Pushing hands

Pushing Hands is an exercise performed by two people who are attempting to improve their Lau Gar Kung Fu skills. Practicing pushing hands teaches one to remain balanced, focused and relaxed while in physical contact with another human being. This is not as easy as it may sound, being in contact with another person who is moving is a difficult task. Pushing hands is the gateway for martial arts practitioners to understand experientially the martial aspects of their Martial arts. Falsely pushing hands (chin.: tui shou) considered as a nei jia (internal style) martial arts practice.

In general Pushing Hands technique is an exercise performed by two people who are attempting to improve their martial skills.


Pushing hands it is said by Chen family to have been be created by Chen Wangting (1600-1680) the founder of the Chen style Taiji Quan and was originally known as hitting hands (da shou) or crossing hands (ke shou). Master Chen was said to have devised pushing hands methods for both empty hands and armed with spears. Other Taiji schools attribute the invention of pushing hands to Zhang Sanfeng.

Basic training

Pushing Hands practice is not designed to train us to fight, though it does link the combat strategy and tactics with the practical application of the Hand Form. Only when we have a good understanding of the Pushing Hands should we start to learn the Self Defence.

The Taiji Quan Classics tell us that once our opponent has just started a move then we should counter him before he can complete the movement. We can only accomplish this if we have attained a high degree of sensitivity which will allow us to detect any such movement. Such sensitivity can best be developed through the Pushing Hands practice.

Pushing Hands basic method

Two practitioners face each other at arms distance, both with the same foot forward. The forward hand of each participant is raised to approximately chest height with the palm facing in, and the back of the hand lightly touching the same part of the other personís hand.

The rear hand (the hand corresponding to the rear foot) is placed gently on the elbow of the other player’s lead elbow, so that both players are in an equal starting position. Feet should be comfortably placed so that each person feels balanced and stable from the start. Each practitioner attempts to remain in light contact with the other person’s arms while at the same time remaining in perfect balance. A practitioner who is pushed or pulled off balance will usually stumble out of his or her stable position and have to reset his or her stance to resume exercise.
Basic types of Pushing Hands

There are eight types of Pushing Hands. Five are ‘fixed step’, meaning that the sole of the front foot may be raised or lowered provided the heel rests on the ground but that no other movement of the feet is permitted. The other three styles are ‘moving step’ and develop our ability to move forwards, backwards and to the side in a nimble manner while applying the Pushing Hands Techniques. These techniques are known as the “Eight Gates and Five Steps.”

Different arms applications accompanied by footwork in a range of motion which will eventually allow practitioners to defend themselves calmly and competently if attacked.

The Eight Gates (Bamen):

Peng - A circular movement, forward or backward, yielding or offsetting usually with the arms to disrupt the opponent’s centre of gravity.

Lu - A sideways, circular yielding movement.

Qi - A pressing or squeezing offset in a direction away from the body, usually done with the back of the hand or outside edge of the forearm.

An - A slight lift up with the fingers then a push down with the palm.

Chi - To pluck or pick downwards with the hand.

Lie - Lie means to separate, to twist or to offset with a spiral motion.

Zhu - To strike or push with the elbow.

Kao - To strike or push with the shoulder or upper back.

The Five Steps (Wubu):

Jin Bu - Forward step.
Tui Bu - Backward step.
Zuo Gu - Left step.
You Pan - Right step.
Zhong Ding - The central position, balance, equilibrium.

Push Hands provides a gentle way to “compete” with other Martial Arts practitioners without the risk of injury. There are many variations of this exercise, each with its own particular benefits.