What many people do not realize is that Tai Chi is not limited to health and fitness only. It is a style of Chinese martial arts. There are over 300 plus styles of Chinese martial arts and Tai Chi is one of them. They were all originally designed for effective use in combat. Over the years Tai Chi has evolved and made a smooth and natural transition from a combat style to a health building style. This is primarily due to its slow, soft, and graceful movements along with its low impact on the body.
As a result, the practice of Tai Chi has become very well known for promoting longevity and helping to accelerate healing. However, this is only one section of its practice. You will also develop your mind, will, calm attitude, balance and strength along with developing an awareness and understanding of self protection. How can Tai Chi be used for self defense? Well here are three self defense principles of Tai Chi Chuan.
#1 - Luring an opponent into an empty place.
Luring an opponent into an empty place is what I like to refer to as “finding the void.” The empty space where an opponent can easily lose their balance by simply using their own weight force against them. This is why Tai Chi practice works on building a great center of balance within the practitioner. By understanding your center of balance you can then find your opponents center of balance and feel when he is out of balance (find the void) and use his own weight against himself.
#2 - using four ounces of force to manipulate a thousand pounds of force.
Using four ounces of force to manipulate one thousand pounds of force defines the ideal level of efficiency one is trying to reach. This principle reminds us to use the smallest amount of force needed in order to defend successfully against a forceful attack. We need to learn to yield to an incoming attack (not push it away) and then add our strength to the attack to use the attackers force against himself. By yielding to an attack we can easily manipulate the incoming force. Through this type of practice one will learn to understand leverage and angles to produce "maximum results with minimum effort." One can say it is learning how to fight smarter and not harder.
#3 - Borrowing the opponent's force to defeat his force.
This third principle teaches you to borrow the opponent's force while conserving your own, thus manipulating the opponent and taking advantage of his mistakes. This ability depends on the sensitivity you develop through Tai Chi training. It is more of a feel of the opponents strengths and weaknesses. When your opponent's force reaches your body, usually strong and hard, you should then use soft and following to respond. This means not using your force to resist his force directly, as you would do instinctively. Instinctively it is natural to resist a large incoming force by exerting an equal or larger force. While this instinctive approach may sometimes be effective, it is far from being efficient. Instead of struggling directly against the incoming force, Tai Chi teaches us to follow the incoming force, then at an appropriate moment skillfully redirect it using the smallest amount of force necessary (principle #2) and then lure the opponent into emptiness - a void (principle #1) and defeat.
Avoid the opponent's strengths and attack his weaknesses, this is the real essence behind the Chinese martial art know as Tai Chi Chuan.