January - March 2010

Illusive Pugilism: Merging the 13 Postures of Tai Chi Ch’uan with Western Methods of Fighting
(Part 3 - The Press and the Push

Tai Chi Form- Brush Knee and Push

In the first article in our continuing series on Illusive Pugilism, we discussed the Eastern strategic and Western tactical applications of the elements (Metal, Wood, Fire, Water, and Earth). In our second article, we added knowledge to the first two postures of Tai Chi:  Ward-off (Peng) and Rollback (Lu)In our third article, we will discuss the strategy and tactical application of the next two postures: The Press (Chi) and the Push (An).

The Press (Chi) and the Push (An) are strikes that can be delivered using the Ward-off (Peng) to un-balance an opponent and the Roll-back (Lu) to attract them into emptiness (Hua Chin). Peng and Lu are defensive strategies that gather energy and require a strong knowledge of substantial and in-substantial movement. Master Li I-Yu discusses this in his classic treatises. This will be discussed later in the article.

Substantial movements (weight shifting) are mostly defensive postures that gather energy. The opponent gets a sense of immovability by causing the body to sink, close, and contract. From this gathering of energy the expelling of energy becomes possible through insubstantial movement (or the unweighting of the body). Insubstantial movement is mostly offensive posturing that causes the body to rise, open and expand. The fourth character secret of Master Li I-yu is intrinsic force and is essential during these movements. Intrinsic strength is the perfected structuring of the body along the lines of power. The following links provide examples applying these principles:

Chi can be used in the Ground-Submissive position and the Standing position. An or the Push can be used in all positions discussed and can be performed by the hand or the foot. All movement is preceded by breathing. All evasions, blocks, or strikes are preceded by a structurally sound posture:

  • For upper body striking or grappling, legs move hips, hips turn body, body twists spine, and spine whips upper limbs
  • For lower body striking or grappling, arms move spine, spine turns body, body twists hips, and hips whip lower limbs

The Song of Chi

Tai Chi Movement- PressTai Chi Movement- Press

There are two aspects to its functional use:
The direct way is to go to meet the opponent
and attach gently in one movement.
The indirect way is to use the reaction force
like the rebound of a ball bouncing off a wall, or
a coin thrown on a drumhead,
bouncing off with a ringing sound.

Wu Chin energy (first functional use is direct meeting of force) keeps the opponent in engagement range. It sets up the opponent striking after you have used Peng and Lu energy to meet, unbalance, and render ineffective aggressive offenses or defenses. An enemy’s center of balance and line of power can be tested without using a great deal of strength using the hand, shoulder, or outside edge of the forearm. The direct method has the forearm against the opponent with the other arm/palm pressing against that forearm pressing energy into the contact arm, thus negating the inertia of the advancing opponent. You commonly see this engagement posture in two-hand, push-hand engagements.

Nian energy is used to stick and set up Duan Chin energy for short distance, whip-pushing strikes or parries. In Stand-up a takedown specialist can be set up by this posture using Hua Chin to affect a sprawl, then applying a Half or Full-Nelson to the neck and head forcing the head down.

Fa Chin energy (second functional use is the indirect meeting of force) is used after gathering or receiving energy accomplished through Jie Chin. The posture has the rear-hand palm placed on the inside wrist or forearm. Optimally, a whipping motion is added to the parrying action to intercept aggressive strikes or lunges, contacting vital points and expelling energy from left to right or in reverse in a whipping motion. The difference between this second functional use and the first is that it is used against an opponent who is engaging aggressively, in a straight line. You meet this line of attack with this posture’s curved, striking motion.  

The curve is applied by the hands, one touching and redirecting, with relevant speed to the attack. Used with the roll-back (Lu) an aggressive opponent can be seen being rebounded off like he just bounced off a rubber wall. This is what Master Wang calls, “…a force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds.”
In ground-guard positions, use this strategy to thwart the dominant grappler’s attempts to control the wrist or hand. Additionally, use it to redirect downward head-strikes.

The Song of An


Coming to a high place, it swells and fills the place up;
meeting a hollow it dives downward.
The waves rise and fall,
finding a hole they will surely surge in.

This Fa Jing, or explosive energy generated from legs, controlled by the turn of the hips, which turns the body left or right to twist the spine vertically or horizontally to transmit energy to the limb-weapon used to push the opponent. Lift with the fingers (resting on opponent body of a slight distance away), then a push down or outward with the palm, normally on the upper torso or upper hips of the opponent.

The Mixed stance should be the posture used to begin the strategy in boxing. The movement can be preceded by a ward-off or an adhering-pressing movement. Whipping offenses and defenses can be used when the press is the proceeding movement. An aggressor’s forward (Chin Pu) metal-like motion can be intercepted and adhered to with Wu Chin energy. Metal meets with Hua Chin energy (attracted into emptiness) to begin the uprooting process by unbalancing the opponent. Metal-natured, power-strikes or lunges can be melted by redirection or parrying like fire (Y’ou Pan) when pivoting to ones strong side.

This is Chang Chin or Long Energy. It is commonly seen when an opponent is bounced out their push-hands partners. The whole body of the opponent is physically pushed away by moving his centre of mass. If it is done correctly, both his feet should leave the ground when he is propelled away. This is why the technique is called uprooting. Strong knowledge and application of Insubstantial and Substantial movement is essential in the up-rooting process achieved by proper execution of the posture.

In grappling, this is an especially good ability as your opponent can be thrown into the cage walls, upsetting his defensive structure and preparing him for takedown or striking attacks. In the stand-up or near-clinch, this strategy can be executed with foot or hand.

When in ground-guard you can control the head the same way by pushing it down the body in preparation for a guillotine, anaconda, or tri-angle leg choke. With the back of the thigh or heel, strike the top of the thighs of the dominant grappler, taking away your opponent’s base of balance. This sets up a “shrimping” or sweeping reversal in grappling, which is an especially useful skill to master in the guard position. In defense of an aggressive grappler the head should always be forced downward and away from the direction of your angle of attack in defense or offense. 

Your sense-evasive hand movements that come from Chin-na joint manipulation strategies must be employed from a solidly rooted base, especially when on your knees. The same caution should be used when in the standing-clinch position.

Chang Chin or Long Energy is normally demonstrated through this posture. It is commonly seen when an opponent is bounced out by their push-hands partners. The whole body of the opponent is physically pushed away by moving his centre of mass. If it is done correctly, both his feet should leave the ground when he is propelled away. This is why the technique is called uprooting. Strong knowledge and application of Insubstantial and Substantial movement is essential in the up-rooting process achieved by proper execution of the posture.

Li I-Yu’s Character Secrets of continuous breathing and total-body agility are employed during the execution of this strategy. The idea of reeling silk, the rhythmic rolling, twisting, undulating and ultimately whipping of the bodies striking surfaces, facilitates a Fa Chin which is illusively powerful. The intensity of effect is dependent on the I or mind intent of the adept who uses either the Chi or An striking postures and strategies. 

When applying these strikes know that there are areas on the body that are optimal for affecting an opponent’s organ function. The following areas are some examples that indicate the locations on the body. Although knowledge of when to strike these points during the day or night affects the results and severity of the strikes, your intent is of even more importance.

Striking Locations

         Kidney                               Spleen                    Liver

Parrying Locations

   Small Intestine                                 Pancreas                       Liver

In Western Tai Chi Ch’uan the Illusive Pugilist is made consciously aware of the consequences of mal-intent given the immovable or irresistible force they can summon and release upon an unprepared, fellow human being. The Western concept of do onto others is integrated into the Eastern concept of Namaste. Fortunately, you normally must achieve a high level of skill to achieve any result at all with consistency. To do this you must train incessantly, resulting in a high probability of achieving something more desirable than such results: Respect and humility.

Visit part 1 and 2 of this article: Illusive Pugillism, Part 1, Illusive Pugillism, Part 2

In the next article we will discuss the Grasping-Pluck of T’sai and the Twisting-Split of Lieh.

Master Singh

Master Gurjot K. Singh’s recent work, Western Tai Chi Ch’uan: The Supreme Ultimate & Sweet Science of Boxing with 10 Limbs, will be published with Strategic Book Publishers in mind-winter 2010. He has studied various disciplines in the martial arts since 1971. 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 and the World Martial Arts College Graduate Review Board in 2009, on the three-year anniversary of the re-opening of Angel’s Gym.

Western Tai Chi Chuan book

Two Illusive Pugilists, trained at Angel’s Gym, have recently won victories in Amateur Boxing and Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Jermaine Hechevarria (Boxing, OCT 09) and James Watts (MMA, Dec 09). By the end of January 2010 both fights can be viewed on YouTube. These were each fighter’s first recorded victories for the USAABA and the ISCF. Each fighter has been training less than a year in the Western Tai Chi Ch’uan. Both Fighters completely controlled and over-powered opponents with equal or more experience then they had by comparison. They won by Unanimous Decision and Technical Knockout. The fighters were intensely trained in the strategies and tactics discussed in 1st and 2nd articles concerning Illusive Pugilism. They were also trained in the strategies and tactics that were discussed in this article.

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.”


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