The Tai Chi Investment

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Dan Bian, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I trained alongside nick and he was and is no more a tai chi fighter than Dan hardy is a kung fu guy lol, Sami "The Hun" Berik was a tai chi fighter I believe though
  2. SimoniousPunk

    SimoniousPunk New Member

    Late to the party here, but I wanted to chime in anyway!

    Taijiquan does take more time to internalize, although how long exactly depends on lots of things. As others have said, Taijiquan is sort of approaching things from the opposite direction: move perfectly first, then learn to hit people. This tends to enhance coordination and minimize injuries (and the usefulness of this explains why Taijiquan has been hijacked by New Age revisionists) and results in a skill set that is not heavily reliant upon muscular strength and psychological aggression.

    By following the principles dutifully, and continually unraveling and releasing deeper layers of physical and mental tension, a meek or non-aggressive person without conditioned impulses to defend themselves gradually learns to do so. For such people it takes time to acquire, because serious technical proficiency is necessary to develop the confidence to overcome deeply embedded defensive impulses. Yet this is why Taijiquan is great when trained properly: it's an amazing conditioning tool for psychologically approaching/confronting violence and stress. While other systems may do so, there are many martial systems that don't address the disadvantages of coming to the martial arts without the existing psychological willpower to hurt other people.

    An under-40 dedicated student lucky enough to train with a quality sanshou-accomplished teacher would have serious fighting skills with Taijiquan in 4-5 years. A busy or less-dedicated student, probably 8-10. Without a really good/serious teacher or student, probably never.
  3. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    You must mean Yang,Cheng-fu, and Wu,Chien-ch'uan,as their socio-political motivated popularization of TC is directly responsible for what most TC has become.

    Don't blame hippies,fitness practitioners,New Agers or others for simply continuing on the same path which was laid out for them by the majority of the instructors since the 1920s.

    For example,Sophia Delza studied w/Wu's son-in-law and successor Ma,Yueh,liang, stated that he told her TC was a "from the mind exercise",something she quoted to back up her position that TC was not a martial system in her war of letters w/Erle Montague in Smallheiser's TC Magazine/newsletter in the late 1970s. So that's marketing from the official head of the Wu family system.

    TC is anemic because it has been presented in a mostly anemic fashion to the public since the 1920s,with even the teachers who could teach it as a functional system opting to pass such skills/knowledge along to a very,very few,if at all.

    The problems we face today in TC are only to be laid at the feet of those who chose to popularize TC (or some bare bones of it) at the cost of turning out people who even if they were interested in function probably had less ability in combat than a ****o-ryu white belt.

  4. SimoniousPunk

    SimoniousPunk New Member

    Absolutely--and I wouldn't limit this to the Yang or Wu styles, but as you pointed out, their actual family lineages are responsible for turning it into a public health exercise. And now that the mainstream and "official" Taijiquan opinion is that it's a health-art, it's gone far beyond mere quality control issues. Some rare schools/teachers are keeping it alive, but unless some body of regulation exists that is seriously concerned with recognizing authentically martial Taijiquan, I doubt it can really recover.

    Yang Cheng-fu's student Zheng Man-qing, who notably popularized Yang Taijiquan in the USA and himself left behind numerous health-oriented practitioners, has a significant quote in one of his treatises on the art, "Taijiquan without training the martial aspects provides health benefits that are superficial at best".

    This is the irony of health-focused Taijiquan: training the full martial practice is what really creates the benefits. Proper body alignment and stepping, deep fang-song under pressure, coordinating the qi with the breath, joint-pulsing and extremely subtle fajin--these are all thoroughly refined and understood within the martial context. Without such, it's easy to drink the hippie kool-aid about magically soaring to heaven through form practice and non-martial push-hands. Ironically it's some such folks who will be the most (passive?) aggressive in push-hands.

    Agreed, there are no short-cuts regardless of style or approach.

    And thanks!
  5. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I think you are being a bit harsh on Ma Yueh Liang. Don't forget that he was forced to work in the fields during the Cultural Revolution, so he was already in a tricky position with the communist regime. He was hardly going to shout it from the rooftops that he was teaching people to fight, because that just might not have gone down well with the powers-that-be.

    I think a lot of martial arts masters in China back in the day had a vested interest in playing down the martial side of what they did and stressing the health benefits. They didn't just keep a lot of stuff 'in the family' out of traditional secretivness.

    I also find the widespread sneering attitude to health to be a bit odd. Health is good. Health is healthy! Ma was a doctor, so he probably thought that health was a good thing too.

    I also don't think that it is fair to blame the heads of the Yang and Wu families for the way that other people teach Taiji further 'down the line'. If you've got someone teaching a weekly class in (say) Yang style who basically just knows the 24 step form then they have no 'quality control' over that person selling it as authentic Yang style Taiji. (There have actually been two people I have known to came to study Wu style who were previously teaching Yang style, although they only knew the empty hand form and very basic pushing hands.)
  6. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Yep, no one lives in a bubble and everyone has to make a living / get on in life. Don't forget that those two heads of major family styles also taught at the martial arts institutes of the day. I would assume that in that environment they weren't exclusively promoting the health side..

    There were certainly cultural and political pressures to cater for "the people" also and not just a niche. There was certainly a movement to bring "the civil" and "the martial" closer together.

    Many Martial artists thereafter went through difficult times. Wang Pei Sheng(Northern Wu Style) spent time in prison as did people from other styles. Yiquan was also taught for health in China as a result of that kind of thing (for example), clearly there were periods in the last century when martial arts had to go underground.

    I do think, in some ways, tai chi chuan "suffers" from it's own utility. Other MA want to practice its form as do meditators, old folk and those looking for a yoga alternative.

    I do think "the fist" will survive though, largely to the opening up of China, the advent of Sanda popularity and the way some of the teachers and groups out there are going eg. Zhao Bao. In some quarters there's a healthy traditional aspect that's also branching to include/add on modern developments do what amounts to Chinese wrestling and Sanda type training. I feel that's a good thing, there's still a healthy body of traditional teachers. Not that common, but they exist. You won't find a great teacher in every town or city for sure, but globally speaking I don't think it'll quite disappear.

    Coming back to the thread, I have to be honest and say I have found cross training invaluable. whether it's making a study of boxing, sparring an MT guy, going to some Judo classes etc. whatever. The systems out there are for the most part not modern. so training methods in some part have been "left behind" a bit. That for me has been the biggest pick up from other styles. Things like pad work, sparring, drills with more live elements. Outside of that it's really good to widen your repertoire, broaden technique base and get familiar with other styles/systems. No style or system covers it all.

    I do have great faith in the TCC system, and it does take time to get there. But then refinement/ high level takes time in anything. TCC is kind of a bitch in that sense as it wants to put you on that road from the start. The "perfect" counter fighter level is the hardest to reach in my opinion, It's the "hua jin" stage or transforming level in IMA terminology. Which basically means, the way I'm using it; to invite and draw attacking and transform that to your advantage.

    So what can be missing is a progression through other levels of fighting skill and the groundwork/ abilities needed to get to 'Sheji Cong Ren' (giving up yourself to follow the other).

    In one system I practiced a lot of this had already been done - bringing you to a fighting level in the first place. But it is probably about the only one that is widely prevalent in the West today as a relatively large school (there are smaller pockets/groups; some other styles teachers that go this way too). In HK one of the main men (Cheng Ting Hung) and his school in that line started to compete in the Asian fighting comps and I believe/suspect that's how they developed more of a fighting system as I don't think they inherited it. This guy is part of the more up to date legacy of that too:

    As a bonus here he is as a young dude competing in Push hands at the British Open. Getting owned I might add by someone who used to post here.. Some of you might remember him. It's the black & white footage.

    [ame=""]Martial Application - Pushing Hands - YouTube[/ame]
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  7. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Well,that's all too common,isn't it? But I wasn't talking about the modern exercise forms which come packaged with nothing other than a skeletal framework-that is to say,a form or two,or three,or twelve,but no real teachings behind them.

    All that stuff exists in TC systems,yet we have gazillions of "teachers" who not only don't know the things from their particular system,they don't even know they exist.(And most of these "teachers" wouldn't do them anyway).

    Gotta run.Someday if I ever get to go online from home again I can actually participate more fully.See ya next week,gang!
  8. SimoniousPunk

    SimoniousPunk New Member

    And we agree.

    -I quoted Zheng Man-qing on the necessity of martial practice in Taijiquan exactly because many of his students today do not understand this while ironically idolizing him.

    -"Hippie kool-aid" was a tongue-in-cheek descriptive exaggeration alluding to the delusional ideas of people who actively believe and spread falsehoods that Taijiquan is not a martial art. It's quite clear health Taiji "didn't start with them."

    And as others pointed out, Taijiquan's misappropriation/revisionism is the cause of this problem, not that fact that people do it for health. Modern students may pay lip-service that it's a system of self-defense, but they also don't know what that means in a martial context, so that in-of-itself is a bit insincere, but the revisionists completely deny its origin. Unlike these modern students, I can't imagine anyone in early 20th century China could claim their own teachers didn't study it or learn it as a martial art--even if they themselves didn't. So it seems far more reasonable (and potentially useful) to address contemporary students/teachers for failing to honestly research the background of the traditions they claim to study--especially given their modern opportunities and resources.
  9. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I see 3 wrestling moves used in this clip:

    1. 抱(Bao) - face to face embrace,
    2. 扣(Kou) - neck wiping knee seize,
    3. 崩(Beng) - over hook crack.

    Do you think you may get faster result just to train wrestling instead of Taiji?

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  10. pengskungfu

    pengskungfu New Member

    I heard a story about a woman who fought off a robber using Tai Chi. I don't think she learned it just for the purpose of fighting off muggers.
  11. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I personally know a woman who fought off a robber using Tai Chi.

    My fellow student..............Been studying over 20 years. She was an advanced student when I first joined. I have learned much from playing push hands with her over the years. This happened to her when she was about 73ish. She has never studied any other martial art.

    [ame=""]White Dragon Martial Arts - Tai Chi for Self-Defense - YouTube[/ame]
  12. pengskungfu

    pengskungfu New Member

    Doesn't seem so surprising. Tai Chi, when sped up, is just as powerful. :) Fast-foreward any Tai Chi move and it'll look like a hard martial art. :)

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