Sifu's Training Insights

Push Hands Improves Your Tai Chi Form
Tai Chi Class

   Most Tai Chi students do not experience push hands until after completing their basic solo form. Therefore, most are unaware of the benefit of push hands to improving their solo form.

   Many Tai Chi beginning students think that push hands is only for those who are looking to gain self-defense skills or prepare for Tai Chi Push Hands Tournaments. Push hands, as a series of solo or partner exercises, can be useful in increasing your ability and awareness of: Balance, relaxation, mental control and concentration, strength and flexibility, alignment, weight shifts and steps, coordination, speed, force, Chi flow, etc. All of these things and more are of importance in your solo Tai Chi Form practice.

   The advantage in performing push hands with a partner is the feedback you receive which clearly demonstrates your ability, or areas that can use improvement. It's easy to believe that you are making great progress when you perform the solo form. The objective viewpoint of a partner will help you discover overlooked mistakes or blind spots in your study.

   There is also great psychological gain to be made from working with a partner. You will increase your awareness and control of your ego, which often gets in the way of your understanding and development, by allowing someone to touch you psychologically and physically. Even though the physical touching occurs in a non-threatening setting, for many people it is not an easy thing to touch and be touched. It is perhaps even more difficult to "touch" someone psychologically, i.e. in giving advice to and taking advice from a partner.

   You will gradually learn how to work closely and communicate with your partner while remaining relaxed and at ease. This will enhance your ability to stay relaxed under all circumstances, creating a deeper level of relaxation in your solo form practice and leading to a profound level of "moving meditation".

   Advanced Tai Chi students are able to balance internal yin (as in your perception of your own body, movements and thoughts) and external yang (as in your perception of your partner's body, movements and thoughts), thereby making their Tai Chi practice a living, practical and effective philosophy, rather than the mere combination of physical exercise and abstract concepts.

   Besides, push hands is also fun! You might remember that one of the reasons you got into Tai Chi was that you found this to be a stimulating and enjoyable pastime. Working with a partner of like mind and goals is always supportive of your own needs and goals. There aren't many places where you can workout, improve your physical and mental health while having a good time with people you like. You'll find that everything in Tai Chi is part of a whole, affecting positively everything else you do. So, if you haven't tried push hands yet, be sure to explore it with an open mind, as a way to improve your Tai Chi form and to have fun.

Please Note:
This article is not meant to imply that anyone should substitute Tai Chi exercises for any traditional course of physical therapy. Discuss Tai Chi as an alternative with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning a Tai Chi program.