Tai Chi Chuan (Glasgow)

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The 48 by Ian Cameron


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There are forty eight techniques in TCC. These include "hidden" styles, such as; Break Arm style, Vanguard Arms, White Snake puts out its Tongue, Double Leg throw, Single Leg throw. Plus the styles that are not inherent in the hand form i.e.; Tiger Yawning, Gyrating Hands, Free Flower Picking, Five Element Arms and Running Thunder Fist. When you then consider the many possible variations of these styles, this then gives an incredible variety of techniques.

To practice them all, is to eventually have only one technique, that being the principle. To blend with the principle is to be able to utilise it in any situation. There may be a time when you can only use part of a technique, but it may be enough. For example; It may not always be possible to counter immediately, and sometimes it is not always advisable to try and counter everything, you can become too predictable, but you can still Parry a blow, or use the Elbow/forearm to deflect a kick. Or, use the techniques in combination.

Although the techniques are all there, there is no guarantee that the opportunity to use them will arise. This is where it is important to see the principle first, and the techniques as the tools to be used in any number of ways. It is important and maybe a little obvious to say it, but, to counter anyone, firstly they have to be in the position to be countered. They have to be off balance before they can be thrown, or in a position so that you can strike. Not so easy when they do not want to be thrown or struck. Look at any contest and you will see how difficult it is to apply "clean" technique. Unless one is far superior to the other it is extremely difficult.

All of the forty eight styles are very practical, obviously not as they are in the hand form, never the less, they are effective techniques. To have these techniques is to have answers to the many questions an opponent will ask. It is also to train in sensing an opportunity on an intuitive level. The main thing is to be realistic. What will work and what will not? This is why basic technique is so important. It is having sound basic techniques that creates the ground for further and less specific techniques, more along the lines of blending all the styles into one.

I'm trying to see, and explain the way all of the techniques become one. It comes through the practice and constant repetition of the techniques to reach the place where there is no need to "discuss" what works and what doesn't, you know what is effective and what isn't. If you are trapped in a corner, what are you going to do? Adapt, is the only thing to do. Cover up, punch when you can, kick when you can, scratch, gouge, whatever it takes. The one thing you won't do is the hand form.

One thing to remember. When we are in class, it is in a TCC environment. To go outside of this brings another environment that will ask different questions, and we have to adapt to it. If you are on your back with a Jiu Jitsu expert trying to choke you and doesn't care if you are a TC expert, not to labor the point, but you have to adapt to that situation as it is. There is nothing in the hand form that covers this eventuality, except, the principle which is always there. 

Although the subject here is the forty eight styles of application, it all comes back to the hand form. The hand form teaches shape, co-ordination, timing, spacial awareness, physical and mental focus  etc, all of which are crucial in applications. Maintaining ones shape, no matter the position you find yourself. Even if it is just for an instant, we are all aware when we "lose it". Shape in this context, can refer to the mind as well as the body.

Although the form and applications are linked, they are not the same in application. To take the form too literally is a dangerous thing to do. Whatever is happening, it is the TC principle that matters, the techniques are the application of that principle and they will take many forms. That is why they should be practiced to the point, that the principle is internalized and all the techniques become one.

It is always better if the opponent has no idea of what you are capable of. This creates uncertainty in the mind. In TC terms " I know you, but you don't know me". In this sense all techniques are "hidden", so that an opponent has cannot know with confidence, what to do. This term can also mean that outwardly there is stillness, while internally there is focus and awareness. It is important that an opponent be met with this"stillness".

In conclusion, the principle and all the techniques that are there, are the reservoir from which to draw upon. The ability to use the techniques to defend oneself using TCC, can only come through absorbing and understanding the TC principle. Although forty eight techniques are mentioned, the actual number is endless.

By Ian Cameron , 2011 (from Five Winds articles page)

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