Here, let’s talk about some key skill development for Tai Chi Push Hand.
First, let me clarify that “Push Hands” is not free fighting. It’s a unique Tai Chi training method to develop specific skills with a training partner on route for free fighting. It can be used as a friendly contest between Tai Chi practitioners to measure one’s Tai Chi application proficiency.
Based on my own experience, I found the following three aspects are the key pillars for Push Hands:
- Internal Power (内劲)
- Sensing Skill (听劲)
- Technique (手法)
Of the above three, Internal Power (内劲) and Sensing Skill (听劲) are of similar importance. And I would rate these two higher than Technique (手法). Without an adequate level of the first two, you would not be able to use the technique properly.
Internal Power (内劲) can be developed from Stance training (桩功), Form practice etc. It takes time to build up. Being able to link your hand/arm with the bottom of your foot (thus connecting with earth) is the first hurdle to pass in measuring your internal power development. Chinese saying, are you in the gate (入门了)?
Sensing Skill (听劲) can be developed from Push Hands drill and experience. With the right mindset, the more you push, you should improve your Sensing Skill. Sensing Skill is used both in attacking and defending/yielding. Level of Sensing Skill can result in how efficient your technique is.
Technique (手法) can be developed from Form practice and Push Hands drill with training partners. It builds on Internal Power and Sensing Skill.
Working hard on the above, I’m sure you will raise your level of Push Hands.