Single Whip

Single Whip

Postby Michael » Wed Aug 01, 2001 3:22 pm

My question regarding Single Whip is this: after you make the step into the final position do you turn the waist first as in a Brush Knee before shifting forward? Does the waist turn part way and then the two actions blend or are they seperate. And as I think about it after reading Jerry's recent posting elsewhere, does the waist begin the stepping of the left leg?

I tend to seperate the two making the techniques seperate (with an ever so slight blending)...the waist turn "helping" the opponent over my extended left leg (back of forearm against his chest, his right wrist or arm secured by my right hand), and if this fails due to his countering my action with movement, I strike with the left palm. This of course is just one possible action for Single Whip.
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Aug 01, 2001 6:00 pm

My understanding of this is: 1. open with the hips to put the left foot down (don't turn waist yet). The left foot is brought inward toward the other foot before stepping out. 2. Transferring a little weight to the left foot so that your next movement has a root, turn leftward with the waist and rotate the left arm, keeping it somewhat bent. 3. Shift forward into a bow step, at the same time extending the left arm till it is nearly straight.

I think of these as two distinct movements - a turn and a push - and I do not blend them together.
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Postby Michael » Thu Aug 02, 2001 5:19 am

Jerry,

Thanks for the confirmation. I will have one less question when I attend the Michigan seminar....one less question out of hundreds.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Aug 02, 2001 8:53 pm

Hi Michael,

What I do is similar to Jerry's description.

For your reference this is how I do the second half of 'Single Whip.' Each sentence is concurrent movement.

As you shift your weight to the right foot, turn your body to the right, both hands move right and downward.
Lift your left foot and bring it in ( I was taught to point the toe), both hands move right and upward - extend the right hand gradually forming a hook hand (Eagle's beak).
Turn the body left, and step out to the left with the left foot. Touch the heel down first, raise the left hand to the left in an arc, as high as your eyes, palm facing your eyes about a foot or so from your face.
As the heel touches down the right hand is at the top of the arc.
The left foot is planted firmly.
Turn the body a little more to the left, rotate the left palm away, continuing the arc.
Shift your weight to the left foot, making a bow stance, pushing the left hand slightly forward, and the right hand to the right.

At this point the right hand is in line with the right foot, the left hand is in line with the left foot. The hips and shoulders are neutral (in line).

I do these as two complementary moves, like an inhale followed by an exhale, but the movement of the hands is continuous throughout.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 08-02-2001).]

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 08-02-2001).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Aug 02, 2001 9:18 pm

Some of the details David has given are different from the way Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun teach.
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Postby Michael » Sat Aug 04, 2001 2:26 am

David,

Yes, aspects of your description are different then what Yang Zhen Duo teaches as are a number of things (mostly minor) that are taught by the Tung family. But It is very interesting to hear some of the diffences that come from an earlier version of Yang Cheng Fu's form. I often see that SOME of these are shared by the description in Fu Zhong Wen's book, but one would expect that. The diffences are fascinating to me as i am very interested in the development of our style.

What is the "main" technique that the Tung family teaches? It seems that each line of transmission has a different angle on things, Just as Ban Hou and Jian (Chien) Hou and as did Shou Hou and Cheng Fu.

My original question comes not from how my teacher has taught me or from my own actual practice but from observing many people blending things too much . Often I do not see distinctions that i feel/know should be there--having to do with technique etc. My teacher not being available for the moment, sometimes you get to wonder if you have been doing it right even after all these years, and I will tend to wonder if there is something I missed...and of course that is many times the case.

I thank you both for sharing your experience.

Good practice!
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Postby Audi » Sun Aug 05, 2001 9:51 pm

Hi Michael,

I just returned from the Long Island seminar. Although the waist movement of the final step of Single Whip is still somewhat mysterious to me, I wanted to add a couple of things to Jerry's description, with which I basically agree.

I believe I recall Yang Jun stressing that the outward movement and rotation of the left arm from the ward off position to the seated palm position before the left shoulder more or less followed the placement of the left heel (though there seemed to be a slight overlap in actual performance to maintain continuity of the left arm movement) and coincided with five simultaneous things: the small shift of weight, rooting, and waist turn mentioned by Jerry, flattening of the left foot, and keeping the left leg naturally straight and not yet bent at the knee.

In Brush Left Knee, I believe that Yang Jun described a similar process; however, I think I recall him saying that even though flattening and slight weighting of the left foot coincided with a leftward waist turn, the upper torso finished turning to square in front only during the outward push. Depending on which part of the body the eye focuses on, I think this can look either like a one-part or a two-part movement.

In Single Whip, there seems to be a corresponding, slight rightward turning of the waist during the push/strike of the left hand, but I do not believe this was actually described as such, since Yang Jun was instead stressing that this was the phase in which the left knee actually bent, and not before.

Happy practicing,
Audi
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Aug 07, 2001 7:09 pm

Hi Michael,

I'm no longer quite sure what you mean by blending things too much. The flow isn't interruped, but there is a clear distinction in timing, ie. what goes right, what goes left and when.

Basically, what I described is what I was taught and what I've seen Kai Ying Tung do; a few notes though.

One thing that could be misundertood: in my description on the left hand reaching the peak I was refering to a section of an arc and not a point. Technically, as a point, the hand reaches the peak a little later than the foot touching down; the peak is reached closer to planting the foot and beginning the weight shift.

The amount of waist turn before the step out is small. Some of the difference may only be in language. On the Dong Family history tape Tung Hu Ling powers the step out with his waist and left hip while the shoulders remain facing right, then he turns the shoulders to neutral during the weight shift to the left foot.

I refer to waist turns differently from how others refer to them. Some people mean the facing of the shoulders other mean the facing of the hips, or both.

I was taught to withdraw the hip of the forward foot when I shifted my weight back. This often means that the hips turn one way while the shoulders turn the other. In this case, 'Single Whip,' as the hands and shoulders go to the right and the weight is shifted to the right foot, the left hip is drawn back; this I call shoulders right/ hips left.

Fu Zhongwen teaches drawing the forward foot's hip back when shifting the weight back in his instruction for 'Push' posture (An), allowing the body to face forward (rather than slanting to the left corner). It is noted later at impotant points like setting up for 'Needle at Sea Bottom' (turn the waist left and draw the left hip back).
I was taught to do this when I first learned 'Roll Back' (Lu) and I was told that it applied in all cases.

In Tung style when the hands move initially to the left, from 'Push,' they are higher than Fu Zhongwen's, that is, as high as the eyes, and then as the hands move to the right they go lower than FZW's (thought Tung Hu Ling's right hand moving to the right is similar to FZW's, and higher than Tung Kai Ying). The final postures of Tung Kai Ying's form is virtually identical to the illustrations of Yang Chen Fu for 'Push' and 'Single whip.'

I recently acquired Louis' translation of Fu Zhongwen's book. (Thanks Louis!) It is very interesting seeing verbal descriptions of the moves that are basically the same in Kai Ying Tung's form, but the differences are also fascinating.

I hope that Jerry would feel free to note what the differences are between what I describe and what YZD teaches; and that Louis would comment if I am in error in describing what Fu Zhongwen taught.

I hope this isn't too confusing!

Regards,

David J
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Postby Michael Coulon » Thu Aug 23, 2001 2:02 am

Audi,

Just to add to something you just posted. You mentioned "a slight rightward turning of the waist during the push/strike of the left hand." While Yang jun never says to actually turn the waist to the right (you are correct on this, I find this to be an expanding open of your waist (hip and groin area more precisely) and upper body. Remember, in order to maintain the focus of the energy in the right hook hand you have to open up your posture to extend out the energy in the two different directions. Recently I find that I am concentrating more on keeping the spine straight and perpendicular to the floor with this posture when I open up my structure and focus the energies evenly between the right and left hands/arms.
Michael.
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:54 pm

Hi Jerry,

You wrote, on 08-01-2001, in regards to 'Single Whip' > My understanding of this is: 1. open with the hips to put the left foot down (don't turn waist yet). The left foot is brought inward toward the other foot before stepping out. 2. Transferring a little weight to the left foot so that your next movement has a root, turn leftward with the waist. <

On another forum, Louis wrote, quoting from Yang Zhenji’s book, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_, about 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..."

Is this different from what Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun teaches, or am I misunderstanding you both?

Regards,

David J
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Jul 24, 2002 10:18 pm

David, unfortunately I still have not been able to get a copy of Yang Zhenji's book, so I can't really say. Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun are very definite about getting the left foot anchored before turning left with the waist. Personally I think it is very difficult to do anything with the leftward movement of the left arm unless both feet have a root. If you have someone resist your left arm as it moves leftward I think you will see what I mean.
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Jul 24, 2002 10:29 pm

Let me add that I am simply trying to describe what Yang Zhenduo teaches. Variants of this form are not necessarily 'wrong'. Frequently variations indicate a different way of thinking about the application. Also, as Yang Zhenduo often says, when it comes time to appy the form, you have to do what is expedient rather than slavishly following the form.
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jul 24, 2002 11:58 pm

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the swift reply.

I agree with getting the left foot anchored before doing anything with the leftward movement of the left arm.

I think our difference may be semantic, i.e. what we mean by the term "waist turns." SO I will try once more.

For me turning the waist means that the upper part goes one way and the lower goes the other way.

So in 'Single Whip' when you step out, the upper half of the waist is turned to the right (with both arms) and the lower half of the waist is turned to the left (with the left foot stepping out).

Once the feet are rooted, then the upper half of the waist, with the left arm and hand, turns left.

I think we actually agree! ;^)

You wrote, > Also, as Yang Zhenduo often says, when it comes time to appy the form, you have to do what is expedient rather than slavishly following the form. <

This is why mindfullness and intent is such a large part of our art.

Thanks,

David J
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Postby Michael » Thu Jul 25, 2002 2:59 pm

HI David and Jerry,

I have been experimention with this for awhile now, since the waist is already turned as far as it is to the right before stepping out, using the waist turn to step out with the left leg does not decrease the effectiveness of a technique as the upper body lags behind enough. In fact, it gets you into position for a quicker action or continued action, not having to move the greater distance. All one instead of a one two which alerts the opponent to my intentions.

If I am attempting to help my opponent over my left leg I have created position with the left foot and made contact (or nearly so) with my left hand with the opponents front by using the waist to do both simultaneously. From here if he remains I continue the waist turn slightly and he topples, if however he moves back, I can feel this before I can see it due to the left hand contact and then strike with a palm strike. This works very well. it also satisfies the classics..."when one part moves...". Try it and you will see that no power or effectiveness is sacrificed. It actually is more effective and much quicker.

Just a note, because of varying angles and distances, the loose waist will not be forcing the opponent anywhere while stepping. Putting him into this position while stepping will cause him to react by shifting his weight somewhere. Once the left foot is firmly into position you continue with the waist leftward or forward.

Jerry,

how might this relate to the step in Carry Tiger to Mountain? And does Yang Jun today, step in both these forms without an upper body turning of the "waist". I almost think he did---but yu would know much better. I know YZD does not. There were so many differences last year in how he practiced the form.

I'd thank you for any of your thoughts. And just a note, the above doesn't really have to do with how the form is taught by the Yangs so much as just an idea for practicality for usuage.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-04-2002).]
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Postby Audi » Sat Aug 03, 2002 7:44 pm

Hi David, Michael, and Jerry:

David, I think I now understand enough about my own practice and your descriptions to comment about how you characterize waist movement. In short, I think there may indeed be a slight difference in what you do from what I do, and probably from what Jerry does, from what I recall.

I understand the waist to refer to the soft tissues around the lumbar spine. If I am sitting on a stool, I can still rotate my Taiji waist right and left without moving my hips. If I am standing up and someone immobilizes my shoulders, I can still rotate my waist without moving my shoulders. In both cases, I am centering movement in the same part of my body. If both my hips and shoulders are immobilized, I can still generate slight waist rotation, but this is almost invisible and probably only apparent in looking at my abdominal muscles, where one side contracts inward while the other side protrudes.

Subjectively, I can see how this motion could be described as simultaneously moving the shoulders one way and the hips another, but I think in reality, it is a question of using the waist to move either the hips or the shoulders or moving both together in the same direction.

My Taiji waist cannot simultaneously move my hips one way and my shoulders the other way, although some of this may only be semantic. Often where you describe yourself as doing this (such as after White Crane Spreads/Dries (its) Wings), I think I (and probably Jerry too) am not moving my hips or lower body much at all, but am using my waist to carry along my upper body to the right. Even though the lower body does not move, there is still a relationship of dependency since the torque of the waist affects the feeling in the hip joints (“kua’s”).

Michael and Jerry, when I first began trying to follow the Yangs’ teachings I struggled greatly with what they meant by “using the waist.” One of the accommodations I have reached is that I never mentally associate the motion of the leg stepping out with waist movement, even if in some postures there is some simultaneous movement. I think of this as a “blind” and “empty” step.

I think Yang Zhenduo described this kind of step in a seminar be referring to "going left when one wants to step to the right, etc." I think he also referred to something like this as a requirement for making the steps free and nimble.

A clear instance of this principle is in Diagonal Flying, where the right leg steps out to the right rear (southwest) while the waist is still facing east. Jerry, I think this what you described in your post above and what the Yangs have described in the seminars as “opening the hips.” In other words, one opens the hips to perform the step, but reserves the waist movement for the upper body. This may also be an instance of what David describes as moving the shoulders one way and the hips another, although I would describe this movement as leaving the shoulders and waist in place while the hips open to the right. The first step with the right foot in Deflect Downward Parry and Punch is another instance of this idea, where the step lands with the toes pointing to the southeast while the torso is still facing northeast.

I have found this principle of what I am here calling “blind empty stepping” to be important, because I reason that if I use some waist torque to first power my step and then to power my upper body movement, I have half the waist torque available to power to my upper body. In addition, the step itself is one of the few components of the movement where central equilibrium is the paramount quality necessary, and no power needs to be generated in the stepping leg. For me, this is another instance of distinguishing full and empty, because using the waist to power my step, rather than something else, would be a violation of this.

In contrast, it seems to me that the Yangs power even the seemingly most trivial heel pivots with the waist. Yang Zhenduo always seemed to describe these situations by saying that the waist carries the foot along to turn inward or outward.

In applying all of this to the ward off to the left near the end of Single Whip, it seems to me that one would want to maintain at least two principles, which you all have already touched on. One should not ward off until one has root in both feet, and one should reserve the waist for feeding power to the warding arm and not use it to power the step to the left.

If one observes these two principles, one is still left with the issue of continuity. I think this touches on another dichotomy that Yang Jun discussed a little at my last saber seminar, which is the clarity with which one differentiates weight shifts versus the continuity one gives to movement. I got the distinct idea from him that these were variable concepts, but that clarity was more important in the bare-hand form and that continuity was more important in the saber or sword form. In short, I think that the waist turn and step should probably be two distinct movements, but that some blending is okay if there function is kept mentally distinct.

Take care,
Audi
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