Martial Applications Of Tai Chi Chuan’s Ward-Off Posture

The Ward-off posture is one of the most universally recognised postures in the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan. Since it’s not an obvious kick or a punch, and doesn’t look overtly like a martial technique, it can be hard to figure out how to use it against an attacker.

Here I run through a few possible applications of the ward-off posture, showing how it can be used as a strike, a lock and a throw.

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)

Bunkai From Tekki/Naihanchi (Chul Gi) With Cross Reference To Wing Chun

Most Karate systems that evolved from the Okinawan style of Shuri Te tend to use big steps to capitalise on forward body momentum and inertia to transfer impact into the opponent.  As a broad generalisation, this tends to distinguish them from the styles derived from Naha Te and most styles of Kung Fu which prefer the use of circular (or centrifugal) force for generating power.

However, the Tekki kata’s (or Naihanchi in some styles and Chul Gi in Korean) which are still present in many Shuri Te derived styles contradict this forward momentum method in that they are not very mobile and are far more “static”.  Another characteristic of the Tekki kata’s is that they punch with the palm facing up as opposed to the usual “cork-screw” punch where the fist ends up facing downwards and the arm is not fully extended.

Tekki is obviously a close quarters fighting kata.  As such a number of its movements are quite close to Wing Chun Kung Fu which specialises in close quarters fighting.  On the surface, Wing Chun and Tekki look quite different, but as usual Keith and I look below the surface and find some similarities which can be used by practitioners of either system.

Tekki / Naihanchi Kata Bunkai

Bunkai From Shotokan Karate Kata: Jitte (TSD: Sip Soo)

I am very pleased to be able to include 2 short video clips of my own Sensei, Paul Mitchell 4th Dan.

Sensei Mitchell is a recognised authority on Bunkai within the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association and usually teaches bunkai on TSKA residential courses.  Having originally started my Karate training in Kent, then continued it when I moved up to Scotland and again when I moved to the South West of England; I can say I’ve been about a bit and seen a few different clubs.  I consider myself very lucky to have found Sensei Mitchell’s club as firstly I like the emphasis on good technique and secondly I like the practically of his teachings and bunkai.

Thirdly, I like his quirkly sense of humour, but that’s another story . . . . sorry Sensei 😉

The clips below were taken on a recent Kata course hosted by Sensei Mitchell focusing on kata Jitte. The course started of with structure and form, followed by Bunkai.  After a light lunch (thanks Chris) it was back to work and being Jitte, we did it with Bo’s.  Jitte is unique in that it can be performed empty handed or with Bo, with very little adjustment at all.

Sensei Mitchell hosts these courses every couple of months and they are open to Karateka of any style (including TaeKwonDo) from 4th Kyu/Kup and above.  These are taught in an open and friendly environment and if you would like to attend, then check out the “Calender Of Events” tab on his website every now and then.  If you enjoy Bunkai and practical Karate, then I would highly recommend these courses.

Bunkai And Comparison Of Karate/TKD’s Age Uke (Rising Block) & Wing Chun’s Bong Sau (Wing Arm Block)

Here we take a look at 2 blocks which are very similar.  Wing Chun’s Bong Sau (Wing Arm Block) and the Age Uke (Rising Block) used in Karate, Teakwondo and Tang Soo Do.  The advantage of comparing techniques between different styles is that sometimes you get clues as to how they originated.  Wing Chun is based on Snake Kung Fu and Crane Kung Fu.  One of the main influences on Okinawan Karate was White Crane Kung Fu, so there would appear to be some common roots.

Furthermore, by looking at how another style uses its techniques can often give clues as to extra applications for which you can use your own techniques.  This is particularly advantageous to Karate, TaeKwonDo and Tang Soo Do practitioners as a lot of our original applications have been lost along the way.

I hope you enjoy this video.

Age Uke & Bong Sau Bunkai

More Choy Lee Fut Sao Choy Technique Talk

This is a follow up video to my previous one on Sao Choy, which addresses a few of the questions and comments it raised, particularly “Wouldn’t it be safer to do it on the outside of the arm?” and “You can also do Sao Choy after various other blocks or parries”.

The video shows a few more Choy Lee Fut techniques – Pao Choy, (which I believe translates as “cannon fist”) which is a upward strike similar to an uppercut and Poon Kui (which I believe translates as “coiling bridge”), which is a circular block that can be used as a great set up for a lot of Choy Lee Fut techniques since it should help destabilise the attacker.

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)

Choy Lee Fut’s Sao Choy

“Through the back” power in Choy Lee Fut.

In this video I use the technique called Sao Choy from the Choy Lee Fut system. Sao Choy (“Sweeping fist”), can be found in all styles of Choy Lee Fut, but seems to be particularly emphasised in the Buk Sing style I practice, along with Chap Choy.

When using the Sao Choy technique you’ll notice that the Choy Lee Fut practitioner usually performs a clearing or blocking action with the other hand first. Like most techniques in Choy Lee Fut, Sao Choy tends to be used in combination with other techniques in a fluid and circular manner, rather than in isolation. Since more attention is usually paid to the arm doing the Sao Choy when explaining the technique, I thought I’d concentrate on what the other hand is doing in my video, since there can be a lot of subtly to the technique employed, which is easy to miss. It’s also interesting to compare with similar posts on this blog that examine what the non-striking hand is doing in other arts, like Karate.

One of the features of Buk Sing CLF is a kind of “through the back” power, which connects the action of one arm to the action of the other, so that rather than operating separately, they work together to achieve their aims. A discussion of what the “other” hand is doing in the Sao Choy technique naturally leads on to a discussion of how this “through the back” power works in Choy Lee Fut in general.

It should also be noted that you are not limited to the particular clearing technique I’m demonstrating here prior to the Sao Choy – other popular options are Gwa Choy (a backfist) or Poon Kui, a circular block.

I hope you enjoy the video, and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.*

* Apologies for my slightly irreverent presentation style(!)

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)

Russell Stutely On Pressure Point Fighting

Following on from my last article on pressure point fighting, I would like to quote from Russell Stutely who is widely regarded as Europe’s number one pressure point expert.  He is also highly regarded by Geoff Thompson and Peter Consterdine of the British Combat Association, who are very much into reality martial arts.

The reason that I wanted to quote from Russell Stutely is that although he highly advocates pressure points and obviously makes a lot of money teaching them and selling DVDs etc; he still very much advocates that you must develop good basic technique first.  If he was to promote pressure points in a such a way as to suggest that it is a magic bullet so that you don’t have to bother learning anything else and beginners could use them to defeat experienced black belts, I would be very suspicious.  But he doesn’t.  He is very methodical in his Continue reading “Russell Stutely On Pressure Point Fighting”

Does Pressure Point Fighting Really Work?

This is an area that you will see debated from time to time with people for and against it.  Some claim that pressure points make your techniques ultra effective, whilst others claim that in the heat of the moment you will not have the accuracy to find the point whilst somebody is trying to hit you at the same time.

So who’s right?  Well in my humble opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle and it depends on the circumstances.

If you start a fight 6ft apart, close in, then exchanging blows with a capable opponent; I believe that it would be difficult (but not impossible) to find pressure point targets.  Just think when you are sparring against somebody of equal skill, it can be difficult landing a blow on their torso (which is a large target), never mind finding a very small pressure point to hit.  Furthermore, when you have just had an adrenalin dump, your fine motor skills do not work as efficiently.  For this reason, many people advocate concentrating on developing your techniques (regardless of style) so that you are fast and powerful and you will Continue reading “Does Pressure Point Fighting Really Work?”