Hidden Energy: Micro Movement

Martial Tai Chi Chuan Smooth Power:

Tai Chi Chuan practice is characterized as smooth, slow practice which may seem boring and unimpressive, as well as with bursts of fajing (explosive energy) which looks very similar to popular external martial arts. Slow practice is not without strength and contains much more meaning than just applied flex similar to lifting weights slowly/ it is often misunderstood as a practice for the elderly or one of magical qi. One strike is not as simple as generating force between two points, but infinite amounts of micro fajing (issuing of power) through every plane between the two points. The intent power flex and micro redirection, is contained within the transitions between two movements. Each posture is multi dimensional, capable of adapting and flowing, adhering, following, striking an opponent. By flexing slow but with strength, heightened sensitivity and listening power evolves. The practitioner is now capable of adhering continuously with an opponent, while maintaining precision controlled flex in any direction between very short distances. It is important to practice continuous smooth flex while not always generating 120 percent power in fajing to look externally impressive (which though has it’s place in martial physics), but is not to be the ultimate goal. Practice of slow movements allow a heightened level of dimensional precision in movement and contains Yin elements of hidden energy and intent power methods. Fajing is categorized as obvious Yang energy, which seems fast and powerful externally, though also slower in speed to change in micro directions. After generating so much energy into one strike, it is difficult to put on the brakes. Smooth power training allows for a continuous seeking force from even one strike, instead of chambering and striking, again, and again.

Reading The Frame: Form And Function

Deciphering Martial Tai Chi Chuan:

An important skill set in Martial Tai Chi Chuan crucial for intent and functionality of formwork is the method of reading the frame. Tai chi movements traditionally practice smooth flex or with explosive power, utilizing both obvious and subtle martial techniques hidden in the movements of the form. To the untrained practitioner, intricate circles, abstract movements of waving the arms or wrist around, and fancy twirls of the fingers of the formwork, may seem to lack meaning, with martial applications completely lost or confusing to figure out. With the sport of pushhands in tai chi, we often do not see the defined use of the movements directly from the form, but instead more grappling movements which to outsiders may seem to be a dance or struggled hugging between two competitors. Reading the frame is a required skill in tai chi chuan practice which the intent of the practitioner can be determined with every martial movement, with every sinking of the qi and breath, spiraling of the waist, body skill, settling, and pressing of the arm etc. Visualizing power points in the postures during transitions should be understood whether with fajing training, or not. An example would be a simple martial movement may seem as just a spiraling of energy from two points, however microscopic movements may be practiced or visualized by the practitioner which layer much more complexity to a simple movement. These microscopic intent practice or movement are a necessity to borrow and redirect force with an otherwise generic external looking movement. By reading the frame, not only is the frame completely understood, (no wasted movement), but also reveals the skill level and preferred martial and energy techniques of a student or teacher, regardless of lineage or branch. Gongfu Jia Taiji is essentially a formless art, the frame is a guideline which teaches infinite variants and possibilities of dissolving and returning force in martial situations. Reading the frame trains a practitioner to utilize the full potential of martial physics in taijiquan.

Invisible Circle: Visible Circle

Ancient Martial Evolution:

Ancient methods of tai chi frame practice emphasizes both invisible circle- concealed rotations of joints and dantian core methods with contained/intent based visualization of power points in strikes (not easily understood or seen by spectators), as well as visible circle – defined flex and rotations of joints with distinct muscle control of the dantian- with obvious muscular flow and explosive segmented power strikes. The invisible circle is more characteristic of Lao Jia (Old Frame) practice.  Though original fighting Lao Jia contained much more obvious coiling and dynamics than the modern “Old Frame”. With Lao Jia, the rotations of the wrist and joints turn subtly, even when externally a movement or strike appears completely still. There is strong intent work with the controlled flex throughout each posture, with heavier flex and intent as each power point is passed during transitioning of moves or strikes. The dantian muscular control methods of the invisible circle are almost not visible to an audience. Usually one has to press or touch on the core muscles of an invisible circle practitioner to determine his internal skill and dantian control. The visible circle is more characteristic of Xin Jia (New Frame, or original Fighting Frame – which is actually not new at all) practice. With Xin Jia, the rotations of the wrist, joints, ball bearings of the human body, torque and spiral continuously with defined muscular movements. The elbow spirals out as the hands rotate inward, the elbow spirals inward as the hands rotate outward. Segmented power is clearly visible in the frame practice, externally the generating of explosive force is obvious to spectators. The dantian muscular control methods of visible circle is quite dynamic to the audience. The core muscle definition is focused as the dantian rotates horizontally, diagonally, and vertically.

 

Linking: Following

Lian, Sui:

Linking “Lian” is to continue or link, and Following “Sui” is to follow. Two important methods of freestyle functionality of movement, biomechanics, and martial physics in Tai Chi Chuan. Linking contains the principals of continually moving with the force and changing. In (Lian) the practitioner maintains continuous contact by moving and adhering with your opponent and never letting him escape. Linking evolves sensitivity or (Listening Power), as well as continuous chaining of techniques to continually maintain contact and control with your opponent. Following (Sui) is methodical dissolving and yielding of your opponent while maintaining dominant positioning in a fight. Dissolving and yielding may be offensive or defensive in nature. Whatever the opponent’s reactions are, the practitioner moves with or against the force to defeat the opponents center. The first strike, if it fails, sets up the next technique, which continues in constant succession until a firm strike is landed and the opponent uprooted. (Sui) utilizes dissolving of force to achieve victory, to follow the opponent results in the opponent following you.

 

Sticking: Adhering

Zhan, Nian:

Sticking “Zhan” and Adhering “Nian” are fundamental methods in Tai Chi Chuan, developing appropriate change in response to outside forces. The practitioner yields and connects to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force. Sticking (Zhan) is the ability to make an opponent stick to yourself, causing the opponent to feel glued to you at the point of contact. Sticking controls which direction the opponent moves in relation to your offensive or defensive structures, usually after you dissolve the initial attack of your opponent. Adhering (Nian) is the ability for a practitioner to stick to an opponent. A more offensive energy than Sticking, Adhering allows one to maintain contact and following force, while continuously controlling the opponent’s center of gravity through the points of contact. The opponents will feel as though the practitioner is sticking to them no matter what they do.