The Postures And Their Applications

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X he form or kata of t'ai chi is the first real physical method that we learn. Once one is well versed in ch'i-kung, (see "POWER T'AI CHI CH'UAN BOOK ONE" by Erle Montaigue) the form is the foundation of one's training. This form is made up of many different postures all held together by linking movements to make one long flowing movement which is likened to a great flowing river.

It has been said of t'ai chi, that unlike some of the 'harder styles' where what you see is what you get, in t'ai chi we only see 10% of what is really going down. If we take for instance the posture called 'push left' from the Old and New Yang styles, we see a posture that really doesn't say much. See Photo No. 2.

If we look at the real meaning of this posture then it's a different story. Photos Nos. 3, 4 & 4A, 5 & 5A & 5B show that this posture really has a martial meaning. No. 3 is a block to a left round punch and simultaneous attack to the jaw with a right palm. Nos. 4 & 4A. show a 'p'eng' block being used to stop a right fist followed by an elbow break. Nos. 5, 5A & 5B show a right (or left as the case may

2 3 4 4a be) attack being blocked by left p'eng then the rt. palm almost immediately takes over the block while the left attacks to the face.

Most of the postures hold this aspect where what we see is no real indication of what we get. Therefore, it can also be said that the t'ai chi form is an abstract way of learning something real. We train the body to perform certain abstract postures so that the sub-conscious mind is able to learn them as fighting postures. If one were to learn the real use of the postures and how they were used, then it would take forever to learn them properly because we are thinking about the martial aspects. If we learn certain abstract movements that only the sub-conscious is able to work out, then we have learnt the use of the postures without even learning them. Then when one is well versed in the slow movements, all that has to be done is to trans- late the abstract movement into a real form which doesn't take too long.

Learning the slow form in this abstract way also has another meaning. We cause certain internal movements of energy to happen, there-by making our body and mind strong and more in harmony. In the beginning what a student will see and what he/she translates as being representative of that movement will be quite different. There is a gap between what the mind sees and what the body does. As the training progresses, we see a shortening of that gap and eventually the mind and bodywork as one, a great asset in any martial art.

The abstract form causes healing to take place physically and mentally while internally and sub-consciously we are learning a 'method of fighting. From this form we learn perfect timing. Perfect timing is the singularly most important aspect to have in the martial arts. Timing covers balance, distance, weight and power, yin and yang. But timing must not be sought after; it must just come naturally by practicing all of the aspects of t'ai chi.

In learning the real use of the t'ai chi postures, once again they must not be taken as gospel. We must use the postures as a training method so that we are able to use any part of any technique at any time. So when training in the methods given in this book, keep in mind that I am not saying that this is the way that it must be done, you must take what you are able to use naturally and leave the rest. We are given so many techniques in t'ai chi in the hope that we are able to find some techniques that suite us.

You must start out very slowly and precisely at first with the main intention on direction and timing. It's all very well to be able to perform a technique at great speed in the classroom but in a real situation if the power with timing is not there, then the fight is lost. I cannot tell you exactly where to place your limbs in order to derive the greatest amount of power with speed; I can only give you a guideline, as everyone is different.

By doing it slowly we are able to find out exactly how to perform the techniques in order to use the least amount of energy for the greatest possible work. At first, break the blocking movement away from the attacking movement in order to learn it correctly. Then as you progress, the block and attack will become as one where-by the block also becomes your attack. Remember that some of these postures are very classical and need to be taken for what they're worth, i.e.: For the sake of knowing the real meaning and for the health benefits derived from the mind sending ch'i or energy into that area to do work. Some of these techniques are quite good as they are. Some of them will require that you only use a portion of the whole. Just practice them with a partner and chose the ones that suit you the most. It is important to note that although a certain technique may work against your friend in a friendly situation, it must be tested in as realistic a way as possi-

ble.

THE POSTURES: PREPARATION

You are being attacked by either left or right lunge punch to the head. Raise your both arms as in the opening posture of the slow t'ai chi form and block the on-coming arm on either side as you step slightly to one side and forward. See Photo No. 6. Mow take another step to behind the attacker and using a squeezing motion from the elbows, pull down onto the shoulder area, (Gall bladder and large intestine meridians) to bring him down backwards. See Photo No. 7. The pull down motion should be a quick Jerking motion and not so much a pull backwards. Breathe out and expand the lower abdomen as you attack, as you should with all of the attacking motions. ARM (push) TO THE LEFT

I have already covered 3 of the uses of this posture earlier, there is another. The attacker strikes at your face with a left fist. You block with your right palm as your left palm comes up underneath. Photo No. 8. Next, you attack his face with an open left palm. This is in the case of an attack from the side area. Photo No. 9.

BLOCK LOW TO THE RIGHT (holding the ball)

This posture is sometimes done in the slow form with the lower arm in the palm up position; this is only done to allow beginners to understand where to place their hands. The correct posture is done with the lower arm in a palm down position. Photo No. 9. In this posture the harder area of the forearm is used to block the attack and so not damage the soft area of the arm. There are times however when the hold the ball posture is used.

You are being attacked with a left low upper punch to your right rib area, (one of the most potent areas to attack). You bring the left arm across to your right as you swivel slightly to the right in order to keep your palms in your center. Your weight is placed on the left leg to receive the power. You block the attacker's arm from underneath, keeping your right palm on top of your left to stop his hand from slipping upward and re-attacking. Photo No. 10. You must keep your left fingers relaxed to prevent damage. This technique can be practiced on both sides one after the other as you swivel on your heels to meet the attack and it can become quite fast. Photo No. 11. This sort of blocking technique can be used to block all kinds of middle area kicks followed up by an immediate attack, (covered in the advanced section.) P'ENG

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