Taijiquan - as a martial art for self defence

Taijiquan, when trained well, is and always has been a powerful martial art. But it takes time and practice to become suitable for martial application due to the complex nature of its structural foundation. Students wishing to learn the martial methods should not be expecting immediate results.

The art uses a refined balance of 'softness' and 'hardness' to develop the correct structure and natural alignment of the skeleton for whole body connection. In Taijiquan, force is used and applied intelligently and with the right timing to maximize efficiency.

We train the body's sensitivity to movement, forces and physical pressure from the training partner with an exercise known as Push Hands (Tui Shou). From push hands and form practise, one develops certain physical force skills / "energies" or methods of using force (Jin) such as the most commonly known eight:

Peng (ward-off) 掤

Lu (roll back / stroke) 捋

Ji (squeeze / compress)

An (Press)

Cai (pluck / pull down) 採

Lie (split / break)

Zhou (Elbow) 肘

Kao (Lean / Bump) 靠

As well as many more...

These are all supported by 'Peng Jin', a firm yet flexible quality to one's structural shape, comparable to an inflated ball or a bow. This is developed from constant structural alignment of the legs, torso and arms, through years of practise.

Push hands is just the first stage; a game of balance to maintain ones own centre, whilst disrupting the opponents centre, but then students work toward a more freestyle approach where they learn to improvise the learned skills and techniques. To learn Taiji martial art it is necessary to study and practice the solo forms to develop the correct structure and unique 'shenfa' (body method).

When the 'shenfa' is well trained, movement can become far more efficient. Power is not held back or disrupted by tense muscles and so can flow freely. This eventually means that almost any part of the body can be used to attack or defend. 
Also, as the practitioner becomes more mentally and physically relaxed (natural, not limp),  they become more sensitive to movement, until they can literally feel the opponents intentions as soon as they come into contact. This also leads to an intelligent and efficient method of combat where one does not waste time or energy fighting with an opponents strengths but to take advantage of gaps in structure, broken balance, over-extended movements or distracted attention.  These cultivated skills can be put to use in 'Push hands', self defense training and free sparring.

Traditional Taijiquan contains all manner of strikes, kicks, sweeps, locks, throws and take-downs, but what separates it from other martial arts is the training methods; designed to integrate the entire body whilst maintaining a high degree of sensitivity to the opponents actions.

The martial aspects of the class focus on a mixture of traditional 'push hands', partner drills, self defense techniques, applications of the form movements, and freestyle push hands / controlled sparring.
The culture is one of helpfulness, politeness and consideration, and students are encouraged to give each other feedback to ensure a rewarding experience for all, and that no-one gets hurt.