Step Forward (Jin Bu) vs. Step Up (Shang Bu)

Step Forward (Jin Bu) vs. Step Up (Shang Bu)

Postby Audi » Fri Dec 31, 2004 5:28 am

Seasons Greetings to All,

A while back, I believe I asked if anyone knew what the difference was between "Step Forward" ("Jin Bu") and "Step Up" ("Shang Bu"). I do not recall receiving an answer and apologize if my memory is faulty. I thought I would ask this question again, since the composition of the forum has changed and everyone has presumably grown in experience and knowledge.

One set of words is used in certain postures (e.g., Deflect Downward, Parry, Punch and Punch Downward) and the other set is used in other posture names (e.g., Grasp the Birds Tail and Step Up to Seven Stars). This usage appears to be consistent, and I wonder if it is purposeful.

I was recently at a Push Hands workshop/seminar given by Sam Masich, where he presented some interesting research/observatons/speculation about the Five Steps ("Wu Bu"). What he said has made me wonder whether this aspect of basic Taiji theory requires certain distinctions depending on which foot is forward.

I have come to observe that Step Forward seems always to be used when ending a posture with the left leg forward, which is the strongest position for a right-hander to throw a punch with his or her strongest arm. When the right leg is forward, the term "Step Up" is used. Could it be that in the Step Forward postures, the primary footwork is "Jin Bu" ("Advance Step") of the Five Steps, and in the Step Up postures, the primary footwork is "You Pan" ("Gaze Right")? I note that the "Tui Bu" ("Step Backward") of Step Back to Ride the Tiger also occurs with the left foot forward.

What other explanations are there for the difference in terminology? Is the difference consistently observed in all Yang Style versions of the form?
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Dec 31, 2004 3:51 pm

Hiya Audi,

interesting question. I typed a longer reply, but lost it. Oh well, anyway, as to your question about the consistency of language among all the styles, Yang and otherwise, there isn't any. "Jin bu" and "shang bu" are both translated as "step forward", even in the same texts. This may be a matter of convention or it may actually be a matter of individual technique.

In terms of the movements, almost everyone does "step forward, grasp bird's tail", "step forward, parry, punch," and "step forward/up, seven stars" differently. Translating "shang bu qi xing" as "Step Up, Seven Stars" makes a little more sense. But, one also sees "shang bu, lan que wei" or "shang bu chui", etc. very often. I'm not sure if there's always consistency in tcc styles. At least, I'm not sure that the language illustrates or represents the actual distinctions in the movements.

In bagua theory, "shang bu" is "the Upper Step"; and the rear foot steps past the front foot. OTOH, in "the Advance Step" (jin bu), the front foot moves to the front.

This makes sense, but I'm not sure if it's consistent with the vocabulary used in the tcc forms. It does accord with the idea about Step Up, Seven Stars. But, as for the rest of the form/forms, ymmv.

Happy Holiday,
Steve James
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Dec 31, 2004 6:29 pm

There was a daoist practice called bu xing 'pacing stars'. So the name shang bu qi xing definitely calls up this pacing stars idea. Adds an element of cosmic mystery.
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