Taiji has the functional practical martial art applications

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8. Taiji has the functional practical martial art applications
Q36: Does Taiji have the ability for self-defense apart from the health benefits?

A: Yes, the original purpose of creating the Taiji movements was for self-defence and it has been implemented in wars and self-defence throughout history! The health benefits have just been recognized recently. Many people have recognized the value of the health benefits from all of the Taiji practitioners in real life. This is because Taiji practitioners are always in very good health and have a longer life with a relaxed and happy mind.
Q37: Why are there so many turning, twining, twisting and spiraling movements remaining in Chen Style Taiji exercise and what are the particular benefits?

A: 1) Stretching muscles and lengthening tendons creating flexibility in the joints. It makes your limbs reach further distances and your body becomes more flexible. The ability of your limbs improves when attacking opponents, and it is also good for defending against arm locks. Click to learn Thromboangiitis obliterans in TCM.

2) It twists the muscles and helps with getting rid of fat, and improves the elastic function of your muscles and tendons.

3) All of the turning, twisting and spiraling movements are the foundation to form a spinning motion of defence. It is the perfect reaction against attack from an opponent's powerful strength. Think of Taiji as a way of employing an opponent's strength to your advantage, defeating them with little effort.

4) It also helps remove the blockages in the body. Q38: Do you need to pay attention to the change of the body's weight and what is the problem if you put the weight or strength equally on both sides of the body?

A: Yes, it is very necessary to differentiate your weight whilst you are practicing Taiji exercise as Taiji is the combination of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are always changing and complementing each other. More weight or strength is considered as Yang. The opposite, less weight or less strength are considered as Yin. When you shift weight or move strength from one leg to another, it can be seen as changing from Yin to Yang or Yang to Yin. If the weight or strength is equal in both legs that shows no Yin and no Yang, it is called Wuji. Click to learn Trigeminal Neuralgia in TCM.

Q39: Does Taiji really have functional practical martial art applications? It is so soft and slow, etc. How can you implement the Taiji application skill in a real situation? Such as "four ounces against one thousand pounds"?

A: I must stress that Taiji was invented initially, solely for combat purposes only. In the days before guns, the life and the Chen family's occupation (who were hired for security purposes to protect trade and money transportation across China) depended on your ability to fight. If you had no skill, you could not survive in this dangerous occupation. How could you compete against Shaolin, Wudang, Praying Mantis, Xing Yi, Bagua or all the other martial artists with no combat ability? Training for health reasons (other than survival) was not a priority in those days!

Taiji movements in general are very slow and soft compared to other types of martial arts. It makes many people doubt the ability of Taiji to be applied. They think that it is so slow, soft, gentle and in a circle, like a dance, how does it work in a fight or competition?

The Chen Style Taiji practicing of soft and slow is a unique method of training. It is easy to make your body become completely relaxed, making movements precise and coordinated. Training slowly also allows you to try and combine consciousness with breathing into the movements whilst building up the level of your fitness and sensitivity. Training fast without having trained slow first means you will easily omit all the essential details of the movement. It is just a good step-by-step training method that ultimately brings efficient and quick results. It is the foundation of high level Taiji self-defence skill. Without training slowly and softly, you will never be able to produce the fast and powerful energy releases of Taiji. This curriculum was realised after much experience in training and teaching by the high level Chen Taiji masters. Can you ignore this advice?

In real-live combat situations, Taiji movements are very fast and powerful. There is nothing slow about it at all. In the Taiji fighting song, it says, "Your enemy attacks first, but you get him first!" The truth is, speed is essential in combat. I do not know of anybody who can fight slowly. Click to learn Meniere's Disease in TCM.

Q40: What is the meaning of "bringing the opponents in" and then lead them to the "empty place"?

A: When the opponent attacks you with very powerful strength, the Taiji way to deal with this situation is to never use strength against your opponent to stop his attack. Instead, get in touch with your opponent and use soft contact to stick with your opponent's arm, leg or body first whilst maintaining an effective defence line with minimum strength needed. Once you touch the opponent's attack movements, try to use the sensation of your skin to feel the route of the opponent's strength and follow its intended direction to bring his movement in and lead to a place where your opponent's attack does not affect your safety at all, as if your opponent's attack goes to an empty target.   

This is why Taiji always allows the attack to come close to your body but use circling movements with soft touching or sticking skills to redirect the strength of your opponent to a useless position or empty place. Again, this takes time to develop.

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