Yang style Tai Chi is not difficult to learn as long as you remember to adhere to the number one requirement of Sung. When you have achieved a certain level of Sung it is easy to do the fajing stuff that is so loved by many students.
X is a student with background in Tai Chi and few other things; certain not a beginner as he has trained for many, many years. So I thought it would be easier for him to pick up fajing mechanics. I was wrong.
Part of the requirement for teaching Single Whip is to explain how the power of the whip is enacted out in the movement. For beginners I normally explain the spiral instead as it is an extension of what they have learned in Beginning Posture.
However, when the explanation comes to the application then I have to explain how to do the whipping power mechanics because the logical use of Single Whip requires a whipping palm to be used. For those who like to read more about this you can refer to the following pages of TaijiKinesis Vol 2 :-
i) page 106 – 110 – basic principle
ii) page 300 – 304 – application of Single Whip
When we think of a technique such as Single Whip we keep associating it with the image below :-
However, the proper Single Whip movement is a sequence that begins after the end of Push until it terminates in the familiar posture that we normally associate with Single Whip as shown below :-
As you can seen there are quite a few movements to learn in the transition from Push to the posture of Single Whip. I suppose the highlight for many students is right at the end where the fajing with the left palm is.
Coming back to my student X – I first taught the variation of double arm detaining movements, then moved on to the hidden neutralize-attack movements that changed into a holding-detaining move; yet more hidden techniques of how to neutralize using elbow / elbow strike / arm bar before ending with the left palm strike.
After I showed X the left palm strike and how to do the fajing he was thrilled and started to work on this section a lot more. Unfortunately, the more he tried to do the fajing the stiffer his arm became.
So I said he needed to Sung more and one way to do this is by not doing the palm strike with power first. Instead, he should just focus on Sung with the help of the 5-Count which will ensure that he gets each part of the movement correctly.
X’s arm stiffness is the result of his old habits. The way he moved his arm is correct from an external striking point of view. However, for our Tai Chi moving the arm in the manner that X was doing will only cause tension.
Hence, training the form as a whole rather than focusing on only one part of the movement is important because it is a way to replace old habits with new habits on a macro rather than just micro level. I know its fun and empowering to do fajing but we must always keep our eyes on the big picture. That is the secret to Master Tai Chi Today.
Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? 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.