Pushing hands, Push hands or tuishou (alternately spelled tuei shou or tuei sho) is a two-person training routine practiced in internal Chinese martial arts such as Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Taijiquan (tài jí quán), and Yiquan. Pushing hands is said to be the gateway for students to experientially understand the martial aspects of the internal martial arts (內家 nèijiā): leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. Pushing hands works to undo a person's natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. Some t'ai chi schools teach push hands to complement the physical conditioning of performing solo routines. Push hands allows students to learn how to respond to external stimuli using techniques from their forms practice.
Among other things, training with a partner allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner's intention. In that sense pushing hands is a contract between students to train in the defensive and offensive movement principles of their martial art: learning to generate, coordinate and deliver power to another and also how to effectively neutralize incoming forces in a safe environment.In t'ai chi ch'uan, pushing hands is used to acquaint students with the principles of what are known as the "Eight Gates and Five Steps," eight different leverage applications in the arms accompanied by footwork in a range of motion, intended to allow students to defend themselves calmly and competently if attacked. Also known as the "13 original movements of tai chi", a posture expressing each one of these aspects is found in all tai chi styles. Training and pushing hands competitions generally involve contact but no strikes.
There are three elements to t'ai chi ch'uan which are present in every movement and essential in push hands:
Sinking (see Rooting below)
Turning - there is an external turning such as right or left, and there is an internal turning or spiraling from the feet to the hands
Expanding - All joints must be open and the arms and legs connected to the ming-men
The three primary principles of movement cultivated by push hands practice are:
Rooting - Stability of stance, a highly trained sense of balance in the face of force.
Yielding - The ability to flow with incoming force from any angle. The practitioner moves with the attacker's force fluidly without compromising their own balance.
Release of Power (Fa Jing) - The application of power to an opponent. Even while applying force in push hands one maintains the principles of Yielding and Rooting at all times.
The Eight Gates and Five Steps of push hands
1. Peng 掤 – Outward Expansion (South/Heaven)
2. Lu 捋– Roll Back (North/Earth)
3. Ji 挤 – Press Forward (West/Water)
4. An 按 – Push Downward (East/Fire)
5. Cai 采 – Pull Down (SW/Wind)
6. Lie 挒– Split (NE/Thunder)
7. Zhou 肘- Elbow Stroke (SE/Lake)
8. Kou 靠– Shoulder Stroke (NW/Mountain)
9. Jin Bu 进步 – Step Forward (Metal)
10. Tui Bu 退步– Step Backward (Wood)
11. Zuo Gu 左顾- Look Left (Water)
12. You Pan 右盼 – Look Right (Fire)
13. Zhong Ding 中定 – Central Equilibrium (Earth)