Illusive Pugilism: Merging the 13 Postures
In our fifth article in the series, Illusive Pugilism: Merging the 13 Postures of Tai Chi Ch'uan with Western Methods of Fighting, we briefly explore the body-mechanics that make elbow- and shoulder-striking strategies effective with proper placement. In earlier articles, we discussed many of the body-mechanics of Taiji as they pertain to the training of an illusive pugilist.
In recent critiques of Western Tai Chi Ch’uan, the art is being defined as a pugilistic style of internal martial arts form and function. This internally-generated pugilism is illusive only if the practitioner’s understanding of the 5 Character Secret is cultivated through three important exercises:
A regular practice of Pranayama, Qigong, and Silk-reeling regimens reinforce the illusive strength generated from striking with the elbow (Chou) and the shoulder (Kao). With these considerations, the strategies of elbow- and shoulder-striking make the adept an irresistible force when breathing, structure, and rotation are executed in tandem with gathering and emiting energy. The eleven previous strategies prepare the Taiji adept to act as an immovable object that unbalances the opponent when proper body mechanics are implemented.
After unbalancing an opponent, the time for striking them is made possible. For an aggressive opponent using the Metal (forward movement) or Fire (strong-side pivot) step to attack, the opportunity to strike with the hand, knee, or foot between step-transition causes a loss in an opponent’s structural soundness. This makes the opponent lose intrinsic strength, allowing for finishing strikes found in the elbow and shoulder strategies. However, the adept’s manipulation of air, structure, and focus is crucial to success.
The Pranayama exercises for power and strength are many, but the most basic are those involving the intake of breath while extending appendages during form training and the mouth-intake (Puraka), body-retention (Kumbhaka) and nose-expulsion (Rechaka) of air.
The proper posture found in the training of Qigong ensures that the body is correctly aligned along the axis of the five elemental-step movements (Metal, Earth, Fire, Water, and Wood).
The idea and practice of silk-reeling is important to practice in Qigong training while in the Earth step (Centered). While maintaining Sung (Sinking) at the balls of feet, Tan Tien (below the navel accupuncture point), buttucks tucked, chest indented, hips turned through the power-line, the adept learns to whip strikes. The elbow strike (Chou) or a shoulder strike (K’ao) are utterly devestating when these considerations are honed to effectiveness.
The Song of Chou & K'ao
Its method relates to the Five Elements.
Its method is divided into the shoulder and back technique.
The Western Tai Chi Ch’uan Combat (Long and Short) and Dance of Life forms provide the foundation for these strategies. Chou means to strike or push with the elbow. It is said that nothing can stop its completed form if the movement is uninterrupted. The hand, knee, or foot acting as striking weapons can lead the angle of the elbow or shoulder strategy. Sifu Emin Boztepe, an expert at Wing Tsun Chi Sao (push-hands), demonstrates close-quarters use of Chou.
The word K’ao implies leaning or inclining. The term is usually translated Shoulder Strike, Shoulder Stroke, or Shoulder. The technique can be effective off the push, roll-back, or ward-off if the opponent is attacking from above towards your head or to control the head of the opponent during grappling encounters (standing or prone). It can also be used in choking the opponent.
Shoulder and elbow strikes are demonstrated during push-hands training in the video Western Tai Chi Ch’uan Combat Short Form with Traditional Pushhands Applications. These strikes used in combination with splitting and twisting, grasping and plucking is very lethal as the opponent can be pummeled, pounded, cut, and broken if he is not properly structured. In the mount or the guard ground positions, these techniques really don’t need a lot of imagination to employ as long as the practitioner is sunk, relaxed, and relentless.
The following areas are the striking areas for Chou and K’ao:
Our next discussion will be on how to teach these striking skills so that a fighter can utilize them in boxing, kickboxing, and Mixed-Martial Arts (MMA) scenarios.
Visit earlier articles in this series:
Master Gurjot K. Singh’s recent work, Western Tai Chi Ch’uan: The Supreme Ultimate & Sweet Science of Boxing with 10 Limbs, was published with Strategic Book Publishers in the spring of 2010.
This article series was launched to introduce the fighters of Angels Gym and the above training guide. Two technical knockout (TKO) wins in Mixed Martial Arts competition were awarded to Angels Gym Shawn Boyd and James Watts in PYAAAT Promotional and Carolina Fight Promotional events in June 2010. (These wins will be posted at the Angels Gym Youtube channel.)
The book has received great reviews by a Martial Arts author and academician, two Martial Art Grandmasters and the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.
The book is available at this link. The book has received great reviews by two martial art Grandmasters and the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.
Master Gurjot K. Singh, the author of the above book, writes articles for the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association (ATCQA) and holds graduate degrees from Troy University in Education and International Relations. He is certified by the ATCQA as a Professional Tai Chi Instructor (Level II of III). Western Tai Chi Ch’uan is a recognized style of Tai Chi by the ATCQA. Most of his martial arts skills in grappling, Tai Chi, boxing and kickboxing were acquired during his 20 (+) years of government service. Singh recently received his status as a Master of Kickboxing from Grandmaster Dr. Ibraham Ahmed, founder of the World Martial Arts College, on the three-year anniversary of the re-opening of Angel’s Gym. The style has been recognized in MMA circles as Master Singh’s gym was invited by Jeremy Ridgeway, of the EFC, to be part of its stable of MMA training facilities in the spring of 2010.
Simply stated: The system works because the fighter has the heart to persevere in a training regimen that mentally, emotionally, and physically prepares them for the opponent they can’t beat… Not the one they can!
To Illusive Pugilists “… the mind is the greatest weapon and the heart the greatest shield.”