The Benefits of Tai Chi and Internal Martial Arts for Self-defense: Part 1 of 2
Internal Martial arts such as Tai Chi, or Ba Gua can be extremely effective for self defense if trained correctly. There are a few strategic principles in Chinese internal Martial Arts that can provide a tactical advantage in melee combat. I will outline them in the following sections: Body Alignment and Changing, Friction and Sensitivity, Timing, Initiative (these last two I will explain in part two of this article). You will notice there is no magic to any of this – it is all science. For more information on tai chi, self-defence and kung fu please visit Martial Arts London Ontario (MALO).
Body Alignment / Posture and Body Changing
The first thing about internal chinese martial arts like Tai Chi and Ba Gua is that they are based off of the chinese system of medicine. This system has been well aware of things that chiropractors and sports physiotherapists are just starting to learn about the human nervous system and spinal cord, meditative benefits, and muscle/tendon functional excellence. Like gymnasts and dancers, internal arts practitioners do difficult and challenging exercises, drills, and forms in order to literally change their body’s metabolism, balance, structure, tendon strength, speed and flexibility. The more serious one is with their body changing training, the more results they will see. Doing Tai Chi once per week without the requisite secrets is not good enough. At first this training is extremely difficult, just as jogging is extremely difficult for the beginner. But after years of practice, the internal martial artist’s body starts to change, and they start to see the health and martial benefits as they begin to move as a functional unit and cease using “awkward force”. They also get damaged less often in hard martial arts sparring. This body changing also includes tendon conditioning, thus making an internal artist “seem” stronger as they move as a more functional unit. Tendons are as strong as steel. If you can learn to use them, and to strengthen them, then you will move as a more functional and solid (yet fluid) unit.
Friction and Sensitivity
Another key aspect in internal arts like Tai Chi, or Ba Gua (Cheng Sher and Magui), is friction, or what is sometimes called sticky hands. With this body changing, and two person “push”, “search”, or “sticky” hands practice, practitioners become more sensitive to the movements of others, and by using this sensitivity, internal martial artists can use a foe’s force against them by placing them off balance. And by using friction, the practitioner can deliver more kinetic energy per second than a straight punch. All boxers know that more friction means more damage, so too does this apply to throws and arm drags. The more friction when throwing an opponent, the more kinetic energy you deliver into them, the faster they hit the ground. Also, using friction properly