Pushing Hands With Women

Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
Sept 2005 Issue

Cover Inside Kung Fu Magazine September 2005 Article Inside Kung Fu Magazine Pushing Hands With Women by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong

Tai Chi's Tui Shou or pushing hands is well known in the martial art world. There are similar techniques in other systems as well. In the Choy Li Fut system, it is called Nor Kiu or rubbing bridge hands. In Wing Chun they have Chi Sau or sticky hands. Some other systems have Pan Shou or coiling hands. Most of the internal systems like Yi Chuan, Bagua and Hsing I call it Tui Shou or pushing hands.

There are single pushing hands and double pushing hands methods. The single pushing hands training is good for fighting because it teaches the student how to redirect the opponent's front hand to unbalance him and then use the free hand to strike him. The double pushing hands play is useful for training the student to use both hands to control the opponent, unbalance him and then push him away without striking him. From the double pushing hands training, you will develop the neutralization sensation which allows you to avoid the opponent grabbing or wrestling you with both arms.

The main Tai Chi pushing hands principle is bu diao bu ding (no leaving and no forcing) which means: do not withdraw your hands (or leave) without the opponent pushing you away and do not use your own force to gainst the incoming force from your opponent. The bu diao bu ding has the same meaning as Choy Li Fut's nor kiu saying: gung kei yeok sieh kei keung (attacking the weak and neutralizing the strong). In the Chi Sau of Wing Chun, they say: lai woi hui sung lat sau jik chung , that means: following the coming and going hands, once the hands disconnect you must thrust the punch forward. All of the above sayings are the same if you are truely understand the meanings. If you don't then lessons from a pushing hands master will give you understanding.

Many instuctors are having difficulty teaching pushing hands to women. Some say that they do not want to do training with women because is not convenient to limit the physical contact. I have no problem teaching nor practicing pushing hands with female students at all. I am sure most of the well trained pushing hands masters and sifus are also having no problems. Only some Tai Chi instructors who are not well accomplished at pushing hands use this excuse to avoid practicing with an expert female player by saying "its not convenient to push with her."

I have been teaching kung fu since 1968 and with 37 years of experience training instructors, I have always gotten the same complaints and problems from the instructors about pushing hands with women. Now I would like to share some tips for anyone who is having problems practicing with women: Firstly, you must not have any evil thoughts. If you have bad thoughts, you will get yourself into lots of legal trouble for sexual misconduct. You must truely want to train and practice the art of pushing hands. Secondly, you must understand and be able to perform the techniques in keeping with the tai chi pushing hands principles, that is "bu diao bu ding" or "no leaving and no forcing". During the pushing hand attack, you must not push to the female opponent's chest. You may push her arms into her mid section to push her off balance. If she is forcing, just by pushing her arm she will be thrown off balance without her arm touching her body anyway. You can also redirect her arm by turning her body sideways and the other hand can push her shoulder or the upper part of her arm to unbalance her.

There are many ways to unbalance an opponent (man or woman) without any contact to their chest or private parts. You simply have to practice more and learn how to relax your body. Most women are naturally relaxed and more sensative to touch than men, therefore sometimes its difficult to push them off balance and easy for them to push you. How can you relax? You must practice your Tai Chi form correctly. The forms teach you to know about yourself. The form teaches you to know that your energies are connected or disconnected, tense or relaxed and your footwork is empty or full. Pushing hands teaches you to know about your opponent and to feel whether your opponent is leaving or forcing, this way you will develop a high level of skill in pushing hand and you will have no problem practicing with or teaching women students anymore.