The Power of Yielding in Push Hands

Push Hands is a two person tai chi exercise. At the Tri-Alliance (Association of Women Martial Artists; National Women’s Martial Arts Federation; and Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists) Gathering (TAG) I taught a session on “The Power of Yielding Force.” It was well attended and received.


Too often I have had Push Hands experiences where my partner used muscle force to try and keep my hand from touching their body – which should be achieved through proper body mechanics and not muscle force. During this the session at TAG I explained the basic challenge of using that kind of force.


Photo taken by Tih Penfil

I’m just sayin’ … In Push Hands, if you are busy using muscle force “trying” to move your partner’s hand while they are coming towards you, you no longer can “feel” what they are doing. While your opponent is filling (Yang force) you are supposed to be emptying (Yin force). You must let them move you into a more advantageous position.

Sometimes people mistaken “emptying” for collapsing or running away… One does have to fill into your partner’s force – without muscle resistance and respond from there. Once you meet the force try respectively letting go and be moved – emptying, melting, dissolving, etc. the place where the pressure builds. The classics say that there should be no end to your opponents reaching… they will have no place to push.