Sunday, October 16, 2011

The secret of tai-chi power 2 - Luo

Parry is the most common technique in boxing to deflect an opponent's straight punch. To use it against a punch to the face, the hand is used; and to use it against a punch to one's torso, the forearm or elbow is to be used. In tai-chi, parry and counter punch is included in the Form and is called "deflecting and blocking punch" (搬攔錘). In tai-chi's eight methods, it is called Luo (捋).

The classic training method is firstly practice it in slow movement, secondly practice it during pushing hands and lastly practice it in combat situation. The question is: What is it special about tai-chi's method of practice (if at all special)?

In order to do a good parry, firstly one must have enough power to deflect the opponent's punch, and secondly one must do it in a quick, relaxed and controlled way so that a counter punch can be executed with ease.

Assuming one has been trained with Zhan Zhuang and achieved the state of "muscles-as-one", a tai-chi practitioner should learn and practice how to use minimum energy and attention so that a powerful, speedy and controlled parry can be executed.

As the previous post on Peng mentioned, one needs to "float" one's shoulder joint to generate the full-body power to deflect the punch. Having handled the power issue, one's parrying hand (assuming a face punch from the opponent), one's movement must be just right (too little can't avoid the punch, too much will alert the opponent as to nullify one's small window of opportunity to execute a counter punch.

How to condition one's parry movement "just right"? It is by sweeping from one's initial focused point to the next focused point. In tai-chi parry, the focused points are the outer edge of one's eyebrows (for right hand parry, the initial point is the edge of one's right eye, and vice versa). A quick sweep of focus shall be synchronized with the the movement of one's blocking hand (from right to left or left to right as the case may be).

And the essence of point focus training is to do "point meditation" during Zhan Zhuang (see previous post on the subject HERE). The sweeping movement however, need firstly to be trained in three steps as per above, starting with slow movement, and always with muscles-as-one (肌肉如一) in mind in order full-body-Jing (整体勁) can be applied to the point of contact. When one can accomplish parry with ease, counter punch can follow naturally.

Tai chi parry and counter punch (搬攔錘)


  1. I have always thought that "lu", is more of a pulling force, where your chi is sucked into the dantian, rather than a parrying force. Could you comment on that? By the way, your posts has gotten me to think a lot about my own practice.

  2. In tai-chi all executions of power involve sucking into the dantian, i.e. doing reverse abdominal breathing, which is sucking backwards (and upwards) towards one's spinal cord. One doesn't pull the attacking force of one's opponent towards one's body (especially not towards one's centre, which is suicidal ..:)), one redirects it side way as in parry or in "lu".

    Nice to hear that it stirred up some thoughts....


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