Pushing hands and the spiritual dimensions of taijiquan

By Serge Dreyer, Gretchen Mac Lane, Laurel McEwen

Over the last two decades, taijiquan has become widespread in France at the cost of the appropriation of the discipline’s nature. Originally a Chinese martial art, taijiquan has essentially become a health-based practice with vague spiritual inclinations that make reference to Taoism. Chen Zhi Qiang, the grandson of Grandmaster Chen Fake (2016) and an eminent figure in the world of taijiquan in China, attests that the practice should not be limited to slow movements. Instead, Taijiquan should harmonize the yin and yang – the form and non-form, the supple and rigid – both within its practice and in all aspects of life. This organic conception of the discipline, which includes its martial arts aspects, allows for the emergence of its spiritual nature. This article examines tuishou (Pushing hands), one of the martial arts practices that is characteristic of taijiquan, in order to show how certain Chinese notions, such as yin, yang, and wuwei (defined here as, “a minimal intervention to be/stay in phase with the other”) can be experienced through a physical martial practice. Furthermore, other aspects of taijiquan such as developing physical and spiritual conditioning through fangsong (to relax/loosen) can advance progress towards common spiritual goals including letting go and listening to others. Such an approach allows for the total union of physical and spiritual practice.


  • taijiquan
  • physical practice
  • spirituality
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info