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

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.

He says:

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.

Taijiquan Bidy-Movement Taijiquan Bidy-Movement Taijiquan Bidy-Movement

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.

Ordinary standing position Ordinary standing position Ordinary standing position

What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan?


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