Taiji Fighting Set
(Tài Jí Sǎn Shǒu Duì Liàn)
The Taiji Fighting Set is an advanced 2-person sequence. Training the sequence deepens one’s understanding of martial application principles and brings one closer to Taijiquan sparring. Both the offensive and defensive sides are tested in the 5th level of the YMAA Taijiquan curriculum.
Image Courtesy: Axie Breen 2019
Our workshops divide the Taiji Fighting Set into 4 sections and focus on the techniques in the given part. The outline includes a breakdown of the techniques, examination of the 8 energies within the applications, and repeated practice.
Part 1: Beginning to Offense #23 Step Forward to Pluck and Rend, 上步採挒 (Shàng Bù Cǎi Liè)
Part 2: Offense #23 to Defense #47 Return with Press, 回擠 (Huí Jǐ)
Part 3: Defense #47 to Offense #66 Divide Up, Press, Downward Heel Kick, 上分擠下蹬腿 (Shàng Fēn Jǐ Xià Dēng Tuǐ)
Part 4: Offense #66 to Ending
Each part requires a minimum of 6 hours of workshop instruction.
For students interested in learning the Taiji Fighting Set, it is highly recommended to train the YMAA curriculum up to 2nd or 3rd level before attending the workshop covering Part 1.
If you’re interested in booking a Taiji Fighting Set workshop, please contact us.
Little is known about the origins of the Taiji Fighting Set.
Dr. Yang began practicing Taijiquan with Grandmaster Kao, Tao (高濤) for 2 years before he left to attend Tamkang College in Taipei. While there, he continued his training with Grandmaster Li, Mao-Ching (李茂清), who studied with Grandmaster Han, Ching-Tang (韓慶堂). Dr. Yang also found a training partner in Mr. Wilson Chen (陳威伸), who studied under Grandmaster Zhang, Xiang-San (張詳三).
Initially, Mr. Chen did not learn the entire Taiji Fighting Set, but he and Dr. Yang knew it was similar to the sequence found in Chen Yan-Lin’s (陳炎林) book. At the time, there was no master teaching the set so the two students relied on each of their experiences to analyze the sequence. Just prior to leaving for the United States, Dr. Yang finished learning one side of the set.
Taiji Fighting Set Training
As an advanced sequence, the Taiji Fighting Set builds upon the skills developed from earlier stages of training. This includes applications of the postures and partner pattern drills. A rudimentary understanding of these drills will help a student learn the Fighting Set choreography.
Pushing Hands, 推手 (Tuī Shǒu)
Peng Lu Ji An, 掤履擠按 (Péng Lǚ Jǐ Àn)
Taiji Yin-Yang Symbol (Silk Reeling),
太極圈纏手練習 (Tài Jí Quān Chán Shǒu Liàn Xí)
Small Rollback, 小履 (Xiǎo Lǚ)
Large Rollback, 大履 (Dà Lǚ)
Cai Lie Zhou Kao, 採挒肘靠 (Cǎi Liè Zhǒu Kào)
To reach the next level of practice, students need to apply their skills from additional training in Coiling, Intercepting, Na (拿, Ná, “Control”), Cai (採, Cǎi, “Plucking”), Centering, and remaining soft.
Typical challenges in training the Fighting Set are:
Maintaining root and low stances
Technique execution: Providing the correct impetus for your partner to react
Reacting rather than anticipating (don’t be a psychic and move too early)
Intention: Providing your partner with the “right” kind and right amount of challenges
Endurance and retaining softness throughout the sequence
Q&A with Dr. Yang
BR: Did you ever train with Mr. Chen again to see how your interpretation of the other side was close to his version?
DY: No. I never trained with Mr. Chen after I came to the US. He came to visit in around 1984, but we did not get into it. We only exchanged some pushing hands techniques.
BR: Who did you train with to help further your understanding? Did you train with anyone close to your level?
DY: No. I could not find anyone who had reached my level. I did train some students so I could shoot pictures for my book, Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, Vol. 2 (New version: Tai Chi Chuan Martial Power: Advanced Yang Style). That was the first time I taught this sequence but I learned quite a lot. If you see this book, you may see that this version was the closest version of my practice when I was in Taiwan.
BR: Was there a specific time period or drills that improved your understanding of the Fighting Set?
DY: After I quit my engineering job in 1984. When I began to teach and write books, Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, Vol. 1 (New version: Tai Chi Chuan Martial Applications: Advanced Yang Style, 3rd Edition) and Vol. 2. I began to analyze the Taijiquan theory from ancient documents and applied it into my practice. With my White Crane background and through teaching and practicing with students, I was able to enter a deeper level of understanding.
BR: How has the sequence changed over time?
DY: The sequence has been modified throughout my teaching career. The more I teach, the more I understand the techniques hidden inside of movements and the meanings behind them. I added the White Crane techniques of escaping from grabs, which was not in the original version. In order for it to make sense, I emphasized more plucking in the students’ training within the last ten years. After two of my long-time students had their form checked by me, I began to focus on having students train the applications to build reflexes for real combat.