Student Notes – Step-Up, Parry & Punch

An important part of transmitting an art is that as a teacher we must never, ever be satisfied with a student’s performance until its down pat. I know that in Western learning constantly patting the student on the back, giving praises and assurances are part and parcel of teaching.

However, when it comes to learning Tai Chi I think most students would agree that its better for the teacher to be honest about the student’s performance rather than give whitewash praise. You want to Master Tai Chi Today? You need to develop a thick skin for criticisms.

When I saw my student do Step-Up, Parry & Punch (SUPP) I just had to stop him. How can I allow him to go out and try out with other folks if he cannot even get power behind his movements, an example being the simple punch learned within the first thirteen movements of the long form.

One thing I have said many times is that going slow for the sake of it is not correct. We do the form slowly to study how our body moves. The use of the 5-Points is to enable us to coordinate our body’s kinetic chain power points properly. If the 5-Points are not moved properly then the following are the consequences :-

a) The punch is not a punch; just something that looks like a punch but more like a push using a fist

b) The power in the punch cannot be exploded out

c) The force is not able to penetrate the body strong enough to cause injury and stop an attacker

When learning the form the motion preceding SUPP is just as important because transitioning from it defines SUPP. So if the leading barring arm does not transition properly then the rear fist will have no guide to lead it to punch properly. Without punching properly the principle of using the 5-Points will not be adhered to and thus the kinetic chain will fail to work properly. All it takes is a simple test of punching structure to check if the punch has proper power and force.

The basic movement for SUPP should be mastered before studying the variations of SUPP. The fundamental principle utilizes the spiral but advanced study could include learning how to chop the punch or apply it horizontally. These two variations will teach the student to apply different forces and understand how to adapt the punch in the event the training partner responds in a manner that does not facilitate the use of the basic motion.


Want to learn Tai Chi? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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