How does tai chi work in a fight

How does tai chi work in a fight

So, there. See? That is a change. As opposed to that, which is a straightforward attack. If I come in with a simple straightforward attack, then you are going to just plough
right over me. But if I come in like this and I mess up your
defence… But from here, it’s this.
See? That little change.
And then I do it again and you are off balance and tense.
Right. So, that change makes you do that… So if you punch me… I want to stick. See how you bounce and are off balance. You punch and I stick like this, and go off
to the corner. You do that again.
See how I change direction? So, as you punch
there are two things that happen. You punch and I go like this and
you track and follow the hand. So, as you punch, I go like that and end up
on your inside. But if you punch and I go like that and try
to go to the inside directly, it is not going to work. So, coming up the inside isn’t going to work. But you punch and engage, That takes the punch
out. Right? But you punch and engage, That takes the punch out. Right? You punch, and I end up on the inside. That is where the “sticking” is. I want to make sure that I am engaging with that centripetal point, and I am not bracing or tensing up against you.
That allows me to flow in. So, if you punch,
and I stick, Now I have this, and your tension is what gets you off balance. Now, if you combine the sticking and the blocking
with the stuff that you naturally and instinctively do from the years of karate training… So, I punch… There, I am going to walk right into it. Now this works because your hand comes in and traps and sticks to me there. And it isn’t pushing my arm off to the side. And if you block the hand to the side, then
you wouldn’t be able to land the punch, because because I am sticking to your centre. So, when I go here. That’s it.
You are connected to my spine. That is just tense, right?
So, with that, you might get one shot. But what happens when you grab like this and you punch, as you punch, I am going to move, and you
are not going to have control over me now. Because you are holding onto me and you grab and you pull me over there, and you take a strike, that is going to be a glancing blow at best. I am instinctively bracing and dodging. Of course, you could follow up with other stuff, right? You could go for the leg, you could do a take-down, you could be setting things up. But this pull puts you at a slight disadvantage because it provides me with the proprioception. So, when you punch, sure… if I have absolutely no conditioning, and you punch me, that may work
fine for you. But when you grab me and pull, and you punch to hit me there, this tension is going to firm up that. So if I pull like this, you are going to tighten up. Your are going to feel that. So if you grab but don’t pull, and just stick
to my centre, and keep that lightness on me… Now if you punch, the target is going to be soft, and you will have better balance. But as soon as I pull, then you are going
to tighten up and my next punch will be less powerful and will hit that solid mass. Now, I could come in with a follow-up and do that stuff. That is fine. In fact, as long as I can keep moving and maintain a rhythm.. But that continuity is
the tai chi principle. We can call it rolling, or changing up, or
sticking or following, Different styles refer to it differently. But the idea is that you are maintaining continuity and not getting stuck. But when you grab like that, you’re freezing me up a little bit, as well as yourself. So, if you do that again, and grab but don’t tighten up, that allows that power and this hand is also free to do another strike, and you will be sticking to my centre. Like that. So, if do this, I get left in this empty spot
where I don’t know where you are anymore. So, if you do a soft “block” and reposition
when I attack, then you are so soft that I am left in this
empty space and know know where I am anymore. I don’t have that proprioception. I don’t
feel it. But if you block and you’re tense, there I
can feel it and I can brace against it. If you punch me, there, I can have that softness which allows me to come in and it keeps you off balance, right? So, if you punch, do you see how that changes and rolls? So, that emptiness….
Remember we were talking the other day about throwing a person halfway to the ground? That is this idea. As you throw the punch, see how that redirects you? So, if I don’t do that and I just do this,
I might stop this. But you have another punch. So, if I block, then you just keep going. But if you punch, and I stick, then that breaks up your initiative. It steels a little bit of your timing from you. “It is all so instantaneous.” Yeah. I used to talk in terms of a tenth of
a second, or a fifth of a second. And then, after that table tennis champion
was here, we started talking about a twentieth of a second or a thirtieth of a second. Camera frame rates. That is how quickly things change. You don’t have to do it constantly. But if you can make a few changes that quickly, you only have to make a couple of 25th of a second changes within a second, and you are way ahead of the other person. You don’t have to make thirty changes per
second. You just have to make a change in a thirtieth of a second, and then another
change in another thirtieth of a second. It is slow enough that the other person can follow it, but too fast for them to do anything about it. So, there. See? That is a change. As opposed to that, which is a straightforward attack. So, if I come in with a straightforward attack, then you are going to be blitzing right through me. But if I come in like this and I mess up your defence. “Yeah. You don’t expect that.” You can’t see this on camera, But from here, it is this. See?
That little change. And then I do it again and you are off balance and tense. So that change makes you …. So that change is what we are practising when we do tuishou. We are practising those changes in direction, and developing sensitivity, and we are doing it is a safe range which allows us tactile training. When people depend on proprioception, they are depending on tension and tightness, which restricts their movement and limits their options. What we are looking for is the absence of proprioception. Where I am connected to you but I don’t feel anything. The paradox is that it is not just about the sensitivity to feel what you are doing. It is the sensitivity to be able to feel where you are not. I am looking for the places where there is nothing. But the tendency is, of course, if somebody throws a punch, I see the fist and I focus on the thing that is there, rather than, you throw the punch
and I look for all the stuff that has nothing. “Oh that throws things right off.” “Isn’t that eerie?” “That is like, Woah!” So, I come in and there is that emptiness. There. That joint lock that never works on you. It worked. Because you are setting up that timing. I can’t just come in and do that to you.
If I come in like that, you are going to stop me. But if I come in and you are off balance,
then I can do that. So that is that change in direction.
It is a tiny little change. I see my mind go in that direction and I see your mind go in that direction. So I enter and head butt, and change and kick, step in and throw, follow up with a punch to the head. The stuff just happens. It occurs. It works because I am used to looking for places where there is nothing. You look for the black hole.
You look for the place where light is absorbed. You look for where the person has no connection. And when you respond to it, that hole fills up. So, imagine you have a flashlight on your head, and you are in a cave looking for your shadow. You can’t find it. So I look for it and say, Hey there is his shadow. That is a place where his mind isn’t. And as soon as I go there, you notice me and you turn your head, and you illuminate that spot. So you are constantly looking for where I
am or where I was. Whereas I am looking for where you are not. So, I am always just a little bit ahead of you. So that is how you get in. That is how you get those shots. I am coming in, I am changing. I am changing again. But if I just try to do that, then you would stop me here. If I am looking for where you are and try fighting against you, then you will always
be ahead of me. You will just swat me away and say, “You had better not hit me with that. You had better not hit me with that.” • laughter* How many times did that guy swing the bat at you? Oh, about forty. At least, it seemed like forty. Let’s say twenty, at least anyway. But it went on for a while. Yeah. He got really annoyed by the fact that
he wasn’t hitting anything. Yeah. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? He is
picking a target and he is swinging. And so, that is the only place where you don’t have to be. And the thing about a bat is that it seems
to limit your options. It is like me saying, I am only going to hit
you with this hand, and it is going to come in this direction. If he had taken the bat and done something like this, or been creative with it. So, if I just attack you with my right hand, you are going to be way ahead of me. And are not even doing any evasion. This structure, and that engagement, that
is the result of your zhan zhuang training. And you are putting your hand on my shoulder
for my safety’s sake. This is a natural response that you do to
keep me safe. If you didn’t feel the need to keep your hand
on my shoulder, you’d be there. I would bounce off of you and that would happen. And we have to remember things like that. Because a lot of this happens when we are
training. A lot of what we do is mitigated by our need
to avoid hurting our training partner. And that is fine with me.
I appreciate that. So, when you punch me and I focus on your
fist, I might block it, and then you go to the next place where my block is not. Or, if you go back into karate mode when I attack you, So, when I am here and I change, there are a few changes there. If the other person has no training or is semi-conscious already, a simple attack might work. A simple attack will work against people who
don’t know that they are in a fight.


  1. How do you address, say a competent fighter who's determined to beat your ass? Like idk, some trained kickboxer or MMA guy is out for blood? How do you defend combinations, takedowns, etc?

  2. “GrassStomper”, it would seem you have resolutely learned in this new year to “Relax Smarter” and not “Harder”! 😱👍🏼👍🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼!👌🏼✌🏼🤲🏼☝🏼😇

  3. Great video and channel. As a Wing Chun practitioner, the importance of relaxation and redirection upon contact is paramount. Taiji uses Destabilization and grounding principles which differs from centering and wedging of Wing Chun but both are incredibly effective [if understood]. Love the interplay and sense of fun in your teachings. Very interesting material. Thank you.

  4. If you're always waiting to see what the other person is doing you are always behind "time". In reality you want to use pre-emptive movements as much as possible, make the other person react to you. Another concept is to set a trap, and when the opponent moves forward it triggers your attack. You're not waiting to "what" he's doing, your action is based upon the attacker taking a step towards you.

  5. Nice attempt from a tai-chi perspective. A real fight is over and done with in a few seconds. The point you are trying to bring across here I think is how to get into the personal space of your opponent.

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