“I just like to add, that due to a translation from YCF applications book published years ago in Taichi-magazine, YCF stated very clear that the hook should be already made during shifting to the left and not after shifting weight back to the right.If I'm wrong here, maybe Louis can help again. But which are the reasons that Yang Yun or YZD shift weight back to the right and then build the hook, then strike to the left while the hook stays stationary in the southwest. I always look to pictures 25 and 26 of YZD 1996 Morning glory book where this is obvious.I'd appreciate some words from you or from others, since due to the classics - if one part moves (i.e. the left hand) all other parts move (but here the right arm stays same as before).”
I think that the translation you’re referring to probably is from Yang Chengfu’s earlier book, _Taijiquan Shiyongfa_, and it may be debatable how clear it is about the timing of forming the hook hand during Single Whip. In his later book, _Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu_, it is also difficult to say with precision how the timing and ordering of the movements play out, but I would say that it seems to conform with the way his sons Yang Zhenduo and Yang Zhenji teach Single Whip. Yang Chengfu’s narrative does state that the hook is formed “when the two hands swing to the left. . . ,” however, this swing to the left is after a prior left and right turning of the torso: “Left and right, back and forth, one uses the power of a steelyard’s turning motion.”
In Yang Zhenji’s book, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_, he is very specific about the turnings of the waist in Single Whip. Here’s my translation of one of his points for attention:
“Single Whip has three distinct movements of the waist guiding the hands and feet. The waist first turns left, then turns right, then again turns left. Yang Style taijiquan requires as a general rule that there be no independent movements of the four limbs; rather all involve the waist’s leading of the four limbs in rotations. If the waist and the feet and arms separate from one another [in their motions], then the movement is incorrect, and one will also not reach the finest practice results. [In the transition involving the forming of the hook hand], the movement of the waist has some differences from other movements [in the form]. When one sits solidly over the right leg, the lower frame [xia pan] does not move—it is only the upper torso [shang shen], using the waist as a pivot, that guides the turning movement of the two hands—the kua and the buttocks are essentially immobile. [In the transition into the ending Single Whip posture], the waist’s movement is a leftward swing—one swing leads the movement of the empty left leg, and leads the movement of the left peng hand. In these two movements, the function of the waist has its own unique features. In performing and practicing, one should bear in mind that there are these differences.
“Generally speaking, the performance and practice of Yang Style taijiquan requires that ‘the waist’s movement be a bit more, the hands’ movement be a bit less.’ [A favorite formulation of YZJ’s] The hands often maintain a fixed shape, following the waist and then moving. If one grasps well this one practice method, it is tantamount to getting a firm hold on the main characteristics of Yang Style taijiquan.”
It would seem, then, that there is some degree of consensus that the hook hand is formed after turning first to the left and then to the right. Even Fu Zhongwen’s son, Fu Shengyuan, prescribes it so, even though he advocates keeping the weight over the right foot throughout the entire transition prior to the final leftward swing into the ending posture. (Yang Chengfu’s _Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu_, by the way, does prescribe a shifting back of the weight onto the left leg prior to the pivot.) This, however, brings up an important consideration, one that Michael has already mentioned, and that is the possibility that there are likely many variant ways of doing single whip, and variant applications for the hook hand. I think it is highly likely that early masters taught and practiced these variations as a matter of course. In my opinion, for example, good application rationales can be made for both the weighted-pivot version of Single Whip and the practice of shifting the weight prior to the pivot. The fact that there are so many repeats of Single Whip in the form invites speculation that at one time some of the repeats may have been taught as variants.
Just to add to the mix, here are some links that discussants may find interesting with regard to Single Whip. These are translations that Ted Knecht did of some essays by Dr. Mei Yingsheng, who studied closely with Fu Zhongwen.http://www.geocities.com/yongnian/hook.htmlhttp://www.geocities.com/yongnian/sinwhip.html
[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-27-2002).]