During a meal at the latest Iowa training camp, I was speaking to Mater Chen about an event that happened a couple years ago at a workshop in Phoenix. That chat prompted me to retell the anecdote now.
Master Chen was demonstrating a Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method counter-attack from a right strike/right foot forward. I asked him how he would counter a right cross strike (with the left foot forward). As I would find out later, he wasn’t familiar with the term “right cross” so he simply asked me to execute one at him.
With my left fist protecting my chin, I began to throw the right. Before I was able to issue the punch, Master Chen was inches away from me, the fingers of his left hand grabbing my throat and his right hand had my left in a joint lock. I was tapping-out, as the pain from the joint lock was debilitating.
I did not telegraph the strike, did not blink and did it at full speed. I could not understand how a moment of time was seemingly lost – between me initiating and him arriving. It wasn’t just speed: I’ve sparred with professional fighters and know even very fast movements can be tracked with the eye.
Having thought about this event many times since, a video with Master Chen discussing “indirect movements” caught my attention. He said Practical Method indirect movements cannot be easily detected by an opponent. It’s all in the training: do not move.