Taiji leg skills and technique (in general)

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by cloudz, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    John we could argue the specifics of each little thing and get bogged down in semantics, definitions, terminology and for what end?

    You either approach taiji as a taiji guy, or you don't. My opinion is you basically don't (not really anyway) and it's obvious as hell to experienced taiji guys. Let taiji be taiji...

    The techniques in those 2 clips don't contradict and actually look very much like taiji wrestling. You have the hip bump, there is leg placement. Of course you don't just have the leg just in place and inactive other than that. These kind of things are the details of technique training. I don't think I am being optimistic in saying generating power for those techniques will be a big issue at all.

    Forms are for the ideas and shapes of technique, you have keys with it that give you options. But other than that aspect of technique, there are other, and in my opinions better reasons to practice form(s). Although the technique side of it can be fun to, forms become more abstract the more it becomes less about the techniques.

    from Chen on the tai chi style uses either the 32 postures or 37 postures then in between you have the transitions. there are systems with various amounts of forms and in the past, maybe it was more common to have lot's of different forms for different things. I'm just not sure that's the best way - simply for recording techniques anyway. You can load a form up with technique. I actually stopped practicing one form in favour of the more orthodox 'less loaded' version. I prefer that, because now I can put in and take out some bits from that more 'combat version' as suits me. I went through phases of learning different forms (maybe 6 different TCC forms in total), and some from other arts like bagua or hsingyi. Most of it I have let go and stick to my 1 tai chi form and use it in as many different ways as I know how.

    I'd like to think I've made a good choice, but it was as much by luck too that my form is the Chen Pan Ling form, who learnt TCC from Yang, Chen and Wu sources and synthesised this form from that experience. He also had other CMA experience and the 'combat form' I believe was synthesised by one of his guys that taught in Japan.

    I think that form did have "the kitchen sink" thrown at it, and probably contained some elements from other CMA. What's my point?
    I don't really know anymore. It's just for someone who has a lot to say about tai chi, you don't think about and practice martial taiji like a taiji guy. And I don't think that's unfair given your posting history. My view on TCMA techniques, is that whether it's Chin-na or Shuai, or even striking - it's all up for grabs but all the styles pick and choose and do them their way to varying degrees. This is nothing new or unusual, it's by and large accepted. In the end that's what style amounts to - doing something your way and organizing your system your way. To me the technique part is fine lines.. I can accept there is no roundhouse kick in TCC, but I still have one - but I am less interested in using it that I ever have been perhaps. It may not be as good as a MT guy, but I think it's ok for me.. I see it in terms of the round kick we do have (crescent), if all I have to essentially do is rotate my leg on it's axis and if I want bring it out a bit more to the side - make the crescent a bit rounder in effect. How much does that really matter, should anyone care that much. Maybe or maybe not ?

    But at the same time I am happy to leave it out of TCC completely, and just admit, it might be something I drop into my technique or not. I'm not even personally that bothered about kicking from the outside angle unless it is low and doubles as a sweep - I prefer to try to specialise in being out of range, defending/catching kicks and closing distance. I prefer kicking to the groin (self defence) or using them to jam/ control distance, maybe target the knee for a strike. But yeah it's basically straight kicks with the toe or heel. Now and again in the past I have tried to get fancy and use a side kick or spinning kick. But you know, martial arts is about that experimenting, adapting and finding "your thing".

    At the same time when I am on my bag, I feel very natural throwing the odd roundhouse in. Boxing is a lot like that for me, I like boxing a lot and train it on it's own terms as well as integrate it to what else I do. There's another crossover discussion in there too.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  2. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    tai chi guy (red top) does Chinese wrestling match.

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkq5QBWybJM"]ShuÄijiÄo/Chinese Wrestling - Casey Payne vs. ??? @ Kung Fu Championship, Jan. 21st, San Diego, CA - YouTube[/ame]
  3. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    - You look at Taiji from Taiji point of view.
    - I look at Taiji from MA point of view.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I think I do the latter also, but also from a taiji point of view, but what I don't do that often is mix the discussion in with taiji - I let it and allow it to be it's own thing as well. IOW I look at MA from a taiji point of view as well as looking at taiji from a wider MA POV.

    If I didn't why have I crossed trained techniques from SC, boxing, bjj, judo, other wrestling styles, other CMA ?

    I can be more than one dimensional John.
    Here's an example of why you wind me up sometimes.

    You start by saying something like "taiji is missing so and so". Usually using words and clips that suggest you are talking about techniques..
    Some taiji guys come along and say, well actually here's some taiji guys doing those kind of techniques.

    Then you change the goal posts a bit and make it about skill training, which really is more about functional strength - ok that combines skill and strength training - I don't have an issue with it, I just don't do that much of it.

    I don't think it's missing as I know people who use very heavy poles for example, or have heard of using extra heavy swords. There's the taiji ball example I remembered overnight.. So there are examples of strength and skill training being combined, but by and large the strength component is not much, and it's used to refine force and strengthen "connection", at least that's the way I see it.

    So yes, I'll openly say, I can't think of anything like this that relates to leg training in Taiji. You're right there.

    So back to techniques. You change the goalposts here a bit too. So taiji guys give you some examples; like hip throw, and your response is they "took" it from else where, and the implication being that therefore it's not really taiji anyway, not traditionally anyway..

    But what's going on here; you want to have it both ways. But you can't have it both ways can you?

    So that's just an example of your approach to taiji. I think I get you John. You have this big system, very big. Sport SC, Combat SC. Influence from lots of different forms and styles - taiji included. You are looking at CMA as one big pot and extracting the things you value and enjoy and fashioning your own personal thing.

    I'm not really doing anything that different but from a different place, different style(s), different way of thinking perhaps.

    I don't hear you go around saying (Chinese) wrestling is missing striking skill, or Judo is missing this or that. I don't here you going around saying LongFist is missing leg skill or wrestling skill. I don't even here you comment that much on what all the other styles you know about in regards to what they are missing.

    You seem to afford one courtesy to every other CMA style but not Taiji. I have heard you say things about the BJJ way of doing things, regards the competition rules and so on, some of the techniques etc. This I can guarantee you though, BJJ guys will see it differently. Something's they may agree, as we do. But the point is amongst BJJ guys they'll see both sides of it from their arts/ rule sets perspective and a wider lens of mixed combat and or self defence.

    There are always reasons and considerations to be made. People in taiji are always arguing amongst themselves too. Some people have a dislike for the fixed feet pushing game, I see a very good training device for important aspects of TCC training. It's a very interesting process, to take it from one extreme to the other. I actually use live drills that are more restrictive than the competition format everyone is familiar with. Some start from chest to chest, clinch positions for example.

    Accusing me of not seeing it from a wider MA POV is kind of silly, we both do that in our own way. And you really shouldn't need telling or reminding. Do I have to post video of me practicing a kimura from guard or what, show myself boxing on a heavy bag ?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  5. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    How about we talk about sprawling?
    On other CMA boards when it comes up, yourself and a few others argue for the traditional techniques in SC, all of which only draw one leg away.

    This is missing from SC, and I could argue quite a lot of Western wrestling techniques are missing from Chinese wrestling. How do you address these things ?
    Do you make SC a "complete" wrestling system in light of that by bringing in every missing technique, or do you do it a different way.
  6. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Oh, and if the SC way of wrestling is that much better than taiji style of wrestling, how do you explain Casey's success in that clip ?

    I definitely think the taiji wrestling style comes/ shows through in that clip. That was his first ever go in that specific format. I didn't see that much SC technique from him; no more than you see from other Taiji guys doing similar things anyway. I don't really think he's even cross-trained other stand up grappling styles, I just know he got into BJJ quite a bit for a while. But what I know about him, he's exploring and using different things but from a tai chi base. He has done the TC pushing hands comps and was in Taiwan for a while I believe, and the scene is pretty healthy there, you could say.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  7. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    you can't have one rule for you and another for taiji
    you can't have one rule for you and other for taiji guys
    you can't have one rule for x style/art and another rule for Y style/art.

    I don't know how much you mean it, but you do it and it comes across pretty obviously after you have heard it oh at least... well I've lost count haven't I.
  8. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member


    It may be even harder to come to any good conclusions from this thread because I believe people see what they expect when they look at videos of technique. These things are almost never fully unbiased.

    I would like to try to narrow the gap in the discussion by just talking about fundamentals. I believe if we take a step back and just look at the videos, forms, or whatever and ask ourselves are there any fundamentals missing (e.g., anything neglected).

    For example, when I trained in Aikido, at one seminar the students were practicing kicking. So one could say that Aikido doesn't have kicking, but then I could go along the path that it does exist and I have proof. We could even say the kicking is implied in some of the stepping.

    The end result is that doesn't matter. What mattered is that I was already a black belt in karate at the time and the Aikidoka were kicking no better than karate white belts. They were lacking in the good fundamentals of kicking.

    YouKnowWho is, IMHO, trying to show through diagrams/pictures of training methods that these are fundamentals for training certain leg skills. These fundamentals to him are necessary and not seen in Taiji. Now he could be wrong on many levels, one is that maybe these fundamental are in Taiji training, another is you could (and I think you have tried doing this) state that the fundamentals YouKnowWho is showing are NOT necessary or good, and the last is that you could show alternate fundamentals that are better than what YouKnowWho has shown that serve the same purpose.

    What I personally expect to see is Taiji upper body skill combined with leg skill. To me this is then Taiji leg skill. I am interested in what fundamentals get a student to the point of having Taiji skill with the legs.

    If you need an example, I can use boxing. Boxing is known for punching skill, but a true boxer has good footwork. So you can see that boxing punching skill includes good footwork fundamentals. I think good leg skill should include good Taiji fundamentals for the upper body, this combination creates Taiji leg skill.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  9. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    The fundamentals of technique are trained and refined in technique practice and live practice. Not with strength training - I don't consider that a fundamental of technique, do you ?
    I never have really taken to functional strength, I have always leaned towards compound or just all round strength training. Is this what you are talking about, does it answer your post ? I'm not entirely sure.

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  10. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    But if you want an outline of the minimum I would train someone for taiji wrestling here it is.

    static posture holding including low postures (including some neigong work)
    Fixed step push hands patterns
    moving step push hands patterns - combining stepping patterns with upper body movements patterns
    Fixed step free pushing drills.
    Restricted step free pushing drills
    Exercises (including neigong) for the ba-men (8 methods)
    Technique training
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  11. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    This is an example of "nine palace" push hands patterns combining upper and lower.
    Notice how and where he puts the sweeps in.

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm2uYtTlz1E"]Nine Palace - YouTube[/ame]
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  12. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    As you can see, we can start to combine the use of push hands patterns training (fixed and moving step) with technique training. But at first I would train them apart, then start to combine once some understanding of the materials on a separate basis comes through.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  13. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Sort of. I consider it part of fundamentals to take funtional strength and generisize it in rounded strength training. For example, to improve an undercut punch, work it with squats and plyometrics.

    Another benefit is identifying the muscle sets used so that the opposite sets can be worked for balance as well as both sides of the body.

    I also feel isometric training is also fundamental.

    This is for strength, range of motion, injury prevention, and muscle memory.
  14. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Well, neigong / the jin (force) training which is part of that; are part of that (functionality).

    If you do squats and plyo-metrics that's going to go into or translate to your uppercuts anyway. I don't think it's valid to think otherwise. I don't have a problem with supplementary strength training of that kind - this was discussed in the biomechanics thread. After all we like to use whole body movements. John's functional strength for the legs is isolated strength training, at least that's what it looks like.

    We also have dynamic pushing drills which I have mentioned in other threads before. You basically push into each-others frames. Or one person trains issuing power against the others bodyweight. It's strength training too. I would say it's "functional"..
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  15. ned

    ned Valued Member

    That pretty much covers the elements of how my training has developed over the years though with varying degrees of focus on particular areas.
    This has a lot to do with the people you train with , in my experience those wanting to go beyond a technical competence in applying techniques ( i.e drilling ) are in the minority .
    Of course people have different interests in learning taiji but it's another reason why cross training and exposure to other pressures such as competition can only help improve your taiji in a practical way.

    On the subject of what is or is'nt "in" taiji to each his own .
    People are free to interpret a form as they see fit and do , witness the multiple applications for any given technique on youtube.
    Some are a forced fit but my view of what is ( for want of a better word ) in taiji is that which can be shown to work effectively. These are also usually the classic accepted interpretations.
    Any other criteria has little relevance beyond a kind of purist dogma .
  16. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Rebel, I was thinking a little about those strength exercise YKW put forward. The one with the weight (barbell) and single leg raises does strike me as being an isolated one. It doesn't seem different to me as doing a bicep curl. Is this really the best way to add power to hook punching for example?

    As for the pole hanging. Think of it like this. What would you rather do; hang off a rope or climb up and down the rope. What about a chin up, is it better to hold the chin up position or simply do chin ups..

    This kind of isometric strength hold is not what we want in my opinion, it's going towards another path.

    I would add one more component to that training I wrote for taiji wrestling and that's solo move fajin. I would also say, when you don't have partners you can use inanimate objects for feedback or impact training (like bag hitting). This doesn't have to be about strength per se, but issuing in a similar manner you would use a technique. You could use a door frame, walls, standing bags for example.

    I have another example from my own training experience, and why I no longer have interest in this kind of so called "functional strength". But first just think back to that model I posted showing the yin and yang sides of the body. When training say squats on the way down you have the rear of the leg working. This strength translates to all the leg actions that use "pulling back". And the opposite applies.

    Some years back a teacher introduced me to punching drills using hand weights. I did this training here and there for a while. I just think that by mixing technique and strength in this sort of way you don't get the best of both at all, but one diminishes the other in some respects. It might be ok for something like an uppercut - but you don't need all that kind of specialisation / isolation strength exercises when you can do better IMO.

    But more generally combining something like squats/ push ups (lot's of variations of these) for strengthening/endurance and bag/impact work for example is just as good if not better/ more convenient too.

    So in summation, whilst these kind of things are not really for me (anymore), I certainly don't have a problem if other people feel they can add something to their training. I just feel there are other ways and more suitable.

    The big things for me around technique and the things I think Taiji training can address pretty well are sensitivity and timing. It seems a bit funny to me, that in a discussion about taiji, people feel the need to tout the physical strengthening of specific technique (rather than simply the whole body in general) as being "missing" (YKW)..

    Muscling or getting a technique based on greater strength is the antithesis of what I think is the real goal of good technique and TCC (many other MA I imagine also..). If you build/ have/ maintain strength with connection throughout the body then this strength can be organized and mobilised any way you choose IMO. You just need ways of training to do it, as discussed we start with breath and sensation and work outwards..
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  17. ned

    ned Valued Member

    We have specific silk reeling exercises for fajin training ,
    I also use my heavy bag and wooden dummy for practising such punches ,elbow and shoulder strikes.

    On subject of using weights for developing punching power , Hannibal posted this great clip by Richard Bustillo
    a while back where he demonstrates this and other methods(around 23.54).

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  18. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Yea, those hand weights are like the ones I used in the past. I wouldn't go back to them now personally.

    Re. silk reeling exercises
    You can do these slowly or you can "fajin" with them if you are so inclined I guess. The "chansi" or silk reeling is a way of combining rotations that the body makes, in movements.
    I'm not clear if you mean you use them to practice "fajin", or your silk reeling exercises are like a foundation for it/ a part of your fajin training ?
    Personally I don't use them directly for fajin training, but to develop silk reeling only.

    With my comment, I was thinking more along the lines of practicing the gross body movement of a technique you learn with "fajin" (issuing power).
    You can do this with any move, from any form/ training exercise you like of course. You can do it in a line, or on the spot. Movements will tend to contain varying elements of "chansi jin".. I think with chansi it can be described as both a trained force and skill. Jin can often mean either or both of those.

    But yes, agreed. :)
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  19. ned

    ned Valued Member

    The latter , as a foundation. Starts slow and then introduces developing dynamic striking/issuing ( in conjunction with breathing/visualisation techniques ).

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