Postby Kalamondin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 1:34 am


Wow, I’m really glad I asked you for definitions, since at my school, the way the words are used is very nearly opposite!

I understand that the Chinese word for “wrestling” generally refers to something quite different from Western style wrestling. That’s probably where the gap in my understanding comes from. I’d be interested to know what connotations the word has in Chinese (Louis, Jerry, any insight?).

If I understand your explanation of Wu style, then push hands is wrestling, no problem.

At my school, as I understand it, “sparring” is defined as the level beyond fixed step, moving step, or any kind of choreographed push hands. Sparring is entirely free-style push hands, more vigorous, more forceful, more dangerous—as close as you can get to practicing an attack situation without doing some serious damage—and then only because the sparring partners are advanced enough to go nearly full force without harming each other, or getting hurt. Na, and all of the various energies, would be an integral part of this stage.

No one in my class is quite there yet and I suspect it will be another 3-5 years before our teacher decides we have the requisite Na and softness to permit us to go there without it turning into a hard style bar brawl..

I understand what you mean by the differences in combat styles. I think the differences you’ve outlined make sense using the dichotomy of near vs. far or "pushing and shoving" vs "punching and kicking.” I think in our school, the difference is split along choreographed and controlled (push hands) vs. free-style fighting (sparring). Of course this isn’t to say that there aren’t infinite variations in push hands—just that it’s a controlled chaos, bounded by rules like “fixed step” or “moving step” or “clover-leaf pattern.” That’s why we call sparring what we do. When I think about it, your school’s distinction btw wrestling and sparring makes just as much sense, if not more.

I do have another question, if you’ll indulge me: can you explain to me what you mean by long, short, and medium throws and throw ranges? Is that how far you throw someone? How close you have to be in order to throw someone? If so, why would you even attempt to throw someone if they were far away from you (at arm’s length, say)? Or are you talking about the distance you have to throw a punch? If so, what constitutes long, med., and short?

Hmm, I may have answered my own question. It’s the distance it takes to punch, isn’t it?

Thanks very much for your detailed explanation—so many postings are making more sense to me nowJ.

Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Wushuer » Wed Mar 24, 2004 6:00 pm

You're close. Long, medium, short ranges, I say "throw" range because that's how I always heard it, though you don't necessarily have to "throw" the opponent to be in that range.
Let me first say that my TCC understanding is an amazing conglomeration of chinese and english phrases all mixed into one big mish-mash. I trained originally under a Canadien Sifu who spoke english so heavily accented and full of expressions I'd never heard before that it was barely understandable to me. Then we got a few trainers up to speed from the home town and they of course all spoke english I could understand but weren't really that much more up on the theory than I was at the time. After that we started getting more and more frequent visits by Sifu Eddie and his family, all of whom are native Chinese speakers, and beyond that speak a different dialect than the Yang family.
I'll give you an example:
Tai Chi Chuan swords, the double bladed thin ones, were called "gims" in their transmission. I understand that's a Manchu word that means the same thing as "jian" or sword. I may be wrong, I usually am on these things as language is most definitely my short suit. But I've always called that type of sword a "gim" and always will as it's the way I first learned it. So at the Academy we took "gim" classes.
The great big honking Manchu broadswords used by the Wu family (they do not, as far as I ever say, have a "saber" form, but I could have just missed it, heck I had no idea they had a chain form until about six months ago) were called "swords" or "broadswords", I have heard a Manchu equivalent word for them, but it's hard to pronounce and us poor english speakers could never remember it, so we just said "sword classes" or "broadsword classes" when we set those up.
That's just a small example of my language barrier problem. I'm trying to parse these types of theories together from two different languages, and then two differing dialects even among those.
I occaissonaly get it wrong. So don't carve anything I've called something in stone. I almost always have the underlying idea nearly correct, it's what the heck to call it for universal understanding that I have a hard time with.
That said, my interpretation of range names as Long, Medium and Short come from how far away my opponent is from me. That leads me to how far I can throw him, and how I'm going to set up that throw.
If he's far away from me, that's a "long" throw. If and when I do get my hands on him I'm going to be able to throw him farther, because I've got a bigger range of motion I have to go through to do it. Longer range of motion, a farther throw can be achieved.
Medium throw range, I'm moving less far to do it, my leverage area is smaller, he's not going to be thrown as far.
Small throw range, he's right up on me, I don't have as much swinging room, I can't throw him very far.
That's not saying anything about the power generated in the throw, it's simply a measure of angles and leverage required to throw someone and from that how far you can throw him.
That's the way I understood it. It may be completely, utterly incorrect and your very reasonable explanation may be right on the money. The way I'm presenting it is how I've always understood it.
That said, Yang style is much more geared towards long throws, Wu style to short. It's a distance thing. I learned to combat at very close quarters using small cirles of movement, small jins and short throws.
I am really out of time right now. More as I can.
Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 7:01 am

Postby Kalamondin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 8:52 pm


Thanks for your explanation. I understand how much of a barrier language issues can be.

I understand what you mean about small throws not having very much leverage. I’m still a bit foggy about the notion of the long throw though.

“If he's far away from me, that's a "long" throw. If and when I do get my hands on him I'm going to be able to throw him farther, because I've got a bigger range of motion I have to go through to do it. Longer range of motion, a farther throw can be achieved.”

Are you talking about a longer range of motion as a kind of longer “wind up” (like a baseball pitch)? Are you talking about leading him in from a distance and before completing a large circle to throw him back out? Meaning that there’s more space and time to build up momentum?

Or are you talking about throwing someone who is far away from you without first bringing him in close?

Could you give me an example, pls.?

I have no doubt that you know what you’re talking about, I’m just having a hard time seeing it b/c it’s sometimes hard for me to translate words into images (language again! It can be hard even when you speak the same one).

W: “That said, Yang style is much more geared towards long throws, Wu style to short. It's a distance thing. I learned to combat at very close quarters using small cirles of movement, small jins and short throws. “

Is this because the Yang form has a larger frame style and the Wu style is more compact and vertical? I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see the Wu style, but I have heard that Wu style practitioners have to root very well in order to maintain the relatively high stance necessary for combat in close quarters.

Thank you,
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Wushuer » Thu Mar 25, 2004 4:16 pm

Yes and no.
Yang Cheng Fu style TCC as I have become familiar with it is a large framed form. Wu style as I study it is a small framed (and square to boot) form.
I don't know if you're familiar with frame sizing in TCC, but the way I understand it there are three sizes of "frame". Large, medium and small. These will sometimes correlate to how I described "throw ranges" but don't necessarily have to.
No, it doesn't always make sense.
I don't want to make a big deal out of the idea of a "throw" range, it's not technically important. It's how I and most of my former schoolmates referred to the distance between us and our opponents. I imagine it had a bit of tounge in cheek with it, though I have seen our other resident Wu stylist, Polaris, refer to them this way as well in some of his posts, so it's probably a pretty widely used term in North American Wu style at least.
But don't worry about it, it's not really that important.
A throw is like anything else, the more room you have to work with, the bigger the lever you can apply to the motion, the farther you can move, or in our case throw, something or someone. As the distance between you and your throwable object decreases you have increasingly shorter ranges of motion and shorter levers you can effectively apply to it, so you get a shorter throw. The force of the throw may actually increase, in that while he won't go as far he will likely hit the ground with much greater force.
If you would prefer we could simply call it "range of combat" instead of "throw range". It means the same thing.
The importance of frame size comes into play when you speak of "range of combat", though opinions vary on that as well. How far away are you? If your opponent is a good distance from you, then you can comfortably set up in large frame and apply the types of moves you would use against an opponent that far away from you. If he gets a bit closer and steps into medium range, or you step into his, then you would likely wish to apply a medium frame to your postures to meet his offense. Same for if you get up in each others faces, then you will wish to use a small frame with much smaller circles of movement to counter his offense.
Does this make sense?
The theories differ. You can, of course, use small frame when you're farther away, large frame when you're closer, it's all a matter of application. So it's a general theory, not a rule written in stone.
I have heard differing opinions on the effectiveness of these frame sizes and how they should be trained. The Wu folks seem to feel that large frame is much more difficult to master. The Yang Cheng Fu guys seem to think the opposite.
Some Wu stylists feel that only the square form of Wu Kung Yi with it's small frame size, small circles and small jins, is worth a darn, but then you find out that the Wu families "fast" form is a large framed round form that is nearly identical to old Yang forms with all the fajing, leaps and stamping intact, and they refer to that as their "fighting" form sometimes. There is also, I have found out recently, a medium frame fighting set taught at the Beijing school of the Wu style.
Go figure.
Different Yang family members seem to prefer different frame sizes as well. Yang Jian Hou was said to be the master of the medium frame in his time. He is Yang Cheng Fu's father, who is the recognized master of large frame Yang style.
Wu Chuan Yau trained originally in the large circles with Yang Ban Hou, then learned the small circles from Yang Lu Chan and decided to train his students only in the small circles he thought they were that much more effective.
Yet his son, Wu Chien Chuan, opened the first academy of TCC that taught the public TCC with Yang Shou Hou and Yang Cheng Fu, teaching all the frame sizes together in one place.
So it goes.
I have found the differences in applying the theories of the differing frame sizes to be profound, however the same theories apply, only thier actual application differs.
You can find all kinds of interesting stuff about these things in many different locations on the internet, even right here on this forum in past threads where we've waxed poetic about it and even argued volubly in good clean fun over it, and in the books of the Masters.
Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming has quite a bit to say about these things in his books, for one. There are others with just as much good info on these things as well.
I have learned several large frame forms and a couple of different small frame forms fairly well. I've been holding out and hoping for a chance to train in the medium frame of TCC, but haven't yet met a master with the skill.
Let's let this thread move on, we've bogged down in the frame size issue a few times in the past without much progress made in convincing anyone of anything about them they don't allready feel to be accurate.
There are those, maybe rightly, who feel I'm a bit too obsessed with frame and circle size.
But it does keep me off the streets and give me something better than wine, women and song to think about...
Well, I guess THAT'S not true, but at least it keeps my mind occupied on something other than less than prurient pursuits.
Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 7:01 am

Postby Wushuer » Thu Mar 25, 2004 6:20 pm

Your closing statement didn't impinge upon my tired brain (I've got three family members who are in various stages of recovery from illness, two with nasty colds and one tooth ache that resulted in a root canal after a week of moaning, I'm not sleeping much these last few days) until just now.
You are correct in your assumption that Yang Cheng Fu style (within the Yang family system there are several known "styles" that are distinct from each other, here on this forum we are generally referring to Yang Cheng Fu style TCC when we say "Yang style", technically Wu Chien Chuan style TCC is "Yan Ban Hou style" or maybe more clearly defined as "Yang Lu Chan and Yang Ban Hou style" since it's a conglomeration of both that was then later modified by Wu Kung Yi and Wu Kung Cho into a square form, but I digress) is a large frame form and that Wu style is a small frame form.
What you got wrong was the vertical aspect. Wu style TCC is small framed, but it uses a lower stance. Your knees are considerably more bent in that style than in YCF style TCC, a deeper "seat" if you will into the postures.
Every style of TCC I've trained (3 so far and still counting) has "rooted" with the same degree of exellence. These things are done in slightly different ways, but there isn't a "better" or "deeper" root in any of them that I've found. They work out about the same in terms of hanging onto the floor with your feet.
There are places in the Wu form where you "rise up" and nearly straighten your knees, naturally straight as opposed to the deep bends normally used, White Crane Spreads Wings is the first form after "raise hands" that you stand up in, but your root factor (can't think of another way to quantify "rooting") is the same throughout.
Just wanted to clarify for you.
Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 7:01 am

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Mar 26, 2004 1:06 am

Hi Wushuer,

You're right, it's time to let this thread get back on track. Thanks very much for your comments of the differences between frame sizes and throw lengths. I appreciate you taking the time to explain them to me.

Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am


Return to Tai Chi Theory and Principles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 1 guest