Yang Taiji Application Project

Discussion in 'Chinese Internal Arts : Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Qi' started by Diaitadoc, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Hello everyone!

    I’ve been practicing traditional Yang Taiji for about 15 years. Early in my training, I practiced form and push hands equally; then moved cities and took a break from partner practice, continuing forms practice on my own.

    Recently, I’ve gotten a group together to explore and practice the martial applications of Taiji. I was inspired to do so after reading Brennan’s translation of Taiji Boxing According to Xu ZhiYi. In it, Xu emphasizes that Taiji Is NOT an exclusively internal art. The very name Taijiquan, “great ultimate fist”, shares its name with the Taiji symbol (known to some as the yinyang symbol) and implies that the art is a BALANCE of yin and yang, or internal and external, aspects. “Hard and soft complement each other. Internal and external complete each other”.

    Xu goes on to say that, yes, Taiji has a unique, specialized skill set that is “internal” in nature. In so doing, he implies that a generalized skill set, “external” in nature, complements and completes the “internal” aspect of the style.

    The internal, specialized skill set of Yang Taiji is “neutralization”. The external, generalized skill set is therefore the “techniques and applications”.

    The traditional Yang Taiji form is comprised of a sequence of postures. Like any form, it is can be viewed as a catalog of techniques and applications.

    My group and I have begun investigating and training applications directly derived from the traditional Yang Taiji form. Our aim is to catalog, on video, at least one application sequence* for each of the postures in the form.

    So far, we’ve cataloged applications for all of section 1 (up to cross hands) and the first quarter of section 2 (just past diagonal flying).

    I’m adding the videos below for you to view. Enjoy! If you have willing partners, try them out - with practice, they will become wonderful additions to your Taiji.











    * I use the term “sequence” instead of “drill” to denote the compliant nature of our catalog. To sequence an application means to learn the move; to drill it implies applying the move against non-compliance. We’ll post drills once we’ve sequenced the entire form.
     
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  2. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    I will continue adding to the catalog as we go.

     
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  3. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Postures 23-26 : Shoulder Stroke, White Crane Spreads Wings, Brush Knee, Needle at Sea Bottom.

    The Shoulder Stroke application shown in this video is pretty basic. We actually explored something more complex, but didn't get good footage of it this time round so I'll try to record this Shoulder Stroke again in the future.

     
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    I think Dr Yang Jwing Ming has a video series on this, and at least one book.

    What is your process for finding the applications?
     
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  5. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    This is going to sound harsh but that's not my purpose so don't take it personal. It's just that I don't know how to word it any better.

    I respect what you are doing and it's not easy. In my experience with digging down into applications, if you want to really accomplish your goal then you need be able to do these applications in a free sparring environment against non-Taichi fighters. It doesn't have to be against professional fighters, but it has to be against someone who is trying to really hit you and you really trying not to get the bad end of the attacks.

    You really won't understand the techniques until you get in there and use them. I hold myself to this rule as well. Even while watching the first video (didn't watch them all) I could tell where you technique was failing for example. The Knee Fold and the Ward Off. The assumption in the form is that one technique follows the next. The reality of it in application is that if you get the knee fold then you probably won't op to to the ward off. If your opponent is able to resist the the knee fold then you aren't going to be able to get the ward off.

    Yyou should be able to do the techniques in free sparring with no problem as separate techniques. I would probably not do the knee fold during free sparring until you have mastered the ability to control it as it could fold the knee in the wrong direction if your opponent moves the wrong way or if you get overly excited.

    One of the biggest mistakes that I've sen in Kung fu is this assumption that applications have to follow the sequence that is found in the form. In some cases this will be true for combinations but in most cases it's not going to be true. You have to think of your Tai Chi applications in the context of fighting elements, the movement, the timing, etc. and the only way to do that is to spar. Anything less than that is going to cause you to make the same mistake that many "kung fu masters" have made.

    Those 2 techniques "fold knee and ward off" do not necessary mean it's a combo technique where one follows the next like the form. They may just be separate techniques. The ward off that follow may be your escape plan if you miss the knee completely as you fold it. I wold be willing to bet that if yo actually landed a fold knee technique in a fight that the ward off won't be available. I would be willing to bet that a different option would be available or the guy's knee will be torn.
     
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  6. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Hi DaveB,

    I'm familiar with YJM's application interpretations. He places a lot of emphasis on Na/locking. While the form can certainly be used to explore Na, my main issue with YJM's applications is that they are often repetitive; he'll asign the same technique to multiple postures. Why assign an arm lock to ward off, then assign the same lock to white crane and cloud hands?

    My approach to exploring the postures is as follows:
    1) the primary focus is on shuai / throwing, unless the posture is very explicitly something else (ex. cover step, deflect & punch, step, parry & punch).
    2) if a posture or movement is repeated in the form, the implication is that the posture has multiple applications. If a posture is not repeated, the implication is that the posture is tied to a specific application.
    3) applications should be as uncomplicated, high percentage and effortless as possible.
    4) posture by posture, applications should both stand alone and provide one or more secondary options to the preceding application in cases of double pressure / failed execution.
     
  7. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Hi JowGaWolf, thanks for your reply. It doesn't sound harsh at all - I'm 90% in agreement with you.

    In my original post, I took care to describe the apps being demoed in the videos as sequences, and placed an asterisk beside the word. I qualified my use of the word below the videos in the first post:

    "* I use the term “sequence” instead of “drill” to denote the compliant nature of our catalog. To sequence an application means to learn the move; to drill it implies applying the move against non-compliance. We’ll post drills once we’ve sequenced the entire form."

    So yes, we'll definitely be working towards non-compliance.

    Second, I agree that each application should be able to stand on its own. Cases in the videos where I show postures linking up are not to be seen as gospel procedure; more as options when faced with resistance, and as a way to instill a habit of flow/adaptation. If somethings's not working, if there's double pressure/resistance... don't force it, try something else! The form gives us some options.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I noticed that as well when I read his books.

    What is good about it is it shows that there really are not all that many techniques that are truly different. Perhaps variations are more plentiful, but if you thoroughly understand the technique, then variations tend to fall into place. At any rate, the same foundational techniques can be accessed from many different positions or scenarios. This is how you get more mileage from less material and prevents your training and curriculum from becoming cluttered and cumbersome.

    Believing that every piece needs to be something completely different is just a road to frustration.

    The most capable people are very very very good with a smaller number of things, because they can see how it is connected and to some level is all the same. They don’t waste their time and energy chasing after everything that might be “different” because they know it really is not.
     
  9. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Glad to hear this.. It looks like you are about to go on a great learning journey. It will be interesting to see see what you discover and how your observations through the experience of actually trying to use the techniques may or may not shape how you see how some choose to teach Taichi.

    My own personal experience has given me a better ability to understand body mechanics. Some times I see someone explain a technique like "If you do this strike then his body will move this way." Then I just smile and think,, yeah right, I've actually done that technique and my opponent's body didn't flow in that direction. Most recently I've earned that fighting angles are not in the forms that I train. Because of that, I think I'm going to slowly revamp my Jow Ga forms to include the fighting angles
     
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  10. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    I would caveat your above statement with another consideration.

    Often people become too focused on the practicality of the applications for a form and doing so can cause them to miss the bigger picture.

    So above you advocate separating the sequence of the form from the applications because it might not fit the circumstances.

    I agree with this, but I also feel that the lesson, or principle of the form is in its sequences. So for a given movement, the full follow-up technique may not work practically, but the idea behind the follow-up technique should work even if you express it differently with a body in front of you.

    And if it makes no sense even conceptually then either the first application is wrong or the two movements are supposed to be separate.
     
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  11. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If your interest in Taiji is about it's throwing art, I will suggest that you dig into these 2 areas:

    1. How to add leg skill into Taiji technique - There are leg skill such as cut, block, break, hook, lift, spring, bite, scoop, sweep, twist, bite, ...
    2. How to set up your technique - Use push to set up pull, use pull to set up push, use linear to set up circular, use circular to set up linear, ...

    Your technique should not always have to depend on your opponent's punch, you can attack first, when your opponent respond to your attack, you then apply your Taiji technique. This is called "give before take".

    In the following clip, the leg skill is added into the Taiji "diagonal fly".



    In the following clip, it shows:

    - Give before take (you attack first).
    - Use pull to set up push.
    - Borrow your opponent's resistance force.
    - Use circular motion to set up linear motion.
    - Leg skill "inner hook" is used.

     
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  12. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    That's a good foundation to work from, I look forward to seeing your finished drills.
     
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  13. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I think we are saying the same thing. I don't understand the first part of this, but the second part falls in line with what I've experience when learning to apply a technique. The second part of what you stated is the same example I gave about the knee fold and the ward off that was shown in the Ops video. I saw how awkward the transition was and I'm familiar with both. If the knee doesn't fold the next best thing would be to reset as in a fight, the opponent isn't going to just stay their after you tried to fold their knee, which means the following ward off doesn't make sense. However If you try to fold someone's need and miss, then it makes sense to follow through and continue to the ward off. So the ward off is the answer to "What if I miss the knee fold" If you are successful with the knee fold then your opponent isn't going to be in position for the ward off technique.
    To me this is the same as what you are saying

    "..if it makes no sense even conceptually then either the first application is wrong or the two movements are supposed to be separate." The only challenge with this is the accuracy of how we understand the concepts. This is how I know that Jow Ga forms don't include the angles. My understanding of the concepts of the forms is different than many who teach it. Some think it should be done as is and that it's a perfect combination of techniques as is. But from how I understand it, there were some important key points that were left out.
     
  14. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I like the second video. I've experienced that same motion of going in one direction and before I could reclaim my structure and balance I was pushed into another direction in which I couldn't not recover from. I have doubts about the first video, maining because I know that punching hand isn't going to just stay there, not even for a split second.
     
  15. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    The Taiji system always talks about "borrow force". But a Taiji guy always likes to wait for his opponent's attack in order to borrow force. IMO, it's better to give your own force so you can borrow your opponent's force which can be resistance, or yielding.

    Agree that you don't have to wait for your opponent's punch. You can just "pull down his guard" and guide his leading arm to jam his own back arm when you move in.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  16. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    Why throwing?

    I see a lot of striking in the movements.
     
  17. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    Another strategy you may wish to consider is moving through the form with emphasis on Speed and power.

    Sometimes the application of force to the form can reveal more about intended use than holding to the traditional rhythm.

    The Shotokan kata kanku dai was just a bunch of disjointed applications for me until I performed it with reckless abandon and found the tight turns and shifts in body weight revealed a more consistent theme.
     
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  18. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Hello Mr. Wang, glad you’re joining the conversation!

    You may not remember, but many years ago on RSF, I sent you a video of me practicing Taiji throws on a wooden log. You critiqued it constructively, saying that I should focus on having my trips/hooks/sweeps move in the opposite direction of my arms. I took that to heart, and make sure to apply the principle in every throw I practice. Who says you can’t learn anything on the internet?

    Indeed, one of my main focuses with this project is leg integration. As you can see in the videos, I strive to incorporate the stepping/stances of the postures into many of the applications as leg/base attacks - whether it’s simply stepping in close to block a leg and create a pivot point, or applying a hook, or folding the knee, or stepping on their foot.
     
  19. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    Hi DaveB,

    Taiji, in both name and traditional CMA convention, has everything: Boxing, Kicking, Locking and Throwing.

    I personally chose to put the initial emphasis on throwing for several reasons:

    1) way back in the day, my instructor used to joke around, saying “Taiji’s strategy is to flip your opponent upside down and throw their head into the ground.” He was also fond of answering the question “does Taiji have head kicks?” with “sure, let me show you!” at which point he would toss the questioner to the ground and kick them in the head. Demonstratively, of course.

    2) 5) As I mentioned in my reply to Mr. Wang, I’m fond of incorporating the legs into application in ways that go beyond simply changing the angle.

    3) Taiji places a lot of emphasis on push hands. Once I started adding trips and sweeps into the mix, Taiji and push hands started making more sense to me.

    4) I once heard the Taiji form described as “shadow wrestling”.

    5) Old stories place Yang Lu Chan as the instructor for the Imperial Shuai Jiao team.
     
  20. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    I agree, and I’m already doing this!

    It’s fascinating, really: Doing the form slowly confers great benefits, but doing the form “sped up” is something I’ve played with many times in the past. Before starting this project, my “sped up” Taiji was simply an accelerated version of the slow form, with power being issued at the “end” of each posture.

    Now, having worked through section one, doing the form with speed, power and the intents I’ve explored and cataloged looks and feels waaay different. Still Taiji, but totally different from what it was before. I like it.123
     

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