Posts Tagged ‘Push Hands’

“Static Hands” Push Hands for Beginners

August 6, 2016

Here are three types of push hands exercises that are designed to get people to use their hip joints and encourage free play.  They are all forms of what I now call “static hands” drills in that the hands/arms maintain the same contact point with the other person.  Keeping these fixed hands positions intentionally limits any sort of parrying motions of the arms, and is a good indicator of/way to develop functional structure and root.

The first is a form of single hand push hands minus any major intent to push the other person back.  The focus should be to roll around the person’s incoming force and get into a better position while staying grounded.   Basically, we’re just practicing ward off/peng energy here.

The second is a static hands drill designed to teach people how to push someone out of their stance in response to pushes they received.  For this drill to work it is important not to be too light with the hands or disconnect them at any time.  We’re not practicing parrying here but learning to move the body while staying structured and rooted.   This drill in particular seems to give people a good foundation for free play rather quickly.  In fact, I’ve shown this drill to people who have had years of competitive push hands experience, and it was clear they could use this drill to improve as they had trouble with other less experiences than they were.  There is little room for error.  You can’t save yourself by using some flailing arm motion.  You either have structure or you get pushed back.

The third static hands drill is an expansion of the second, using the starting hand position used in competition matches.  Because the shoulder joint is freed up a little bit more, a couple more techniques can be used, e.g. rollback and elbow.

These drills are simple enough, I hope, for people who don’t have access to a teacher to try on their own.  They can get the idea of what it’s like to play in Taijiquan, and build some foundation skills that would allow them to hold their own against people in many push hands meetup groups.  They’re also nice to use when people from different schools used to different rules sets of free play want to find an easy way to practice together and not have to argue about rule sets.  No teacher?  No excuse.  No Taoist philosophy?  No problem.  Grab a buddy and play!



Push Hands 101: The Single Hand Method

December 14, 2012

One cannot learn push hands from a blog post.  Consider these just a few reminders for when practicing without the aid of a teacher.


Begin by bowing to your partner a few steps away from them.  Then take one step to close the distance and a second step to get into the position.  The front foot should be parallel to your partner’s, a few inches away, and with the toes at least as far as their heal.  The forearms will touch in a peng (ward off) position, but as soon as contact is made movement should commence as the slight touch of your partner should give a signal as to how you should respond.


Most of the weight of the body should be kept on the back leg for the duration of the exercise, but be careful not to push back with the front leg as this may loosen ones connection to the ground.  Turn the body via the kua (hip joints) without excessive movement of the hips or knees and rotate as if your back leg were a swiveling stool with the upper body resting upon it.

Arms Relaxed

As your partner pushes forward on your elbow joint respond by simultaneously sitting into the front kua, bending the elbow, and turning the hand palm up to ward off your partner’s movement.  Although these moves happen at the same time, we must think that the movement is driven by the bending of the hip joint while the elbow and hand are merely following along.  This prevents the movements of the arm, which is in contact with your partner, from becoming discernible or telegraphed. As soon as you’ve moved your partner’s arm off your center, begin to turn the palm face down again and open the the front kua.  As you follow your partner’s elbow back and rotate the forearm make sure not to raise the elbow too high or lift the shoulder.

Body Upright

Keep the body and head upright at all times during the exercise.  There should be no need to bend forward or back, just rotate horizontally out of the way of your partner’s push.  When you are pushing, don’t lean in to try to push strongly as this could easily result in being thrown off balance.  Stay upright, and be aware of how your partner moves to avoid your subtle push.


After several turns your back leg may start to burn and shake from carrying the weight of the body in movement.  This is good.  Do not immediately come out of your stance when you feel this; rather, try to relax through the burning and notice how your leg wants to straighten itself out to escape it.  Learn to master the body by not giving in to the first presence of discomfort.  Stay focused on your partner, and do not allow the creeping tension in the leg to hinder your responses to his movements.