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Tai Chi and Martial Art  
martial arts and the application of combat tai chi

Chuan Applications of Fist Under Elbow

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!

1The first phase of Fist Under Elbow may be utilized to defend yourself from attack coming from front or rear.

Example A
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.

Example B
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.

Example C
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 ahead (phoenix).

The application of tripping/tipping is described below as Example D. The application of any strike is left here to your imagination!

3Example D
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 foot/ankle.
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 and long.
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.


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.
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