Taiji fighting ability

by admin2 on 2009/05/14

Originally written by: Matej Velicky There many stories about Chen Fake and Hong Junsheng and their fighting ability.

Do these mean that they were actually able to defend themselves against a real attack and unprepared? I was wondering about confrontation with a trained boxer for example. Especially in Czech (and I believe it’s the same in most western countries) boxers and other martial sport guy argue as follows:

  1. What kind of martial art that is (and they speak about most traditional martial arts) when you have to train many years to be able to fight?
  2. And even most people cannot fight at all.
  3. Most martial artist only train applications and not free fight they don’t really have the ability.
  4. So, in taiji learning, is there a stage when you actually confront yourself in real (even friendly) fight to be prepared for a real opponent?

Yes, both Chen Fake and Hong Junsheng were able to defend themselves if they were attacked. The merit of a martial art rests on whether in the end ability is produced, not in how many years it takes. A Chinese proverb goes like this: you sharpen your sword for ten years just in order to be used once in your life time. Chen Style Tajiquan Practical Method is a good martial art not because it takes a long time to learn it but because you achieve real fighting ability in the end. I don’t want to compare Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method to boxing because boxing is a sport while taijiquan is a martial art. In modern days, people confuse sport with martial art. A martial art trains people to kill or to defend oneself againt being killed. This is quiet different from being trained to score. Yes, most “martial artists” cannot fight at all. The problem is with “most martial artists” not with the martial art. The whole spectrum is:

  1. basic foundations including forms.
  2. training
  3. applications
  4. push hands
  5. free fighting

Most people cannot fight because they don’t follow the above procedure. They like one or more aspects of the above but not all of the above.

 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Xavier Santiago January 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Hi all,

I posted this article in a Facebook Taiji discussion group called “Tai Chi Secret Movements”. Some interesting questions arose in that discussion and I asked the participants if I could copy and paste the discussion here. Many questions came up concerning “the self defense ability f a Taijiquan practitioner”:

Anthony Walmsley ‎@Zavier ” …… Do these mean that they were actually able to defend themselves against a real attack and unprepared? I was wondering about confrontation with a boxer ……. ”

There is a vast difference between dealing with “a real attack and unprepared” and entering into a ‘sports’ “confrontation with a boxer”.
“Real” assaults are almost always ‘unprepared’ whereas in any ‘sporting event’ such a boxing, both participants know what to expect, ‘when’ the confrontation will take place and what the rules are.

Further, virtually 100% of those participating in sporting events, are males; many victims of real assaults are women but I have yet to see anybody writing here regarding how they should be trained to deal with such situations.
Yesterday at 11:17am · Like · 1 person

Jason Luu Those are all legitimate concerns, Anthony. I will attempt to address each.

1. Sport fighting should not be looked down upon. Historically, Yang Lu’Chan (founder of Yang style tai chi) engaged in several “sports” fighting matches against various martial arts exponents which helped establish the legitimacy of Tai Chi as a martial art. Furthermore, sport fighting allows combatants who lose to actually learn and get better (as opposed to dying or becoming a cripple). Real, planned attacks “without rules” in ancient China were not defendable as a solo martial artist; people resorted to poison, ranged attacks, back stabs, attacks while sleeping, and other such methods. For example, Li Shuwen, a famous martial artist, was unable to defend against someone poisoning his tea. Similarly, it is said that unarmoured Shaolin monks were unable to defend when they were ambushed by a shower of arrows.

2. I fully agree with you that women who do not have a passion for martial arts should learn melee self-defense because they are far more likely to get victimized in such situations. Women who do devote time to mastering a particular martial art typically do not need to worry as they can already defend themselves. In my opinion, Tai Chi is not appropriate for those (women and men) who do not have time to practice martial arts IF the only thing they want is self defense. It takes too far long to become good at it and the success rate is too low. Far better just to learn a few “cheap” moves from a self-defense instructor that requires very little time to learn. There are many schools geared towards such a goal where they do not expect their students to practice much nor have a passion for martial arts but need to defend themselves in a short time. I acknowledge that, from a societal perspective, such instruction fills an important role. But I don’t find a compelling reason to change Tai Chi to fill such a role when such it is already filled by other schools.
Yesterday at 12:11pm · Like · 2 people

Anthony Walmsley ‎@Jason.
It seems to me that we return to the same problem, i.e., SPORTS!
I am not ‘looking down’ on anything, all I’m trying to do is differentiate between an organised ‘sporting event’ and a totally unexpected assault.
In my experience, ‘sports’ training methods do not address this problem. I’ve attempted to open this discussion previously here but perhaps I have not made myself clear,.
I presume that Taijiquan was invented and trained for realistic ‘self defence’, not ‘sports encounters’. And that the ability to learn Taijiquan to defend oneself should be equally applicable to men and women irrespective of their physical make-up/size or age.
I have never read a message here which takes these factors into consideration and I again ask, what are the Self Defence training methods that may be taught to both sexes of all ages ??
Yesterday at 12:45pm · Like · 2 people

Kevin Mcmonagle ‎1. Ward Off – Peng

2. Roll Back – Lu

3. Press – Ji

4. Push – An

is a good place to start.
Yesterday at 3:39pm · Like · 1 person

David Carr ‎.Anthony Walmsley – about training for realistic self-defense – - – all martial arts are just that – self-defense. It would be up to the intructor’s discretion how he or she teaches it. Indeed, application is everything. Most people I’ve run into over the years use purely the imagery of the movement names to give solice and comfort as the practioner evolves. Truly, this is a must – one must learn patience and peace – they are art forms in and of themselves – but, even as the name literally translated states – “Ultimate Supreme Fist” – it boasts of a form of self-defense highly evolved. But it would be up to the instructor to provide THAT particular imagery – that is, exactly what is the picture of a self-defense movement does this provide? I personally provide both the Yin – (brush horse’s mane with the imagery of actually brushing a horse’s mane) – as well as the Yang – (brush horse’s mane providing a ward-off techinque to a punch while stepping deep behind and uprooting the aggresor) The instructor would have to provide the authenticity of a situation presented by the student – depending on the instructor’s personal experience – the results are very enlightening – an one can show more fa jing in his horse’s mane while performing – now having the experience of application ~
21 hours ago · Like · 1 person

Oscar Reyes ‎@ Anthony & David C.
M. Chen ZH admits intermediary level of self-defense skills, the full range reachable in ~10 years, through “Parallel Training” of [i]Form & Foundations, [ii]Applications, [iii]free-form TuiShou, [iv] free-form SanShou].
These are often taught together, hence at each step of its formation, the student has the potential to convert this intermediary wealth of TCC learning into “self-defense” skills.
How TCC raw information transmutes into self-defense?…

IMHO the student can do it itself, provided he acquires the proper Mind/Intent [Yi]; this is closely related to a full-immersion into a recreated “WuShu Cultural Context”.

The other element is work with WuShu’s “Fight Simulators”: Weapons, and devices as the Muk Jan Jong.
On my experience, a single season of such devoted T’ai chi training provides already sufficient skills to get through most self-defense situations.
The feminine self-defense issue is closely related with that of full-immersion on WuShu Culture.
Women born & raised to Western WuShu-buffs incorporate since early age martial movements to their games; next they’re borrowing Mom’s GuanDao… Even if they don’t stick later to a regular training schedule , often acquire spontaneously a respectable level of self-defense skills.
Let’s open a Topic on “Self-taught Fighting Skills… etc” and prove me wrong :) .
***
Xavier’s founding link’s : http://practicalmethod.com/2009/05/taiji-fighting-ability/ & related http://practicalmethod.com/2005/01/dairy-of-a-taiji-student-martial-ability-in-taijiquan/
5 hours ago · Like
Oscar Reyes Needless to say, the other culprits of this long Share are warmly invited to start such Topic!…
4 hours ago · Like

Xavier Santiago To all,

Thank you for your comments. You have all brought up very important points. Before continuing the conversation, I would like everybody’s permission for me to copy and paste this whole thread in Shifu’s website for the above link. I would love to read his answers to all your questions and comments. What do you all say?
3 hours ago · Like

David Carr I have no issues with that – feel free.
2 hours ago · Like
Jason Luu No problem here, go for it. I’ll follow up on Oscar’s post and start a topic on self-defense
about an hour ago · Like
Oscar Reyes No problemo on my side, Xavier!… [but please check your facebook's message box]. Thanks Jason, you’re a brick!… David & Kevin, hope you both will participate in Jason’s new topic … :)
about an hour ago · Like · 1 person
Kevin Mcmonagle Yeah fine. I don’t have anything more to add on top of what Jason said.
58 minutes ago · Like
Oscar Reyes ‎@Kevin; I’m sure you’ll find you have much to tell us, pleeez?… :)

Reply

levi broderick June 27, 2011 at 7:52 am

are you tring any one one right now ,because i want to be your apprentence mabye.well if you arent then its fine i just need more practice

Reply

Xavier Santiago June 16, 2013 at 10:29 am

Welcome to the Chen style Tài jí quan Practical Method website. If you came here believing that our English translation of 太极拳 (tài jí quán) is “Supreme Ultimate Fist” I am afraid you came to the wrong 太极拳 group. We are fortunate that our Shifu, Chen Zhonghua, is not only a native Chinese; but also a school English teacher. He has properly explained to us that the actual translation of 太极拳 is “Extreme Polarity Boxing or Fist.” What are those extreme poles that we are talking about? They are called 阳 (yīn) & 阴 (yáng). For your martial art to be considered 太极拳 it must always physically abide to the following principles:
“Tài jí quán is Yīn and Yáng. In order to correctly interpret the classics, you must understand that Tài jí is Yīn and Yáng. Yáng is imbedded in Yīn, and Yīn is embedded in Yáng. Yáng arises out of Yīn, and Yīn arises out of Yáng. Anything that does not conform to these rules is NOT tài jí. Application of Yīn and Yáng refers always to the same object. Yīn and Yáng is not referring to two different objects. It is referring to opposites in the SAME object. Whenever we do Yīn/Yáng separation in our Tài jí form, we are always talking about the same part. In order to do that physically you need a center, which is a point that does not move and something else moves around it.”
“Supreme Ultimate Fist” is a common English mistranslation of the characters 太极拳. In my personal opinion, it is a mistranslation that has led many astray in their training searching for “mysterious abilities” which have nothing to do with 太极拳. You will find that practitioners of the Practical Method are not interested in “the mysterious.” We listen to whoever wants to talk about that, but we will always only focus on what is martially applicable, and never on things that can never be proven right or wrong.
One of those concepts that we will never abide by is the notion that “the slow will defeat the fast.” Our Grandmaster Hong Junsheng, disciple of Chen style Taiji master Chen Fake, explains the following in his book Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method Volume one:
“Some people even suggested the absurd notion of the slow defeating the fast which no doubt has turned science into superstition.”
http://practicalmethod.com/2011/12/chen-taiji-ebook-purchase/

Grandmaster Hong always told his disciples to avoid superstition when practicing tài jí quán. Slow is not part of tài jí quán at all. It is only a learning method and the two should never be confused.
For further information on what our tài jí is about, please read the following article:
http://practicalmethod.com/2011/10/the-balance-of-taiji/
Once again, welcome to our Practical Method webpage and I hope that our material here helps you on your journey to master 太极拳. I also recommend you check out our workshop calendar for a workshop near you with Master Chen Zhonghua. It will be a great and enjoyable learning experience.

Peace

Reply

Hugo von Vallersleben January 30, 2014 at 4:53 am

I promise to go through the whole curriculum of Chen Style Practical Method ! Indeed, the Practical Method is a real practical method.

Reply

Mike February 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

In my experience, since I am in Chen Zhenglei’s lineage, it is up to the student to learn how each posture is used for self defense. For me it was not as hard since i was involved with other martial arts. My main focus while doing the forms is that some one is is already in my space, or on the way. So the yi intent stays on defending, or trying to do the different energies. I train out of town, so most of my practice has been solo. i find that if you keep the yi, mind intent on defending against a would be attacker, then it also helps in usage at any given moment. It could take years or months all depending on the student. I have personally had success in a short time with applications, but still working on form correction. Chen style taiji seems to me as having many different options. And i am glad since i have a deteriorated disk in my back and am limited to what kind of training i do.

So when i train, i think that imaging using each posture for self defense helps. how would i use the central point in yin or yang?

Reply

studentofmethod February 24, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Mike you can read more about the central point in the section (A) Move vs. No-Move here – http://practicalmethod.com/2013/03/learning-practical-method-on-daqingshan-3/

more insight into visualizing an opponent during the form here – http://practicalmethod.com/2013/08/visualizing-an-opponent/

Reply

charlie wishon January 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

I do not agree with the following statement Jason.
2.” I fully agree with you that women who do not have a passion for martial arts should learn melee self-defense because they are far more likely to get victimized in such situations. Women who do devote time to mastering a particular martial art typically do not need to worry as they can already defend themselves. In my opinion, Tai Chi is not appropriate for those (women and men) who do not have time to practice martial arts IF the only thing they want is self defense. It takes too far long to become good at it and the success rate is too low. Far better just to learn a few “cheap” moves from a self-defense instructor that requires very little time to learn. There are many schools geared towards such a goal where they do not expect their students to practice much nor have a passion for martial arts but need to defend themselves in a short time. I acknowledge that, from a societal perspective, such instruction fills an important role. But I don’t find a compelling reason to change Tai Chi to fill such a role when such it is already filled by other schools.” Practical method has all that is needed for the novice needing quick self defence, and the progression of skill. There are few that can teach both . While adhering to the system. That is all… .

Reply

charlie wishon January 20, 2016 at 10:30 am

Practical method has all that is needed for the novice needing quick self defence, and the progression of skill. There are few that can teach both . While adhering to the system. That is all… .

Reply

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