Although Tai Chi is best known for gentle movements that enhance the health of the practitioner, this same art can also be used to break the body in many different ways. Tai Chi has methods for breaking bones, vertebrae, entire limbs, and even internal organs. Although this might seem out of character for what is usually considered a peaceful and soothing art, it makes sense in light of the history of Tai Chi.
The last generation of Tai Chi masters in China such as Dr. Wu came from long family lines of Chinese medical practitioners. For example, Dr. Wu has a 500 year family history in the healing arts. These masters and their families studied arts such as acupuncture, Tui Na massage, bone setting, and other healing arts. Consequently, they and their families had a thorough knowledge of the body and how it works as well as it’s weaknesses. They put this knowledge to work as they developed and practiced their martial art.
One technique that has been highly developed in Tai Chi is the leverage bone break. The first way to use a leverage break is to use your own body weight applied in a specific way 跌打師傅 to your opponent’s body to break a bone. Some of the movements can be applied to a combat situation to get this kind of leveraged bone break include parry, Brush Knee, Needle Searches Sea Bottom.
Instead of using your own weight, you can also use an attacker’s weight in order to create a leverage bone break. Some Tai Chi forms that can be used this way are Wild Horse Tosses Mane, Cloud Hands and Carry the Cauldron.
And finally, instead of using one side of a lever or the other to create a break, you can use the fulcrum of the lever instead. For example, you can use Fan Through the Back and Grasp Sparrows Tail in this way. You can also use Wild Horse Tosses Mane and Carry the Cauldron to achieve this kind of break as well.
Breaking bones through leverage is only one method available to Tai Chi practitioners. It is also possible to use extension, hyper-extension, pressure, rotation, weight drop and impact. To really learn these techniques, and other body breaking techniques as well, you will not only need to learn the forms to use, but also how to correctly position your hands, shoulders, elbows, or torso in order to achieve the break. Once you understand these, you will need to be able to properly apply force and transfer your own weight and energy so as to properly break a bone.