Misconceptions About Tai Chi Chuan “Ward-off”

November 17, 2012

“Ward-off Right”

Last summer one of my Aikido friends came up to visit, and we had several hours of standing grappling and some cool knife stuff. When we were pushing hands, I was trying (successfully) to use ward-off (as pictured above) to neutralize his arms and torso.  As you see above, there is a nice, round feel to the lead arm, with your palm facing you.

He commented that at a recent seminar, an Aikido expert tested his students in this method.

He had them lie on their backs and use this posture to support a person laying on their arms:

standing post posture

The point of the test was that they could not support the partner with their palms pointing

inward, but they could with their palms pointing down, towards their feet. They were

supporting the partner with the knife-edge of the hand rather than the back of the forearm.

Now, I thought about this for a while and I think I see the misconception about the posture.

Ward-off is initally ment to bridge, make contact and feel the intent and force of incoming

energy. It is not used to push back against an equal or greater incoming force. It is certainly not

ment to support the opponent in any way, and if it is used in that fashion it is not Tai Chi.

Ward-off, rather, is to be used as a defensive bubble to neutralize an incoming force, allow a

redirection and opportunity to find the opponents weak angle. Once the superior angle is

 achieved, ward-off can be used to smash or shove an opponent off his base. This is often done

with the palm of the

rear arm supporting the forearm of the lead, or contact arm. The important feature of this

posture is

to keep the elbow below the level of the palm, and just have enough space under the arm to

hold an egg without breaking it. If the elbows are held to high, the structure will collapse.

In Tai Chi Chuan, we seek to find the circular within the linear.


























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4 Responses to Misconceptions About Tai Chi Chuan “Ward-off”

  1. Aric on December 1, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Interesting. To run with your bridging idea, would the palm facing inward also help make a grab? It seems in kung fu grabs are usually practiced with a rolling motion of the hand. If your palm was already facing down or outward you wouldn’t be able to use the rolling motion.

  2. Erik the Strange on December 1, 2012 at 3:49 am

    Funny I don’t remember you being successful. 😉

    Anyhow, I have been playing a lot with back of hand lately. I have found that it is a receptive form. The hand blade and palm are emitting forms. I do think the back of the hand is really useful, but the use comes from moving back (receptive) to emitting back to receptive. Ying yangy flow stuff.

    I look forward to raiding your secret lair again. Glad to see you blogging again.

  3. Zacky Chan on December 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    YAR! I see your Coors Light and raise you an Asahi!

  4. DR on December 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Strange: You are welcome around my campfire any time!
    Ok, maybe I was only partly successful in our psuedo-drunken-deathmatch. Thank you for sparing me so we could drink more Beer!

    Aric: Yes, I feel it is useful to roll the hand over as you say. Wing Chun also uses this; in Tai Chi it is called “tsai”, in Wing Chun “Fuk-sao”.

    Zacky Chan: Please post more pictuers of pretty Japanese girls!

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