T'ai Chi Ch'uan videos

This video was made a couple of years ago, and I have been wanting to air it ever since. The most important mistakes to examine are those that can masquerade, for one reason or another, as proper technique. Many of these will survive t'ui-shou without detection, or at least provide some version of technique that passes for correct, but will cause the movements of sanshou to be obviously clumsy and disadvantageous. Most pernicious are those that can look convincing even under this microscope, and can also find some sort of logical justification in the Classics, but are still wrong. This video illustrates just such a case. There are three examples. The first is correct, at least in terms of the condition that I am trying to point out, but contains a small stumble by me at the end, which my student, Uri Borowski, easily identifies as double-weighted and discharges.  In the sanshou form this discharge is neutralized and followed by box Ears. The second example shows the result of the mistaken concept. The third is correct. What is significant about this is that many practitioners would identify the mistake as correct, especially if there was no further example of greater sophistication. It is possible that they might make this judgement based upon the look alone. To many people, this might look like the right "flavor" of movement. There is no denying that it is difficult, but it is not correct. Even more dangerous is a judgement based upon supposedly logical analysis and conformity to the Classics. In short, it suggests an attempt to neutralize the entire force of the opponent's pull, more or less running after him. This satisfies our nominal goal of perfect neutralization, but in the process violates a much more important rule. That is the directive to use no li, which I have described as the only really unbreakable rule. All of the other "rules" actually need to be broken, if necessary, in the pursuit of this condition. Even our attempt to neutralize must be overuled, if needed, and in this case there is no way that one can move fast enough to keep up with the opponent and maintain constant pressure without using li to hold the body's shape together. This is just as well, because the production of jing depends upon the partial failure of this neutralization. In chosing between perfect neutralization and avoiding li, this avoidance must take priority. Because of this condition, we are able to use the breakdown of perfect neutralization to produce a wave of jing that passes through the body and results in a discharge that is not double-weighted, and hence potentially advantageous to the person discharged. In this case it results in a quite well-done shoulder on my part that could produce serious injury. In the mistaken example, my final position, though it may be entirely correct with relation to the opponent's, demonstrates no jing, and my condition, as a result of the li necessary to keep up with my opponent without my form flying apart, is one incapable of issuing anything but ordinary force.

This recent video from my ongoing workshop was made with a poor camera angle and, because I am facing away from the camera, makes my speech, and the detail on how the shoulder is delivered, both pretty obscure. Also, I am talking through the execution and more or less walking through it as well. This technique, like several in Sanshou, is really designed to work cleanly only at levels approlaching full power and real martial intent. The pull of Single Whip should be far stronger, and the final shouldering position much lower, for the opponent's move to really work well. (If these criteria are not met, it should be noted, then the technique is not that threatening in the first place.) Also, the resulting roll over the back of the opponent is naturally timed to integrate the fa-jing of the shoulder, and if done correctly this potentially threatening strike merely accelerates it. This points out three levels of doing Sanshou. One is simply walking or dancing through it, in which non of the movements haver any real potential for injury. The next is doing the movement at full speed, but avoiding any releases of jing that could cause injury. In this case the shouldering player would pull with full power, but then passively let his opponent roll over his back. The final form occures when every move is executed with full intent, and its energy is actually absorbed and utilized by the opposing player, referred to as an "exchange of jing." Here this would mean that the shouldering player would not just pull, but attempt to strike the other as he lands on his shoulder. If contact is made before the strike occures, it is converted into the energy of the roll and subsequent step, finally emerging as a perfectly timed punch to the offending shoulder.