Tai Chi Classics:
How To Use Taiji & Bagwa For Fighting
©1983 Erle Montaigue
TAI CHI CLASSICS: THE TRACES
Most classical martial arts are able to be traced back to their various beginnings by some tangible means such as ancient drawings and script.
This is most true of the Shaolin derived martial arts. On the other hand we have the internal Chinese martial arts where we find that not much in the way of tangible evidence, drawings etc., has been left to us.
All that we have to follow for the most part is the lineage principle where-by the Father taught the son or each master only took on one or two trusted disciples. Some of these disciples did however write down all of their thoughts on the internal arts as they learnt them. So, nowadays we have many tai chi classics and poems translated many times from ancient Chinese to middle Chinese to modern Chinese then into English and many European languages.
The principle of the tai chi classic is most evident in the internal martial art of Taiji where we are left with many tai chi classic sayings and poems written by various masters since the beginning of the art. Even today, all we are able to test our knowledge with are these tai chi classics and many arguments have resulted in different translations as to how certain postures or techniques should be performed etc.
There are two ways that we are able to look at the tai chi classics. Firstly we are able to take them as they are in their literal sense, or we are able to take them as back up to our own evolution. I prefer to use the later method and use the tai chi classics as back up to my own evolution of Tai chi. Of course in the beginning we must follow the teachings of a competent master in order to learn the basic movements and some of his/her ideas etc., but if we stay as disciples, we stay as sheep and never evolve our own ideas and take the art right back to it's beginning and learn for ourselves what the old masters learnt for themselves. If we are to take any internal martial art which is largely based upon unseen internal forces back to it's beginning then we must have some idea of what the old masters were thinking. For this purpose we have their own thoughts, the tai chi classics.
There have been many translations of the tai chi classics but the ones that give the most correct versions are those that use as little English language license as possible, and only use direct translations. In this way we are able to allow the words to enter our minds and give us a helping hand only when we are ready to receive the correct information. This is because this person is at a basic level of understanding, however, if this same person reads that same classic writing at a much later time in his/her development then they may receive what the tai chi classics have to offer. If your martial art is to be truly your own then you must take it right back to it's beginning and learn what the masters learnt.
TAI CHI CLASSICS: TAI CHI USE
Many arguments have arisen as to exactly what the initial use was for Tai chi ch'uan, whether for martial or for healing etc. Or many arguments still exist today as to what the use is for certain postures or how to turn the foot etc. All one has to do is to read the tai chi classics to find the answers. If you do not find the answers then you just aren't ready to be given the answers.
The Tai chi classics were written by many masters of years gone by, some were well known, some were unknown, some were anonymous.
As to the use of T'ai chi, we hear from one of the most famous Yang Style masters, Yang Pan-hou who's Father invented the Yang Style.
"Hit the opponent's chest with single whip." Or for the posture of Stork Spreads Wings, "Parry and hit the opponent's soft areas and use no mercy." or, "Step up parry and punch to the ribs and protect your centre with close up.
Quite obviously when this tai chi classic was written, the master had the martial application in mind. By the time that Yang Cheng-fu wrote his tai chi classics, we start to see a softening of the tai chi classics. Yang Cheng-fu was the nephew of Yang Pan-hou. By the time that later masters after Yang Cheng-fu wrote their tai chi classics, we see a leaning towards the great healing benefits of Tai chi. The later master did write about the martial aspects as well, and most still regard Tai chi as a martial art which has great health benefits.
Many of the tai chi classics are written in poetic form and can only be understood if the reader is advanced enough in their own training in Taijiquan.
"Execute play the pipa and use threading and transforming energy." Or, "in moving to and fro, us the folding method In advancing and retreating use changes and turning."
Many tai chi classics are quite clear in what they are trying, to transmit. "The method of cross legs, breaks the softer bone below the knee." Some classics have slightly esoteric meanings such as, "if there is hardness within our softness we will never be defeated, if our hardness contains no softness, it can never be called firm."
Some of the tai chi classics give us exact details as to the postures of T'ai chi. "Before slant flying, use shoulder stroke." This tells us that shoulder should be used before and in between each slant flying posture something that many Yang styles have left out.
The tai chi classics give us explanations on how to use every facet of Tai chi from the form through to push hands and street fighting. If we are able to understand them and use them as back-up to our own learning then they are the greatest learning tool available to any Tai chi student. If we take them all as literal and never question or experiment, not keeping what we want and losing the rest then we will become as sheep and never become our own masters.
I said earlier that `Long Har Ch'uan' is where we learn to forget about technique and take all that we have learnt and put it inside. This is where our technique becomes subconscious so that our body and mind can work as one unit. This method must not be taken for actual fighting technique because then it becomes just that, another technique to learn. We must treat this as a training device to teach us something. Some of these techniques could very well be used as fighting techniques but we prefer them to become sub-conscious reactions rather than a planned line of defence.
This is the hardest of all areas for people to learn, especially those who have studied another external martial art. The most common questions asked by students from other schools is "What If". We call these people, the what if brigade. I always invite new students to DO WHAT IF and see what happens, then they say "But you did something completely different", or "but you hit me before I struck you". I usually say, "yes?" Then I explain that the techniques that they are learning must not be taken as strict rule, they are only training devices. Devices that teach us to change our line of defence automatically as the fighting situation changes. No Form means that we change to suit the form of the attacker, this is what is meant by sticking to and not letting go from the tai chi classics.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 1. THE VERTICAL METHOD
Sometimes we call this method `Australian Boxing' because it resembles the swatting of flies from one's face. Two players stand opposite each other in an easy for them stance or rather `no `Stance.' The attacker throws a face punch with his right fist as the attackee blocks it with a sort of stroking motion across his body with his right palm to cause the fist to just miss his face. Photo No. 185. If we were to use a pushing type of block and push the fist some distance to the left, this would give the attacker some considerable reaction time in which to counter. Notice that the body has turned slightly to your left as the left palm immediately and almost simultaneously comes up underneath the right palm to take over the block. Photo No. 186.
The right palm then continues down to your right side to block his second attack low to your right rib area. Photo No. 187. This all happens in an instant with the second attack coming in as fast as it is possible for the attacker to bring it in after his first attack. Then to finish off, you should turn your waist to your right and attack his face with left fist. In practice we use the chest as this exercise becomes very fast. Photo No. 188. You should hear four distinct sounds as you perform the four movements. The last two techniques, the low block and the fist attack should not be simultaneous but a split second between them. The whole technique should only take a fraction of a second to execute once you have mastered the movements. Do it as many times as you like in order to learn it correctly. Then do the whole practice on the other side.
Once you have mastered both sides you do five on the right and five on the left, not stopping to change direction. This of course leads to your attacker being able to attack at any time on any side with you blocking on either side. Once you have mastered this then you start to move around as if your attacker is really trying to attack you from any side with you blocking on any side, still using the two punches. This goes on to more advanced techniques but it can be seen that this amount will keep you busy for quite some time and is an excellent training method for awareness, sensitivity and fighting ability.
The next facet of the vertical plane is to have your partner throw two face punches one after the other. This time instead of blocking downward with your right (or left) palm, you should block upward and then punch. Photo No. 189. There is no difference from the first way except that you block upward on the second attack. Now you are able to combine left and right attacks with upper or lower second attacks so it becomes quite a handful for both players.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 2. THE LATERAL METHOD
The next area of long har ch'uan is the lateral block and defends against two head punches, one after the other.
Two players face each other as before. One player throws a left head punch. The other should quickly block with his right palm and bring his left palm under it ready as shown in Photo No. 190. The body turns to the left as your left palm takes over the block. to your left. Photo No. 191. Now he throws another face punch with his right fist. Your right palm is ready in position so you twist your waist to your right taking his punch over to the right as you strike to his face with your left palm. Photo No. 192. Once again this all happens in a split second with the attacker throwing the punches as quickly as possible. You are now able to change sides at will for instance, you could block with your left palm after the first attack and then take over the block with your right palm, then as the right fist comes in, you should take it with your left palm, and strike with your right palm.
After some time this sort of block and re-attack will become totally natural because it is! Then you are able to use any of the above techniques very quickly while moving. You will also find that you are able to use any part of any one of the techniques at any time to defend against any attack.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 3. MULTIPLE ATTACKS
This is also a part of long har ch'uan and teaches us to attack many times not only once. The idea being that if you are able to strike once, then why not a number of times.
One player attacks with a straight punch to the face. The other player firstly blocks on the `closed side' using his left palm. Photo No. 193. Then his left palm sort of strokes the arm downward as his right palm takes over while the left palm strikes to the face. Photo No. 194. Then the left palm takes over as the right palm strikes to the face, Photo No. 195.
And this goes on with each palm stroking the arm downward while the other one strikes. This is very fast and only needs practice for it to become very fast and useful.
You should always try to block onto the open side of your attacker. However, sometimes this is impossible and so we must know what to do when we must block onto his open or dangerous side. The other palm must be blocked as well even if it isn't attacking. As in the vertical blocking techniques already covered.
If the opponent is quite tall you would not attack his face because this will bring you in very close to him, having to reach upward to reach his face. In this case you would probably strike at the acupuncture points under the arm. Photo No. 196.
In this last section I have touched briefly on Long Har ch'uan. This is enough to get you started. Much of this advanced fighting art of T'ai chi can only be taught personally. If you find that for some reason it doesn't work, then you are doing something wrong because these techniques are known to work from my own experience.
In this chapter I will be covering some other techniques that have a proven track record. These techniques are taught in my advanced boxing class.
We have called our boxing class no frills boxing because if something does not work then we throw it out. Only very basic, one technique movements are kept, then we are sure that when we need it, our no technique method will not let us down.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 4. WRIST GRABBING
I have already covered how to break from a wrist grab. Now I will show you some training methods that allow you to grab a wrist after someone has attacked with a punch. This is one of the hardest things to do, especially if the person attacking knows the `folding principle.' Many schools that rely upon wrist locks and grabs just don't practice these techniques in a realistic way, try putting in a really fast snap punch and see if anyone is able to catch it. We do have a training method that will at least give you a chance. If you are able to learn the wrist grab, a whole new area of defence will arise.
You will again need a partner. Have your partner throw a medium pace punch with his right arm. You should block upward using P'eng, Photo No. 197. You now very quickly try to use your right palm to grab his wrist. This is tricky and requires some amount of practice. Your right palm must clamp down onto his wrist with a slipping motion, don't try to grab his wrist outright, allow your right palm to slip slightly down his forearm as it tightens the grip. This of course takes a fraction of a second. If you find that you are able to do this easily at that pace, your partner must increase his speed until you can no longer grab his arm, now stay at that speed until you are able to catch it.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 5. SOME P'ENG TECHNIQUES
From the above P'eng block you are able to try many techniques. The first is a simple. but effective technique called inch energy, and uses the power of the waist to jerk the wrist after the grab in order to put the neck out or dislocate the shoulder. Photo No. 198. A further advancement of inch energy is to use the knee as shown. Photo No. 199. This can expand for a bit of over-kill to use the palm to the face. Photo No. 200. The use of the elbow is also quite effective and an extremely good weapon to train. It can also be used after P'eng as in Photo No. 201. The arm lock can be used after P'eng as shown in Photo No. 202. This can be advanced into figure four hammer lock as in Photo No. 203.
A useful take down technique from P'eng makes use of the opening posture of the form.
Block using P'eng and quickly move in behind your opponent to take him down as shown. Photo No. 204.
Many good techniques can happen from P'eng, it is a very useful technique to know. But it requires much practice.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 6. LONG HAR-CH'UAN
Although long har ch'uan is essentially a training method, it does have some useful techniques that work.
From the closed side the opponent attacks with right fist. You should step to your left side and block as shown in Photo No. 205. Your right palm takes over the block from underneath while your left fist strikes at his axilla area. Photo No. 206. From the same attack you can also use the right elbow to the same area. Photo No. 207.
An interesting take down comes from long har ch'uan. As you are attacked by his right fist you should use the first part of the vertical long har ch'uan technique Photo No. 208. Then you should turn your left palm to grab his right wrist as your forearm is jammed into his elbow. Photo No. 209. Now using the momentum of your body, you use his elbow as leverage to take him down. Photo No. 210. When done correctly the opponent's feet will come right off the ground. This technique can also be done on the `closed' side for greater effect. You should use the same initial block only on the closed side, i.e.; onto his left arm. Then use the same technique to break his elbow. Photo No. 211.
Another use for the posture `lift hands' is to take a right fist with your left palm on the outside and slam your right thumb into the soft area of his biceps. The thumb should be bent on top of your fist as normal. Photo No. 212.
A curved or roundhouse punch, is the most common punch used by an `untrained' fighter and this technique will be useful against these attacks. As he comes in for the attack open both, of your arms, one to block his attack, the other to strike across his chest or neck. Photo No. 213. Now with your arm pressed across his neck you are able to take him down. Photo No. 214.
Another nice take down from P'eng involves taking a block using P'eng and using the other palm to grab his wrist. You should use the momentum of your body to make an arc downward as you throw his wrist along that arc. His body will follow. Photo No. 215.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 7. BEND BACKWARDS
Take a right punch with your right palm, Photo No. 216 and step in very close to his body placing your right leg behind his. Your right arm is used across his neck to throw him over your right leg. Photo No. 217.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 8. BASIC & SECRET APPLICATIONS
Most people know about many of the basic applications from the T'ai chi forms. For instance many know that the postures from `double P'eng' through to pull back are to block an oncoming attack, lock the wrist and pull the opponent downward. However, there is a much more sinister application for this and all of the other postures. For instance, when we go into double , we are actually striking to a dim-mak point in the neck called stomach 9. This in itself is a death point and works medically by severely lowering the blood pressure of the body by restricting heart activity through the carotid sinus. When struck with the right amount of force and more importantly, in the correct direction, we have heart stoppage. Now, combine this with the next part of that posture, when we roll the palms over and we continue. The left finger further attack to ST 9 while the palm of the right hand attacks to a point known as Gall bladder 14. The gall bladder, when it is struck, or any of the major GB points, medically also causes knock out to occur by causing the heart to stop. Now, as the person is falling down we further attack to a GB point on the side of the rib cage called GB 24.
This is how T'ai chi works in the secret martial arts area and indeed why it is called, the supreme ultimate.
Every move you make in your T'ai chi form is indicative of a very dangerous dim-mak point strike. No matter how insignificant the move, it means something! That is why the movements are there and in the correct direction. We do not have to know the correct direction or pressure because they are all there in our T'ai chi forms, provided of course that these forms have been leant correctly and from a competent teacher. For instance, the posture known as Step Back And Repulse Monkey must be performed by the attacking palm in a definite downward strike while the other palm comes slightly across the body to the hip. This indicates that the palm on the hip has attacked to important heart and lung points on the forearm, while the other attacking palm has attacked to a point called CV 17. This ensures that the direction of the strike is going against the flow of energy or Qi. Sometimes we just move one palm half an inch, but this too has a reason. This is to attack the flow of energy to other parts of the body so that certain areas will become weakened to a more devastating kick or punch.
TAI CHI CLASSICS 9. THE EYES AND SPACE
Most martial arts tell us something about how we should emulate the actions of animals. We should move like the sprightly monkey Or pounce like the tiger etc. But the most important of these is that we should have the eye of the eagle ready to strike. When We read this, we usually oversimplify it and just look harder or focus harder. But upon looking further Into the Chinese way of the animals In kung-fu we see that the eagle has an unique seeing system which tells us exactly how we should be seeing when fighting.
The eagle has a way of literally locking onto his prey, not just the shape but the space that surrounds it.
We have three visions; spot focus, where we look directly at a smaller portion and focus upon It, average focus, where we use our total peripheral vision to see the whole subject and surrounding area, and small peripheral focus, where we lock onto the space that the object takes up in the universe. This is a very special technique and requires many hours of practice combined with breathing techniques.
In this way we are able to move with the opponent and not wait until he has moved. In other words, we do not see a series of pictures as he moves closer and focus separately on to these images. But rather our sight moves as he moves, and follow the space that he displaces. A body can only take up the same amount of space no matter what it is doing and in what shape so if we fight the space displacement then we cannot fail, we move when it moves because we are locked onto that space and so we adjust our own space accordingly and sub-consciously make the right moves to counter.
TAI CHI CLASSICS: CONCLUSION
I have covered in this book only a small part of one's T'ai chi training. Keep in mind that if the martial art is performed correctly, then the healing art will also work. The main area of training in the internal martial arts is the mind or rather `no mind.' If you work with this in mind you will most certainly gain. You may not become the world's greatest fighter or the world's greatest healer, this is not important. Even if you only ever gain one tenth of what T'ai chi has to offer then you will be miles ahead from where you were before. Your daily life will improve as will your work place and your love life etc. You will become a better person. If you are ever attacked physically you will also know how to look after yourself with the least amount of violence and, we all of us can do with a little less of that in our lives.
Don't expect what you have learnt in this book to work miracles in about one week. It takes ages for all that I have covered to become subconscious. Most of all you need someone with whom to practice. Preferably someone with whom you share your life, then this great art will become a part of your family and your life.
GO TO WORK FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
CHAPTER SIX: OTHER TECHNIQUES
How To Use Taiji & Bagwa For Fighting Page
Chapter Five Long Har Ch'uan Page
How To Use Taiji & Bagwa For Fighting Page
Chapter Six Some Other Techniques Page
How To Use Taiji & Bagwa For Fighting Page
Chapter Seven Baguazhang Page
For any martial art to stay great, there must be some element of change built into its structure so that it is able to change as the general standard of fighting changes and improves.
All of the great classical martial arts were founded in an era when all martial arts were still evolving and people simply used different methods of attack and defence, methods that were still very basic.
The foundation of all the classical martial arts were based upon the practice of certain forms or katas which themselves were based upon the methods of attack and defence of