This article is inspired by the book, Tai Chi Push Hands: The Martial Foundation of Tai Chi Chuan by Grantham & Dr. Yang
You Can Practice Together
The lone practitioner peacefully reciting this slow ancient dance is the most common mental image we all see when we think of Tai Chi. Solitary meditation is the romantic ideal as well as a genuine facet of the practice, but there's so much more to Tai Chi. If you seek self-actualization through Tai Chi, you must go deeper that solo forms. To really understand the art, you do not have to go at it alone. Push Hands is another major component Tai Chi, one that is frequently overlooked as it has migrated westward. It is Tai Chi that you practice together with a partner. Tai Chi Push Hands is the next step.
Today most people practice Tai Chi for personal cultivation. Tai Chi has been scientifically proven to reduces your stress and improves your balance. It also helps you find your center and cultivate your inner peace. Through these time-honored routines lies a path to find yourself. It's a doorway on the journey of personal growth. While you can pursue it alone, it's better to get help. A good teacher, a good book or a good book will help you along your way. A good partner can too if you both know Push Hands.
Find Your Balance
In Push Hands, two partners work together to improve each other's balance. These exercises are applicative expressions of the various postures within the Tai Chi form. The foundation of Tai Chi lies within martial arts, so self-defense principles are interwoven throughout the routines. Even though many Tai Chi enthusiasts aren't looking to use it in a fight, proper alignment is critical to good Tai Chi practice. It's all based on balance. And nothing informs you that you are off balance better than a good push.
Through the practice of Push Hands, you provide some resistance for your partner who reciprocates by doing the same with you. This reveals the 'secrets' of Tai Chi in a very tangible way. For the casual observer and the beginner, the movements of Tai Chi are abstract. With a gentle push – or pull – the meaning behind the movements becomes clear. It is a palpable experience to be shared between Tai Chi students as you guide each other towards mutual improvement. Through this practice, your Tai Chi will become more genuine and profound.
Tai Chi Push Hands: The Martial Foundation of Tai Chi Chuan by Grantham & Dr. Yang
A Complete Plan to Learn Push Hands
Within Tai Chi, there are many forms of Push Hands, each with different patterns and sequences to guide you to a better understanding of where your center is, as well as where your partner's center may be. Tai Chi Push Hands: The Martial Foundation of Tai Chi Chuan by David W. Grantham and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming outlines a complete plan for your Push Hands training. If you are new to this aspect of Tai Chi, Tai Chi Push Hands has all you need to get started (except for a partner). If you are already a seasoned Push Hands player, this book is a deep dive into the practice. It contains an insightful historical overview of the theoretical underpinnings from revered ancient Tai Chi texts, as well as the qigong practice underlying Tai Chi. And of course, there are extensive and detailed exercises for Push Hands, demonstrated clearly and sequentially in a large format paperback. Tai Chi Push Hands contains over 400 photos with helpful guiding arrows and informative captions. If you are a Tai Chi teacher, this book presents a complete curriculum, one that you can cherry-pick lessons to augment what you are currently teaching or use as a textbook for a yearlong (or more) course for your students.
Tai Chi to Fit Your Personal Needs
One of the greatest properties of Tai Chi is that it is completely self-regulating. You decide how to practice your Tai Chi. If you're a beginner or a hobbyist, you can practice Tai Chi lightly. If you're an advanced practitioner in peak physical condition, you can deepen your stances, increase your repetitions, and expand your practice to be more rigorous. Most importantly, if you're not feeling well (and we all have our weak moments) you can take it easy and recite your Tai Chi in a manner that will promote your personal healing and wellness.
The same is true for Push Hands. You and your partner agree as to how thorough you want to train. If you are just beginning, you and your partner can play Push Hands cooperatively, supporting each other with gentle nudges in the right direction. In this manner, you can play Push Hands with anyone, your classmates, your friends, your spouse, even your kids and parents. Once you learn the language of Push Hands, it doesn't matter how skilled you are or how big you might be. We can all learn from each other and share.
Tai Chi is a Way to a Rich Life
If you're seeking to use Tai Chi for self-defense, Push Hands can be practiced with combative intention. Concealed within these exercises are throws and joint locks, some brutally effective tactics that could save your life. Push Hands is also a competitive sport, and like any sport, you play to win. Winning is not cooperative. With any art, what you put into your practice will determine your results. With Tai Chi Push Hands, you have complete control of your personal investment. Whatever your situation, whether you play Push Hands for your own spiritual progress and healthy lifestyle or for the physical martial arts, the core principles are the same. And these are contained within Tai Chi Push Hands: The Martial Foundation of Tai Chi Chuan.
We all want to be healthy and live longer. For centuries, Tai Chi has been a gentle approach to health and longevity. It is a hallmark of a profound lifestyle. Tai Chi is a moving meditation and a contemplative path to a rich and balanced life.
Tai Chi Push Hands: The Martial Foundation of Tai Chi Chuan by David W. Grantham and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming is available through YMAA.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gene Ching is staff writer and publicist for YMAA. He is a 32nd generation disciple of the original Shaolin Temple in China and a Provost Master of Fencing. He served as the Publisher of the newsstand magazine, Kung Fu Tai Chi, and as a Weapons Expert on El Rey Network's Man at Arms: Art of War.