Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to Do the Pon Technique in Tai Chi

Well that's about it for Aikido, at least the useful stuff anyway. Now I'd like to segue into a useful combination of block, counter, light attack, and finishing attack I've found to be both simple and useful. It's from Tai Chi Chuan, the whole series is called Pon, Lu, Ji, Ang. I'll be posting one of these moves each day for the next four days. I hope they're helpful, or at the very least entertaining.

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. There are four main techniques or styles of attack and defense: Pon, Liu, Ji, and Ang. A Tai Chi martial artist can pass from one style to the next depending on the situation he/she finds him/herself in. This guide will teach you how to use the Pon style.

Using The Pon Technique
Step 1:
Begin by taking a half step forward with your left foot just as an opponent throws a direct punch or kick aimed to the face or chest. Put your weight on your forward foot. Your hands should be at your sides to start with.

Step 2:
Draw your right hand straight up to shoulder height as you step. At the same time begin to pull your left hand up and forward. Your left hand should be horizontal at all times, making a flat bar with your lower arm. Remember in Tai Chi movements of the hands and arms appear to begin with the wrist, as if it were pulling the rest of the arm along. This creates a flowing look that is the hallmark of Tai Chi.

Step 3:
Bring your left arm up horizontally to block, at the same time pull your right hand down so that your palms brush each other before taking their finishing positions. From the attacker’s point of view it will appear as if your arms create a framework. You will have correctly completed the technique up to this point if you appear to have made this framework.

Step 4:
Your left arm should deflect an opponent’s strike upward, while your right fist sits about a half foot behind the other arm. This gives you the immediate opportunity to block a follow-up attack, or to counter. Because all your body’s weight is on your forward foot you also have the opportunity to strike your opponent in the knee or shin with a short kick from your rear foot.

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. The literal translation of Pon is frame. This is a defensive technique reliant on countering an opponent's strike. It takes its name from the manner in which the user's hands move apart, creating the appearance of a framework or picture frame. All the instructions are for a right hand dominant individual, for a left hand dominant individual simply reverse the placement of the hands and feet.

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