Postby Michael » Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:30 pm


Jerry mentioned rollback in the "Third Rep" thread. I was watching a beginner (with a strong Shaolin background) after class last night working with a friend on the possibilities within the posture. I saw some interesting things.

My question is this--How do any of you see the the initial move to the right with the hand/forearm rotation being used? I am curious as to what your teachers have said and what you have come up with on your own.
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Postby gene » Thu Nov 21, 2002 1:22 am


I don't understand your question. Can you clarify?

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Postby Michael » Thu Nov 21, 2002 6:09 am


From ward off right we turn the the waist to the right while rotating the forearms before turning the waist back to the left. The action taking place before turning back to left is what I am curious about. For instance, I have heard others speak of this motion as a rollback to the right, and a chin na action. In this case the right "hands'" rotation being used against the right elbow of the opponent, raising it (or working above the elbow) rotating it inward towards the opponents center having captured the wrist with the other hand, thus controlling him. What does the Yang family itself teach? Any other ideas?

I hope that is more clear.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 21, 2002 6:25 am

Greetings Michael,

If you're talking about the transition from Wardoff Right to Rollback, then the initial rightward shift of the right arm is to change the contact point with an opponent's arm. In Wardoff Right, the right arm's contact with the opponent's hand or arm is in the radius. To roll back, you need to rotate your arm around the opponent's, changing the contact point in your arm to the ulna side. Here, the "roll" begins, and as you shift your center of gravity back to the left leg and turn the upper torso leftward, the right arm concurrently rotates counter-clockwise, providing a rolling surface for the opponent's advancing arm.

In solo form practice, some people exagerate the right arm's initial shift to the right, while some merely open and straighten the arm slightly. In push hands, the transition begins to feel quite automatic, so that the right peng hand changes easily to a standing palm, seated-wrist orientation.

Tell us more about the interesting things you saw. Rollback is full of possibilities for unbalancing, immobilizing, summersaulting, bouncing, tossing, or duckwalking an opponent.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 21, 2002 8:33 pm

Can't speak knowledgeably to the Yang family applications, but the Wu family application is very similar to what Louis described.
It is a change of position on an opponents upper body, usually the arm, to set up for a lot of different ways you could neutralize or offset your opponent. In Wu, this can be a Na movement or a redirection of incoming force, or both, depending on how you're both set at the time.
The turn of the hands combined with the turn of the tantien can be used in any variety of ways to control your opponents pressure points in the arm or to start a general offsetting move against the entire upper body if you miss or choose not to engage his arm.
This is not necessarily a whole arm Na move as Louis described, it can be on the forearm only, or the upper arm only. I have even, in an extreme pinch, applied Na to a sparring partners upper arm and shoulder, up under his armpit and across his upper back.
I have been playing with the applications of the Yang version of this movement and have found them to be similar.
Of course, all "applications" depend on circumstance. The trick is to use it when you need it, without "thinking" about it. If you have to "think" about it, you've allready lost. The most succesful applications for me have allways been those I don't consciously remember doing after I'm finished.
This is also a very good move to know if you're opponent is armed with a spear or staff, or really any kind of non-edged, pole or stick weapon. This tiny offset, combining the circular motions in the hands and tantien turn, can allow you to accept the incoming shaft and then rotate the shaft out of your opponents grip.
I know this, because I was once flipped completely over when I tried to "stab" a barehanded sparring partner with a staff during a demonstration.
I was relatively new to staff and was holding it just a bit too tightly...
You get the idea.
My highly skilled opponent flipped me right over in a nice tight circle and then pretended to kill me with my own weapon in front of a room full of fellow students.
Like all postures in Taiji, this one has many martial applications.
Would love to hear of others...
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Postby Michael » Fri Nov 22, 2002 1:20 am


Yes, you describe how I viewed the tranistion. I also have seen the very small movement you describe by some and it fits the intent here perfectly. But as Yang Jun and his grandfather teach it, with the larger motion always implied more to me.

The other ideas that have been presented to me or I have come up with besides the above are these.

As I said, my previous example was against the opponent's right arm. If the lock was succesful, it would end with a step around to his rear with my rear (left) leg as one might do with a successful rollback to the left.

I watched this student applying this technique to the left arm in a different manner. In this case the opponents wrist was turned out and pressure from the turning right hand/forearm was applied to the bend of the opponents elbow downward, which forces the elbow inward. This is a small movement as you suggested. Once his root has been initially compromised a continued (small) waist turn would seem to finish the job. If unsuccessful I continue as you describe and come back to the left. Now I have not had the time to test this myself on someone as of yet. I must mention that this type of action always leaves me uncomfortable as the oppponents right arm is not accounted for. The conditions would have to be ideal. If any of you play with this let me know your results. I should get a chance later this evening.

The only other technique I have seen is "two handed" ward offs (on his "elbow" and 'wrist") first against a right punch and then back again vs a left punch. And as you describe Wushuer, against the body if one misses getting the arm as one would like it. Elbow/upperarm and shoulder work just fine.

As we all know, there are many different techs all depending on the opponents actions. The more things I find the more facsinated I become.
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Postby glittalogik » Fri Nov 22, 2002 2:09 am

When I started learning devilstick-juggling, one of the first things I learned was 'beginners use large circles, experts use small circles,' and the principle seems to apply equally to tai chi. Large movements are much easier to copy and learn, and can be refined down to smaller, more effective movements later on. I'm still a complete newbie to tai chi though, so I'll shut up now.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Nov 22, 2002 6:55 pm

I should probably clarify something I wrote. When I said some practitioners "exaggerate" the rightward move of the right arm, it may have appeared that I was making a value judgement. What I meant to point out is merely an observed difference of degree.

I would be curious to know too what the rationale for a larger degree turn to the right is before going into rollback. Classically, it might be explained as an instance of "opening" (kai) before the "closing" (he) of rollback. It's rather like setting a trap, perhaps.

Any other ideas?

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Nov 22, 2002 8:47 pm

Hi Louis,

do you mean in terms of theory or practical application? I ask because, imho, this transition from peng to lu and back to ji is a (the) basic shun-ni or reeling. The hands make a figure-eight. The degree of turn to the right is, again, mho, not as important as the motion itself --which can be small or large, but must happen. Applications can be made at any point in these elliptical movements, depending on the opportunity, and the position of the opponent. Just my .02.

Steve James
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Postby yangmantis » Fri Nov 29, 2002 3:21 am

good call on the devilsticks. I've had a similar experience - starting with devilsticks at about the same time I was really getting into tai chi. They are also good for developing push-hands sensitivity I find.
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