Zandor, I find Erle Montaigue's ideas quite interesting and intriguing, at least from what I have seen on videos and read on his website; however, I think his approach can be quite misleading when applied to the principles many others apply to the Form.
Montaigue seems to put great emphasis on strikes, specific hand formations, speed, and fajin
. I think that Yang Chengfu deliberately emphasized a somewhat different approach, even with martial efficacy in mind.
One thing that Montaigue seems to emphasize is achieving certain ends by generating great "stopping" power. I think that most of Yang Chengfu's form emphasizes control over the opponent, so that power is expressed only when the opponent is helpless to resist and great "stopping power" is not needed. This is what I understand to be the nature of techniques such as Leng Jin ("Freeze-you-in-your-tracks energy"? or "Catch-you-out-of-the-blue energy"?).
I also think that Yang Chengfu's form was deliberately designed to emphasize applications with a range of effects, depending on both the physical nature of the interaction, the "moral" situation, and your intent. From what I understand, the components of Grasp Sparrow's Tail were probably designed specifically to practice the four square energies and that is why they are repeated so many times in the form. Some even describe this as the signature sequence of "Yang Style" that distinguishes it from other styles. If this is true, Ward Off Left and Right were most likely deliberately designed to be different from the energy or energies expressed along with the backfist in Chop with Fist.
I think that the way Yang Zhenduo does Ward Off Right is deliberately not one explosive step, even in real-time application. The movement contains several different components that have different purposes. For instance, one wants to make contact with the opponent, redirect the incoming energy, use Adhering Energy (zhan
) to uproot the opponent, and then use an
to control. From here, one can attack the elbow or the shoulder with short energy, throw the opponent with long energy, or combine both, depending on one's skills and understanding. With this approach, the "explosion" comes along with [i]fajin[\i], but not necessarily with the other skills. Except for the [i]fajin[\i], the speed of the application will be dictated by the opponent's movement and intent, rather than by you.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In form practice there is a lot of weight-shifting and performed in two separate steps but in a real fight situation...</font>
My understanding is also that the specific weight shifting in the form is not meant to simulate the stepping necessary for real-time usage. I understand it to be an external exageration of an internal technique that is applicable for both. I think that there are two ways to view Ward Off Left and Right. If they are viewed as joined techniques in a single sequence, they would be performed in the same direction without a weight shift. The change in direction in the form would then seem to be a mere aesthetique device to change the direction of the form and prevent students from immediately encroaching on the teacher's space at the front of the room.
If Ward Off Left and Right are viewed as separable, then the waist turn to the right can have another meaning, i.e., joining with the energy of a new attack coming from the west. In this case, the weight shift is necessarily less than that used for a step, and that is actually what is taught. The shift back to the left may have to redirect a great deal of energy and so potentially has a full weight shift with the entire mass of the torso behind it. Here there must be compromises between distance, speed, and power that depend on one's relative skill at Listening Energy, Understanding Energy, and Neutralizing/Transforming Energy. I think the Form trains the maximum of distance and slowness to train range and control, but real-time usage would depend on the opponent.