(fist/combat/martial art/chinese boxing)

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Martial art

Tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing) was originally designed to be an advanced martial arts method. 
It is significantly understated, subtle and complex; with a diverse range of methods for dealing with all manner of assault. The fighting skills are impressive, powerful, fast and varied.


Martial arts are quite demanding to learn; requiring the student to significantly increase their
strength, agility, endurance and speed. The challenges are both physical and mental.
A casual approach will not work. Body, mind and emotions need to be conditioned and honed through sustained, regular practice.
The training must involve a wide range of challenging martial concerns; increasing in difficulty as the student becomes more adept.
To possess combat skills, you must train combat skills.

Cross-training in our school

All martial arts require the student to be fit for combat.
Tai chi students train: massage, leg stretches, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons.
The training is done carefully, gently - in a controlled manner - without exertion or strain.

Tai chi fighting method

Combat is concerned with how your actions affect the opponent. Your aim is to incapacitate the attacker whilst maintaining your own integrity.
In combat, you need to be compact, grounded, alert and efficient. Showy moves will only hamper you. They may even get you killed.

The principles, tactics and skills of tai chi are radically different from those of the much greater number of external martial arts styles.
Although all martial arts styles are designed to be effective in combat, the internal martial arts styles and tai chi in particular, emphasis efficiency as much as effectiveness.
Efficiency is measured by the ability to achieve success by using the absolute minimum amount of effort necessary.

(Zhang Yun)


Unlike other martial arts, tai chi is concerned with
the means rather than simply the end result. The how rather than just the what.
Pragmatism. Effectiveness. Economy. These are our focus. Minimum effort produces maximum effect. Body use is very important.
Neigong (
whole-body strength) and jing (whole-body power) enable students to generate kinetic energy, which we employ in combat.


Tai chi is the art of balance.
The more adept you are at affecting the opponent, the greater your tai chi skill.
Good quality tai chi application requires physical, emotional and psychological integration. There is a sense of calm. The pace is unhurried and the student is at ease.


It is not enough to do tai chi, you must also do it easily and comfortably. Grace can be seen in the natural, uncomplicated movements of a skilled practitioner.
There is a smoothness, a subtlety in every gesture. Enfolded within the art are layers of sophistication.
grace appears impossibly simple and elegant. Inconsequential. Unremarkable. It is so innocuous that your mind slides over it. There is nothing overt to cling to.


Tai chi is all about internalisation: the more skilled you are, the less an opponent can see. By internalising your movements they become more efficient.
Nothing is redundant. There are no gaps and deficiencies. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is pointless. There is no telegraphing. No advertisement. No blocking.
You become quiet and reserved, integrated and present. Your combat abilities are potent yet subtle.


Your skill is directly proportionate to your
sensitivity. If the aim of combat is to affect the opponent, your ability to do this hinges upon your capacity to feel what is happening.
You must be in the moment, aware and tactile. Brute force and clumsiness are sure signs of inexperience.
True skill is evident when the exponent just moves and the outcome seems to arise of its own accord. There is no sense of effort. It happened.


Appropriateness stems from your ability to feel, to respond skilfully. You intuitively adapt, change and improvise. You see choices, possibilities and options.
Nothing is fixed and static. You move with the flow. Transcend the drills and form. Move naturally and freely.

It is not about anger, it is about peace.
It is not about power, it is about grace.
It is not about knowing your enemy, it is all about knowing yourself.

(Bulletproof Monk)

Body usage

Tai chi uses the body in a manner that conserves the use of energy. This is accomplished in a number of ways:

  1. No excess muscle tension is used

  2. The movements are functional and economical

  3. Good postural muscles support the weight of the skeleton

  4. The larger muscles of the torso and legs do most of the work

  5. Whole-body movement is employed rather than local limb strength

Beginners are encouraged to use less and less muscular strength; reducing tension further. This also calms the mind and relieves stress.


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Page created 1 August 1995
Last updated 17 June 2023