Intro to Free Pushing Hands

Here I am talking about and demonstrating how I introduce students to the T'ai-Chi training game that I call "Free Pushing Hands". I'm calling it this in order to differentiate it from more choreographed pushing hands drills. This game, which involves trying to preserve your balance while trying to upset your partner's, is often played competitively but I find that doing this encourages strategies that may help you win the game but don't necessarily translate to what I would call good T'ai-Chi. For instance, people train to not move their feet, which is usually how points are scored. You move your opponent's fee and you score a point. In order to do this, many players take wide and deep, very stable positions which again, may help you win the game but don't translate well to developing the responsive, mobile, unforced balance that I associate with T'ai-Chi. And martially, training to not move your feet seems kind of misguided at best since there are very very few situations in life or fighting where the best thing to do is not budge an inch. I'm not saying that training that way is wrong or useless, just that it doesn't serve my training needs. I like to move my feet. I also like to play the game with the intent of upsetting my partner's balance and preserving my own but not in a hard competitive way. I would call it loosely competitive with an underlying focus on learning and improving overall balance. My student Katie was nice enough to volunteer for this. When this was shot she had only had two very basic T'ai-Chi lessons with me. I don't usually introduce pushing hands this early but I wanted to show that getting up to speed with the basic game is not that difficult. If a person has serious alignment issues, it would, of course, not be this easy and I wouldn't even try. I would address those issues first. But you can see that within 10 minutes or so, she is getting the hang of the basic game. I hope to continue doing some Free Pushing Hands as part of our continuing lessons, even if our main focus is going to be the solo movements. www.GeneBurnett.comShot with a Flip Video camera on June 29th, 2012. Visit website
Added on September 4th, 2016
Last updated: April 13th, 2021