The practice of taijiquan two-person tactile exercise has been known by many name for example “Pushing Hands” (Tuishou), “Sticky Hands” (Zhan Nian Shou) another is “Sensing Hands” (Gan Shou). But no matter what name it is given this particular taijiquan tactile exercise is practiced to develop each individuals ability to bring the Eight Gates or Energies of Ward Off, Rollback, Press, Squeeze, Split, Elbow, Bumping and Pluck into its many applications and variations. It is the bridge between practicing the Eight Energies in there fixed state while performing the taijiquan solo form and to then bring them alive through the practice of the two-person taijiquan Pushing Hands Exercise.
Basically the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise is the laboratory were each individual can fully test their own ability to skilfully apply each of the Eight Energies (Ba Jing) in a friendly and enjoyable exercise in all of it many variations both from a fixed or moving step practice that really brings the whole study and practice of taijiquan in general alive. Practicing the taijiquan solo form alongside the practice of Taiji Pushing Hands can help each individual to improve the accuracy of their taijiquan formwork, as certain actions of the Eight Energies like Bumping (Kao) and Elbowing (Zhou) are hidden within the movements of the many taijiquan postures and many students can miss out on when and were they can be applied within the practice of the solo taijiquan form. But it is only through the practice and study of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise can these two particular Eight energies for example can be brought into application.
Obviously if students are not taught were the Eight Energies are applied to the practice of their taijiquan solo form, then they will have difficulty in being able to fully appreciate the practice of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise. Yes obviously they can learn how to develop their ability to listen (Ting), and to stick/adhere (Zhan Nian) to each other’s limbs, but when it comes to understanding how to connect their Taiji solo form postures to the practice of their Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise then they need to understand the usage of the Eight Energies within their solo taijiquan form work.
The practice of the Taiji Pushing Hands Exercise is great fun and very enjoyable, yes it can take a while to learn and to gradually become proficiently at it. But it is a great way to improve your Taijiquan form practice and skill, as everyone can learn and practice it, irrespective of age or gender.