Applications explained

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Tai chi for health

The ability to practice form, qigong and pushing hands with some measure of competence is only one level of tai chi practice. It is a decidedly non-martial.
To have skill with tai chi it is necessary to possess the ability to apply the art successfully against an opponent.

Looks aren't everything

Good choreography and coordination means next to nothing martially. A student may be very good at demonstrating an aesthetically pleasing form yet flounder in combat. Why?
Their movements may look fine but they are not adequate for the correct execution of the application

Beyond form

Applications have a simple role in the syllabus, and a vital one. They teach the student how to move their body in a tai chi manner relative to a non-cooperative opponent.
Form cannot provide this opportunity. Doing a movement accurately in thin air (form) means nothing when faced with a thinking, moving, dangerous attacker

Bad habits

When a student begins to apply tai chi movements they always flounder straight away. They rely upon local muscular tension, they fail to move their body appropriately, they force.
None of these errors will work against a genuine opponent whom is determined to do you harm.
The student must set aside their existing habits of body use and employ only what tai chi is teaching them

Learn from your mistakes

Progress with applications is slow. The same mistakes arise continually until the knack is eventually found. Then, suddenly the application works every time and against everyone.

The principle

There is a principle underlying every application. Figure out what the unique principle is... and the application can be adapted and employed in a wide variety of different ways.

In order to function beyond the use of ordinary strength, you must study what seems inconvenient and then work to make it efficient.

(Kuo Lien-Ying)


The single largest impediment to tai chi application is the inability to move the body as a unified whole. This means not doing what you normally do. It entails a very different manner of moving.
Instead of seeking to move the opponent, you must learn how to move yourself around the attack.

Re-examine form

Once a student is adept with a range of applications and can utilise the principles clearly, the form will change. The empty pattern is now filled with life.
Inexplicable movements suddenly start to make sense. Every single form movement will change

Tai chi fighting method

There are a number of different types of application featured in our syllabus:

  1. Form applications

  2. Chin na applications
    - misplacing the bones
    - sealing the breath
    - dividing the muscle
    - cavity press 

  3. Shuai jiao applications

  4. San sau

  5. 2-person cane

  6. Small stick drills

  7. Projections

Tai chi way of moving

Gaining the ability to move in a tai chi way is the single most important ingredient in becoming martially adept. Skill with form is worthless if you cannot use the art in combat.
The applications will not work unless you use the entire body; they would be a poor replica of the external arts.

Reverse engineering

Train the applications until your brain can dismantle and rebuild them as you see fit. Only then will you truly understand what you have learned.

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Page created 18 August 2006
Last updated 10 November 2023