Tai Chi Quan is a classic Chinese internal martial art that based on the “Yin and Yang” theory of Taoism. Its core training mainly includes two parts: solo forms (bare hands, and weapons that becomes personal preference these days). And a confrontational martial training – push hands (pronounced Tui shou in Chinese). Push hands training is practising the martial applications of the 13 postures that are included in solo forms.
The thirteen postures cover the basic requirements of hands, eye, body movements and steps and they are essential in martial combat. The 13 postures names are: Peng (Ward Off), Lu (Roll Back), Ji (press), An (push), Cai (Pluck), Lieh (Split), Zhou (Elbow), Kao (Shoulder). These are also called “Tai Chi Eight Techniques”. In addition, the following five covers steps, eye attention and mind. They are: Jin (move forward), Tui (move backward), Gu (attention to left), Pan (attention to right), Zhong ding (Centre Equilibrium).
Push hands training is a two-person exercise adhering to the principles of Zhan (adhere), Nian (Stick), Lian (link), Sui (follow), Not Loosing, Nor Resisting”, but yielding opponent’s coming force. Training with a partner allows practitioners to develop ting jin ( Energy Sensing Skill ), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner’s intention. Once the coming force has been neutralised it is the chance for one to destroy his partner’s balance. This is often described as “ Jie li da li” – using your opponent’s force to destroy his balance.
The use of Tai Chi Quan as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training. Push hands is a gateway for the purpose.
Just like the Tai Chi Classic said: “From mastering the movements, one may gradually realize how to comprehend the principle of Jin. From comprehending Jin, one will become enlightened.” Tai Chi Push Hands training is a must for those progressing from “Comprehending Jin” to “Enlightenment”. Indeed, unless one engages in “Push Hands”, one cannot truly understand nor acquire the martial aspects contained in the Tai Chi solo forms. Further, “Push Hands” provides an excellent gauge of the standard attained by the Tai Chi practitioner.