Grasping Sparrow's Tail Left

Grasping Sparrow's Tail Left

Postby Zandor » Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:06 pm

Could someone explain the application/intent of the way that the Yang Family practices Grasping Sparrow's Tail Left. It appears to me that their bow stance is to pointed the NORTH, however the waist/eyes/intent stay to the NORTHEAST.

I have always been taught that the stance/waist/eyes/intent of this posture should end up to the NORTH.

I like the way they do this posture because it seems to be more flowing. It is similar to Parting Horses Mane or the beginning part of White Crane Spreads Wings. But I don't think many practice it the way they do.

Thanks,
Zandor
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Postby Wu Chang-Chi » Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:39 pm

IMHO, from a combat-effectiveness standpoint, the Yang family method is the most efficient. If you perform the posture straight into your opponent, you will not deflect their attack, but, suffer the force from it, using that particular posture.

Let's say you're being attacked by an opponent's right hand. Using Yang Family's posture, you:
-intercept that blow with your right hand (also chambering your left arm for the left peng)
-step NORTH while turning your waist to the right and lifting your left arm to trap / strike / joint lock the attacking right arm.
-carry the opponent's momentum to your right to disperse your opponant's energy, you must turn right with them (hense waist / head looking NORTHEAST), just like we practice with push-hands.

There are a few principles here: one, you're interpreting energy, then dispersing / deflecting it while countering. Second, according to the center and central line theories of combat, you must keep your opponent on your center line, while keeping them off of yours. Yang's posture does this: think, your center line is facing theirs, and their center line is still facing SOUTH. If you step directly into their attack, it's your center line against theirs, and if they're bigger / stronger, you're in for it.

I am sure with the knowledgable practioners that frequent this forum you will receive other fantasic answers.

This is just my take on it.

Respectfully,
Wu
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Fri Jun 17, 2005 2:25 am

Greeting Zandor & Wu,

Grasping the Peacock's Tail is one of the most favourite tech in Yang style, very effective and efficient too. It was said Yang Lu Chan used them exclusively for many many years and earned himself the title Yang the undefeatable. To understand how it works, you must observe the transition movement before GTPT. Lets look at the beginning of the form. You begin with raising both hands and down then turn right, now attention!..(the hidden transition) left foot steps out with a left Peng. Like Wu mentioned, this movement have application value i.e. to intercept a punch and counter but most important is to pay attention to the hidden application, which is the left foot stepping 45 degree out and from here you shift weight 100% to left then circle your hand, right down left up and step right foot footward and followed by GTPT.

The left stepping is to side step out to avoid a left punch and then the circling left hand up is to attach, lead the opponent's punching hand. You then move into his centerline by right foot forward step and right hand up to peng into his posture destroying his root and send him flying. You may choose to strike with peng to his temper etc to injure too. Usually this movement alone will be enough to control your opponent totally. Successfully applied, you will be at his right side with centerline facing his right and opponent will be slightly over extended, bending forward, root severed and the only thing he can do is to force himself back to balance by withdrawing or turning 360 degree to hit you using left elbow. Both ways will be futile because with root severed, he will have no power and because of his akward position, movements will be slow and clumsy easily detected by you. Both his moves can be destroyed by you fajin in your peng position.

Assuming he is soft and able to neutralize your peng on his right, the next most likely counter will be him throwing a trike at you using his left hand. This is where you apply `Lu' from Peng posture. Pay attention that the transition from Peng to Lu has you slightly turn waist to right with hands extended a little to right before Lu. Yes, you would have noticed by now that it is meant to welcome the left punch from your opponent.

Here are some examples of GTPT applications. Do not overlooked the transition subtle movements because these are movements that get you into position as it taiji classics put it...gain the advantage position (seek the opportunity) and use it.

Thanks for bringing-up this interesting topic Zandor, I am sure you can all learn from each other.
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Postby Zandor » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:36 pm

Wu,

Thanks for your response. So what I gather from what you are saying is that the opponent is indeed attacking from the NORTH with a right punch, although you never actually face him directly when warding off.

Or maybe your opponent's NORTH to SOUTH momentum (out of control attack, for instance) has carried them far enough to the SOUTH that they are in fact directly to your NORTHEAST. That would make some sense.

Zandor
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Postby Zandor » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:49 pm

Cheefatt,

Thanks for the detailed response.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The left stepping is to side step out to avoid a left punch and then the circling left hand up is to attach, lead the opponent's punching hand.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Can you elaborate on this a little bit? Does the left hand attach and lead from the inside or outside? I'm having a hard time picturing this transition.

Also, is your opponent(s) attacking from the NORTH (WardOff Left) and then the EAST (WardOff Right)? Are there two left punches thrown, one more WardOff Left and one for Wardoff Right?

Thanks again,
Zandor
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Postby Wu Chang-Chi » Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:36 pm

------------------------------
So what I gather from what you are saying is that the opponent is indeed attacking from the NORTH with a right punch, although you never actually face him directly when warding off.
------------------------------

Correct - you never want to face directly into an attack, if you can avoid it. CheeFatt TaiChi's explanation was great: you are moving your feet first to setup the technique / posture. Think: even if the encounter starts off directly facing, your feet should move you to the desired position to execute your right arm grab / parry and left arm peng. The attack may come as a left-right combo, straight grab, right hay-maker, etc...

------------------------------
Or maybe your opponent's NORTH to SOUTH momentum (out of control attack, for instance) has carried them far enough to the SOUTH that they are in fact directly to your NORTHEAST. That would make some sense.
------------------------------

Yes. In addition, I believe that if the complete technique is done correctly, it wouldn't matter what type of attack (aggressive, probing, feinting) comes, providing your applying it to their right arm. Example, if you're advancing, and they are guarding with a right arm that's too extended, you could go on the offensive and still make this posture work. I don't see it as a pure reaction technique.

It's a great move to learn and it can work, if done properly, in many situations and scenarios. Thanks for bringing it up! Notice that it shows up many times in the 103 posture form....

Respectfully,
Wu


[This message has been edited by Wu Chang-Chi (edited 06-18-2005).]
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Postby Wu Chang-Chi » Sat Jun 18, 2005 3:17 pm

I just reviewed the description of the left peng of GTST from YCF's The Essence And Applications of Taijiquan. YCF describes in his scenario that the attack comes in from a left hand, not right, as I used in my example. So, you would open your opponent's body up with the move instead of going to his/her blind side.

In terms of practice and thought, it doesn't get any more definitive than coming from the person who formalized the postures as we study them, so, I would regard his scenario as the correct one for application.

Either right arm or left arm, the technique still has multiple applications.

I would pick up a copy of this book if you haven't already.

Respectfully,
Wu
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Postby Audi » Mon Jun 20, 2005 1:06 am

Greetings Zandor, Wu, and fellow practitioners,

Zandor, as I understand it, Chinese traditionally oriented maps on the south rather than on the north. As I result, I think it is more common for descriptions of form postures to assume that the practitioner originally faces "south," rather than "north." I mention this because some people might be confused by the compass directions being used.

I think that there is substantial variation among Yang Style practitioners with respect to Ward Off left and that this will affect the comments you receive. Some of the variation is obvious, but some is quite subtle.

I would also appreciate an explanation of the intent behind facing squarely to the "north" by those who practice this way. Although I have heard explanations before, they always seemed to describe a somewhat incomplete interaction.

I am not completely sure about the intent that Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun put into the form, particular with respect to how postures are designed to be linked, but below is one scenario I use that seems to match the posture details and that does not contradict anything I have been taught.

First, I would completely agree with the details Wu put in his first post, except that I would normally use different compass directions. To make things easier, I will continue as you and he have and take the initial direction of the Opening Posture as "north."

After Ward Off Left, I envision that a new attacker (or perhaps the same attacker) launches a left punch at my chest from the east. While right-handers tend to put more power into right punches, they tend to use left punches more as jabs. With a right punch, it would therefore be easier to lead a puncher into overextending. This is what Ward Off Left does. With a left punch, a different strategy may be necessary or possible.

To defend against the left punch, you turn your waist rightward and adjust your left foot 45 degrees to the right in order to use a second Ward Off left to attach underneath the punch. You then turn the waist to the left to redirect the punch. Simultaneously with the leftward movement, you twine your left arm counterclockwise around the opponent's arm to switch to a pressing and grabbing application on the opponent's left wrist and to use Ward Off Right to lock the opponent's left elbow and shoulder and to control his or her torso and root.

In the scenario I am describing, there are actually two Ward Off Lefts and one Ward Off Right. From what I recall, the Fu family does not have the left foot adjustment or the transitional rightward waist turn. This might mean that they practice two simultaneous intents, since Ward Off Right could be viewed as an end in itself or as a preparation for Ward Off Right. Perhaps someone who does that version of the form could clarify.

If the opponent neutralizes the locking action of Ward Off Right by rotating and raising his or her elbow to the outside, you can then react with the rightward waist and arm adjustment that sticks to the opponent's movement and that borrows the force to lead into Rollback.

Wu, I agree that Yang Chengfu's words are an obvious authority to arrive at a definitive understanding of the intent of the postures; however, I have some doubts as to whether that was actually the intent of his words. I have only had a chance to briefly review The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, but in some places there seems to be a suggestion that the text derives from a live demonstration by Yang Chengfu, which might have included descriptions of multiple applications. Yang Jun does the same thing on his recently released DVD, where he illustrates applications to explain form movements without necessarily trying to give a definitive justification for the form design and all the transitional movements.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Mon Jun 20, 2005 2:23 am

[QUOTE]
The left stepping is to side step out to avoid a left punch and then the circling left hand up is to attach, lead the opponent's punching hand.

Sorry Zandor, typo error...what I intended to say is to avoid right punch. GTPT can be used to intercept left or right punch, there is no hard and fast rules about it. The art is dead if it can only works one way and not another. YCF may prefers to use left peng to intercept a right punch and that is OK because of his strong peng jin (considering his size over his opponent). Cheng Man Cheng described YCF peng is like a mountain collapsing on an opponent, his jin is just too overwelming. Others (aka Tung family)may prefers to avoid (hua)and enter from the side using right peng against opponent right hand. They do this because they are smaller in size and it makes more sense to not to stand in the way of an oncoming force. Taiji form is compelte enough to allow innovation and personal adaptations.

In each moves there are beginning, transition and execution. All are important and we should pay attention to it. If you only concentrate at the execution part, you would have missed the other two important components. My personal practice from the beginning of nthe form goes like this: opponent (North) throws a left punch, from beginning posture I shift weight to left turn my waist and deflect with my right hand. Then I step out left and left peng on his chest bouncing him away. At East another opponent throwing a right, I shift to weight to left parry and lead with my left palm(mentally by shifting weight to left I am side stepping left to avoid as well)I move my right from under to peng on his right upper arm and uproot him to his left. Opponent retreat left to gain balance and throw a left punch. I extend my hands from peng to intercept and perform a LU pulling him down. Opponent take a large step to balance himself from my LU, I then perform Ji following his movement back to regain footing. Opponent retreat further to distant himself from my LU and then counter with two palms to my chest, I rollback by raising to arms attaching to his pushing hands from under, raising his posture and floating him towards me, then I execute Ann pushing him away.

Hope this helps.
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Postby Zandor » Tue Jun 21, 2005 6:41 pm

cheefatt, Audi, Wu:

Thanks for all of your responses. They were very well thought out and extremely helpful.

I think Erle Montaigue put me on to this in his videos, but for whatever reason it is easier for me to visualize the lead Wardoff hands being backfists to my opponents face, with the rear hand either grabbing (right hand in Wardoff Left) or jamming (left hand in Wardoff Right). The transition right before the Wardoffs (when the Peng arm is in back) is where I envision the deflection taking place. In form practice there is a lot of weight-shifting and performed in two separate steps but in a real fight situation the transition and final Wardoff position would occur in explosively in one single step.

Zandor
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:49 am

Hi guys,

Allow me to add in another thought, most of the time when practise taiji form we think of song, qi, jin, and shen which are great. However, many neglected another quality called `ling' which refers to agility, mobility, responsiveness, quick and the like. Like a cat one is always ready to move and it very agile and alert. We should be mindful of being `ling' during transition steps in taiji form. When moving we aim to be very light, agile and fast. When station we become as solid and strong as mountain. This way, your taiji practise will have more live, chi and shen.

Best regards.
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Postby Audi » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:17 am

Greetings all,

Zandor, I find Erle Montaigue's ideas quite interesting and intriguing, at least from what I have seen on videos and read on his website; however, I think his approach can be quite misleading when applied to the principles many others apply to the Form.

Montaigue seems to put great emphasis on strikes, specific hand formations, speed, and fajin. I think that Yang Chengfu deliberately emphasized a somewhat different approach, even with martial efficacy in mind.

One thing that Montaigue seems to emphasize is achieving certain ends by generating great "stopping" power. I think that most of Yang Chengfu's form emphasizes control over the opponent, so that power is expressed only when the opponent is helpless to resist and great "stopping power" is not needed. This is what I understand to be the nature of techniques such as Leng Jin ("Freeze-you-in-your-tracks energy"? or "Catch-you-out-of-the-blue energy"?).

I also think that Yang Chengfu's form was deliberately designed to emphasize applications with a range of effects, depending on both the physical nature of the interaction, the "moral" situation, and your intent. From what I understand, the components of Grasp Sparrow's Tail were probably designed specifically to practice the four square energies and that is why they are repeated so many times in the form. Some even describe this as the signature sequence of "Yang Style" that distinguishes it from other styles. If this is true, Ward Off Left and Right were most likely deliberately designed to be different from the energy or energies expressed along with the backfist in Chop with Fist.

I think that the way Yang Zhenduo does Ward Off Right is deliberately not one explosive step, even in real-time application. The movement contains several different components that have different purposes. For instance, one wants to make contact with the opponent, redirect the incoming energy, use Adhering Energy (zhan) to uproot the opponent, and then use an and peng to control. From here, one can attack the elbow or the shoulder with short energy, throw the opponent with long energy, or combine both, depending on one's skills and understanding. With this approach, the "explosion" comes along with [i]fajin[\i], but not necessarily with the other skills. Except for the [i]fajin[\i], the speed of the application will be dictated by the opponent's movement and intent, rather than by you.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In form practice there is a lot of weight-shifting and performed in two separate steps but in a real fight situation...</font>


My understanding is also that the specific weight shifting in the form is not meant to simulate the stepping necessary for real-time usage. I understand it to be an external exageration of an internal technique that is applicable for both. I think that there are two ways to view Ward Off Left and Right. If they are viewed as joined techniques in a single sequence, they would be performed in the same direction without a weight shift. The change in direction in the form would then seem to be a mere aesthetique device to change the direction of the form and prevent students from immediately encroaching on the teacher's space at the front of the room.

If Ward Off Left and Right are viewed as separable, then the waist turn to the right can have another meaning, i.e., joining with the energy of a new attack coming from the west. In this case, the weight shift is necessarily less than that used for a step, and that is actually what is taught. The shift back to the left may have to redirect a great deal of energy and so potentially has a full weight shift with the entire mass of the torso behind it. Here there must be compromises between distance, speed, and power that depend on one's relative skill at Listening Energy, Understanding Energy, and Neutralizing/Transforming Energy. I think the Form trains the maximum of distance and slowness to train range and control, but real-time usage would depend on the opponent.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Bamenwubu » Tue Jun 28, 2005 6:01 pm

Audi,
I absolutely love this insight of yours:

"The change in direction in the form would then seem to be a mere aesthetique device to change the direction of the form and prevent students from immediately encroaching on the teacher's space at the front of the room."

Of all the reasons I would have ascribed to the founders creating a form movement, this would not have even been in the running.
However...
Looking logically at the idea, I have to bow to your wisdom in attributing this as a possible reason for designing a series of forms to move in a specific way.
Now I can't help but wonder...
What size and shape was the room or area that originally brought about the confines of the movements in the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan form as we know it today?
I guess it's not likely we'll ever know, but it might be fun to conjecture on the idea.
I will, however, leave that to those who would know about that kind of thing. My knowledge of this area would not be up to such a challenge.

Nothing earth shattering or life altering about my response, just wanted to congratulate you on an insight I'd never even considered before. Made me smile and chuckle quite a bit so I thought I'd thank you for the lighthearted moment it gave me.


[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 06-28-2005).]
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Postby DPasek » Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:44 pm

Audi,
Since Yang style, despite changes in emphasis plus name changes, essentially follows the identical sequence of Chen style, I would have to say that they should probably be viewed as separate techniques. Ward Off Left probably having been modified from Buddha Warrior Pounds Pestle, and Ward Off Right from Lazy Tying Coat. These movements in Chen style are performed in the same directions as the modified Yang style moves.
DP
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Wed Jun 29, 2005 2:03 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DPasek:
<B>Audi,
Since Yang style, despite changes in emphasis plus name changes, essentially follows the identical sequence of Chen style, I would have to say that they should probably be viewed as separate techniques. Ward Off Left probably having been modified from Buddha Warrior Pounds Pestle, and Ward Off Right from Lazy Tying Coat. These movements in Chen style are performed in the same directions as the modified Yang style moves.
DP</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am not surprised. It is definitely easier to change individual movement/posture within the established form and maintain the original flow and sequence of movements than to reinvent an entirely new form. Yang, Wu, Li, Sun etc all follow the same Chen's flow with different characteristic. Even Tung Yin Chieh's fast form adheres to Yang's original flows.

Every masters have their own unique preferences and skill specialty that explained the change in posture.
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