Push Hands (a.k.a. Pushing Hands, Tui Shou, Sensing Hands) is an exercise performed by two people who are attempting to improve their Tai Chi skills. Nowadays, many people treat it as a form of competition or contest between two practitioners, which I think is wrong. It should be a form of exploring the Tai Chi principles between fellow students to form familiarity with the correct touch etc, one gradually comprehends Jin [intrinsic strength] and from the comprehension of Jin one can used it as a stepping stone between form practice and actual combat. In a real combat situation, it’s simply not possible to get the posture lined up to confront your opponent. Prior to facing an opponent in real combat, one has to learn about all the major principles for combat.
"Sanshou" or free hand is a Chinese term refers to free style sparring. In the past Tai Chi Chuan training will progress from learning the form, to pushing hands and finally free sparring. However, nowadays most Tai Chi people don't do sparring anymore. Tai Chi Chuan requires us to maintain a calmed mind and relaxed body when facing at attack so that we can apply Tai Chi strategy i.e. adhere, stick, follow and lead and so on. Without sparring training, how can a Tai Chi student remains calm and relax when facing an attack in real fight? Sifu have introduce this into the syllabus so that Tai Chi student is well prepared to use Tai Chi Chuan for self defence. However Shanshou will be taught to indoor disciples. I have enclosed a few videos in what we called free style pushing hand sparring for your viewing pleasure.