Why is my Push-hands partner always pushing so hard?
By David Chen, 2003

There are three reasons why two Push-hands partners often end up accusing each other of using excessive force during the game:

     1)   The partners were not aware of the hard force in their own pushes.

     2)   Each partner thinks it was the other person that started pushing hard.

     3)   The resistance of one of the partners attracted the harder pushing.

The following is an extraction from Rob Steinís article, "Wired to Underestimate Brawn," published in The Washington Post on July 14th 2003. I think it might provide a scientific answer to our behavior during Push-hands.

"When two children each claim the other hit harder in a fight, they might both be telling the truth, according to a new study. The research indicates that the brain in wired in such a way as to underestimate oneís own strength.

In an experiment, the researchers asked six pairs of volunteers to take turns pushing against each otherís shoulder with the same force they just felt the other use on them.

The researchers found that the amount of force they used escalated quickly because each participant perceived that the other one was pushing harder.

The researchers speculated that the phenomenon is the result of brain wiring that filters out an individualís perception of what the body is doing when the individual thinks he or she can anticipate the result.

Physical conflicts tend to escalate. For example, as tit-for-tat exchanges between two children escalate, both will often assert that the other hit him or her harder. We show that, in such situations, both sides are reporting their true perception, and their escalation is a natural by-product of neural processing."

In order to better evaluate our behavior and to solve the problem of escalating force during Push-hands, I suggest:

     1)   Let your partner know (politely) that he or she used excessive force on you.

     2)   Understand and discipline your own force and ego, they often come together as a package.

     3)   Remember, no hard force can land on a curtain. Go back to work on your sensitivity and softness.

David Chen
-----"A 4-oz. push would not work if you have a 10-pound force in your mind."