Self Defence and Taijiquan : which technique.

Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by Botta Dritta, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    I know this thread my run counter intuitive to the way taijiquan is taught, but I was wondering if you had to use a technique from your forms that had a high probability of success from a close range altercation what would it be?

    My reasoning is that from the interview/dialogue stage and from the 'fence', you want something that allows you to regain or steal the initiative from your assailant, in order so that you may bring to bear your other skillsets. While push hands allows you to bring many of these skills to bear (takedowns, escape from the clinch and takedown defence), I feel this would happen later on from the fence, but not immediatly after it. This incidentally is not something that is particulary missing in taijiquan, but is a shortcoming in many arts or at least the way people practical approach self defence.

    I practice Chen style Taiji and I noticed that many of the applications have warding off of strikes as a prerequisites for applying techniques. After quizzing my instructor on this he suggested that practicing 'circle hands' (a variation in yang style is 'cloud hands') would be particulary useful in the first instance, to a the very least ward off or find the line attack as well as giving the opportunity to gain the attachment needed for the trapping/push hands distance.

    Anybody find this to be true? And other ideas/suggestions for techniques delivered from the fence?
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  2. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    The first thing to learn is how to hit people very hard. Preemption is your friend (where defensible) because if you're not acting first you're reacting and more likely to get hit at such a close range.

    The power slap integrates very well with the taiji hip movement, it's strong, fast, simple, and can come from outside the field of view of adrenal induced tunnel vision.

    The arm drags I've experienced from taiji are very simple and can work well against pushes and grabs which are both very common.

    Also, and this will help from taijij... pushing. It's quite often underestimated but can be very handy for creating separation, disrupting balance, and flinging people off/into objects things. My personal favourite way to apply as a preemptive is by stepping on their toes first which can end up badly for their ankle. Given the amount of time taiji people (from my experience) tend to spend on developing mechanics for pushing this should be a no-brainer.
  3. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I'm not 100% sure what you're asking exactly.

    Sure, you instructor is right, that's the styles core strategy - let the other guy make the first move. The default response to incoming strikes is warding off. It could be as simple as protecting yourself with the forearm(s) - like a sort of covering up with small movements/ changes in position.

    But ultimately you have to interpretate or decide what that (them making the first move) defines for you in SD scenarios. Is someone getting in your face "a move"?

    I don't see why not, it could be. There are plenty of techniques to chose from in TCC, but I would probably go for knee to groin perhaps in conjunction with a hand technique - think cockerel stands on one leg. The arm could be a throat grab an uppercut type strike or a rising elbow.

    If they drop forward from the knee you can wrap them up with "apparent close up"/ "cross hands" which is a standing guillotine type move. From "the fence" if you are too close for the strike to be practical given your positioning just use the knee together with the head and arm wrapping which should put you in a dominant position.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  4. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    In southern Shoalin systems you seldom ever take a step without a "warding off" action of some kind. At first we learn these as defenses because it is easier to see the application and because it stops the other guy from hitting you. but later on we begin to look at these ward offs as bridging attacks. you don't have to wait for the guy to hit you to ward them off. All you need is for them to make some kind of commitment to a stance or a guard and you have your lines of weakness to exploit in the opponent. Once you have contact it does not matter who initiated the bridge.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  5. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Well the choices from the fence kind of default to two options, either take/steal the intitiative eg. SPEAR or build a defensive platform from which weather the storm and bring to bear your skills eg. crazy monkey boxing. Both tactical approaches require to overtrain the first/ flinch response so that it becomes second nature.

    I feel that within taijiquan (which tactically has a tendency to respond rather than preempt) there is no clarity as to which technique should be used as a first response. Reason dictates that certain techniques are more usefull in certain situations than others.

    Don't get me wrong: i know that the applications of the forms are not set in stone that within taijiquan mastering the principles is held in higher regards than rote learning set moves in order to develop the 'adapting to change in combat' it seeks to instill.

    That being said I still think that in that first instance you should be able to fall back on an instinctive flinch reponse or pre-emptive attack that you have drilled to perfection

    I'm just putting it out there as to what the application from taijiquan could be.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  6. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    So you definitely mean attacking technique like punch, kick etc.?

    BTW the knee I mentioned could be a kick, depending on distance. Some forms have it as a knee (YCF) others more of a kick. But anyway that's by the by.

    I'm not sure there's a "problem" here as such. Every situation, position, angle, distance will be a little different. Sometimes a punch will be better than a kick, sometimes a slap will be better, or a head-butt. Does it really matter? You can't rely on just the one technique so you need to practice different ones in different scenarios - to fit the situation.

    This just seems like common sense and why martial arts tend to have a number of different techniques rather than one.

    A default/main response in TCC to an attack would probably be ward off, roll back and press. So if you want to cut straight to the "main" attacking force it's "ji" or press. There are different applications for it, but the basic of basics would be a palm strike. The other hand can go behind the head or not, it can even go in front or simply be wherever it is..

    The body force behind ji is "squeezing" or perhaps more clearly for striking applications: triangulating forward.
    edit.PS. You could just as well make a fist on the end of it.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  7. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Mmm Ok I'll refine the question. An application that can be used from the distance of the 'fence' when its repeatedly threatened or penetrated, from an assailant dialogueing from the front.

    Warding of techniques would be the TCC bread and butter, rather than a premptive strike. I had thought of perhaps chen's 'step back with whirling arms' ( yangs repulse monkey variant) which kind of can be used as palm strikes/long guards when backpeddling from an opponent, but I suspect with an addrenaline spike this would just invite your assailant to press any initial advantage.

    So, from the fence penetration distance, forward adversary, fixed feet position, or with a retreat of one step.
  8. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I hear you.. Maybe hook type punch. Bend the bow (to shoot the tiger) or perhaps something a little left field; twin fists strike opponents ears. Essentially double hook punches.

    Heck, I have seen Manny Pacquiao pull that move in a sparring clip!

    My go to at close distance is probably knee to groin though as in those situations most peoples focus is higher up and the knee comes in a bit under the radar if you know what I mean. You can knee strike and smother up their hands at the same time, then you're in a good position to follow up with head strikes.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  9. bigreddog

    bigreddog Valued Member

    I'd like to echo Sifu Ben on this - hitting hard and early is key (i.e. don't wait to get sucker punched).

    And a good hard push is underrated, particularly as it may encourage you to act early rather than waiting til you feel justified to punch. Give them a shove, bounce them off something - if they come back swinging then you have a fight on your hands, if they don't then you've faced them down, and if the law becomes involved 'a push because you were getting crowded and were worried about getting hit' is easier to explain than 'I punched his teeth down his throat'
  10. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Since your hands are already up in the fence position if they come forward and touch the fence just palm them in the chest as you retreat a step, (found in most tai chi styles I believe)
    it creates space allowing them to not feel to threatened and thus might get them into the flight and not fight response
    it allows you to enter a good stance to follow up if it does kick off,
    and it allows you to practise your short power palm strikes that are found in tai chi, win win win :)
    Plus it looks better in the eyes of the law rather than lamping them as hard as you can simply because they walked up tooo close to you :cool:
    If they are passed the fence then said fence has failed and hit them as hard as you can, with what ever tai chi technique you like :evil:
  11. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Ideally, and I have stressed the word on purpose, one should react to what the opponent does with no pre-determined idea.

    In practise, most of us are likely to do whatever it is that we have trained to do in a similar situation. (That's why people train stuff over and over again, so that they will react instinctively and not have to stop and think.)

    If I am perfectly honest, then if someone attacked me tonight I wouldn't be using anything that I have learned in Taiji. I would probably just punch them.
  12. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Thanks for the responses:

    Been scouring the net for ideas on the initial flinch response tactics seeing as this seems to be more in line with Taijiquan approach rather than pre-empting. I came across this article which was interesting, including some flinch responses that I had never heard of.

    Is there anything in Taijiquan comparable to this or that can be adapted?
  13. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I think you can use the ideas of double ward off and "small frame" to arrive at similar covering up. The actual placement or position is a matter of utility more than anything. there is also the common use (CMA's in general) of "hair combing" - the cover used at the side of the head.

    Even with the single ward off of Yang style for example, if you tighten it right up ("small frame"), and raise the position you arrive at something quite similar to one of the photos shown in the link. The lower hand acts as either or a potential pulling ("cai") or covering hand (ready to strike or pull).

    I guess what I am trying to say in a round about way is that, yes, in my opinion you can adapt conceptual ideas and positions from TCC that will look fairly similar to some of those.

    The thing to remember about something like "ward off" is that it is not a fixed position or form. It is conceptually based and can therefore take on different outer appearances.

    It's basic function is to protect and arrive at a contact point. The idea being to react off what happens from/ following the contact, ideally following the opponents attacking actions to neutralize and counter attack with the optimal opportunity/ opening.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
  14. Prizewriter

    Prizewriter Moved on

    One benefit of my limited study of Taijiquan is that it might help with staying up on your feet if someone tries and grapples with you. This assumes they have little idea about grappling of course. Against a skilled grappler Taijiquan probably won't help that much:


    Although that said, the Taiji guy did better than 99.999% of people who have never studied grappling.
  15. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Never mind, off topic anyway.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
  16. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Takedown defence and rooting is part of the style.

    Unfortunately most altercations dont usually develop from the the fence distance being penetrated to a grapple or shoot (correct me if I am wrong). Its more likely to be a shove or strike/sucker punch if the assailant wished to escalate it rapidly.
  17. Subitai

    Subitai Valued Member

    Hi Botta Dritta,

    If I understand your're looking for someone to name a specific tech or method with a "high probability of success from a close range"?

    Of course most Taiji principles are not really to attack outright (as in being the aggressor) but to wait for energy. It's true that most Taiji is least from what I've been taught. That being said, I cannot see any reason why a taiji fighter cannot also just strike to create a reference point. Meaning up close if I can hit him, I just keep hitting and if he covers or blocks somehow...I then "follow" his resistance to his own doom once again.

    Up close Taiji can also "Attack by draw" I assume you already know the meaning of that.

    To do that however the priority up close would be to 1st cover and control or at least make sure he can't hurt you. Then upon my leaving an obvious opening, I wait for him to utilize it and then I take advantage of that.

    IMO, that's something that more advanced people's a little more risky but not if you know what you're doing. It's also wiser as you get older.
  18. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    All of which you have stated is correct and in line with the discussion so far ( i paticulary like the idea of reverence point. Its in line with the theory of a self defence expert i met - Mick Coup - who contends one a physical contact is made in the heat of an attack you can increase your accuracy when hitting i.e one hand touching the opponent while the other hand pounding away. At least in the initial phases of the altercation. This still leaves us with what are the names TCC methods in either 1) preempting or 2) building a defensive platform to as you say 'draw to attack'.

    I was reading an interesting discussion on creating a short separate form for scouts to learn for their 'master at arms badge'. One of the first basic forms of Chen the - 19 form, is a modern creation for people in modern lives who may not have the space or time to practice the old long form.

    It would be really interesting if someone came up with a short form, which comprised of movement which would aid you in initial short range confrontations,
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  19. Subitai

    Subitai Valued Member

    To answer your question in BOLD:

    - I'm kind of surprised you asked. If you are indeed a fencer... for example I parry quarte but leave myself a little open for the reposte. When my opponent takes the bait, I counter's pretty much textbook easy.

    What drives people mad is when you set them up to think you're going counter reposte but instead you attack another line and avoid the reposte all that point, your opponent will be struck dumb.

    - In Taiji, I connect with my opponent and then I become weak on one side...when he attempts to enter on my weakness I follow him to his doom.

    I cannot say what the technique name is persay because if I am truly "Drawing him in"....It means I have to wait till he moves and then I apply vs his effort.

    But in general, if I just wanted to connect I could use many of the most common taiji Strum the Lute, brush knee, single whip. It doesn't really matter, so long as I create a stick point.

    IMO, creating yet another form for this is highly unnecessary...any good school that pushes and does application has more than enough material from just a single LONG Form.
  20. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    'Attack by Draw' I assumed you were alluding to boxings' 'pop and draw' as opposed to fencing where the same concept comes under 'second intention' attacks. This is something a bit different from inviting an opponent to attack an open/opening line.

    for example I parry quarte but leave myself a little open for the reposte. When my opponent takes the bait, I counter's pretty much textbook easy.

    What drives people mad is when you set them up to think you're going counter reposte but instead you attack another line and avoid the reposte all that point, your opponent will be struck dumb.

    Eh... What you are describing above is a parry riposte on an opponents remise (assuming you are doing foil and you just applied a parry and didn't riposte immediatly in order to draw another attack. In epee for security your final riposte would have to be in opposition).

    A riposte with a disengage after a successive parry (your second paragraph) is indeed a sweet move, as long as your opponent doesn't do constructive or destructive successive parries, in which case move onto 'broken time attacks'

    But to get back on track:

    I think in fencing tactical terminology what I'm trying to describe is :

    1) Attack on preparartion


    2)Covering the lines with a view to parryng and riposting.

    However with the second one you have to imagine you are right on the end of the strip with nowhere to run. You can maybe backtrack one step. This I think kind of replicates the immediacy of an assault. You have no distance to set up anything more than the simplest of parry ripostes or simple attacks. Compound attacks are unlikely to work as are compound ripostes.

    I don't like using fencing as an analogy because its at the total other end of the spectrum of what im trying to get at. In fencing you have time and distance to consider your tactical responses. In a self defence scenario these are not in abundance so your capacity to do something like a second intention tactic (I attack so you can parry me so I can parry you (ad infinitum) all while disengaging the lines of attack are nearly zero)

    In Taiji, I connect with my opponent and then I become weak on one side...when he attempts to enter on my weakness I follow him to his doom

    Yes i undestand, the old adage of borrowing someones strength...

    I cannot say what the technique name is persay because if I am truly "Drawing him in"....It means I have to wait till he moves and then I apply vs his effort.

    But in general, if I just wanted to connect I could use many of the most common taiji Strum the Lute, brush knee, single whip. It doesn't really matter, so long as I create a stick point

    Ok so it's a slighly different track but I get you. Find a physical reference point in order to draw in the opponent in order to employ 'x' technique so...

    1) pre-emptive attack


    2) Flinch response defence with a view of regaining the initiative


    3) find a point of physical attachment to draw a response in order to apply technique.

    So youre saying TTC in number three is where its at. I wonder how this can this be drilled cognitively under stress. The very fact you have to find a physical reference point means that you have to be proactive in the first instance I think.

    IMO, creating yet another form for this is highly unnecessary...any good school that pushes and does application has more than enough material from just a single LONG Form.

    Well if it's at number three the well yes you are right, because you can apply any techniques from your repetoire. Pre-emptive or flinch response techniques however need to drilled until they are automatic under stress. Hence my suggestion for a shorter form to drill until you know it in your sleep. Exactly who has the authority to create one...well thats another issue!
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015

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