SHEN-FA OR BODY-MOVEMENT AND OTHER PRINCIPLES OF GENUINE, TRADITIONAL TAIJIQUAN
Sifu Robin Gamble in a Taijiquan pattern called "Striking Tiger Poise" where correct body-movement is important for its effective application in combat
The following discussion is reproduced from the thread What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan? started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 5th June 2006.
This use of Taijiquan body-movement or “shen-fa” also demonstrates the Taijiquan principles of "using minimum force against maximum strength" and "flowing with the opponent's momentum".
-- Sifu Robin Gamble
Sifu Robin Gamble
Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
7th June 2006
Shen-Fa or Body-Movement and other Principles of Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan
I shall start the debate on what is genuine, traditional Taijiquan with principles, as that is precisely what Kaitain depends on to claim that his art is Taijiquan. He suggests that even if his forms are those of Boxing or Wrestling, as long as he follows Taijiquan principles, he is performing Taijiquan.
Originally Posted by Kaitan:
"I think it comes down to how you perceive taijiquan. For me it is a principles based system. Whatever the outward appearance, it is the internal aspects that make it taijiquan."
But he does not talk about famous Taijiquan principles like "using minimum force against maximum strength" or "flowing with the opponent's momentum" Instead he talks about body-movement.
Originally Posted by Kaitan
"If the Shen Fa (body method) of taijiquan is not present, then it is impossible for any of the skills that are built upon that Shen Fa to be present. From the videos I have watched, the Shen Fa is not present."
Indeed I am very surprised that Kaitain does not see Taijiquan body-movement in Wahnam Taijiquan because that is what we emphasize much in our teaching. In Wahnam Taijiquan, body-movement is closely related to footwork and hand-movement, often mentioned in genuine, traditional Taijiquan.
Much about Taijiquan body-movement has been revealed in the Yielding thread, where a Taijiquan practitioner using an appropriate combination of footwork, body-movement and hand-movement in one continuous process, yields, deflects and counter-strikes an opponent.
This use of Taijiquan body-movement or “shen-fa” also demonstrates the Taijiquan principles of “using minimum force against maximum strength” and “flowing with the opponent's momentum”.
At a recent Intensive Taijiquan Course, my sifu (Sifu Wong) emphasized much on Taijiquan body-movement. Here are some photos showing Taijiquan body-movement. These photos are not taken in isolation, but extracted from a video recording.
In the first picture, my sifu attacks my throat with a White Snake palm strike. In the second picture I neutralize the attack using a typical Taijiquan body-movement, and counter-strike in the third picture. This typical Taijiquan body-movement is found in the “peng” technique of “Grasping Sparrow's Tail” of Yang Style Taijiquan, and is known as “Immortal Waves Sleeves” in Wahnam Taijiquan.
In contrast, let us look at Kaitain's shen-fa or body-movement in the following three photos which are also extracted from a video recording provided by him.
In the first picture Kaitain faces his opponent in an ordinary standing position. In the second picture Kaitain shifts his whole body to his left as his opponent attacks with a punch. In the third picture, Kaitain deflects the punch with his left hand.
The question is not whether Kaitain's body-movement or Wahnam Taijiquan body-movement is more effective. The question is which one follows more closely the typical shen-fa or body-movement of genuine, traditional Taijiquan. I shall leave the verdict to forum members to decide.
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2: And Now You Back Down
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4: Calling a Cow a Horse
5: The Reality of Chi and Internal Force
6: Could Yang Lu Chan Defeat Modern Ultimate Fighting Arts Fighters
7: Chi and Internal Force in Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan
8: It is Amazing some Instructors would Miss an Opportunity than Learn from another Master
9: On Principles, Stances, Force and Age in Taijiquan
10: In Genuine Kungfu, Size, Weight, Age and Sex are Not Decisive Factors in Combat
11: How to Improve your Mental Clarity
12: Boxing is Boxing, Taijiquan is Taijiquan
13: The Benefits Students Get from Kaitan's Taijiquan and from Wahnam Taijiquan
14: Harmonious Chi has a place Everywhere, and Internal Force is Real
15: Some Interesting Questions on Internal Force
16: Internal Force is an Essential Part of Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan
17: Is Kaitain's Taijiquan or Wahnam Taijiquan genuine, traditional Taijiquan
18: Cloud Hands, Silk Reeling and Grasping Sparrow's Tail