Singapore Tai Chi Chuan

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Quiet at Night

Earlier, when I was out at Ipoh Station 18 it was teeming with people preparing for the coming holiday on Monday. But now at home the night is quiet and a good time for reflection.

Over at my Wing Chun blog I had written about meeting a Wing Chun friend earlier on Tuesday. One comment he made was interesting.

Back in 1984 when I was training Chu style Wing Chun we made a big deal about elbow force. So for a long time it was a whole lotta elbow force and forward pressure in contact training. However, at a certain state in my training when I realized that this preoccupation with forward pressure was wrong I changed focus.

By the time I learned Grandmaster Wei’s transmitted version of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan I had lost the habit of using elbow force. If there were any traces left it was eradicated by the after more than a decade of practicing Tai Chi.

So it was interesting when my friend, X, said that he could feel a very strong force coming from my elbows. Yet, if that were true the moment he took his arm off quickly my arm would shoot forward automatically. But that is not the case and whether my arm remained or shoot forward upon disengagement is a choice I made and not a habitual reaction.

I told X that this was not elbow force but an offshoot of my Tai Chi training. I know what it was that X felt but if I took off on this tangent to explain to him we would not be able to focus on the purpose of his visit which was to fix his Wing Chun problems.

So what was it that X felt?

To provide a simple answer which is useful to readers of TaijiKinesis Vol 2 I will say that its the application of 3-Count + 2-Count. I know 3 + 2 = 5 and in that sense I should say 5-Count. But no, this is how I teach this type of power using the movement of Push from the 13-Movement form.

Is there a higher level, more complicated answer?

Yes, there is. I could also explain this in another way. However, I feel that its just basically but a different way of looking at the same thing so there is really no need to made complex what is ultimately simple.


Indeed, Tai Chi is simple. At the higher levels Tai Chi is very simple and straightforward, in fact much more simpler than even Wing Chun. In this sense, much of nature is intuitively simple but the scientific models to explain it would be complex and non-sufficient due to the inherent complexity. This is why we can have complex models of Tai Chi. But for it to be successful as a combat art it has to be simple and direct in movements.

This sounds counter-intuitive but if you think about it perfectly logical. This is why I tell students not to be long-winded when playing forms. Instead, seek movements which can do the job in the fastest, most direct manner whilst retaining power and ability to discharge injurious force. Just pushing each other around like two bulls in a contest of muscular strength is not Tai Chi the combat art but Tai Chi the non-combat sport.

Sometimes, in the quiet of the night one can think and see things clearer. To keep our eyes on the Tai Chi martial path we need to retain our clear mind and not allow our ego to engage in non-productive training methods.