Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, August 06, 2018

Tai Chi Classics and MMA

Graham Barlow, of The Tai Chi Notebook, wrote an article for on applying the Tai Chi Classics to MMA. An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

... I would argue that the advice in the Taiji Classics is, in fact, timeless, and applies equally well to a 5th century battlefield as it does to a modern MMA match. There are innumerable examples of good advice on a fighter’s movement and posture in the classics. Take the following lines from the Taiji classic attributed to Chan Seng Feng as an example:

“In motion the whole body should be light and agile, 
with all parts of the body linked as if threaded together.”

Think of a truly well conditioned fighter – they seem to move with the same natural grace and power that a cheetah displays when chasing a gazelle, or a tiger poses while stalking deer. When you see somebody looking awkward and stiff, it’s usually not long before they hit the canvas. Take Ronda Rousey’s last fight in UFC 207 for the bantamweight title against the champion Amanda Nunes.
In the brief 48 seconds it took before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, Nunes stalked Rousey like a panther. She looked supple, composed and fluid. In contrast Rousey looked stiff and uncoordinated, her raised hands separated from her torso as she desperately tried to shield her face from incoming blows. “Light and agile” won the day, as it so often does.

In the same UFC event we also witnessed a virtuoso display of fighting by Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz, who both perfectly expressed the ideas of emptying the left and right when pressured, that we talked about earlier. In a nutshell, if somebody strikes at your right side then you need to make that side ‘empty’, say, by ducking your head out of the way. Thus you ‘empty the right when pressured’.

When empty and full are in harmony the strike is effectively neutralised. You could see Cruz and Garbrandt, time after time, perfectly evading each other’s attacks throughout the fight. This is yin and yang in harmony, and also the central concept that Taijiquan is based on – continually changing to keep the Yin (empty) parts of the body and the Yang (full) parts in balance, while engaging with an opponent.

In contrast, if you watch the Rousey and Nunes fight you will see several examples of Nunes’ ‘full’ right jab meeting the ‘full’ side of Rousey’s face, without the required movement skill to evade it.

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