Improving Push Hands

There is a disconnect between the learning of the emptyhand form and push hands. Its rare to see practitioners use proper techniques in push hands.

What you tend to see are people explaining how to use the techniques in a non-resisting scenario but when it comes to push hands you inevitably do not see the techniques being applied so easily, if at all. Instead, when the pressure piles up the common response is to do shoving.

To remedy these problems a few simple guidelines can help us to improve our push hands practice :-

a) Avoid fixed drills – while fixed drills have their purpose, inevitably they do not allow for the learning of how to deal with randomness. So rather than learn via order to deal with chaos, it works better to use chaos to learn to define the order to find the solution

b) Use as little or as much strength as required – we let students push as hard or as light as they like. Sometimes students are not convinced that using lesser strength can work better so the best way to learn is to let them try and learn from personal experience. After lots of pushing students will learn how to adjust their level of strength to the situation at hand

c) No restriction on techniques – let students try whatever techniques they like. This will teach them not to take certain things for granted. For example, a student may think that pushing an opponent’s body downwards is effective but the opponent could exploit the technique to apply a single leg pickup. On the reverse side, if the opponent tries to apply a leg pickup technique the person applying the technique counter use the lowered body position to apply an arm lock. There are not good answers, only relevant techniques at the moment when the situation occurs

d) Work with a handicap – sometimes to understand an aspect of push hands the use of constraints can be useful. For example, the student could just work on neutralization with minimal fight back, letting himself be pushed. In this way he learns more about his true ability to root, to neutralize techniques with just the right amount of strength and movement, etc

e) Focus on using one key technique – this will also you to understand how that one technique works, allowing you to master its use in reacting passively or responding actively. As an example, you can focus on just using Cloud Hands to neutralize and generating attacks from it

These are just a few ideas that we can use to improve our push hands so that we can Master Tai Chi Today.

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