grasp bird's tail

grasp bird's tail

Postby jack » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:24 pm

hello every one. During grasp birds tail practice, we generally put one leg at front and second to the behind. How should we keep the 'leg behind'? i.e. straight or slightly bent from the knee?
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Re: grasp bird's tail

Postby Subitai » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:08 pm

I can't speak for all families but most Tai chi styles would never make a front bow stance (Or any Stance for that matter) with a leg that is completely locked out straight.

The concept I learned was 5 bows of the body. So the four limbs + the body itself has the characteristic energy of a bow or some might say Peng. Even a leg that can look seemingly straight will always have a certain bend to it. My brothers and I would always joke and say, "A straight Curve"

When you make your stance most schools will do some sort of structure test. You can extrapolate from there as to the how, when and why.

But for sure NO, the leg would never be straight in a Sport Wushu (compulsory) type sense.

2 cents, "O"

"O" Some believe that you need to make another human being tap out to be a valid art. But I am constantly reminding them that I only have to defend myself and keep you from hurting me in order to Win."
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Re: grasp bird's tail

Postby Bob Ashmore » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:34 pm

In Traditional Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan stance work the legs should be held "naturally straight"; both legs if in Preparation stance, the back leg if in bow or empty stances.
What this means is that the leg appears to be straight but is relaxed enough not to be stiff, with no feeling of the joints being "locked".
To feel how this works I have my students stand in Preparation Form, then I ask them to push downwards with both legs until they feel their knee, ankle and hip joints "lock", then to relax their legs only enough so that they feel their knee, ankle and hip joints "unlock".
This slight "bend" to the knees and ankles (and hips but you can't see those joints no matter what position they're in) isn't clearly visible, it appears to an untrained observer that the joints are straight however this loose, relaxed, natural straightness of the leg joints conveys a feeling of springy energy to the entire body.
If someone pushes or presses into you when your joints are "locked" out straight you will simply collapse, or maybe even fall over, as there is nowhere for the energy to go. If they press or push into you with your joints "naturally straight" you can easily bend the ankles and knees and roll the hip joints as much as necessary to allow your body to "coil" and store the energy they are giving you, then you can release it back into them or neutralize the energy to the ground, whatever the circumstance calls for. (First comply and bend, then engage and extend)
By the way, I also advise my students to search for this same feeling of "natural relaxation", or Sung, throughout their entire body. Doing so follows the same method as finding it in the legs. First extend your entire body as far as it will go until you feel all of your joints "lock", then slowly and without forcing anything allow your body to relax to the point where you feel each joint "unlock" itself into a naturally straight position.
Try it, it feels great.

I hope this helps.

Bob Ashmore
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Re: grasp bird's tail

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:33 pm

jack wrote:hello every one. During grasp birds tail practice, we generally put one leg at front and second to the behind. How should we keep the 'leg behind'? i.e. straight or slightly bent from the knee?

As a general rule for the Yang style tai ji, all the arms and legs should not be extended all the way to maintain balance. In this case, if the leg behind was straight, then the body tends to lean forward which causes the center to be shifted. It is vulnerable to move forward by someone who gives a pull or push. However, if the leg behind was slightly bent, then, the body would have more control to counteract the pull or push. Same thing goes to the leg while standing, it's better to have the leg bent to act like a robot arm with two pivot points, like the ankle and knee. Hence, the body has more flexibility to move in any direction.

There is an old classic saying for the Yang style:
曲中求直: Desire to be straighten from a bent position
直中求曲: Desire to be bent from a straight position

These saying applies to both the arms and legs. It sounds paradoxical but it puts an arm or leg in a dynamic mode.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
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Re: grasp bird's tail

Postby hiddentradition » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:04 pm

Hi all,

All that's been said is right on the money. I'd like to add some more detail to the explanation.

I should begin by saying that I'm practicing Yang Family Hidden Tradition taiji, and I'm not that familiar with other Yang styles, but from what I've gathered from ChiDragon's post, the basics are pretty much the same (no wonder, since we're all Yang family here).

So yes, your weight leg or yin leg should be bent when you begin Grasp The Bird's Tail (known as Grasp The Sparrow's Tail in my style), on the one hand because otherwise your empty leg or yang leg can not maintain the unlocked form mentioned before, but also because if it's not, you won't be able to drive the motion of Grasp The Bird's Tail from your legs as you should.

When you begin the motion (in my style, usually from a peng posture), you lower yourself slightly to separate the hands. Then you must further lower yourself to initiate the rotation of your hips that will drive your hands to begin the circular motion that is the hallmark of Grasp The Bird's Tail. Before your original top hand reaches the bottom in the circle, you push with your hind (yin) leg, straightening it and causing your hips to rotate in the other direction, which in turn will send your hands further along and completing the circle, ending in a ji hand posture.

So without bending your weight leg and actually rotating your hips by rising and sinking on your weight leg, you'll have a hard time getting the feeling of some of the basics of taiji: how your legs generate power, how your hips direct it and how this power manifests in your hands.

I hope this helps better understand this move.
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