Contained Power Training In Tai Chi Chuan:
Martial Tai Chi Chuan is characterized as a system using the leverage of joints and bone structure coordinated with a flexible yielding power, to neutralize or initiate strategy in combat. The movements may contain elements of constant flexing or relaxed force in a continuous flowing nature. There are different layers of flexed force as well as different densities of relaxed force. We will discuss the Yin energy aspects of Tai Chi Chuan, categorizing the flex of movements which are externally smooth, slow to medium rate and constant, and consisting of contained power development (visually no fajing, or energy release), during muscular flex and torque. In slow to medium rate routine training, one Yin energy flex category used is the “Relaxed Peng Flex”. When training the Tai Chi frame with the Relaxed Peng, the form externally looks structurally sound, expansive, firm, but seems relaxed at the same time. Relaxed Peng is a medium density muscular flex. A more heavily dense Yin muscular flex is the “Intent Power Flex”. This category externally looks more dense and powerful, even though the practitioner is moving at a slow to medium rate. The muscular flex is constant and maximized, every point between postures contains micro coiling and contained power release along the entire plane of the movement or posture. Crucial to Yin energy training methods, the Intent Power Flex needs to be contained or linked with the other Yin energy methods for martial stopping power in Yin training. The Intent Power Flex is important to train foundationally before jumping straight into less dense Yin energies of the “Relaxed Peng Flex” or “Dissolving Flex”. It is a common misunderstanding that relaxing the flex is always the best way to achieve smooth and continuous fluid movement. By flexing more densely, one may grind and polish the tense external muscular layers faster, which results in a truly functional yet polished muscular flex, or relaxed power. The third Yin energy category is the “Dissolving Flex”. This flex method transitions between Relaxed Peng Flex density to a moment of quick complete relaxed flex, and immediately back to Relaxed Peng. The Dissolving Flex externally looks the most yin of the three discussed Yin energy categories. The posture or technique with the Dissolving Flex may fluctuate between spring-like density to that of water.
Restoring Adaptive Function in Martial Tai Chi Chuan:
In the modern mainstream Tai Chi world, there are many nuanced movements and techniques hidden within the martial routines, differing between lineages and instructors. Many of the techniques are copied in an empty way by passionate students and the deep martial meaning within the movements lost. The frames of Chen Tai Chi Chuan have many variations and levels, layers of development, and understanding. The art is multi dimensional so opinions and perspectives will vary greatly on principals of movement and training. Tai Chi Chuan was not originally in history, a qigong set of dance, meant to look pretty, slow, fast, or powerful, or boring, while wearing silks. It is a system of martial physics and ancient technology for the human body which provides all spectrums of benefits. Tai Chi Chuan was a real-world self-defense art in the dynasties, so the combative intent in the forms should not be completely lost or watered down. Many of the origin techniques are designed with application in non sport ways of fighting concepts- weapons were always integrated in times of conflict. A historically accurate representation of training contains hidden mysteries and transfers over the most profound spiritual and health benefits, as well as practicality, to modern-day practitioners. Old World Taijiquan has focus on internal development of fascia layers, and unique layers of muscle control not easily achieved by modern exercise – It is most interesting when an ancient martial art loses its martial roots and along with it, specific internal micro/macro level muscle control, becoming purely a gentle exercise for the masses. The now modernized approach at times seems to be just a kind of wrestling, with minimal understanding of reading the martial frame of the age-old routines. The martial frame perspective and historical context should be acknowledged, to understand the Tai Chi slogan of Four ounces to deflect One thousand pounds……Cursive vs Print. The majority of Chen Tai Chi Chuan routines which we see today are presented as forms similar to “Cursive” writing. Practice in a conjoined or flowing manner. Though the cursive training may have made complete sense to the original teacher or lineage holder who actually understood the combative aspects supporting his routine… This differs when a student copies the teacher and tries to mimic the form exactly in modern times. The form cannot be copied identically, every person has a different build, strengths, preferred fighting techniques, weight class, leverage points, etc. To adapt the Tai Chi Chuan routine in a martial situation one must understand every layer of purpose and intent of the movement. Realistic concepts on how to set up the technique in a functional way utilizing the principals of Tai Chi Chuan. When mimicking a cursive routine, many lines and settling points, crucial martial techniques to set up the actual move, is lost, because the student needs to know “Print” as well. For example the spiraling of one arm rotation, which seems to be a simple cloud waving movement or reeling of qi, instead contains complex defense of the gravitational center using gearlike control of every joint and rotational structure within. With external cursive practice without proper “print” foundation, martial techniques are missing in just a fraction of one movement in the form, interfering with setting up the next movement whether in defensive, or offensive methods: and that is one long repetitive routine to be misunderstood.
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.
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.