Pushing Hands Training Guidelines
Push Hands is training, not a contest.
Pushing hands is a form of physical and mental training. It is intended to replace the common reflex to resist being pushed with an effective method of relaxing, absorbing and guiding a push. It is intended to replace reliance on upper body strength with reliance on posture coupled with leg and hip movement. To accomplish this it relies on the quality of “rootedness”, a resilient relationship to the ground and “listening”, an awareness of the timing and direction of an incoming push.
Agreement between players is important.
A request to Push Hands can be refused and no explanation is required. Push Hands can be terminated at any time and no explanation is required. Before beginning push hands both players should reach an understanding about the level of push hands that will be practiced. If one person is, for example, able to “saw wood” and no more than the more advanced player should agree to meet them at their level or below. Bullying can’t be tolerated.
Push Hands should provide mutual benefit.
At each stage in development of Push Hands skill both participants can benefit. This is of particular importance in early push hands training. When one practice partner gives the correct type and quality of push the other practice partner can experience performing real (as opposed to ritual) neutralization. The partner providing the push gets to experience being neutralized and learns how to avoid over extending and so becoming vulnerable.
If Form and Push Hands are different, one or both are incorrect.
Push Hands and Form constitute a complete T’ai Chi practice. One may study T’ai Chi Sword or T’ai Chi Lance for their pedagogic and physical value after the push hands concept of neutralization has been understood and to some degree accomplished. When this happens the practitioner will find a new level of meaning in the form practice because each movement between postures will be experienced as containing a “neutralization” and each self-correction of a posture error will be experienced as containing a “recovery” from the initial effect of a push.
Discern when you should move your feet.
In commonly practiced push hands, a movement of either foot under the impetus of the practice partner (or as some would have it, “opponent”) is considered defeat. Our practice is training, not a contest. Discerning the moment and situation in which receiving a push requires you to move your foot rather than lose your upright body posture is an important part of training.
September 23, 2017
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