View Full Version : How do you keep push hands from turning into a contest of strength???

01-31-2001, 12:42 AM
I hate it when, after being unable to push me off balance using leverage, someone resorts to charging in down the centerline with brute strength!
How do you guys keep people from doing this?
For some reason, this always throws me off.


"The men of the East are decked in steel,
They march with a trumpet's din.
They glitter with silks and golden scales,
And high kings boast they their kin.
We of the West wear the hides of wolves,
But our hearts are steel within."
-Robert E. Howard

Water Dragon
01-31-2001, 12:47 AM
You don’t. Seriously, there’s nothing you can do about it. Just keep focusing on the principles and get slammed. Welcome to the world of “investing in loss”. You may be able to ask them to slow down because you’re not that advanced and need help. But they probably won’t listen. Unfortunately, you need a really good partner who is in line with you.

Of course, if you do the above about 80 % of the time, there’s no reason to not go full out on them once in a while

Although there are many styles, they all depend on the strong beating the weak and the slow falling to the quick. These are not related to the power that must be learned -- Taiji Classics

cha kuen
01-31-2001, 01:07 AM
The purpose of push hands is to develop sensivity, NOT to use strength. If you're using strength ,then you're doing it wrong. Your hands are most sensitive when they are soft, not when tense. .

01-31-2001, 01:37 AM
I agree; you'll have to endure a few bruises. And, the worst thing you can do is to use force to resist. Of course, "dynamic push-hands" is another kind of training. Since you raised the question, I assume that you're not talking about that. Anyway, if you resort to force in training, you'll do it under stress. Unfortunately, that's when you'll need to be "soft" and sensitive. Well, take comfort in the fact that, if you resist using force, you'll progress faster than the person who does. Even though, in the beginning, he will probably win. OK, the easy answer to your question is to step aside when the locomotive comes.


Sam Wiley
01-31-2001, 01:43 AM
When someone rushes in with overwhelming force, you use on of the corner techniques.

The way you described it above, it sounded like the person ran at you or something. (moving step Push Hands?)

If something like that's the case, use Pulldown and Split.

Let's say you are in a left foot forward stance, ready for a fight, as many people do not stand strong hand forward.

When he rushes in, you take a step back with the left foot and use P'eng to deflect his punch. Then you take a step back with the right foot, so that you are again in a left foot forward stance, grab his wrist with your right palm and his elbow with your left, and pull straight down to the ground. You do not pull towards you or past you to the side, you pull straight down. Your left hand will pressure his elbow downwards, and your right will actually pull upward slightly, so that he will turn and plummet face first into the ground.

If you cannot for some reason pull straight down as in the above, then you would have to resort to pulling him toward you. If you have to do this, you should twist his wrist with your right hand and, keeping his elbow locked with the left, shove his arm back up into this body. You will actually be spiralling his arm back into him. This is Split.

The key to both of these is to face the corner slightly and send the force into the corner, not actually right at him. For Pulldown, this makes your left palm, the one at his elbow, begin to hyperextend it, so that you could easily break his arm. For Split, you are doing the same, but the energy travels in a spiral, not a line. I'm not going to tell you the theory behind Split, because it sounds like bull, but if you crank the wrist twist, push his arm straight into him with your right palm, and maintain corner oriented pressure on his elbow, you may very well dislocate his shoulder. (This is the theory in layman's terms, aren't you glad I didn't just say to divide the incoming force at the elbow and send it back to him in two different directions? ;) )

Or, you could use P'eng to deflect the incoming strike, an oppressed block with the other hand (going beneath your P'eng), swing step your forward foot behind his lead leg, and give him the old clothesline.

Or you could do Rollback, pulling him towards you, letting go just after the pull and giving him Chee in the throat.

For these last two, he'll end up sprawled on his back wondering what the hell happened. All he'll remember probably is a rough landing.

"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

01-31-2001, 01:57 AM
I meant that if "you do Not use force, you'll progress faster."


Mr. Nemo
01-31-2001, 04:39 AM
"I hate it when, after being unable to push me off balance using leverage, someone resorts to charging in down the centerline with brute strength! How do you guys keep people from doing this?"

Well, short of just telling them not to, you can't keep them from trying to do this - but if you use internal principles you can keep it from working. I find the best way to keep them from being able to use brute force is never to hesitate - when it works, this means that you will push them off balance as they set themselves for the charge, not after they're finished charging or while they're charging.

Never hesitate...

Good lord - wu wei is the answer to just about everything.

Water Dragon
01-31-2001, 04:46 AM
Hey Joe, heres an actual tech you can use. It comes from William CC Chen. If the are coming straight down the center, lift your hands up, like in the commencement movement and lean backwards so your hands are "above" your body. You'll need to play with it and you'll have to lead them somewhere right away cause it puts you in a bad spot. But that's what Master Chen taught us to do in that situation.

Although there are many styles, they all depend on the strong beating the weak and the slow falling to the quick. These are not related to the power that must be learned -- Taiji Classics

02-01-2001, 03:42 PM
If they are unaware that they are using force, tell them where they are going wrong. If they are aware, point it out to them that they are defeating the puporse of the exercise by doing this. If these things fail then try and avoid practicing with them.

02-01-2001, 05:49 PM
Neal, I had my First competition at the tai chi classic in Plano. Five out of six people were pushing like they were charging a football obstacle. I agree with everyone that you stick to your principles and try to dissolve the attack. Investing in loss and using your ward off, roll back etc., will help you develope real skills. I recently purchased a video tape of the Chenjiagoa 6TH Intn'l Push Hands Competition. It was a joke. It was 90% shoving/wrestling.

I would like to see this Push Hands "exercise", if it is going to remain a competion thing, to be judged for what Push Hands Principles a competitor uses. If you uproot the person, well the same rules would apply as before.

Just my thought on the subject.

Steve M.

02-01-2001, 10:58 PM
A "push hands competition" is a no-win situation.

The whole point of push hands is to help train your partner, not beat him!

02-05-2001, 06:48 AM
You have a very good question. Avoiding this type of complete "external" strength is extremely difficult. I've been told from my Taiji instructor this: "Keeping relaxed and not hooking into the sympathetic nervous system is really hard, especially when dealing with someone as good or better than you are or when pushing hands, much less sparring or fighting. Once adrenaline is released in the body, relaxation is a thing of the past. Learning to use the parasympathetic nervous system is not easily learned or accomplished, so don't take this advice lightly."

"As far as "bridging" ... In Taijiquan, that is not a big deal. It is what you do once you have begun to bridge the gap and contact is made that is important."

"That is where your push hands skills come into play. You must learn to keep contact so you can feel your opponent and control him or her. That can only be done close ranges ... not long distances. I will come back to how to bridge the gap in a moment."

"The reading of your opponent is done by touch not sight. That reading is learned and refined during push hands practice. If you are having trouble reading your opponenet, you need to do more routine work and free push hands until you have mastered that skill. I don't know of any other way to train your body to respond correctly. This practice takes time ... something western people don't like to invest ... they want the skills now ... always looking for a short cut. There just isn't one, IMO."

"Now, bridging the gap skills are easily learned but not without some bumps and bruises." ;^)