Push Hands is a two person exercise which trains response and sensitivity.

It is like wrestling, but we stay on our feet most of the time.  Sometimes some of us like to get a little extra scrappy and we return to our childlike state of exploratory joy, by fully engaging to our wits end until we just can’t go at each other anymore.  Even though we are doing this at my father’s school, the best way I can describe this is by describing it as kids gleefully tossing each other around in the mud.

The funniest thing about this class is that you will never see a group of full grown looking adults enjoy themselves getting thrown around.  Every single time some gets thrown off balance there is an automatic smile, honest joy and it is usually followed by laughter and genuine warmth.

Today I was working with a lady who asked me “Why don’t you loose your balance when your upper body moves out of the way?”

I have a few answers for this question, although I only gave her the version she could best learn from.  Here are my answers:

  1. I learned every skill that works through getting beaten up and thrown around, sometimes, quite viciously.
  2. I was spanked a whole lot growing up, so I have no fear of getting thrown a bit or falling down, this stuff is easy.
  3. I’m a kluts and can hold my own in the ring, but might trip down the stairs over my own feet, so falling down doesn’t scare me, no matter how it happens.
  4. The answer I gave in class…

When you push my upper body, I don’t disconnect from my lower body.  Actually, I don’t disconnect from any part of my body when I am involved with movement.  Movement comes from your foundation, without a connection to your foundation you don’t have movement, what you have is a disconnect, or spastic movement.  It is the physical disconnect and uncoordinated physicality which is what throws your body off balance.  Nobody can throw you off balance if you are connected to your root and you respond to the incoming force against your own response to gravity.  Gravity keeps you rooted as long as you stay connected.

The problem with Push Hands and anything that seems to come from the upper body is that people loose the connection to their rooted base and instead of staying responsive to the natural force of gravity which is what allows you to respond to the external force around you by staying rooted, we disconnect.  When we disconnect, we are no longer responding to the powerful force of gravity which keeps us rooted, we uproot ourselves when we disconnect from our rooted base and start muscling, isolating our body movement to the upper body which disables our ability to root our movements out, causing us to react.

Movement is responsive, not a reaction.

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