Please be aware of all kinds of marketing schemes that are used now-a-days when people promote Tai Chi Chuan as an effective martial art for fighting and real self-defense. We are talking about non-fighting Tai Chi folks promoting fighting, and other silliness like "One Touch KO's". That is another one that takes the cake in deceitful advertising.
In recent years, an increase of questionable instructors have been marketing that they teach effective "Combative Tai Chi", "Tai chi for the streets", "Tai Chi for fighting", and all other types of gaffs. Some of these consumers and buyers of these dangerous marketing trends are really going to get hurt by it. They may think they have a real skill, and one day, thinking they will have special fajin powers, someone is gonna clock them into reality.
Do you even know what to look for when seeking out "Tai Chi for fighting"??? Please allow me to help you.
First of all you want to have someone with real fight experience. A verifiable fight record comes to mind. I am not talking about hearsay stories that so-n-so touched a guy on the shoulder and his opponent flew away and fell down, or the 1000's of fights so-n-so did while on the streets. Both are totally unverifiable and most likely polished stories worthy of a good laugh. Be weary of many of the "Tai Chi fighting" Youtubes out there, most are done by people with no fight experience and they are often scripted scenes with their students who telegraph punches and act "knocked out" in these misleading videos. One in particular, a instructor had his student who is a non-wrestler, act as a wrestler, so he can show how to use the art against wrestlers in a way that wouldn't work. Total Fail!
Second, find a person who has a good reputation, has been in the game for a while, and trained for sport fighting. Someone who is safe to say has done well in fight events. You want to try to avoid people who say they have fought, but in reality got knocked out in the first minute of the fight. A good fighter is someone who knows the hard work of sparring, strength training, cardio training, hit conditioning, high percentage techniques, and all the other important tools and attributes to help you survive a real street and sport fighting confrontation. We recommend someone well known as a good fighter.
Thirdly, that person needs to be well versed in transmitting this to their students who thus become great fighters and even champions of full contact fighting. If someone is training fighters that constantly lose and get knocked out, the instructor seems to not know how to properly prepare a fighter. If the fighter loses, but fights well, then it is another story. What is important is how and what are they producing. A win-lose ratio is a good gauge. Class size, amount of fighters active in competitions, knowledge of the various rules for various fight events, these things a good instructor will know.
So here are good signs:
1. find someone with real experience in fighting, and can prove it.
2. find someone well known and active in the martial community and fight events.
3. find someone who continues to train fighters regularly and can take you to that level.
In my own research and fight training, I have met and talked with several people who can apply both Tai Chi Chuan, or their respective Chinese Martial Art into the realm of full contact fighting. This is either Sanda, San Shou, Lei Tai, and even MMA. Here I will discuss some of the top people world wide doing so. These are teachers I highly recommend if you want to go beyond "push hands" and get right into the heart of real fighting.
Sifu Mike Patterson: was the Taiwan National Champion for a couple of years back in the 70s under Hsu Hong Chi and student of Hung Yi Hsiang. He taught fighters how to use Hsingyi, Pakua, and Tai Chi in Lei Tai combat. Several of his fighters won in their divisions and became on the US team. He kept a team of Men and Women that dominated Lei Tai competitions for many year is mid-90s to early 2000. Alex Shpigel, Mario Mancini. Bob Reynolds, Steve Cotter were some of them.
|Sifu Mike Patterson with champion students|
William CC Chen:
Master William Chen competed in Full Contact fighting event in Taiwan in the early 1950s. As a student of Cheng Man-Ching, he demonstrated Tai Chi as a combat art. His daughter Tiffany Chen and son Max Chen have both been members of the US Lei Tai and US San Shou team and competed Nationally and Internationally. Peter Ralston- also studied Tai Chi with William C.C. Chen in NY. In fact it was while he was training at Chen's school that he saw the poster for the (at the time, upcoming) 1978 World Full-Contact Fighting Championship in Taiwan and decided to compete. He went on to win the tournament, becoming the first non-Asian ever to do so.
|William CC Chen and Tiffany Chen|
Sifu David Ross is a San Shou fighter and instructor in NYC and trains fighters in San shou/San da, and MMA. He is a writer and has a excellent blog here discussing similar topics as this one.
Luo De Xiu- Hung Yi Hsiang's student, competed in national fighting events in Taiwan. He is a world renowned master of Neijia: Taiji, Bagua, and Xingyi. Luo has students teaching in Europe and America. Including Marcus Brinkman, George Wood, Ed Hines, Nick Cumber. Tim Cartmell- trained with Luo De Xiu. In 1986 he won the middleweight division of the All Taiwan Invitational Full Contact Tournament, and then won the middleweight division of the Chung Cheng International Full Contact Tournament later that same year. Tim is a Black belt in Brazilian Juijitsu.
Tim interview here
EBM Kung Fu- Brent Hamby (Oakland San Shou) EBM in Oakland California has a pretty tough squad of fighters that train in both Internal martial arts and San shou. Team consists of Brent Hamby, Adam Caldwell, Brian Madign, Russ Middleton, and more. they carry on tradition of Wong Jack Man.
|EBM Oakland Ca.|
Dan Docherty- Wutang TaiChi Style teacher in the UK who learned in Hong Kong, fought and won in a full contact events in Asia in late 1970s early 1980s. Neil Rosiak- Dan Docherty student who fought in Vale Tudo in the early years when MMA was developing, and is trainer for fighters Sami Berrick and Richard Lewis at the Masters Club in London. San Shou Ireland: Niall Keane, Declan Gannon, Karl Kidd, Daren Lowry, Wayne Marshall, Vytautas Vysniauskas are a Tai Chi team from Dan Docherty's Wudang Tai Chi Association that fights out of Ireland and is very active in competition. MUST READ Round table of Tai Chi fighting coaches from U.K.
|San Shou Ireland|
Eric Sbarge: Eric Sbarge and Peaceful Dragon Lei Tai team with
Natalia Hill, Robert Beaver, Carrie Chun and others is based in North Carolina. They are from Chang Tung Sheng's branch of Shuai Chiao and Internal gong fu: Taiji, Pakua, and Hsingyi.
Two other notable champions of full contact fighting I want to also mention are Patrick Brady and Robert Ruby. Both really great fighters. Some more active in teaching than others. Robert Ruby can be found here in Richmond Va.
Gurjok K. Singh- Teaches fighters a combination of Tai Chi pugilism, Boxing, and Muay Thai. Mr.Singh is a Retired Army Ranger and owner of Angels Gym that trains regional and state, mens and women, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and Grappling IKF and NAGA champions. He is also a book author, "The Art of Western Tai Chi".
Coach Wilson Pitts: influenced by Boxing, Robert W. Smith, and TCM with Dr. Amy Tseng in Richmond Virginia, he emphasized combat usage in Neijia arts of Tai Chi, Bagua, and Hsingyi. He trained several fighters including acupuncturist Celeste Wray and Jamar, for Lei Tai and San Shou using boxing principles and study from his experience at Joe Fraiser's Cloverlay Gym in North Philly in the 1970's. Wilson also teaches in New York city, California.
Sifu Clarence Burris teaches Tien Shan Pai and Tai Chi in Northern Virginia. He is 1992 NASKA Virginia State Heavy Weight Champion, and in 1993 Selected on the U.S. full contact Sanshou Team for World Championships in Malaysia.