How to learn Tai Chi Chuan for street combat.

Sep 14, 2022

Tai Chi is one of the most practiced exercises in the world. In the fitness world, Tai Chi for health seems to fall into number-named forms of the Yang style, from the 6-forms to 24 to 108. They are mostly the same form but truncated or changed slightly. Excellent for external meditation and core endurance. Dropping your stances and elongating your movements will raise the difficulty and build muscle strength, but this is not Tai Chi Chuan, the martial art.


Tai Chi Chuan Kung Fu is the formal martial name of this style. It has five families; Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun, and Hao with Yang being the most practiced. I won't go into these Tai Chi Chuan families since there are tons of info on the web.


I meet many Tai Chi Chuan practitioners that learn only the forms and nothing else. To learn Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art, you must train the same way as any martial art, by repetition and practical application through combat practice.


Take the move "Single Whip" - if you practice only the form and focus on what movement is before and after, you're only learning routines much like a speech. Try responding to someone after they said: "hi"(a punch) with "Four scores and seven years ago" (your block or attack). You'll probably do a great block using your face.

  • I suggest repeating "Single Whip" thousands of times with and without a combat partner.
  • Discover the strongest and the fastest way to apply the "Single Whip" through combat practice and hitting drills.
  • Apply "Single Whip" onto different types of bodies.
  • Ultimately, you will discover the many variations of a "single whip" aside from it's textbook application.
  • Avoid the textbook tactic of shoving or pushing your opponent away, which tends to start the fight all over again.
  • Tai Chi Chuan is NOT slow but rhythmical.  Tai Chi practiced slow and at the same speed throughout is detrimental to your combat practice but great as an exercise.
  • Tai Chi Chuan is a difficult and advanced system, much like trigonometry. Learn your lower math (foundational) subjects first then move on to Tai Chi Chuan.
  • Ask your sifu about the brutal combat applications Tai Chi Chuan is so famous for in the past.  Not the textbook combat application stuff.
  • Tai Chi Chuan is perfect for any aging martial artist from any martial art. Whether you do Karate, MMA, or Pencak Silat, since you understand the concepts of reactive power and impact distribution Tai Chi Chuan should compliment your aging body very well. 
  • There are more combat concepts you need to implement in your Tai Chi Chuan combat training but then I'd be writing volumes.  If you want more get a teacher or get coaching from Sifu Gus and I (Ron).

Did you know that the Tai Chi movement named "Play the lute" is also a neck breaker?

All Tai Chi Chuan forms are much like speeches. They are a set of movements that are to be torn apart and used randomly in a natural way in combat.

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