Tai Chi Big Spear is also known as Tai Chi Staff
and Tai Chi 13 Spear Set. It is a 10 foot long weapon included in the Tai Chi
Chuan system's weapon armory. It is made from a springy wood known as 'white wax
wood'. The smaller end of the handle is the size of a diameter of a chicken's
egg yolk and the larger end's diameter is the size of a duck egg. This weapon is
usually reserved for advanced training because it requires more power and body
coordination from the practitioner in order to execute its movements correctly.
Therefore, Tai Chi Big Spear is not common and most Tai Chi Chuan practitioners
today do not know it.
Tai Chi Big Spear has 13 techniques. These 13
techniques include Four Adhesion Techniques, Four Free Techniques, Four
Application Techniques and One Coiling Technique. When one is practicing the big
spear, the movements are guided by the same concepts and principles that apply
in Tai Chi Chuan. However, because of the spear's weight, it is physically more
demanding for the practitioner to correctly demonstrate the concepts and
principles. I summarize these physical demands as the "four straights" which
should include the head, shoulders, spear and feet. Having the 'head straight'
refers to the need to suspend the head from above so the spirit reaches the top
of the head to increase awareness. It is also necessary to understand the
relationship of Yin and Yang and to be able to mobilize the power so as to
project a powerful posture. 'Shoulder straight' refers to the waist acting as an
axle in motion. All movements are initiated from the waist. Sink the chest and
raise the back, relax the shoulders and sink the elbows so that every movement
involves the whole body. 'Spear straight' refers to holding the spear firmly
level at the chest so that one is able to thrust the spear quickly forward on
target. 'Feet straight' refers to having the power to begin from the feet, go up
through the waist, shoulders, hands and into the tip of the spear.
When one is positioning the spear, it is often level to the practitioner's
chest. This position makes it easier to thrust at the opponent's heart while
also making it difficult for the opponent to block. When one is holding the
spear, one should hold it with control, too tight and too loose are both
incorrect. The rear hand grasps the larger end of the handle. This is like an
anchor, so one should hold it firmly. It is important that the rear hand is at
the very end of the handle. If it is not, this will inhibit the rear hand's
wrist movements and cancel out any advantage of being a long weapon. The forward
hand should grasp the midsection or the last section of the handle. The key to
holding the spear with the forward hand is that it should not be too firm so
that it can slide back and forth while thrusting. The classics say " The forward
hand is like a pipe, the back hand is like a lock." If one is not properly
holding the spear, the spear does not thrust quickly enough and the power will
not reach the spear tip. Spearing is thrusting. A spear form without any
thrusting technique is not a spear form. Although thrusting is a simple thing to
do, it is lethal when one executes it quickly with power. It is said that thrust
one time by a spear is more lethal than hit ten times by a staff. Therefore, the
spear is known as the king of long weapons.
All Chinese martial art styles practice spear thrusting as a solo drill
exercise to improve this technique and its destructive ability. It is no
different among Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Because of the spear's weight and
size, the Spear thrusting exercise is common among Tai Chi Chuan practitioners
as a method to improve one's spear skills as well as to obtain power. It is
based on the concept commonly referred to as Fa Jing. A practitioner is ready to
engage in this exercise training when one is able to maintain the spear straight
away from the body without any problem. During the exercise, when one is
thrusting, utilize the whole body so that the power reaches the tip of the
spear. The thrust should be in one straight line. This is like shooting an arrow
from a bow. Therefore, the forward hand should be stable so it will not miss the
target and the back hand should not turn the wrist so that the power is
connected and sinks. To prevent any physical injury, one should not thrust too
fast in the beginning, rather, one should pay closer attention to the body's
coordination and the thrusting motions. Later, one can speed up with experience.
If one regularly practices this exercise, one will discharge more power in all
strikes, not just when thrusting the spear.
When one is practicing the Tai Chi Big Spear, thrusting forward or backward,
the handle should be kept close to the body. This provides a better opportunity
for the practitioner to control the spear so that it will not go off to the
sides or up and down.