Bridging exercise

Exercises such as 'pushing hands' must be seen in the wider context of the tai chi.
They are not an end in themselves.
Pushing hands is a learning tool for teaching skills that must eventually be utilised in self defence.

However, pushing hands is not an a combat skill in its own right.
No sane person would believe that pushing hands enabled them to use tai chi in a real-life combat situation.

The exercise is about contact and sensitivity, feeling and stickiness, learning to sense using your nervous system rather than your thoughts.