“Push Hands” (T’ui Shou) practice might be better translated as “Sensing Hands.” In this partner exercise, we use postures and movements from the Tai Chi form, and kinesthetically “listen” for our partner’s balance, timing, and tension. Through the Push Hands practice we learn to play with the energy of their movements, and develop relaxation and balance in our responses.
Students move through three levels of Push Hands. Push Hands 1 is an introduction to working with a partner in a non-confrontational format, focusing on stability, balance and the ability to interact in harmony while maintaining one-handed contact. It is taught between the Fundamentals and Intermediate levels of the Form.
Push Hands 2 introduces a two-hand sequence and the principle of yielding. The sequence is based on that part of the Yang Short Form that is sometimes called the Rollback series or Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail, from Ward Off Right to the Push.
Push Hands 3 includes both form and push hands work, refining the student’s awareness of his own holding of tension and of his partner’s.
Currently, higher levels of Push Hands (PH4 through PH7) are only taught to Apprentices of the school.