”
Master Ni: “Yes.”
Me: “The others?”
Master Ni: “You can't teach a cat to catch mice. Cat mouser - or not.”
Anyway this inscrutable Chinaman kept us thinking, curious and alive.