Well, I guess even left and right are confusing when I’m not clear about what the starting point is. When I was talking about making the hook hand, I started in the middle of Single Whip, after the right toes have turned in 135 degrees, after the arms have made their large level circle and as they are moving across the lowest ribs toward the right to make the hook hand.
Even beyond my confusing post starting in the middle of Single Whip, there’s even more confusion because this movement has so many possibilities. As you said, someone could be coming from behind and left when you are still in push. Or, you could still be connected to them from the original push and turn it into pulling them around you in a big circle, right to left, your left hand on their left wrist, right hand or forearm on their left shoulder, and then pull them across the front of your body, forcing them to stumble after you off to your back right side where you do a whip strike to their throat, nose, chest, whatever. More possibilities below.
I don’t disagree that the first circling movements of Single Whip, large circle and smaller circle (the part that looks like half of the Yin-Yang symbol) are about meeting and leading your opponent. But I do maintain that one application of the right arm is a whip strike. I will quote from the Association newsletter, No. 5, Spring of 2001 in the Practice Department section featuring Yang Jun.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">“The application of single whip is when your opponent is punching you with their left fist. You use your left hand to grab their wrist, and touch their upper arm with your right forearm. Use your waist to pull them forward in the direction of their punch’s momentum. Continue their movement and redirect it around you. After yielding to the left side, make a hook hand and use it to strike their throat.” </font>
There are some excellent pictures here of YJ doing Single Whip and inset photos of his hook hand and the application.
Here’s a slightly different series of events from Yang Zhen Duo’s book Yang Style Taijiquan, Morning Glory Publishers, 1996, pp260-261.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>“If someone attacks me from behind or from one side, I immediately turn my body and move my arms along with the waist. At the same time, I change my right palm into a hooked hand. When I have turned round to the place in from of the opponent’s chest, I hit his chest with my wrist. If the opponent discovers this quickly enough and draws in his chest to keep clear of my wrist, I can quickly raise my right hand and hit his chin when he bends his head down.
If another person hits my back from the other side, I immediately turn my body and strike him with my left [palm].” </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
(The book says “plam,” but I believe it’s a typo.) There are three photos that accompany this section. I don’t have access to a scanner at the moment, but perhaps I will experiment at work tomorrow.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">“For one thing, the hook hand as practiced in Yang family TCC isn't a "striking" hook hand. The hand is not "firmed" up, not as much as in the hook hands I've learned from other transmissions, which point the index finger much further down and open the back of the wrist, along the forearm, to a hard, solid striking point. The hook hand of this transmission is clearly softer than that, and works perfectly for "dissolving" energy to be absorbed into your frame and redirected to your opponent, but is rather weak for attacking.”</font>
As I understand it, the index fingers and other fingers are extended and straightened downward as far as they can comfortably go and that the wrist is likewise bent as far in as is comfortably possible. I’m not sure how “firm” it is compared to other styles, as I have no basis for comparison, but as I understand it, it is relatively soft until it is suddenly hard at just the right moment. I have explicitly heard the movement of the right arm described as “like a whip” by Yang Jun, combined with him making a fast striking motion with his hooked hand. Per YJ, the striking surface is the back of the hand, between the wrist and the fingers.
I think the most reasonable place for striking this way would be with the first third of the back of the hand between the wrist and fingers. This is the part that feels solid to me. Strike too close to the knuckles and it could hurt the wrist…but then this is me experimenting gently on the furniture and I don’t know for sure. To add to the confusion, in YZD’s description of the chin strike, it looks like he’s using the back of the wrist to strike the opponent’s chin.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">“These are the steps that can allow you to clearly see how SW was intended, as the "dissolving" of the incoming energy, then the redirection of it and applying it back to your opponent. The "turns" of the longer version are transitory motions used to set up your opponent where you want him, not to attack him.”</font>
I agree with the first part of your statement above, but I think even the turns have the potential for attack. Any time you are controlling your opponent’s movement, have ripped up their root, and are leading them in a circle, you have the opportunity to toss them out of the circle. When you circle them to the left in a large circle, there’s no rule that says you have to circle them back to the right—you could just let go and let them fetch up against the ground or a tree or whatever’s there. Same with circling back to the right—you could just let go and even without any strike there’s the possibility of injury.
On the other hand, I don’t disagree with you that there are other applications for Single Whip and I would love to learn more about them, particularly this business of dissolving energy with the hook hand? I haven’t seen the YCF quote and if you’d be willing to dig it up that would be great.
All that said, going back to my post to Audi, I was totally wrong about the hook hand not moving. In that same journal, the photos clearly show YJ’s hook hand moving slightly left as he turns his body slightly to the left as he wards off with the left arm, rotating it into strike position. Then, as he extends into the final position, the hook hand moves back to the right. But it’s a very small movement, and utterly dependent upon the rotation of the waist. Not that I think about it, it’s important that the hook hand follow the waist in order to keep the chest sunk. If one were to leave the hook hand at 45 degrees while turning to the left, then it opens the chest too much, breaking the arm’s energetic connection to the body (it constricts the qi).
Anyway, thanks for making me go back and review that point.