HOW YOU COULD APPLY TAIJIQUAN FOR COMBAT

Taijiquan Combat

How You Can Apply Taijiquan for Combatt

Participants of the regional Taijiquan course at the Shaolin Wahnam Centre in Costa Rica in February 2005 applied typical Wahnam Taijiquan patterns for combat although some of them were new to Taijiquan and the course was of only five days duration! After spending the first day on internal force and footwork, the second day on basic patterns, the third day on ”Pushing Hands”, and the fourth day on “Striking Hands”, the fifth day was devoted to combat applications against Boxers and Muay Thai fighters.

It was also worthy of note that not only the course participants were totally free from injury in their sparring but there was much laughter and fun in their combat training -- two points that are of particular significance today when classmates often hurt themselves in their friendly sparring.

As part of our effort to share our knowledge and experience with those who believe that Taijiquan can be effectively used for combat, and that sparring practice can be fun, without the necessity of sustaining injury, we shall release a series of video clips revealing our sparring methodology. These video clips were taken impromptu on the spot — without prior preparation and without editing. They showed our training sessions as they were, including the mistakes we made.

Although it may not be so obvious from the video clips, observant viewers may notice another point we have often mentioned, i.e. with proper training, especially in breath control, one can be relaxed and not tired after hours of sparring. Jeffrey explains the breathing methods and control we use in our Taijiquan (as well as Shaolin Kungfu) in a series of articles. Here is one of these articles.

One should bear in mind that besides techniques, other variables like experience and skills are very important in combat. Hence, even if he knows the techniques well, and they are indeed excellent techniques against a Boxing or a Muay Thai opponent, he can still be beaten by an experienced Boxer or Muay Thai fighter.

The series of video clips which show a progressive methodology to apply Taijiquan for combat will be gradually released as follows.


You can also view all the videos here

Keeping a Boxer at Bay

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

Understanding how an opponent fights is an essential aspect in combat efficiency. Hence, in order to fight effectively against a Boxer, participants first imitate how a Boxer himself fights. Then they apply the Taijiquan technique known as “Lazy to Roll up Sleeves” to keep a Boxer at bay. In Shaolin Kungfu this pattern is known as “Fierce Dragon Across Stream”. Both names have significant connotation.

In Chinese idiom, “Fierce Dragon Across Stream” is often used to describe a capable fighter. A punch, like a strike from a Boxer, is characterized as a Tiger. It is appropriate to have a stream-crossing Dragon to intercept the Tiger. If the interception is successful, there is no need to progress to fighting. Hence, “Lazy to Roll up Sleeves” implies that it is unnecessary to roll up one's sleeves to fight.

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Jade Girl Threads Shuttle

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

After being able to keep a Boxer at bay using “Lazy to Roll up Sleeves” as well as developing the skill of observing the opponent calmly, the next step is to counter attack as he strikes. As the Boxer throws a jab, often regardless of whether the jab is a real or a feign attack, deflect his jab with one hand and strike his chest with the other, employing the Taijiquan pattern “Jade Girl Threads Shuttle” and implementing the principle of “starting later but arriving earlier”.

Be careful that the opponent may throw another jab with the other hand, especially if the first jab is a feign move, in which case change the attacking hand into a deflecting hand, and the deflecting hand into a palm strike into his chest. The same technique but used by Shaolin exponents is shown in another video clip . With internal force, a palm strike on the solar plexus can cause serious injury or even kill. So take care not to hurt your partner in your training.

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Side Kick against a Boxer

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

An excellent counter against a Boxer, almost irrespective of how he attacks, is a side kick. As the Boxer launches forward to execute his jabs or any attack, lean back sideway and execute a side kick at his ribs, abdomen or any exposed part. A Boxer is not trained how to defend against kicks (as kicks are not permitted in Boxing rules), but in case he grabs your kicking leg, throw your body forward and strike his head or shoulder with "Immortal Pounds Mortar".

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Chi Flow after Combat Application

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

Besides breath control, another crucial factor that enables Shaolin Wahnam members to spar for hours without feeling out of breath is their ability to conclude their training, or a part of the training, with chi flow. Such chi flow loosens their muscles, clears away toxic waste, restore their normal heart beats, calms their mind, and replenished their energy spent. This impromptu video clip taken at the five-day regional Taijiquan course at the Shaolin Wahnam Centre in Costa Rica shows course participants go into a chi flow immediately after sparring practice where they employ side-kicks against Boxers' attacks.

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Understanding the Combat Behaviour of a Muay Thai Fighter

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

The great strategist of ancient China, Sun Tzu, advises that if you know yourself and know your opponent, you can win a hundred victories over a hundred battles. Hence, before we practice combat application against Muay Thai, or Siamese Boxing, we need to understand the typical combat behaviour a Muay Thai fighter. The following are important points.

A Muay Thai fighter is extremely fast, powerful and tricky, he almost always attacks continuously mixing feign and real moves, and he frequently uses elbow strikes, knee jabs and sweeping kicks. Unlike a Boxer who usually poises with one foot in front of the other, a Muay Thai fighter usually faces his opponent face-on, giving his opponent little indication which leg he will initiate his kicks.

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Avoiding the Opponent's Strength and Attacking his Weakness

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

An important principle in combat is to avoid the opponent's strength and attack his weakness. After having some knowledge of the typical combat behavoiur of a Muay Thai fighter, we then examine what strong points in Taijiquan we can use against Muay Thai weaknesses.

First Sifu Wong shows what a combatant should not do when facing the attacks of a Muay Thai fighter because doing so would enable the opponent to maximize his strong points. Then Sifu Wong shows how one can use Taijiquan skills and techniques to attack Muay Thai weaknesses, which is using the versatility of the Bow-Arrow Stance and the Taijiquan pattern "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl" to avoid Muay Thai kicks then strike the soft spot of the attacker's leg.

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Applying Taijiquan Techniques against Muay Thai Attacks

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

This impromptu video clip shows participants at the regional Taijiquan course in Costa Rica in February 2005 applying Taijiquan techniques against Muay Thai attacks. Understandably their movements are not smooth yet. Not only they do not have experience in Muay Thai, many of them are new to Taijiquan.

But if they practice these techniques for a year, they would be more combat efficient against Muay Thai fighters than other martial artists who free spar haphazardly for three years or Taiji practitioners who merely practice external forms for twenty years. More importantly, they do not hurt themselves in the sparring, but find the training full of fun.

The size of the video clip is 3.85 mb.

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Using the Opponent's Tactics against Himself

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

A Muay Thai fighter, or a Kickboxer, seldom makes an isolated attack. His attacks usually come continuously in a series. Often he starts with a frontal leg tap, frequently throwing his body forward in this initial move because it enables him to close in with a sweeping kick followed by a knee jab.

A good counter against the frontal leg tap is “Immortal Pounds Mortar” (called “Lohan Strikes Drum” in Shaolin Kungfu), breaking the opponent's leg with one strike. But a skilful Muay Thai fighter may use this as a feign move, then jumps in with a sweeping kick. A well trained Taijiquan exponent can play along with the opponent's tactic, then turns it against himself.

Lean back onto a Low Stance to avoid the frontal leg tap, then move your body forward to intercept his next move, striking the soft spot of his thigh or knee with one palm, and striking his chest with your other palm, using the pattern “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl” which will frustrate his following intended move.

Take note of the following two important points. Your left palm is a strike against his thigh or knee, and not a block at his shin. Blocking his powerful sweeping kick may result in your palm or wrist being fractured. Your right hand should be fully extended to keep him at arm's length, otherwise he may be able to strike you with his hands. If he attempts to strike you, sink back to avoid, then move forward to strike him.

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Application of Internal Force in Palm Strike

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

Sifu Wong advises course participants to be very careful when applying the palm strike on their sparring partners (or even actual opponents) in this counter. Because of their internal force training, it is not uncommon that they can be more powerful than they themselves realize. With internal force, a palm strike on a person's solar plexus can be disastrous. It can distort the person's energy field without leaving any physical mark outside.

Sifu Wong gives the example of Ronan breaking the bottom brick of two bricks piled one on top of the other. Even a brick protected by another brick can be broken, one can imagine what damage can be done to an internal organ struck with internal force. Hence, we can merely push our sparring partner (or opponent) away instead of striking him.

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Counter against Knee Jab

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

Sifu Wong explains that when pulling down an opponent's head while attacking him with knee jabs, a Muay Thai fighter usually holds only one side of the opponent's neck, instead of both sides. This is because gripping the neck with fingers is not allowed in Muay Thai. A good counter is a modification of "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl".

Instead of striking the opponent's chest with your right palm, while intercepting his knee strike with your left palm, here you use your right forearm to strike across his both arms to dislodge his hold on your neck. (This pattern is called “Scissors Hands” in Shaolin Kungfu.) Immediately follow up with a kick at his groin with your knee or foot if the opponent is near, or with a side-kick if he has been bounced off a short distance away.

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Application of Cold Foirce

Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan combat

The kind of force used to dislodge the opponent's hold on the head as well as to intercept his knee jabs is known in kungfu terms as "cold force", which is a particular way of exploding force, or "fa-jing". The force is released suddenly without tensing any muscles. It is not pushing the opponent's arms away using tensed muscles. The opponent's both arms must be bounced away a safe distance from the face.

Hence, the application by Deigo on Piti, and the application by Andrew on Dr Martha shown at the start of the video clip, are incorrect because Piti's right hand slips down on Deigo's head, and Dr Martha's right hand brushes against Andrew's face. In a real fight this could be serious trouble. Their mistakes in this training session, therefore, are a very important lesson for us. An effective way to develop "fa-jing" using "cold force" is to practice "Single Whip" as shown by Sifu Wong at the end of the video clip.

The size of the video clip is 3.14 mb.

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Many people are amazed that the course participants above could use typical Taijiquan skills and techniques to spar, without resorting to bouncing about and freestyle fighting, after just five days of training. How did they do it? The main reason was that they spent much time on basic training. To share with those who may be interested, we are releasing a series of video clips showing the secrets of their training here .

Basic Taijiquan Training
Basic Taijiquan Training in Shaolin Wahnam


You can also view all the videos here

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