Preparation

The fundamental qigong/neigong exercises were designed to build-up the strength and coordination required to practice form.
Instead of moving in a tense, sloppy, disconnected way, students learn how to move slowly and smoothly.
In time, the entire body moves as one unit.

When the form is practiced correctly, it is quite demanding.

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The way and its power

Tao Te Ching teaches us many important lessons.
In terms of combat we recognise that the ‘power’ can only be used if the student adheres strictly to the ‘way’ of the event.
Blocking the incoming force, struggling, resisting, postural instability… these bad habits prevent the student from having any power.

Instead, it is necessary to harmonise, accord, blend with the attack.
Neutralise, and counter-attack by borrowing power from the opponent and adding it to our own.

This is harder than it sounds, for the student must set aside their own pride and ego, and follow the parameters of the art exactly.

New starters

A new starter’s response to attack is random, sloppy and untrained.
The individual is usually poorly coordinated, with little sense of balance, rhythm and timing.

What you bring with you into a kung fu class is worthless: physical tension, bad postural habits, aggression, fear, clumsiness…
Even skills from other martial arts tend to be an impediment.
You must unlearn.

Our aim is help you to become responsive, spontaneous, adaptive. Capable of changing instantly in accordance with circumstance.

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Dismantling the sets

Experts learn to take the 2-person sets apart and gain a comprehensive understanding of the biomechanics involved.
They can also make connections and associations between patterns, themes and form movements.
Hidden applications become apparent.

Every combat set contains countless chin na, shuai jiao and variations on a movement.
A skilled student can easily recognise viable follow-ups and explore these.

At this stage, the combat set pervades the student’s consciousness and can be used readily in self defence.

Does your taijiquan qualify as ‘kung fu’?

This is a good question.
It really depends on how the art is practiced and how much time you commit to practice.

Although most taijiquan students train kung fu skills, they cannot honestly claim to be a kung fu student.
Kung fu literally means ‘hard work’.
A kung fu student attends class 2-3 times a week and trains anywhere between 1-4 hours a day at home.
This may be regarded as a serious commitment to gaining and refining martial skill.

Most taijiquan students seek a milder degree of commitment; perhaps training once a week in class and maybe doing a little training at home.
They are likely to gain credible and effective self defence skills, but they are not demonstrating a kung fu approach to training.

Not self defence

2-person sets are not self defence.
They are fixed pattern, and serve to train accuracy, positioning, timing and movement.

The skills they teach can be taken into self defence if they manifest under pressure without contrivance.

In practice, the sets are about habit.
They encourage a certain way of moving, a habitual approach to attack.
This is what you take into self defence.

How do you know if you are doing it correctly?

It works.
It feels easy.
It is very effective.
The attacker should be incapable of mounting an effective counter-attack.

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