Taiji boxing and the art of effective communication
Taiji boxing is a rare and exact science, but it is also an art form because each practitioner will have their own unique method of presenting and applying its principles, both as an effective form of self defence and a method of self- cultivation and disease preventions. The principles embedded in this discipline stem back thousands of years and incorporate a belief system from Indo-Chinese histories. The premise is based in two complementary philosophies, Taoism and Buddhism.
Taoism was developed along time ago, around the 6th century B. C.. E Lao Tzu is considered to be the founder of this philosophy. It is based in nature and its circadian, ecological influences, through observations, and interpretations on its effects on mankind. Taoism was based on the Taoist sage’s empirical observations and applications of natural physical laws. The major goal of all Taoist sages was to reach a state of “immortality”. This was to mean to transcend all physical and spiritual restriction and live in harmony and unity with nature. Taoism introduced the concept of yin and yang, and the theory of complementary opposite. This later included the five element theory and the eight trigrams with the development of theories for the book, “The I-Chin” or the book of changes.
Buddhism was introduced to China from India around the 6 the century by Siddhartha Gautama of the Shakhya clan, who introduced the philosophy and exercises of yoga and meditation. This philosophy focused more on internal and spiritual development, and on the concept of compassion and non-violence as a means of personal development. The higher goal is to reach a state “Enlightenment” which is to cultivate both wisdom and compassion.
These two doctrines were combined by a Taoist priest, and developed into a complex system of self- development through a martial art discipline. This is the essence of Taiji Quan and the root of Taiji boxing. Taiji boxing is both a martial art and a method of personal development. Using the principles found in the “13 powers” in daily communication can be a very effective and natural advantage to practicing Taiji boxing.
SHI San Shi (Thirteen Powers)
The thirteen powers is a term described by Master Sam Masich. It is comprised of eight trigrams in the arms and five phases in the legs.
This is a method of utilizing the principles of Peng, Lu, Ji, An, CAI, Lie. Zhou, Kao. These energies are integrated into the formless form of Taiji boxing and combined with the 5 phases Method, Central equilibrium, step left , step right, retreating step, advancing step.
As a martial art, this vocabulary is dependent on your instructor and his interpretation. Peng force is the power of resilience and flexibility, and harnesses the innate quality of spontaneous, effortless recoil… just like an elastic band!
Lu force could be likened to re-direction of energy in a downward direction… much like trying to force the same polarity of a magnet together… there is a subtle but definite shift.
Chi force is used to support the other force in both attack and defence techniques. This is like a rim and a tire… both need to be in good condition for a smooth ride with one supporting the other.
An force is the ability to listen or sensing. This gives you the advantage of limitless options for attack and defence by allowing you the advantage of being able to read your opponent’s intentions. This is like a radar early- warning system that is always scanning and reporting back information.
Tsai force is the concept of pluck and re-direct your opponent’s energy, usually towards the ground. This technique is like plucking a fruit of the tree. If the fruit is ripe, it comes off easily, but if not, it requires a decisive movement in order to achieve the same goal.
Lieh force is what is called “short Jing”. This is a form of Fa-jng that is decisive and conclusive, delivered at close range with minimal outward expression. This is like when a tire blows out on your car… there is no warning, simply a release of energy and then it is over.
Chou force is like a sudden interruption or distracting force, and is used primarily as an elbow strike or a knee strike to interrupt or disrupt your opponent’s technique balance or flow… just like an unforeseen speed bump or pot hole on a relatively smooth road or highway.
K’ao force is a subtle and elusive force, and is sometimes called ‘shoulder strike’ or bump. It is used to fill the space between two bodies and can be used as an attack or defensive move. ..but body balance and stability must be mastered in order for success.
The Five Phases (five stepping skills)
Advancing Step: This description is a conceptual idea that is based in the phrase of “to enter is to be born and to retreat is to die”. This bears the concept that to be continually retreating and in constant defence could have detrimental results in both martial arts and in life. You should seek to continually advance with care, compassion and caution in self defence as in life. Within this phase there are options such as rising step , sinking step, collecting step, curved step, slanting step, horse riding step, fairy step, pushing step, turn the body over step, Fishing step.
Retreat backward step. This is a type of break backward step and is very concise, a balance movement that conveys the illusion of retreat but not the intention of defeat as in repulse monkey. This foot work is designed to create an imaginary void that lures the opponent into a trap like a bull fighter taunts the bull to come forward carelessly…. full steam ahead.
Looking left. This is the ability to re-direct to a force on the left side and attack the right side. This involves co-ordination and timing. This is a method of distraction and deception by presenting a opening on the right side yet moving and attacking the left side.
Looking Right. This is the opposite of looking left as everything is reversed and done just as subtly. It is important to able to move in both left and right direction and not favour one or the other and be able to move both inside and outside of your opponent’s guard when attacking or defending yourself. ..just like a steering wheel is only useful with the full range of motion both turning left and right with equal ability and ease of motion.
Central Equilibrium”. This is the most difficult, yet the most essential, for Taiji boxing, the practice of Taiji Quan and Qigong. Everything begins and ends with this step. Central equilibrium contains the whole paradox of unity of mind, body and spirit, and stillness in motion and motion in stillness.
This is the Essence of Taoism and Buddhism combined to create a flexible mind and spiritual awareness, to maintain both inner calmness and outside peace.
The art of Taiji boxing and effective communication. By applying these principles found in the thirteen powers, it may be possible to avoid verbal conflict that may lead to violence or a negative interaction with our fellow man. Sometimes applying the concepts of listen, adhere, and follow answer in our daily conversation, as a continuum of Taiji push hands, can be a refreshing change to managing the stress of a break down in communication with our friends, family or co-workers.
If we employ active listening skills, such as listening with our hearts (emotional contentment and compassion), hearing with our inner ears, eye to eye, heart to heart, it may allow us to have better communication skills regardless of language, culture or religious beliefs.
Adhere and follow. If we try to stay focused and not be easily distracted or preoccupied we may be able to use a clear calm mind to decipher what they are asking, saying or meaning when they speak.
Lead connect answer. If we are still with our emotional opinions, preconceptions when dealing with others, it may provide an opportunity for spiritual enlightenment and, of course, imaginary sense of immortality which leads to compassion and sometimes kindness and caring. This way we at least provide a venue for a positive interaction.
By applying the truths found in the art of Taiji boxing to everyday interaction, it may one day help to preserve the art of spoken communication in a time of hyper electronic internet and blackberry mania. The spoken word may one day find itself extinct!
What is Taiji Quan? It is born of the Wuji, and is the mother of yin and yang, when it moves it divides, and at rest, it unites. This is a quote that was used by Master Sam Masich in his article of Taiji Quan and Jing. I believe that by getting people to move in their mind, body and spiritual cultivation may help us to see individually how we can all unite in one way or another to make a better world.
Peace at Taijiboxer.com.
References material from Tong Ren May 08. (Taijiquan by master Sam Masich.
The Tai chi boxing chronicle, by kuo lien ying.