|Advanced martial art|
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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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
21 May 1998
Last updated 15 March 2017