We all have different styles of pushing hands.
Some people enjoy doing the choreographed movements, Da Liu, which you can endlessly ebb and flow with. You can change the tempo and you can just enjoy the feeling of exchanging energies with other.
Exchanging energy is the goal with Push Hands, not just knocking people off balance, but how you get people off balance and there is a distinct difference.
Knocking people off balance can be accomplished with brute force and skill, especially if you are the bigger person. Not much artistry here. Not much attention to craft, but hey, it can been tons of fun and is great way to work up a sweat, which also helps you detox too.
Exchanging of energy is about the sensitivity of timing and timing is key here.
Mozart described music by saying that it was about the silence between the notes. The same is true for Push Hands.
While you are moving with another person you should always be in a listening state, NOT thinking about what it is you should be doing. Here’s a little bit of logic when approaching the thought process of Push Hands. Everyone is not just different, we are different at different times of the day. Different on different days. We are never the same in any moment ever, so you can’t step into a match actively thinking. The thought process alone will slow you down, because there is no way you can think of what to do, you have to feel what you are doing. It all begins with you and you maintaining your state of mind, which is simply to just go with the flow. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but it is true. Going with the flow is what helps bring you into a state of presence. It is your present state which creates flow and from listening to your flow comes the adaptability of response.
Feeling is the most honest state and it is your most sensitive state. When practicing Push Hands I feel for the moments frozen while in flow. The moment frozen are that of my opponents and the flow is my own. Without the ability to connect to your flow, you have no ability to feel or connect and connecting is key here.
Energy is meant to connect, but you have to be in a flowing state to connect to how another person is feeling. I can feel when the person is anxious, nervous, excited or internally focused and connected to me. It’s fun feeling all these different energies, because it is constantly educating me with emotional content (Thanks T, Pitt). The more emotional content you become educated with, the more relaxed you become within yourself.
I also had a new student who impressively just absorbed my fa-jing. I was gentle with it, but I did let her feel the pop of sudden energy and she just took it and I was so impressed I said “Wow, that was great how you just absorbed it to your root”. She is by nature a very gentle woman, but soft in that way where she has incredible strength and she gave me such a simple response rooted from where true strength comes from, she said “Well, I have no choice with you”. She didn’t react, she accepted what I gave her and her character and wisdom used my force and made it her own by absorbing my force into her root, therefore solidifying her already impressive balance. She had no fear and she welcomed the challenge by making it a strength. This is Push Hands, for real.