I recently came from the Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee, where I saw all sorts of approaches to different aspects of Taijiquan, both traditional and modern, and so am quite curious about approaches I haven't been exposed to before.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In my gameplan, i want to pepper the guy with strikes and kicks and go for a KO, and avoid a take down if all possible. If I get into clinch range , here i where i can use Tui Shou and begin to use the Shuai Jiao throwing and wrestling.</font>
This strategy sounds completely reasonable to m; but according to what I have been taught, Tui Shou principles are always applicable. If you are in contact with the opponent, all of the techniques come into play. If you are not in contact, you maintain contact with your mind and move as if you were in contact. The only difference is that in normal Tui Shou there are many techniques that are not allowed; whereas in MMA a much greater range is allowed.
By the way, in MMA would it be permissible to do "Pluck" (i.e., Cai/Ts'ai) on your opponent's wrist, or would this be considered illegally grabbing the glove?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Not only does Yang Taijiquan have striking, kicking, and shaui jiao techniques for combat, it also has a vast array of chi-na- or 'seizing and grappling' techniques that can be employed.</font>
I agree with this, but would add that there are other techniques that perhaps do not fall easily into these categories.
When I think of our iconic applications for Grasp Sparrows tail, I would not consider any of them primarily strikes, throws, or grappling. I would also not discount many of the techniques practiced in Push Hands, which, although they may not be strikes or throws, may be as effective or even more effective than most strikes. I am not sure how effective such techniques would be under the constraints of MMA, but I find many of them quite as intimidating as being hit by a strike. I am also not sure how beneficial it would be to practice such techniques with a heavy bag, but I would think that some of them would work well.
I have occasionally and briefly messed around with using Tai Chi techniques on heavy bags, but never really tried to do any serious training this way. As I look at the video, I see some interesting things, but certain questions also come to mind.
I have a friend who I think of as quite knowledgeable about various aspects of traditional Chinese martial arts. He once talked about a philosophy of never "entering" and "leaving" a technique by the same route. I have also noted many places in our form where on the surface we seem to repeat a linear movement, but are urged to make subtle changes to avoid a complete stop and start. Because of this principle, I have some doubts that our particular training method and philosophy would encourage throwing repetitive punches or kicks that do not allow for a continuous circular component between repetitions.
I also have some question whether a strike repeatedly thrown at a bag is really a complete Tai Chi technique or merely half (or even less than half) of a technique. What I have been taught is that in order to go forward, I must first go backward. To through a forward punch, I would first have to begin with a circle toward the rear. Merely starting from a chambered position would be insufficient.
If I ask myself whether it would be beneficial to practice half a technique in the system I understand? I guess my answer would be: yes; however, I do have my doubts about whether there might be "side effects" on other skills. Practicing things in pieces can sometimes help to better understand the whole, but might also impede understanding of the whole where the whole is really more than the sum of the parts. An example might be the chop in Chop with Fist. Could it be that a critical aspect of that technique is the pushing palm that precedes the closing of the fist?
There is a nice wide variety of techniques shown in the video. It's also clear that the guy training is game to try anything, even if it doesn't seem that it would work well with a heavy bag, but I wonder if even a few more techniques might be possible.
First, in Fist Under Elbow of our form, we show a punch that comes curving in from right to left along with only a slight forward weight shift. It is not like the much straighter punch shown in the video. I would guess that a curving punch would be a nice addition to so many other straight punches, especially in very close quarters.
In Separate Foot, we also show a style of kick that is useful where there is insufficient space to do a thrust kick. This involves contacting with the top of the foot, similar to what is done with a crescent kick, but not trying to kick so high or with so much of a swing. This kind of kick can be aimed at the outside of the legs or the ribs.
One of the main exercises I know for practicing Fajin is Diagonal Flying. Why not try this in preference to using the shoulder stroke of Parting Wild Horses Mane, which I, at least, find hard to use as a strike?
After Snake Creeps Down and before Golder Rooster, a shoulder stroke with the right shoulder can be very effective, assuming that doing the initial Pluck is feasible.
During the video, in Step up to Seven Stars, the punch seems to be thrown while dropping the right shoulder and twisting the eye of the fist to the right. Why not also try keeping the shoulders level and keeping the eye of the fist facing the mouth. This method draws less energy from "twisting" the waist and more from shifting the weight. Could the size of the glove be an issue?
Also, I once had someone point out to me that the left hand punch in Bend the Bow to Shoot the Tiger is also rather unique in the form, because the full circle is quite small. This is certainly useful a punch if set up with a Pluck or with Pushing Energy, but might also be useful if retreating offline from a forward attack.