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In tai chi you do not broadcast your intentions. You must move without planning and preparation. Melee (chaos training) addresses this skill.
If you think and plan, then it will show in your body language and could be your downfall. The more immediate your behaviour, the less you will advertise your intention.

Strike with chaos.

(Sun Tzu)


Feeling and sensitivity are critical in combat. We must be responsive and alert to subtle opportunities to act, and take them instantly.
Our attention must be entirely upon the situation, rather than ourselves. If we think of ourselves, we will fail. Softness and yielding are the keys to sensitivity - never apply more than 4 ounces of pressure.

Direct and indirect

Yin and yang suggest a process of change. Application should not be just one thing - large or small, fast or slow - it needs to reflect the requirement of the situation.
You must vary the use of the body considerably; applying legs, arms, chin na or shuai jiao in a fluid way appropriate to the attack.


The abstract nature of the form encourage flowing movement, there are no straight lines. All of the movements are circles or spirals.
The movements are designed to shape the expression of power, to provide the optimal body structure when moving. Every pattern of movement must be rounded and circular in nature and execution.
You must become mobile and fluid.


Poor use of the legs and feet is common with new students; people 'root' to the spot and keep the weight solid. Their legs are used to brace the body.
This may be alright if you are a very heavy man defending against one opponent, but realistically it is useless. Your feet must be light, alive and sensitive - moving your centre constantly.
Do not become a posture-bound statue.

Sneaky monkey

tai chi fighting takes place on the rear leg, in a rear bow or false stance. Like a monkey or a bird. Monkey has no real strength. It cannot commit powerful blows.
Monkey is an opportunist. It takes advantage of the opponent's aggression and force. His complacency.
The power comes from sneaky, indirect attacks that disrupt the centre and offer a brief opportunity to punch, palm, elbow, slap, seize, kick or knee.


'Kill with a borrowed knife'

Attack using the strength of another (in a situation where using one's own strength is not favourable). Trick an ally into attacking him, bribe an official to turn traitor, or use the enemy's own strength against him.

(36 Strategies)


Fighting method

People have trouble being unpredictable. It requires both body and mind are relaxed. Any form of stiffness will impede movement.
The impetus to move must stem from the reptile
brain, bypassing the conscious mind and out into the body. What happens next?

school database

Page created 31 July 1994
Last updated 16 June 2023