Sometimes its just timing. Using timing means to listen, or perhaps to probe to elicit a response, then allowing the response to be heard, understanding what the energy feel is saying and exploiting it.
Fajing can also be about to use your partner’s weakness against him.
For example, if he tries to enter without a proper root then he has already unbalanced himself. All you have to do then is to get under him and launch him the moment his energy is receeding after he tried to use it.
This is why my teacher from the Wei Shuren lineage doesn’t teach fajing on its own. Instead, he stressed learning the principles embedded in the form. His explanation is that when the principles fall into place fajing will happen.
Otherwise, if you learn fajing separately from the form when you try to use fajing it will look forced. You will also not be able to use it naturally as part of your arsenal of techniques, creating a feel of fajing is fajing and technique is technique, instead of fajing and technique is inseparable.
One reason why we don’t always have to fajing hard is because to fajing hard is like spending money unnecessarily, except in this instance you squander your strength and energy. Instead, use only as much as you have to and fajing then becomes a fun, relaxing exercise.
Visualize a point in space. Fix it in your mind. Now point your left index finger at it.
Next, move your left index finger towards it. As you move let your left index finger pull your left arm and your left leg towards the target.
Keep moving your left index finger towards the point in space even as your left foot lands on the ground and you shift your weight from your right leg to your left leg.
At the end of the movement check if your left index finger is still pointing at the point or is it pointing somewhere else.
If you didn’t get it the first time try again and again until you get it. It is not a difficult thing to do correct or is it? How many tries did you go through before you got it. Did you get it within an hour or take a few days to get it?
If you did not get it what was the reason why you couldn’t get it?
Most of the time you would think you got it. So it is good to use a video or get a spotter to help you check if indeed you are doing what you think you are doing.
You may find it easier to actually hang an object for you to point towards. Try it if this is what works for you. Once you can do it with an object try going back to doing it without an actual physical object.
Most people who do this think they are able to point to the point in space when they fail to do so. It is easy to deceive ourselves to think we are doing what we are not.
To be able to do this simple thing you need to be able to keep your mind on your left index finger all the time first and foremost. When you can do this then you need to assign some of this attention to the other parts of the body that is involved in the movement chain. All this while you must keep your mind still trained on your left index finger so that the entire body coordination is still whole.
You keep practicing until the entire movement chain is smooth outwardly yet on the inside you can feel how each part of the chain is moving in its turn in terms of changes in velocity, getting the relevant mass lined up behind each other in preparation to be able to trigger the mass to move sinuously like the rising and falling of a wave.
The better your body control the less outer movement you need to use, to the point where a slight downward movement will be like an ocean floor suddenly caving down to displace a body of water to create a tsunami, in this case an energetic wave consistent with rising (Peng) and falling (An) characteristic of an actual wave.
The movement in this experiment is the second movement after Beginning Posture that leads up to Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. Though this movement can be used to learn how to generate power, we must never divorce it from the application. If you do not keep the application in mind then what happens is that you will end up exaggerating the wave motion in an attempt to generate more power.
There is a trade-off between power and speed. In application we need to be timely when the need is there. If you are too slow to get into position then you will not be able to get into place to generate power. And when you get into position you have a split second to issue power before the opponent fights back.
So between speed and power you should go for speed because speed is basically a matter of change in velocity. The change in velocity is termed acceleration which is found in the formula for Force = Mass X Acceleration.
The form trains us to move in the manner of an imperceptible wave, controlling the rate of velocity and amount of mass that should be used in various techniques. Sometimes you need a hammer to do the job but sometimes you need to use a thumb.
Training the form is not about training fajing only. Training the form is training the use of techniques and understanding how various force models can be used with their attendant timing, angles, position, etc.
Training the form is the beginning of the study of the means to an end. Push hands is another piece of the study puzzle. When you have learned how to move like the wind, execute techniques like the falling of incessant autumn rain, pound with the force of a wave, and flow like a river then you can learn to apply the techniques more freely.
A week passed by very quickly. Lesson 2 came and passed for new student.
First a review of Lesson 1. Correction number one – eliminate unnecessary movements in the hands before raising hands in Beginning Posture. Root cause – slight hunched back leading to palms facing unnaturally.
Correction number 2 – hand lead the body in sub-movement 1 of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, differentiating joint movements and strength usage clearly. Also, how to shift the vertical axis from one side to the other without compromising balance. Mindfulness in left hand grasp and control.
Correction number 3 – fingers in left parry hand at commencement of sub-movement 2 of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. Control body angling. Importance of positioning to remain offensive even when parrying. Right arm closing movement re-emphasize again the holding hinge concept, aligning the right wrist to body to facilitate neutralizing, closing the posture. How to properly raise the right wrist to form cross with left wrist, passing the imaginary opponent’s right fist to land into space, as you open up a space to enter for your right hand. Again, not to lose balance by unneccessary moving of vertical axis causing sway and tilt. Showed student how to move without causing axis sway and tilt after he tried but could not move if I impose a restraint on his left shoulder to check his vertical axis. Correct placement of right palm on target area and left hand on guard after completion. The how and why of this application, addressing loop holes in posture, how to set up for a follow up movement from the start, possible strikes in this position. Check correct holding of sphere in right arm, sphere holding between left hand and right hand.
Correction number 4 – sphere rotation in Ward-off, control superfluos body turning, how to rotate properly to apply movement as a technique. Left hand curve, wrap, bind and control, contribute to unbalance attack and power issuance. Beware of elbow to body disconnect, define appropriate elbow-body connection.
Correction number 5 – defining the physical path for Rollback in the mind – visualize it, map it, move and feel. How to maintain structure and pressure while relaxing before neutralizing, avoiding collapsing of right arm structure or opening up space for opponent to enter. Proper structure of right arm in Rollback, proper timing to change from Rollback to Press. Mother-son relationship in right arm-left arm movement correlation. Whip palm attack in Rollback, if required. How to use elbow position to control opponent’s left arm when attacking without creating a gap for opponent to counter.
Correction number 6 – changing right arm structure at end of Rollback to beginning of Press. Left arm control – definition, process and applications. How to issue power using momentum from application of stance shifting for instant result, no waiting for years of training to master or having to learn secret qigong method or complicated fajing processes, merely using intuitive method most people already know as they are likely to have performed before at home. Using a spiral movement to neutralize, bind and control before issuing power throgh the same right arm. Single arm power generation for better control and defence; illustration of how facing wrongly in Press and using two hands leave student exposed to a counter.
I just glance at the topic of a Youtube video “Israeli Study of Natural Immunity vs Vaccine” and my immediate thought was natural immunity earns big Pharma nothing but vaccine brings billions and opportunities to earn more in other ways.
This also reminds me of those Tai Chi masters who would sell you that secret Qigong packaged training, that secret meditation practice, the secret small frame fajing form, that secret this, that secret that.
Why can’t they sell you one form that teaches you how to use the techniques, how to push hands, how to fajing, how to meditate and so on?
Cause you earn more by breaking the knowledge up and selling them. That’s why.
Its more exciting for the consumer, I mean student, to know that there is a secret spinal whip, chakra fire or is it water qigong (or maybe call it tummo to sound more exotic, nah that’s Tibetan), tree hugging, tree rooting, bricks hanging from the balls methods that they can salivate after. The more money they pay the more they buy into the secret and defend it even they found out that they have been conned. That’s the psychology of the victim.
Telling a student that he’s got it is a downer. Whatdaya mean I got it? Already? Where? Like a horse he needs a carrot dangled in front of him to chase after cause the fun is in the chase rather than the getting there.
That’s why in big classes they need a common identify, to reinforce the brainwashing cause you know cultish behaviour leads to loyalty even if contrary hard evidence is presented. This is a kind of attachment, a reason why Tai Chi is difficult to learn. You have to let go of your attachment to resistance if you want to be able to flow like water. To be attached means the opponent’s pressure will cause your mind to be stuck and your body to freeze.
That’s why Tai Chi is easy to learn, difficult to master as you have to deprogram your habitual, instinctive reaction to mental and physical stimuli.
I remember reading about vibrating palm a long time ago.
The thing about terminology is that the person using it may not understand what the term really means.
Neither does the average reader like me. So I went on thinking that vibrating palm is like a super duper powerful strike.
A decade, maybe two or three, I have a better understanding of what the term vibration and by extension vibrating means as it relates to rotating machinery.
This is where I realized that those who called their palm strike by the name vibrating palm may not understand what vibration is about and as such has given a meaningless term to what they do.
There’s a study here on the impact on the wrist from playing different sports. Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the impact of striking though catching a ball would be closer to what impact would be like from striking. The author concluded that the three worst events are :-
i) Throwing a baseball ii) Catching a football iii) Hitting a volleyball
Of the three it looks to me that the football catch and volleyball hit would be the closest to what impact on the wrist would be like if you are punching with a fist as the motion affects the z-axis.
By comparison, the baseball throw sees the wrist moving more over three axes and is more like what a hand slap / relaxed palm strike would be like.
The author concluded that :-
a) The level of vibration affecting the wrist is low. Extrapolating this conclusion onto a vibrating strike by referencing baseball, football and volleyball I suspect that the term vibrating strike would be a misnomer!
b) Sports that are more damaging on the wrist are those that tend to cause the bones and ligaments to absorb a sudden high level of shock.
If this is true then I would think that the relaxed palm strike aka vibrating palm is actually generating shock force rather than vibration. If you study how the body moves when going through the motions of a powerful palm strike you are likely to see the entire body move in a sinuous manner, a movement pattern that allows acceleration to build up before suddenly dumping the accumulated force into a target in the form of a shock energy.
This is why the energy of a palm strike is sometimes compared to that of a wave motion. This being the case a vibrating palm should properly be termed a shock palm.
6-Blocks or technically Mid Range 6-Blocks is our SKD beginners training for learning how to use the hand to control the space in front of us. We also have a Long Range 6-Blocks and a Short Range 6-Blocks.
I call it 6-Blocks rather than some fancy, long name because its easy to pronounce and easy to remember. When used properly the blocks can be a hard block or a soft block. It all depends on the objective.
The 6-Blocks is a shortcut way to learn how to define a doorway, the doors and how the doors move in the manner of a swinging door panel. This is based on the traditional CMA principle of hands acting as swinging doors. We define the space so that we know where to position and mobilize our hands to when defending and attacking.
The movement of the 6-Blocks is designed such that it teaches us how to move circularly from Point A to Point B in line with the 6 directions of movement when defending.
In the beginning we learn to define the alignment of the arm in relation to the body. When necessary we can use a stick as a training aid to understand this principle. We strive to move exactly so that in time to come when our movement fall short or over extend we know how to quickly adjust ourselves to correct the problem.
Once we understand each of the six movements we learn to move them in keeping with the principle of up-down, in-out and left-right. We first learn to move using less strength so that we can flow by adjusting the brakes and accelerator in the course of moving.
With familiarity we can learn to move very quickly. We can also move out of sequence, to respond as required.
After the soft phase of movement we then learn the hard phase of movement. This is when we learn how to use the blocks as attacks. To be hard requires the ability to accelerate your movements from a low velocity to a high velocity and suddenly applying the brakes to stop the movement cold, producing a concentrated momentum force. Internal stylists require to this type of movement as fajing.
We can extend the solo training to learn about movements 7 to 9 which extends the basic usage of the 6-Blocks. We also learn how to block and punch whether by punching with the same blocking hand or with the other hand. We should also practice 6-blocks with stepping.
To learn how to apply the 6-blocks we then engage in partner training. We can start off by using the 6-blocks to do slower paced push hands and graduate to fast paced push hands. After this phase we can then attempt to use 6-blocks more freely, with or without contact.
Concentration of power. That’s what Tuhon Apolo calls what we would term as fajing in Chinese martial arts.
There are different ways to generate power to suit the delivery method. In Kali if you practice basic strikes daily with the sticks you will acquire power in your empty hand strikes. You don’t really need to understand why though its not hard to do so. You just need to do it.
In fact, you can establish a baseline by checking how strong you can deliver say a palm strike. Then do another check once you have practice striking with a stick for 1000 times a day for 7 days. If you have an old tire you can strike that would be better.
Concentration of power is what we term as Chap Jung Lik in Cantonese. For example, one of my Wing Chun teachers said that hitting with the tip of a long pole is devastating because it is like hitting with a harden phoenix eye fist. A phoenix eye fist is powerful because the power is concentrated onto a striking tip.
In Tai Chi we think of power generation as a shock force impulse. If we use a long duration impulse then the shock would be greatly diminished. Such an impulse is good for demo where you want to send your partner flying over a distance.
In Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Tai Chi prolonged training in the form teaches us to use a short pulse as well. However, this short pulse is unlike a sudden, whipping external movement that we would normally associate with the term “short pulse”. Below is an example of what a short pulse power generation would look like :-
Some might look at this and think the strike is not powerful. If I add in another trigger mechanism into the fajing process the result will look better :-
Even then this demo is toned down. A properly delivered short pulse power will not send the person flying back. Instead, he would just kneel on the spot in pain. I did this once to show a skeptical person. After that I understood why GM Wei stopped such demo ever since he nearly injured someone fatally with it.
In Tai Chi we don’t just concentrate the power. We also focus the mind in that we have a specific mental target, a mental process, stuff we do but after years of training the many steps have basically become just one step. At this stage the fajing becomes easy. That’s why we don’t need elaborate steps to do it; no getting into a lower stance, no chambering, no asking the partner to stand still.
I’ve been thinking over the question of how does one teach this type of shock pulse fajing in a shorter duration. Would it be possible to break it down into a number of easier to learn steps? One main issue with learning it currently is that if the student is not good at visualizing and feeling in his body what his mind is visualizing then learning will be a struggle.
Different people define it differently just as different people will use it differently. There’s no single consensus as to what Tai Chi is.
Sometimes you get a vague definition of what Tai Chi. Or sometimes an incomplete idea is used to define Tai Chi like saying that a car is a wheel but then bicycles and skateboards also have wheels.
The more I research, the more I learn, the more I read, the more confusing the picture becomes. It might seem to become clearer but when you really practice it and especially try to use it then the reality does not do justice to the ideal of what Tai Chi is supposed to be.
The Tai Chi Classics provide the framework of what Tai Chi is, that is, if you believe that they are true. Some believe in parts of it, some deny it and some like me just wonder if we are missing something here. My teacher said that the Tai Chi Classics is a record of the experiences of those who have gone before.
Good except what is written still does not seem to make a lot of sense. Well, maybe some parts do but many parts don’t. Some sound nonsensical, some I can’t wrap my head around. You would think that since I am learning Tai Chi I should be able to understand what the various writers mean but I don’t, not for a long time anyway.
Below is one of those demos I do during lesson to explain and show what our approach to Tai Chi is :-
After many years of hunting for the elusive it that is the Tai Chi written about in the Tai Chi Classics I believe that the Yang style Tai Chi of Grandmaster Wei Shuren comes closest to it. I can actually make sense of what the Tai Chi Classics mean after practicing the style!
If some of the things in the Tai Chi Classics don’t make sense to you it can be because :-
a) Their model is different from your model
b) What they wrote can only be understood once you reach advanced level
Based on what I have observed I would say that if you can’t understand the Tai Chi Classics it is very likely that your model is not the same, maybe some parts are the same, but in some critical parts not the same. So the parts that is not the same is like a path that takes you in a different direction hence you won’t see the sight you should see if you take the path that is written about.
So if you want to understand the Tai Chi Classics find the path that leads you to understand it. A question is why should you want to understand it?
The reason is because if you understand the Tai Chi Classics it is a means to confirm that you have attained mastery of the principles that exist in those days. Remember that being traditional is not simply about your master learning from master Z who learned from Master Y……. all the way back to Master A, the founder. Being traditional means have the same understanding and mastery of what Tai Chi is from as far back as we can trace it. The writings serve to give an informal confirmation of this.
Why I put this video as an example is because if you examine it closely you would notice the lack of attempting to root or spiral or breath in-out. Yet, there is a tangible force that can be felt and issued to affect the person receiving it. So how can this be performed?
Some might feel that this is nothing but a trick that is not practical. I treat it as a means to illustrate the workings of the intent. When the intent is used with normal movement the intent can amplify the physical movement. An example is shown below of the use of Push Energy with a strike that can fit easily into a normal application that calls for a punch :-
The above should give an idea of what is not the Tai Chi that is written about in the Tai Chi Classics.
What is the Tai Chi that approximates the Tai Chi described in the Tai Chi Classics is harder to pinpoint, not without a lot of effort in sleuthing to find this elusive animal. Or sometimes luck just dump it in our lap.
What is missing in the Tai Chi Classics is the how to do it method. Perhaps this is deliberate because the objective of many martial arts text is to serve as a reminder rather than a how to practice text. There many subtleties and nuances in actual practice that is difficult to describe. This could be the reason why few Tai Chi texts go into any meaningful depth. Those that do, such as GM Wei’s books, tend to fly over the head of most readers. Despite practicing his style it still took me many more years to make sense of what he wrote about.
When the many that purports to be the mainstream fail to explain, then the obscure no matter how little known it is could well be a path that leads us to the destination we want to go. So sometimes we need to empty and scrub our mind of preconceived notions of what is and is not Tai Chi to allow ourselves to see when we finally glimpse it.