Back in the day, I used to do some ‘push hands’ with my teacher. This was basically non-rehearsed, and the ‘ready to defend’ type of mentality. The activity has closer resemblance to judo than the normal push hands choreography stuff you normally see.
The idea was pretty simple, pair up inside a small circle and try not to fall and try not to get pushed out of the circle. No strikes or kicks were employed, just train sensitivity and grappling. I must admit that I bit the ground more than a couple of times, but it was fun and really taught me a lot about moving under pressure and tension. There was no smiling-gonna-get-ya mentality, it was a lot of jerking around, testing each other’s boundry and trying to feel each other’s center while working on footwork and moving.