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I saw this clip being discussed on a forum. It highlights the importance of a principle that is applicable in any martial art in which anti-grabbing is studied. Take a look.
Whilst the physical example is good I feel that the verbal explanation could be better. For example at 0:11 the master said to “relax” and then told the student to point his fingers at the opponent. Good point.
But when the student tried to do it at 0:22 he couldn’t and the master said not to fight, relax and be soft. However, the student still didn’t get it.
The master tried again using various explanations :-
i) At 0:44 the master tried to get the student to do it again and this time he mentioned to use the body to support the movement.
ii) At 0:57 – the master said that the student was still “fight again” because the student was resisting the strength head-on which is why he couldn’t do it. So essentially do not fight the opponent’s strength.
iii) At 1:18 the master added another variable “support” which is essentially to assist the movement using body weight.
iv) At 1:25 the master suggested to “change yourself” which is re-positioning.
v) Finally at 1:48 the master said to “find the structure”.
Did the student get it at the end of the clip? We don’t know as the clip was cut off.
I do teach something along the same lines when I cover the topic of how to break a grip or borrow the opponent’s grip to unbalance him. The approach I use is different from how the master in the clip did it. In fact, if you have been reading this blog you might recall a post entitled Pay Attention from 4 Jan 2016 in which I taught my lady student how to move within minutes despite being gripped tightly.
Someone on the forum mentioned about joining and emptying the point of their intent. It is a good point but I doubt a beginner could get it. The reason is that the more a beginner tries not to focus on the point the more he will do so. This is an error that is pointed out in Takuan Soho’s book The Unfettered Mind.
Here’s how I would approach this :-
i) Ask the training partner to grip your wrist really tight. Try moving it to make sure he is really holding you tight and will try to follow any movement you make to prevent you from breaking his grip just like what you can see on the video at 0:22.
ii) Next don’t try to empty the point at which your wrist is being held. If anything, just enjoy the grip – just pretend that your girlfriend or boyfriend is holding your wrist tightly out of love. If you do this you will stop resisting without trying to do so. Oh, and don’t make your hand floppy like a dead fish.
iii) Enjoy the grip? When you are at ease with being gripped you should have stopped moving in your attempts to struggle free. At this point your wrist would also have joined automatically to the opponent’s gripping hand. This is the moment of truth. If you can preserve this condition you would have the neutral equilibrium which I mentioned in the post Pay Attention and moving to lead or break free of the grip should be easy.
Reading the above instructions is probably much more complicated than being shown how to do it. Unfortunately, that’s a limitation that we have to live with in regards to the written word. Try it and see how it goes. Sometimes it might be easier to break it down into steps. Recite the steps loud as you do it. Reading the instructions aloud can help your mind concentrate better.
The process to Master Tai Chi Today is not difficult; many times the impediment is to find a way for the student to “see” it. This is why tailor made clothes are a better fit than clothes off a rack. Same logic goes with learning Tai Chi. The teaching must be tailored to fit the particular student even though the principle remains the same. Only then the student can find the way to move on to mastering Tai Chi successfully.
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