Why Push Hands is Important in Developing a Good Tai ChiPracticeBy Hal MosherTai Chi uses the postures of the form to createweakness in ones’ opponent by making them fall on nothing. The postures use proper alignment to turn your opponentsforce against them. Through relaxing and yielding to youropponent he feels as if you disappear, and as result he willfall forward. This type of martial application of Tai Chi iswidely misunderstood and misrepresented. Tai chi is uniquein that it tries to find a balance between martial and civil, oryin and yang. In Tai Chi philosophy you try to use martialarts to protect yourself and the ones you love, which doesn’tnecessarily mean killing your opponent. It is a bit like takingfire away from the kettle to keep it from boiling, or a knifeaway from a child. Tai chi only uses the amount of energynecessary to dissuade an attacker, one doesn’t continue theattack unless necessary. The principles of non violence saythat conflicts only escalate into more conflict. A good Tai Chiplayer uses words to diffuse a hostile situation before aconflict starts. Push hands practice is learning how to diffusean attack in this way. Ultimately, push hands trains you todiffuse your ego when you are confronted with an attack. Itis our egos that can push us into fights that usually hurtoneself and perhaps another. In Martial Arts, our real enemyshould be our ego, and the arrogant self inflation thatdominates our thinking. Good push hands practice is amethod for conquering this arrogance by investing in loss. The more you give up to invest in loss, the more you will getout of push hands. In push hands, you begin with the mostdangerous position first, that is, only a few inches away fromyour partner, and later on farther away as you progress fromfixed step to moving step practice. This type of close infighting serves two functions. One is to train the waist toturn, the other is to train sensitivity of touch so you can readyour partners feints or real attacks.