Saturday, August 29, 2009

Taiji Sword as a Training Tool

The taiji sword is an advanced level training tool.

One has to consider the taiji sword from 2 different perspectives. The sword as a weapon and the sword as an extension of the limbs.

I may write something on the weapon aspect in the future.

The second aspect relates to empty-hand combat. It can further be sub-divided into 2 sub-headings:

1. Power enhancer: A sword used for power training is different from a demonstration sword. A "real sword" (like the one in the photo) should be used for the purpose of power training. A "real sword" is much heavier than a demonstration sword. Manipulating and making use of the weight of a "real sword" requires specific technique.

In a taijiquan form, it is the body that leads the limb. In a sword play using a "real sword" it is the limb that leads the body - the purpose is to enhance the flowing of power like "mercury in a bamboo pipe". One has to note that after the flow of power is achieved, you revert back to the "body leading the limb" principle, with the kua doing the decisive role - this is the Negation of the Negation.

2. Application Techniques: The sword form embodied the advanced level application techniques in the taiji martial art system. Apart from the hand techniques, it has many complicated footworks. This complement the limitation of the Taijiquan form.

Looking at the sword form from a different angle, you will have many interesting discoveries.

The sword play is not equal to sword dance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Borrowing of Power in Taiji

It is said that the Taiji symbol comprises of 2 fish. One in white, representing yang, the positive force; the other one in black, representing yin, the negative force.

It looks as if the white fish is chasing the black fish, and vice versa.

What does this mean?

It means that Yin and Yang are interrelated. In their extreme forms, the Yin force will transform into the Yang force and the Yang force will transform into the Yin force.

Imagine you stand firm on the ground and use all your strength to push forward. In a normal situation, you will choose the best body position in order to exercise your strength effectively. You are then in a balance position. But if you try to extend your hands and / or body a little bit forward without moving your feet, your strength will decrease as soon as your balance position is altered. Instead of increasing your strength, the extension decreases it. Your Yang force is transforming into Yin force. This is of course only a crude example to help you appreciate the mechanism involves. Obviously, the other party will not do an own goal to unbalance himself. Martial art involves the interaction between 2 human bodies. The transfer of power between 2 persons is more complicated.

Transformation from Yin to Yang requires special technicality. This is not just an increase of force from within a practitioner's own body. Whilst a taiji practitioner is able to exercise powerful internal strength after completing the traditional trainings as explained previously, this is not the flower of the art. Taijiquan emphasises balance, coordination of mind and body and not to use brutish strength. Facing an attack, a taiji practitioner will not use brutish strength to counter-act. In response to a powerful attack, a taiji practitioner merges the Yang (positive) force of the other party with his own force, and then directs the force as merged to such a way that it serves to enhance the momentum of the taiji practitioner.

This is what people usually called the "borrowing of power".

Windsurfing is a good illlustration of what it is meant by borrowing an opponent's power to our advantage. A windsurfer takes advantage of the wind to drive his surf board forward. Likewise, instead of countering an opponent's positive force with positive force, a proficient taiji practitioner makes use of the force of the opponent to increase his momentum.

The increased momentum serves to increase the power of the taiji practitioner It also serves to break the opponent's balance and take all his power out - in their extreme forms, the Yin force will transform into the Yang force and the Yang force will transform into the Yin force.

The positive force generated as a result of the increased momentum will be directed back to the helpless opponent, who has been deprived of his power, and destroy him,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spherical body

Imagine you are a ball filling with air inside.

Although your mind determines which part of the ball is to hit, the "air" fills the internal sphere of the the ball in an even manner. When you push forward, your back goes backward; your head pushes upward; your leg goes downward; your right side maintains the force to the right; your left side maintains the force to the left, etc. That's the idea behind the eight directions diagram above.

The force is exercised as a coherent whole: You are in a balanced position.

If the force is directed to one side only, it will piece through the wall of the ball. The "air" is released, and you lose the power: You are in an unbalanced position.