Push Hands in Schools – Why Not?

Push hands has become the forgotten side of tai chi.  Push hands is not only great as an independent activity for anyone, but it has generally been assumed to be strictly an adult activity. The idea of promoting it to children has not been adequately explored.

The benefits of push hands for children’s health and development is worth looking into. One of the less considered benefits is the social aspect of push hands.  Not in the sense of chatting about nonsense while practicing, but in the sense that you work with another person on new movements. You can investigate how a technique works and how to do them well.

Adding push hands to schools’ physical education programs would be both very easy, very innovative, very beneficial to the students and cost effective. It is easy because all a school would need to do is hire an outside expert to come in and teach.  It’s innovative because it opens children up to very new ideas regarding physical movement and art forms. It is cost effective because it does not require any equipment.

Push hands for children gives children many unique developmental opportunities. The foundation of push hands is maintaining continuous contact with a partner. I do not know of many exercises where children learn such “sticking” skills, as it is called in tai chi. Rooting is another foundational tai chi skill which does not seem to come about in many other physical activities. In push hands one learns how to keep their balance in a fixed stance while shifting weight and moving the upper body in various ways. This is actually a difficult first step in push hands, and many students will find that they can easily lose their balance.