Taijiquan - as a martial art for self defence

Mondays 8.30pm - see 'CLASSES' page

Taijiquan, when trained well, is and always has been a powerful martial art. But it takes time and practice to become suitable for self defence.

The art uses relative softness of the muscles to develop the correct structure and natural alignment of the skeleton for whole body movement. Many martial arts rely only on localized muscle strength and speed, which of course means the stronger, faster person would always be victorious.

However 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 Tai Chi martial art it is necessary also to study and practice the solo forms to allow the body time to move correctly and naturally, and develop the correct structure.

When the body is relaxed, 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 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 Monday night 8.30pm class focuses on this martial side of training with a mixture of traditional 'push hands', partner drills, self defence 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.

In addition to the Monday class; Sunday workshops and private one-to-one sessions are also highly recommended for those with a serious interest in developing martial ability from Taijiquan.