This lineage of Tai Chi has featured plenty of high level fighting masters, who could use the art in full contact against all styles
The reason we have been successful is that at its best the art provides not only extremely direct, practical and realistic training. It also encourages the research and application of the most subtle and sophisticated tactical concepts and application of high level technique.
The following method presented are all traditional training methods as taught by fighting master Cheng Tin Hung, and taught to him by Qi Min Xuan (whose father was Wu Quan You’s disciple). In essence they are what was handed down by very practically minded gentlemen, who used Tai Chi as a fighting system, not just a health pursuit.
1. Fight training exercises
This category of training includes various equipment practices which toughen up the practitioner and also condition certain aspects of fitness, or groove useful neuromuscular pathways. This category includes but isn’t limited to;
- Bare knuckle/foot Heavy bag work to toughen the fists, wrists and feet, while providing stimulation for power building and feedback for strike quality
- Bare knuckle pad work in set sequences in order to condition useful mechanics and strike sequences
- Chasing pads in order to be able to strike fluidly whilst moving forwards, backwards and sideways, whilst keeping a perfect sense of balance
- Using lead shot speed building weights (3 or 4 pounds each), practicing various strikes in an interval training method, with an emphasis on speed.
- Repeated Rolls done in an interval training manner, designed to increase high intensity cardiovascular fitness, whilst encouraging composure during difficult conditions.
- Jumping, evading and ducking drills to encourage movement skill and conditioning
- Skipping for aerobic conditioning and lower leg tendon stiffness.
2. Skill development drills – San Shou
Toughness, conditioning and basic skill in a few solid techniques can be learned quickly in a few months. High level skills take time and many hours of consistent practice. In Tai Chi we use San Shou partner practice in order o condition intelligent responses to common attacks.
With repeated practice your head will automatically evade strikes, supported by efficient and stable footwork, simultaneously coiling your body to store power. You will then strike back with precision, power and focus and whatever weak target presents itself in a completely spontaneous way. This is the ideal, which can come after the right amount of high quality training has been done.
Training starts carefully and slowly, one move at a time. You will learn the main points of the move and then repeat it against your partners cooperative attack until a good understanding and performance has been reached. You will then introduce one later of spontaneity by having your partner attack with either the left side or right side, forcing your brain to compute the details presented and learn to take the right action.
As you get better with the techniques eventually you reach the stage that your training partner can attack from anywhere with fist, foot or grappling and you can effortlessly respond with good technique, in a calm manner. At this stage you can introduce aggression conditioning, where partners act extremely aggressively, maybe even shouting etc in order to help you get used to the mannerisms and ‘vibe’ of true malevolent aggression. The goal is to remain completely calm and simply apply the techniques as usual. When you do face real aggression in a real world attack, this training would allow you to be quite at ease and simply treat the situation like a training session, with a calm and effective response.
In our system of Tai Chi there are 48 major drills and exercises, which with intense daily practice give high levels of familiarity with and skill in;
- Striking via punching: Straights, hooks, uppercuts, backfists, hammer fists etc
- Edge of hand blows for serious self defence, aimed at vital points (last resort techniques)
- Evasion techniques, subtle parries, redirects, diversions and trapping techniques
- Sweeps, trips and leg traps
- Low line kicking to knees, shins and groin
- Use of legs to parry kicks
- Leg throws, body lock throws, hip throws, overhead throws, head throws
3. Experience accumulation
Different people require varying levels of experience accumulation in order to mature their martial arts game, and become effective in all the fighting ranges. For most people as much experience acquired as possible is of great benefit. This can be done through structured sparring and wrestling sessions with classmates, or by competing in competitions against other styles. Experiential learning is an absolutely essential part of true martial arts practice and should be embraced by all practitioner, regardless of ‘style’.
In our sessions we do as much positive experience gaining training, whilst minimising injury risks and negative experiences.