Hi Pete and Louis,
Before I respond to the latest exchange, I'd like to finish talking about what the Association teaches, since that has a strong bearing on my own views. First I should say that our theory stresses that you do not focus on either the opponent's or your own external technique, but rather on energy. Energy has no shape, but it makes itself known through shapes. This is kind of like chess. Experienced players think more in terms of "pressure," "control," "development," etc, rather than just on “winning moves” or captures.
Once you get a good foundation in fixed step push hands, you begin practicing moving step. Moving step makes generating energy easier, but makes controlling it much harder. We start with straight steps, with corresponding foot work, and then move on to cross steps, with symmetrical footwork. Then we do a combination. You practice the stepping first in simple ways, and then with increasing difficulty so that you learn to adjust your step length and position to whatever you need and to whatever gives your opponent trouble.
You also learn to do energy applications from the moving step, matching the direction of the application to the appropriate direction and positioning of the stepping. You also begin to separate briefly from your opponent to simulate more what you would experience in free fighting. When you finally can step where you want and move your arms however you want, you get close to what free fighting would be.
Somewhere along this journey, those truly interested in martial skills will practice fajing, using the shaking staff, solo exercises, and partnered exercises. While I think some people think of Tai Chi fighting as consisting of strikes, I think we have a broader view. At least at the level that I have been taught so far, we want you to be able to issue energy with any part of the body and do not focus particularly on hand strikes. We want you to be able to use long energy, short energy, throws, locks, and strikes and use peng-lu-ji-an, etc., as the foundation for this.
I would like to ask your opinion on a specific point in fajing, when issuing fajing properly on your opponent what should be the outcome? Should the opponent be thrown backwards like a huge push it should they drop where they stand?
Either result is possible, but the latter is probably best not discussed in too much detail over the Internet. I also think there are other possibilities, even if you are fighting in earnest.
What I understand and teach is that the object is to attack from a point of maximum advantage where and when the opponent is at his greatest disadvantage. In other words, you want to attack only where and when the opponent is helpless to defend; otherwise, you enter the realm where speed, strength, and external technique are paramount and Tai Chi has little advantage. Depending on what you are attacking and what the opponent is defending, this strategy will have different outcomes, even if you are fighting in earnest.
As I understand it "fajin" or "fajing" merely means to "send (out) or issue energy." Yang Jun does, however, often refer to "explosion energy" or some variation on that theme. When actually demonstrating with strong long energy, he more often seems to refer to "sending out your energy." Energy can be sent out in different ways for different purposes. If it is sent out in a truly "explosive" way, we would tend to refer to it as "split energy," or perhaps short energy. This type of energy is generally dangerous to practice with, and so we usually replace it with some sort of similar movement, except for certain limited drills. Long energy can also be dangerous, but usually requires a deliberate choice to use it in this way.
What I wanted to find out was if the stuff that I have seen on YouTube representative of association taiji.
I would say that some of it is and some of it isn’t. The best way to see would be to look at Yang Jun’s Push Hands DVD, volume 2. He shows many applications, focusing on what can be safely practiced in Push Hands and how to understand aspects of Tai Chi theory as seen from the Yang Style viewpoint.
The ones who don't will practice all of the form, including small San sau and push hands, but they don't want to know the applications. I have actually seen people walk away from sessions when an application to a movement was given to help explain the mechanics. The answer was simply I don't want to know that.
I would say that the association does not cater to people who want to take the “martial” out of “martial art,” but nor do we focus on fight training. My view, as I mentioned in a previous post, is that Tai Chi can have many goals and many uses: fighting, self-defense, competition, mental and physical health, inner cultivation, etc. I would say that we tend to focus on the generalized principles that are framed in a martial way, but do not really presuppose any of those goals. That is left for the students to decide. In fact, one of the things that I really like about Tai Chi, at least, how we seem to do it, is its flexibility. You can do a little or a lot. You can do it for health, for martial ability, or for training the mind.