The Ultimate Self-Defence (by definition)

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : The Ultimate Self-Defence (by definition)

   By Russell on Saturday, April 08, 2006 - 05:24 am: Edit Post

Cheng addresses this criticism and gives reasons for shortening the form (Ben Lo's translation of the 13 Chapters)- to paraphrase:

1. Long forms were designed to test the students persistance but if someone is not interested they won't persist however short the form.

2. Individual moves can and must be practiced on their own.

3. One can always repeat the short form several times.

I would say that the short form leaves out just a handful of moves, none particularly esential - there remain enough applications to keep one busy for a long while. It does allow the same practice of fundamentals such as rooting, relaxation and so on - these are the crucial part and what distinguishes taiji from jujitsu. Rather than being watered down, it condenses the practice of essentials. See my post above about checklists of principles one can concentrate on - a shortened form facilitates this in that one can concentrate for 5 minutes easier than for 25 minutes.


   By M. Hatfield (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, April 08, 2006 - 10:35 am: Edit Post

A number of times I have read of Chinese masters who later in life practiced only combinations of the four primary moves.


   By spot (Unregistered Guest) on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 08:01 am: Edit Post

I was going to deal with all the points raised, but I got as far as
"1. Long forms were designed to test the students persistance but if someone is not interested they won't persist however short the form. "
before grinding to a halt.
We are all guilty of taking things at face value, when we should have looked a little closer and I usually try to refrain from casting stones.
However this statement defies any rationale. I could spend all day trying to grab the logical tail here. In trying to justify a tenuous position false precept is mounted on false precept, like castles in the sky. If ever there was a time to remember Ockham's razor I think it's now.


   By Jerry on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 02:19 pm: Edit Post

What has the length of the form got to do with it anyway? If you want a short form, you don't have to throw out whole moves; you could just eliminate the repetitions. If you want a long form, you don't have to invent new stuff; you can repeat things, and there is a lot of repetition in most long forms.

Short forms have the advantage of taking less time and being easier to learn. Long forms probably have some advantages too--one argument is that they train intention better. And there's no reason you can't have both; for instance, you could start with the 24, then move on to the Yang long form or the 42.

I think the more important issue is, what role does the form play in your training program, and what else is involved in it? That guy in the park, I don't think his problem was that his form was too short; it was that he had no idea how to use it in combat training, or how to train in any other way besides doing his form.


   By Michael Andre Babin on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 02:58 pm: Edit Post

From what I have seen in the Yang style, short forms often eliminate the repetitions of those very postures that are the most versatile and practical martial techniques.

This doesn't matter in some ways, particularly for the majority of modern students who are only interested in qigong/exercise; but, may be more of an issue to those who train for martial skills.


   By Shane on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 04:59 pm: Edit Post

weren't the forms invented to serve as a tool for remembering the major applitions, while reinforcing their proper body alignment and mechanics?


   By Russell on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 05:25 pm: Edit Post

Spot, I'm just quoting Cheng's explanation.


   By Jerry on Monday, April 10, 2006 - 07:33 pm: Edit Post

" short forms often eliminate the repetitions of those very postures that are the most versatile and practical martial techniques."

Sure, because that's why they were repeated in the first place. But you can, and I would agree with ZMC, should or must, repeat them outside the form. The long form might have what, ten, single whips, all to the left; after you finish the form, you can take 5 minutes and do 50 or 100 on each side.


   By spot (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 05:01 am: Edit Post

"Spot, I'm just quoting Cheng's explanation."

That's the problem.


   By Pete on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 08:31 am: Edit Post

I think various people have already pointed out why a short form does not detract from taiji. Forms are simply a catalogue of principles and applications put together in a way that flows naturally and effectively. I believe most of the real work is done outside of the form, and fed back into it.

My personal experience (Cheng Man Ch'ing's form is my main empty hand form) is that my teachers have shown me more than enough using this 'short' form to keep me busy for many years. Unless someone can give me some good reasons why I would be better off learning a longer form, I see no reason to change this.

Spot, I'm still waiting to hear who you would suggest as an example of a good taiji master. Cheng and YCF clearly don't meet up to your high standards, so whose reputation is deserved - apart from Tim's of course ;-)


   By Tim on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 10:21 am: Edit Post

Originally, linked "forms" were not practiced at all. Training consisted of single movements or short combinations of movements done repetitively.

A good example of ancient training methods can be seen with Shuai Jiao solo forms training; several movements comprising one technique practiced alternately left and right.

Linked forms are not just a collection of random techniques chained together. The designers of the longer, linked forms were very careful to encode the proper angles for applying specific techniques in the directions of the movements, as well as the strategy of application, based on their individual fighting experience.

Those without extensive fighting experience are probably not qualified to modify the patterns of those who have the experience (if the purpose of the form is to transmit martial ability).


   By Jerry on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 11:49 am: Edit Post

"Paul Crompton wrote a fantastic book ... all about achieving viable techniques of self-defence. It was praised by military personnel globally (it's quite old now) and was based around the premises of punching/pushing/throwing your attacker so you could r u n a w a y. ... all the muscle building and ground work in the world won't help you keep up with someone that can do the 100m in 13 seconds eh?"

I have the Paul Crompton book, T'ai Chi Combat,Shambhala 1990. I don't think it's fantastic, and I'm surprised to hear it was a big hit with military personnel. Maybe the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Tibetan Navy?

I just skimmed over it, and it's not as bad as I remember. A lot of the techniques look like they might work, and there's a lot of interesting information and some pretty good observations.
But. Look, Paul Crompton is a Pythonesque, faggy-looking, skinny Englishman (not that there's anything wrong with it :-) with some background in judo, but mostly a taiji/push hands guy who probably never hit anyone or was in a real fight. This book is not long, and it's full of pseudoscientific speculation about the neurology of chi, interesting but mythical anecdotes about Sun Lu Tang and whoever, etc.
There's no mention of conditioning, noncooperative sparring, groundfighting, submission holds, etc.
Just the standard "do this technique and run away", as if the reader with no fighting experience can do techniques out of a book.

If Tim says "escape is the first priority", OK, sounds like good advice if you can put it into practice, but I've always seen two big problems with the idea of running away. One is, I've never been a fast runner; I'd probably be better at finishing the fight than running away! I'm sure the average 18 year old gang member can catch me. Sumo wrestler, OK, I run away. Skinny teenager, I think I go for the submission hold.

The other problem is, what if you're in the parking lot of a bar and Bob #2 accosts your girlfriend, and she's wearing high heels and nylons? After you push him, are you supposed to run away and leave her to a fate worse than death?


   By R.I.C. A (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 04:50 pm: Edit Post

Iím not completely familiar with the history of Shuai Jiao but I do know the history of Taiji. With the 13 postures, anyone with some semblance of intelligence can develop a system of defense, hitting and throwing from them. The forms can best be best described as a series of changes nothing more.

Techniques are a waste of time if you have a long series of them. I remember someone stating on this forum they had collected something like 500 or more techniques from a particular style of Maui Thai. This is just collecting not really studying a martial art. However, you can take a particular technique and be able to do a series of changes off it. This kind of training is far more intuitively based instead of collecting something. That is why in my opinion the older systems of Taiji were more about martial arts then what was invented from the later 19th century up to today.


   By Tim on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 05:40 pm: Edit Post

Remember "escape" may necessarily be prefaced by "beating down" you opponent.


   By Russell on Thursday, April 13, 2006 - 03:38 pm: Edit Post

a Pythonesque, faggy-looking, skinny Englishman

Jerry, that's cruel :-)

Paul Crompton was one of the earliest authors/publishers of info on oriental arts in the UK (going back to the 60s.) He had a magazine called (something like) The Journal of Oriental Arts, which covered martial arts as well as others such as painting and so on. A serious practitioner of MAs and I think quite an original thinker.

We were all influenced by Python back then :-)


   By Jerry on Thursday, April 13, 2006 - 04:32 pm: Edit Post

Yeah, I feel bad about it. I'm sure he's a very nice guy and a delightful character; he is an original thinker and a lot of his observations are right on, but I still don't think he knows a real fight from a bag of onions.


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