Use this simple push hands mistake to rapidly build skill while winning.

Begin to play push hands before contact is made.

I see this little mistake in push hands players all the time. Even experienced ones.

It’s easy to fix. It help you win and much more importantly it will speed up your internal development.

The simple mistake I notice the most during push hands, is that usually one (or both) players don’t start playing until contact is made.

When I am practicing/playing push hands, I don’t wait until I meet the other player to start playing.

1) Sensitivity: Learn to feel your opponent from a distance.

As I come up to the other player I am feeling for his center, where his structural breaks are and where he is holding tension. Find his root before you make contact. Build your sensitivity until you can know your opponent before they have the opportunity to know you.

Tai Chi Pluck in Push Hands – Video Lesson

Here is one aspect of the Tai Chi Jing “Pluck” applied to Push Hands.

This is from the new video Tai Chi Push Hands Vol 4: Bridging the gap between Push Hands & Self Defense. Available now at Clear’s Tai Chi Online

Dissolving the Center – Video lesson

This is from Volume 2 in our Tai Chi Push Hands series. If you have trouble with this exercise go back and work on the exercises taught on our Internal Power page and our Chi Energy page.

And of course the exercises leading up to this on Volume 2 of our Push Hands series will be very helpfull as well.

Click here to check out the 5 Volume series on Push Hands.

What are you doing when you practice Push Hands?

To an untrained observer, push hands looks like a grade school game. simply try to push the other person until someone falls or moves.

Seems simple. However, if you are really trying to learn Tai Chi, this is not the goal. When you practice push hands, you are not trying to physically move your partner.

Root Like A Bear: An Exercise for Deepening Your Root

Have you ever seen a bear stomping its feet getting ready to charge?

Each foot in turn comes crashing down into the ground. This kind of movement can help you to achieve a deeper root.

Before you do this exercise, make sure you have a good structure. You should already have good Wu Chi posture and be able to root before you begin practicing with this kind of exercise. This exercise won’t help you much unless you have the basics in place.

How To Do It

Push Hands Sensitivity: How Far You Can Go?

Find the smallest details.

I’ve written another post on the abilities that you can develop through push hands drills, but in the concluding article in this series on push hands, I want to explore just exactly how far you can go with push hands sensitivity.

When you first start out doing push hands drills, you have a sense of your opponents’ body, but it is often quite vague. You can’t make out a lot about what is going on inside your opponent.

Start with the big picture

After a bit of practice, you learn how to figure out big problems in your opponent’s structure.

Maybe they are leaning back to far or they are tense all through their shoulders.

When you get to an advanced level, all this has changed.

How to get better by losing

Push hands is a game, and like most games, its easy to get caught up in winning. 

When you’re playing a game, it feels like the point is to win. However, the real point of push hands is to develop Tai Chi skill.

First by correcting your structure and then later on through developing your sensitivity.

Play against yourself

Since push hands is really about development and not about winning, in reality you are only ever playing against yourself.

Focus on being completely relaxed, aligned, rooted and on breathing deeply. Once you are doing these well, focus on

3 Benefits of Push Hands

Two people stand holding each other’s arms. Both of them try to push the other one off balance and finally, you see one of them step back. The hand holds might vary, but in general, this is the basic format of push hands games.

You might have played these games in your Tai Chi studio or you might have even seen them played competitively. Although push hands drills look comparatively simple, there’s a lot more to them than you might imagine at first glance.

At Clear’s Tai Chi, we don’t focus on the competitive aspect of push hands where people try to shove each other. There’s a lot more going on than that.

Internal Iron palm/body through Push Hands

We are finishing up a new DVD on the Clear’s Internal Push Hands method.

Here’s a video clip showing the internal Iron body & palm that you will develop from the methods shown on this DVD. This is not the primary focus of the dvd. It’s just one of the many skills and body qualities that this method builds.

The DVD will be available in late January / early February 2010. To get the latest info about release dates & pre-order specials sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.

photo by: spaceamoeba

Internal Push Hands Training Progression

Included in this post is a long term training progression for Clear’s Tai Chi Internal Push Hands method.

I am sure to some folks that much of what I am listing will seem unbelievable.  In the last year I have demonstrated most of these Internal Push Hands skills to non-students on non-students without telling them what I was going to do beforehand and with them having no prior knowledge of me.

I have demonstrated all of these Internal Push Hands skills at one time or another to all of my close students.  I have one student who is able to do most of what I am listing here and a lot of my regular students have experienced it from him at one time or another.