One of the basic intentions missing in popular Tai chi forms is the aspect of its martial origins. When I studied with Gary Torres who taught from the Guang Ping Yang system, I learned more about practical martial aspects of Tai chi than I did in my previous Yang Tai chi training.
Here we go. (My current comments are in italics.)
* Learn anatomy. Learn how different injuries occur. Learn how far the body can "stretch" and in which direction before breaking. Learn how far is too far.
* Learn and understand neuro-muscular response so you can use it to your advantage.
* Demonstration: To break the collarbone, slide straight down the side of the face and strike with the back of the hand/knuckles.
* Demonstration: Shoulders only dislocate downward and forward or downward and backward. The bone structure prohibits upward dislocation.
* Demonstration: Strike the head or the neck?
Head is supported on several separate pillars, stilts. If you knock out one block, then everything above comes tumbling down. Aim to strike the neck.
* Demonstration: Structure of the rib cage and propensity to and type of damage.
From the front, with application of pressure, breath is forced out because ribs are flexible in this direction. However, a strong enough impulse on the sternum breaks all ribs free of sternum.
From the side, ribs are not flexible and are susceptible to breaking from strike to side.
* Must be able to see the application in the form.
* In a "tall vs. short" fight...
Strategy is different for each. Short is under tall's center of gravity already and easily has upward force.
Tall being on top has optimal downward force to push or pull (pull down from grabbing behind neck).
Remember, uprooting means getting the opponent out of their root - to cause to lose balance.
* Examine force vectors. Same force, same angle can yield different result. Learn where there is no support (or as the Chinese say, "find the open gate").
* The intent of Tai-chi is martial application - performing defensive and offensive movements on an imaginary opponent. If Tai-chi is performed without this intent, then you are not doing Tai-chi.
* Point striking. The body will react or follow certain patterns when struck in certain points. Energy moves in a prescribed way. The actual acupuncture point is no bigger than this dot * . The farther you get from the point, the more force is needed to activate it. This is true only up to a size of a U.S. nickel (about 2 cm) around the point.
* Some points are for killing and some are for knock-outs. Need to know which to use in today's litigious society.
* There are two sleeper points above the eyes straight up from the pupils near the top of the forehead. Strike down and in.
* The key to Tai-chi defense is "Get the F*** out of the way!" There's no blocking. If you don't move, you get hit. Simple.
* Train the extremes. You will probably never encounter the extreme in a real situation and so will be adequately prepared.
* In Rollback, the force is primarily a down force applied with the forward elbow while the back hand controls the attacking hand back and past the body. In real-life, the speed of Rollback is a sudden, quick, drop, driving the attacker face first into the ground. The sudden-ness of the pull-drop causes the opponent's body to lurch forward and the head to whiplash backward which exposes and opens the throat for attack. The forward "down force" arm can then slide up the opponent's forearm and strike the instantaneously exposed throat. This is the true nature of Tai-chi. This is why you learn anatomy, learn how the body responds to force vectors and how to use this to your advantage.
* If you want to learn how to injure or kill someone, it is much easier, quicker and cheaper to buy a gun and practice target shooting than it is to learn the Chinese martial arts especially arts such as Tai-chi, Ba-gua and Xing-yi. The 1980's movie "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" made this perfectly clear (Remember this scene?). You come to learn the internal arts for another purpose - the purpose of enlightenment.
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This is the third of a four part series presenting what I learned while briefly studying with Master Gary Torres from January to September 2000. Gary learned from Peter Kwok, the founder of Peter Kwok's Kung Fu Academy in the Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi lineage. Gary is the head of the Phoenix Dragon Kung Fu Academy.
Gary Torres: Journal Notes #10
Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi: Martial Stances
Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi: Basic Training