Tui Shou translates to ‘pushing hands’. It’s a dynamic series of training methods designed to develop the sensitivity of our arms and body enabling us to detect our opponent’s intentions and dominate them at close range.
Pushing Hands practice is not designed to train us to fight, though it does link the combat strategy and tactics with the practical application of the Hand Form. This training, using a limited number of actions in a limited number of situations, conditions us to respond to our opponent’s movements in a natural way. Only when we have a good understanding of the Pushing Hands should we start to learn the Self-Defence.
There are three main stages in Pushing Hands:–
- The first and highest stage is where the sensitivity of our hands is such that our opponent’s intentions are an open book to us while our intentions are a source of mystery to him. He will be completely frustrated, unable to attack or defend;
- The second stage is where our sensitivity is not fully developed and so we can only determine our opponent’s intentions at the last minute and so may or may not be able to react in time to counter his attack;
- The third stage is where our sensitivity is so poor that we cannot detect our opponent’s attack at all. This attack will then be successful and we will be defeated. If we are to be genuine Tai Chi masters, we must be able to apply and combine the Thirteen Tactics freely and fluently. Practicing Pushing Hands with such a master is like rowing a boat in a rough sea, since our actions will always be beyond our control. Our attacks would be too slow and too obvious to be effective, while our defence would also be inadequate to respond to his attacks. In every martial art knowledge of technique, in itself, is useless; constant, thoughtful, concentrated practice is essential. Only in this way can we reach the first stage in Pushing Hands.