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There are times when speed is most important, when you should avoid commitment and rely upon surprise.
The key to speed is smoothness and circularity.
Try not to start and stop, move from one strike into the next without hesitation or pause.


Being assertive is not the same as aggression.
Aggression is assertion + emotion. It is a fear response, forceful, angry and brittle.
Assertiveness in taijiquan is softer, gentler, but nonetheless firm and definitely noticeable.

You are not macho, callous or nasty. Your presence needs to be cool, calm, detached and patient.


Miyamoto Musashi gave excellent advice concerning the use your body in combat:

When you inflict pain on part of his body
each time an opponent makes an aggressive move,
his body will weaken by degrees until he is ready to collapse
and it is easy to beat him.

 (Miyamoto Musashi)

A doll of wood

Bruce Lee spoke of being a doll of wood, an animated machine with no thoughts and feelings. (He took the idea from Chuang Tzu's Fighting Cock).
You must leave aside any notions or concerns.
It is important to become blank and receptive, open to the situation and responsive to what is happening.
This is what Zen does to the student.

Taijiquan fighting method

If you do not move freely and easily, you will get caught.
A combination of skills will enable you to assert your presence and make it quite clear that you are not going anywhere.
Use stepping and striking to avoid being struck, but strike without hesitation or doubt.

  1. Circularity

  2. Always yield
    - do not force anyone
    - take their balance

  3. Gravity striking
    - make every strike a gravity strike or fa jing
    - do not force a result. Keep it casual and indifferent

  4. Whole-body striking
    - keep your arms away from the body
    - strike two or three times whilst taking their balance

  5. Aim to step as you strike

  6. Use body weight and momentum to crumple the attacker

  7. Bump

  8. Control the head and the body will follow

Stake your claim

You must make it clear to your opponents that you are not at their mercy. They are at yours.
You need to ensure that the opponents rapidly regret attacking you, and feel reluctant to re-attack further.

When closing the gap to make contact, make sure that you bump the attacker with your chest, shoulder, arm or elbow.
The bump needs to be unsettling, soft and powerful. It will upset the attacker's composure and take their balance.
Immediately follow it up with two or three combinations.

As they dragged him away, Rorschach spoke to the other inmates.

He said, "None of you understand.
I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 13 December 2019