This is a question I was asked so frequently growing up.
I never really “meshed” with kids my own age growing up and I never quite “fit” with many people as an adult. I’ve been my own type of person and wouldn’t have it any other way. I was always a competitive athlete. I have always been an individual.
What is Push Hands? Is a question I heard all my life. Push Hands is this thing I would compete at when I traveled with my family to martial arts tournaments and it is part of my regular life. When I would come back from trips with my parents and would actually have to tell other people what it was that I did when I was away, the looks I always got were mostly blank. Some curious, but most didn’t really care.
Push Hands is a two person exercise and everyone has their own unique approach which can vary day to day and life experience to life experience.
What I love about Push Hands is that it un-trains what seems to be our innate ability to always want to anxiously anticipate, so much so, we don’t realize we are always, mostly, anxiously anticipating something.
I see it all the time when I am teaching the form, everyone’s natural programming coming out of them.
When you have people slow down so that they are forced to stop involuntarily reacting to their outside environment, you learn so much. This is what makes your practice internal.
Without the practice of Push Hands I do feel that it is nearly impossible to help people unlearn their natural desire to anxiously anticipate.
When you just practice the form, you might not fully comprehend the true power of being present. In Push Hands, without the ability to be Present, you can’t maintain your Balance. You can’t fake Balance in Push Hands, the way I see people do in the form. I don’t always pick on you, but I do see you.
Push Hands is not about pushing, it’s about sensitivity training and you really do get a glimpse into the soul of the person you are working with and sometimes what you also think you might see, could be a reflection of your inner-self, so, if you don’t like what you think you are seeing, it might be the time to take moment to step back and reflect.
Push Hands helps reinforce the need for the rooting from the form. Rooting allows your body to fully release into itself so you can respond, instead of react. Rooting and release are the mechanisms necessary for response, without the homogenization of the two you get uncontrolled reactions, which sometimes give onlookers the best laughs.
Although this is a two person exercise, it is deceptively seen as sometimes being combative, which I will admit, it can be, but that all depends on the people engaged. Don’t forget, combat doesn’t have to be negatively combative, it’s all about how you truly see yourself and how you choose to respond. Sometimes response is also about speaking what you aren’t able to say yet in energy.
Never forget, Push Hands stems from the practice of Presence to always establish Balance for the necessary mechanism of Release.