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.


Shaking Power: Force Generation

Tai Chi Chuan Power:

Spirals from the legs as directed by the waist (Dantian), and distributes energy with segmented force to the extremities. Fajing (Explosive Energy), movement and control, is an essential training method for the body to layer muscle group control into a single moment of peak acceleration to develop maximum potential for every strike. Consisting of a combination of core muscle coordination and breath, with mass, speed, and timing, Taiji develops the proper technique of Shaking Power, force generation. There are many flex variants and uses for Shaking Power in Tai Chi Chuan. Three general variants are 1.Whipping Shaking Power, characterized by a more flexible, snapping force, with the energy and structures of the strikes layered with increasing speed and flex, soft velocity followed by hard snap on impact of the target (similar to a bullwhip). 2. Resonating Shaking Power, characterized by a rigid stopping force, the structures of the strike flex in extreme density, distributing vibrations through the practitioner and target structures upon impact (similar to vibrations echoing from a struck steel bat). 3. Rapid Flex Shaking Power, characterized by an alternating, fast twitch contract and release of muscle fibers allowing linking and issuing powerful strikes within a fraction of the time required by regular fajing, and delivering more power per square inch, close to the target (similar to a jackhammer).


Dantian Rotation: Core Control

Essential Body Skill:

Coordination and control of the muscles and fascia surrounding the “Dantian” is essential to proper development of Body Skill in Internal Martial Arts. The dantian is the energy center of the body, and training its flex and rotations serve as a heightened method of control to unify movements and biomechanic reflexes in the martial form or application. The hand does not move by itself. The wrist, elbow, shoulder, rotate with spiraling force connecting from the torso to the Dantian region, as well as anchoring through hips and joints of the lower limbs. The force generated originates from the dantian and coordinates with the extremities, developing energy flow and strength through every segment of the human body simultaneously. The Dantian area functions as the center of the circle, and controlling the methodical rotations of the core muscles with the interhemispheric intent of the brain, unifies martial structures and spiritual planes of consciousness as taught by the ancient practitioners of Tai Chi Chuan. Body skill during martial applications of Tai Chi require precise timing and understanding of Dantian core control. The ancient forms of tai chi serves as a crucial training tool for developing the muscle controls necessary for ancient body skill, and martial applications and pushhands tests the form for functionality of rooting, martial physics, and listening power. Through every movement of posture in the forms or application, there is methodical instruction for coordinating breath with timing muscular contractions and rotations of the core muscles. For instance, upon grasping the right wrist and elbow of one’s opponent and preparing to “Lu”, rollback the opponent to one’s right side, the practitioner sinks his breath and expands the core while both hands curl in to seize the arm. While the core is expanded and compressed, the lower abdominal muscles revolve clockwise with focal flex from the practitioner’s lower middle abdominal quadrant, to the left upper abdominal quadrant. (While shifting the opponent) the core continues to revolve clockwise from the left upper abdominal quadrant to the upper middle quadrant. (As the opponent is thrown out) the core continues to flex clockwise towards the right abdominal quadrant, then expands and anchors with force in the right lower quadrant, upon completion of the “Lu” technique.