Countering (intro)

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The introduction to counter-attacking involves 3 skills:

  1. 4 stages

  2. X-shape

  3. 3 B's

Gaining an understanding and competence with these 3 skills will enable you to deal successfully with all manner of attacks.
Conversely, failure to grasp these basic precepts will lead to long-term floundering.

4 stages

These 4 stages must be followed no matter what the attacker chooses to do:

  1. Evade the incoming attack

  2. Establish contact

  3. Maintain contact

  4. Incapacitate the attacker

They apply to unarmed combat, armed combat and self defence against a knife.


Taijiquan attack and defence skills are usually employed in an X-shape relative to the incoming force. The attacker launches their attack... If you maintain position, you will be struck.
If you go sideways, you are within range of the attacker. If you go forward, you will meet the incoming force. If you go back, you are still on the same line of force.
You must step to a diagonal to avoid the line of force.


Going forward means getting hit. Instead, withdraw to the diagonal. Evade the incoming attack


Advancing requires greater skill than withdrawing, and more nerve. It puts you in a better position to counter-strike, but entails greater risk due to the proximity.

3 B's

Think of the incoming force in terms of the following concerns:

  1. Blocking

  2. Blending

  3. Balance

Item 1 is undesirable. Item 2 facilitates item 3.


New starters always block the incoming force. This is to be expected.
Unfortunately, whilst blocking does prevent the strike from hitting a vital point, the force of the blow is now transferred into your arm. Blocking is a mutually destructive combat method.


Blending is about getting behind the incoming force and leading it off target. This requires better timing and more skill than blocking. The method is referred to as 'blending' or 'soft meeting'.
Blending does not alert the attacker's nervous system, allowing extra time to gain optimal position for counter-attacking them.


Having blended successfully, you can draw the attacker out of their centre. Fine tuning is needed in order to take the balance just enough to create instability.
Counter-attacking an uprooted opponent is easier than countering somebody who is balanced and stable.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 14 December 2019