Many different styles of yang tai chi

Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby billtay32 » Wed May 12, 2010 2:38 pm

Yes I am wondering how there are so many different styles of yang Tai chi. For example the yang tai chi 6 form never heard of it but it exists. Also the traditional 24 step form. ive heard of and seen it but looks nothing like what im studying. Also i have heard about the 36 and 72 movement form are those real or just forms people make up.
Please let me know the answer.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby billtay32 » Sat May 15, 2010 3:44 pm

also how can you find real yang arts
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Audi » Tue May 18, 2010 12:21 am

Hi billtay32,

According to what I understand, the Yang family has taught various variations of posture sequences over the last century or two. Various disciples and students of the Yang family have also taught further variations of posture sequences. In my opinion, all Yang Style forms share a certain core floavor; however, what someone defines as "Yang Style" may often be more of a political statement than a factual statement. If you have questions about a particular form, you will probably get better information asking about the history of its transmission than asking whether or not it is "real" or "authentic," which are subjective terms.

This associations has taught four Yang Style forms that could be described as having 103, 49, 16, and 13 postures. We consider only the 103 as being "traditional" and, all things being equal, prefer to use it as the basis for our regular practice. The other forms are merely shortened version of the traditional form and exist to satisfy particular needs. There are others that practice a form that is virtually identical to our 103, but who count the same postures in a different manner, for example arriving at a total of 85. This is more a matter of naming conventions than of substance. The number of the postures does not dictate the quality of the postures or the fidelity to the Yang Style flavor and Tai Chi principles.

I have heard of the 24-form, but not of the others you mention. The history of the 24 form is well known. Whether or not you should practice it is a matter of preference. It was not created by a Yang family member, but that can be said of many Tai Chi forms that are well recognized and respected. I personally think that the 24 has some aspects that are quite like our form and some aspects that are quite different. Generally, the differences are sufficient that the postures are instantly distinguishable by someone with familiarity. How important that might be is again a matter of opinion and perspective.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Audi
Last edited by Audi on Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby billtay32 » Sat May 22, 2010 10:09 pm

Thanks Audi That was very Informative. I beleive the people i spoke with really havent learned tai chi they just ask like they did and pass it off as traditional. The person i spoke to has his own school but no lineage, also there seems to be no fundamentals involved just movement. So again thanks for the info and have a great day. P.s. i am a new member to the association, i hope i can find many friends here and classmates.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby T » Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:28 pm

From the perspective of a Tung Ying Chieh Lineage person, the traditional form is simply the long form and the number of postures in it is highly dependent on how you count them.

As for 24 form, as has been already stated, it is not form the Yang family. It is mostly from Li Cunyi who was more of a Xingyiquan person than a Taijiquan person. However I do believe he study a bit with Yang Chengfu. Li Cunyi's nephew, Li Deyin is still teaching the various Taijiquan forms his Uncle developed as well as Xingyiquan and I believe Baguazhang which are also from his Uncle.

The other numbers you came up with like 72 sound to me to be more what you might find from Cheng Manching or his student William C.C. Chen.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Audi » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:55 am

I reread my post above and saw that I listed our form as having 108 postures. Although I think some people count it that way, I think our official count is 103, and so I have corrected the post.

I beleive the people i spoke with really havent learned tai chi they just ask like they did and pass it off as traditional.


I like the more traditional schools of Taijiquan, but I think there are some interesting teachers who take a non-traditional approach. There is something to be gained by figuring things out for yourself, but I prefer not trying to reinvent the wheel.

The person i spoke to has his own school but no lineage, also there seems to be no fundamentals involved just movement.

Everyone has some sort of lineage, even if they have "learned" only from a book or DVD. If they are ignorant of it or are unwilling to discuss it, that is a bad sign. It is even worse if movement is taught without any discussion of principles and fundamentals. In my opinion, Tai Chi without principles or fundamentals is like playing chess or cards without any rules.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby kentold » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:01 pm

By the way, the number 108 has special significance. In Chinese astrology there are 108 sacred stars. Buddhists use a 108 prayer bead necklace called a mala. They also have 108 virtues and 108 defilements. The numbers 9 and 12 have spiritual signficance.
9X 12= 108. In astrology there are 12 houses and 9 planets. There are 108 energy lines which form the heart chakra. It is a very important number in Hinduism. There are many more examples of 108's significance. I doubt it is a coincidence the Tai Chi form is counted as 108 moves.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Bob klein » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:23 pm

I studied the William C. C. Chen 60 movement Yang form. To me, the number of movements isn't as important as the proper mechanics of the form. I've noticed that teachers doing the same form each do it differently. Some may be stiff and others fluid. Some may lean forward as in the traditional Yang family approach while others emphasize a straight but relaxed spine.

As long as each teacher explains why he/she is doing the mechanics their way, the appllications of this approach to energy development, health and martial arts, the dynamics of attention, etc., then I feel there is value to at least understanding their approach. If they are just doing their mechanics out of habit or because that is what they were taught, and they don't really understand their own form, then I feel there is little value in learning from them.

The Yang family approach of leaning forward, sinking down while pressing or pushing and the fairly straight rear leg has always puzzled me but I hope to learn more about it in this discussion group. If you move forward by pushing with your rear foot, for example, then this would certainly counter my training, which is to melt into the front foot for half the shift and then press upward from the front foot during the second part of the shift.

These are the issues that interest me about the different approaches to the form, rather than the specific sequence of movements.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:24 pm

Bob,
You will get a better explanation from Audi, who has a much greater understanding of Yang style theory than I will ever have, but I think I can speak a little about the forward lean in Traditional Yang family Tai Chi Chuan for you.
Simply put, it allows any incoming energy that you meet to be grounded out to your back foot when you are in a direct line with it using the hand on the same side as the foot.
In other words, when you are facing your opponent in bow stance with your shoulders squared or nearly squared to him and he expresses energy into you, that energy will have a straight line to your back foot if you are leaning forward.
Also the exact opposite is true. When you express energy from yourself into your opponent, in a straight on or nearly straight on to him bow stance and the primary energy is being expressed with the same side arm as the back foot (say right arm, right leg), the energy can travel directly from the rooted back foot into your opponent.
This saves the lower back from quite a bit of strain. I can tell you that from first hand experience.

My poor, tired brain likes to compartmentalize things, and so I have broken down my understanding of Traditional Yang style into two bow stances. I have termed them, "Forward Leaning" and "Upright" bow stances in order to keep them straight.
Forward Leaning bow stances happen in the forms: Right Ward Off, Push, Press, Brush Knee and Twist Step, Fair Lady Works Shuttles and more.
Upright bow stances happen in the forms: Left Ward Off, Single Whip, Fan Through Back and they also happen in a few transitory movements during other names forms (Turn Body Chop With Fist and White Snake Spits Tongue come to mind).
During what I call "Upright" bow stances you do not lean forward as you are not facing the opponent with your shoulders squared or nearly squared. The energy either being expressed or received is not going from your back foot to the same side arm, but to the opposite arm from your back foot (say right arm, left foot). In this case the energy has a straighter line of travel if you stay upright and allow it to either be grounded to or expressed from your back foot.


I hope this helps.
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Audi » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:38 am

Hi Bob and Bob,

Bob Klein, welcome to the board. I hope you enjoy and continue participating.

As to the lean, I would say that our default in a forward bow stance is to lean. To explain why, Yang Zhenduo would have a student stand in the final posture of Push with our normal lean and then he would push against their hands with substantial force. Generally they could withstand the power. He would then have the student do Push without the lean, and they could not withstand his push without getting extremely shaky and unstable.

The only time we do not lean the torso forward is when energy is being expressed both forward and backward, in which case leaning forward would weaken the energy to the rear. This situation happens in the postures Bob Ashford mentions: Ward off Left, (Slanting) Single Whip, and Fan through the Back. For different reasons, we also lean slightly forward during all back-weighted stance.

As I first got used to the lean, coming from a style that did not, I appreciated it not only for the above reasons, but also for the chance to vary the position of yet another set of joints and loosen up the back further. I also found that it gave me a much better range of motion, a better feeling for waist movement, and a better feeling for changes in empty and full. There are, of course, other views on these matters even among close and respected students and relatives of Yang Chengfu, let alone other styles.

If you move forward by pushing with your rear foot, for example, then this would certainly counter my training, which is to melt into the front foot for half the shift and then press upward from the front foot during the second part of the shift.

I would say that we push with the same energy we would use to step forward with a foot. To push energy forward, we would say that you first need to push energy to the rear. We also generally prefer to maintain very stable postures and so keep the torso and hips centered between the feet, both back-to-front and right-to-left. If you push with the front foot in this position, you will shift weight backward. Back-weighted empty stances are slightly different, since we perform them with a narrow stance; and one-legged stances are of course quite different.

We thrust against the ground with the back leg and use the front leg as a prop or a stopper. Both legs are necessary. We think of this method as necessary for satisfying the requirement that "the energy [be] rooted in the feet and developed in the legs" (although I do no recall if the Chinese is specific about both feet or both legs, since Chinese often does not discriminate between singular and plural).

If you know of a YouTube link showing the method of pushing off the front foot, I would appreciate seeing that.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Bengbeng » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:42 pm

Hello,

A few years ago I studied the Cheng Man Ching 37 and am currently studying Chen Style. Since both of these classes only meet once a week I decided to try the Taoist Tai Chi Society's (TTCS) Yang version, since they meet daily, to get more of a weekly workout. However, I am interested to know why there is a significant forward lean to the TTCS form and came across this discussion. I also have a few years of push hands experience in both styles.

During push hands, I understand and agree that during a forward push this forward lean would be beneficial, however since my center of gravity is slightly forward, I feel that if the person I'm pushing holds on to me, it would be very easy for them to off balance me forward. Both the Cheng Man Ching 37 and Chen Style I study have a very upright bow stance and much wider as well. So getting pulled forward in this manner is less of an issue due to the very upright stance. My Chen style instructor teaches that to counter someone pushing into you straight on, just sink down into your hips and this will reroute the opponents vector energy from the straight back into the back leg. And this seems to work without overcommitting my center of gravity in any direction but straight down.

I suppose my question is how does a forward leaning Yang practitioner counter a pull forward from an opponent if they are leaning forward after a push and why are some Yang style stances so narrow in width? The TTCS folks say that to check proper footwork, slide the forward leg back straight and if the heels nearly touch or actually touch, then it is good. If the heels are a few inches apart, it is too wide.

Thanks!
Bengbeng
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:49 pm

Bengbeng,
I was hoping someone with a better understanding would answer your question, but since they haven't I'll take a lash.
When leaning in TYFTTC bow stances, the ones I call "forward leaning"(please remember this is a semantic that I developed, outside of my school you will probably not hear it used, I make very sure to explain that to all of my students), there is one word I hear Master Yang Jun emphasize on a fairly regular basis: slightly.
As with most methods in TCC, slightly is the rule. Don't over do it.

If you look up at the photo of Yang Cheng Fu at the top of this page, you can clearly see that the forward lean is not that great, a slight lean as opposed to a full on commitment of your weight going forward.
I have had many, way too many to count any more, push hands opponents from other flavors of TCC try the very trick you mention; plucking me forward. Of course, my teachers had trained me quite well so I was ready for it.
That doesn't mean it didn't work. It did, until I had some practical experience with it.
Then I figured out not to commit all of my weight forward just because I was leaning forward. You still hold your center.
To be fair and honest, I did not learn this forward lean from the Yang family. I learned it during my time training in a Wu school (Wu Chien Chuan, not Wu/Hao). It is the same lean, done in a very similar fashion, so it was quite easy for me to bring it with me into Yang family Tai Chi Chuan.
Still, the method is very much the same. Which makes sense since the Wu's learned it from the Yang's.

I understand and also use the "sink into your hips" method, since that too is taught at the Wu school where I trained and I have also been shown this method from several Yang style instructors.
Also, in conjunction with the sinking I was taught to turn my waist to further allow the incoming energy to be negated.
All of these methods work quite well. I use them all, but for different reasons at different times.
At the Symposium in Nashville in 2009, Grand Master Chen Zhenglei asked his students who were present to work on learning the method of this forward lean from the Yang and Wu stylists who were present while they had the chance. I was in the lecture hall when he did this and there were quite a few Chen stylists who approached me afterwards and asked me to work with them on this method.
Without fail, every one of them tried to pluck me forward as I worked with them.
Fortunately, my skill at the method was sufficient to keep me from being plucked. I taught them this as well.
In return, I was taught a great deal about silk reeling, dantien rotation, waist and hip usage that I had never heard of or even imagined before by the Chen stylists.
I honestly believe I got more out of the exchange then I was able to give them in return. All I taught them was this one method, which to me was quite easy to do. They taught me several, very complicated methods in return.
We spent the rest of the week helping each other to refine the methods we were working on with each other, so we all had time to get comfortable with our new methods before we had to go our separate ways.

But I'm rambling on. Sorry.

The answer to your question about how to counter that inevitable forward pull is the very same one you have already given for how to accept incoming force.
You sink.
It sounds quite easy to do but, as with all methods in Tai Chi Chuan, first you have to know the method, then you have to feel how it works when you actually do it.
Without the hands on, simply saying, "sink" doesn't help very much.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to convey the hands on feeling in words.
My only recommendation would be to find a good Traditional Yang Family TCC or a Wu Chien Chuan teacher and ask them to teach you how this works.
Once you try it, you should see very quickly how beneficial it is.

As for the narrow stances, these are empty stances. The empty foot should be placed just outside of center line.
That will be good (sorry, couldn't help it, I just got home from a seminar).
I do not know how the Taoist TCC folks teach their empty stances, so I can't really address how they do them.
Hopefully someone with more experience in Taoist TCC can help you with that.

Bob
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby Audi » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:24 pm

Hi Bengbeng,

Welcome to the board!

I probably share similar views as those Bob expressed, but let me add some other thoughts.

During push hands, I understand and agree that during a forward push this forward lean would be beneficial, however since my center of gravity is slightly forward, I feel that if the person I'm pushing holds on to me, it would be very easy for them to off balance me forward.

I would say that it is easier, but it should not be easy. Every solution has advantages and disadvantages. What you choose to follow is what defines a style.

Both the Cheng Man Ching 37 and Chen Style I study have a very upright bow stance and much wider as well.

We have a way of showing the disadvantages of this position, but you can imagine pushing a car like this and get some idea. Again, this does not mean an upright stance is wrong, simply that it has advantages and disadvantages.

My Chen style instructor teaches that to counter someone pushing into you straight on, just sink down into your hips and this will reroute the opponents vector energy from the straight back into the back leg. And this seems to work without overcommitting my center of gravity in any direction but straight down.

I think these are good ways to test structure, but they do not really demonstrate how to counter techniques. As for "overcommitting", remember that the lean really comes from folding at the "kua" and rotating the torso forward. How much your center of gravity shifts forward is really a different consideration. To get the feeling, as the top of your body moves forward, make sure that your hips rotate back some. If you do our lean correctly, it should be quite difficult for someone to pull you forward.

I suppose my question is how does a forward leaning Yang practitioner counter a pull forward from an opponent if they are leaning forward after a push...

Remember that merely resisting the pull is contrary to almost all styles' interpretations of Tai Chi principles. Being able to resist may show good structure, but actually doing so is usually deemed incorrect.

In our push hands, we teach a "standard" Cai (pluck) application that more or less counts as a pull. If you do it successfully, both the opponent's feet will have to move and he or she will end up stumbling behind you. I have learned two or three counters to this technique: one involves squatting, another involves using Kao (shoulder stroke) with the shoulder or back, another involves using split/ward off. Each of these can also be countered. Whether these techniques work depends on the skill and understanding of the practitioner more than on the mere mechanics. Good structure is assumed.

...why are some Yang style stances so narrow in width?

I looked at one of the TTCS videos. The practitioner looked very skilled. The bow stances looked narrower than what we use, but it is hard to tell from the angles. It looked to me that this was a way of emphasizing the stretching feeling the video talked about. I think our view is that narrow stances are more nimble and wide stances are more stable. We feel that shoulder width gives the best compromise. If I recall correctly, Tung Ying-chieh (董英杰) or one of his successors may have also advocated a slightly narrow stance, but I am not certain of this.

At a recent seminar I attended, Master Yang Jun talked at length about some of these issues. He said that various styles have different requirements. Sometimes the difference does not indicate that one is right and one is wrong, but simply that they have different approaches. Our style requires that the back leg in a bow stance give an idea of being straightened. If you do this with your shoulders squared and a straight spine, it will give you a feeling of tightness in the waist/lower back that is very bad for the flow of energy. To relieve this sensation, you can either lean forward or bend the leg. Either solution can accord with basic Tai Chi principles, but we choose the first one. I have some guesses as to why we do this, but they are only guesses and concern more training principles than meeting core requirements.

Unlike the TTCS video I saw, there are a few bow stances in which we do not lean. These are where we issue energy front and back and do not want to lean away from the energy going to the rear. In these cases, our shoulders are not square to the front.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby fumin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:20 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the discussion. I like to add some. In application, if some one pull me, I give up myself, follow the pulling momentum, lean forward, extend forward and then neutralize the pull. At the same time I still maintain my balance and cause the opponent uprooted or of disadvantage and throw him out by his moving imbalanced weight plus my little internal energy.

The example states that we need listen, understand ourselves and our opponents. Once we are enlightened, we don't get confused with different styles.

Be well,
Fred Hao
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Re: Many different styles of yang tai chi

Postby fumin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:45 pm

Continued,

In moving and continuos Quan, we need to change accordingly from wide to narrow stance, from lean to upright and vice versa. Wind and water have the free quality.

Fred Hao
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