Hand Form – University Class

Video clips and image gallery of students practising Hand Form in the University Class. As well as encoding many practical self-defence applications, and teaching martial concepts such as single-weighting, whole-body movement and balanced turning/stepping, the hand form offers many health benefits by encouraging good posture, minimal muscle tension and relaxed breathing – a great way to de-stress before Finals!

Fixed Step Pushing Hands – University Class

Video clip and image gallery of students practising Fixed Step Pushing Hands during the University Class. This exercise trains useful grappling skills, such as a rooted stance, flexible upper body and fast, responsive arms. Martially, this translates into more skill in Moving Step Pushing Hands (wrestling) – each “step” can be thought of as a Fixed Step bout, where one opponent is off-balanced by the other setting up throws etc. As skill develops, the practitioner also learns to move with less tension, and this relaxation translates into the hand form movements to allow greater relaxation and health benefits.

Application Drills

Practical self-defence applications exist for all the movements of the Tai Chi Hand Form – in our martial classes we drill these movements repeatedly to develop them as reflexive responses. This practice can be done slowly to develop technique, and later more energetically to simulate a realistic self-defence situation or for pushing hands/sanshou competition training.

Below is a slideshow with photos taken during sessions focussing on throwing and striking applications.

Competitive Pushing Hands

In our martial classes, we use Pushing Hands (Tui Shou) training in a live, free-style manner to train grappling skills, controlling the arms in close quarters, and setting up throwing and locking techniques. Throughout we train to employ Tai Chi principles of Yin and Yang, softness, following, adhering, continuity, and rejecting brute force in favour of skilled technique – tactics which are difficult to maintain when in a competitive situation.

The photo set below (photography by Steve Musselwhite) illustrates a session involving Pushing Hands training, capturing some moments where the class members are both searching for and exploiting weaknesses in their opponents’ defence.

Martial Class Hand Form

After an energetic training session in our martial classes, we cool down by performing the Tai Chi hand form.

Taking 15-20 minutes to perform in total, the slow movements effectively perform the function of a therapeutic warm-down, encouraging the muscles and joints to move through their range of motion while operating at a reduced intensity. Meanwhile, one gains all the other benefits of practising the hand form – one works through an efficient template of the style’s martial movements while training balance, co-ordination and focus.

The tiredness experienced after expending energy in pushing hands practice and sparring also helps encourage relaxation and use of minimum muscular tension, which also benefits one’s practice of the form.

Below are some photos taken during a martial class (photography by Steve Musselwhite).

Padwork – University Class

Video clip of University student class members practising Running Thunder Hand (continuous punching) in pairs using gloves and focus mitts. As well as training strong and efficient punching technique, this trains holding a protective guard (shoulder muscles) and, since punching should involve the whole body – legs, core and arms – this acts as a general stamina conditioning exercise as well.

The video clip below shows two members of the student class working on some striking combinations (punches, knees and elbows) using pads.