Tai Chi VS Silat. What’s the Difference?

We often talk about the differences between Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Bagua.

  • Hsing-I moves forward in waves like a sine wave or water rolling in to the beach.
  • Bagua moves more like a gyroscope or/& a spinning sphere within a spinning sphere.
  • Tai Chi moves more like a large ball that can expand or deflate instantly from the inside & outside.

But what about Silat?

Well that’s a little tougher.

Unlike Tai Chi, Silat isn’t a single art. It’s a whole category.

There are around 900 styles of Silat including arts like Tjimande, Tjikalong, Harimau, etc…

So it really depends on which type of Silat you compare it to.

Here are a few generalizations to get you started:

  • Tai Chi is usually much more concerned with health in the beginning.
  • Silat usually starts with survival first.
  • Tai Chi uses very refined structure.
  • Some Silat will throw structure completely out the window.
  • Tai Chi will tends to use a very calm quiet mental & body state.
  • Silat will often do the opposite. There’s a lot more…

Keep in mind that with a category as big and diverse as Silat there will always be exceptions to the rule.

For example, our Clear Defense method is straight up Kuntao Silat.

It’s aggressive, powerful, vicious.

However, if you train it, you’ll find yourself using all of these Tai Chi principles:

  • Peng, Lu, Ji, An
  • Zhong Ding (central equilibrium)
  • Whole body connection (& one piece moves everything moves)
  • The “They attack first I land first” principle
  • Condensing
  • Opening & Closing
  • Root and more…

The method also prevents someone from having the error of double weighted and every bit of movement is found throughout the Tai Chi form.

…and, though the method is somewhat rigorous, we’ve successfully taught it to 60 & 70 year olds who were not in very good shape.

In this case the only thing that really makes Clear Defense a Silat method is the attitude. Because this method is designed to be learned quickly, students use a very aggressive mind state.

We find the aggression of Silat much easier for beginners to use effectively in an attack, While the calm peaceful mind state of Tai Chi takes a bit longer to develop well enough for use in life and death situations.

Learn this method at our Clear Defense Certification Workshop in July.

You can also get the Clear Defense Instructor DVD Package.

Catch Full Speed Punches out of the Air

One of the classes in Clear’s Silat Phase 1 is how to Catch Full Speed Punches out of the Air.

This is a timing and perception training class much more than it is an application class. In other words, it is not that we Catch Full Speed Punches out of the Air and hold the attackers punch while making some maniacal B movie laugh as the attacker falls to their knees and melts away at our feet.

In fact if you can successfully catch an attackers punch you had better be moving on to your next attacking technique in process without delay or you are likely to be holding their first punch while they land the second punch on your head and then continue to hit you. They will marvel later that you actually caught their punch but then they beat you badly as you stood there attempting the maniacal movie laugh.

So, what is the benefit in a fight of Catching a Full Speed Punch out of the Air?

First of all if you can perceive well enough to do that then your response to any movement the opponent makes should be timed well enough that you can outpace and out position them fairly easily.

For most people speed and power diminish after they reach a certain age somewhere between 40 and 60 years of age. However, timing and perception continues to improve as long as you are physically well and continue to train.

I have had quite a number of teachers in their 70s and 80s who are physically quite capable and who move quite fast and well. When you talk to them about speed they will quickly tell you that they are much slower than the average 20 year old in good shape but that their perception and timing are what is making them appear to move so fast.

To catch a full speed punch out of the air you will want to train the basic Clear’s Silat vision method of sleepy eye as well as action beats reaction and positioning skills such as Welcoming Posture # 1 and constant motion. When you put all of these elements together you really get a good look at what the art is supposed to look like and it makes sense how this is an art that is used to defend yourself against multiple attackers armed with bladed weapons.

The better you can get at naturally moving with all of these elements happening at the same time the more correct your practice and performance of the art will be. This includes your evasion, flanking attacks and your counter attacks.

Fighting Rhythm

Fighting Rhythm refers to the repetitive pace and timing that you are moving to when you are in motion to fight.

A rhythm is a pattern that continually repeats. In a fighting rhythm the movement of the person continually repeats or flows to a certain beat in a repetitive pattern. The movement can range from quite simple to very complex.

The benefits of a rhythm are that the average person can normally maintain a rhythm for quite awhile (several minutes or longer) without fatigue. This is partly due to the fact that the conscious mind is not overly stressed and is able to rest in a rhythmic state.

The downside of rhythmic motion for fighting is that the movement pattern can usually be figured out by an observing opponent and then they can reasonably predict your next move or moves and counter you just prior to the move or as you begin to make the move.

A simple drill to work on rhythmic motion for fighting is to have your partner stand in the center of a circle and field your strikes while you use rhythm and move around them and throw your strikes from the outside position of the circle.