YCF form differences

YCF form differences

Postby yangchengfu04 » Mon Apr 26, 2004 4:07 pm

Hi Folks,

After reading the Louis Swaim book (very informative, and well done by the way), I see that my form (as I have learned it) is almost exactly the same except for a few differences. The main difference I see is that the 3 sets of cloud hands are done differently in my school. In the first set, we do 4 steps to the left, in the second set we do 3 steps to the left, and in the third set we do two steps to the left.

Another difference I noticed is in the opening movement. Our arms are raised facing in (palms facing each other).

With that said, I was wondering what other differences people have learned in their YCF long forms. In comparison to the Fu Zhongwen form, I read their is something like 4 or 5 variations of the YCF form, is this true? If so, what are some of the other differences?

[This message has been edited by yangchengfu04 (edited 01-26-2005).]
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Postby rvc_ve » Tue Apr 27, 2004 8:30 pm

I learned from the yang ban hou lineage, and we do start the form with palms facing in (each other). There is also a lot of coiling and a lot of spine movement for power genration. Fah jing is performed within the form, although not on every posture, There are two fast kicks with "ha" sound. Other that that, the structure and the "choreography" of the form remains the same, except for the first two movements.
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Postby Audi » Sat May 01, 2004 4:46 pm

Hi YCF04,

I think there are many ways to answer your question, and I am not sure exactly how deep you want to go.

From what I have seen and read, there seem to be minor differences between Yang Zhenduo and Yang Zhenji with respect to how to move the leg from posture to posture. Yang Jun talks about centering the foot before moving it on to the next posture in some places in the form and talks about moving it directly in other places. I think that Yang Zhenji would move it directly in just about all these other places. One such instance is after the kicks. Another might be the last step into Single Whip. I think Yang Zhenji also teaches to open the arms before kicking with the leg, whereas Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun do these moves simultaneously.

At another level of difference, I think that Yang Zhenduo does the two Strike Tigers to north and south in Bow Stances, whereas Fu Zhongwen did them to north and east in some other stance, perhaps called Dragon Stance. I think there is also a difference as to how one steps down from Right Kick with Heel to begin Strike the Tiger Left. I think the Fu’s step down with the feet almost side by side, whereas Yang Zhenduo has a full right-foot step to the east. Another difference is the transition between Ward Off Left and Ward Off Right, where the Fu’s step directly, but the Yangs have a brief weight shift and pivot of the left foot before stepping into Ward Off Right.

A consistent difference between Yang Zhenduo and Fu Zhongwen is that Yang Zhenduo teaches a slight upper body lean when the power in both hands is basically forward, whereas Fu Zhongwen did not teach a lean. I think another consistent difference is in the angle of the back foot in Bow Stances. The Yangs teach 45 degrees, and I think the Fu’s teach 60 degrees. If this is true, this would have implications for many of the transitions, since some of those used by the Yangs would not seem practicable with the back foot at 60 degrees. I do not recall, however, noticing any such difference in watching the Fu’s on videotape and cannot recall, for instance, how they get from the last Repulse Monkey to Diagonal Flying. The Yangs’ method briefly requires you to maintain a full 180-degree angle in the feet (offset by a shoulder width). I am not sure how one could add another 15 degrees to this and use the same method.

One last difference is that I believe Fu Shengyuan begins single whip without an initial shift of weight from the right foot to the left, but simple pivots directly on the weighted leg. I think this same process is used for Turn the Body and Chop with Fist and Turn the Body, White Snake Spits out Tongue.

I think that Doc Fai Wong’s lineage goes through Yang Chengfu and that he retains Fajing in certain postures. I think he also performs Cross Kick (Shizi Tui) differently, using a crescent kick slap to the palm.

If your question extends to those forms descended from Cheng Man-Ch’ing, I would have to say that the differences with Yang Chengfu’s published forms are quite extensive. If you are interested in some of these, let me know.

Take care,
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Postby oldyangtaijiquan » Sun May 02, 2004 4:53 pm

The main disciples of YCF (such Fu Zhong Wen, Yang Sau Chung, Tung Ying Chieh or Chen Wei Ming) originaly teached the form with the weighted pivots. Some say that the form with unweighted pivots is taught to the beginners and the form with the weighted pivots to the more advanced. Some say that it depends upon martial applications. As I understand YCF teached in his last book the form with weighted pivots for martial usage! My opinion is that this is the main division of the YCF forms.
We can also find in some Yang Style forms some "old elements" such Double Leaping Kick or Cross Sweep Lotus and the usage of strength explosions (Fa-Jin). Also some postures are done a bit differently (Grasp Sparrow's Tail, Stork Spread Wings, Brush Knee twist Step, Fist Under Elbow, Repulse Monkey, Cloud Hands, Punch Down, Ride the Tiger). Yang Style through the evolution leave off some elements that we can find in some schools that originate from "Old Yang" [Yang Lu Chan] or "Old Chen" [Chen Geng Yun] Taijiquan. Also there are forms that the Yang family discontinued to teach (or don't teach in public) such:
- Yang Cheng Fu's "Taiji Long Boxing" [Taiji Chang Quan]
- Yang Shao Hou's "Small/High frame"
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Mon May 03, 2004 4:00 pm

As I am not as experienced as some others here, the more I learn, the more I can become confused. There are so many TC folks disagreeing these days about what is correct or not correct, it becomes a minefield of sorts. Who do we listen to?? I suppose the Yang family, and the current teachers who studied directly with the Yang family are the only ones qualified to say what is right. Is this a correct assumption? If so, hopefully, I am on the right track. It's just that I've been getting so paranoid lately, because for every person to agree with your course of study there is someone else who will disagree (just read some other forums and you'll see). I guess some of it is political and some of it is born from personal agenda and whatnot. Also, the fact that this wonderful art seems to becoming more and more watered down. I can only hope it becomes clearer to me someday somehow.....

Thank you for the information Audi. I guess what we're saying is, there's more than one way to do the YCF form and that's alright (as long as the principles are being upheld)?
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Postby oldyangtaijiquan » Mon May 03, 2004 8:49 pm

Also there is a San Shou form, which is said that is not a part of the »Yang Family« Taijiquan Curriculum (or not teached in public). Is true that »There are no secrets«? My opinion is that there is a part of »Taijiquan« curriculum that is not teached publicly, but always inside family and selected disciples.
Without dubt the Yang Zhen Duo's (and aslo Yang Zhen Ji and Yang Zhen Guo) version is the most beautifull version of Yang Taijiquan. But why the eldest YCF's son teached the form with weighted pivots (he also teached the Taiji Qigong, Taiji Chang Quan, San Shou form and so on) and the other YCF's sons teach the form with unweighted pivots (with a limited curriculum)?
Maybe unweighted pivots are more suitable for general (public) teching, while weighted pivots are reserved for advanced (in-door) disciples. The form can be done in both ways, but surely the version with weighted pivots is more economical in motion and more »martial«. Some says trat turning the foot without shifting the weight off can cause injury to the knee. Who knows?
What is correct and what is not is dificult to say, the most inportant are the principles of Taijiquan. Without doubt the "Yang Family" Taijiquan that is teached by Yang Jun and Yang Zhen Duo is on of the best shools.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Mon May 03, 2004 9:13 pm

OYT, can you explain in more detail what you mean by the weighted pivot please? I'm not sure I understand. I was taught the Yang Sau Chung version, and I'd like to understand what you are describing.

[This message has been edited by yangchengfu04 (edited 01-26-2005).]
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Postby oldyangtaijiquan » Tue May 04, 2004 7:51 am

Exists two ways of shifting the body weight when we advancing or turning:
1. First turn and after shift the body weight (pivot on the full leg) - [weighted pivots]
2. Firs shift the body weight and after turn (pivot on the empty leg) - [unweighted pivots]
Yang Sau Chung used the weighted turnings (pivots) in his form and also he explained the martial usage of the Taijiquan postures in this way in his book »Practical Use of Tai Chi Chuan: It's Application and Variations«. Some of his disciples teach the form with unweighted pivots to the beginners and the form with the weighted pivots to the advanced students. YSC also teached a more full curriculum such as Taiji Qigong, Chang Quan and San Shou, but some of this are not teached (publicly) in Yang Family today.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue May 04, 2004 1:23 pm

The weighted vs. unweighted pivot question has come up on this forum more than a time or two in the past.
I know, because I brought it up here myself before.
I studied under the Wu style of Eddie Wu, and his lineage teaches only weighted pivots, period, beginner, intermediate, advanced, no matter. Previous even to that I studied what was called "Yang style" TCC and they taught only weighted pivots, period. So when I began my study of the YCF forms I was mystified by these unweighted pivots, this "giving back" of weight to the back leg before moving right back onto that same leg. It took time, it felt awkward, it doesn't particularly look too elegant either, at least to a student of purely wieghted pivots from two previous schools.
What could the purpose be for this? Was this the "watering down" I'd been so advised about by former classmates of the Wu style?
Well, now that I've been studying this style for a couple of years, I definitely see the pros and cons of doing the "less weighted" pivots, they are not truly "unweighted" pivots if you look at them.
This is not a "simplified" movement, by any stretch of the imagination.
First off, have you tried to do this after learning wieghted pivots? I mean really tried and thought about what it is you are doing? Because this is not a "simple" thing to do, at all. It's infinitely easier to do the pivots with all of your weight on one leg allready.
Infinitely, at least for me and quite a few others that I know.
The difference is that to do "less weighted" pivots you must actually have better balance and more control of your center.
Do either of you know the reason behind these "less weighted" pivots? Do you know the reason for the "weighted pivots"?
There are martial pros and cons, there are energy circulation pros and cons, there are a lot of pros and cons of many kinds, to both of these styles of "pivoting".
Ask your instructor, like I did, WHY you do the pivots as you do. They can tell you.
The martial aspects are only one reason.
That said, I have been left to wonder why the Yangs removed "weighted pivots" from their forms. Both are very usefull, both are
"good TCC".
Does anyone know?
I practice Wu style with the "weighted" and Yang style with the "unweighted", but have been curious as to why each style chose to use only one.
I have some personal theories, going back to my all consuming love for "frame size" and then of course the "lean" that the Wu style uses and the Yangs don't. But they are just theories.
If anyone knows the "why", I'd like to hear it.
I now find myself in the position of using and understanding both types of pivot. I can tell you, quite honestly, as a student of both pivots that there are numerous places in the Yang form where an unweighted pivot would be quite superb and there are many places in the Wu form where a "less weighted" pivot would ease things quite a bit.
Any ideas? Anyone? I'd love to hear them.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Tue May 04, 2004 7:56 pm

OYT, thank you for the definitions. Your description of the YSC curriculum appears to be consistent to what they teach at my current school. I was, and am being taught to use the weighted pivot. Also, we do open the arms before all the kicks in the form.
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Postby oldyangtaijiquan » Tue May 04, 2004 8:34 pm

Why ask the "instructors", when the past masters already answered to this?
My opinion (I have yet to confirm my theory) is "100" years ago (betwen 1850 and 1930) was practiced with only (or mainly) with weighted pivots.
As I know the "weighted pivots" was used by all the Yang's: Yang Cheng Fu, Yang Shao Hou, Yang Ban Hou and Yang Jian Hou (I have yet to confirm this one). Also as I know the two main students of Yang Lu Chan Wu Yu Xiang and Quan You had used the "weighted pivots". Seems that also the Sanfeng Taijiquan (the ancestor o Yang Taijiquan) had used them.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue May 04, 2004 8:58 pm

There have been many changes made to the forms over the last 100 years, the least of which is probably the weighted or unweighted pivot.
Wu Chuan Yau made many, many changes, large and small, to his Masters form, his son made more, his sons than made more and bigger changes than he did, their sons and daughters are now making more changes still, as we speak, to the original forms of Yang Lu Chan.
Yang Lu Chan's sons made changes to his forms, thier sons made more and bigger changes, their sons and daughters made more and are still making more changes to the original forms of their ancestors.
Every teacher ever in the history of TCC has made changes to his Masters forms, no matter what lineage they learned and no matter how pure they try to stay to their Masters forms, they change them.
Things change, that's the way it works.
Do we throw away the advice of more modern masters simply because "100 years ago" the old masters might, maybe, possibly didn't do things identically to what we do now?
Do you know the exact way in which the masters did their forms 100 years ago? I don't, and I sincerely doubt anyone here does. I even sincerely doubt that the current Masters do, of any style.
If you're going to go back 100 years, why stop there? Why not go back 200 years and make your forms identical to those forms and no other form is accurate? Why not 300 years? Why not 1000 years?
Do you know the exact way the Masters did their forms 1000 years ago?
For that matter, let's only take instruction in TCC from Chan Sang Feng. He is the figure of legend that created the forms, the rest of the forms from his on down simply must be innaccurate and therefore are total and complete garbage. Why learn any other way of doing things, his must have been perfect.

Do you see how this kind of thing can keep going to an extreme? Where do you stop? When do you reach the point at which your TCC is pure enough?
For that matter, Yang Lu Chan learned his forms from the Chen family, and he changed the art he learned from them.
Why learn the Yang family TCC at all, in that case? What would be the purpose? Your theory is going to lead you back to Chen style TCC in the end. If all you want is the purest, oldest form you can find you are going to need to start there.
Oh, wait a minute.
They have also since changed thier forms quite a bit over the last hundred years. You'll need to find a Master who is in his late 150's to be sure you're getting a pure form from that long ago...
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue May 04, 2004 9:01 pm

Remember that the form is nothing more than a convention for daily practice. In application we cannot adhere to fixed conventions. Just because someone teaches the form with one convention does not mean any contradiction with other methods and approaches to a move. People get way too hung up on what is the "right", orthodox move when in fact there is a spectrum of variations, many of which could fit in the right circumstances.
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Postby DavidJ » Wed May 05, 2004 1:52 am

Hi yangchengfu04,

I learned within the Tung School, and we also begin the long form with the hands rising facing each other, and we use both weighted and unweighted pivots.

Tai Chi Chuan is not the movements, it is the principles. The long form is made of movements to which the principles have been applied. Variation is allowed as long as the principles are met.

Use of the whole body is not just found in the execution of any single movement, but globally in the long form as a whole.

Part of the oral tradition holds that the 108 was designed to be thorough, that is, to exercise all of the muscles and joints in the body, without over-stressing any part.

Try not to get discouraged by what seems to be major differences between schools. If you can gain an understanding in one you may find a great deal of connsonance with the others.

I hope this helps.


David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 05-04-2004).]
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Postby Michael » Wed May 05, 2004 5:38 am

Thank you Wushuer, Jerry and David who all anwered for me in their distinctive styles.

Being a history freak, my goal at one time was to see what could be found to be the closest to the "original" Yang Lu chan set. Well I found all kinds of kinds of stuff that boasted it was the "original". well most of these sets had a few things in common, but not that much. Then I looked for Yang Ban Hou sets, even practiced one. I again found that all these sets had as much as common as the YLC ones. I explored the lineages, haven't seen them all in their full versions, but enough to know one thing. Ban Hou did Ban Hou style, Lu Chan did Lu chan style, Jian hou did his style, Shou hou did a combination of the Ban Hou and Jian Hou mixed with his own ideas,..... So after loooing at a lot of taijiquan, what I found is that it is all the "same". As Jerry said, it's not some sequence, or that some variation is more right than some other, it is a set of principles.

I gave up the search for the "original" YLC taijiquan. It does not exist anymore. what made him great was not the movements he did but his dedication and understanding of the principles. If we understood and were as dedicated as he or his sons, it would not matter what style or version we practice. The forms are just a means by which we come to understand what taijiquan is--the principles and structure...well a little more than that.....


Weighted and unweighted pivots. I have brought this up myself. Notice that Yang Jun has his own variation. In Part Wild Horses Mane he no longer shifts the weight back and pivots he just steps forward. BUT there is a reason to shift back and open the toes out if one wants to. But I am not telling. WINK. How come I can't use those emotocons here where I want to? I have seen him also use weighted pivots. So the YCF syle is no longer either or.

I was freaked out when I first "discovered" weighted pivots. Why don't we do this ALL the time? Because sometimes one would not want to. Grin. If Wushuer isn't going to tell, either am I. Somedays I practice noting but weighted pivots, the next day i may practice "unwieghted" ones. It is all good.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-05-2004).]
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