The core principles of Push Hands are the same regardless of what style of Tai Chi you practice. However there are certain unique characteristics of each of the family styles. In this blog, let us explore the special features of Wu Style Tai Chi Push Hands.
Unlike the other styles of Tai Chi where the emphasis is on an upright posture, Wu Style leans forward and backward using the back leg as counterbalance. This makes Wu Style push hands very interesting as the leaning provides extra range and extension that may be unexpected to the opponent.
Wu Style Single Hand Push
Wu Style Tai Chi evolved from Yang Style and hence the push hands patterns are also very similar. If you have already learned the Yang Style single hand push, then the Wu Style single hand push should not be too difficult to learn.
- Stand facing your partner with feet shoulder width apart, raise your arms straight in front touching fists with your partner. This is to gauge the distance between you and your partner.
- Step forward with your left foot into a Wu style square stance, i.e. both feet are pointing straight. Raise your right arm in front, making contact with your partner’s arm just below the wrist.
Basic Movement Pattern
- Turn sideways and lean forward leading with your left shoulder, square your body and extend your arm. Your partner will follow by leaning back and bending the arm, then turning to the right to deflect your push.
- Now it is your partner’s turn to lean forward sideways leading with the left shoulder, squaring the body to the front and extending the arm. You follow by leaning back and bending your arm, turning right to deflect your partner’s push.
- Repeat from Step One.
After you and your partner have learned the basic pattern, then you can proceed to enhance and improve your movements.
Enhanced Movement Pattern
- Improving stability: When extending forward, rotate your arm outwards and exert force downwards to your back heel. When leaning backward, rotate your arm inwards lifting the front toes up and sinking your weight down.
- Using the core: Strictly adhere to the movement sequence. When pushing forward, lean sideways first, followed by the body turning then extending your arm last. When retreating backward, tilt your body up and back, retract your arm, then turn your body last.
- Switching sides: While leaning forward, tilt your body upright and take a forward step forcing your partner to take a backward step. At the same time, raise your left arm and make contact with your partner’s left arm. Then continue by leaning sideways this time leading with your right shoulder. You have now switched the exercise to your left arm and you can repeat the pattern.
Applying Basic Principles
The main challenge we face when practicing Wu Style Push Hands is maintaining our balance and stability due to the leaning postures. It is important to understand that even though the body leans, we must still maintain a straight line from head to heel. The force that we sink down to the heel must be greater than the extension.
By following the above principles, you also inherently store elastic power in your body and limbs, strengthening your core, back and legs. When you become proficient with the Wu Style single hand push, the movements will feel effortless and you gain a better understanding of how to efficiently utilize your core.