Archive for August, 2008

All Tai Chi systems are NOT the same.  In fact there are only two authentic forms of Tai Chi.

These are:

a)   The Original “Old Style” Yang Lu-ch’an Tai Chi Chuan (Originally called H’ao Chu’an or Loose Boxing)

b)   Yang Cheng-Fu  (This style was created by one of the grandsons of Lu-Ch’an when he changed it from the original Old Style to make Tai Chi more accessible to all people, ages and levels of health.  Cheng-Fu, which was the grandson’s name, stated that to change the form anymore than he did would cause disaster.)

To understand what makes a Tai Chi system “authentic” you will have to spend time studying the subject.  

For starters, virtually anyone can make claims of how their system is supposedly more “authentic” than others.  But I’m not interested in battles between egos.  What matters is what’s best for the people.  So, let me quickly interject one KEY reason on how to identify an authentic Tai Chi system.

The movements in an authentic Tai Chi MUST follow the Horary cycle sequence (or 24 Hour Qi Flow Cycle).  To do otherwise creates energy (Qi) imbalance.  Thus, incorrect forms of Tai Chi utilize incorrect series of physical (kinetic) movements, which in turn stimulate certain meridians out of their proper sequence. 

Incorrect systems of Tai Chi have either pieced together movements from an authentic Tai Chi and placed then out of order. Or they have created entirely new movements, or a combination therein.  Either way, to follow an incorrect system of Tai Chi is ultimately disastrous, just like Cheng-Fu said.

For more on how to distinguish between authentic vs. inauthentic Tai Chi visit the “Articles” section at www.taichiworld.com.  Ultimately though the deciding factor is not intellectual but through direct practice.

Here is a list of what we teach at Park’s Martial Arts and what is involved in learning the Complete System of Tai Chi Chuan:

  1. Old Yang Style Tai Chi form. This form IS Tai Chi and will be the core of your training. On average a student learns one or two techniques of this form per class since details are so important.
  2. Health and Meditative benefits are introduced but are not fully realized until a certain degree of proficiency.  One such health approach is to learn the standing 3-Circle Qigong method as this posture introduces proper energy or Qi flow to the body quicker than accessing Qi through the “Old Yang Style” form.  As the student advances in their form and training more in depth techniques and understandings are taught.
  3. Fa-Jing striking and kicking with pads. (Without mastering fa-jing, which literal translates as “explosive power”, your attack/defense techniques will be limited in there effectiveness.)
  4. Single & Double Push Hands are interactive routines that help the student to understand experientially the martial art aspects of nei chia (or internal style) martial arts; leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. 
  5. Chee Sau (Tai Chi “sticky hands”) teaches similar goals to push hands but utilizes a different approach.  
  6. Pauchui or “Cannon Fist Form” & Small San-Sau or “a Style of Free Hands” are routines that one can perform by themselves or with a partner. They teach the student how to defend themselves using the techniques found in the Tai Chi form.  
  7. Large San-Sau is a more advance method of San-Sau.  
  8. Da-Lu techniques teach one how to move correctly and change directions while attacking and defending. 
  9. Dim-Mak is a very advance level of Tai Chi where one learns how to attack pressure/vital points to control or incapacitate an opponent.  Most people don’t realize that authentic Tai Chi is one of the world’s most deadly martial arts.
  10. Tai Chi Weapons are introduced to advanced practitioners and can consist of short stick, long pole, knife, sword work.  In short, the weapon becomes an extension of the body and flows utilizing the movements and principles found in Tai Chi.

NOTE:  Although it is recommended that one learn the entire Tai Chi system some people are only interested in the “health” benefits.  This is understandable and we will always welcome these students at Park’s Martial Arts where we can certainly assist them fully.  

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CLICK HERE for the Large San Sau Fighting Video

Many Tai Chi practitioners only see the Large San-Sau as a training method to gain the fighting applications of Tai Chi. However, it goes much deeper than that. There are actually three reasons that we must practice Large San-Sau.

The first reason is the obvious one of purely physical contact and learning about how to use the postures from the Tai Chi form. It is said that during San-Sau, we practice every known kind of attack and defence, even those ones that aren’t actually physically included in the sets. By this I mean that we learn sub-consciously to move the body in such a manner as to teach it to react automatically to any kind of attack, not only those that we are performing. We learn to ‘see without seeing’ in that our sub-conscious brain will learn how to read an attacker’s movement and body shape, how his is placed for power and whether it is even worth reacting to. In the beginning, students will always ‘look’ at their partner/opponent, nit wishing to miss an attack etc. However, as one progresses. we learn that we actually see more without seeing! Our sub-conscious brain picks up on movement that our eyes do not focus upon and then our body reacts instantly to that unseen movement.

The second important reason is that we learn how to transmit Qi either for the self defence art or the healing art. All great internal systems have this aspect somewhere in their sets. If we do not release the stored Qi, no more can be gained and we will sort of explode like a pressure cooker! We must release the built up Qi to stop stagnant Qi building up in our body thus causing disease. We gather the Qi using the Qigong and the Tai Chi form, then we store it using the fast movement and release it using the Fa-jing movements of the Pauchui/Large San-Sau forms and two person sets. This is why we must learn to perform the San-Sau at a very explosive pace never allowing any blow to make contact with us, we have it covered the instant that it is released upon us. Many make the big mistake in the beginning of waiting for each attack to be made before reacting to it! In a realistic situation, the attack would never come too close as you would have it covered and would have instantly reacted with a re-attack. Many find that the movements are too close and awkward, however, this in only because they aren’t reacting soon enough and allowing the attacker’s attacks to get to you before sing attacking/defensive movements yourself. So the whole thing will become very fast and furious and this is when the whole two person set becomes a joy to perform and only then do we begin to get the real benefits of the next section.

When two partners have been practicing the large San-Sau for some time, become as one unit, the whole Qi systems of each player unites as one flowing river and this practice actually becomes a little addictive, leaving each player on a high for hours after their practice. You should never however, only practice once! You should always practice three times or more with both players practicing on the both sides more than 3 times. So that amounts to 6 times at least each day. It only takes a few minutes going at a cracking pace though.

This brings me to the last section and really is the most important and hidden or secret meaning of Large San-Sau. When I was with Chang, I would always ask him the meaning of things which would often annoy him I am sure as he would only hit me to demonstrate. On one such occasion, I asked him about the true meaning of Large San-Sau to which he answered with a whack on my arm leaving a huge bruise! However, his attack was not that hard and I wondered what the meaning of all this was. I thought in the beginning that he was trying to tell me that the real meaning was to build up resistance to hard attacks and that my arms would become impervious to attacks in the future with practice. However, as my own training


Article written by WTBA Founder Master Erle Montaigue www.taichiworld.com

Video courtesy of WTBA London Senior Instructor Paul Brecher www.taiji.net  

NOTE: Paul Brecher resigned from the WTBA in May 2009. You can read Erle’s comments about this on page 44 of volume 60 in the Combat and Healing Magazine.

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