When looking at applications in general, I’ve been taught we are to assume our opponent is intelligent and a trained fighter. What this usually means is not getting these “one-off” applications executed on folks. Sure, it’s might cool to think that I could drop and immobilize an opponent with 1 hit, but I know that’s likely not true.
Taiji is said to counter hardness with it’s softness. It was the art used to counter the ‘external’ martial artists of the day, not your average untrained fighter, though it should be applicable to those too! This is why I really enjoy watching some of the application work of Chen Zhonghua. In the explanations of the applications, he outlines what a “smart” opponent would do. How a “smart” opponent would try to take advantage of certain body positions.
In a recent post on Emptyflower Forum, Early Chen Style Forms, RJ noted:
There are many types and levels of application punching, throwing, qinna, basic, advanced, etc. Hong’s (or Chen’s) priority seemed to have been what made TJQ unique, the control applications used in push hands.
as one compares Hong’s form to other forms to ask if the difference from Hong’s form is due to trying to hide the “real” application as was common in many MAs or does the variation represent a different type of application? A lot of Hong’s variation from today’s Chen forms is that he uses less basic qinna and focuses more on overall control and attack.
Based on what I’ve seen of Hong’s application work via Chen Zhonghua, I would have to agree. I’ve encountered similar teachings via the Wai Lun Choi camp. When working on the applications of the 12 animals of Liuhebafa (LHBF) system, we assume an intelligent opponent, not one that will be taken out with one hit, but one who has trained in martial arts and will know how to deflect, sink, evade, attack, etc. The goal, upon contact with an opponent, is to control the opponent. By controlling someone’s elbow, I can affect their shoulder and in turn, their torso and body.
I then ran across a clip of Mike Patterson demonstrating some Chen taiji applications. In his video, he also assumes he’s dealing with a “smart” opponent.