Taiji aims to develop the latent powers and forces that are present within each of us. Push Hands is one of the traditional methods for development, understanding and management of Taiji forces.
It is a subject that raises much controversy in the Taiji field. Many people study Taiji without doing it. Some do not want to do it: some love doing it: some think of it as the Taiji version of fighting or believe it to be the “ultimate test” of Taiji ability. It is unquestionably an area of Taiji study in which many students and teachers are challenged.
The roots of Taiji practice can be found in the martial arts, and Push Hands was originally a form of training for combat situations.
This does not mean, however, that Push Hands can or should only be practised in a combative manner. The “ Victory in Combat” mindset can lead students astray from the Taiji principles of Yin & Yang, promoting the belief that success through strength equals Taiji skill. It does not.
Push Hands is a traditional and neccessary part of the Taijiquan syllabus, a partner exercise in which we learn to feel, observe and analyze external and internal movements within ourselves and another as we interact within a predetermined framework.
Modern Taiji application and practice has shifted primarily towards body, health and healing arts. However, it still requires detailed and precise mental concentration and physical technique to have function.
An opportunity exists for much more to be learnt if interaction, contact and touching on the physical, energetic, emotional and mental level is done in a friendly manner and with respect for each other’s individuality and well-being. The movement and action of forces within oneself in the practice of Taijiquan can now be extended to include the interaction with the movement and action of forces within the partner.
There does not have to be an opponent, no winner or loser is required, only mutual and beneficial development through better understanding and handling of Taiji forces through the interaction with one another.
Moving with and using Taiji forces can be challenging initially, seeming more difficult when one starts practising Push Hands because of the physical contact and, often, the habitual use of excess muscle power. However, the practice of Push Hands is much more than simply executing certain patterns of movements with another person. It is also the primary method for learning and applying the skills and mobility of Taijiquan as a technique for eventual self-defense.
An appropriate response to incoming forces (defense) becomes the appropriate response at the appropriate time in appropriate ways (attack). Yin changes into yang, yang changes into yin. We learn how to listen, stick, follow, yield, lead and neutralise, not just how to push.
By reacting appropriately and just at the right moment we can develop freedom of movement and the ability firstly to control our own balance under pressure and then control and imbalance the other person.
This interaction can lead with further exploration to more advanced types of Push Hands, Da Lu, Sansou, Qi Bagua (without physical contact) and eventually to the formless free application of Taiji Forces.
Adhering, sticking, following, pushing, developing listening power, full versus empty, soft versus hard, free movement, training without the need to attain Victory or impose Defeat, enjoyment, self-control, retaining mental and physical composure under pressure, respect and concern for the welfare of self and others, these are some of the issues considered and analysed during the correct practice of Push Hands.
Open to all: by prior arrangement only