If you look hard enough, very practical applications of
every Tai Chi posture can be identified or recognized.
In comparison to the spiritually orientated 'visualization'
these Chuan applications are not so poetic!
first phase of Fist Under Elbow may be utilized
to defend yourself from attack coming from front
1) If grabbed from behind to neck or chest - the
hands may be 'thrown' over the shoulder for the
thumbs of fist to strike.
2) If the defender were able to twist or rotate
well at hips, waist and shoulders (practice!)
the opponents head may be grasped.
3) It would then be possible to pull the opponent
over the right shoulder whist stepping forward
with the left leg.
If a person has to resort to physical self-defense,
it is far more likely that this would be required
in confined space as opposed to some wide open
space. Space itself is the finest defense and
space nullifies the need for physicality.
If your back however is literally 'against the
wall' - this phase of Fist Under Elbow may be
utilized to deflect an attackers fist or head-but
to your own face. If the attackers lunge is with
a weapon (broken [not poetic] bottle) the defenders
hands should be brought closer together and the
outside of the right forearm used to deflect.
The left forearm protects the face.
If the primary theory of Tai Chi Chuan is observed,
no attempt should be made to halt the attacker lunge;
it is simply 'helped on its way'.
If this were the defenders application he/she should
then continue the sequence of postures, step out of
the danger zone and make ready to deflect again and
if necessary - conclusively - strike. This need cause
no pain to either party. See Example D below.
This may be the conclusion of the move Example A
3 as above, if applied successfully.
However, if the defenders grab, poke or strike found
no target it was probably because the attacker stepped
to his left to avoid. Should this be so, the swing
of the defenders arms downward (illustrated left)
should continue as far to the rear as possible so
as to deflect any new 'incoming' or make strike
to the attacker to belly and groin.
With this motion (practiced twisting - more precisely
- 'coiling') the defenders head should also be taken
out of the danger zone.
Note that the stride to the left (from Cat Stance)also
leads out of the zone of attack from the rear.
The sequence of postures to this point may also
be utilized against two opponents - one to the rear,
the other front left (dragon). In conjunction with
Single Whip, which does (singularly) so proceed
within the Long Form, this sequence of sequences
may be applied against four point attack. Single
Whip to front and right, phase one (Example A) of
Fist Under Elbow to the rear, and strike to the
left (Example C). So ... this Example C may be a
strike, therefore a conclusion of some sort. It
may also however be phase one of another sequence
leading to the tripping ['tipping', like a bucket
of water which is full to the brim] of an opponent
The application of tripping/tipping is described below
as Example D. The application of any strike is left
here to your imagination!
The right foot is brought to the front in an arch,
toes leading, inwards to out.
The hands at the same time (and still holding the
ball) describe a semicircle at arms length distance
from the hip.
The sweep of the right foot takes it (preferably)
between the attackers legs, or at least outside
of the attacker left. The arms sweep to the
right, under both arms of the opponent to the front.
The target for your right hand is your opponents
right armpit. The target for your left hand is (preferably)
to grip - your left palm up (Tiger Claw) - underneath
the opponents right wrist.
The next phase of the sequence (sweeping your arms
to the right) should trip the opponent over your
outstretched right leg. Some assistance may be obtained
by a snake like strike with some part of
your right foot to the nearest of your opponents
It is not strictly Tai Chi (far too hard) nevertheless
application of this move with a snap makes interesting
and harmless practice, and it is therefore 'worth
it' to experience the method . The efficiency of
methodical practiced coiling of the body as One
- from the soles of the feet to the crown of the
head - will dictate the efficiency of any application;
and if you ever really do need to apply such a strike
as defense, you are most likely to be in confined
space and dependent upon that energy stored as a
coil. In Tai Chi any strike is not a acceleration
or increase in energy. It is a 'release' of stored
energy. Some of this energy (Chi) may be 'stolen'
from an opponent, all of it, from there or elsewhere,
is stored, as if simultaneously twisted and compresed
I began this two part analysis by explaining that the
required deep familiarity with the seven (short) and nine
(long) posture sequences of GST - Ward Off Left / GST
- Ward Off Right / GST - Rollback / GST - Press / GST
- Withdraw / GST - Push and then ... Single Whip...
is reason enough to abbreviate its title thus to GST short
Ultimately, the whole of any Form, no matter what its
name, or how long, short, yin or yang it is; the practitioner
should aim only to reduce One to None.
We have come all this way with descriptions and applications
of Fist Under Elbow, yet the posture that gives this
particular sequence its name has not yet made an appearance!
Though the words give the wrong impression, this phase
of the sequence is indeed conclusive in nature.
From posture (Example D) the
left forearm -arching up from the elbow -
lifts an opponents right arm at the elbow.
Your right fist strikes between or
beneath the opened ribs.
Your last step forward with
the right took you close in to the opponent. Now
your left foot may (unseen) be either brought
down upon the opponents shin;
or your heel be used to strike like a hammer down
upon the opponents toes.
"Usefulness lies in what is not
there; not what is".
This ancient Taoist phrase suggests that we don't know
everything about everything!
It took some time for me to bring this article to the
point of application of Fist Under Elbow and all of
that 'lead-up' was necessary so as to emphasize the
intrinsic coiling of the body and storing of energy.
I also make it clear that no application will be at
all successful unless plenty of practice is put into
this coiling the body.
As a final example of how the things that benefit us
most are those that we pay least attention to, I remind
you now that many of the considerable health benefits
derived from Tai Chi comes as a direct result of this
coiling of the torso and the (again!) integral massaging
of the internal organs that is self administered during
those hours of enjoyable practice.