Advanced martial art

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Kung fu

Taijiquan was designed to be an advanced fighting method.


People read the word 'advanced' and really don't think it through.
The word advanced literally means far ahead, more difficult, more challenging
It signifies a higher stage of development.

Kung fu is thousands of years old and is a highly developed system of martial art. The student who locates a good kung fu school will find the training thorough and challenging. Kung fu skills, which have been refined over centuries, are not learned easily or quickly. The sincere student, however, through hard work and dedication, will not be disappointed with the results.

(Adam Hsu)

Martial arts training

Learning any martial art is hard work.
It involves years of arduous training, and most people quit at the onset.
Very few students who start martial arts lessons even gain a black belt.
Fewer still progress beyond their first dan.


In China, a student would focus on gaining competence with an external martial art method.
This process would entail a great deal of hard work.
There would be years of drilling, punishing practice, sweat and aching muscles.

Retire or climb higher?

Time takes its toll...
Harsh training methods, power, speed and flexibility favour the younger person.
The traditional martial arts practitioner often chose to set aside the external training and retire.
Or they sought something more advanced.

Seeking a teacher

In traditional China it was not easy to find a martial arts instructor willing to offer tuition.
The onus was upon the student to prove themselves.
An instructor was leery to waste time and effort with a lazy student.
Finding an advanced martial arts instructor was even harder still...

Too easy

Nowadays, people can start training an advanced martial art from the onset.
They can literally contact a taijiquan instructor and request a lesson.
This is problematic.


The modern student lacks an adequate foundation with an external martial art method.
They are normally unprepared for the hard work that lies ahead.
They dismiss the word 'advanced', not realising that it signifies a training regime far more challenging than anything offered by an external method.


Many people who commence taijiquan practice are essentially 'daydreamers'.
They have fanciful notions of becoming a martial artist but entirely lack the grit and determination required to accomplish the task.
Instead of committing to a challenging regime of on-going comprehensive, rigorous training, the student is contented with the dream.

Martial athlete

Combat is not easy and there is a risk of injury if the student is unfit. This is true of any martial art.
To reach a high level of skill, the student needs to take a lesson from sport.
They must become a martial athlete.

Martial fitness

All martial arts require the student to be fit for combat.
Taijiquan students train: core strength, massage, leg stretches, cardio work, yoga, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons.
The training is done carefully, gently - in a controlled manner - without exertion or strain.

I was admitted to a select special research program in karate... here the innermost secrets of karate are introduced to future teachers. After a few months, it became obvious that many of the most 'secret' techniques were ones I had already learned in my first 2 years of basic training in the internal arts.

Many karate people had to wait 5-20 years before being taught the same material.

(Bruce Frantzis)

What makes taijiquan advanced?

Taijiquan follows a different path to most martial arts.
It teaches all the skills associated with the external arts (albeit performed differently) and also a large number of unorthodox considerations.

Unconventional skills

Internal skills are not easy to acquire.
They are subtle, hard to learn and require a high degree of awareness.
Many insights are seen as being counter-intuitive.

Gain external skills first

A taijiquan student learns all these external skills but employs them in an internal way:

Kicks, punches, palm strikes, finger strikes, elbows, knees
Grappling whilst standing and on the floor
Joint locks
Escape from holds
Self defence
Close-range combat

Advanced martial art exceeds external martial arts skill.

Higher skills

Taijiquan employs additional skills:
mutual arising, wu wei (not forcing), folding, filing, wrapping, blending, listening, interrupting, leading, borrowing, adhere & stick, sinking & rooting, sung, substantial & insubstantial, projections, change, misplacing the bones, dividing the muscles, sealing the breath, cavity press, shuai jiao (applications & skills), form application (every movement of every form), jing (whole-body power), neigong (whole-body strength), reeling silk, fa jing, yin/yang, te, 6 balanced pairs, mushin (surrender/immersion), opening & closing, wu nien (not preparing), zanshin (continuing mind), conservation of energy, minimal movement, 5 animals, 8 powers, 5 centres, central equilibrium, freeform triangle, groundpath, moving from the centre, practical applications of yielding, small circle movement, uniting upper & lower, using the mind instead of force, whole-body movement, penetrating defences, cold jing, inch jing, uprooting, following, connection, double weightedness (avoidance of)... and so on.


Page created 21 May 1998
Last updated 22 June 2017