Step up to seven Stars - Shoot Tiger

Postby Michael » Wed May 29, 2002 7:23 pm

Louis,

Like the Coltrane story. I am also happy to know that I am not the only one who has difficulty in creating a picture from the words.

I should note that Yang Jun, Yang Zhenji and Fu.... are my authorities. My interest in the older methods of YCF, Yang Sau chung, Yang Shou Hou, and Yang Ban Hou is probably in terms of history and development the same as yours and Audi's interest in language. The evolution of language is of great interest to me though I have few skills myself in it.

Recently i have stopped practicing the Kwan Ping Yang style. It has been described as coming from Ban Hou. Parts of it are obviously from an older Yang style (maybe all of it) and the moves or positions (or "forms") are often very similiar to our style but have different names and intent as far as technique. Then again they may share the same name but bear no other similarity.

I have found that these different techniques/intent have helped me understand much much more about the potential of our "set" especially in transitions. I see much more hidden there, much of which I fear might becoming lost over the years of change. Little differences in performance among the various Yang lines have meaning. They may reflect personal preferences technique wise that may vary between A Yang Shou Hou and a Yang Cheng Fu or YAng Sau Chung and YAng Zhen Duo....or maybe even philosphical differences. I find that all enhance each the other and lend greater depth to my understanding of the set that I have inherited from Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun.

As we spoke of before, Single Whip can be practiced with different intent at different places in the set. And again, outside of form practice I can practice the various techniques themselves with a partner. So when I read about the Single Whip discussed by YCF in your translation or that article I grab onto it as something to be understood and treasured. And like you said, the words may be lacking the details of precise movement but much can be pieced together from these "hints" and the manner that the Fu or Dong families,..., may do things. And with this, though somewhat subjective, one can get a broader scope of the history and development of Yang Taiji. And you are more than correct about the older manuals as putting us "...in closer touch to the source." That probably is their greatest value. There are "treasures" to be gleaned from them.

Very important to me, though I embrace change, is to lose as little as possible of the "old" at the same time. So many say that they have the "authentic" "original" Yang Lu Chan taiji. This tells me that it probably has been lost for good in it's entirety, only bits and pieces probably remain in the various Yang lines and some elsewhere. This is a very sad loss. It is inevitable just as we lose species daily from the planet....it is always an unfortunate thing---though if Ticks would vanish I would not cry. Ha!

I really have no expectations from manuals or even teachers. AS Michelangelos motto says "Ancora Imparo" (My modern Italian friend says there should be an O instead of an A in Ancora) "I am still learning." and each little shred of info like that from YCF on when he formed the hook at that place in time tells me something more even if I don't have the full picture yet. Questions are good. The questions often are the answers in themselves.

Now if I could read Chinese or those more knowledable than me would translate more of the older and the modern Chinese manuals like the YCF or YZJ or.....just giving you the business. I always appreciate and learn from your translations and ideas, and am more than thankful.

My best,

Michael
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu May 30, 2002 6:44 am

Greetings Hans-Peter,

You touch on an interesting subject here—that some transitional sections in the form seem so substantial in and of themselves one would expect them to have names. I think the naming conventions were somewhat fluid over time, some of the names stuck, and some didn’t. The transition between the first Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, and Observe Fist Under Elbow, for example, is usually unnamed, but in T.Y. Pang’s book, _On Tai Chi Chuan_, the transition is named “Da Peng Zhan Chi” (Great Peng Bird Spreads it Wings), a name also used in the Yang Sword form. I don’t know if that’s specifically part of the Dong Yingjie tradition or what, but the name seems to suit the transition.

The “fishes in eight” is an interesting issue. My first taijiquan teacher taught the transition from Push to Single Whip with hand motions that emulated the yin/yang symbol, and teachers vary widely on how they do this transition. As for calling it “fishes in eight,” I don’t think it has anything to do with any so-called “Old Yang Style.” In Zeng Zhaoran’s book, _Taijiquan Quan Shu_, his form instructions are illustrated with photos of Yang Chengfu. There is no photo of Yang doing the transition from Push to Single Whip, so for that Zeng inserted a photo of Chen Weiming, rear-weighted over the left leg, well into the leftward turn. Part of the description reads: “The shape of the circles drawn by the two hands is like that of the paired fish inside the bagua [referring to the familiar yin/yang within the eight trigrams symbol], hence it is named bagua yu (eight trigrams fish).” Zeng studied with both Chen Weiming and Yang Chengfu, and later, I believe, with Yang Shouzhong in Hong Kong. So my guess is that bagua yu is a descriptive convention that may have been passed along orally, but never was quite formalized into a name for the sequence.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu May 30, 2002 7:04 am

Greetings Michael,

You wrote: ‘Very important to me, though I embrace change, is to lose as little as possible of the "old" at the same time. So many say that they have the "authentic" "original" Yang Lu Chan taiji. This tells me that it probably has been lost for good in it's entirety, only bits and pieces probably remain in the various Yang lines and some elsewhere. This is a very sad loss.'

I have a feeling that you would agree that the best assurance of preserving the “old” is to practice authentic, traditional, living taijiquan. I have seen a lot of speculation about what might have been lost, or might have been kept secret, or what might have been closer to what might have been original. What is sad to me is the wasted energy of that speculation, and the insecurity that fosters it. I think there’s an abundance of wonderful tradition to work in, and we’re extraordinarily fortunate that so much is being made available to us.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Michael » Thu May 30, 2002 5:16 pm

Louis,

I could't agree more. What we have here and now is the most important thing. Expectations, what ifs,....have no value and can be distractions to where our energy should be spent.

I would say however, that "speculation" in some of the areas that you speak about can be useful in terms of forming questions. Questions that can be answered by our teachers or in our practice...I understand your intent. But I think the real sadness comes not from the speculation concerning the ways of the past, the methods, or that people think that the "secrets" are being withheld, are being "lost", or that what we study is only a "watered down" version of the glorious past---some may say such absurd things but it really only covers up for their own lack of commitment, patience and /or frustration in their development. This usually comes down to nothing but a lack of consistent practice. They look at the more advanced classmates who make it look so "easy". This is not Karate, there are no quick results. At various stages in our practice hurdles come up. Many lack the patience to work through them. Wasted potential. That is what I find sad.

When I began taiji, my historical curiousity gave me another focus as questions arose from seeing all the different styles and from my reading. Why do some do this or that? I doubt that i will ever give up my curiosity ("speculation") of how things were done in the past and how and why some things changed, What Yang Lu Chan did, or Ban Hou, how they trained,...? You may call it the curse of being an amateur historian....questions, and more questions. These questions often lead to answers found in my practice. You can't bring back the past and can't waste your time lamenting its passing but the more you can learn from it and from their methods the better the present practice can be.

You are indeed right about the "wonderful tradition" available to us. But....I expect you are a man of a great curiosity and have question upon question yourself.

I would welcome the day that I have no longer have any need for questions or rather that my curiosity is has been fulfilled. There is a quote that I try to use as one of my guides in day to day life. It can be used in terms of taiji practice and applied to your concerns.

Always we hope
Someone else has the answer.
Some other place will be better,
Some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer.
No other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being you
have the answer;
You know who you are and you
know what you want.

There is no need
to run outside
for better seeing
Nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center
of your being; for the more
you leave it the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

"Lao zi" I can't remember who this translation should be attributed to---I have many.

When you come down to it, consistant, dedicated practice answers all the questions. But often the questions have to be formed to be answered, just as taiji must have proper structure. Gestalt doesn't always "just happen". There needs to be a foundation. Who know what might be worthless information....or not.

You'll have to get through my typos etc, I have to go.

My Best,

Michael
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri May 31, 2002 5:36 pm

Greetings Michael,

Again I agree with your remarks here. I was objecting to a particular kind of speculating that typically is based upon hearsay, legend, and rumors, and that inevitably seems to be in some way related to some lineage-related turf wars or self-legitimating braggadocio. The kind of inquiry that you are advocating is a different matter altogether, and I join you in your sincere quest for information.

Take care,
Louis

P.S., I’m curious about the Laozi translation you’re citing. It doesn’t resemble any with which I’m familiar, and looks to be one of the more extrapolative, impressionistic variety.
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Postby Michael » Fri May 31, 2002 10:39 pm

Louis,

It may take some time but I will hunt the quotation down for you. As you know, there are many "books" attributed to Laozi. My guess it is from one of those Daoist/Buddhist compilations.

Make it good!

Michael
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Postby Erik » Thu Jun 06, 2002 2:47 pm

Hi Hans-Peter,

I love training in applications too. I think it's natural but incorrect to think of one gesture from the form as having only one usage. Often a practical application will use the same wave of force while looking significantly different in appearance.

Think of it like hand-writing. We start with block letters...move on to cursive...then on to our own style (signatures, short-hand & note-taking). The letters are the same but each person does them according to what works best for them. Applications are the same.

When learning a new posture or when I teach students I usually like to give 1 simple application that really reflects the way the movement looks in the form and accurately utilizes the proper 'wave of force'. Sometimes they match ones 'traditionally' seen in books and sometimes they don't. But to be sure there are many differents ways to use each movement.

I once read a story of how Yang Banhou (who incorporated a lot of Kuai Jiao wrestling) used Dan Bian Xia Shi to lift and throw his opponent who ended up on his side (like a gold ingot) in pain.

Look for a really cool application that I like to use both in Push-Hands and Free-sparring for Single Whip Lower Gesture under the Applications and Free-fighting thread. Work on it a bit and let me know if you like it. Cheers.

Good Training - Erik
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Postby Audi » Sat Jun 08, 2002 5:44 am

Hi all,

Hans-Peter,

I am surprised to hear your mention of a version of Single Whip that concludes with the left toes pointing to the southeast. I was also once taught a version like this that was part of a 51- or 52-movement form. I had always that that it seemed like an isolated version and am gratified that it was not as unusual as I had thought.

When Yang Jun taught Single Whip at the seminar, he maintained the hip-wide channel you describe, with the left toes pointing south and the right toes pointing southeast. The torso pointed about south-southeast. As I understand the logic of the posture, the direction of the left-hand push/strike is fixed to the east, the back of the right wrist of the hook hand is pushing out slightly upward while simultaneously “trying” to push at 180 degrees to the left palm. If one actually achieved 180 degrees, however, this would require one to close the space between the shoulder blades and open up the chest. This would violate one of the Ten Essentials. As a result, one “settles” for directing the energy in the right arm as far to the rear as possible, while maintaining the back rounded and the chest sunken in. The resulting direction for the right arm is thus about southwest, forming about a 135 degree angle with the left arm. In order to execute the arm directions without bending the shoulders out of alignment or closing the space between the shoulder blades, one must leave the torso facing about halfway in between the arms, or about south-southeast.

By the way, I seem to recall seeing pictures of Yang Chengfu, Yang Zhenduo, Yang Jun doing the final pose of Single Whip as if standing side by side. I do not recall any significant difference in how their limbs were arranged. I think I would say the same about what I recall of the final postures of Fu Zhongwen and Fu Shengyuan on video. The one exception I might make is to the angle of the rear foot, which seems to vary somewhat.

Let me add a comment/question about the issue you have raised concerning coordinating the rightward movement of the hook hand with the left-hand push/strike. It would seem to me that if one envisions the formation of the hook hand as a wrist strike that straightens the arm to any substantial degree, any subsequent lateral movement of the arm from left to right would be very weak and vulnerable. What I find hard to understand of Yang Chengfu’s description is what parts of my body and the opponent’s body are supposed to be in contact during the sticking.

Movement from left to right does, however, seem appropriate with the type of technique shown in the Cheng Man-Ch’ing form. In this form, I believe the hook is formed in the southeast over the upturned left palm, as if pinching a bit of sand from the left palm. The hook hand then continues to the right as if guiding an opponent’s technique horizontally to the right, perhaps with the back of the middle, ring, and little fingers. It has been a very long time since I have done this form and do not recall the final motions of the right hand with clarity, but I believe it could be adapted such that the rightward pushing motion of the hook hand could be coordinated with a left-hand push/strike. My memory, however, is that the arms end up at 90 degrees, with the hips and torso square to the east.

Michael,

I did indeed mean the leftward circling. After we settle backwards from Push, we then rotate the waist counterclockwise, i.e., leftward, in order to lead with the left elbow, separate the arms slightly, and trail with the right arm with the palm down and cocked slightly to the right. From reading your description, I think you would view this as guiding the opponent to the left as he or she comes back in, perhaps with your left palm on his arm and the right palm on his upper arm, shoulder, or back. Does anyone know if this movement is described in the description of the form as using “An” energy or “peng” energy?

From what you describe about the following clockwise waist rotation to the right, before the hook is formed, the lowering of the palms could also represent an instance of “An” (push/press (down)) energy, perhaps to divert the opponent’s left elbow or Press technique to your right. Again, however, I am not sure if this palm movement is actually described as such.

Erik,

I do like your Single Whip application and am glad you like to envision application for the form movements. Where do you form the right wrist hook in your form? If the core application is a grab, I would presume that the hook would have to be formed in the southeast, as I have described above.

As I have said elsewhere, I have quirky ideas about what constitutes a Taiji “application,” but I would be curious about your thoughts about a number of places and transitions in the form. I am not sure if this thread is the place for them, but let me pose one question to begin. Do you have any ideas for the transition between Press/Squeeze and Push, specifically for the separation of the hands and the withdrawal to the rear?

Louis,

Thanks for the Coltrane story. My interpretation of it is that improvisation and playing from a score are simply different mental processes, even though the results can seem the same. A more extreme example would be to show a surfer a video of a virtuoso performance on a particular wave and ask him or her to repeat it exactly on the next wave set. In my opinion, these skills cannot be defined merely by the results they produce. They must be understood with reference to the processes they use. To acquire these skills, one cannot hope to copy, memorize, and drill the results, but must strive to understand and experience the underlying processes, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Take care everyone,
Audi
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Postby Hans-Peter » Sun Jun 09, 2002 12:57 pm

Hi Audi,

reading the words you've found to describe some details of Single whip, I can easily recognize the deep knowledge you've gained from working with YZD and YJ. Thanks a lot that you share it this way. That is what I hoped to find when I decided to join this board. Particularly your advice concerning essential-violating through shoulderblade position is - as we have a saying - worth gold. Not a kind of critic, more the expression of my wish to borrow more from your knowledge, I'd like to reply to some points of your statement.

I have the photos of YCF, YZD and YJ in the endposition right before me. I see some differences in posture:
1.YZD has a obviously visible hipwide channel between the heels. YJ doesn't seem to have it. This is particularly obvious in the photo used by the Tai Chi magazin in the
A Taste of China -announcements. YZD's right foot is on the same line as both of YJ's feet, although he's standing behind him. But YCF's heels are obviously lined up.
2. The torsos of YZD and YJ are facing SE. YCF's torso faces fully S (look at the knobs of the jackets).
3. YZD's and YJ's hook faces SW as you mentioned. YCF's hook points to W (you see only the silhoutte of his index and thumb).
Thats another indication that his torso should face S, otherwise he'd violate the essential with his shoulders.
4. On page 22 of Fu Sheng Yuan's "Authentic Yang Style"-book I see on photo 3 Fu Z W and Fu S Y doing single whip. I think to see Fu Z W's torso facing S (as Y CF) while Fu S Y's torso faces SE as he did in his video.

I don't know if this differences are significant, but they seem to be, not at last because the early YCF photos showing him in same posture as YZD has today. YCF has changed, YZD has not.

I've collected some videos of well known Yang stylists, setting left foot down at least to SSE. I resumed, that if the movements are in a smaller frame, this serves as a kind of break after the weightshift to the left. Large frame stylist maybe didn't use this. If you have the chance to see Ye Xiao Long (Fu zhong wen-student)you can obviously see him pointing left foot to SE and making no adjustment of this foot in the next Raise Hands position.

The coordination of right hook movement with push out the left was made, for not to violate another essential: If one part moves, all part moves. If the hook is build and adjusted to SW and then the left hand pushes out, than at least the right hook doesn't move and therefore the essential should be violated. But I'm still not sure about this. But the movement is really comfortable. After push after shifting to left and back to right, weight is mainly right. The hands cross palmup in the middle of chest and open simultaneously. The right hook btw could be also used for defending against a higher kick. It musn't strike with the forarm. But maybe you have other ideas about the stytic hook and the lefthand push.
I'm eager to hear it.

Furthermore I'd like to hear what you say about the fact, that when doing single whip in the left bow stance manner you've described, the left foot and the left hand is substantial (other than in Brush knee left). I've always learned, that if left foot is full, left hand is empty and vice versa. Here and in other related postures (e. g. Fan through back, High pat on horse)it seems as if this principle doesn't work. I was asked sometimes for this, but I cannot really answer to it. What would you say (or others) or have you heard something from YZD or YJ about it?

All the best and thanks again
Hans-Peter
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Postby Erik » Sun Jun 09, 2002 1:21 pm

Hi Audi,

Glad you liked the application(s). I usually do the form once then spend the majority of my time on drills and applications.

Regarding the hook in Single Whip - I did forms corrections with Teacher Yang privately at his home in Taiyuan and the first time I saw him do his form I really liked his body mechanics. So, to answer your question, I try to do it like his because I feel great structure and wave-of-force when I do it the way I was taught.

In application, however, I have a few different techniques that I like and the timing of the hook (hook, grab, upward strike with the wrist, etc) varies with each.

As far as the Press/Push transition it's the same. I do the form as I was taught for the benefits derived from form training. In the application (see a detailed application in the Applications and Free Fighting thread) I separate my hands as the opponent is on his way to a butt-landing on the mat or to catch his wrist and elbow of his rear hand as he counters my press. Hope that helps Audi, and keep training and visualizing those applications.

Good Training - Erik
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Postby Hans-Peter » Mon Jun 10, 2002 10:59 am

Hi again Audi,

in my last post I've forgotten to mention an application for the shifts to left and right between push and single whip. Here's my currently "main application":

Assumed you've applied an to the opponent, it would be on his left arm. So he may strike your face with his right hand. Now the leftward shift begins:
a.Sit back on your left and neutralize his punch with your left(downward). Already here you may have the chance to strike his eyes or throat straight forward with your right fingers.
b. Grab his right wrist with left and pull him to the left while rotating your waist. Take care for his left arm - therefore use your right upright palm to control it.
c. At the endposition of the leftward shift I prefer to imagine zhou with right elbow to his head or neck. Therefore you bring your right flat downward palm back to the center in front of your chest (pressing down his left forarm).

Rightward shift:

Assumed zhou failed and the opponent was able to free his right hand and punches to your head:

a. sit back on your right leg and stick with your right to his right arm.
b. Turn your waist to right and neutralize his punch with peng.
c. Your left hand which followed the right hand "takes over" the opponents right arm at the end of the rightward shift. Although your left hand could already attack his flank, head,I prefer to imagine this "take over" and that the my right hand is free now to attack the opponent's eyes with a straight finger thrust, executed with a small circling of the waist to the left, which thrusts out my right arm easily.
------------------------------------------

If my right wrist should be gripped now, I can free it easily while building the hook with a spiraling movement of my right arm/forarm/wrist, controlled back a small backcircling of the waist to the right. So I'm back in the endposition of rightward shift and my right arm also is already at SW - just the right position to proceed single whip the left arm-movement and the step with left. BTW - I always prefered to imagine an opponent at SSE or SE (not directly at E) for my left hand action, therefore I'm used to imagine a sequence of possibilities for kao - zhou - an (? - or a strike with the edge of my left hand) - for this characteristic left arm movement of Single whip.

Although I have some more filed out applications for special actions in this whole complex, this is my current general applications-script from push to single whip endposition, when following more to the classic YCF (or YZD) form. Critics or improvements are warmly welcome.

Eric,

I like your apllication and I'm still working on it. You've talked very much in general. More details by time are very welcome.

Greetings to all
Hans-Peter
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Postby Erik » Thu Jun 13, 2002 3:22 am

Hi Hans-Peter,

My computer died on me the other day but I'm up and running again. Look for more details in the 'applications and free-fighting' thread. By the way, I noticed you on Tim's Shen Wu board. I studied with Tim for a few years and just to let you know - He is the most PHENOMENAL internal fighter I've ever seen. If you don't have a copy of his "Effortless Combat Throws" you're really missing something. The throws ALL come from Internal Martial Arts - Taiji, Bagua and Xingyi. He has 2 sections on Principles and it's exactly what he teaches in class and why his students are able to generate such power and apply it in free-fighting technique in a short amount of time. One section is regarding Internal principles for fighting and the other section is Internal principles for body-mechanics. He also has an appendix that clarifies common terms used Internal Martial Arts for those without a lot of free-fighting experience or Chinese language skills. Great read.

Good Training - Erik
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Postby Hans-Peter » Thu Jun 13, 2002 10:40 am

Hi Eric,

thanks for your advice. I'll look for the book. Although I study a little bit different Xinyi-school, I too think he's very good.

In your last post for the second time I can read about the "Application and freefighting thread" - but silly me - I cannot find it on this discussion board. Probably I'm totally blind - but it seems as I need help to find it. Where is it? It sounds interresting so I'd like to check it.

Best regards
Hans-Peter
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Postby Erik » Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:11 pm

Hans-Peter,

Look under "suggestions for new forums". Whatever style Xingyi you practice Tim probably knows all about it. He used to be a translator for a martial arts publication that took him to nearly every great teacher in China. They all loved him because he speaks Chinese better than a native and he was a national champion in free-fighting events there using internal styles. It's how he met a few of his teachers. A good friend of his is the most respected martial historian in China but I can't remember his name. So anything Tim doesn't know he can find out pretty easily. He's a 'no B.S.' kind of teacher.

Good Training - Erik

[This message has been edited by Erik (edited 06-14-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Erik (edited 06-14-2002).]
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Postby Audi » Sat Jun 15, 2002 6:46 pm

Hi all:

Hans-Peter,

Thanks for the details of your Single Whip applications. Interesting possibilities.

I am not sure what to say about the differences you observe among the three Yangs’ performance of Single Whip. Since I do not have the pictures you refer to in front of me I cannot comment directly. However, I am pretty certain that in the pictures I recall of Yang Chengfu in the commonly seen poster series and in Yang Zhenduo’s new Chinese book, and in Fu Zhongwen’s book, Yang Chengfu’s torso is facing south-southeast, with his feet shoulder-width apart. One thing to notice is the position of the left shoulder. If he were facing due south, his left hand could not face due east without closing his left shoulder blade.

I find your comment interesting about some practitioners not adjusting the left foot between the end of Single Whip and the end of Lifting Hands. I have seen this done with two different methods. First, in the Cheng Man-Ch’ing form, the left foot is not adjusted, because the following empty stance maintains a 90-degree angle between the feet, with the left foot pointing due east and the right foot due south. I have never heard an explanation for this extreme angle.

The other method I have seen is by angling the entire final posture of Single Whip 45 degrees to the right of the way most people do it. This is accomplished from the Push posture by pivoting the right foot only 90 degrees, to due south, rather than 135 degrees to southeast. The left leg then steps out so that the heels end up more or less on a line going from east to west, but the shoulder-width channel remains on a northeast to southwest diagonal. From this position, no adjustment is necessary to move into Lifting Hands facing due south.

I recall seeing a performance on video of either Fu Zhongwen or Fu Shengyuan where a similar method was used for Ward Off Left and Right. From the Beginning Posture, the right foot was pivoted 90 degrees, rather than 45, and the left foot stretched out to southwest, rather than to south. The torso was then easily angled to the south and no adjustment was necessary to move into Ward Off Right facing west. I seem to recall reading a statement somewhere, perhaps in one of Yang Jwing-Ming’s many books, that Ward Off Left and Right were originally performed “to the same direction” and that the direction of Ward Off Left was changed for aesthetic reasons. I have seen no support for this elsewhere, but have seen applications that link the two moves together in the same direction. Also, during at least one seminar, Yang Zhenduo called specific attention to repeated instances of a transitory unnamed Ward Off Left that occurs in the form whenever Grasp Sparrow’s Tail is performed without the Ward Off Left performed to the south, for instance, following Punch to the Groin and the westward Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch.

Hans-Peter, you also pose an interesting question about full and empty with respect to Single Whip, Fan through the Back, etc. Alas, I have neither figured this one out nor heard a good theoretical explanation. I can think of no theory that accounts for the distribution of “full” and “empty” in the arms and legs in both High Pat on Horse with Thrusting Palm and Brush Left Knee. Similarly, the only way I know to do Pluck is with the main strength in the arm over the leg supporting my weight.

The only observations I have are that in all the postures that appear to violate the principle of an empty hand matching a full foot seem to involve opposing arm movements and a torso angled to the side, at least in Yang Zhenduo’s form. Of course, Repulse Monkey and Chop with Fist, which appear consistent with the general principle, also involve opposing arm movements and an angled torso. Again I remain puzzled and have abandoned this particular principle for the moment as a tool for “distinguishing full and empty.”

A further complication for me is that I have never heard a clear definition of what determines whether a hand or arm is “full/solid” or “empty.” Also, I recall somewhere in the classics about advice about when to attach to the “full” side or “empty” side of an opponent. Does this refer to the opponent’s legs or arms?

For distinguishing full and empty, I am currently relying on feeling the movement inherent in the various structures of the postures. As I understand it “distinguishing full and empty” primarily concerns avoiding stasis and lack of energy movement. For instance, in Fan through the Back, the hands and arms approximate a pulling structure similar to what one does in drawing a bow. At the end of Fan through the Back, the mind reaches for a different structure during the turn, like a tornado swirling clockwise into a big beach ball with compressive/expansive energy in front the chest. The left forearm bounces the opponent’s technique outward to the left and upward, and the right arm bounces the opponent’s other technique downward with the inner right forearm. The arms are roughly circular. As the pressure is relieved, the circle uncurls into another pulling structure for the back fist portion of Chop with Fist.

I apply this now to Pushing Hands by reasoning that if my own body is in dynamic equilibrium, forward and backward, left and right, etc. must be represented fully in my own body. I can incorporate the opponent’s energy into this equilibrium, but must retain the kernels of dynamic opposition within my own “energy” sphere. If, for example, I am both “forward” and “forward” or “left” and “left,” I can no longer circulate energy, I become static, and the opponent now controls one of the two kernels of my energy circuit and owns the keys to my equilibrium. If I have opposite qualities in my body, my opponent is always feeding energy into a moving circle or circuit.

If you have any better insights into “full” and “empty,” please share them.

Erik,

In my question about applications in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, I was asking specifically about the transition before and after Press, because I cannot come up with plausible movements of the opponent that match the form movement.

In one book I have, the application offered is that the opponent defeats your Press by shifting weight backward, moving the waist counterclockwise, and lifting the technique high with Ward Off. As the opponent then tries to shift forward and punch under his or her left arm to your midsection with his or her right fist, you then shift backward and guide the opponent’s left Ward Off arm in a backwards and downward circle to smother the punch. Using the opponent’s arm to smother his or her own technique sounds interesting, but sounds problematical against someone using a style of fighting that automatically chambers the passive arm, such as in Karate.

You seem to suggest that the opponent counters Press in some way that allows you to grasp his right wrist with your left hand and put your left palm on his right elbow. What is the opponent doing to allow this? Is he or she trying to Press with the right arm in Ward Off and the left palm thrusting? How does he or she counter the Push in a way that makes the beginning of the Single Whip transition meaningful?

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
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