Forms in Mirror Image.

Forms in Mirror Image.

Postby Simon Batten » Mon Sep 03, 2007 5:56 am

In Yearning K. Chen's book on Yang style Tai Chi, he recommends ultimately practising the form in mirror image to develop a facility for using both sides of the body as necessary. Of course, many movements are repeated in the form both right and left but not all - not even Lan Chiao Wei, although interestingly, Yearning K. Chen's description of the form starts with right Lan Chiao Wei performed with a turn to southeast from a north facing starting position, followed by left Lan Chiao Wei to northeast and then Peng, Li, Ji, An as usual to East. Whether this suggests that Yang Cheng Fu did the opening of the form this way at some point is open to question of course, though it seems very likely, but perhaps impossible to establish at what stage in his career. But it's certainly struck me as odd that for instance, Chin Pu Pan Lan Chi is only done on one side, not to mention Peng, Li, Ji, An. The same point might apply also to the sword form, particularly as Bradeos has pointed out in the Weapons section the importance of switching sword hands in Chinese swordsmanship. Does anyone these days actually practise the forms (barehand and/or sword) in mirror image? I've actually tried it once or twice on sections of the barehand form and it really is very disorientating - almost like having to learn the movements all over again. I imagine that it must be excellent practice and to be able to do the form equally well on both sides must be a rare skill. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Audi » Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:43 am

Greetings Simon,

FYI, we had a discussion about this some time ago. If my computer skills are up to snuff, you should be able to access the discussion by clicking here.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Simon Batten » Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:49 pm

Thanks, Audi, for the reference: no problem with your computer skills and I have now read the discussion and followed the 'pros and cons' of the idea. I might just add here the quotation from Yearning K. Chen's book which he appends as a note to the end of his form descriptions (p128 of my edition): 'When a practiser has become so familiar with the whole series of T'ai Chi Ch'uan that he performs each movement at the right speed without irregularities and interruptions, fully understands the applications, and breathes naturally, he can change to the left (or reversed style)... When a practiser has mastered the whole series of the left style as well as the right style, he will have acquired further benefit. For when movements can be performed in both styles, neither side will be overbalanced. Further practise in the right style will become still more interesting'. Yearning K. Chen studied privately for ten years with Master Tien Sou-Lin who lived to be 99! Chen's original book apparently contained also sections on Sword, Knife and Staff; it would be very interesting to see that. The book I have only contains the barehand section of the original book. At the end of all this, I still can't make my mind up on the 'pros and cons'. Maybe in my practice, I'll stick to what I've been doing occasionally, but more often now, and just practise some forms on both sides individually - fast, perhaps. Kind regards, Simon.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>Greetings Simon,

FYI, we had a discussion about this some time ago. If my computer skills are up to snuff, you should be able to access the discussion by clicking here.

Take care,
Audi</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:25 pm

Simon,
Not really a rare skill. I know more than a few people who train the form going in both directions fairly regularly.
I train sword and saber forms with both hands nearly equally. I must admit to training slightly more heavily going in the traditional direction, due to time spent in class, but time spent in personal training is balanced out as much between sides as I can make it.
I started out training single postures in both directions, this gave me a good foundation and allowed me to start threading them together in the form without being so muscle confused. As each form became familiar in either direction I would thread it together until I could do the entire form going in either direction.
I still have to think quite a bit about where I am when I train the form in the mirror image, but it is quite beneficial.

Enjoy.
Bob
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Postby Simon Batten » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:56 pm

Bob: I'm very interested to find someone who trains this way and it gives me encouragement to go beyond single movement training on both sides. But I must say, I find the idea of the sword form particularly daunting from this point of view. I'm very right handed and I can't imagine the weakness I'd feel from practising the sword form with the sword in the left hand as well as the stress of having to do everything in different orientations. But I suppose maybe that would be the best reason for trying. Come to think of it, though, I think it's more the mental aspect of having to re-think everything on the opposite side that to me is even more daunting than holding the sword on my weak side. I still think, though, standing of course others' comments, that it would be an excellent discipline and your example has given me encouragement. Kind regards, Simon.
QUOTE]Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>Simon,
Not really a rare skill. I know more than a few people who train the form going in both directions fairly regularly.
I train sword and saber forms with both hands nearly equally. I must admit to training slightly more heavily going in the traditional direction, due to time spent in class, but time spent in personal training is balanced out as much between sides as I can make it.
I started out training single postures in both directions, this gave me a good foundation and allowed me to start threading them together in the form without being so muscle confused. As each form became familiar in either direction I would thread it together until I could do the entire form going in either direction.
I still have to think quite a bit about where I am when I train the form in the mirror image, but it is quite beneficial.

Enjoy.
Bob</B>[/QUOTE]
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Postby Steveg219 » Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:31 am

I just purchased a DVD of a great tai chi teacher named Tchoung Ta Tchen. He has modified the Yang form to actually make it longer by adding the same moves on both sides in a continuous form. It is quite interesting!
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:19 pm

Simon,
Training form work on both sides is not necessary. It is, as far as I know, purely a personal decision. I know just as many people with good skills who don't do so as I know who do.
I however had a teacher in the distant past who never told us it was "required" but used to tell us that if we did it would be very beneficial for our practice in the long run. So, of course, I started doing so.
I don't recommend that anyone do this until they have learned the long form, and learned it well, so as not to confuse themselves, but I do highly recommend the practice.

As for weapons forms, the same former teacher started us out on spear/staff and he was adamant that we practice "both sides the same". Now, with the staff that makes perfect sense, as you use both arms equally to weild the weapon.
When the time came for us to start training the saber he did not mention training the weapon on both sides until we had completed the course and were working on refinements. At that time he once again suggested it to anyone who was interested in doing so, again making sure to let everyone know it was not a requirement in any way, but emphasysing the benefit of "both sides the same" in all training.
At that point I asked him if it was martially beneficial or if this was just an issue of "balance".
He asked me to pick up my wooden saber (his insurance company would not allow him to use real weapons in his school) in my right hand and hold it there. Once I had done so he reached his wooden saber out and ran what would have been the sharp edge of a real weapon down the length of my forearm.
He then said, "Your right arm has just been cut and you can't use it very well. Now what are you going to do to protect yourself?"

I immediately saw where he was going with that...

Since that day, I have made it a personal training goal to become as equally proficient with my weapons in either hand as possible.

I do not know the position on this by the Yang family, so do not think that I am speaking for them. This is just how I do it and is no way an "official" position for anyone I know of except myself.

Bob
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Postby seeker » Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:20 pm

Hello, I thought I'd add my thoughts on the whole "left-hand qi flow thing".

I trained Iron hand techniques a few years ago and the number one rule for that is that one only trains one side in order that the buildup of qi can be maximised. After beginning to notice the effects of this training I discovered a much more pragmatic reason for doing this and I will give you the example that taught me the lesson.

A friend of mine used to enjoy 'testing' my reactions and skills but was usually wise enough to keep it gentle but one day he saw an opportunity to jab at me and took it, I raised my left (iron) hand to parry in what seemed a quite gentle way but he yelped out in pain. There was an instant swelling and we both thought his arm was broken, luckily it wasn't but he had it strapped up for several days after visiting the hospital. That was when I realised the wisdom in developing that kind of power in only one side and to respect what I had done to myself. I sometimes forget this lesson as the owners of broken furniture and dented car chassis will attest.

As for mirrored forms, I have begun practicing them as I foresee no major problems and have heard no one in any authority warn against it. I just thought my little story was interesting in this context even if only in a diversionary way.

Now, back to lurking.
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Re: Forms in Mirror Image.

Postby bijonshitzu » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:22 am

In relation to mirror image practice, there is someone of note that apparently was dead against mirror image practice, at least in his form---Cheng Man-ch'ing. Reference in Robert Chuckrow's ( a student of Cheng's) book , THE TAI CHI BOOK, P.97 He points out that Yang chen fu postulated the same thing and actually warns against it. Considering that Fu Zhongwen- Yang Chen Fu's student, helped to put together the infamous Peking form-24 postures, practiced by millions, has included in it mirror image postures, it remains an issue for the individual I guess? Terry G
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