You don’t have to know 1,001 ways to fajing if you are interested in the combat side of Tai Chi. You only have to know how to get the position and apply one good strong power. This is what I normally focus on.
However, when you eat the same food too many times you get sick of it. So yeah, sometimes we can take a side trip to the fajing world to reaffirm our interest. Mind you, as it is our first form, the 108, already has enough fajing methods for you to play with.
But Tai Chi fajing skill level is like a deep, dark hole as how my teacher once said. This video of GM Wei Shuren is a constant reminder of the skill level we can work towards.
His fajing is light and crisp, with minimal movement and effort. It doesn’t mean he does not have fajing that can cause serious injury. He did but stopped demonstrating it when he nearly caused serious hurt to someone once.
Anyway, consider this a good source of inspiration and motivation. Keep on training.
Circle, spiral, twist, turn, come in, escort out, snare, trap, lock. A round of push hands can provide us training in these various movements of the arm.
When you can movement seemingly free, yet adhering to a fuzzy pattern of movements you can begin to use it to find and create an opening for your attack.
In the second part of the clip I go through a few patterns of movements using them to probe until I found the opening.
Though we are playing movement patterns we should be careful not to become fixated with only one set of movements. Let the movements flow freely, yet find the pattern in the movements.
Then you can change at will in response to a stimulus. So if in the midst of movement my student tried coming too close and pressuring my arm against my body, I kept my awareness and moved from inside to outside while neutralizing his attack and returning a counter.
This is because this is one way to train ourselves to be familiar with our own movements.
In the beginning of the clip my student is attempting to apply a technique but his movement is not filled with confidence hence the uncertain feel I was getting.
When you know the movement really well you can move so much better. It is not unusual for a student to think that a lacklustre technique is acceptable. It might be when he is training with another student but it will not be if he is doing it with someone at a higher level.
When you know your movement it is like a highly tuned and sensitive instrument, so much so that a slight deviation will set off an instant response.
Otherwise, you can run round and round in circles and still cannot find the opening for your attack.
During push hands training we train the automation of our responses by learning about patterns of movements.
In form training we learn movement patterns. Through push hands training we learn how to reconcile what we learned in the form and the application of those movement patterns in push hands.
In the earlier part of this clip I highlighted a movement pattern to my student. This is a frequently used pattern in our push hands. Because he has not assimilated the lessons of the form in his mind he is not able to recognize the patterns amidst the chaos of free movement.
In the last part of the clip I showed an extension of the same movement pattern. This came about because his response triggered my counter to his movement.
The fun about push hands training is that there are so many ways to work it.
One aspect that we work on is how to keep flowing amidst pressure. However, we don’t just flow for the sake of it. We flow like water seeking an opening.
When we find the opening we then go through it. But not before ensuring that there is healthy compliance to the principles like don’t let the elbows fly in the air, don’t use excessive strength, don’t expose yourself to strikes and so on.
An example is working on keeping the centre, and not just the centreline. This aspect of training calls for us to protect an imaginary sphere in front of our body, making the opponent run around it.
Another aspect is how to recover the centre the moment the opponent’s hand comes through. The solution is easy enough, let it come, harmonize and guide it back out.
And if the opponent’s arms were to crumble, quickly change to push and pull to uproot and send off.