Audi said: "My learning style is heavily geared toward patterns and theoretical structure. This is not better or worse than other learning styles, it is just one of many approaches. Because of my learning style, I have always wondered about Tai Chi concepts such as sinking the shoulders and suspending the head from above. These seem directly contrary to the normal boxing principles of shrugging the shoulders and protecting the neck and head. In my question, I was principally curious as to how you might have reconciled these opposite instructions in your mind."
I guess its how you interpret Yang Chen fu's 10 points, Western Boxing, and Muay thai. I want to mention that I went to boxing and muay thai classes becuase chinese kung fu and Taijiquan schools in my area did not offer much in terms of San Shou, San Da, and realistic self defense training. At the MMA school...in watching the Boxing and Muay thai classes I saw the hard work necessary be fit and well adjusted in martial arts. Boxing with conditioning and Muay Thai with added training in kicks, elbows, and knees. I noticed alot of similar stuff that a American Taijiquan teacher of mine taught, and my Chinese coach from Shanghai taught in terms of combat and both feel that boxing and taijiquan have much in common.
1. Raise the head as if suspended from above also known as raise the spirit.
If we think of being lifted from the 'bai hui' point at the top of skull we also must think of the pole going through the body in which we must turn. This axis is vital in many martial arts to get the most of force that is driven from the legs, through the waist and out the arms. In boxing and muay thai there is alot of balance and mechanics involved in both martial arts. Yes- in fighting... boxers will protect the chin and neck with shoulders which is counter to Taijiquan principles. The spirit still does not change. The principles are geared towards correct solo form and not fighting, however think of it in terms of 'zhong ding' central equalibrium- do not lean to far back, forward, left or right when fighting or solo form.
2. Correct position of chest and back-
this is same for both- you dont want to keep the chest open for an attack and you want to initiate the force from the waist.
3. Relaxation of waist- this is the same in taijiquan and boxing.
4. Solid and empty stance- this is the same. a boxer is constantly moving and shift weight between both legs. There is a saying boxing- "sitting in the punch" which is like sinking in the kua and initiate your strike. If i slip to my right my weight will be on my right so i am sitting on the punch in my right kua. A left punch would not have much substance than a right punch would.
5. sinking shoulders and elbows- sinking of elbows is common in our boxing style to protect the ribs from punches.
6. Use the mind instead of force- this is where I am constantly changing how to throw a punch. Its taken me 3 years of boxing and muay thai training to just start getting the idea of the relaxed 'whipping' of a punch. it might not happen while in an intense ring bout but I can do it during fight training. It takes less energy but lands very hard. I am still improving on basics.
7. Coordination of upper and lower parts- this is the same- like the kua 'sitting the punch" it has to use the 3 strengths of legs, waist/spine and arm.
8. Harmony of Internal and external- there is a differnece here in terms of breathing. Boxing will have you breathing heavy no doubt. In fighting this will happen even if your taiji pro. Boxing still has - 'open' 'close' 'solid' and 'empty' but it is not taught in the same language as chinese martial arts.
9. Continuity- there is a difference here. Boxing rythm changes up and is not continual. here is a form difference. Taiji wins in terms of continuity. However for fighting my coach says- "if your not moving your firing and if your not firing your moving."
10. Tranquility in Movement- during shadow boxing it is done fast but there still is some finesse. Taiji wins in this area in terms of not exhausting the breath and slower movements. Chen style tempo is not 100% tranquil since it contains stomps and jumps. I stil think boxing when performed soft and smooth can be tranquil in movement but that is my opinion since i am a taiji guy who adds boxing and muay thai to his training and can find the similar and differences.