During Pushhands with Ma Jiangbao I observed the following sequence again and again:
Ma Jiangbao succeeded relatively quickly to gain a stronger position than his partner. Through a powerful advance with an or ji he could now lift his partner off his feet.
But that he did not.
Although he had the advantage, he retreated with lü. The partner lost their structure and Ma Jiangbao was able to break their balance with little effort.
Foto: Manos Meisen
This strategy (even as the stronger not to strike immediately) is certainly not an invention of Ma Jiangbao. Rather, it is a general concept in Chinese strategic thinking. One finds it beautifully formulated in the Hundred Military Strategies of Liu Bowen:
In general, if you want the enemy
to engage your stronger, more numerous troops in battle,
you should feign fear and weakness
in order to entice them into it.
When they careless come forth,
you can suddenly assault them with your elite troops
and their army will invariably be defeated.
A tactical principle from the Art of War states:
Although capable, display incapability.
(One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies, Ralph D. Sayer, Westview, p. 66)
How often do you see on a youtube clip a Tai Chi-practitioner throwing an inferior but still structurally stable partner with a fierce fajing? Certainly an excellent technique, but it somehow never fully convinced me. In my option the true fascination of Tai Chi Chuan lies simply in the application of the strategy mentioned above.
Not being immediately active - even against an inferior partner.
Lure them into action, thereby bringing them with less effort
and less risk to lose their balance.
Here one can find the ideals of stillness and lightness of Tai Chi Chuan and also avoids any danger of venturing too early and too far into confrontation.