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Pushing hands, (推手, Wade-Giles t'ui1 shou3, pinyin tuī shǒu), is a name for two-person training routines practiced in internal Chinese martial arts such as Pa Kua Chang (Baguazhang), Hsing-i Ch'uan (Xingyiquan), T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan) and I Ch'uan (Yiquan).
Additional recommended knowledge
Pushing hands is said to be the gateway for students to understand experientially the martial aspects of the Internal martial arts (內家 nèi jiā); leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. Pushing hands works to undo a person's natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. Health oriented tai chi schools may still teach push hands because there is a limit to the amount of physical conditioning available from performing solo form routines, so pushing hands adds the weight of the training partner's pushes onto the legs of the student. Training with a partner also allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner's force and thereby avoid or redirect it. In that sense pushing hands is a contract between students to train the defensive and offensive movement principles of their martial art; learning to generate, coordinate and deliver power to another and also how to effectively neutralize incoming forces in a relatively safe environment.
Pushing hands is said by T'ai Chi's Chen family to have been created by Chen Wangting (1600-1680) the founder of the Chen style Tai Chi Chuan and was originally known as hitting hands (da shou) or crossing hands (ke shou). Chen was said to have devised pushing hands methods for both empty hands and armed with spears. Other T'ai Chi schools attribute the invention of pushing hands to Zhang Sanfeng.
In recent history push hands has become a part of modern martial arts tournaments, especially those devoted to internal arts. Within this context, pushing hands is not an exercise to develop skill but a competitive sport.
Training pushing hands
In T'ai Chi Ch'üan, pushing hands is used to acquaint students with the principles of what are known as the "Eight Gates and Five Steps," eight different leverage applications in the arms accompanied by footwork in a range of motion which proponents say will eventually allow students to defend themselves calmly and competently if attacked. Also known as the "13 original movements of tai chi", a posture expressing each one of these aspects is found in all tai chi styles. Training and push hands competitions generally involve contact but no strikes.
The Eight Gates (八門 bā mén):
The Five Steps (五步 wǔ bù):
The Eight Gates are said to be associated with the eight trigrams (Bagua 八卦 bā guà) of the I Ching, the Five Steps with the five elements of the Taoist Wu Hsing (五行 wǔ xíng); metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. Collectively they are sometimes referred to as the "Thirteen Postures of T'ai Chi Ch'uan" and their combinations and permutations are catalogued more or less exhaustively in the different styles of solo forms which T'ai Chi is mostly known for by the general public. Pushing hands is practiced so that students have an opportunity for "hands-on" experience of the theoretical implications of the solo forms. Traditional internal teachers say that just training solo forms isn't enough to learn a martial art, that without the pushing hands reflex and sensitivity to another's movements and intent are lost. Each component is seen as equally necessary, yin and yang, for realizing the health, meditative, and self-defence applications.
Pushing hands trains these technical principles in ever increasing complexity of patterns. At first students work basic patterns, then patterns with moving steps coordinated in different directions, patterns at differing heights (high, middle, low and combinations) and then finally different styles of "freestyle" push hands, which lead into sparring that combines closing and distancing strategies with long, medium and short range techniques. These exchanges are characterized as "question and answer" sessions between training partners; the person pushing is asking a question, the person receiving the push answers with their response. The answers should be "soft," without resistance or stiffness. The students hope to learn to not fight back when pushed nor retreat before anticipated force, but rather to allow the strength and direction of the push to determine their answer. The intent thereby is for the students to condition themselves and their reflexes to the point that they can meet an incoming force in softness, move with it until they determine its intent and then allow it to exhaust itself or redirect it into a harmless direction. The degree to which students maintain their balance while observing these requirements determines the appropriateness of their "answers." The expression used in some T'ai Chi schools to describe this is "Give up oneself to follow another." The eventual goal for self-defence purposes is to achieve meeting the force, determining its direction and effectively redirecting it in as short a time as possible, with examples provided of seemingly instantaneous redirections at the highest levels of kung fu by traditional teachers. Pushing hands also teaches students safety habits in regard to their own vital areas, especially acupressure points, as well as introducing them to the principles of chin na and some aspects of the manipulative therapy or tui na also taught in traditional T'ai Chi Ch'uan schools. At a certain point, pushing hands begins to take on aspects of ch'i kung, as the students learn to coordinate their movements in attack and defense with their breathing.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pushing_hands". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|