At the recent symposium in Nashville, I had the chance to experience some teaching of the Wu Family 16 movement form. It was a wonderful experience, but the shortness of the time left me with a few questions.
1. Is the length of the footwork fixed in the form? If so, it is also supposed to be fixed outside the form?
What I recall, but am not sure I understood correctly, was that the feet should be parallel, shoulder-width or one foot-length apart, and separated by a foot length front to back. The arrangement seemed to be that the heel of the front foot and the toes of the back foot would be on the corners of a square with each side one foot long. Is my understanding correct?
I can see that changing the length of the stride could have implications for the degree of the lean. How is this handled? How is it also handled in moving step, when the length of the stride and the angle of motion can vary? Is the length not so important then? Is it not so important to keep the feet parallel.
In the Association's form, the degree of the lean would presumably change, but this would probably have less of an impact on the open Yang Style stance than it would on a parallel stance. Where Yang Style is affected is in the impracticality of angling the back foot during the transitional Bow Stances. In effect, you end up using parallel footwork unless you are certain to end in a Bow Stance and have the freedom to step straight forward or straight back. If your partner angles off to one side or the other, your feet can end up transitioning through all sorts of angles. As for leaning, I more or less try to remain erect and lean only during certain applications as the circumstances seem to require it.
2. At the end of Parting the Wild Horses Mane, we were told to look at the lower hand that has the palm facing down, whereas in Yang Style we look toward the upper hand with the palm facing up. The rationale in Yang Style appears to be that the eyes and spirit should lead the expression of Jin in the dominant upper arm that is doing Ward Off. Does anyone know the rationale of the practice in Wu Style? Is a different type of energy envisioned?
3. Stepping forward from a leaning Bow Stance seemed to require moving the lower body forward and the head and upper body backward in order to return the body to an erect posture as the moving foot glided into position. Is this the correct feeling?
In the Association's form, we usually have a lean in a Bow Stance, but I have more of the feeling of my lower body catching up with my head and upper body. I have no feeling of a vertical pivot around my waist. I think this is because we usually have a slight lean during even transitional empty stances.
Any ideas or comments would be welcome.