Shoving Hands?

This video popped up on my Facebook timeline a while back. It appears to be a video of a push hands match.


I have to say this looks more like a shoving hands than push hands match. I mean seriously, do you really need to be trained in Tai Chi in order to do this? Let’s see what is required to do what the girls did :-

1) Stand in a lowered stance

2) Be able to shove hard and fast

3) Use arm drag

4) Jockey for a position

How long do you think would be required to train a beginner to do the above? I would hazard a guess …….. 1/2 hour? OK, maybe longer but 1 hour would be tops. Why I said so is because many of the skills and principles which I would associate with the practice and usage of Tai Chi Chuan is not observed in what the girls did.

Let’s take a simple example – right at the beginning of the video you can see the girl in blue giving the girl in red a hard double palm push on the chest (see below) :-


When I saw this I could not help but wonder why it was so easy for BLUE to double palm RED so easily in the chest. I mean what combat art would teach you to expose yourself to a strike, and a double strike at that, so easily. If you watch the video closely the answers are there why this is the case.

To say that the Tai Chi skill demonstrated in this video has been dumbed down for the sake of sport is an understatement. An art that has lost its defining characteristics is no longer the same art and while turning it into a sport makes it accessible to more people I sometimes wonder if this does it more harm than good in the long run.

To function as a combat art Tai Chi must teach you how to protect your space and position yourself to minimize any sudden attacks from getting through easily. Tai Chi should also teach you how to have good balance and stability because this will affect the impact of your strikes on the opponent. Otherwise, when you do your techniques it will not just affect your opponent but also your own balance as you can see in the video.

In addition, how you position yourself will have an impact on the way you defend yourself and deliver your techniques. I can see that there is a  restriction on where to position the feet in the competition and this has an impact on the way the body can be set up and used for combat but rules being rules I guess that’s how it is if you want to take part in competition.

Since we don’t do competition in TaijiKinesis this does not matter to us. For those students who like to test their art I would recommend to them how they can do so as part of the process of Master Tai Chi Today. The lessons they should take away from matches is how to further refine their skills for combat rather than shove others around which is pointless.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style (TaijiKinesis) lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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