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.

Posted in Discover Chen Taijiquan.