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

Tai Chi as a Martial Art


Chen Man ChingAll the great classical martial arts were founded, and were still evolving, in an era when people simply used different methods of attack and defence.

Tai Chi Chuan is always treated as the pinnacle of martial achievement. The wealth of techniques hidden behind Tai ChiChuan unhurried exterior proves that the art is extremely highly evolved. It combines the practical skills of Hsing-i and Pa-kua. Tai Chi Chuan is the softest of the internal arts. However, soft is an incorrect description for the way that Tai Chi Chuan is used as a fighting art. It should be called "loose".

It is a system of close quarter natural combat, which is calm and relaxed. From this calmness and relaxation comes great speed. Evasions, throws, leverage and pushes are used rather than force to overcome an attacker. Tai Chi Chuan self-defence is generally defensive rather than offensive. The aggressors own force is used to subdue them with the absolute minimum effort.

Modern fighters do not use long stances (open) in order to gain more power; fighters now use centrifugal force with a Western style boxing stance to achieve a powerful strike. A fighter will no longer attack and then leave the attacking portion out for someone to grab - instead whipping-type techniques are used which are very fast, full of power and move the fist or foot in and out with great speed. This does not give enough time for someone to use a grappling technique.

Movements from the slow Form cannot fully be used in self-defence; postures have to be adapted because in street fights things do not happen as expected. First and foremost attack the assailant's periphery as it comes within range - arm, leg, fist, etc. Always remember: if you are poked in the eye - where is your chi then?

Tai Chi Chuan

Tai = Ultimate or Supreme

Chi = Energy (polarity yin / yang) Chuan = The Fist Way

Tai Chi Chuan is known as Supreme Pole Boxing, Grand Ultimate Fist or Long Arm Boxing.

In any action the whole body must be made as light and mobile as possible. By relaxing the body and by refusing to exert force or to tense your muscles, mobility is enhanced. This will deny the opponent any chance of getting across a telling blow - for there is no centre of gravity for them to act upon.

When the body is emptied of force, that is when all the muscles are relaxed, a tenacious strength will develop. Force is derived from the tension of the muscles, binding the bones together in a wooden rigid system. Tenacity derives from muscles; Force derives from bones. Force - the blow will be concentrated and fall like a mighty cudgel. To strike with tenacious strength involves no such rigorous tensing. The blow falls like a pliable cane (or vine) with all your bones at ease and muscles in a state of complete relaxation. Deriving from the muscles, the pathways of chi, tenacious strength is superior in every way to force.

Anyone making an attack is essentially performing an external act of aggression, a burst of forward movement energy usually concentrated in one hand or foot. At the moment of release of energy the aggressor is therefore at least temporarily out of control. This is the point when Tai Chi Chuan adept reacts.

Yield before the attacker. In yielding turn your own movements in harmony with, rather than in opposition to, the direction of the attackers force. But this does not mean that the defender is struck down or knocked out of the way. On the contrary. The defender takes a rooted stance and enables to remain firm and in control and to use the force of the opponents attack to unbalance and repel them.

Give yourself up and yield before your opponent. Neither resist nor counter the blow - yield before the force - thus taking advantage of the attacker's momentum. Then add a pull or a push so that with the augmented impetus the opponent (meeting no resistance) is thrown to the ground. Pushing, pulling, locking or throwing, pressure against joints or a sensitive point on the body, variety of kicks, punches and other blows, but most of them are designed to neutralize an attack without inflicting too serious an injury.

Adherence is the key principle of Tai Chi Chuan. Having turned the attack, take hold of the opponent. Once the opponent has been grasped, the attack is neutralized, and locks, pinning techniques or pressure points (vital points) can all be applied. Ward off an oncoming attack and flow right into a counter move - redirect the attack. Movements are circular, the attack is taken around the circle and back into the aggressor. Also by moving in circles it is easier to attack the opponents vital energy points. This achieves injuring the opponent while at the same time deflecting their force.

By performing the slow Forms it teaches you to acquire the technique of relaxing during practice, and this will then enable you to execute the Forms at speed while your inner being (state) remains totally calm. React naturally and calmly in a combat situation, and do not be crowded by technique, fear or uncertainty.

Remember that all techniques should be: rooted in the feet, developed in the legs, directed by the waist, functioned through the fingers. Be as the broad based Daruma Doll of Japan: swaying at the slightest touch but which cannot be upended. Body weight must only be on one foot at a time - never be double or equal weighted. This impedes agility and balance.



 
The wealth of techniques hidden behind Tai ChiChuan unhurried exterior proves that the art is extremely highly evolved. It combines the practical skills of Hsing-i and Pa-kua. Tai Chi Chuan is the softest of the internal arts. However, soft is an incorrect description for the way that Tai Chi Chuan is used as a fighting art. It should be called "loose".
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