或問：嘗聞太極拳，其術宗於黃老，夫黃老之術，旨在不爭，如老子曰：「夫惟不爭，故無尤。」顧拳術，乃與人搏鬥之術也，若曰：不爭，則失其為拳術之用矣，是安可哉？ 曰：此正是太極拳特異之處也，拳論曰：「本是捨己從人，多悞舍近圖遠。」本字：即「從本以來」之意，蓋言太極拳之法則，其訣：本來即在捨己從人上下工夫，夫能捨己從人，豈非合乎不爭之旨乎？推手：又稱曰：打手，即練習與人搏鬥之法也，然其示人之訣曰：不丟，不頂，不丟―不與之脫離也，即從人也，不頂―不與之抗拒也，即捨己也，推手而能從人，又能捨己，非深得老氏之旨，決不能創此法則，若信之不疑，習之既久，自然而然乃生綿綿不斷之意，如是推動往來，更生沾連黏隨之勁焉，此勁若生，縱使對方欲施以巨力擊我，亦無能遂其所欲，如欲強為，彼自招愆，我無尤也，故老氏又云：「不爭而善勝，不召而自來。」太極拳，即根乎此理而發明引進落空，四兩撥千斤之術也。 初學推手，彼此各以手臂相貼而推，循環往來，其法：分㝎步，活步二種，㝎步―專練腰腿轉換虛實，手臂不丟不頂，應如「打手歌」所示：將掤捋擠按四法，一一分清，手手做到，不可含糊，初練之時，雖覺生硬，顧此失彼，熟後其巧自生，綿連不斷矣，是名餵手，此為初步基層之練法，為推手之預科耳，餵手而至純熟，乃可進入正式之推手。 〔推手之樁步，亦為川字式，假如左足在前，應向左前方踏出一步，前後兩足尖方向均向前，其左右距離，以肩寬為度，身下蹲，兩膝微屈，全身重點寄於一足，如身向前，則移於前足，身後退，則移於後足，上體中正，鬆腰空胸，氣注小腹，頭正直，頂虛懸，尾閭中正，精神貫頂，脊背弓形，兩臂略彎，向前平舉，手掌前伸，坐腕指尖微屈，分張向上，前手食指，約對鼻準，後手約屈胸前，掌心參差遙對，削肩垂肘，其肩肘腕與胯膝腳三者相合，全身宜靈活無滯。〕 正式推手，有四步工夫，即聽，化，拿，發，是也，其第一步矣。 Someone asked: “I have heard that Taiji Boxing comes from Daoism. The principles of Daoism emphasize non-competition. As Laozi said [Daodejing, chapter 8]: ‘If you do not compete, you will not lose.’ But boxing arts are all about fighting against people. If we say “don’t fight”, doesn’t that contradict what boxing arts are for?” I replied that this is indeed the unique characteristic of Taiji Boxing. It says in the Treatise: “The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent. We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances.” This is a fundamental Taiji Boxing principle, to let go of your own ego and pay full attention to what the opponent is doing. If you can let go of yourself and follow the opponent, does this does not conform to the concept of non-competing? Pushing hands is also called “hitting hands” for it is a method of practicing fighting with an opponent. However, it exhibits the principle of “neither coming away nor crashing in”. Not coming away means not disconnecting, thus following along with the opponent. Not crashing in means not resisting, thus letting go of your ego. If you can go along with the opponent, you are obviously able to let go of yourself. If you cannot comprehend Laozi’s idea, you will never be able to realize this principle. If you believe in the art, letting no doubts creep in, and practice it over a long period of time, you will naturally develop the quality of continuous flowing movement as you push back and forth with your partner, as well as the energies of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following. By developing these energies, even if the opponent wants to attack you with great force, he will not be able to, and if he tries to force something to happen, the result will be his own fault. Laozi also said [DDJ, chapter 73]: “Win without fighting. Receive without demanding.” Based upon this idea are the principles of “draw the opponent in to land on nothing” and “use a mere four ounces of force to deflect his of a thousand pounds”. In the beginning of learning pushing hands, both people connect with their arms and push, moving in circles back and forth. There are two methods: fixed step and moving step. Fixed step focuses on training the waist and legs, the alternating of emptiness and fullness, and on the arms neither coming away nor crashing in. As mentioned in the Playing Hands Song, it works the four techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing. Each should be clearly understood and performed with precision. In the beginning, you will feel like you are using a great deal of stiffness, and also that you are overwhelmed by the complexity of the movements, but once you have become familiar with the exercise, its subtleties will emerge and you will flow without pause. [This paragraph added in the 1974 edition: The stance for pushing hands is called the “three-line” stance. Step your left foot to the forward left so that your feet are about shoulder width apart, the toes of both feet pointing forward. Your body squats down, both knees slightly bending. The weight shifts onto one foot, your front foot when your body moves forward, your rear foot when your body moves back. Keep your upper body upright, loosen your waist, hollow your chest, and breathe down to your lower abdomen. Keep your head straight, your headtop pulled up as if suspended so that spirit courses through to your headtop, and center your tailbone, curving your spine like a bow. Keep your arms slightly bent and level in front of you, your palms facing forward, wrists sitting, fingers pointing upward, spread and slightly bent, your front forefinger at nose level, your rear hand in front of your chest, the arm bent further than your front arm, your palms spread apart forward and back. Slouch your shoulders and droop your elbows, and then your shoulders will be united with your hips, elbows united with your knees, hands united with your feet. Your whole body should be lively and lack sluggishness.] Pushing hands is also known as “feeding hands”. It is the beginning stage, a preparation. Once you have become skillful at feeding hands, you then have access to the real stuff. Standard pushing hands has four stages of training: listening, neutralizing, seizing, issuing.