Tai Chi Chuan - Optimum combat range?

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Dan Bian, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    As an off-shoot of the "Tai Chi vs MMA" thread, the subject of tai chi chuan's (TCC) "optimum" fighting range came up.

    @El Medico said:

    So, I'd quite like to discuss with other TCC folk here; what do you feel is the "optimum" fighting range of TCC?

    Is it a purely striking method? If so, how do you see the split between kicking and hand-striking techniques? Where abouts (if at all) does qinna figure into your combat strategy? Or Shui jiao techniques?

    Is it a "stand up grappling" method? If so, what does this mean? Is the goal to clinch and try to wrestle the opponent whilst standing, or to take him down?

    Or do you see it as something else? A hybrid of these approaches?

    My take on this to follow shortly...
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  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    Can't talk for all taijiquan, only what I have been trained. There are some kicks and some strikes but most of what I would apply would be sticking, qinna and shuaijiao and of course things based on the 13 postures. So close range, but even with that it is not the same as many martial arts, when it comes to applications, but this has been my experience, your mileage may vary.
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  3. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    My MA background comes from over a decade in the so-called "external" styles (Karate, Taekwondo, Japanese Jujutsu), starting from early childhood, all through my teen years. So my early exposure was a great deal of striking techniques from the Karate and TKD, as well as throwing and locking techniques from the JJJ.

    I came to TCC when I was around 18. I initially learnt from a mainly "for health" teacher, who was beginning to explore the martial aspects of the art himself.
    Because of my teacher's own background (IIRC, some Karate and some Bujinkan Ninjutsu) I mainly built up the TCC body mechanics in my years with this teacher. As he was quite a bit shorter than myself, when pushing hands, he tended to get under my center of gravity and would move to uproot or throw me, rather than try to box against my greater reach.
    My second teacher had a much more traditional background in TCC as a martial art. What I got from him was the use of tui-shou to train "bridging" methods, and the use of strikes to get in close to the opponent, in order to take them down. Not implying that the strikes were not intended to stop the fight, but the assumption was never that the opponent would be stopped by the strikes alone - the practitioner needs to close the range to zero in order to negate the threat from the opponents weapons, and allow us to neutralise him from a position of superiority.
    My third teacher was very much a striker. He was quite tall, and would use his reach to connect with his opponent at a longer range, use his legs to disrupt the opponents balance, by way of kicking to the legs, pinning the feet to immobilise the opponent, and then use his coiling tui-shou skills to open the opponents upper body where he would strike in quick succession; eg, a long range slap, flowing into a hooking punch, folding into an elbow or shoulder strike to "stop" the opponent (as he put it).

    Given this varied teaching history I've had, I'm sort of of the feeling that TCC's ultimate goal is to close the range quickly, immobilise the opponent where possible by pinning his feet, disrupting his legs; use the hands to close down his potential threat, press forward my own "aggressive intention" in order to fully close with him, in order to put him to the ground (either painfully, or in a controlled manner, depending on the situation).
  4. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    Interesting - could you expand on the highlighted section regarding the 13 postures? How do you/your method understand the 13 postures, and thus apply them?
  5. ned

    ned Valued Member

    My experience learning Chen is that it's a system that's designed for close range , often intercepting or absorbing an attack then sticking, (standing) grappling and striking with fists,elbows,shoulders and kicks , often simultaneously.
    Kicks in particular nearly always involve holding,whilst pulling, sweeping or throwing the upper body ( usually in an opposing direction) and like WC targets are usually below waist.
    There are also sections of footwork to close the distance , as well as trapping/pinning and controlling chin na techniques to subdue once in the effective range.
    EmptyHandGuy, Xue Sheng and Dan Bian like this.
  6. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Tui Da Shuai Na.
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  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    Nope.... you asking for a book....all I will say is they are basic postures and if you understand how to apply them then you can defend yourself, however there is more to Taijiquan than the 13 postures...

    I can refer you to this link if it helps

    Also I am a Yang style guy in a Tung Ying Chieh lineage. Tung Ying Chieh is my Shigong
  8. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    Well, I was hoping for more than a one-liner, but ok :)

    Not really a book, just a summation of your own understanding of the 13 postures and how they are applied.

    For instance,
    You say they are "basic postures" - so for you, is the idea of "peng" (for example) just the posture of "Ward Off" as in Grasping the Bird's Tail? Or is it the generation and application of force behind that and many other postures?

    Referring to the Yang style;
    If we take the "prescribed" applications for the postures, as put forward in the book "Essence & Application of Taijiquan", many of these applications suggest a long-to-mid range strike style. So, if we go with the idea that the "13 postures" relate directly to 8 physical techniques, and 5 directions of stepping, and then look at some of the directions for application put forward in this book, by trying to apply these "prescribed applications" as directed, actually many of them are unrealistic.

    So with that in mind, are the 13 postures actually principles that can be manifested within any movements?

    Bringing this idea back around to combat-range; is this a more applicable approach to dealing with a live opponent?
  9. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    In some ways it's a response to El Medico's statement. It's TCMA, therefore it should cover kicking, striking with the arm, wrestling and subduing. His statement that Taiji is no more of standing grappling style than any other CMA is a little odd as most CMA contain large amounts of standing grappling.
    Referring to Yang style specifically, Wu style is supposed to have been influenced by Mongolian wrestling yet in terms of the techniques taught (as opposed to the execution of those techniques) it's not much different to Yang.
    As soon as your system contains single whip and snake creeps down it clearly contains a fair amount of standing grappling.
    Dan Bian likes this.
  10. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    The 13 postures can be found in the long form. Yang has long to mid range strikes, but there are different flavors of Yang style, not all are the same. From my back ground Tung Ying Chieh appears to have liked qinna, yet there are a few punches and a few kicks, a lot of qinna, Shuailiao neutralization.
    Dan Bian likes this.
  11. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    I may be mistaken, but I think @El Medico may have meant it doesn't focus on stand-up grappling, any more than other styles. It may still be part of the 'syllabus', but isn't the be-all-and-end-all. I stand to be corrected if I've misinterpreted him.

    The definition of "grappling" in the TCC sense is still very hazy to me at the moment - are we talking about any point at which we take hold of the opponent to control him; ala, the hook-hand in single whip?
    Or does it need to be something more than that?

    I've been shown a variety of applications for single whip over the years, but I might not classify any of them as 'grappling' - there may be some shui jiao for a couple of aspects, though I mainly see it as a percussive technique.
  12. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    I think Taiji has to emphasise grappling by default due to the lack of striking diversity.
    The single whip applications that convince me are typically leverages (and wrestling can be really quite percussive) .
  13. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Exactly.It is NO MORE of a standing grappling style than any other CMA.Didn't say other systems (such as Fu Hok) don't have plenty of locks/throws.Yet no one ever refers to Hung,CLF,Bak Sil Lum etc as stand up grappling systems.Probably because they didn't start focusing on ph tourneys in the 90s.

    When John Wang wrote 9 out of 10 TC guys would call it a stand up grappling system I asked how old those guys would be.Guys closer to his and my ages,or guys that came up during the post 80s ph tourney days? I'm not sure if he ever replied.
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  14. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Good points in the first clf form I learned there is a double leg takedown, a tai otoshi and a hara goshi throw (more than I have seen in any tai chi I have done) yet no one would say clf was a standing grappling art
  15. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Because Choy Li Fut has more striking diversity.
  16. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    As a mildly curious sidenote my first Taiji teacher used to teach brush knee and twist step with a leg reaping action, but doesn't these days.
  17. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    I can see someone making this observation if all they knew is competitions push hands, but traditional is very VERY different
  18. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I was talking about people in both my teacher's generation and also in my generation.

    Most Taiji guys think

    - striking is low level.
    - wrestling is external.

    This is why Taiji guys invented "push" which is neither "strike" nor "wrestle". I don't agree with Taiji is a stand up grappling system myself. There are just too many important stand up grappling principles that are missing in the Taiji system.
  19. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    That's one of the applications I work with for "Brush Knee"; typically following a rear bear-hug ala "Cross-Hands". In our group, the movement "Carry Tiger, Return to Mountain" is a combination of the movement "Cross-Hands" into "Brush Knee, Twist Step".
  20. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Such a shame Brush knee doesn't contain a leg reap.. But this is common in Yang style. If you're looking for reaps, they are in repulse monkey. But an issue Yang styles tend to have at times is that both sections of repulse monkey are "same side" (lead hand and foot) and not "twist step" (lead hand and foot). For some applications they have to make adaptations and will use brush knee because of the finishing stance, but ignore that there is no leg action to the rear in the actual movements themselves.

    Let's be clear any posture can be "same side" or "twist step". Rather than butcher forms/ application, just train everything both stances - it opens up a whole load of variations of technique.

    The finishing postures of brush knee twist step and repulse monkey twist step are more or less the same - arm positions and transitions will usually differ.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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