You don’t really know how to play your form properly until you know how to apply the techniques in push hands.
Likewise, you won’t go beyond shoving and wrestling until you understand your form.
The learning of form and push hands complement each other. The form is a reference textbook containing techniques with various obvious usage. Go deeper and you will discover hidden and derived applications.
Learning how to play push hands begins by taking the technique from the form and understanding why it is performed the way it is, how it fits into the game of physical chess of conquering position and seizing space. We also examine the thinking of the opponent, how to make him give you what you want.
After you have learned about the technique then you can try to use it when playing push hands freely. This means your training partner will act in a compliant manner. He may tone down his resistance to give you a fighting chance but he will not give in easily. In this way you can simulate what works and what does not within a controlled learning environment rather than resist for the sake of it.
What you see in the video above is a reader of TaijiKinesis Vol 2 learning push hands after learning form. He has known Tai Chi for two decades. You can see the good foundation in the way he moved. What is not obvious is his softness and power.
In the last part of the video we just played a bit; I did not say he cannot resist or use strength. I just let him react how he liked to and we just let the play take its course so that we can get a better feedback on how the techniques worked out given different levels of resistance; all part of the learning journey.
Sometimes with regular students we do play fast, hard and rougher. It depends on what we are working on. Better train to be prepared particularly with the unexpected than to get a rude shock. By pushing and expanding the scope we get to understand better the techniques in our form, whether we are doing them properly or need to be changed, always keeping in mind the principles.
Do you use what you learned in your form in push hands? If no, why not? If you want to learn how to do so click here.