Slow Movements, Fast Fighting


Empty Fist

Without proper root and body mechanics speed means nothing. One needs to sink their weight down in order to tap into the power generated by a strong root. Its the compression of ones body weight and the ground that generates the power (e.g. drawing the bow). Speed is something that is added after this to amplify and execute this power. Thats why I said first comes power (drawing of the bow - the source of the power) then comes speed (releasing of the bow). In retrospect, I should have said first comes the generation of power, then comes execution. I apologize if I caused any confusion. So much for trying to be brief and straight to the point.:erg:



May 17, 2004
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The Canuckistan Plains
Stolen from an unnamed source..... and excerpted from an article W u Dang 13 Form and the 13 Tai Chi Techniques by Dr. Xianhao Cheng.


Peng: a song says, what is the Peng? It is like water holding a boat. First fill the Qi (chi) in your dantian. Then suspend your head as if to the heaven.

Important points to remember are that the power in your body must be flexible as a spring. Your decision to open and close is related to a certain time/distance.

If you listen carefully and select the right moment, it will not be difficult to even uproot a very powerful person.

This means that peng should be like water that holds a heavy boat afloat. Your internal power should react like a flexible metal spring possessing an ability to move your opponent using minimum effort like a wave causing a ship to pitch and roll.

However, practitioners should not confuse the expression of peng by using muscular strength.

Peng uses a great deal of mental manifestation. The question here is how? A key point is to change the direction and amount of peng and amount of your peng power immediately based on each tiny movement of your opponent.

Lu: a song says, What is LU? It is the technique to lead the aggressive incoming force to over extend. The successful application of Lu requires one to follow the direction of the incoming force deftly without resistance.

Once the potential of the incoming force is totally used up, it will become void by itself. During the application of lu, one must maintain a stable weight center so that the opponent will not have a chance to attack you.

A key element in the use of lu is that by following the direction of the coming force the directing of the coming force and redirecting it to a void, the expended force attacks nothing.

It is also important to understand that lu is not based on your force but rather on the application of your internal power and ability to rotate your power field to deflect the incoming force.

In real use, LU and Peng are normally combined together, becoming on technique. That is, once you feel the stiffness and heaviness of the incoming force, your peng immediately becomes lu.

In real practice, this technique uses two hands, slightly touching on your opponents wrist and elbow joints and turns your waist only so your touch to people always soft even if it is powerful.

Lu is normally 30 degrees away from you. That is, if you consider a line between you and your opponent as a base line (0 degrees), you need to dflect the coming force 30 degrees away from that line.

Except for persons at a really high level, if the 30 degrees are not enough, you will wrap the incoming force against yourself and you will waste your power.


Ji: a song says, what is Ji? It is comprised of two applications when you use it. The simple and direct Ji Jin just follows and meets the opponents Jin, and an indirectly reactive Ji Jin is like a ball bouncing back from the wall or throwing a coin on the drum.

It means that the Ji Jin should let the incoming Jin act like a ball bouncing of the wall and a coin throw on a drum returned back.

Ji also contains Peng. In real practice, simple Ji is used against Lu and it just follows peoples Lu and uses the waist to slightly change the opponents Jin directly towards their weight center.

Therefore, in direct Jin we used long Jin. Indirect Ji is relatively difficult to do. It needs to first use Peng Jin to release/deflect peoples attack.

Just at the right moment the opponent feels the danger and tries to keep his balance (while his muscle is stills tiff while attacking you), you need immediately to focus you Jin on one spot and hit him back.

This Jin for indirect Ji is therefore short and fast. When people are changing their weight center from forward to backward, there is a moment to pull oneself back.

No matter how powerful they are, all of their power will be cancelled by themselves at this moment.

Therefore, it is as if they are fighting with themselves. We also cal it Jig Jin (borrow Jin from you opponent) in Taiji. Since their muscle is stiff at this specific moment, they are easily bumped back like a coin thrown on a drumhead.

The correct posture of Ji is to hold one arm obliquely before your chest, putting fingers of the other hand on inside of the arm about one inch to the wrist. Stand with one foot forward in bow and arrow step.

You send your Jin forward with the Yao (waist) and Kua (hip/groin area) horizontally towards your opponents weight center.

An: A song says, What is An? It is like water moving. Hardness is contained inside softness, a force resembling a rapidly flowing current which is difficult to resist.

Meeting the incoming force high you send it up, and meeting it low you send it down.

Coordinating your internal energy like a wave, you penetrate his weak spot at the moment that you have the chance.

The technique of An is having your two palms push forward from the waist on bow and arrow stance.

Remember that the power is manifested in your waist. So a song also says: A nZai Yao Gong (An is a waist attack).

Cai: the song says, What is Cai? It is like a balance scale. No matter how powerful your opponent is, he/she will be weighted.

One should hold this thought that whether a slight move like four ounces or heavy as one thousand pounds can be measured out. If one wants to know the principle, it is the lever law.

It means Cai plays the role like a pivot in a traditional Chinese balance, which uses a lever and a pivot to balance the weight.

It should be pointed out that Cai has a slightly different meaning from yank, which means to pull down with a jerk.

However, conducting yank we use our muscles, whereas, for Cai our palm is still soft and the internal power is flowing out on the middle of palm and sinking down instead of applying force. In real practice, Cai always combines with Lu.


Lie: a song says, What is Lie (Pronounced Lee-ay)? It is like a rolling wheel. Placing an item on it, the item will be immediately thrown away.

Lie also acts like a whirlpool-like Jin. Dropping a leaf on it, this leaf will sink immediately. This indicates that Lie is a rotaing Jin that possess both the feeling of being thrown away or sunk down once touched.

In practice, Lie needs the harmonizing movement of the waist and elbow. Remember that Lie is also not the external force but the internal moving sensitivity following the opponents force.


Zhou: A song says, What is Zhou? It has five elements. Identify Yin/Yang, up/down and substantial/unsubstantial.

When correctly used, the linked movements (combined one after another) cannot be blocked and the burst elbow attack is very devastating. Once mastery is achieved, the application is never limited.

This means that Elbow has the applications of up, down. Left, right, front, back and linked movements, etc.

The six Jin of Peng,, Lu, Ji, An, Cai and Li are all closely related with Elbow Jin. Elbow jin needs to harmoniously combine with the above six Jin.

In real practice, Zhou is very powerful both in push hands and free hand fighting. However, this technique is not allowed to be used in friendly competition and it seems not well known by most Taiji practitioners.


Kao: a song says, What is Kao? This technique is best described as either a shoulder or back attack.

For instance, the technique of Diagonal Flying uses the shoulder but it also incorporates a back attack. The execution is similar to pounding something with a pestle.

It is very important to remember that you must carefully control your weight center. If you lose your balance, Kao is useless.

This means that once the chance appears, Kao can be either a shoulder and/or back attack. However, you must be careful to be able to control you weight center. Kao Jin also is used by combing with the above seven Jins.

Kao is also very dangerous and seldom used in friendly Taiji competition. However, in the system of Taiji self defence, the classical poem says: Yuanquan, jin zou and tie shen kao ( use the fist on long distance, Zhou attack on close distance and Kao when you touch people). Therefore, Kao is also an important technique for a Taiji enthusiast to master.


The five elements, forward, backward, left gazing, right watching, and central equilibrium stand for the direction of the steps.

However, in Taiji a step does not mean leg movement only. It also requires your combining your step with the movments of upper body and your mind as well.

In the earthly connection of the Five Elements, Forward belongs to fire, Backward to Water, Left gazing to Wood, Right watching to Metal and Central equilibrium to Earth.

In the Wudang Thirteen form, Forward has the powerful function of dash, which has the meaning of throng and strike (Yong and Zhuang in Chinese, which means embracing people and let him/her be uprooted, then using the forward momentum to throw him/her away.)

Backward combines deflection and hit. Left gazing and Right watching means that one should also take care of both sides of the body to keep balance and the ability to act and react.

At a high level, we need tot rain ourselves in a power (gi) field to take care of the two ends of the horizontal line in your cross.

In doing Taiji form, we have a cross to measure the body weight center in which a vertical line goes through your head down to the earth and a horizontal line goes through your weight center, releasing to both sides.

In the form, the last two techniques are used to train the expression of ones side energy field to deflect the opponent.

Central equilibrium belongs to Earth in Taiji theory and therefore it has decisive meaning since it is the mother of the other elements.

In practicing Taiji either for longevity or self defence, we have to know that although the way of inside is quite different for these two purposes, maintaining your balance is essential to both.

In Taiji, we always say that the body needs to keep central equilibrium and weight center smoothed out. All the aforementioned Jin Fa (the way of releasing Jin are released from your center and come back to you center.

This is so called Kai (open) and He (close) in Taiji. In all martial art, a key role is to control peoples center but relax your own.

Finally, it is worthwhile to know that once we are familiar with the above eight techniques and five elements, we will organically and subconsciously combine them together so that the expression of all the techniques and elements are incorporated.

When this occurs, people may see your techniques are not only of those mentioned but your opponent will feel/experience that they have all the above techniques.

End of article by Dr. Xianhao Cheng in Tai Chi Magazine Vol. 28 No. 2.

I really enjoyed the article. Not sure if it really belongs in this thread or not, but it does illustrate some of the principles being discussed.


Yellow Belt
Sep 17, 2004
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East Coast
Several of you have mentioned that Taiji trains the nervous system to be more efficient. Can you elaborate on this point?

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