Step up to seven Stars - Shoot Tiger

Step up to seven Stars - Shoot Tiger

Postby Hans-Peter » Wed Apr 24, 2002 11:00 am

Hi there,

I'm new in the association but I really enjoy
your discussions since longer times. I'm wondering if one of you (pobably you Louis)can help me with the translation from Yang Cheng-FU's applications book for "Step up to seven Stars" and "Shoot Tiger with the Bow".
Which applications have you been taught by Yang Zhenduo?

Greetings
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Apr 25, 2002 5:26 am

Greetings Hans-Peter,

Here are my rough translations of the sections you asked about from Yang Chengfu's narrative in his book, _Taijiquan tiyong quanshu_. Master Yang Zhenduo's instructions in the application section of his book follow these very closely, but I don't recall seeing him demonstrate applications for these particular forms in person. Perhaps someone else has, and can add some clarity from their impressions. Here are the translations:

~~~~
Section Eighty-Eight: Step Up to Seven Stars

From the previous form, suppose the opponent uses his right hand to chop downward from above. I then advance my body to the left and forward. The two hands change to fists, and simultaneously gather to intersect, forming the shape of the character seven (qi). With the hearts of the palms facing outward (to the sides), [the forearms] ward off (peng zhu). One can also apply the fists in a direct strike to the opponent’s chest.

Section Eighty-Nine: Retreat Astride Tiger

From the previous form, suppose the opponent comes at me applying An (push) with both hands. I then allow my two wrists to adhere (nian) to the insides of the opponent’s two wrists. My left hand splits open (lie kai) to the left downward direction. The right hand sticks and lifts to the right upward direction. The two palms accordingly turn to face outward. The right foot, following with [these movements], retreats back a step, lowering down, and sitting solidly. The waist follows by sinking the jin downward. The left foot follows this by lifting upward, the toes touching the ground. Then, complete the Astride Tiger form, causing the entirety of the opponent’s bodily strength to fall on emptiness. Now, although the opponent be as fierce as a tiger, with just the slightest turning motion, he will be under my control.
~~~~

Mit freundlich grussen,
Louis (excuse my spelling!)
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Postby Hans-Peter » Thu Apr 25, 2002 7:58 am

Hi Louis,

thanks very much for your translations. They are very helpful as always. BTW - it's very kind of you to send greetings in my language - your spelling is nearly perfect. It was my first topic an the moment after I've posted it I become afraid, that my request was not formulated clear enough, since I've asked for "Shoot the Tiger with the Bow" - forgetting that after "Step up to
seven Stars" another "Tiger" (i.e. Retreat astride Tiger) appears and this could lead to a missunderstanding.
So please can you help again with "Shoot the Tiger with the Bow".

Studying Yang Chengfu's words on Step up to seven Stars carefully,I see another question coming up. The previous form should by "Push down" (or "Snake creeps down"). In the applications I've been taugt, the opponents right arm is already captured by my left hand. So I wonder how he could chop with right from above. Therefore I'd appreciate very much, if you could also help with Yang Chengfu's words on "Snake creeps down" to make some things clear for me.

Particularly the transition from "Snake creeps down" to "Step up to seven Stars" has
always been somehow mysterious to me and I've seen many masters and teachers often doing this in a very different manner. This
concers the moment of turning out the left foot as well as the movements of the torso and the left arm. Does everybode uses both fists together to intersect as Yang Chengfu mentions? I mostly been taught, that the right fist punches from below after the left has intersected a punch or has punched first with the power from coming up of the Snake creeps down-posture. Therefore I would be very interested in comments of others in this part of the form.

Greetings
Hans-Peter
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Postby Michael » Wed May 01, 2002 5:36 pm

Hans-Peter,

In Push Down and into Step Up to Seven Stars Think about the techniques you have seen, they fit together. The two strikes can also be a "grab" and strike which I am not comfortable with yet. They also can be a "block" and a strike. The "block" YCF speaks about I tend to veiw as a technique one might need to use if the preceeding "offensive" techniques failed. The final position also is independent of the transition out of Push down and can be thought of as the beginning of Bend Bow.... i hope this is of some help.

Michael
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Postby Hans-Peter » Fri May 03, 2002 11:16 am

Michael,

thanks for your helpful thoughts on Snake creeps down to Step up for 7 Stars. You wrote: "The strikes can also be a grab and strike...".
Yes this is the way I currently do these postures while sparring. I've tried many possible fighting situations for these postures and figured out these solutions. But don't they conflict with the teachings of YCF and particularly with those of Yang Zhenduo? I'm still sure that I missunderstand something or cannot see the easy obvious truth. So I'll try again to figure out my problems clearer than before, hoping you or anyone else consider it worth a further discussion.

In Fu Zhongwen's Yang style book, YCF starts Squatting single whip: "The toes of right foot turn out, planting solidly. The center of gravity shifts toward the right leg. The right leg bends at the knee, squatting down."
Yang Zhenduo teaches in his 1996 Yang Style Taijiquan-book: "Turn right foot 90 degrees outward... bend right leg and squat down.Then gradually shift weight on to the right leg and stretch left leg leftward."
I think that it's a noticeable discrepancy, when YCF shifts weight before squatting down and Yang Zhenduo shifts weight after pushing down. Where are the reasons for this? I believe they will only become transparent, when it's clear as what they consider Snake creeps down. Following the description of YCF and Yang Zhenduo, it looks to me as if Snake creeps down is considered just as a transition movement from Single whip to Step up to 7 Stars (or Golden Cock). But doesn't it have his own fighting quality? Since it's very common in other external styles, I cannot believe that the shifting of weight in a squatted down posture is the application of it. Also the shifting of the weight from the right foot to the left foot while standing up (as would be the result with YCF) couldn't be the application, since it's already the beginning of Step up to 7 Stars. This indeed could be a block or a grab - but where's the application of Snake creeps down? Could it be the push down after the strike in single whip? Hard to believe that after the strike at the end of Single whip another yang movement (the push down) follows. And which role plays the right hand in Snake creeps down? Is it possible that it remains in the same position at the right rear? Of which reasons? It seems to me, as if it is really a one phase posture - not to compare with the performance of the same posture in Wu-style, where it's clearly divided in 2 phases.
In my sparring - coming from single whip - I've tested out, that the opponent could most likely come over with a left punch to my chest, since his right wrist is captured by my right hand at my right rear. In this case I connect with my left hand to his left wrist, lead the punch downward and grab his wrist. Now I shift weight to the right, squat down and rise my right hand up. Since his wrist are fixed and his arms crossed, the opponent has to loose his balance and spins around his axis. This is my application of Snake creeps down. Now I can
easiely turn out my left toes, stand up, turn my waist to the left and hit his left ellbow with a right punch (still locking his left wrist). This is the beginning of Step up to 7 stars. I can slide my right hand under the opponents arm and cross my left fist and so building up a posture as known as 7 stars posture, ready to strike to the right - into the opponents face. I can also finish up with a right knee punch or a right kick.
Acting as described, I can always maintain a stable position. If following YCF or Yang Zhenduo, I'll loose my stable squatted down position while turning out the left toes to the left and stand up in this foot-position. I've tested many times and resumed, that even a light push of the opponent during this transition will make me loose my root.Therefore something must happen between push down and step up, which makes my transition secure or unfuightable for the opponent. Something like the spinning of the opponent as described in my application. But I cannot detect this neither in YCF nor in Yang Zhenduos description.
Has anyone seen the picture of Li Liang in the current Taichi Magazine, doing Snake creeps down posture of the Yang Style Applications Frame. His right arm is raised nearly vertically in the air, in a position ready for step up. So isn't this another hint that there's something happening between push down and the step upto the 7 stars? It could only be done by his right arm, since this is the only difference to YCF or Yang Zhenduo. But isn't it a very obvious one? Any ideas?

Greetings
Hans-Peter
 
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Postby Michael » Fri May 03, 2002 4:44 pm

Hans~Peter,

There are a number of applications in various parts of Push down from Single Whip. If considering it (the left hand)being used as striking or as a ward off, the main use of the transition into Push down would be if that wrist was grabbed by the opponents right hand. His grip is easily broken by the shifting back and/or sinking resulting from the motion of the left hand and wrist against his thumb.

If his grip is such that you are not working against the thumb he still may lose his balance and fall forward, in which case you might shift up and forward into Punch Down. The rearward motion also gets you out of range of a possible punch from his left. If he doesn't fall, you can come up with a strike (thumb side) with the left to his genitals as you shift forward and upwards and then a strike with your right. If he can recover and escape to the rear you follow but take no action until you have gained some stability. If your root is not established, and you adhere to him as you rise up and he is retreating you are open to all kinds of nasty things if he is experienced.

The possibilities maybe endless.

I often view the transition OUT of Push Down as a transition (NOT necesarily the beginning of Step up to Seven Stars) because of the rearward squatting position that I find myself in the "classic" way it is perfomed. But let me add that I think the position does not end until you shift forward, but BEFORE you start to rise up. But that is just my opinion. With that said, that same transition can just as well be the beginning of Step up depending on preeceeding action and if you are in a lower position or not. Now it is said that Yang Lu Chan could shoulder stoke his opponent from that position, but you can imagine how good, strong, and fast you would have to be to do that.

Concerning your scenario...I understand what you are describing but if you have his right wrist with your right hand, his back (or rearshoulder) is now towards you, how can he punch effectively with his left? In this case you would either strike him (with the same motion with the same motion, or step behind him with your left foot and then using your left arm against his chest as fulcum, and send him backwards over your leg. But if....

I would have to look it over but my first impression of the two descriptions of Push Down is just a matter of language. In the YZD description it maybe a "cart before the horse"...maybe a translation thing...it may have been meant to be...gradually shifting...rather than..."THEN gradually..." But after doing this a few times there may be a difference in technique involved. But in all of the situations I can come up with, one would want to squat and shift at the same time.......but there is so very much that I do not know.


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-05-2002).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat May 04, 2002 10:30 pm

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.

~~~

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-04-2002).]
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Postby Michael » Sun May 05, 2002 6:17 pm

Louis,

I agree entirely with the word "intersect". My use of "" with the word block was trying to imply that in a sense it is, but it really isn't.

I find your description of the transition into Step up seems very clear in how it is applied. Your descriptions are very good and clear to me. I am anxiously awaiting your translation of the YCF book...I am just wishing out loud.

I also note that when reading my post above I made some errors and did not say what I had intended...need some editing.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-05-2002).]
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Postby Hans-Peter » Mon May 06, 2002 11:28 am

Hi Michael and Louis,

thank you both for the efforts you put out at my request. A lot of suggestions for me to think over. Meanwhile I feel a lot better with the Snake creeps down - I resume that your implementations verified my opinion, that Snake creeps down isn't finished with the push down.

Michael,

I totally agree with the applications you've mentioned in the first part of your reply from 05-03. You've figured out the scenario school-book-like and very clear. The only problem that could come up, is that when pulling down the opponents RIGHT hand with my left, he could use a right kao, particularly when his right foot is in front. So even if he just falls on me, I think this could become a problem for me. But I agree with you, that one has to be very good when doing this posture, particularly when trying to use the "Qicunkao" of Yang Luchan to the opponents legs.
When further doing the snake creeps down, I'll first shift weight to the left and let "something" happen, THEN I'll step up and rise for the next posture. This "something" contains endless possibilities just as you mentioned. In Chen-Taiji, Snake creeps down is named "Que di long" - Dragon comes down. In a Chen-Workshop we've been told, that the old Chen-family members talk about this posture as "Pu di jin" - which - as I understood - should mean "Scattering the brocade (of the opponent) over the floor". Maybe Louis could say if I'm right here, when I imagine that "brocade" in this case has to mean the blood or other body liquids of the opponent, coming out after a very violent attack against his private parts. So there must be an attack in the squatted down position. I understand the "Nine secret formulae" of Wile's book concerning this position in this way also, when it's written: "... follow the fingertips (of the left hand?) and invade the opponents private parts".
Michael,concerning my scenario I also have to own up to your words. Absolutely right when you say that the opponent couldn't punch EFFECTIVELY with his left when his right is fixed. But my experiences with this given single whip posture are, that most guys tend to pull back the right arm and try to punch with left. Undoubtely this could be solved the way you've mentioned, but I've tried to figure out a scenario that follows the form with all given details, which includes the fixed right opponent's hand. In reality I'd never try to grasp the opponent's right hand - I'd just do the punch with left, maybe use my right hook hand as a kind of counterbalance, so that your scenario for the following Snake creeps down is the one that seems realistic to me.

Louis,
reading your comments is always a wonderful kind of education. Same as Michael, I'd appreciate a translation of the YCF book very much. I'm eager to see it - please do it asap.
If YCF says in your translation of Squatting single whip: "... I then let my right leg separate..." does this mean a step or just an
internal act. You know him very well I guess - so what does he mean, since I think the legs are already separated in single whip?
Concerning the "Draw the Bow"-translation I cannot clearly see what YCF means at the end, when saying: "It rather resembles a horse riding stance...". In all teachings and publications of Yang-style I've come across, this is a bow stance. Most do the step with the right forward (compared to the left foot as a reference point), fewer do it backward, but in all cases this is a bow stance. Do you have more ideas about it, since I'm fancy with the idea that it could be a ma bu, since I'm always a little bit unhappy with the commonly used version, which is punching with the left and stepping in another direction. I don't know how it should work effectively in reality. The horse riding stance could be a welcome alternative. It's furthermore interesting to hear, that both hand punches. I've been mostly taught, that the right blocks or grabs. Do you have more ideas about it?

Thanks again and greetings
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Postby Michael » Mon May 06, 2002 3:12 pm

You are correct that there could be a problem. In the case where I cannot work against the opponent's thumb I either would turn my waist to the right as I settled back, or turn out to the left as you would do preeceeding Step up to Seven stars as you begin to rise up. The Leftward turn (as done in the transition) could counter a shoulder stroke in ideal situations. Using his energy one would again send him backwards over your forward left leg (so you hope his right is in front) particularily if he still had your hand in front of him or even if he let it go you still have a lever against his chest or abdomen, but your timing and listening ability must be good for this counter move.

In the case of the rightward waist turn I would use it if the opponent was stumbling forward and down to keep him from falling on me, or at least keep most of his weight off of me.

You are correct that most people will pull back their fist after a failed punch. But here is why taiji is so much harder to master than Karate or whatever. I've experimented with this extensively with a friend. He punches at my head (off to the side) with full force---not jabs, and i practice my timing intercepting them. If I am off a tiny amount I have a "block". He pulls back and then I probably have to deal with a puch from the other side. However, if my timing is "perfect" he is nearly "pulled" off his feet by his own motion as he can no longer pull it back. If the timing is perfect, it is amazing how well this can work against most opponents....but not all and not "always".

The right hand grab that you mention in single whip is in most cases a "helping along" of the opponent in a situation similiar to the one above. This will coincide with the waist turn/pivot which, depending on the timing can send your energy to the left or the right. But it can just as well be involved in "split", it can be chin na,....

"Controlling" that arm also sets up the turn to the left sending him backwards over my (left) forward leg in one of my earlier examples. This is one of my very favorite of all the techniques in the set. The physics in the design of this application is nothing short of perfection, even the turning of the left hand(forearm) comes into play. Note that this is very similiar to the application when stepping out and back to right in Carry Tiger....

Good Practice!

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-07-2002).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue May 07, 2002 6:15 am

Greetings Hans-Peter,

You wrote:

‘In a Chen-Workshop we've been told, that the old Chen-family members talk about this posture as "Pu di jin" - which - as I understood - should mean "Scattering the brocade (of the opponent) over the floor".’

I’m not familiar with that phrase, so I can’t comment on what it may mean from an application perspective. As for the Wile translation of the line from the Nine Formulae as: “Squatting Single Whip follows the fingertips to invade the opponent’s private parts,” well, that is kind of an extrapolative translation. The original (the Chinese can be found on p. 20 of Yang Zhenduo’s Zhong Guo Yang Shi Taiji) reads “danbian xia shi shun feng ru.” The word feng means the sharp tip of a weapon; ru means to enter. So, it’s not really as explicit as Wile’s rendering makes it out to be. One “follows” (shun) this sharp tip (presumably one’s fingertips), and “enters,” but there is no explicit subject. I haven’t spent a lot of time studying this document, but I’ll note that there is a compound using this word feng: fengqi, which means “to rise with irresistible force or suddenness.” This in fact could describe how one rises out of the lower posture. It also strikes me as a possibility that the “shun feng” in the line is a pun on a common compound using a different “feng” (wind) pronounced exactly the same. That “shunfeng” means to “move with the wind.” The form Golden Cock, in particular, is an advance toward an already retreating opponent, so the shunfeng could apply here.

As for your question about Yang Chengfu’s description of Squatting Single Whip: “I then let my right leg separate and open slightly to the right.” What I’ve translated as “separate and open” is “fen kai,” which just means an opening out of the stance—it refers to the right leg turning outward before you shift the weight to the right leg and lower down into the squat.

Now regarding the last lines in Yang Chengfu’s Draw the Bow and Shoot the Tiger description: “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.” You wrote: “In all teachings and publications of Yang-style I’ve come across, this is a bow stance.” Yes, it is a bow stance, most definitely. The “horse-riding posture” here is “qi ma dang shi,” which is different from the standard term “mabu” or horse stance. Literally, “qi ma dang shi” is “riding horse crotch form.” Dang refers to the crotch of the clothing, but refers to the anatomical crotch as well. So this is a reference to a wide stance with a “rounded” crotch, but it is still a front-weighted bow stance. I’m a little mystified regarding the imagery of drawing a bow, as the form bears little resemblance to any standard bow-drawing form in archery, mounted or otherwise, especially given the palm-out orientation of the right fist.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Tue May 07, 2002 6:50 am

Hi Louis, and all,

how were tigers hunted in old China? Did they use bows? And, if so, was it like the Mongolian small bow or a longer variety? I'm interested because you say that it wasn't like any type of mounted or unmounted archery. I had always assumed that the posture was more metaphorical, but related to something actual, as in Play Pipa: i.e., not like our "guitar."

Regards,
Steve James
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Postby Hans-Peter » Tue May 07, 2002 9:16 am

Greetings Louis and Michael,

a pity that I've read your latest contributions after another Chen-style lesson. My teacher is a direct disciple of Chen Xiaowang and as I told him about our discussions he mentioned, that although he didn't use Snake creeps down very often, for him it's obviously clear, that in this posture the RIGHT hand does the pull down and the left is the attacking hand. He thinks to remember, that Chen Xiaowang always demonstrated apllications in this way. He also thinks to remember, that there wasn't always a pull DOWN. Sometimes there was just a pull BACK with right combined with the squatting down of the rest of the body, so that the right hand was up and the opponents body open for every attack with left. This was also independent either if to deal with a punch or a grabbing of my left wrist. In a punch the right intersects directly and grabs the wrist - if my wrist was grabbed there should be a transfering of the opponents grabbing hand, while I have to pull back my left and bring forth my right to grab the opponents wrist and then pull back or down. Then attacking again with the free left.

Louis,
later as I read your comments about "fengqi" I thought, that the above described attack with left could be exactly this: "rising with irresistible force or suddenness" you've talked about.

Michael,
with the first part of your last post you gave me a phantastic idea for countering the shoulderstroke I fear so much with my left waist turn. It sounds really logical and I'll have to train it intensively. Thanks.

Greetings Peter
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Postby DavidJ » Sat May 18, 2002 1:32 am

Hi Louis,

From your post, in regards to 'Draw the Bow and Shoot the Tiger' > 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. <

This follows 'Lotus Kick' where the hands are moving to the left. Reaching the left they move to the right and downward forming fists, or partly forming fists when grabbing the opponent's wrist. This corresponds to your translation in FZW book "The two palms, following the turning of the body, coil from the left, passing down before the abdomen and toward the right, turning into fists..."

Both of your translation correspond to what I was taught. The "...continuing in an arc to the right and coiling upward," is called 'Double Punch to Chin' and *then* draw the bow. This double punch is the aforementioned "strike forth," and may be missing from some versions of T'ai Ci Ch'uan.

With both hands in front, chin high, facing away, for 'Draw the Bow and Shoot the Tiger' the hands then "pull apart as though drawing a bow." The right fist ends up by your right ear, thumb down, knuckles facing left, palm facing away, the left fist ends up nearly shoulder high, thumb down, knuckles facing the the right and slightly upwards, palm facing away.

Regards,

David J
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat May 18, 2002 6:16 am

David's description is not entirely consistent with the way the Yangs or Fu Zhongwen show this.
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