Fighting forms

Fighting forms

Postby RichC » Thu Oct 11, 2001 4:52 pm

Hi everyone. I'm new to this board and to tai chi. I've been training in the Yang Style since February and nearing completion of the long form. I am interested in tai chi for both its health benefits and its martial applications. The school I'm in teaches a two-man matched fighting form once the students complete da lu. I was just wondering how many people have learned this set as a way of learning the applications and what their opinion of it is.
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Postby Bob3 » Fri Oct 12, 2001 1:59 am

Dear RichC,

It is always interesting to listen to beginners mark their accomplishments by what form they have learned. Most other martial arts are taught in this way. Tai Chi is different. Once a form is 'learned', the surface of the art has just been scratched. Most people will take several years in training in the long form before their teacher will acknowledge that they know enough to make a second step. While admirable to want to know how to apply this art, the energies involved are very subtle. The way to move might be prescribed in a form, but without your bodies knowledge of how to move, the application is without substance. Be patient and attentively observe all aspects of your teacher as they demonstrate the form. Try to read about the art and apply what you have read to what you are seeing. Only when you have mastered deeper aspects of the form can one advance into the martial applications. If this is done too soon, the martial applications will be mere body positions, lacking in the internal energy that can be brought to bear.

Once, while talking to an instructor of karate, he told me that he knew Tai Chi. He had taken a course one summer. I could not talk further to him about Tai Chi since he had only a very slight idea of what is involved. Be patient and practice diligently and with conscious introspection. Your teacher can then judge when you are ready to advance.
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Postby RichC » Fri Oct 12, 2001 3:44 pm

Thanks Bob for your reply. I agree with everything you said and I by no means think that I have truly learned the form. I understand that the form will take a lifetime to understand. I pick up something new each time I do the form and I think it's one of the great things about tai chi. The slow even pace allows me to think about the mechanics of the movements carefully as well as build strength, balance, and coordination. I am far from the fighting form as that is taught last in the school. I do read a lot about the art and I know that one must learn to acquire sensitivity before they can move on to applications. Know your enemy and not yourself and you will lost half your battles. I was just curious as to how the curriculum at my school differed from others.
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Postby Audi » Sat Oct 13, 2001 2:40 am

Hi Rich,

I believe I am familiar with the set you refer to, but do not know it myself. My understanding from earlier discussions on this board is that the set was invented by students of the Yang family, but was not adopted by the family itself as part of their curriculum.

From my little exposure, the set seems like a lot of fun and would allow one to explore many applications possibilities. On the other hand, I see how the set might be misused by shifting attention away from spontaneous movement and sensitivity towards conditioned responses. I would suppose all would depend upon the quality of the instruction, the practice partners, and the understanding and dedication of the student.

Good luck with your studies and take care,
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Postby Bob3 » Mon Oct 15, 2001 6:42 pm

Dear Audi, RichC,

While I was taking classes in Denver, a fighting form was being taught. This form was faster, much more athletic and required internal knowledge of the Yang form that I know. In this class, the Yang style long form was not taught with breathing coordination, but it was taught with very slow movements. This Yang style form is somewhat longer than the traditional Yang style form, but here it was extended to complete the form in about 50 minutes, rather than 15-20 minutes. I didn't take the lessons on the fighting form since I didn't have time to practice it at that time in my life.

Recently, I have just completed training in a couple of sets of Wudan Tai Chi and Pao Chuan. The Wudan forms pre-date the Yang and Chen styles of Tai Chi. Both of these forms, but especially Pao Chuan contain elements of martial application that could be very deadly if applied to another. All in class were asked to agree to hold these forms in secret and not to show to others, since their application could cause harm. This master was brought over from China to teach these forms to us, and likely he will return next year to continue with more sections of these sets. While we didn't practice these forms against each other, he did show some of the application applied to an individual or two, but moving slowly and not completing the movements.

The knowledge of the fighting sets does exist to a limited extent. From personal experience, these fighting sets take more dedication than the traditional forms. The person taking such instruction needs to have a reasonable body structure to perform the sets, and also to have the mental ability to learn and apply the forms in creative ways.

Good luck on your endeavors!
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Postby snake/crane » Tue Oct 16, 2001 3:06 am

Hi Rich3

I agree with what Bob and Audi posted and I would take special note of their concerns of moving to quickly in your training. Some people have more natural ability and train harder and as a result can move along quicker. If the opportunity to learn the fighting set exist now, I would do it. Here is another view point on Tai Chi fighting sets and overall training in general. My training process took a lot longer, two months of shifting weight in the stance, followed by waste rotation, then steeping, I had to walk the length of the studio in a straight line and then learned how to change direction before I was shown any of the solo forms. From my point of view I would say that you are jumping a very large gap in the training. You didn’t mention push hands training. The skills that are learned in push hands are essential for fighting sets. Tai Chi fighting sets bridges the gap between push hands and free sparing. My push hands training wasn't much different than my initial training. I first trained on a heavy bag, moving it back and forth in the wardoff position, followed by trying to circle the bag in both directions. After a month of bag work I finally got to do pushing with a live person. A very slow process. The techniques learned in push hands, wardoff, rollback, press, push, pluck, split, elbow and shoulder strike are all the tools that are used in the fighting sets. A skillful teacher will change the set from time to time so that you are continually challenged with new situations. A change in the way you attack will cause a change in the way you neutralize. You learn both sides of a set and get to see how to apply and counter the same move. The set should be designed to flow continuously without hesitation from one move to the next. When performed by two equally skilled people, it can move at a very fast pace. It's been my experience that learning a fighting set has been educational, challenging and fun. Try to learn it as a form, like the solo set, so you can practice alone and imagine the opponent.

Good Luck
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Postby ELDER » Sun Jan 06, 2002 1:07 am

For enrichment on this topic I would like to comment about my Yang style school orientation.

All movements are explained, since the beginning, with the application meaning, mainly if the student asks for.
As an example the "dam bien" (single whip) was explained as defending from two opponents , one punching you from your side and the other in front of you.
I think that this information helps a lot for some type of students (as for myself), for others it makes no difference. When you do the forms you can drive your mind with the intention behind each movement (IMO).

You also talked about two fighting forms. Were you talking about "tui sho" (push-hands) ?
Tui-sho practice is also learned in our class since the begining, so people learn to feel the emptyness and fullness concepts for TaiChi movements, feel the energy changes, and so on.

I am not arguing this is the only correct orientation, but it worked very good for me

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Postby dpankey » Tue Jan 08, 2002 5:02 am


In reply to your original question,I offer the following: Learn and practice as much as your schedule will bear. Every piece will help in the learning process and will help you cultivate your chi. for example, If you only practice the long form, it will be a long journey. However, If you add to your practice Da Lu, it will build technique in mastering the four corners. Furthermore, push hands will help with intent and sensitivity to adhearness. Each will fortify your learning process of the long form. The two-person fighting form, we call San Shou, is the ultimate push hands. It will really speed up your understanding of the long form. You might also want to learn some chi kung and meditation. This will build your chi flow and loosen your joints. Nue kung can help build correct posture and balance between yin and yang energies. All of this will benefit your long form practice, increase your power and your health. This is my experience.
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Postby Mr. Istopher » Tue Jan 22, 2002 3:14 pm

Just to add my own two bits:

One of my teachers worked on and taught a fighting set called the 88, which I believe is what Audi was referring to. It involves two sets of 44 opposing movements, one set for each of the two "sparring" partners. This could be beneficial, but there is the view that free sparring is probably the best in benefit other than a prescribed set.

I would never try any of this until I got to work on pushing hands with a good partner. I will probably not try pushing hands again until I develop my hand form first, so it is probably a moot point for me to make about fighting sets and sparring.

Have a great day!
Mr. Istopher
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Postby RolfP » Tue Jan 22, 2002 5:32 pm

Hi everyone,

AFAIK there are (at least) two different "fighting sets". The one Mr. Istopher is relating to seems to be the one published in a book by Mr. Yang Jwing-Ming. The other one, which is the one I have learned for some years (and still practice sometimes ;-)), is published in the original chinese version of the book by Chen Kung and has 54 opposing movements.



[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mr. Istopher:
[B]Just to add my own two bits:

One of my teachers worked on and taught a fighting set called the 88, which I believe is what Audi was referring to. It involves two sets of 44 opposing movements, one set for each of the two "sparring" partners.
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