The truth on Self-Defense and TaijiQuan / Tai Chi Chuan

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Sep 26, 2012
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Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I know that Tai Chi Chuan (TaijiQuan) does work in self-defense applications.
Of course Taiji Chuan works. It depends on how you may train. If you have trained the Taiji "left/right separate leg" over 10,000 times, when your opponent punches you, you kick, and drop him. That may be all you will need in self-defense.



Green Belt
Feb 5, 2017
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Richmond VA, USA
Wow! What a thread! It seems that there were a lot of side arguments that didn't get into the original topic. I don't want to add to that or criticize anyone's opinion, but just give my own. I studied for 14 years, three 1-2 hour classes a week with a great combat Taijiquan instructor. Some of his credentials were:
  • 4th Dan in Kyokushin Karate', personally promoted by Mas Oyama
  • Saw combat with the Army Airborne in Vietnam
  • Made his fortune as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter in the worst area of a major US city - He never lost a bond, his "clients" always came to trial
  • Studied internal martial arts full time with Professor Ho Chi Quan of Chicago. (I have probably spelled that name wrong!)
He taught me mostly Yang Taijiquan, including the Yang Long Form and the Yang Family Form, but also the Chen and Wu long forms and the basics of Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. He also invited guest instructors to teach from time to time. Sadly, I feel I failed to make as much progress in those 14 years as I would have liked.

Here are my humble observations on the topic.
  • Taijiquan is the greatest martial art for real combat, but...
  • It is also the hardest to master and very few do. (and I am not one of them)
  • Time spent studying and/or the skill of the instructor may or may not get you there. You have to find and cultivate "it" within yourself.
  • Even a novice can feel real internal energy when it is applied to them. I have definitely felt it from my instructor.
  • There are a lot of charlatans teaching the internal arts
  • There are still others who teach "Taijiquan techniques" that can be effective, but are devoid of real internal power. They are just "soft" external techniques. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you, but it is not real Taijiquan.
  • I recommend Taijiquan if you can find a great instructor and you are motivated to pursue its very lofty goals for a lifetime.
  • I don't recommend Taijiquan for quickly (including several years) learning to defend yourself. There are other arts that are much more on point for that.

Mostly Wu

White Belt
Jan 27, 2023
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Some of that is not taijiquan, the follow to the ground is not by the way, some of it is. Around 1:50 things I see as Wu style show up in a over the shoulder throw and sweeps, but the actual applications in Wu tend to be a bit more violent. But I understand you don't want to hurt the guy you're training with. The hip throws however, I have not seen in taijiquan.

Look for any videos of Eddie Wu doing applications, he tends to slam people to the floor pretty hard. Also probably why part of the Wu family curriculum includes learning break-falls
Looks ok. Just a bit formalized- the attacks are kind of silly- if that's a demo then you want to make it look a bit more realistic, even though we all know it's fake. suspension of disbelief, and all that. They aren't slamming one another into the mat, because they either don't want to injure one another, or they don't have the power.
Since my previous video showing various throws and sweeps being demonstrated by a Tai Chi school was criticized as not being real Tai Chi, here's some video of Chen Ziqiang executing a very nice foot sweep and hip throw against a much larger opponent in free grappling.

I don't know whether Chen Ziqiang has any skills in the striking department, but I have to say that from my standpoint his clinch and takedown ability looks very solid.
That looks very similar to what is called "freestyle" pushing hands in Wu Style. No groundwork, no blows, obviously, no cheap stuff like gouging, eye hooks, etc...the idea is to train, not damage one another. Some good, hard work going on there. I would be very surprised if Chen Ziqiang(and the other guy, too) doesn't also have strikes and more aggressive locks/breaks in his arsenal. They are not that hard to do.