Chi travels in a vacuum.
The fajin of the Shi Kon Yang Style of Tai Chi is unlike that usually shown on video by many other martial artists. It is certainly not unique and conforms to the classics but not often shown because visually it’s hard to understand. It’s a contentious subject so that is why for this article I use the Shi Kon term for how we train and understand it.
It’s important to understand the basics properly because the environment has to be right for fajin to occur. In the neigong we ensure that there is no obstructions mentally, emotionally or physically to inhibit the flow of energy. The posture has to be aligned and connected harmonising left and right, upper and lower, front and back and inner and outer. The joints then have to be loose and not ‘held’, for this balance is essential.
Thus the classics have many references like the ‘harmonies’, ‘sink the chest to raise the back’ not to ‘lean’ and that there should be ‘no protrusions or collapses’ and allude to the proper understanding of ‘peng’. They also refer to the connected ‘float’ and the lightness of touch coupled with mind and intention like ‘where the ‘yi’ (intention) goes the ‘chi’ (energy) follows.
The Yang family ‘exercises’ categorise the jins (lines of ‘excitement’ or energy) with specific body movements, but it has to understood that there are infinite subtle permutations of these ‘jins’ in most techniques, thus we often refer to several exercises to gain power in one technique.
They also utilise the ‘pumps’ of chi in the body to create the internal ‘vacuum’ to be able to rapidly send the energy from the feet, manipulated by the core. to the point of expulsion into the opponent. This involves all of the basics described above to create the environment to allow this to happen.
Some say there is no fajin in Yang style because they either don’t understand it or only recognise the more obvious ‘whipping’ type of other styles, but although the Yang style might be harder to understand and train, it is certainly very effective and as it is like a pinball being sent to a point on a spiral, there are no weak points prior to or after delivery as the movement always maintains structural integrity, is constantly moving in a spiral and hard to detect.
The analogy of ‘sink, swallow float and spit’ describes the action but without the right environment it will present too many weaknesses.