Compliance vs. Aliveness in Tai Chi & Martial Arts

I recently got in a discussion with someone who had a strong emotional reaction related to considering degrees of “compliance” in a martial arts video.

Compliance, and its opposing concept of Aliveness are two critical factors in any martial art training. Indeed, both are required to earn progress when it comes to preparedness for real self defense and fighting. To understand each, obviously a good start is to define them.

[Compliance] vs Aliveness in Martial ArtsCompliance vs [Aliveness] in Martial Arts

Compliance in Martial Arts Training.

Compliance’s dictionary definition has to do with “complying” or doing “what you have been asked or ordered to do.”[1] In other words, someone in a state of compliance will …

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Tai Chi Movements - Cheng Man-Ch'ing (Zheng Manqing) Tai Chi 37 Form

Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-Ch’ing or 郑曼青) was a renowned & controversial taijiquan master. His multifaceted skills were widely acclaimed both in China and the West. Few disputed his abilities & character; Cheng Man Ching was master of the “Five Excellences”: Chinese medicine, tai chi chuan, calligraphy, painting, and poetry (not to mention flower arranging and a host of other impressive feats).

Cheng Man Ch'ing SmileCheng Manqing - Deep Thinking

However, as stated, Cheng’s legacy is also quite controversial. From being one of the primary exponents of openly teaching taijiquan to Westerners (a feat which gained him plenty of ill will in certain traditionalist Chinese tai chi circles), to drastically modifying the tai chi …

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The Taijiquan of Departed Master Li Jingwu

While there are many Taijiquan Grand Masters who are well known in the West … there are also many of the greatest adepts of this internal martial art who are almost completely obscured. Even masters from more recent years, of whom there is plenty of video & photographic evidence demonstrating their skill, are often totally unknown to English speaking Western Taijiquan practitioners.

Li Jingwu TaijiquanTaijiquan Li Jingwu

The departed Great Grandmaster Li Jingwu (1912-1997) is one such example. Master Li was an expert at both Wu style taijiquan as well as Chen style taijiquan … and studied with some of the most preeminent masters in these styles of his day.

Born in Shandong province, and raised in Harbin (of Heilongjiang province), it was not until he moved …

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Guo Shilei Taijiquan Lecture Series - Part One

Who is Guo Shilei (郭石磊) … and where’d he get his ill gongfu skillz?* (See videos for proof)

According to an excellent interview available on his own site … Guo Shilei began his deeper studies into the Chinese Internal Martial Arts (CIMA) when he was 15. That is when he met his teacher, who is the renowned Shi Chongying (石崇英), a 6th generation inheritor of Ma Weiqi style Bagua as well as a 7th generation inheritor of Yang style taiji. Guo’s own words express his relationship to his teacher the best:

“When I was 15 I met my teacher Shi Chongying and, thinking that my iron arm was already …

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Intention and Attention: The Alchemical Formula in Taijiquan - Pt. 1

Since our birth as a species, mankind has actively pursued a peculiar form of conscious evolution … different from the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms … in that we uniquely aspire to become Something Greater.

Intention & Attention: The Alchemy of the Human Brain in TaijiquanIntention & Attention: The Alchemy of the Human Brain in Taijiquan

Whether it be approaching the Divine, a Creator, Mother Nature, the Tao, or simply Greater Knowledge, Wealth, Fame, or Status … human beings are a group of unusually aspirant & ambitious creatures. It is our every intention to be Greater than we are … and one way or another our attention tends to settle on the path we …

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Tai Chi Movements: Fu Zhongwen's Traditional Yang Style Taijiquan

Fu Zhongwen (1903-1994) is one of the most renowned, accomplished, and important figures for today’s Yang style taijiquan (and for the world tai chi community in general).

Fu ZhongwenFu Zhongwen Yang Style Taijiquan

Zhongwen was born in the village of Guanfu in Yong Nian County, Hebei Province … the birthplace of Yang Lu Chan & the cradle of Yang style taijiquan. Grandmaster Fu was apprenticed to Yang Lu Chan’s most famous grandson, Yang Chengfu, at the tender age of 9 (in 1913). It was with Great Grandmaster Yang Chengfu that Zhongwen travelled around china, to Hong Kong, Tianjing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Beijing, and more. During these travels, Yang Chengfu would teach & Fu Zhongwen would demonstrate. Fu Zhongwen would also …

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Study Guide to Taijiquan Fajin (Fa Chin ... or 'Fa Jing') - Part Two

The most popular topic of reading & discussion on this website is tai chi “fajing” (a technically incorrect spelling / concept). As such, I am going to build & refine this extensive online fajin study guide, for my fellow taijiquan enthusiasts to consider and comment.

Before I provide some of my own analysis on several fajin demos of accomplished taijiquan masters … we need to review the basics.

Cheng Man Ching's Fajin (or "Fajing")

The Basics of Taiji Fajin

First of all, the “correct” translation would be taiji fajin (pinyin) … tai chi fa chin (Wade-Giles) … or 太極發勁 (Mandarin).

I get the impression — quite often — that many western taiji practitioners feel that “fa jin” is …

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