Tui Shou classes

Tui Shou is an exercise intended for learning, not competition, and teaches the interaction of Tai Chi movement with others. Students safely get “hands on” with others in order to deepen their understanding of the principles and skills of Tai Chi, especially the concept of Relaxation. Tui Shou, done in a principled way, develops flexibility, adaptability, sensitivity, and mindfulness in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation.

My perspective is that unbalancing your partner is not the goal of Tui Shou, or “pushing hands”. The true goal is to increase your relaxation, softness, focus, and awareness by touching and being touched by your partner. You and your partner should gently reveal to each other the deficiencies in form or relaxation which lead to becoming unbalanced. Lenzie Williams describes the cooperative practice as working between 92-96%, but not going all the way.

Personally, I had difficulty making the transition from highly detailed Tai Chi form choreography to freestyle partner practice. I missed the definitive instruction and found myself lost and frustrated trying to stay relaxed while maintaining principles in the moment. Most of the time I found myself getting “pushed out” and not learning much from the encounter. Over time I found others who felt much the same way.

The thing that finally helped me with Tui Shou was performing partner exercises designed specifically for practicing basic concepts in a cooperative manner. I became more comfortable with the experience of interacting while maintaining principles. This increased my comfort level, which gave me confidence to explore and attempt more, and to recognize when things were aligned to principles & working and when they weren’t.

Since then I have practiced more, studied more, and learned more from people in the area and elsewhere. I’ve come to appreciate the importance of partner practice in deepening one’s Tai Chi. As one fellow practitioner put it, learning Tai Chi without push hands is “like learning to sing without hearing yourself”.

Based on my experiences, I have learned it is possible to safely participate with and learn from others in Tui Shou regardless of age, size, or gender. I hope that you will join me in practicing Tui Shou as a way to deepen your own Tai Chi practice and help foster a community committed to practicing Tui Shou in a cooperative, constructive environment.

I highly encourage those who are curious about Tui Shou to watch at least these two presentations given as part of the CMC Forum call series:
Feb 1 2023, Masha Entchevich
May 3 2023, Russ Mason

A conversation between five senior female T’ai Chi players reflecting on their experiences in push hands.
Women in Push Hands (Part 1) video
Women in Push Hands (Part 2) video

Tui Shou Guidelines