Training in Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan training takes several forms:
- Chi-Kung Simple movement and breathing exercises
- Conditioning Training exercises which stengthen stamina, mental focus and flexibility
- Hand Forms Patterns of movement that encourage strength and balance, and which contain the practical applications
- Weapons Forms Further development of strength and the spiral movement, as well as increasing the mental focus during the movements
- Partner exercises Encourage the ability to sense your own and anothers balance, intention, as well as other skills needed for the practical application of tai chi – Sticking, Yielding, Listening, Void.
Five Components of Tai Chi Chuan
1 – Hand Form
This is the most basic, fundamental and most well known aspect of Tai Chi Chuan. Knowledge of this alone is insufficient for selfdefence purposes. There are two stages in learning the Hand Form. First the movements are learnt in a step by step fashion (‘Square Form’). Once this is mastered we move on to learn the more intricate ‘Round Form’. This consists of the same techniques as the Square Form, but is performed in a free and flowing manner (the familiar experience of Tai Chi Chuan).
The movements come in a set sequence, and have self-defence applications. Practice of the Hand Form results in tranquillity of mind, helps to relax the body, strengthens muscles, and improves respiration and balance.
2 – Pushing Hands
Pushing Hands is to train us in methods of applying techniques while having an awareness for our own and our partner’s center of gravity. It also increases sensitivity and improves reactions. Pushing Hands is a key element to learning the self-defence techniques.
3 – Self-Defence
These are applied techniques taken from the Hand Form.
Practice with a partner develops our ability to use these techniques, defending ourselves and presenting the opportunity to counter-attack. The techniques become second nature so that they become the natural reaction.
(The hand form was used to “hide” the self-defence applications so allowing public training and practise without allowing opponents to sneakily learn your techniques!)
4 – Internal Strength – Nei Kung
Moving meditation, concentrating on the mental state while holding set postures or repeating set movements. The exercises produce exceptional results but on the inside. This develops a physique capable of defending itself from injury and able to apply the techniques with ease.
(These are only taught to advanced students and are passed on as part of a tradition dating back to the inception of Wudang Tai Chi Chuan)
5 – Weapons
There are three main weapons used in Tai Chi Chuan the Chinese Sabre (tiger), the Straight sword (serpent), and spear (dragon).
The weapons’ forms develop the physique, mental focus and effectiveness of the hand forms, as well as their own obvious applications.