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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:02 pm
by ruben
Hi everybody.
I wonder if anyone can help me with sword form. In de 5 falling flowers movements, front foot is touching the ground with the ball or with the heel?
I know that footwork is similar to repulse monkey but I´ve seen some videos of Master Yang Jun and it seems he moves the heel.
Thank you.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:09 am
by Audi
Hi Ruben,

I believe that the front foot ends up pivoting on the heel as in Repulse Monkey, just as you say. The weight on that foot then stays in the heel. In the second Lion Shakes its Head, the pivot is also on the heel.

I believe, however, that in the first Lion Shakes its Head, which is a similar posture, we touch with the ball of the foot. I do not recall the reasoning for the difference in execution, although I have some speculation.

Take care,

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:42 pm
by ruben
Thank you very much Audi.
Very clear.
I would appreciate if you share with me you speculations, just for curiosity.
Kind regards,

PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:44 am
by Audi
Hi Rubén,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Here are my speculations.

When we take a full step back, we seem to always push back off the heel, presumably to generate sufficient power. When we take a half step, we try to pivot the foot in a verticle circle around an imaginary horizontal axis betwee the ball of the foot and the heel. Sometimes we circle from heel to the ball, and sometimes from the ball to the heel.

To understand why we circle one way or the other, I imagine that the body is inside a sphere, with the Dantian at the center, and think about the Hand Form. If the main energy is to be applied near the surface of the sphere (e.g., White Crane Spreads its Wings, Step up to Seven Stars, and Step Back to Ride the Tiger), we circle from the toe to the ball. If the main energy will be applied deeply within the sphere (e.g., Lifting Hands, Hands Strum the Lute, and Punch Under Elbow), we circle from the ball to the heel.

Using the above logic for the sword form, we have to push off the heel for Falling Flowers and Lion Shakes its Head, Right. These postures all require a full step to the rear. As for Lion Shakes its Head, Left, there is only a half step. The transition is similar to the one between Flying Diagonal and Lifting Hands, where we circle from the ball of the foot to the heel; however, the final application is different. In Lifting Hands, some energy is applied close to the body, near the center of the "sphere." In Lion Shakes its Head, Left, the slash is drawn with the right arm nearly straight, applying the energy away from the body near the surface of the "sphere." Because the energy is applied near the "surface," I think this justifies circling from the heel to the ball of the foot.

In general, I cannot think of any half steps in the saber and sword forms that require touching with the only the heel. In terms of my theory, this could be because we usually try to apply the energy away from the body in these forms. Another reason might be that the weapons forms require more speed in the transitions and less power at the culmination of the posture than the hand forms do. Pushing off the heel and circling to the toe seems to be a quicker procedure than circling the other way and may therefore simply be the default method for the weapons.

What do you think?

Take care,

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:02 am
by Audi
Hi Rubén,

Something I forgot to mention is that I think there is also a difference in fighting strategy between barehand confrontations and confrontations with medium-length edged weapons.

In bare hand fighting, it may well be safer to be at a close range than at a medium range. Most people do not know how to generate energy over a short distance and so would have difficulty seriously harming you over such a distance. A clinch can be a reasonably stable equilibrium.

With medium-length edged weapons, "clinches" are much rarer and not very stable. Therefore, if you come in close with such weapons, you want to be able to come back out quickly if your technique fails to be decisive.

To my thinking, an empty-full stance with the weight on the ball of the foot is much less of a forward commitment than with the weight on the heel. As an example, there are many postures in the Sword form where we bend the foot back out of the way of a potential low attack during a transition, such as the one before Black Dragon Shows its Claws. By this logic, where we have a choice (such as in Lion Shakes its Head, Left), we should put the weight on the ball of the front foot.

Take care,

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:56 pm
by ruben
Hi Audi, thanks for reply. No delay at all
Wow! It seems I´ll need some time to comprehend it. Maybe you are wright.
Since I met Yang family taichi for the first time it was obvious to me that empty step was different from what I knew in modern taichi: no matter if you touch the ground with the heel or the ball, the distance between them is larger than we can see in traditional yang style.
Now, perhaps, this is the reason. I´ve been told that a bit more weight on the heel or the ball of the foot is to act like a brake to your movement´s inertia , just in case you miss your techinique. But I always do my back step pivoting on mi heel or my ball foot, one or the other. Not a mixed movement.
Your vision is quite more complex. I have never think of it in the way you do.
I´ll check it and tell you what I think.
Thank you.

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:58 pm
by ruben
Oh, what you say about distances in an armed fight sounds very logical to me. Nobody could use a sword in a short range. No in a comfortable way.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:41 pm
by Bob Ashmore
If you know how you can use a sword very effectively at close range.
You use movements that slice with the blade for close combat. You put the edge against your opponent and slice it sideways. This will usually be a very small movement as opposed to the large slicing motions practiced during the form but if done correctly it will be devestating to your opponent.
A saber is even easier to use at short range as there are multiple ways to use it int his fashion. Aside from the same type of movements mentioned above you can simply place the sharp edge against your opponent and then hit the flat back of the blade with your palm.
Think of the movements during the saber form when you are holding the weapon in your left hand. The blade is across your shoulder and follows the movements of your arm. This can be used quite effectively in close combat.
Also, for both types of weapons, let's not forget the hilt. If you find yourself pressed up against your opponent with little to no room to swing your blade you can always hit him with the hilt. It requires a much shorter motion but still delivers a devestating blow.

Just my two cents.


[This message has been edited by Bob Ashmore (edited 03-05-2009).]

PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:55 pm
by ruben
Hi Bob, thanks for your more than two cents.
I know there are technics for almost every range, and sword and sabre forms have it.
I was just thinking that the short range is not the most comfortable scenario for using this kind of weapon. But in a potential situation, you could not have every kind of weapon, such as knive, dagger, sword, etc.
So, it is better to know all technics!
Thank you again.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:00 pm
by ruben
Audi, here I am again.
I was reading your post and analysing it.
It seems you are wright, at least sounds too logical to me.
I have never look at the form in that way.
Now I´m looking every motion and trying to see your theory.
Perhaps another person could see your sphere as close/middle range technique and an in/out one?
Take care.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:46 pm
by shugdenla
Were you taught, or did you spend about 8-12 hours of basic sword exercise movements before you went on to actual form?
That does alot to orient you to the hands foot positioning, the figure 8 circular movements with stepping in the understanding of the how and why of application.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:50 pm
by ruben
Actually, 12 years ago I learnt a couple of modern sword forms (including form 42).
I learnt then a few basic and specific movement but I assume every teacher has his own methods.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:54 am
by Audi
Greetings all,

Rubén, after reading my earlier post, I realize that I may not have been as clear as I should.

I think we have been discussing two distinct cases: taking a full step back (where the front leg moves past the back leg to become the new back leg) and taking a half step (where we turn a bow stance into an empty/full stance with the same foot forward.

Let me describe the full step first.

As far as I know there is no absolute requirement that determines how the original front foot needs to leave the ground to begin the step. If only the ball of the foot is touching (such as in Ape Presents the Fruit or in Step UP to Seven Stars), you merely lift the foot and step back. If the foot begins flat to the ground (such as in the 2nd to the 5th repetition of falling flowers or the 2nd and 3rd Repulse Monkey), you first lift the toes to unlock the root, then you lift the ball of the foot, and then you push off with the heel. The front foot generally only has to move a little/moderate amount of weight to the other leg.

The original back foot has to receive the weight from the original front foot. Then, after the old front foot touches the ground in the back, when a little weight is then shifted to this new back foot in order to flatten it and create root between the legs, the new front foot must shift a moderate/great amount of weight in order to help power the Fajin (i.e., issue power). If the new front foot must be adjusted as you issue in order to keep the posture comfortable, it seems to be more powerful and more unified to pivot on the heel then on the ball of the foot. Some other teachers, however, seem to have a different understanding.

When we take a half step, rather than a full step, we also want to shift weight as we issue power (i.e., Fajin). For us, empty and full does not refer to all weight or no weight, but rather to more or less weight. If we intend to form a posture with the front heel on the ground, we prefer to get there by having first left the ground using the ball of the foot. Conversely, if we intend to end up with the
ball of the foot on the ground, we prefer to have previously left the ground using the heel. This alternation helps the energy remain continuous and to respect the Yin/Yang alternation. (E.g., if you want to go right, first go left, etc.)

In at least one posture (i.e., Waiting for the Fish), alternating the touching point is too complicated a movement and too unnatural, and so we leave the ground using the ball and retouch with the ball. Even so, we still withdraw some weight from the right foot and then shift it right back at the end of the posture. In almost all cases, we avoid trying to do Fajin without a simultaneous shift of the weight and avoid issuing power with only one foot rooted. (Kicks are another matter, with another explanation.)

By the way, the weight shift in the full/empty stances is not simply a case of a contingency plan in case you happen to miss the technique. The weight shift is an integral and extremely powerful aspect of the technique. If we take Step UP to Seven Stars as an example, with the last half inch of weight shift and the slight changes in the knees and ankles after the ball of the right foot touches, you should be able to punch very hard using whole-body Jin.

Another thing I should say is that I agree with what Bob said about close-in attacks with the sword and saber. That is why I said that you do not want to commit to a close-in technique without being able to back out quickly, such as in the transition into the Little Dipper. Sinking into the front heel would make withdrawing it a fraction slower than touching with the ball of the foot. Remember that the front leg is a principal target and so needs to be very nimble.

That's all the time I have for now, but I hope this helps.

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 03-09-2009).]

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:59 pm
by Bob Ashmore
Your post makes a great deal of sense to me, especially when combined with something I was once taught about empty stances and what they are usually used for.
The way I remember the lesson (though for the life of me I can't remember who gave it to me) is that heel weighted empty stances are usually what you get into after you have kicked an opponent (think of kicking downward towards his shin as in Hands Strm Lute, step down across his shin, root, apply against his elbow), ball weighted empty stances are what you usually want to be in before you kick an opponent.
As I recall the idea was that heel weighted empty stances allow you to be more deeply rooted across your stance, allowing you to apply energy with the upper body into your opponent after the kick. Heel weighted empty stances allow you to be more nimble since you don't have to move as much weight back to lift the front leg but still give you enough root in your stance to intercept and redirect incoming energy (think White Crane, seperate the opponents energy, uproot him, kick him).
So the idea of the ball weighted stance being faster to get your foot off the ground, and out of the way, certainly makes sense to me.


PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:15 pm
by ruben
Dear Audi.
First of all, thank you for sharing your knowledge, but most important, for sparing your free time with me.
Honestly, the vision of the full and half step back I´ve never seen it before. I´ve been tought just front step and back step )one, two or three). Now this is full of sense to me. When I first met the traditional style, one of the things that like most was the great amount of details, and explanations it has.
I agree with you and Bob that the ball of the empty front foot makes it lighter, especially if we want to kick with that leg.
Now, I will take some time and try to read this more carefully.
Thanks again.