Friday, April 17, 2009

Esoterica In Tai Chi Chuan

Once again we see that much of modern Tai Chi Chuan practice is nothing as the art was intended. Refering again to Douglas Wile's "Lost Tai-Chi Classics From The Late Ching Dynasty" page 63, discussing the "Yang Family Forty Chapters":
"In the third category of texts we find advanced, even esoteric, techniques that go well beyond the specificity of the classics and beyond what has appeared in print in the twentieth century. These teachings begin with advanced grappling and pressure point concepts, noting especially their physiological effects in terms of traditional medicine. On a more advanced conceptional level, text 32 provides a sophisticated model for analyzing an opponents energy pattern. Taking an opponent's energy as "empty" or "bound", one employs techniques of "breaking" or "rubbing" in order to destabilize the balence of Chi and strength. Text 36 is a catalogue of hand and finger techniques so rich in it's detail and variety as to rival anything in all of martial arts literature".
(D.R.)- So here we understand that hidden within the original forms (as opposed to the 13-movement new-age crap) is the roadmap to joint manipulation, pressure point striking, and studies affecting Chi flow in the body's meridian system. The problem is I haven't met an instructor yet that can transmit all aspects of this advanced knowledge. For the Chin-na locking and joint manipulation, I had to learn Small-Circle Jujitsu techniques from the Jay family system. For pressure point information I had to learn from students of George Dillman and study acupunture theory and the work of Erle Montague's Dim Mak. For Taiji fighting techniques, nobody comes closer to explaining all of the above information than Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. But finding teachers like Dr. Yang is very difficult, so we take it wherever we can get it.
Douglas Wile continues:
"That martial arts are a system of self-defense is self-evident, and the medical benifits of martial arts exercise is not a great leap. However, Chinese culture has taken the martial arts several steps further, merging them with meditation and inner alchemy, and finally presenting them as a path of ultimate self-realization through the Tao".


Toldain said...

I was gonna say, Dr. Yang's work is a pretty good guide.

I've read about schools in Taiwan where they teach students first Xing-yi, then Bagua, and finally Tai Chi Chuan. It got me thinking that the forms and the principles are meant to be taught to people who already know the stuff in a Shaolin curriculum. (Which includes Chin-na and pressure points.)

Dojo Rat said...

I am thinking that as I introduce other arts to students that Tai Chi Chuan is the best platform to start with because most men are too Yang and need to learn more Yin-yielding skills. Then you need to reintroduce structured Yang-energy skills with Xingyi, to develop focused power, and finally to Bagua for the spiral energy.
Just thinkin'.

BSM said...

And from what I understand Dr. Yang is semi-retiring to focus on that whole California disciple thing he's got going. However, there are other instructors that carry on his tradition; though you need to be near Boston or out in CA for the seminars.

The_Vig said...

If you want to learn some of the really esoteric energy stuff you should talk to Bruce Frantzis. You have a link to him on your page. I was able to attend one of his seminars many years ago and he is just a wealth of knowledge. I have never seen anyone able to move the individual plates in his skull. He would tell you pick a plate, and he would move it

Sensei Strange said...

Dojo Rat...I dig your art. I promise I will stop making of of Tai Chi guys if you can fix'em with your ideas.

Sensei Strange said...

Meant to say "making fun of"

Formosa Neijia said...

Wile's book is a gold mine. It's my favorite theory book by far, largely because the theory is usable.

Agreed that Dr. Yang has covered these things well. And he's put out plenty of material, so getting a grasp on it is doable.

Part of the problem though is the scope of practice. Taichi is a HUGE art. Are you going to be an expert in every single thing? Likely not. So you'll have to pick and choose your path carefully.

I wouldn't be disappointed with a teacher if they don't have the advanced pressure points, etc. That's a fairly tall order.

Dojo Rat said...

I'm certainly not disapointed that no single teacher has all the variety of knowledge in any given art. It just means I'll continue as I have been, taking pieces from here and there till I put together the system or combination of systems I'm looking for...

Formosa Neijia said...

If you don't mind me asking, how do you handle the personal interest in higher material with what you have to teach in class?

Does one side of that get away from the other sometimes? Just curious.

Dojo Rat said...

I am working through that right now.
I am not satisfied with a simple "feel good" class, and I definately want to have the martial side of what I present be about 50%.
But very honestly, I am having to make decisions about how I conduct the public class. Presently, after form practice I split the public class into two or three groups. It helps to have another skilled helper.
In the club practice on the other nights however, anything goes.
-One side (martial vs. health/art) can get in the way of the other, but ultimately I need to do what interests me - while keeping some balence. I've seen a lot of people come and go now, so the people that have been around longest get the most attention.
Lots to think about...

Dojo Rat said...

I should also point out that at this point I am only teaching the Yang-style long form, push hands and applications. Hopefully a broader program later.
The Thursday public class is not a for-profit class of course, I just charge a few bucks to pay rent on the building.