The Real Method of Parry in Yang shi Taijiquan
Basic Method of the Punch and Parry
Although the method seems rather straightforward there are many nuances involved. The first mistake often made is to see the method as expressed in the drawing shown to the left. Why a mistake? Because the method of Taijiquan requires the understanding that the end of one technique is the beginning of the next and there is a lot of content following the resolution of the prior method. Assuming you are familiar with the long-boxing set then you know that the method preceding this method is known as one of the methods of the “square” and that method is called “splitting”.
In Taijiquan there are methods of the circle and methods of the square. The methods of the circles are reasonably well known and these are;ward-off, roll-back, press,andpush, known together as the method of “grasping the Sparrow’s Tail” and is very famous as the foundation of the Taiji exercise known as Push Hands, in Chinese called “Tui Shou”.
The lesser known methods of the square are pluck, elbow, split, and lean; in Chinese these are known asCai, Zhou, Lie,andKao. Few individuals even with many years of Taijiquan practice actually understand these to a very high level. One particular method I wish to investigate and related to this article is made obscure by the fact that the Chinese character itself has undergone change and so the meaning becomes confused as the idea of splitting is no longer applied.
When studying the radicals involved in the Chinese “old” character set and that is at the root of the method I discovered that thenew characterleaves out a radical element that changes the meaning. The old character has 3 radicals placed side by side and each, when taken together expand the meaning of the concept ofLiepronouncedLee-i-e, which is translated as “split”. These 3 radicals from left to right have meaning of“hand”, “evil”, “cut”. In addition the method is made very obscure by the movement and the opaqueness of expression, as true to form, is meant to obscure the application somewhat or entirely for the vast majority of players. I dare say, even among those who consider themselves advanced.
The problem however is that such opaqueness tends to obscure it from the practitioner who then lends a completely different interpretation; an interpretation that more times than not makes the method ineffective and almost useless. If one is interested in the mistaken and unfortunate interpretations you can find countless variations of error on YouTube and other books and so forth.
You curious yet?
The Simple Truth of the method
It may be an overstatement to say it is a simple truth. It becomes a simple truth once one achieves a grasp of the principle and the method. Now for those who already know the form I will remind the reader that following the various positions in the long set which are variously white crane spreads it’s wings, fan through the back and so forth there is a sequence of movements inclusive of a downward parry with closed fist, a split, and extension, open hand parry with several wave-like motions designed to provide full protection from attacks on the upper gates and middle gates from various attacks along with the use of the tactile ability to interpret energy and control the opponent from both the inside and outside of the attack.
Fighting Applications. Martial artists have another task as well—to break a move down in detail to its different applications.
Perhaps there’s an initial hand strike, followed by a forearm strike, an elbow strike, and finally a shoulder strike. Maybe there’s a joint lock with an optional throw.
Tai chi moves may have easily seen, overt applications but also embody other, optional applications. When you’re comfortable with a move, try varying it to emphasize different applications.
Tai chi chuan is learned as a series of movements. Learn enough of the movements and you’ve learned a tai chi form or set. A number of tai chi forms have been created, but some are definitely better for beginners than others.