Application Drills

Practical self-defence applications exist for all the movements of the Tai Chi Hand Form – in our martial classes we drill these movements repeatedly to develop them as reflexive responses. This practice can be done slowly to develop technique, and later more energetically to simulate a realistic self-defence situation or for pushing hands/sanshou competition training.

Martial Class Hand Form

After an energetic training session in our martial classes, we cool down by performing the Tai Chi hand form.

Taking 15-20 minutes to perform in total, the slow movements effectively perform the function of a therapeutic warm-down, encouraging the muscles and joints to move through their range of motion while operating at a reduced intensity. Meanwhile, one gains all the other benefits of practising the hand form – one works through an efficient template of the style’s martial movements while training balance, co-ordination and focus.

The tiredness experienced after expending energy in pushing hands practice and sparring also helps encourage relaxation and use of minimum muscular tension, which also benefits one’s practice of the form.

Below are some photos taken during a martial class (photography by Steve Musselwhite).

Padwork – University Class

As well as training strong and efficient punching technique, practising Running Thunder Hand (continuous punching) in pairs using gloves and focus mitts trains holding a protective guard (shoulder muscles) and, since punching should involve the whole body – legs, core and arms – this acts as a general stamina conditioning exercise as well.

The video clip below shows two members of the student class working on some striking combinations (punches, knees and elbows) using pads.

Yang overcomes Yin

While much is made of using Yin (softness) to overcome Yang (hardness) in Tai Chi literature, the converse is also true.

When the opponent’s defence is weakened, the Tai Chi practitioner can take the initiative to attack strongly (Yang) to overcome the opponent’s weakness (Yin).

Below is a short clip of Oxford Wudang student Chris taking part in a full-contact sanshou competition and demonstrating this concept…