Push Hands (Tui Shou)
Tai Chi Push Hands is a training exercise for developing many different skills associated with Tai Chi. They include:
1) Sensitivity training 2) Jing training 3) Understanding empty and full, substantial and insubstantial 4) Improving balance, flexibility, coordination 5) Knowing oneself and others 6) Working with Tai Chi classics 7) Understanding martial principles
I personally don’t think a student can understand Tai Chi without doing Push Hands. There are many levels to training Push Hands skills. The most usual pattern I work with is:
1) Learning to root 2) Learning to neutralize 3) Learning to push 4) Learning Tai Chi Push Hands Forms ( Single and double hands with fixed or moving step) 5) Free Form Push Hands ( Single and double hands with fixed or moving)
Push Hands can not be understood by reading. It must be experienced. It can be one of the most informative tools for assessing one’s understanding of Tai Chi principles. It can be a great deal of fun if approached in that way. Tournament Push Hands has a long way to go before it truly tests one’s skills in this art, but Studio Push Hands can be quite effective. Don’t be afraid to get pushed over time and time again. If you approach each encounter as a learning opportunity, you gain invaluable information about yourself and others. Some points I think are helpful and important are:
Listen and Feel
These are the two most important points of push hands practice. Without these abilities, you can practice a thousand days and make no progress. We listen with all our senses, with all parts of our body. As they always told us in school: Stop, Look, and Listen. In push hands it is very good advice. Stop the mind from wandering, look at the situation right now, and listen to your opponent. He will tell you what to do. Develop your sense of feel so you will not be misled. Be here now!
Yield (Neutralize), Lead, Relax, Return the Energy
This process is of utmost importance in push hands practice. Always deal with the incoming energy first even if your mind has already started an attack. Join with the energy and lead it into your center (close) so as to borrow the opponent’s energy. Don’t try to redirect this energy. Once you have borrowed the energy, relax and let it sink to your spine and root. Only then should you be in a position to release and return the energy back to the source. All this happens in an instant, almost simultaneous.
Yi —— Chi —— Jing
Yi is the mind or intention. Every action is preceded by an intention. If are opponent wants to push us, first his mind will make the decision. If we are sensitive enough, we can feel this impulse or brain wave form. You must pay attention. The Yi then sends the signal to the body and the Chi starts to build. The Chi moves the muscles, so it must build to a certain level before there is movement. If you are sensitive enough you can feel this build up. Finally, the body moves and this is expressed as Jing. This we all feel, yet if we listen carefully, we can control this release before it is too strong. So the highest level of push hands training is to listen to the opponent’s mind, then feel the Chi build before there is movement, then finally deal in a relaxed fashion with the Jing.
Keep the body upright
The energy from the opponent must be gathered to the spine and sent down to the root. This can only be accomplished if the spine is erect.
The Shen and Chi must be strengthened
You must think of yourself like a balloon or a tire. You need to be filled with spirit and energy in order to move smoothly. Then the push from the opponent can easily be redirected.
Contact the opponent’s energy as far away from your body as you can
This means that you do not wait to touch the opponent until he is in your space. Go out and feel him and that way you will have plenty of room to make the appropriate response. You need to develop a strong sense of your space, your center, where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Use your Yi to project your Jing into the opponent
This is like a laser beam that guides the missile to the target. Send your mind into the opponent, not just on the surface.
Do not let the opponent get two points of contact on you
If this happens it is very difficult to deflect. Change the situation so that he touches you with only one point .
You can only push something
This means to be able to recognize substantial and insubstantial. Do not try and push if you do not feel tension in your opponent. Set it up first if you must by faking. Make him start to move. You want him to be over extended and into your strong centered place. Be like a spider and wait for him to enter your web.
Have Fun And Encourage Co-operation
Push Hands Workshop
We will begin to explore the art of Tui Shou or Push hands starting on the first Saturday of September, and continuing on for the next several months. We will start with basic principles, sensitivity training then into forms, free style, and deeper. Not for new beginners.
Sat., Sept 1, 2018 at the Dancing Sky Studio (formerly Gilman Studio) from 1 to 4 PM. $30. Just show up or call Michael at 360 385-5027 for more information.