How to get better by losing

Push hands is a game, and like most games, its easy to get caught up in winning. 

When you’re playing a game, it feels like the point is to win. However, the real point of push hands is to develop Tai Chi skill.

First by correcting your structure and then later on through developing your sensitivity.

Play against yourself

Since push hands is really about development and not about winning, in reality you are only ever playing against yourself.

Focus on being completely relaxed, aligned, rooted and on breathing deeply. Once you are doing these well, focus on developing your sensitivity.

Test your opponent & yourself

You will need to test your opponent with your hands to see what’s going on inside them. But the point is to develop sensitivity rather than to try to push them.

My experience of playing push hands against an advanced senior master is much the same as my experience of playing against a beginning Tai Chi student. This is because in both situations, I am doing the same thing. I am trying to develop my sensitivity, my sense of what is going on in their body.

If I find that I’m getting pushed a lot, I will talk to the person I’m working with and ask questions to try to figure out a neutralization for what they are doing.

Investing in loss

Maybe once in 30 or 40 games, I will play competitively just to see where things are at. But in general, if I’m getting pushed a bit, I don’t worry about it. If I lose a bit, it doesn’t really matter as long as I learn something.

In order to develop my Tai Chi practice, I am investing in loss.

Don’t forget to check out our 10 Minute guide to Internal Power Training and learn the basics of how to build internal structure and sensitivity

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