What is push hands?

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

What is push hands?

Postby Appledog on Sun May 01, 2022 7:48 pm

In an interview, "Discussions with Chen Xiaowang" (undated, posibly ~2000), Chen Xiaowang was asked outright, "Is central equilibrium developed through push hands?" The response was:

"This is done through the movement principles and the standing posture. Many times people fail in push hands because they lose the balance of the dantian. Maintain the beginning posture then when you move, maintain the two movement principles."


The Song of Push Hands describes one's ability to beguile the opponent then push him out. The idea of push hands as a training exercise which includes the soft application of martial technique is, in and of itself, a competition. The ability to do or not do what is described in the song of push hands is the actual demarcation line of skill in push hands. Therefore, it will be obvious when someone of higher skill pushes with someone of lower skill. Therefore, based on what is written in the classics, push hands can be used to determine relative skill.

Li Yu-Yi said,
In "For hao Weizhen to Cherish", Li Yi-Yu describes push hands as a sort of randomness in which "if you can draw the opponent in..." etc. This leads us to believe the relationship he is describing is not necessarily one of master and student but one where the player of lesser skill is earnestly trying to compete with his opponent for the application of skill. On Push Hands, Li writes "It is said: “Knowing both yourself and your opponent, in a hundred battles you will have a hundred victories.”" This seems to imply that push hands, while not being an actual fight, is indeed some form of competition.

Sun Lu-Tang said,
In "A Study of Taiji Boxing", Sun Lu-tang advises us to play push hands as often as possible, for learning. However, he is clear that we are to consider our partners as an "opponent".

"An ancient man said [Confucius, quoted in the Zhong Yong]: “To go far, we must go through what is near.” Therefore begin with the four primary techniques as a starting point, and do not go beyond them until you first get them down. If you want to delve deeper into the art’s subtleties, it is a good idea to seek a teacher who understands them. Working personally with such a person will get you on the right path (and there is no lack of people with a deep understanding of this art). All day, every day, constantly practice playing hands, then after not many months you will get the essentials of “guiding the opponent in to land on nothing” and “four ounces moving a thousand pounds”. Once you get these essentials, you can put them into your Xingyi and Bagua, and you will see that this theory conforms to them and is not contrary to them, thus merging the three arts in terms of function. You will be able to come away without coming away and to crash in without crashing in. You must carefully study this in order to grasp it."

Xiang Kairen said,
Xiang Kairen writes, in "My Experience...", "To practice “listening to energy” in pushing hands is mainly a matter of “seeking opportunity”, and of selecting opportunity based on attacking from the right position and the right direction. As long as your eyes are able to not miss the opportunity, then your attack will also not miss the direction. Your martial skill will thus be superb, and will not at all depend on speed in your hands and feet.

Discerning whether your achievement is deep or shallow, whether your skill is high or low, will lie entirely with this principle. If you do not wait for opportunity, and do not sense the right direction and position, your performance could only be regarded as hitting and grappling like a savage."

He also writes, "Among practitioners of Taiji Boxing, everyone understands that the solo set is for developing a foundation and that pushing hands is for training function."

He also quotes one of his teachers, Liu Enshou, who gave him special push hands instruction: "“Pushing hands is a kind of training method, not sparring. You can’t have a competitive mentality. It’s not about win or lose. If it was a win or lose struggle, we would both be using varying postures, never deliberately standing in one place waiting for each other’s attack.”"

Chen Wei-Ming said,
In his "Questions and Answers" book, Chen Weiming writes, "Begin by moving in patterns, every day doing hundreds or thousands of reps, and then naturally your legs will develop root and the flexibility of your waist will greatly increase. By the time a year has passed, you and your partner will be seeking energies. (This means you will be both moving free of pattern, attacking and neutralizing as you please.) You must not be seeking energies too soon. If too soon, you will enjoy using effort until it becomes habitual, making yourself incapable of achieving skillful intent instead."

Regarding "“Forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent.”" Chen Wei-Ming writes, "These words from the essays are the same as Laozi’s message [in Wenzi, chapter 3] that “to give is the way to get”. The extent to which I go along with the opponent depends on the degree of my skill:
– If I have a lesser skill, then I must go along with him longer, and I must wait until his power has finished in order to be able to counter.
– If I have a somewhat greater skill, then I can go along with him to a shorter extent, waiting until his power has come out halfway and interrupting it, and then right away I can counter.
– If I have a much greater skill, then I go along with him the tiniest little bit, interrupting his power from the start, and then right away I can counter. Sometimes when I am sticking to him, his power is completely unable to issue and I can instantly release energy, in which case I do need to go along with him, for I am in charge."


Wu Tu-Nan said,
He writes, "The playing hands method for warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing is a means of practicing the four primary techniques for dealing with an opponent. It is the most important exercise within Taiji Boxing. However, previous masters only recorded the names of the techniques, not the practice method for learning to apply them, leaving students with nothing to work from."

Wan Lai-Sheng said,
In 1932 he wrote, "Four-technique pushing hands is for after you have completed the solo set. It trains the four methods of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing, although the other four techniques of plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are also hidden within it. You ward me off, I roll you back, you [press] me, I push you. Function lies in the interrelation between these four techniques. Once you complete the four-technique pushing hands exercise, there is still another exercise of four techniques, which involves stepping below during the use of the arms above."

Li Xianwu said,
In "Taiji Boxing" (1933) Li writes, "Pushing hands is called “playing hands”, also “touching hands” or “nearing hands”. Two people use their hands to push at each other in endless circles, round as a ball. The result of it is that they train awareness and practical application.

The basics eight techniques are called: ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, bump. Throughout endless transformations, everything arises from these eight techniques.

In the beginning of the training, work only with choreographed movements proceeding in sequence, thereby causing your sensitivity of touch to daily increase. Once you are skillful at this, then you will at all times act nimbly, able to issue with but a single touch, no longer limited to choreographed postures, transforming endlessly. Anticipating an opponent’s condition of movement of stillness, emptiness and fullness, you will naturally have the abilities of “neither coming away nor crashing in” and “comply and bend then engage and extend”. Able to both stick and yield, a mere four ounces can move a thousand pounds."

Chen Xiao-Wang said,
In IKF magazine, 1991, Chen Xiaowang is quoted; "Chen style push hands tended to be done in a moving fashion. One attacks forward while the other retreats backward, front on or side on and so forth. The other styles like to do it in a more or less stationary manner, with less ‘fa jing’ and less aggressive moves. We also tend to use chin na and take-downs a lot. We treat push hands as a mockfight rather than an exercise. You have to be thrown around a lot to know what your ‘qi’ or your ‘jing’ is doing."

In "Discussion with Chen Xiao-Wang" (Nick Gudge), he says of the current crop of 'free-form' push hands, "Some enter the tournament without proper practice. There are two aspects to push hands: 1. actively attack, 2. passively protect yourself. If you are being pushed you must protect yourself. You should learn and understand both aspects of the competition. The problem with the tournament is that many try to be number one (win), so both partners are actively attacking each other at the same time. This is the problem. Sometimes the competitors are not well matched either."

Chen Ziqing said,
In Mark Wasson's interview, he relates how Chen Ziqing learned to do push hands. "When Ziqiang was training in push hands to compete for different competitions, every student in the school had to form a long line, and one by one each student had to attack Ziqiang. Usually within seconds there would be a loud slamming noise and the attacker would crawl away to get back into line, and the next opponent would immediately attack Ziqiang. This would go on for hours non-stop, with no breaks. No one ever came close to taking Ziqiang down, and Ziqiang never tired, even after having faced down each student in the school at least thirty times. After a competition was over, the grueling training regime in the school would resume back to normal, and never was there so many grateful faces on so many students, because Chen Ziqiang would finally stop pounding people into the ground and start teaching again – at least until another competition was near."

He says, ""When you do pushing hands, you try to 'uproot' your opponent," he says. "Then it's easy to throw them down. Beginners usually cannot keep a good root. You move them a little and their energy becomes like cooked noodles – too soft, with no strength to deflect incoming force. Uncooked noodles are stiff and can easily stand on one end to support downward – or straight on – force. But if you use horizontal force, they are too brittle and break. To uproot your opponent, you need to split his energy. You need to get him going in two directions.""

"Pushing hands," he says, "was designed to practice one's skill and taiji strategy. This involves learning both attacking and defending skills. Most beginners just want to attack, however, because attacking is easier, and it takes less skill. Defending is always much harder to learn how to master. But against another trained martial artist, one's ability to defend is what will determine the outcome of the fight. So people should practice more learning how to dissolve an opponent's energy than think about attacking."

Hong Jun-Sheng said,
Hong, the famous student of Chen Fa-Ke relates, "In the beginnings of my Wu style Taijiquan studies, teacher Liu (i.e. Liu Musan) told me, that the slower the movements, the better the skill, that is: the better the skill, the slower one can practice. When teacher Chen came for the first time to teacher Liu's house, after exchanging the greetings, he (i.e. Chen Fake) performed the First and the Second Routine of Chen style Boxing; everybody prepared over an hour to admire famous master's art. Unexpectedly the demonstration of both routines took only several minutes, and the Second Routine contained some leaping and very fast movements, and Chen's stamping shook tiles on the roof. Teacher Chen sat (with us) for a while after the demonstration and then left. Afterwards everybody was making comments - some said Chen practiced so fast, that considering the principle "move like pulling the silk" the silk would tear; some said stamping did not conform with the rule of "taking steps like a cat". However teacher Liu said: "Although the movements were fast, they were all round; although the power was issued, he was still relaxed; since we invited him, we should learn; after we learn the routine, we ask him to teach Pushing Hands; if he is better than I, then we continue to learn the Second Routine". (note: the result was that Chen was far above Liu in push hands skill and they decided to learn from him).

Chen Xin said,
In "Chen Xin's 36 Push Hands Sicknesses," the sicknesses of Qinling (#8), Qiya (#13), Ba (#24) and others all illustrate wrongful kinds of competitiveness. Especially Tuoda (#35), to suddenly hit, is an example of the kind of competitiveness which ills modern competitions. It is this particular fault we can see even Chen Weiming admit – what an inspiration, that there is always room for improvement. If even so for him, however more so for us.

Wang Feng-Ming said,
In the book "The Essence of Taijiquan Push Hands Technique" written by Feng Zhi-Qiang's disciple Wang Feng-Ming (11th Generation Chen Style), we see a totally different take on the exercise than shown by the Yang derived schools. Wang writes of Feng's teaching,
"Taijiquan push hands is a way to check how much and how well a practitioner has mastered the eight techniques, five steps, adhere/connect/stick/follow skills, and usage of other energies (jin) through form practice." Continuing, "Practice shows that push-hands can be used as the sole criterion reflecting a practitioner's level of Taijiquan, like a ruler or a mirror."
Further, "Push-hands exercises can be used to further assess the correctness of form practice, usage of energies, and movements."

Chen Ziming said,
Chen Ziming in 1932 writes, "Scraping hands, or “pressing hands”, is what the Yang family calls “pushing hands”. My teacher said: “The four techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, and push are an exercise of two people joining hands and a marvelous method of working the whole body.” He also said: “It is the way of the universe, nothing more than hardness and softness. Thus when scraping hands, if he attacks using hardness, I respond using softness. There is hardness within my softness, and thus it is difficult for him to defend against me.”"
He continues, "You and a partner touch hands (same way as in sparring), both of you knowing that you are to use methods of drawing in the other person, and not to use unbalanced energy (i.e. an energy of animal vigor). You now go back and forth with a naturalness and some degree of awareness for the exercise’s transformations and fluctuations. You will slightly be able to see ways of winning, and come to understand why one of you is winning and the other is losing. Knowing why you just lost, you will then begin to sense that the subtleties of the “playing hands” exercise come entirely from the ordinary practice of the boxing set. All of the principles within the boxing set manifest from a balanced energy. Playing hands is the application of that balanced energy."

Chen Fa-Ke said,
"It is unacceptable to hurt your opponent in push hands."

Conclusion
1. Push hands has two main purposes
a) as a learning tool it is the second major practice phase of taijiquan, without which one cannot learn to understand the 13 energies (ex. Chen Weiming writes, "Begin by moving in patterns, every day doing hundreds or thousands of reps, and then naturally your legs will develop root and the flexibility of your waist will greatly increase. By the time a year has passed, you and your partner will be seeking energies.) (ex. Li Xianwu writes, "In the beginning of the training, work only with choreographed movements proceeding in sequence, thereby causing your sensitivity of touch to daily increase.")

b) as the sole criterion for comparing one's skill in taijiquan without actively fighting (ex. Hong Junsheng's Liu story, Wang Feng-Ming, etc).

2. Some people practice push hands incorrectly. For example they only try to attack and do not try to defend themselves. However also that "We treat push hands as a mockfight rather than an exercise." -- which we suppose could be a form of "no longer limited to choreographed postures," (see above).

Our conclusion is that it is utterly vital to practice push hands until one has developed sensitivity of touch and is able to deal with incoming attacks in a manner closely resembling the form of the push hands one is engaging in. "Breaking the circle" and shoving, hitting, etc. is categorically not push hands, nor may push hands be skipped or looked over as a training method in authentic tai chi.

Of course, we could just forget all this and throw down.

In closing i will provide a short explanation of Chen Xin's 36 sicknesses. I would like to pose these as a question: Do you feel that these are still valid? Are they valid in your style (yang, sun, wu, etc.)? Are some of them outdated? Thanks for your response!

tuishou 36 sickness

1. Do not withdraw your body when you are not in an optimal position (instead, deal with the sub-optimal position).

2. Do not disconnect from the opponent in retreat.

3. Do not shield your body from your opponent's attacks with your hand (at the last minute-- i.e. do not be afraid to use your body to handle the attack)

4. Do not block (hit) attacks.

5. Do not clash (hit) against the opponent (see 4)

6. Do not gamble by blindly crashing forward (ex. do not have the idea of striking forward when there appears to be no resistance)

7. Do not dodge attacks (rather, stay connected)

8. Do not bully the opponent in his own circle (rather to draw him out to expose a mistake)

9. Do not chop (i.e. karate chop) anything.

10. Do not clinch.

11. Do not press to stop your opponent from moving (rather, go along with his movement)

12. Do not rub against the opponent (casually or as an attack).

13. Do not bully the opponent with overwhelming force.

14. Do not hook around the opponent (esp. wrist or foot)

15. Do not separate from contact.

16. Do not try to trick your opponent (ex. by presenting a false energy he cannot understand) or by fooling him against his perception in other ways (your shoelace is untied)

17. Do not grapple.

18. Do not push aside, shove or yank.

19. Do not require the opponent to push hard against you (do not give the opponent a heavy weight he cannot withstand.)

20. Do not attack without seeing the target.

21. Do not fix weaknesses in your shape by pushing sideways against the opponent.

22. Do not always repel the opponent without luring him in. (Instead of blocking a person from coming in you should study how to lure someone in and upset his balance.)

23. Admit defeat; do not play the clock or play recklessly to turn a certain loss into a random victory.

24. Do not use strength to push against the opponent's weak spots (however tempting)

25. Do not switch horses midstream (ex. do not push an arm left then right where pushing left has no purpose); do not release a grab with the right so that you may grab with the left and strike with the right)

26. Do not grasp the opponent's wrist (or other) to apply technique.

27. Do not forget to use silk reeling (do not use linear motion)

28. Change lively (Do not turn before your opponent has fully withdrawn; do not continue to push if he is turning, etc)

29. Do not rely on physical hooks such as hooking the foot to produce a throw (allow the opponent to fall or step back naturally)

30. Do not lift up or pull down against the opponent's line of force (ex. do not lean weight on the arms)

31. Do not try to withstand the opponent's force (do not present a heavy burden when he is pushing).

32. Do not conflict against the opponent's force (rather to attempt to follow it).

33. Do not roll to the side to avoid an attack (I don't understand what this means)

34. Do not fold to attack the opponent or suddenly hit from the other side - ex. when I push the small end of the stick down, the big end turns back and hits me. Do not use a technique which causes your opponent to hit you.

35. Do not suddenly hit or use a surprise attack (suddenly speeding up, etc).

36. Do not escalate conflict (ex. when you are losing in order to try and catch up.)
Last edited by Appledog on Sun May 01, 2022 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby windwalker on Sun May 01, 2022 8:09 pm

Wang Yongquan wrote :



汪永泉授楊式太極拳語錄及拳照
Wang Yongquan Writings on Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan
Translated by Richard Man,

http://facebook.com/groups/IMA.LiteraryTradition



(Five) “Rubbing Hand” (Push Hand) Must Be Done With Correct Intent
練習揉手要有正確的目的。揉手又名推手。揉手的目的是為了校正練習者對拳術理論不正確的 理解,發現並糾正學習拳架時的不正確的練法,以及不正確的揉手方法,避免出現偏差而走入 吱途。有些人對揉手沒有正確的理解,認為揉手只是為了一爭高下,因而在練習時,拳友之間 往往容易產生誤會和摩擦,甚至傷害身體。這種偏差是由於缺少教養或違反武德,而在揉手中 摻雜了非太極拳的拆手、散打,以及反關節擒拿等招術,使揉手形成了較力的緣故。

Practicing “Rubbing Hand” must be done with correct intent.
Rubbing Hand is commonly known as Push Hand.
The purpose of Rubbing Hand is for the practitioners to validate their understanding of the martial art principles.

If a student discovers that they do not understand or practice correctly, and their rubbing hand is not done correctly, then they can avoid continuing down the incorrect path.

Some people misunderstand the intent of Rubbing Hand, and think that it’s for testing who is better.


When practicing with friends, this generates conflicts and
misunderstanding, and sometimes even cause physical injuries.

These indicate a deficiency in their education and is the opposite of Wu De.

They add to the soft hands other arts’ fighting hands, sanshou, and different joint locking (chin na) techniques {translator:

Tai Chi ‘Chin Na’ works differently }, and changed the soft hands into a strength testing process.


Some posts reflecting the idea of changing or adding according their understanding.

不要誤認為揉手就是專門學技擊友人的,一味追求技擊效果。這種錯誤理解和意圖,有可能造 成身體的宿瘓。對此,青少年練習者應當特別注意。
You must not think that Rubbing Hand is the end result of the practice.
If you practice that way, that’s incorrect understanding, and would cause harm to your body. Students must be careful of this point.


練習揉手主要是為了"懂勁兒"為了練成真正的太極功夫,而不是為了爭強好勝,以致不擇手 段。我的老師楊澄甫說,揉手時,要用太極拳的功夫贏人,才能讓對方口服心服。

The prime reason for practicing Rubbing Hand is to “Understand Jin” and learn the true Tai Chi Gong Fu,

and not to see who is stronger or who would win, even using unsportsman like techniques or with bad intention.

My teacher Yang Chengfu said, “If you win over your opponent using true Tai Chi Chuan Gong Fu at Rubbing Hand,
then you will get their respect from their heart and mouth.” {translator: that is, otherwise even if you win, then they fear you, but may not respect you. }



What is written reflects a way of practice that some may or not agree with...

Understanding this, it might provide a context for some of the recent clips viewed and questioned


Those looking for other things, or in terms of competition won't see it..
It's not what the training is about...

In this practice :)
Last edited by windwalker on Sun May 01, 2022 8:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Quigga on Sun May 01, 2022 8:46 pm

My simple question would be what is pushing the hands
Balance may only be used for balance
To not add any personal bias is the goal
Yet belief is a powerful engine, emotional intent
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby origami_itto on Sun May 01, 2022 9:08 pm

Quigga wrote:My simple question would be what is pushing the hands

A misnomer. I wouldn't look to the name itself for any answers.
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that jing.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Quigga on Sun May 01, 2022 9:08 pm

I'm open to be demonstrated on for lots of things and have been a practice dummy

Some parts you have to steal, some parts you have to feel yourself, some are both

Just wanted to say that in PH it's essentially all about yourself imo

Or I'm just too egoistic :D
Balance may only be used for balance
To not add any personal bias is the goal
Yet belief is a powerful engine, emotional intent
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby windwalker on Sun May 01, 2022 9:34 pm

Quigga wrote:I'm open to be demonstrated on for lots of things and have been a practice dummy

Some parts you have to steal, some parts you have to feel yourself, some are both

Just wanted to say that in PH it's essentially all about yourself imo

Or I'm just too egoistic :D



:)

echoes some points

我的父親(汪崇祿)告訴我"練知己之功得太極勁兒;練知彼之功得‘中'”。
My father (Wang Chonglu) told me that “practice knowing yourself and you will gain the Tai Chi Jin; practice knowing others will learn to control their center.”


太極拳功夫有兩個部分:知己之功和知彼之功。

Tai Chi Chuan Gong Fu has two distinct skills: knowing yourself and knowing others.


知己之功:​培養自身內氣之功。具體功法是:松、散、通、空。通過盤架子,增強內氣,求得"全 身透空" "百病不生,健全體魄,延年益壽"。對練養生來說,知己之功也是養生功,求得到太極 勁兒,全身透空,百病不生。對練技擊來說,習練知己之功,為進行技擊打下基礎。知己之功​ 也是基礎功。


Knowing Yourself: it’s the practice of nourishing your Internal Qi. Its methods are: Soong, “dispersed”, porous/transparent, and empty.

When you practice the forms, you increase your Internal Qi, and your “whole body becomes as if porous and empty” and “you will not get sick, increase constitution, and long life attained.” In terms of practicing for health, The gong fu of

knowing yourself” is a type of health practice.

You gain the Tai Chi Jin, body being empty, and do not get sick.

In terms of practicing for fighting, learning “knowing yourself” is the foundation work.
If you cannot find the truth right where you are,
where else do you expect to find it?

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Re: What is push hands?

Postby everything on Sun May 01, 2022 9:45 pm

It’s hard enough to work on the yourself part.

Although in some sense it seems to get easier.
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby origami_itto on Mon May 02, 2022 5:36 am

What can we add here, the past masters really covered all the bases, didn't they?

But of course I'll try to sum up

- It takes four hands to learn - everything other than push hands is just prep work to derive the actual skills of Taijiquan from push hands practice periodt.
- it starts cooperatively - until you can actually do the pattern correctly, just practice the pattern
- it stays cooperative - doing patterns with someone better they should show you where you're off, doing patterns with someone worse you should help them find their defects
- it gets competitive - with someone who is evenly matched, do the patterns attempting to make the technique work by capitalizing on faults, reach a point where you can apply a technique that your opponent knows is coming and knows how to counter
- it gets random - once you've got a firm foundation in patterns (or run out of partners willing to practice them with you) then start with random attacks and defenses
- it gets moving - once you've got stationary skills, start incorporating stepping

It's a progression, each phase working on a different aspect of Taijiquan skills.

But also, I believe in working fundamentals forever, so going back to step 1 is a regular part of practice.

Internally, there are different approaches.

One thing that I try to do is as the opponent pushes me, I use their energy to load my own structure. I let them draw the bow, so to speak. Then as I release that into them, it loads theirs, and back and forth, like pouring water between two cups.

There are people that just shove to win and whatever, they have their reward. I'd rather get pushed and stop and recreate the situation until I can deal with it and get something of real value from the practice than just train to shove real good so I can get a meaningless medal at a pointless competition.

I dunno. If at some point I feel like I have to prove something, maybe I'll try one of those sumo matches.
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that jing.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Giles on Mon May 02, 2022 6:26 am

That’s a really interesting 36er list of factors. Appledog, do you know roughly when he formulated this list? And are the phrases in brackets your own exegesis, or belong to the original text?

Most of the points are more or less do’s and dont’s for training/improving one’s own gongfu. Apart from being very useful for training and refinement, these are things that you should continue to do in a non-cooperative situation or in an actual fight or self-defense situation. For instance 1, 2, 6, 7, 10(?), 11, 17(?), 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34.

There are also points that seem to be more about creating a good practice/learning environment, either just for yourself or also for your partner so that both can benefit. Which I like a lot. In other words, limiting oneself in useful ways so that one can focus more on the actual skills and deepen these. “Solve the problem in a ‘pure’ way or not at all”. For instance 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 23 (an “invest in loss” classic), 24, 26, 29, 35, 36.
Some of these things would be fine in a serious situation when you need to do whatever it takes to win or at least survive, and they won't automatically stop you doing good tai chi if you do these actions in addition to the basic skills you have developed. But for that the basics have to be really ingrained.

On the basis of the English translation, I don’t understand 33 either. If any Chinese speakers have access to the list, it would be good to hear alternative translations/explanations.

I’d add one to the list: Even though the name in English is “push hands” and “tui shou” in Chinese, when practicing don’t push against your partner’s hands/arms. Meaning: always aim (in a moderate way) for their body, for the center of gravity, for the structure, or for points that would be useful in self-defense. It’s the responsibility of the other person to move their hands/arms into the path of your attack and thus to transform the energy. If they don’t put their arms in the way, continue to the body and uproot (or touch a vulnerable area).
Last edited by Giles on Mon May 02, 2022 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Giles on Mon May 02, 2022 6:34 am

Origami: nice summary. And then as consenting got-myself-fully-under-control adults you can sometimes include some or all of the other possible techniques - locks, strikes, throws, kicks - without injuring your partner or even causing him to no longer like you or not want to keep practicing with you. At the same time, the quality and feel should still be as smooth and relaxed as the fundamentals you keep going back to.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby marvin8 on Mon May 02, 2022 7:01 am

Giles wrote:On the basis of the English translation, I don’t understand 33 either. If any Chinese speakers have access to the list, it would be good to hear alternative translations/explanations.

Excerpt from "Chen Xin's Push Hand Thirty-six Sicknesses:"

Zhang Yun wrote:For more people to get benefits from Chen's article, I translate it here. I did not put any explanation from myself. I just try to keep the original meaning of the article. Because the article was written in traditional style and used a lot of ancient words, I give some notes so that people can understand it more easily. I hope it can help you develop your skills.

(Below all italic sentences are Pinyin transliterations of Chen Xin's original item titles. Bold font sentences are the translation of Chen Xin's original text. The regular font sentences are my notes.)...

33. Gun - roll; trundle

To be afraid of getting hurt, so roll to side. This looks like a ball rolling away.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby marvin8 on Mon May 02, 2022 8:23 am

Giles wrote:Origami: nice summary. And then as consenting got-myself-fully-under-control adults you can sometimes include some or all of the other possible techniques - locks, strikes, throws, kicks - without injuring your partner or even causing him to no longer like you or not want to keep practicing with you. At the same time, the quality and feel should still be as smooth and relaxed as the fundamentals you keep going back to.

Yes. But even before that, starting from long distance, the cooperating partner accurately attacks in any way, then you push them. After all, push hands is about developing skills for self defense, which starts from non-contact to contact. This level of partner exercise appears to be missing. -shrug-
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Giles on Mon May 02, 2022 9:07 am

Thanks for the extra info there, Marvin! So gun in this context sounds like another version of turning away or pulling back or flinching away, which would mean a further variation of avoiding, dodging, disconnecting, without being able to neutralize and turn the energy back to the opponent (in any of the possible ways).

Yes, the element of moving from non-contact to contact that you refer to is another important level. Another step towards integrating tuishou into real situations. I often train tuishou with more experienced students or with my peer training partners in something I call "haiku mode", where each exchange begins with one person stepping in with an 'attack' and the other receiving, or both persons stepping into each other, and the following tuishou exchange has to be completed within a few seconds, whatever the result. That doesn't mean getting hectic or hurried, just concise. Then reset/repeat.
On the other hand, longer exchanges where the partners remain sticking together for longer, even if less 'realistic' on the aforementioned level, can be very good for exploring, developing and transforming the circles, for relaxing under pressure and finding your feet. This both as fixed step and moving step.

It's a universe for itself, and potentially a wonderful one 8-). You just need to know at all times what you're doing, and why you're doing it.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby origami_itto on Mon May 02, 2022 9:34 am

In the more playful settings, you can also goof around by not letting your partner get into their stance. As they step in to start pushing with you, keep them from doing it. They have to get past you to start the exchange. It's useful practice for the junior even at lower skill levels.
Last edited by origami_itto on Mon May 02, 2022 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is push hands?

Postby Doc Stier on Mon May 02, 2022 10:01 am

Many of the older generation masters I studied with in the 1960's-1970's referred to tui-shou practice as Joined Hands training, rather than Push Hands training.

They felt that this alternate terminology helped students avoid an overly competitive and excessively aggressive mindset, which the literal word 'push' often seems to generate in the minds of most students, and is more in keeping with the practice agenda priorities of learning how to effectively attach, adhere, join and follow, rather than merely striving to dominate every partner with forceful grappling and pushing.

In this way, relaxed sensitivity of touch at the points of contact and fluid softness of changes became the primary focus of every exchange with any practice partner, rather than simply winning for the sake of personal ego gratification.
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