Tai Chi and Western Boxing

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    Hello, first to post on this – I’m surprised…

    I’ve been watching the martial applications dvds and they are really good, no question, but I’m quite new to martial arts and was interested in tai chi primarily for back pain, but I wonder if any experienced person can clarify something for me.

    I realise that these illustrations are not rehearsed, but yet they always involve a single, linear, committed and front weighted attack – for the purposes of demonstration I’m sure.

    Western boxing, however, is very back weighted and quite spherical in its attack. You find combinations of punches covering an undoubtedly spherical space (albeit with external power).

    Isn’t it true that the tai chi applications demonstrated have little defence against this kind of boxing? If you try to yield to, and absorb the energy of one punch, it matters very little, because there are several others coming from different directions very quickly, and, as mentioned, there is very little front weighting in boxing. The boxer does not so easily give up a rooted stance. There is little chance to yield and counter.

    Any comments?…



    Ok, listen, in my own opinion, from what I have gathered, a tai chi master would pretty much wipe the floor with a western boxer, and a ba gua master even more so.

    The problem is, I don’t understand how – does that help???!!!


    I’ll try to explain my take on some of the things you mention.

    “but yet they always involve a single, linear, committed and front weighted attack”
    Yes, but look at the range. By controlling distance you can force the attack to become more linear and predictable. If the opponent gets too close before attacking they have a larger choice of angles and options. Also, this forces the person to move their entire body to get in striking range, slowing them down and making it harder for them to change direction of technique.

    “If you try to yield to, and absorb the energy of one punch, it matters very little, because there are several others coming from different directions very quickly”
    When absorbing, you are seeking to change the situation in your favour putting them in a position where they can’t just launch a flurry of punches, not just neutralise one single punch. This might mean a simultaneous counterstrike or throw, disrupting their balance, changing the line of attack and/or range, joint lock/break, sticking and leading etc, or many of these things all at once.

    “The boxer does not so easily give up a rooted stance. There is little chance to yield and counter.”
    By punching they are still committing mind and body to an action, However rooted or solid they may appear there will be opportunities to take advantage of this.

    In my opinion, the Mastery program covers many (but not all) of the required skills and training methods for Tai Chi as self defense, but not in a ‘what would I do if he did that attack’ approach.
    Take for example in the first few lessons, the idea of maintaining awareness. When you can keep full, unbroken awareness of both yourself and the attacker, you become aware of the ‘holes’ in their defence and attack. At the right time and place it is possible to literally walk in and do what you need to do.

    Having said all this, if you practise Tai Chi 3hrs a week, and your boxing opponent is at the gym for 20 hrs p/w with several fights behind him he will be trying to control you with the tools that he has developed (punches/footwork etc), and although Tai Chi may be the more sophisticated and effective art, it requires more time and effort to make it work well.

    If two people go to a race track for the first time, one drives a Ford focus and the other a Formula One car, the racing car is obviously the faster car , but my money is on the Ford driver as the other will probably crash on the first corner.
    The situation changes as the experience of the practitioners increases.


    Thanks a lot for that Chris!

    I am just trying to process that reply, but may have some follow up questions if that’s ok…


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