FAJING: THE TECHNIQUE OF POWER An Article By Erle Montaigue
The Power stems from the legs, is directed by the waist and shows in the hands. Or at least that's what we're told in the T'ai chi classics. But how does one gain such power? Do we push with the legs, do we twist with the waist, does the waist lead or does the attacking portion strike at the same time that the waist moves etc.
We do not have to think about all of these criteria when attacking or defending, we have been given a most powerful way of gaining power, that of the fajing movement. Fajing is one of those mystical words that many people espouse but few understand or are able to execute.
Literally meaning 'explosive energy', the whole body must be the attacking portion and not just the fist or palm or foot or shoulder, elbow etc. Fajing is not even a fast movement, it is beyond speed. Speed alone will not give you power. I have seen some highly ranked martial arts people who are able to strike eleven times per second but who lack even the power to knock someone out.
For there to be power there must also be mass behind the speed and if one tries for speed rather than fa-jing then the power is lost.
For fajing to exist there must be a combining of mass, speed, timing, coordination and breath, only then will one be able to utilise all of one's full potential in the attack. Fajing goes beyond muscular power, it is a sub-conscious reaction sort of like a sneeze but controlled to the point where we are able to execute it at any time unlike the sneeze.
Your Body Must Shake
Watch any chen style T'ai chi exponent and see how his or her body shakes as the fajing is executed. Not a large bodily shake but rather an internal vibration which emanates in the hands or feet and comes to a climax for a split second at impact. Some chen stylists tend to take this shaking a little too far and concentrate upon this aspect of their training too much thus losing the initial idea of the shake being an internal movement which emanates externally. If the shaking is a result of an external movement then it can never become internal.
There must be a total body commitment to the attack, every sinew, bone and muscle each adding to the total power upon impact.
There must also be an opposite reaction so if the waist turns or rather explodes to the left for a right handed attack, there must be a just as explosive right turning just after the strike so that the waist actually ends up in line with the centres in line as in the postures from the form.
The breath must be an external explosion of energy combined with a reverse breathing technique. The lower abdomen, upon attacking must expand and you breathe out. The breath must also coincide with the timing of the movement.
For Multiple Attacks, The Waist Takes Over As The Initiator Power
Once the initial attack has been launched and landed, one does not stop there. One must follow up with multiple attacks until the opponent is downed. In this case the speed is too great to be rocking back and forth from rear to front leg so now the waist takes over in issuing the movement to gain the power with the rear heal off the ground just balancing the body in much the same way that western boxers stand. The Fajing is not only relegated to attacking. In defence we must also use this concept. Rather than just defending for instance against a front jab using p'eng and roll back, we use p'eng and choy. I.e.; we use a fa-jing movement to either rip his arm off or put his neck out. In a life or death situation anything is legal. Choy literally translates as inch energy whereby we use a very sharp explosive inch long wrench of his wrist to place great strain upon the neck. When used with THE SHAKING METHOD of the body, this makes for great power. THE MIND IS CLEAR
Upon impact using fajing, the mind is completely clear and free of thought. Fajing should and can only be a subconscious reaction, it's as if you have not even made the attack, the whole body shakes and vibrates for that split second to gain the most possible power from your particular body type.
Shoulder stroke, elbow stroke, pushing, pulling, squeezing, drilling, hammering, throwing, locking, punching, palming all make use of the fajing explosion. It could be any of the above attacking movements or any combination but it must never be pre-thought about, the defence must happen as a result of what the opponent is doing to you and not what you think that you should do to him.
There Should Be Some Sound
The fa-jing should be accompanied by some vocal sound. It does not matter what sound, everyone has their own preference, either made through the mouth only or through the nose and mouth. The sound should be an explosive expulsion of air, not like the karate ki-ai but a softer more explosive sound using torque which places some resistance upon the diaphragm, this somehow has the tendency to cause the attack to be more coordinated.
But how does one learn the fajing? Taiji has a unique way, given to us by the Yangs'. The Pauchui form or cannon fist form. Some of the movements of this form are slow but every now and again there should be an explosive attack using the fa-jing concept whereby the whole body shakes the attack out. Combine this method with the training of bag and mitt and we have indeed a most formidable way of training the fa-jing.
Use The Sound Of The Strike To Judge The Effect
When using the hand held mitt or big punching bag we are able
to judge whether or not we have attained a high level of proficiency in fajing by listening to the sound of the strike and the amount of bag movement. This is not saying that the more bag movement, the greater your internal power. There are two types of sound and movement to watch and listen for.
When we strike to the face area of the bag, i.e.; high, we must listen for a loud almost deafening crack upon impact with not much if any movement of the bag, the impact must go inside of the bag and vibrate throughout it internally and there must be a natural rebound of the attacking portion ready for re-attack. One should be able to strike the mitt or bag from a very short distance and still gain the power.
When we strike to the body portion of the bag we must then look for more movement as the body is able to take in more movement and so we must penetrate more. The sound is also different. Here we listen for a thudding sound upon impact and great movement of the bag. However, and this is important, there must not be a great lead up to the attack on either levels. We must look for little initial energy but strive to gain a great effect. We are only able to do this using the fajing techniques. We are able to strike from a very short distance and gain a great effect.
Whatever your martial art, the fajing technique of attack and defence will enhance your power greatly, so much that you will never be able to revert back to the old way of using brute muscular strength. 'O' Sensei Dr. Chitose the late leader of the Chito-ryu style of karate told some of his senior students before he died that the fist or any attacking portion must be like a whip and indeed, I am told that when he struck, his fist was like a whip, in and out before you could see it. Many of the Chito-ryu advanced techniques resemble those from T'ai chi and Dr. Chitose told his students that at an advanced stage Chito-ryu was like T'ai chi but never expanded upon what he had said, hence many of those students now train in T'ai chi techniques as well as their karate style and the two work very well together.