Greetings Hans-Peter, and Michael,
First of all, regarding the discrepancies you noted between the descriptions of Squatting Single Whip in Fu Zhongwen’s book and the English version of Yang Zhenduo’s book (1996, Morning Glory), I think that Michael is correct that there may be a problem in the translation. The Morning Glory book gives a false impression of sequence when it states that you squat down and THEN gradually shift the weight. Yang Zhenduo’s description in his Chinese book does not, in my opinion, imply such a strict sequence, but could be interpreted to mean that the shifting of the weight to the right leg is concurrent with the squatting motion. Perhaps Jerry could comment on how he thinks this should be interpreted.
Further, on your remark, “In the applications I've been taught, the opponent’s right arm is already captured by my left hand. So I wonder how he could chop with right from above.”, I think we need to be cautious about assuming fixed applications for any given form or form sequence. In Yang Chengfu’s narrative, his explanations are perhaps best understood as suggested scenarios, and in fact in some cases he suggests alternative scenarios within his explanation. Notice, for example, how he uses “or,” “perhaps,” and “either/or” in his narrative on Squatting Single Whip:
Section Sixty-Seven: Single Whip, Squatting Single Whip
From the point in Single Whip when one has already extended (chu) the left hand, if the opponent uses his right hand to push my hand to the outside, or uses strength to grasp firmly, I then let my right leg separate and open slightly to the right. Sitting down toward the rear, [my] left hand simultaneously collects back to in front of my chest using round and lively jin. Perhaps the opponent uses his left hand to strike me. I then use my left hand to control his left wrist. I can either move it to the left or apply cai in a downward direction. The right leg works simultaneously with the waist and kua in sitting down, in order to lead the other’s strength while reserving my qi (yi qian bi zhi li er xu wo zhi qi).
Concerning the function of the crossed-wrist form in Step Up to Seven Stars, I would not be inclined to call this a “block” in the ordinary sense of the term. When you say, “intersect,” Hans-Peter, I think that is closer to the mark. This form is mentioned in the “Nine Secret Formulae (jiu jue)” attributed to Yang Banhou. Wile’s translation has it, “The posture Step Up to Seven Stars forms a rack with the hands.” (shang bu qi xing jia shou shi) His translation appears on p. 61 of his _T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions_, and photos of Yang Chengfu demonstrating both the solo posture and an application are on the facing page.
Here’s my rough translation of the other sequence you asked about, Draw the Bow and Shoot the Tiger. It’s one of the more problematic passages I’ve come across in YCF’s book, and it’s difficult for me to get a clear picture of the body mechanics as described.
Section Ninety-One: Draw the Bow and Shoot the Tiger
From the previous form, suppose there is an instance of the opponent engaging in some back and forth, and withdrawing his body. I then allow my left and right hands to follow the opponent’s hands, sticking fast, replying and coiling around (raoguo) the opponent’s wrists, whirling (xuanzhuan) them toward the right side. Form fists from the left [?] corner and strike forth. The left hand, while sinking on the opponent’s elbow (or forearm), strikes forth. The right leg accordingly lowers down, sitting solidly. The right hand then strikes toward the opponent’s chest. All [of the above movements] require reserving of one’s power [xu qi shi], and the sinking of jin in the waist. It rather resembles a horse-riding posture. The left foot becomes empty. It is like forming a posture for shooting a tiger with a drawn bow.
[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-04-2002).]