One thing I forgot to mention about the clip is that at the beginning, Master Yang seems to be stressing the importance of getting the right foot into position in order to have forward power and not slip in the Bow Stance. One of the ways I think he has occasionally used to demonstrate the proper potential for energy flow between the legs is by rocking back and forth. He does this on the clip, first only a little bit and then quite dramatically. My own belief is not that he is advocating this rocking movement itself, but that he wants to show a certain subtle feel in the legs that is hard to show without some physical “exaggeration” of this nature. This feeling is the “deng1/4” (thrusting) and “cheng1” (“propping up”) that we have discussed in the past on this board.
By the way, one thing that surprises me is that at the very beginning of the video, Master Yang seems to talk about turning the left foot 130 degrees, rather than 135 degrees. If anyone can confirm this and/or explain it, I would appreciate it. I am wondering if this is one of those places in the form where they are willing to be lenient and allow things to be slightly more comfortable, such as in Embrace Tiger Return to the Mountain.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Marc(3) pushing the heel out using the middle part of the foot as a pivot. With the last method the toes will come in as well.</font>
Marc and Yuri, if you do this type of pivot, will you not change the length of your stance by changing the distance between your heels? If you are already at your maximum length in the Push Posture, will you not be overextended in Single Whip and unable to step lightly “like a cat”?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Yuri Besides I don't understand how you can get in low extend position (gong bu) without pushing heel out a bit – I can't step so far without tension.</font>
The Yangs teach that the length of stance is controlled solely by how much you bend your supporting knee. Their method is independent of the type of pivot used. If you want a low stance in Single Whip, you must bend your right knee to the maximum when you shift weight to it and then step out with the left heel until it touches the ground without any transfer of weight to it. This fixes the length and depth of your stance. In the weapons forms, you can and probably should use a little body momentum to get longer and lower stances, but this method sacrifices some of the clarity of the weight shifts and is not permitted in the hand form. In general, the Yangs do not seem to be concerned about the depth and length of stances.
Wushuer, I agree with Jamie that you make a very good point about the timing of the toe movement. The Yangs stress that this must not be a local movement, but rather that the “waist” (“yao1”) must “carry”/ “lead” (“dai4”) the toes along. This is one of the things they mean by “whole-body” (“quan2 shen1”) power. I am pretty sure that Master Yang refers to this on the video, but I cannot quite make out the full sentence or the subtitles. This method is used generally throughout the form. The toes are not supposed to be moved independently of the waist.
There are also a few other points about getting the right foot all the way through the pivot. For instance, one has to be careful to keep most of the weight in the left leg until the right leg has finished pivoting. Many people do not properly “distinguish full and empty” and drift into a 50-50 stance that makes it hard to finish the twist on the right heel. Also, one can use the left side of one’s bottom to help the body twist. This is truly a whole-body movement. Lastly, it can help to give up a little of the pressure on the inside edge of the left foot to help increase the twisting power.
As for the distance between the legs, I do not recall ever seeing Master Yang use anything less than a normal shoulder’s width in his bow stances. I think I see the same issue that you mention and suspect that what appears is just merely an issue of camera angles. To my eye, the stances to the left and toward the camera look narrower than the stances to the right and away from the camera. The students seem to exhibit the same phenomenon. It is true, however, that there can be some variation in the width between the legs. The measure is the width of the shoulders, but some people can still adopt a relatively narrow width, while others can adopt a relatively wide width. A “shoulder’s width” is not a precise or rigid measurement, as I understand it.