Principles of Movement: Push & Pull

One of the most common methods of generating power and speed, push & pull can be found in many movement forms. The technique, quite simply put, involves the simultaneous pushing of one side while pulling with the other.

The first time I learned push & pull was when a friend was showing me the proper way to cut with a katana. At the end of the swing, push down with the front hand while pulling back with the rear hand.


footage from Hiro Imafuji

This is a natural harmony of counteracting forces. The momentum generated by the push aids in the ease of the pull, and vice versa. Another example of this technique is found in the class 1-2 (jab-cross) combination in boxing. The pulling back of the jab (left hand) assists and naturally leads into the pushing forward of the cross (right hand).


footage from Kwonkicker

In my own movement practice, push & pull has come up repeatedly in acrobatics. A perfect example is in the aerial, which is a cartwheel in the air. The move relies heavily on push & pull to generate enough height and torque/rotation to complete.


Pushing with my inside leg initiates the jump and lateral momentum. Pulling with my outside leg complements the jump (helping me reach higher) while also speeding up my lateral momentum and getting me through the move before I lose my height.

Push & pull can be utilized in most movements. I’ve seen it in basic functions like running, jumping, and climbing to advanced techniques in kicking and twisting. The next time you explore your movement practice, try to look for places to incorporate some push & pull.

Happy moving 🙂

Showing 4 comments
  • Santiago

    Hey, great and concise article! Keep ’em coming 🙂

    • siawnou

      Thanks Santiago! Glad you enjoyed the read. More content coming your way.

  • fiona

    Thanks. Interesting. I think push and pull are basically natural though. The problem appears when a person naturally and unthinkingly uses one side of the body to push and the other has to pull, causing an imbalance and later balance and joint problems.

    • siawnou

      I agree, Fiona. A lot of movement principles are often natural tendencies in the body and become unnatural once we start to over-analyze. For Push & Pull movements I find that typically focus too much on the push (relying on power) and unwillingly ignore the pull.

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