Building a martial arts method I

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Building a martial arts method


Following the publication of my latest book, Tai-chi-chuan, origine et puissance d'un art martial (version in English forthcoming), I have received numerous queries concerning this practice and have decided to answer them in a series of articles on my website. In fact, I think of them as a kind of introduction to my next book, which will be concerned with the practical matter of how to implement a martial arts method.  
I hope to be able to publish an article each fortnight as of this month.

-1-


The concept of Tai Chi goes beyond Tai Chi Chuan
In my book Tai-chi-chuan, origine et puissance d'un art martial  (Ed. Désiris 2010), I dealt with a number of issues that I find crucial to the practice of this discipline. The work was based on historical research and on my own personal practice.
My reflexions were not so much intellectual in nature as concerned with physical training, because I used to wonder so much whether Tai Chi Chuan was really a martial art.
I felt that if it truly was one, then I would have to gain an understanding of why and how it could be possible to build and develop fast, powerful moves and techniques through slow, supple exercises.
If such an apparently magical method really existed, I needed to be able to understand it in order to practice it. My plan was simple and direct. In the course of my research, I would reject any ideas previously held that couldn’t stand up to the practical test of forming combat capabilities.
I discovered personally that while some experts in Tai Chi Chuan may be very good at tui shou, this didn’t make them automatically capable of handling themselves effectively in karate-style or boxing-style sparring. Since this type of experience failed to convince me, I realized I would have to look further.
In this series of articles to appear on my website, I will outline the second stage of my quest, which will serve as an underlying theme of the book that I expect to publish some time in 2012. At the same time, I will present a number of images illustrating these texts in internet.
Taking up some of the threads running through my latest volume, I shall try to explore the domain of physical training much more generally. This will enable me to avoid repeating what I’ve already explained, particularly as regards historical considerations. I will simply recall certain passages that I consider crucial to my argument. Should any reader wish more information on the subject, I would encourage them to read the book.
The aim of this series of articles is to further my reflections on how to ensure better martial arts practice.

-2-

Let us recall a passage that can be found in the book:
In his work Yi Chuan Xue (Study of Yi Chuan), Han Xingqiao wrote the following:
"In the ancient work Daode jing, we find the following passage: ‘Tai Chi, Origin of the Universe, is divided into the two opposite but complementary elements, yin and yang, which are each divided into four, producing eight phenomena; then into eight times eight, yielding sixty-four phenomena and so on into infinity …’ To us, this statement indicates the orientation of zhan zhuang where you integrate your whole body, which becomes the Tai Chi of primeval chaos. Thus the exercise known as zhan zhuang is based on the principle of Tai Chi...”.
According to Han Xingqiao, the purpose of zhan zhuang, a fundamental exercise in yi-chuan, is to embody the principle of Tai Chi...
There are numerous techniques called taikyoku (the word tai chi in Japanese) in different schools of Japanese sword and martial arts. All of them call more or less for the realization of the concept of Tai Chi in technical form, meaning the dynamic integration of the two complementary elements, yin and yang. All the original techniques were formed through this integration; it is the taikyoku. So the idea of Tai Chi is not exclusive to Tai Chi Chuan.

-3-

What does Tai Chi mean in physical terms? A simple example will help us to answer this question.
If you expand your chest (yin) horizontally, the opposite part of your body (your back, or yang part) becomes compressed. Conversely, if you compress your chest, your back expands. And you’ll find the same type of mobility if you compress and expand your trunk vertically, like an accordeon opening and closing up and down, or backwards and forwards. Your trunk expands and is compressed. You can also do this diagonally, on an angle. Such complementary movements of the trunk take place according to the principle of Tai Chi.
Imagine a wooden body like Pinocchio’s, whose whole trunk was made of a single block of wood and was incapable of flexible movement. Of course he could turn to the right and to the left, and tilt his body back and forth or up and down, but these were the only movements he could make.
Our bodies, on the other hand, have much greater mobility. If our register of movements appears limited, it is simply because of our way of seeing our body. We have to realize that we’ve imposed limitations on ourselves due to our way of thinking that it’s our arms and legs that must move, while our bodies need move only a little or not at all.
From the moment we decide that our arms and legs can move but that our body cannot, its potential mobility will systematically disappear from our awareness, leaving us with a wooden body just like Pinocchio’s. We imagine that we can’t move our trunk simply because we don’t know how to move it!
However, our trunk should indeed be able to move, but in a way that is different from the movement of our arms and legs. Moreover, it is capable of producing much more power than we are used to when working, for example, solely with our arms and our hands.
Long ago the ancient methods discovered the importance of hiding the body’s movements, and they also knew how to build and develop abilities well beyond the ordinary.
With a body like Pinocchio’s, we cannot train in Tai Chi Chuan, because only our arms, legs and neck will move, while the trunk remains stiff as a single block.
This is a crucial point which is often overlooked in today’s mass teaching. It could be one of the secrets of the effectiveness of Tai Chi Chuan which has never really been conveyed.

To be continued...

 

links

Interesting websites

Rincon del do
Artículos sobre artes marciales en general

Hispagimnasios.com
Best spanish speaking martial arts forum

http://www.tokitsuryu.org
Kenji Tokitsu's official website

http://www.tokitsuryu.com
Tokitsu-ryu Portugal

http://www.dojolello.com
Dojo Lello. Tokitsu-ryu Suiza

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