A new appreciation for single whip...

A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby global village idiot » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:42 pm

Yesterday's practice was quite rewarding. We spent relatively little time on extraneous stuff, but much on the forms, the applications and the intent. Lots of learning.

When the "advanced" students did our own thing, we spent some time on something the most senior student asked us to do. He asked us to spend five minutes figuring out how to use one form to prevail over another form.

I chose "Needle to the Bottom of the Sea" followed by "Fan through Back" to disengage from "Roll Back." It isn't perfect and the timing needs to be just so, but it works.

...kinda. :?

To the topic of this post, we worked with partners later on where one partner was coming after the other with a baton. My partner has been with the school for longer than I have but I don't think he's been doing tai chi as long as I have - his intellectual understanding of the art is deeper than mine but his movements are less "song," if you understand what I mean.

When it was my turn to use the baton against him, we ended up wrestling. Not Good, but I didn't know quite why. Then I asked him if we could swap; and when we did, I just moved him out of my way or just got him all crossed-up and in my control. It took a couple tries before we both figured out what I did, and what I did was based on single whip.

He had always considered the "hook hand" of single whip as a strike using the wrist. I used to as well, but also see how it can trap an arm and set up the opponent for being controlled with the other arm and/or the leg, in addition to striking the opponent's face (which is something few people with a weapon expect you to do). We also saw how critically necessary it is to move toward the opponent rather than away. I knew this not only from tai chi but from bayonet fencing - if the tip of the bayonet is past you, your opponent's weapon is less effective. It still has the other end which is very effective if your opponent has the presence of mind and the space to use it.

When I was coming at him, he retreated from me. This allowed me to gain momentum and more importantly retain initiative. When he had the baton, I started moving toward him the instant I saw him set up. It didn't seem to matter whether he was coming at me backhanded or forward-striking; I just seemed to instinctively position myself where I belonged, but always on the principle of closing the gap between us rather than disengaging or reacting to the weapon. He said it felt like trying to fight air.

Single Whip is "powerful medicine." It makes sense it's repeated so often in tai chi chuan.

We also learned a bit about how limiting a weapon can be. It essentially forces its user to think only (or primarily) in terms of the weapon. One of the things I've come to appreciate about swordplay in Chinese martial arts as opposed to, say, kendo, is its understanding that the sword is just another tool in the toolbox, just like the fists, feet or body. Very open-minded and imaginative.

When we had at each other with the baton, we were role-playing as someone who is only thinking about striking his opponent with it, and I suspect this is the mindset of most people with a weapon of any type. In this sense, the baton limited our options; understanding this, it liberated us to think more openly when we were being attacked with it. Likewise, we both learned how important it is to think beyond the weapon when we have one at hand.

It made me think about riot cops and Roman soldiers, and how truly powerless they are when they are not in tight formation.

gvi
Last edited by global village idiot on Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby global village idiot » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:40 pm

We - the "advanced" students - also spent a bit of time talking about what the forms are for.

I had "narrated" our movements for a while. Afterward, the rest of my classmates were puzzled at some of the names I used for some of the postures, which are different than they learned. For example, I learned "double fists strike the ears" as "wind through the ears."

They had never heard "Step Forward and Punch Groin" called out as such. They had just heard it as "Punch Downward." I didn't narrate this part, so I didn't call it out. So when we were discussing what it was for I said it was a groin punch and practiced it as something of an uppercut, they looked at me as though I had two heads. "Where'd you hear that, Phil?" asked the senior student.

I reached into my gym bag (I keep all my handouts and books in it as well), and produced a sheet of the forms I'd had since 2005. My instructor in Iraq gave it to me. "Right here," I told them. "It's right in the name." They had never seen any such thing before and adapted their own postures slightly based on the new (to them) information.

Although I have a TON of stuff to learn and still consider myself very much a "tyro," it felt good to have something to contribute to the class rather than simply being an empty receptacle into which learning is poured.

gvi
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby fchai » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:10 am

Hi GVI,

Looks like you are really moving along quite nicely. In the martial aspects of Taiji, adaptability is crucial, as you respond to circumstances fluidly and without any set/fixed intention. The 'hook hand' of single whip is quite versatile as you have discovered. You now are aware of its use as a 'hook' to lock and as a defensive or attack artifice. Another application could be a release of the fingers from the hook for added extension. The use of this I leave to your imagination.

Also the matter of the downward and the groin punch. They are two quite distinct movements in the Yang form. The Downward Punch is used in Part 2 of the form following the Separation Kicks sequence, Left Heel Kick, Brush Knee and Push/Strike (2), and the Groin Punch is used in Part 3, near the end after High Pat the Horse, Palm Thrust and Turn with Heel Thrust (Cross Kick (sic)), Groin Punch and then Grasping Sparrow/Birds Tail, etc.

Take care,
Frank
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby global village idiot » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:13 pm

fchai wrote:Also the matter of the downward and the groin punch. They are two quite distinct movements in the Yang form. The Downward Punch is used in Part 2 of the form following the Separation Kicks sequence, Left Heel Kick, Brush Knee and Push/Strike (2), and the Groin Punch is used in Part 3, near the end after High Pat the Horse, Palm Thrust and Turn with Heel Thrust (Cross Kick (sic)), Groin Punch and then Grasping Sparrow/Birds Tail, etc.


This is why I showed my classmates the old handout from my previous instructor - they were doing Groin Punch (last set) identically to Punch Downward in the 2nd set.

gvi
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:24 pm

(moved this reply from where I posted it incorrectly)

GVI,
All the "uses" you listed for the hook hand are things it can be used for.
There are many other uses for the hook hand as well.
My favorite use for the hook hand (Traditional Yang Family version) is for neutralization.
I teach this by first not making a hook hand, simply holding my hand in the resting posture of TYFTC and asking a student to strike at me with a punch.
When they are striking to you intercept their forearm by draping yours over theirs. Your hand should complete making the hook as it meets the opponents forearm with the hook on the inside of their forearm and your forearm across the top of theirs, then use the hook hand to simply neutralize their strike.
If you have intercepted their incoming strike with good time, then you don't need to "do" anything else, their energy will move you, allowing you to use their energy to neutralize their own strike.
Universally I hear "Whoa!" from the rest of the class (the first time they see it anyway) as this appears effortless if done with good timing and, in fact, it is. Well... For you.
There are dozens of variations on this, sometimes it is a large circle, other times it's smaller, so the effect on your opponent varies. It is, of course, dependent on the situation.
I practice this with my students frequently so that they become familiar with it.
We also practice using the hook hand to strike, there are dozens of ways to use it for that. Also can be used for various Chin Na techniques. You can use it to break a grasp to your forearm in several different ways...
There are a lot of ways to use that hook hand!
Just as with every technique in our arsenal, there are simply too many uses for the hook hand to be able to list them all.
Because every time I start to try doing that, I think of more as I go along!

Good practice,
Bob
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby global village idiot » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:34 pm

Just to clarify...

TYFTC = Thank You For The Cookies?

gvi
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Re: A new appreciation for single whip...

Postby global village idiot » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:45 pm

Going back to what I was talking about in my last post on the "Intent" discussion, it just now occurred to me that in the circumstance I described in the first post here, "Repulse Monkey" or "Ward Off" is a perfect follow-up to the hook-hand in "Single Whip" if your opponent doesn't want to pull back.

Refreshing: My partner and I were having at each other with a baton, and I figured out that "Single Whip" works great for immobilizing someone with a weapon of a similar nature, if he's left-handed or coming at you backhand. The setup for "Single Whip" is good if he's coming at you right-handed from his strong side.

So there he is, swinging his baton, knocking the stuffing out of the air in the space where you used to be, and you're to one side or the other of him, inside the arc of his weapon, with his baton arm pretty much under your control.

He has two choices - retreat or advance.

If his energy starts to move him rearward, that's where the follow-through to Single Whip permits you to throw him even farther in the direction he's decided to go. If you're facing him, "Ward Off" does the same thing, as does the hook hand in Single Whip if driven under his chin.

If his momentum or his decision is still moving him forward, Repulse Monkey rotates him through 90 degrees in all three axes - in airplane speak, he will instantly roll, pitch and yaw.

Either way, he's on the ground and not you.

gvi
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