Thoughts on Dynamic 'Power' Push Hand
Lets make this perfectly clear. Dynamic Push Hand is, in Chinese,
called Push Hand, tui sau. For those who are unfamiliar
Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan tui sau, there are various
number of different push hands: power push hand, chi sau push hand, neutralizing
push hand, striking push hand, sparring push hand, to name a few.
Some are done with a fixed stance and some are done with a lively,
The authentic Tai Chi Chuan is about conditioning and fine-tuning of
the body, cultivating ‘Chi’ through the proper postures; enriching the
internal power energy, ‘Peng Kieng’, through Dynamic "Power' Push
Hand; developing ‘Neng’ by understanding the curriculum, energy, and
internal power energy; and, attaining eventually ‘Stillness’ by
the realizations of the pure, sublime state of energy.
It is in the forms that we condition and fine-tune our body, by
executing the mechanics of the postures, through the repetitions, thus,
the variations, hence, the transformation of the body and the energy. It
is through the understanding of ‘centering, alignment, balance, and
relaxation’ that the muscles, the tendons, and ligaments are
strengthened. The body is then prepared for dynamic 'power' push hand.
In dynamic 'power' push hand, through this specific methodology
that we then understand about the internal power, a formidable natural
(true) strength without enlarging and hardening of the muscles, 'core'
muscles or otherwise. Through dynamic 'push' hand, we start to realize the essence of the principle
of Yin/Yang: the application of the principle of ‘borrowing energy’
within the principle of ‘Full and Empty’, which was given so much
emphasis while learning Tai Chi Chuan [form]. One of the basic aspects of
dynamic 'push' hand is relearning how to relax the body, while
applying the principles of ‘centering, alignment, and balance’, with a
teacher’s internal power energy entering the body. In order to correctly apply the
method, one has to understand how to keep the body still, by
reducing the movements of the muscles. Thus, the word ‘push’ is
misleading, and more than often, incorrectly understood and applied by
many. When it is done correctly, there is actually no physical push.
The interchangeability of the internal power and Tai Chi Chuan [form] and
Tai Chi Fast form makes us understand that dynamic 'power' push hand
is done like the forms, and the forms like dynamic 'power' push hand.
Moreover, it is in the understanding of the emergence of dynamic 'power' push
hand (the internal power) and the forms (the energy) that we understand
the essence of the realm of ‘Neng’. The ability to dictate ‘Neng’ prepares the practitioners
for the realm of ‘Stillness’.
In dynamic 'power' push hand, it is critical that practitioners
understand the principle of ‘borrowing energy’. ‘Borrowing energy’
is not about deflecting, yielding, or neutralizing techniques. In defining
what the ‘borrowing energy’ is, these lesser, imitation tai chi
practitioners have contributed to many seriously erroneous definitions.
The principle of ‘borrowing energy’ is one of the dynamic 'push' hand methods that enrich the ‘internal power’.
Dynamic 'Power' Push Hand is
not about pushing/shoving to budge one's partner or instructor. It is not about pushing as hard
as you can, beyond complete exhaustion. It is not about the
male testosterone induced competition of pissing contest. It is not
about an outcome of an individual practitioner becoming immovable to the
It is not about a practitioner merely attaining strength.
In dynamic 'power' push hand, it is about applying the principles of
'centering, alignment, balance, and relaxation', 'full and empty',
'borrowing energy', 'minimizing the motion', 'elimination of muscular
strength' and 'elevated Intent', that are learned from Tai Chi Chuan form,
and then, realizing the next level of understanding of the energy
development, where one's 'chi (hei)', internal energy, is released and
enriched to become 'peng kieng' energy.
When ‘peng kieng/internal power energy’ is understood, Tai Chi
Chuan form takes on an entirely different meaning, as one begins to sense
the presence of the internal power energy. As the Intent dictates
the movements of all the postures, the postures manifest solid appearances
of power. It is in the course of this development that the body
begins to understand the deeper meaning of ‘borrowing energy’ through
the principle of ‘centering, alignment, balance, and relaxation’, as
Dynamic 'Power' Push Hand and Tai Chi Chuan form complements each other.
As ‘peng kieng’ becomes more powerful, it slowly establishes much
deeper ‘connection’ of itself by the presence of ‘Nine Pearls’.
It is the presence of ‘Nine Pearls’ that maintains the physiological
structure; thus further reinforcing the postures to achieve the state of
powerful relaxation of the body, thus eliminating the any erroneous idea
of cooked, limp noodles postures.
If any individual who cannot discourse or apply any one of the
above-mentioned principles of Dynamic 'Power' Push Hand and Tai Chi Chuan
form, he, then, has pretty much wasted his time.
Absence (negligence) of certain curriculum...
Yang SIGONG had three disciples; the first was accepted in
1954; the second, in 1977; and last, in 1983 or so. To the
disciples, the curriculum that were taught by Yang SIGONG was basically
the same. They were all taught the family version of Tai Chi
Chuan. Moreover, being the disciples had certain privileges to the
advanced training, such as Tai Chi fast form, advanced push hand,
advanced chi gong, solo drills, etc. However, they came with
certain premium prices. Even though the disciples were considered as
adopted family members of the system, you still had to pay the
prices for each and advanced curriculum.
Yang SIGONG did not give away his family Tai Chi Chuan
free. He believed in the old school of earning the privilege and
having to pay for that privilege. First, you had to earn the privilege
of becoming a disciple by certain accomplishment (gong*, in Chinese)
that would place a prospect in a favorable position; then, you had to pay
the monetary price of discipleship; then, you were given the access
to the inner family training; then, of course, you begin the real
training. Until a person becomes a disciple, his training and the result
of that training gives him a diminutive title of an average
Even among the disciples, there are slight differences in
the way each does the curriculum, and that usually is determined by the personality
and the ability of each disciple and the way in which each trained, which might have been
influenced by circumstances. For example, some might prefer on more
active sparring, on the deeper understanding of the internal principles,
and on the aspects of the internal power. Whatever case might be for
the disciples and their trainings, the final objective should be the same:
the internal power (of internal martial art) derived from understanding
the internal principles of Classical Yang family Tai Chi Chuan curriculum
that were taught directly by Yang SIGONG. That is the ultimate goal
of their training and burden of the legacy of Yang family
If you couldn't pay
Yang SIGONG for the asking prices of a specific curriculum, he wasn't going to teach you.
Why? Because that's the way it was. Teaching Tai Chi Chuan was
Like the forefathers before him, Yang SIGONG wasn't very different.
His father, uncle, grandfather, granduncle, and great grandfather all made
people pay the prices for learning the Yang family system. Whether
one can pay for the lessons or not, it did not matter. If one wanted
badly enough of the system, one was expected to find the means. The
policy of how
badly do you want it? is still live and well. A perfect example is the Tai Chi Halberd
form; the form that truly symbolizes the great Yang Lu Chan! How
many people have had an opportunity to learn the halberd form from Yang
SIGONG? Only one. It goes same for the advanced Power Chi Gong
sets. Pay the top dollars for it, and you will value it. Give it for free and have it always available, then it is almost guarantee
that it will be less appreciated and taken for granted.
Yang SIGONG told his second disciple to focus on the power
(dynamic) push hand and understand the 'peng kieng' energy, for it is
the source of the internal power of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi
Chuan. Because Yang SIGONG could not train his second disciple
on a regular basis, due to them being a continent apart, the disciple was
told to focus the training in power push hand and advanced
power chi gong
sets. He was instructed in what to look for. Finally, he was
told that the understanding Tai Chi Chuan depends on the second disciple's
dedication and his intelligence. The curriculum (forms, push hand,
chi gong, solo drills, and the principle) represents 50% of the knowledge
and acquiring the remaining 50% of the knowledge depends on the efforts of
the second disciple. The honored method of 50/50...
According to Yang SIGONG, Tai Chi Chuan form cannot be
understood unless the energy is understood. Chi is not the energy
that will help to understand it. It has to be elevated to a much higher
level of energy, and that methodology to enrich and elevate chi is
power (dynamic) push hand training. To understand Tai Chi Chuan
form, one needs to understand soft peng kieng energy, that results
from the proper execution of power push hand . To truly realize and
become internally powerful, the union of the forms and power push hand must
come to exist: do the form like the the push hand, and do the push hand
like the form. When they complement, while other curriculum
they ascend to the state of Neng. The internal power then
becomes beyond your imagination.
He was told that Tai Chi Chuan form is for cultivating the
energy, chi, and that continuous training of the form will
condition and strengthen the tendons and ligaments. As for the
strengthening of the muscles, more specific exercises were needed.
The form will stimulate the already existing energy; even though this
energy is cultivated, it will not develop the internal power, as he was
advised. Chi is not the power, but rather it is unrefined
source of fuel. He was told that he must do the form and the power
push hand together. This combination of training has to be done
properly, for chi to be refined and enriched into the internal
power energy, peng kieng.
The second disciple was also cautioned about not falling
into a trap of physical pushing. Understanding this error was
extremely critical because this type of pushing can develop an erroneous,
hard peng kieng energy. Pay attention to the principle of borrowing
energy. He was told that to properly develop the soft peng
kieng energy, one must understand how to borrow the incoming energy. As a tension
is created in the body, one must realize and release the tension in the
body. Thus, power push hand is the next level of on how to
relax the body. As in Tai Chi
Chuan form, he was told, first to minimize the physical movements of the
body as he pushed; the minimizing of the body while pushing coincides with
the principle of minimizing the body movement in Tai Chi Chuan form.
Therefore, it is critical that he understand the principle of minimizing
the body movements while doing the form and power push hand. This
understanding will eventually make him ascend to the state of revelation
of the principle of 'stillness in motion, in the body, the (super)
energy, and the mind.
Power push hand is not a contest, Yang SIGONG
told the second disciple. It is not about who is stronger or the
is not about who can withstand or resist a force and maintain in an
immovable posture, or who can budge whom, or who can
upset whose balance. Yang SIGONG reminded that power push hand is a
profound method of discovering the internal power energy, and the other
push hand exercises were to further develop and understand the internal
power energy and its practical usages. Do not get into a shoving
match, however subtle it maybe, he admonished...seek the internal power
Do not neglect the power training, he was told. To
attain power, you have to do the specific power push hand training
of Classical Yang
Family Tai Chi Chuan. When the second disciple asked Yang SIGONG
about the sparring push hand, he was told that the sparring push
hand is extremely important in understanding the martial aspect of Tai Chi
Chuan. In sparring push hand, the focus is in the hand
speed using the dragon claw as a primary arsenal, with quick release
of the internal power (fa kieng) while applying the array of
techniques. He was told that this type of push hand is for the
practical martial purpose, but before an individual can train properly in sparring
push hand, one has to understand a significant level of the internal
power. Thus, he was reminded to attain the internal power first, a prerequisite to the sparring push hand. In order for Tai Chi
Chuan to be effective as a martial art, the internal power has to be
present, for it is the most important aspect, then comes
the speed and the techniques, he was told. When one has the internal
power, then any intentional movement becomes a martial technique because
of the power within. The sparring push hand, thus, is a
training method that hones the applicable skills of this tenacious
power. Again, the second disciple was reminded, when there is power, the speed is no longer
needed for its acceleration to generate the power. Speed will assist
the intent and the power in
getting to a target, though an acceleration can expand the power, so that a technique can be properly
executed with the intended objective. Lastly, he was told to stay
focus on the power push hand because too much emphasis on sparring
push hand can cause to neglect the attainment of the internal power
and to sidetrack individuals to something else.
It is said that one has to push beyond one's physical
exhaustion, so it is not uncommon to see many practitioners ludicrously,
if not literally, exhausting themselves mentally and physically, during
power push hand sessions. What 'pushing beyond physical exhaustion'
means is that one ought to push with the absence of physical strength, and
to accomplish this state of the absence of physical strength, one
endeavors to exhaust the physical strength through power pushing; so that,
in an effort to push when there is no longer any physical strength, the
internal power energy will emerge. Then, the power push hand is a
method that guides us to understand how to push and develop the internal
power energy, without the brute, physical
strength, and not literally exhausting oneself of the physical strength.
Understanding power push hand is about knowing how to eliminate the
physical strength, without having to physically exhausting oneself.
Thus, the second disciple absolutely heeded to the
words of Yang SIGONG. Taking things for granted because they are always
available within reach can have a devastating effect. Same thing can happen with the
power (dynamic) push hand as
well. Understanding this powerful concept of enriching,
re-cultivating, and elevating Chi to Peng Kieng is extremely arduous and has to
be taken very seriously if an individual wishes to seek the authentic Yang
Family Tai Chi Chuan system. The second disciple did not take his
teacher's teaching for granted. He realized that the result wasn't
going to appear out of thin air, and because of his realization, he put
forth every ounce of his effort to his training. For those who have
taken Tai Chi Chuan curriculum for granted, and neglected of the
importance of the power push hand,
the results are quite obvious.