Some Taiji Chuan materials

http://practicalmethod.com/2012/09/body-structure-online-video-trailer/

As mentioned before, I’ll use that sample as an introduction to talking about the same concepts, except using my own interpretation and experience. Most of it isn’t mutually exclusive, but merely complementary.

In that vein, here’s some interesting articles from the same site.

http://practicalmethod.com/2011/08/zhu-dongshengs-search-for-a-taiji-teacher/
http://practicalmethod.com/2010/05/my-odyssey-with-taijiquan/
http://practicalmethod.com/2004/12/a-real-martial-art/

Just as in physics, it is easier to use visual examples than merely trying to describe the physical laws of the universe using words (or worse, equations). But like the individual authors in the last 3 links above, I also went around looking for the good stuff ™ early on. My original instructors were always focused on very simple concepts that transformed into many many techniques, thus the saying that one principle equals 1000 techniques, and 1 technique has several principles in it. Gunpowder can create many different kinds of weapons, firearms to explosives. But a single pistol can only use certain things related to gunpowder, and it must happen in the right sequence. So is it easier to study how gunpowder works, to make your own gun? Or is it easier to disassemble a gun and figure out how it works, without any prior knowledge? Both are feasible. The 3 principles I was given were 1. injury 2. rotation and 3. penetration. Or in other words, linear power combined with rotational power equals spiral power, and spiral power produces injuries on the human body.

The body mechanics trailer’s first concept is the linear axis that goes through the spine, in a straight vertical line from head to ground. By isolating this line in the body and preventing it from moving, it serves as a rod in which a hinge is set, on both sides, the left and right. Moving the left side can now move the right side, and vice a versa. Or to use the video’s example, move the gear on the left, and the gear on the right moves. This is “power conversion” in the sense that it uses the body’s joints, ligaments, and fascia as a mechanical lever device, to multiply force. Nobody has yet to chart all this out using equations and scanning devices, though technology is able to do it. Why do I think it works as advertised then? Well, door hinges work, and I don’t know exactly why that is so either, though I know the theory in general. I know how to reflect incoming force, even though I don’t exactly know what’s going on in each joint of my body, at every time splice in the line. Microwaves and handguns work, even if the user is entirely ignorant of gunpowder and mechanical leverage (springs and hammers).

Yin might as well be potential energy and yang kinetic force.

I treat new martial arts the way I treat alien or high level technology. Time to break it down, deconstruct it, reverse engineer it, then build something I can actually understand and use. If I can’t build that, I’ll just use the alien technology without understanding it. Unlike some electrical engineers or those gearbox tinkerers, I never liked dismantling electronic devices to see what makes them tick. My preference is to dismantle humans, psychologically and physically, to see how they tick. Neat, right?

In so doing, I’ll learn the principle and theories, able to make actual practical use of them, not merely understanding them in an intellectual and theoretical context. So I’m big on “practical” experience, with only 10% of my time devoted to “theoretical studies” (or in other words, college and academic lectures).

Addendum: A direct response to one of the articles.

Internal martial arts often function on different principles than external martial artists. While Okinawan karate was a sort of hybrid when it was first transmissioned from Fujian White Crane and other martial arts in the south of China so many centuries ago, it became more external once ported over to Japan, when there was one teacher and maybe 300 students. Not really able to get a really deep understanding that way. Kyokushin just ultra specialized in the hard and forceful nature of karate.

For Westerners, I often use the firearm analogy. A firearm merely needs the intent of the user to aim, breathe, and pull the trigger. That’s pretty much the same thing in internal martial arts. The power source is all internal (gravity is an internal power when you convert it from your environment). But instead of gravity and mass, or ligaments and fascia, the firearm uses the gunpowder inside the round or casing. Because humans need will and intent to make our body do things, or we can go back on instinct and do auto pilot, we often get the “order” of movements incorrect. The order is important. If the round in the gun explodes before you aim it, then there’s a problem. If the strength of the firing chamber is weak internally, then the weapon may damage the user, rather than the target.

Don’t jerk the trigger. The recoil should be a surprise, if for single shot long shots. Just as Chen’s videos, where he says that you shouldn’t feel what’s going on, that the opponent should be falling down and you would be surprised that this happened. That’s proof you are channeling internal power that is not associated to your muscles. Your muscles aren’t pushing the bullet. It’s just aiming and funneling the tube down in which the bullet travels.

In external martial arts, the mentality is often reversed, where the stronger you contract the muscles, the more damage and power you get out of a technique. Instead of shooting bullets, it’s like you’re using your muscles to hold the trigger and barrel down as you do full auto. Or using the gun as a club to beat people to death with. While technically the tools might be the same, the way they are used, aren’t.

Click on the CC to turn subtitles on for vid.

What Chen is talking about, I call zero g, where gravitational acceleration cancels each other out or add on top of each other. It’s sort of like how that airplane can produce a perception of zero gravity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_gravity_aircraft

Normally human limbs can only generate enough force to jump us up a few feet, so normally we could never generate enough acceleration to cancel out 9.8 m/s/s of gravity’s acceleration or 32 feet per second. You’re not jumping 32-64 feet per second in the air here. But Taiji chuan is said to be able to reflect force an attacking person’s energy, send it back into them, and send them up a story in the air. So if you are locked together, your legs are frozen and the enemy gives you incoming force, in order to convert that, you need to convert that horizontal incoming force to vertical, send it to the ground, and then reflect it back to the foe and send them flying. But before they are flying, your internal body gyro would feel like you are flying or falling, because gravity’s acceleration has either been canceled out, overwhelmed, or reduced. Your leg push would now normally push you up into the air, but since you don’t move, and right before the enemy is launched away, it feels like zero g or falling to the semicircular canals in the ear.

That’s my interpretation using what I know now. A lot of people do use yang force, as detailed in the video, where they push with li or intent or strength. Yin is a very strange experience, and internal arts take a very different philosophy of power. Good thing my original instructors always prioritized mass and gravity’s pull, instead, as the main “power” drive.

It will take some time and practice for me to integrate these concepts into engineered applications and techniques, but I already feel like I have a good background to absorb these normally strange and alien ideas.

More sources:
http://internalartsia.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/rotation-approaching-the-impossible-with-the-practical-method/

A good Q/A interview on Taiji principles or physics.

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One Comment on “Some Taiji Chuan materials”

  1. G6loq Says:

    Very interesting.
    Studied with William CC Chen in NY for a few years and it was all about body mechanics. That how it is I thought.
    He’s a remarkable boxer.

    Then I ran into a couple of outstanding push hand players in Maryland. It is all energy I was told. No muscle whatsoever. All energy! The mind boggled.

    Then I stumbled on Scott Meredith: http://cattanga.typepad.com
    Book:
    Juice: Radical Taiji Energetics, http://tinyurl.com/poe9a2h
    I am sold.
    After almost 30 years I am starting over. And, I am much happier about the whole thing.

    The path is the path ….


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