Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Do the Brushing Knee Stroke Block in Tai Chi

Tai Chi that we know today is actually a short form for the phrase Tai Chi Chuan. It is a very old form of Chinese martial art whose founder is unknown. Because of its age multiple schools of Tai Chi have inherited separate styles of the same martial art. It is what is called an internal martial art in that its movements are fluid and circular, seeming to flow rather than move. This is opposite to external martial arts which use direct and abrupt movements. Most people know Tai Chi as the slow movements people perform in parks and yards. These are actually the training forms of Tai Chi Chaun; the fighting style meant to be used in actual combat is much faster, though it is comprised of the training form moves. It is so prevalent because many people believe that practicing the training forms is effective in promoting good health and longevity. It's also effective as a form of mental focus or meditation. This guide will explain how to perform a basic block move in combat oriented Tai Chi: the Brushing Knee Stroke Block

Performing The Brushing Knee Stroke Block
Step 1:
Begin arms at your sides. Keep your knees bent slightly and your weight should be on the balls of your feet.

Step 2:
Turn slightly to the side to present and angled target and step forward with your left foot. Your left shoulder should be closer to the opponent. Hunch slightly to keep your head partially protected.

Step 3:
As you step forward perform a semicircular sweep with your left hand. The sweep should begin above and to the left of your head, travel inward toward your body, and sweep above and pass by the knee of your outstretched left leg. This is where the block gets its name, it appears as if your brushing your knee. This is actually a distraction to your opponent.

Step 4:
As the sweep nears its finish rock your weight onto your forward foot and drive your right hand forward in an open palmed thrust. This thrust is meant to block an incoming opponent's attack and is the point of impact for this move.

Step 5:
When your right palm successfully collides with the incoming attack, pull your left foot back in slightly and rock back with the force of the impact, putting your weight back on your right foot. Make sure to keep your hands up and open to guard your upper chest and face. By rocking back you use the motion of your opponent to get into position for a counterattack. This would be the perfect time to respond with a low kick to the legs or knees, though that is up to your discretion.

Tips & Warnings
To make sure you have the movements right, perform these techniques slowly and increase their pace when you're comfortable with them. Practicing in front of a mirror can help you perfect your form.
Keep in mind that many forms of Tai Chi exist and may use the same names for different moves. There are likely other moves called Cloud Hands that differ from this one.

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