Why T'ai Chi is Faster.

Why T'ai Chi is Faster.

Postby Simon Batten » Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:12 am

Of course it's trite to say that T'ai Chi is a defensive and reactive martial art that relies on such techniques as sticking, joining and following to neutralise opponents and turn their initial moves against them by these and other techniques. Speed is not necessarily of the essence, provided the speed of the opponent can be anticipated. However, it would appear that it was the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, the founding father of Quantum Mechanics who provided a scientific or at least logical explanation as to why such martial arts as T'ai Chi are superior to the hard extenal martial arts that rely on speed, hard force, attack and knock-out blows. I am quoting here from the article on Everything2.com on Niels Bohr: 'A little-known fact about Niels Bohr is that apart from his immense contributions to nuclear and quantum physics, he also discovered that the human mind and body can move quicker when moving in reaction to some outside phenomenon than when initiating an action on its own.

The great scientist had a major weakness for very bad Western flicks, and the international group of physicists that worked at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen in the 20's and 30's would often go to the movies following a hard day of trying to figure out how atoms work. A true geek following the ancient Comic Book Guy Tradition, Bohr loved to loudly point out logical flaws in the plot and action of these cinematic horrors. One of his observations was that the hero always wins the gunfight, even though the villain always draws his gun first.

Bohr developed a theory to explain this phenomenon, quite simply stating that since the hero never shoots first, the villain must decide when to shoot, which inhibits his movement. The hero, on the other hand, acts on a reflex and can pull his sixshooter automatically as soon as he sees the villain's hand moving. His consciousness doesn't need to get in the way.

Bohr conducted an experiment based on his theory: Along with the Russian-American physicist George Gamow and some students of Bohr's, the scientist purchased a couple of toy revolvers in Western-style holsters and played out a Bad Cowboy Flick Shootout. Bohr played the part of the hero, and managed to "kill" every single one of his students in the duels.

More serious psychological research has since verified his theory of reflexive action, although he is rarely credited for it.' Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:33 am

There is probably something to that, though it seems to me that reacting quickly often involves noticing signals from the other that telegraph what they are going to do. I have recently been playing a lot with a labrador retriever, and frequently I can anticipate what he is going to do and get the better of him. In some sense I am able to dong jing. When he wants to jump he first crouches down etc. You can often see things like shoulders tensing in a human opponent, or feel a little wave as they start to think about doing something...
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Postby Simon Batten » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:05 am

Jerry: I think this is in fact what Bohr meant too and would draw attention to the paragraph in the article where it says:

'Bohr developed a theory to explain this phenomenon, quite simply stating that since the hero never shoots first, the villain must decide when to shoot, which inhibits his movement. The hero, on the other hand, acts on a reflex and can pull his sixshooter automatically as soon as he sees the villain's hand moving. His consciousness doesn't need to get in the way.'

I think the words 'as soon as he sees the villain's hand moving' are the crucial ones and if I'm not mistaken I think this amounts to more or less what you're saying, too. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby aidren » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:13 am

This is interesting. Brings to mind "If my opponent does not move, I do not move; if my opponent moves, I move first" -- the typical translation. I prefer the translation that goes -- "if my opponent moves, I arrive first" -- and it fits what you are talking about here.

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Postby Steveg219 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:58 am

Great post Simon!

The bit about the decision to shoot versus the reflex of responding is the key. The attacker uses the intellectual center to decide to attack and to initiate the process. When you are in a state of neutral awarenesss and an attack is perceived the instinctive and moving centers respond. These centers move at orders of magnitude faster than the thinking center.

It is always very cool to learn the science behind what the great masters understood- the other attacks first but you arrive before him!!
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Postby Audi » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:36 pm

Hi everyone,

Simon, wonderful post! Its also great to know that Niels Bohr did something I can actually pretend to understand.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This is interesting. Brings to mind "If my opponent does not move, I do not move; if my opponent moves, I move first" -- the typical translation. I prefer the translation that goes -- "if my opponent moves, I arrive first" -- and it fits what you are talking about here.</font>


I too prefer to work with second phrase, rather than the second; however, I do not think that this is a translation issue. I think both phrases are used in the classics and writings of the early masters. By the way, does anyone know offhand which formulation is older or where each comes from?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The bit about the decision to shoot versus the reflex of responding is the key. The attacker uses the intellectual center to decide to attack and to initiate the process. When you are in a state of neutral awarenesss and an attack is perceived the instinctive and moving centers respond. These centers move at orders of magnitude faster than the thinking center. </font>


I agree with this, but also think there is additional factor. If you are using traditional Taijiquan to respond, you have already made two critical decisions before the opponent has a chance to decide on an attack. You have made the "decision" to use "sticking" as a strategy. As your tactic, you have already "decided" to stick to wherever the opponent's intention and power manifest. The rest is detail left for instinct and training. You do not have to worry about choosing a speed or a target, or even a level of power. You don't have to worry about over-committing or about whether an opportunity will present itself for a counterattack. This is inherent in your strategy and tactics.

Put another way, I think you move or arrive first, because you are already doing something before the opponent even begins. Since this thing is inherently tied to the movement and intention of the opponent, she cannot get out ahead of you. To do so, she would have to get out ahead of herself. At least in theory. Image

For me, this is an idea that I was trying to get at in an exchange a couple of years ago about keeping in the opponent's mental shadow. You arrive first because you are always standing in a place that the opponent cannot get at without changing first. If your level of listening and understanding are sufficient, you can always anticipate this change and prepare a counter. That is, of course, a very big "if."

Take care,
Audi
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Postby bamboo leaf » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:03 am

(of course it's trite to say that T'ai Chi is a defensive and reactive martial art that relies on such techniques as sticking, joining and following to neutralise opponents and turn their initial moves against them by these and other techniques. Speed is not necessarily of the essence, provided the speed of the opponent can be anticipated.)

Been away for awhile happened to come across this thread. many good posts, just some thoughts to add.

I think another way one might look at this, is that taiji is neither defensive nor offensive. It is neutral always seeking a dynamic balance. The other that one interacts with has to deal with their own unbalance in this process. What is unbalanced is not stable, not being stable it can not be in harmony with itself which in the end leads to its own undoing.

In taiji, the first goal is to understand this within ones self and later in others.

For me looking at it in this way, words like defensive, and offensive have no meaning.


Anticipation, a better word might be perception, at what point can one perceive a movement. Ideally it would be at the thought before the movement has begun to manifest itself through the others body. To be able to do this one must understand the relationship between the mind and body, the mind and spirit.

(I think you move or arrive first, because you are already doing something before the opponent even begins. Since this thing is inherently tied to the movement and intention of the opponent, she cannot get out ahead of you. To do so, she would have to get out ahead of herself. At least in theory)

no theory, this is very correct and also really separates taiji from many other CMA in approach and application. Unfortunately what we have to day is the holding up of the low and dismissing the high, even to the point that it is not believed.



[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 03-09-2008).]
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:53 am

Choice post Bamboo,


"Unfortunately what we have to day is the holding up of the low and dismissing the high, even to the point that it is not believed."

The "Commies" all along have dismissed the "high" because they don't understand it and for the most part, fear it. Amateur 'SKEPTIX' who have yet to experienced something dismiss it in off hand fashion to empower themselves. But, they may not realize that the burden is much greater to prove the non-existence of something. On the flip side it is, naturally, very easy to prove the existence of something.

Jeff
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Re: Why T'ai Chi is Faster.

Postby edmundo » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:46 pm

how about muscle memory
with tai chi you train your muscles and mind
so in a fight you do not have to think about it, like your oponent does which thinking about it takes time
in the other hand is like your body is moving by itself
this is because with tai chi you train your mind so your "(subsconcient)" do the automatic move in a fight
"(subsconcient)" = to speed
this is the way I see it
sorry for my inglish
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Re: Why T'ai Chi is Faster.

Postby sifu990 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:54 am

faster has many definitions, like acceleration time, end speed, reflex start time and so on.. gun fights are prob different tho I don't really know,, the part up to the trigger snap is only part one can time/ be there first so on. but with launched pushes, punches, stabs etc. usually started from a bit out of range or you would already be there, striking or controlling by then, faster is not the word I would use.. most people move, some move a lot and may look hard to control/strike due to speed, evasiveness etc. way I read it is few people move close to efficiently. I have teachers who move quite slowly physicaly, yet it is enough. As I launch, and cover the bit of ground to reach them, they are reading what I do. Most attacks, at my level, are more of an A to B, or pre thought out/planned target. The teachers efficient read of angles, timing, distance, force etc allow them to barely budge, but still be gone from your attack, and easily ( slowly physicaly) in on the attacker. Because they are aware, and move extremely efficiently, they can do a flowing move, that can adapt more easily to the needed adjustments as vectors change.
it can be either very frustrating, or very motivating, depending on how you look at it. I fought a lot of full contact successfully when young and was known for my quickness then. I am not a slouch now, and can still blur moves, but cant touch a teacher who seemingly is bored.
watching Muhammed Ali in his heyday when he would turn a jaw, sink an inch as he folded, and lean a touch, while 3 punches ripped by is essentialy the same thing.. efficient movement, based on timing, angles, distance etc etc. and lots of experience. Best performed in a relaxed manner..
All of us can do the same, tho not to that degree. Work with a partner who is stiff, telegraphs, tries to use strength etc. and move less, move slower, move correctly.
Speed is wonderful to have, relaxed moves are quicker, but they are one factor of 10 or more. So not the most important, unless all else is equal. Which it NEVER is
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Re: Why T'ai Chi is Faster.

Postby yslim » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:22 am

Hi sifu990,
Enjoy reading your post very much. Thank you for sharing.
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