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The Basic Methods of Practicing Chen Style Taijiquan  

By Wang Yong

  The practice of the forms of Chen style Taijiquan is usually carried out lonely by individuals. It is required that every movement and step is performed perfectly and accurately and all the parts of the body are in good coherence. This is the must for all the beginners and it is also the concrete manifestation of the superb gongfu. Whereas the push-hands training is practiced between two persons so as to grasp the basic techniques of martial art, hence is the touchstone testing whether the forms are practiced correctly and is also the preliminary practice of the real fighting. The practice of form set is used to train the basic actions while the push-hands could deepen the understanding of the practical application of the actions. If only the forms are practiced without the training of push-hands, it is sufficient enough to keep fit for healthiness but impossible to have the direct feeling of fighting so unable to master correctly the martial art techniques. If only the push-hands is practiced without the training of forms, it is possible to grasp some martial art techniques but unable to understand and master correctly the Taijiquan as a whole. Thus, neither could be neglected.
  
  There are many stages in the practice of Chen style Taijiquan, e.g. the learning of the forms, perfecting the performance of the form set, push-hands training, the single-posture training, the training of martial art power, the martial art training of push-hands, and the training of the real martial fighting.
  
  To learn the form set is mainly to grasp each form and the whole set, to memorize the sequence of the forms, and the route and orientation of performance, and to make clear the solidness and the emptiness, the favorable and unfavorable forces, and the points of using the force. In the stag of perfecting the performance of form set, it is mainly to correct some incorrectly-performed postures and to employ the internal force in each posture and the whole process of set practice, obtaining the organic combination of the spirit, the mind, and the Qi. So the actions could be up to the demands of martial application. Endeavor is made to achieve the flexible, equilibrium and stable body movement. All the practitioners are required to have the proper and correct postures, the complete internal force, the distinct martial art skills, the solid martial power, and the beautiful Taijiquan rhythm.
  
  The push-hand training follows the principle of from the easy techniques to the difficult ones and from the simple to the complicated ones, to improve the ability and power a step by step. The moving-footwork push-hand is concentrated on the training of the offence and defense, so it is required to make the stable but also changeable footwork and the solid but not rigid movement, with the mind leading the step.

  The martial art training of push-hands is the training stage between the simple push-hands and real martial art practice, so it is clearly featured by the strong sense of offence and defense. During the practice, the ability of locking and unlocking the arms and joints is mainly trained so as to grasp the ways of in-contact offence and defense. Moreover, it is also essential to be aware of the change of force and the body-positioning so as to master the good application of the Eight Basic Methods. The training of the real martial fighting for sure is the supreme level of Chen style Taijiquan. To use Taijiquan for the real martial fighting, the Eight Basic Methods are applied to follow the opponent's body-positioning to strike on him while changing his force and finally defeat him. The real martial art of Taijiquan is not limited by any fixed actions but rather is performed in the way of grasping any possibility of offending and attacking the opponent with the most optimal actions by means of the specific spiral and spring force which is based on the full relaxation of muscles.
 
  It is required when practicing Chen style Taijiquan that on the basis of the straightened-up and comfortable posture of the upper body, the force of various parts of the body should be in good equilibrium, i.e. the upper and the lower are well coordinated, so are the left and right, and the front and back, all in all, the attention should be paid to perform the force in all the directions. Also the stress is laid on that the form set is practiced in a low-stance way. When performing the use of the breaking force, it should be a natural but spring force, which could be either light or heavy, as well as very changeable in the movement of arcs. The performance should be leisureful, rhythmical but also solemn and the postures are well relaxed and well stretched. During the practice, the softness is well combined with the hardness, so is the swiftness with the slow-steadiness. In general the whole set goes smoothly as a whole, enabling you with a tremendous spiritual might to feel as if being in a trance of wonderful state.

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