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In teaching “pushing hands” at the Taichi Tao Center, Master Waysun Liao instructs students that they shouldn’t complain if their practice partner is standing or moving incorrectly, or if they are too physical. Instead, they should be able to accommodate anything their partner does through their own skill in yielding.

grandmaster Waysun liao

“If I lose my balance, it’s not my opponent’s fault!”

If we feel our partner is doing something wrong, that means we aren’t yielding to ourselves and what we are feeling, nor are we neutralizing it accordingly. We get in our own way. “Your opponent does not trap you it is you who traps yourself by not yielding to yourself,” says Master Bob Krzemienski, who pushed hands with Master Liao at the Taichi Tao Center for many years.

push hands

This is one of the many reasons why we need Taichi fellows or practice partners — so we can practice sensing an outside force, how and where it makes us heavy or stuck, and learn to move out of the way. If we are really good at this, we not only move ourselves and thus our opponent out of our way, we move them where we want them to go.

Taichi moving meditation helps you build the sensitivity to feel your own Chi and your own body so well, your own energy will pick up where and how your opponent will move next. That’s why Master Liao also advises that when you are doing two-person practice, you are really practicing with yourself. 

Likewise, when you do solo practice, you pretend you are practicing with another person — meaning you focus on your feeling of Chi to sense what is going on outside and around you. These two methods of training are what build Chi sensitivity, which is just as important as the ability to broadcast Jing power in healing, martial arts, and other Taichi applications.