In tai chi chuan, pushing hands is used to acquaint students with the principles of what are known as the "Eight Gates and Five Steps," eight different leverage applications in the arms accompanied by footwork in a range of motion, intended to allow students to defend themselves calmly and competently if attacked. Also known as the "13 original movements of tai chi", a posture expressing each one of these aspects is found in all tai chi styles. Training and pushing hands competitions generally involve contact but no strikes.
The practitioner on the right demonstrates how péng can be used to resist a push
The three primary principles of movement cultivated by push hands practice are:
Rooting - Stability of stance, a highly trained sense of balance in the face of force.
Yielding - The ability to flow with incoming force from any angle. The practitioner moves with the attacker's force fluidly without compromising their own balance.
Release of Power (Fa Jing) - The application of power to an opponent. Even while applying force in push hands one maintains the principles of Yielding and Rooting at all times.