Chen Xiaoxing counters a throw by using a closing technique, that neutralises my attempt to break his posture, and breaks mine instead.

What's pushing hands?

Pushing hands practice in Chen Village takes many forms. On the one hand there is the gentle pre-arranged practice forms of pushing hands. Then there is light, free-style pushing hands, sometimes used when practicing dangerous techniques, such as chinna (locks). And then there is shuaijiao (throwing skills).I will not go into too much detail about traditional pushing hands, since it has been covered by many other writers in the past, other than to say that satisfying the body requirements of Tai Chi whilst doing pushing hands traditional or otherwise is very difficult, and requires a lot of form practice and skill. Instead I will focus on shuaijiao.

In Chen Village shuaijiao is used as general indication of the overall level of someones Tai Chi. Often a couple of people will go the local training hall and do some shuaijiao much like we will go to a sports club to have a friendly game of squash or badminton. In shuaijiao it is very difficult to kid yourself. Either you and standing up or you are on the ground. In other skills it is much more difficult to get this level of objectivity without risking serious injury.

Tai Chi shuaijiao differs from other Chinese shuaijiao styles and Japanese judo in the way the legs and arms co-operate. The basic throw consists of three of your limbs exerting force in different directions to spin your opponent round. Since your opponent is often leaning forward to ground the forward force push against him, the axis of the spin is diagonal.

In addition to this basic throw there are other throws that other experienced martial artists from other disciplines will be familiar with. However the amount of gripping of your opponent is in general less than other shuaijiao styles. Most of the leg techniques attack your opponents knee with either your knee or your foot. The knee level attacks are not done to specifically injure your opponents knee, but to break the balance. Although this style of attack is banned in competitors, there are not usually any serious injuries resulting from them during practice.