Posture Names II

Posture Names II

Postby Audi » Mon May 28, 2001 6:43 pm

I want to continue an exploration of posture names I began on an earlier thread. Again I invite comment from anyone interested.

One thing I want to clarify is that I do not mean to offer disrespect to anyone's choice of translation or interpretation in any particular instance. I know that I myself am very inconsisent in my choice of words and spellings, because of the perceived convenience of the context.

Translation usually involves compromise between many different goals: staying with the familiar, literal accuracy, aesthetics, consistency with other translations, etc. In my opinion, true translation of even simple phrases is impossible between any but the most closely related languages. What is possible is to interpret the meaning of a phrase for a particular context.

Since deepening our knowledge of T'ai Chi often involves close parsing of phrases or concepts originally expressed in Chinese, I find it helpful to engage in exercises such as this one to tease out possible hidden meanings, implications, or problems posed by some of the English nomenclature that is often chosen. In doing so, I do not mean to suggest that any other choices are wrong, ignorant, or improper, especially without knowing what purpose lies behind a particular translation. Even more important is that the important aspects of T'ai Chi are universal and not limited to the expression of any particular language.

Here are the new postures:

Bai2 He4 Liang4 Chi4 (White Crane Cools its wing(s))

I have also heard this posture referred to as "Crane Stands on Rock." Does anyone know the origin of this name?

You4/Zuo3 Lou1 Xi1 Ao3 Bu4 (Right/Left Brush Knee and Twist Step)

The "twist" in this posture name has long been a mystery to me linguistically and martially. The character rendered here as "ao3" seems to be fairly rare and to have many variant pronunciations (e.g. yao3, ao4, and niu4). Moreover, I have yet to find a dictionary that gives "twist" as a meaning. In the few cases where I have found the character with this or a similar reading (e.g., Mathews’ Chinese-English Dictionary), "break (off)" seems to be the closest meaning I can find. Does anyone have an explanation?

When exactly does the "twist" occur in the movement and in what part of the body? I used to think it was in the feet, but then realized there was no prior foot pivot whenever the posture follows an Empty Stance (e.g., White Crane). Any ideas?

Shou3 Hui1 Pi2 Pa (Hand Strums the Lute/Pipa)

I understand from the Yangs' video that this posture differs from Lifting Hands not only in reversing right and lift, but also in the angles of attack and the emblematic martial application. Can anyone confirm that the final postures are identical mirror images and that the hand shapes are the same? Are the "palm methods" also identical, and what exactly are the proper hand and wrist shapes?

Jin4 Bu4 Ban1 Lan2 Chui2 (Step forward Deflect Parry and Punch)

Is there a difference between "Step forward" (Jin Bu) and "Step Up" (Shang bu)? The phrase "step forward" seems to occur consistently before certain postures, and "step up" in others. As far as I can tell these stepping techniques are identical, but have always wondered if I was missing something, given the consistently different terminology.

Depending on how one counts, this move has a minimum of four distinct arm techniques, yet only three terms: deflect, parry, and punch. The punch is fairly clear. From other reading, I understand the Chinese term "lan" (usually translated in this movement as "parry") to refer to obstructing and barring the opponent's movements and so assume that refers to the left arm jamming an opponent's right arm into his or her body. What about the deflection (ban)? Is there truly a difference between a "deflection" (ban) and a "parry" (lan)?

What I understand from the Yangs' video is that the right arm does the "deflection" and the "left" arm does the "parry." Does the right arm do two "deflections," one downward to the left after the left foot pivot and then another forward, downward, and to the right (resembling a back fist) as one steps forward with the right foot? I note that many translate this movement in a way that includes the phrase "Deflect downward." Does this refer to the same two deflections, or just one of them?

Ru2 Feng1 Si4 Bi4 (As if sealed (and) like closed)(Also translated as "Apparent Closure")

This posture name was discussed on an earlier thread. I think I can summarize the ideas raised by describing the spirit hinted at by this posture name as being: Make an "x" with the arms as if sealing off a crime scene and then push the door closed with the arms. Any disagreements?

I also note that this posture name sounds suspiciously close to the name of the fourth Posture of the first and second Chen Routines: 60% Open and 40% Closed (Liu4 Feng1 Si4 Bi4). This posture also involves a two handed push, but it varies in many of the details and in its position in the form. Does anyone have an explanation for the resemblence? From the little I know of Chinese dialect history and general principles of phonetic change, I am a little skeptical that “liu4” and “ru2” could be confused and have assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that any substitution would be deliberate, rather than unintentional.

Shi2 Zi4 Shou3 (Cross Hands)

The character for ten in Chinese is the same as an "x," except oriented like a printed "t." This posture is then apparently named for its shape, and probably would have been called "X-Hands" if T'ai Chi had been invented in an English speaking country.

Bao4 Hu3 Gui1 Shan1 (Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain)

My first reaction to considering this posture name was surprise that we go from something so prosaic as "X-Hands" to something so evocative as "embracing mountain tigers." Does anyone know if this posture name contains any specific literary allusions or antecedents from folk tales?

I also note that Yang Jwing Ming's books have a different sequence of posture names than what is described here. The mechanics of the movements also differ somewhat. After "As if Sealing and Like Closing," Yang Jwing Ming has "Embrace Tiger and Return to the Mountain" and "Close T'ai Chi" (He Tai Ji).

Together the two postures cover the same territory as "Cross Hands," but portray an application that would involve scooping up an opponent's thigh or leg. He has no separate name for the sequence here called Embrace Tiger and Return to the Mountain and simply includes it under the following Grasp Sparrows Tail. Does anyone know the reasons for the different treatment?

I also note that many Yang Styles have a difference between the final position of this posture and the Brush Knees, but Yang Zhen Duo does not. Again, does anyone know the reasons behind the difference? Are different applications envisioned, perhaps one using the arm to deflect a kick whereas the other using a pull down (cai) technique to deflect a punch?

Zhou3 Di3 (Kan4) Chui2 (Fist (Looks) under (the) Elbow)

Yang Zhen Duo's sequence of names does not include here a Slanting Single Whip that other Yang styles have. Moreover, the movement is changed so that the right palm forms a Standing Palm (I think that is the correct term), rather than a Hook Hand/Crane's Beak. Does anyone know the reasons behind the difference? Does anyone have a martial explanation of the Standing Palm in this sequence?

I have heard differences of opinion as to whether the "elbow" referred to in this posture is the practitioner's or the opponent's. Would all agree that for Yang Zhen Duo's form at least, the elbow is the practitioner's?

You4/Zuo3 Dao4 Nian3 Hou2 (Right/Left Repel/Repulse Monkey(s))

I believe the Chinese in this phrase is ambiguous as to whether the practitioner is repelling a monkey or whether the practitioner is repelling something else in a monkey-like way (Backward Repelling Monkey). In either case, the spirit of the posture seems pretty clear.

Xie2 Fei1 Shi4 (Diagonal Flying Posture)

Does the slant refer to the angle of the foot movement, to the angle of the arms in the final posture, or to both?

Hai3 Di3 (Lao1) Zhen1 ((Picking/Dredging up) Needle at Sea Bottom)

I used to think that this posture referred to the delicate movement required to reach way down to pick up a pin. Indeed, one of my dictionary defines this phrase in effect as a metaphor for an impossible task.

I have read elsewhere, however, that Sea Bottom is a Chinese medical or martial arts reference to the pelvic or pubic region. This would imply that the "needle" is not on the floor, but actually is formed by the right palm attacking the opponent's lower body. This indeed is the application that Yang Zhen Duo shows in his book. Can anyone add to or correct what I have said?

Shan4 Tong1 Bei4 (Fan through the Back)

Does anyone have anything of interest to say about this posture name?

Zhuan3 Shen1 Pie1 Shen1 Chui2 (Turn Body and Flip Fist Past Body) (also named Turn Body and Chop with Fist)

I find this posture name unusual, because the movement has four separate components. The name describes the first two components; however, the most yang part of the posture (the left hand strike) and the ending position (the closed-fist Roll Back) are unnamed. If nothing else, this lends credence to a view that the form postures had definite linking components and may have been separated and named only as afterthoughts.

Zuo3 You4 Yun2 Shou3 (Left-Right Cloud Hands)

Anyone have something interesting about this name?

Gou1 Tan4 Ma3 (High Pat on Horse)

"High Pat on Horse" is the standard translation for this phrase, but I cannot figure out why it is done so. As I understand it, the word "tan" has nothing to do with "pat," but rather means "search out." (I see, however, in one dictionary the phrase: tan4 shen1 (stretch out the body)). Apparently, the translation should be something like "High Search for the Horse(s)" and refers to "spying out one's horse's on the high plains of China." Do I have this wrong?

The pictures of Yang Cheng Fu performing this posture seem to show him rising up slightly. Could this be what the "high" part is referring to?

You4/Zuo3 Fen1 Jiao3 (Right/Left Separate Foot)

Separate Foot is the standard English translation for this posture, but isn't this a bit of unnecessary Chinglish? Shouldn't this really be "Separate Feet"? Also, why are the slanting bow-step Roll Backs that precede the kicks not deserving of posture names? I find it hard to believe that they are merely convenient transitions to the kicks.

Zhuan3 Shen1 Zuo3 Deng1 Jiao3 (Turn Body, Left Heel Kick)

Does "Deng Jiao" really mean "heel kick," or simply "Press the foot out"? How does "deng jiao" differ from "ti1 jiao3 or ti1 tui3," which I have seen in some listings of the posture names? Do these names have something to do with the presence or absence of "fa jin"? Do ball-of-the-foot kicks exist in Yang Zhen Duo's T'ai Chi? Do others ever kick with the ball of the foot?

Jin4 Bu4 Zai1 Chui2 (Step Forward and Punch Downward)

As I understand it "zai chui" literally means either "planting punch" or "falling punch." If interpreted as "planting punch," I presume the reference would be to the position of bending over to plant a rice seedling. If interpreted as "falling punch," would the reference be to the bent over position and direction of the punch, or perhaps to striking the head or leg of a fallen or falling opponent?

If there is sufficient interest, I will ask questions about other postures at another time. I look forward to any informed or uninformed opinions, corrections, comments, or additions to anything I have set forth above.

Respectfully submitted,
Audi
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Postby Michael » Tue May 29, 2001 6:43 pm

Audi,

I don't know if there are real "answers" to a number of your questons, but maybe some of what i have been taught can be of some help.

Play the Lute/Pipa as opposed to lift hands step up.

I think the difference here is mainly that your are comming into them from different positions. The application will vary due to the circumstances that arise from those preceeding positions. I have been taught that the final positions are basically the same. I will have to check to see if i have missed something. In some versions the hands in Play the Lute seemed to be more upright if my memory serves me. This would fit with the some of the different applications.

Deflect downward, Parry and Punch.

As the opponent aims a left/right at your face (or whaerever) the deflect is striking the inside of the right arm bringing it down. The Parry is actually from the outside of the left arm pushing across. These are two very distinctly different movements. The parry motion is exactly what you find in fencing and all sword work. You will find it in a number of places in the Yang sword form. In that case the blade is being held upright and moved across the body.

Diagonal single whip

In both instances in the form after Carry tiger there is what is called "transitional single whip". In the second instance we form a cranesbeak and the left elbow is low as we are to indeed go into a single whip. In the first case we have our left elbow held higher and the palm up as we are going into fist under elbow and not COMPLETING single whip on the diagonal. It is not single whip until it is completed, or should i say, it is not single whip until the step is taken, the waist begins to turn and.... I believe the names refer to the final position (and the movement that got you there) not the transitions. So there actually is no DIAGONAL single whip until one steps out on the diagonal, only a transition into it.

Fist under elbow

The "standing palm" has the same function as a parry as it does in Step forward, deflect downward, parry, and punch.

I do disagree that the elbow spoken of is yours. Why would it be? Maybe you can explain your take on the application (esp. the use of the right hand that becomes a fist)---sorry, I know this would be awfully hard to do in print as I am sure you would agree. Anyway, in the applications I know the Right hand later is slanting in and down for a strike to the ribs if it is not needed for a defensive fuction. That is why it becomes a fist at the end. Below the elbow along the the rib is a nerve that when struck will deliver great pain. feel around for it on the lowest one and you will get the idea. If you think of the path of the right arm after parrying--it may not have the ability to bruise or break a rib but it can indeed a affect a nerve. Of course the right arm can be used differently. So whether you think of the elbow of being yours or the opponent depends on the application you envision. The form of Yang Zhen Dou does not have ONE application. Do not be misled that if one example of technique is presented that that is THE way it move is to be thought of.

When time permits i will come back to your more or your questions. i don't have any answers but i hope some of my thoughts are useful to you.



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-29-2001).]
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Postby Michael » Tue May 29, 2001 10:01 pm

Audi,

Turn and Chop with Fist.

I am not sure if I understand your description of Turn and Chop with Fist. Could you help me with what you call a "Closed fist roll back"?
To me and in my experience, the movement of the right fist after completion of the "chop" technique is the continuation of the waist that brings the left hand in for the palm strike (or however you need to use it). The final position puts the right hand into position for either a parry across to the left or the arm break as we transition into deflect downward.... This also is a position that can be used to punch from with the rotation of the waist bringing the right toe out to the right, stepping forward and punching giving you the option of using the arm break transition or to punch depending on the actions of the opponent. The Chop with fist is Deflect downward Parry and Punch, the only difference is the distance between the two hands and the step for the punch... One is more offensive oriented and the other more defensive oriented....at least as they are taught.

The point of that description and the my variation of the standard Cop with fist is the difference in giving these nearly identical positions different names is almost the same as we find in Lift hands, step up and Play the lute. It depends where you are coming from and the technique. This was always obvious on the physical level but this is interesting in terms of your name questions. Remember, i don't prtetend to have any answers, just ideas.

"Separate feet"

I also would like you to explain your "roll backs" before the kicks? Pardon my ignorance but among other things is not the main movement before the final waist turn an arm lock? I have never had it described as a roll back before. I am always curious and like to learn.

I think that in a number of the instances you bring up, the move is described as simply as possible. Be glad that the names do not describe all the transitional techniques. That is why I think they are not...because they are transitional techniques in MOST cases. In one way of applying "Turn and chop with fist" we could very well describe it as Turn, press down, block up, cop opponent with fist and strike with palm." What is important is described.

Since i do not read or speak Chinese it is always interesting what those who do come up with.

Thanks again.




[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-29-2001).]
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Jun 01, 2001 6:16 pm

Hi Audi,

The names that I use are from the Yang Style as it's come down through the Tung Family with influence from Marshall Ho'o. Here are some of my thoughts and opinions, although some of the ideas expressed here are derived from these schools, they are not to be construed as authoritative.

'Twist' step:
I read an article a long time ago that discussed this. It noted a 'preferred' step, where the same hand and foot are forward, and 'twist' step where the hand that's forward is opposite from the foot that's forward. I'm not at all sure what is 'preferred' in this usage. I think that the 'twist' step is more natural to us because that's what we do when we walk.
I think the "twist" may come from the shoulders being at a different angle from the hips.

'Hand Strums the Lute/Pipa':
The names I learned are: 'Play the Harp' and 'Raise Hands and Step Up to Standing Harp' for 'Lifting Hands;' and 'Play the Guitar/Fiddle' for the posture you call 'Hand Strums the Lute/Pipa.' I was taught that they are mirror images of one another. However I've seen it done where the right hand drops 8" to 12" lower in 'Play the Guitar.'
Bruce Lee used 'Play the Harp' quite a bit.

The name I was taught was 'Grasp the Handle of the Hammer, Draw the Bucket out of the Well, Step Up, Strike, Parry, Punch.'
'Step Up' here means a turn step, which is a higher step than the usual forward step, that is, the foot is raised for ease of rotation. But then again the term was also used to mean the usual step forward...

'Apparent Closure':
I find it interesting that in the early 1800's it was found that some American Indians would "lock" their tipi by crossing two sticks in front of the entrance flap. This custom was embraced by European immigrants/settlers.

'Carry Tiger To Mountain':
The final posture that I do is the same as 'Brush Knee.'

After 'Push' in the beginning of the second section I was taught a 'Lateral Single Whip,' or 'Diagonal Horizontal Whip' where the palms face down, and the edge of the right hand leads where in 'Single Whip' the eagle beak leads.

'Punch Under Elbow':
I do this move ending with the fist under my own elbow, but consider anything within range of the fist to be fair game, like the nerve in the ribs that Michael pointed out. It's also an excellent spot from which to throw a backhand.

'Diagonal Flying Posture':
The name I was taught was 'Slanting Flying,' or 'Slantingly Flying,' and took it as a reference to the motion of the leading hand. I find it a bit ironic that this is an excellent technique for throwing a frisbee. The step out I was taught is not at an angle, but due east.

'Needle to the Bottom of the Sea':
I've been told that there is an accupuncture point named "sea bottom" on the top of the foot. Is this possibly a reference to Dim Mak? It can be used for picking up a rock or a stick.

'Fan through the Back' is what I feel in the muscles of the upper back when I do the move.

'High Pat on a Horse':
The image I get is the left hand is under the horse's chin and the right hand rubs him between the eyes. Da Liu gives an image of patting a horse on the back while holding its reins.

'Separation of the Feet' ;
You asked, > why are the slanting bow-step Roll Backs that precede the kicks not deserving of posture names? <
I see no problem when that part of the move is intercepting a kick. I've also seen it used to lift an opponent's forward foot off the ground.

> Do others ever kick with the ball of the foot? <
Yes, and the top of the foot, and the side of the foot. However, the ball of the foot is not preferred.

An application of 'Turn and Chop with Fist' is where the right hand is used as a backhand to the head or chin, then the left hand reaches forward to grab the shirt and pull the opponent off balance. The right hand strikes the temple from the side, then the left hand pulls the person to the ground. Then step over the unconcious form...
I agree with you that the sequence after the backhand could use a name.

'Wave hands like Clouds' or 'Cloud hands,' 'White Crane' and others:
Da Liu, in "T'ai Chi Ch'uan and the I Ching" says that 'Cloud hands,' is taken from hexagram 3 which alludes to images of water, clouds and moving like a wheel, as well as images of the belly, and the hands. He also says that 'White Crane' relates in a similar fashion to hexagram 22, with images of a white bird, water and wings. For 'Cross Hands' he gives hexagram 36, with the image of the sun going down, which is the opposite of 'The Arising's' sunrise from hexagram 35.

I think that there's a great deal of correspondence between the I Ching and Tai Chi Chuan. I have noted in earlier posts some aspects of symmetry within Tai Chi Chuan, and I think that these are reflected in the I Ching.

I have no idea whether these comments are of any use to you or not. I hope that at least some of it helps.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Audi » Sat Jun 02, 2001 7:41 pm

Hi Michael and David,

Thanks for the responses. They are very helpful and just the sort of thing I was hoping for.

(Brush Knee and) Twist Step

David, thanks for your quoted definition that relates this to opposing hands and feet. This is something I never would have thought of. As I consider this, I cannot think of any other movement in the form that steps into an upper hand opposing a weighted forward foot. Perhaps this also explains somehow the difference between “stepping up” and “stepping forward.” A separate idea that occurs to me is that “step up” may refer to “stepping up into a “fixed” posture, where the foot is not expected to move, such as before Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. “Step forward” may refer to chasing the opponent in what is expected to be a transitional step, such as before Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch.

I forgot to mention one aspect of this stepping issue in my original post. In calling out the moves during at least one seminar, Yang Zhen Duo called out an explicit “Ward Off Left” (not listed anywhere I have seen) during the “Step Up” that precedes many of the Grasp Sparrow’s Tails. This was a wonderful clarification as to the usage of the arms during this transition into the Ward off Right. I believe he described that the unity of the five postures within Grasp Sparrows Tail were “clearer” in these sequences than in the beginning of the form.

Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch

Michael, you mentioned that “the deflect is striking the inside of the right arm bringing it down.” Assuming you are referring to the opponent’s arm, do you see the inside of your own right arm as accomplishing this? Do you then see the “Parry” as affecting the same arm of the opponent? What function, if any, do you see for the right arm and fist, as it circles from the left side of the body to the right? I know that some view this as a back fist and others see it as simply chambering the right arm for the punch. I personally am wary of the latter interpretation, because it conforms to what I understand of Karate movement theory, but not what I understand of T’ai Chi’s.

David, “hammer handles, buckets, and wells” are interesting terminology. You remind me that the original form I learned had a right hand “Chop with Fist” simultaneous with a left-hand Pull Down (cai) before beginning the Deflect Downward. By the way, when you refer to the “Step Up,” are you referring to the preliminary movement of the left foot? If so, is the distinction you are drawing that this movement in your form involves a heel pivot, whereas “Step Forward” might involve a (slightly) weighted pivot in the center of the foot?

Fist Under Elbow

Michael, I think my view of the emblematic application of this posture is the same as what you describe, except for the movement and purpose of the left arm and hand. First, I agree completely that all these postures have numerous, if not infinite possible applications. As a result, I am speaking only about what I understand to be the “emblematic” application of Yang Zhen Duo’s posture movements.

As I understand it, the left hand goes through the transitional single whip with the palm up to intercept the opponent’s left hand strike. The usage of your left hand and arm would follow the following sequence: an outstretched Ward Off with the left side of the wrist of the upturned hand leading, a Roll Back that circles outward with the waist and then twists horizontally counterclockwise into a Push/Press (“An” energy), a Pull Down/Grasp (cai or ts’ai) that circles downward, then inward to the right, and then continues into a forward twisting motion with a Ward Off feel to it. The purpose of the left hand movement would be to intercept the opponent’s hand, grasp his or her wrist, guide/pull the opponent out of his or her root, and then twist the entire arm so that the opponent’s left elbow is twisted toward his or her back and then vertically upward, exposing the ribs to attack. The right hand motion during all this is, as I understand it, simply a horizontally circular punch that ends up “looking” under your own left elbow, but striking the opponent’s ribs. Is this clear, and does it help?

Fan through the Back

David, interesting idea about feeling a fan in your own back. I suppose this is a good image for “plucking up the back” (ba bei) and keeping the back open and arms connected. I should have mentioned in my original post, that my understanding of the name is as follows. If one views the preceding Needle at Sea Bottom as primarily a qin na, or locking, move that attempts to lock the opponent’s right arm at the elbow, one can envision the opponent attempting escape by turning his or her back counterclockwise to you to relieve the pressure. To deal with this, you can lift the opponent’s arm up to continue restricting his or her movement with a Press/Squeeze (Ji) movement of your arms and then follow through with an open left-hand strike to the opponent’s exposed back. The name of the posture could also be translated as “Fan Penetrates the Back.”

(Turn the Body and) Chop with Fist

Michael, you asked about what I described as “closed-fist Roll Back.” My understanding of the final position of this posture in Yang Zhen Duo’s form is that the hand and body positions are exactly the same as in the end of Roll Back, except that the right hand is in a fist. (The end position of the similar White Snake Spits out Tongue (Bai she tu xin), however, does not even have this distinction.) I am less certain of the spirit of this move, but I believe it is the same as the striking Roll Back that follows Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain. By the way I like your comparison of this move with the following Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch.

David, I like your proposed application and your rather colorful language.

Just for clarity, the application I visualize for this move is as follows. I have dispatched an opponent with Fan through the Back and sense a different attack coming from my rear. Since I am blind to the attack, I turn with the right elbow leading in case the attack is close and with the other arm at the ready. I follow through with the right hand back fist to clear downward whatever is coming my way and/or to strike to the bridge of the opponent’s nose (Ditto for White Snake Spits out tongue, except that I follow through a with finger flick to the eyes if my fist is blocked). If my fist misses or if I succeed in opening up my opponent, I continue the motion with an open left-hand strike to my opponent’s body. If this is blocked by my opponent’s left “Ward Off” arm, I seize it, pull it down and back to the left with my waist turn, and initiate a striking Roll Back to attempt to break my opponent’s arm using my right forearm.

If a miss the arm lock, I continue the motion in the next posture (Deflect Downward, Parry, Punch) by using the waist to pull the opponent’s arm down further with my left hand and to press down with my right inner forearm to obstruct my opponent’s movement and to threaten to uproot him or her to my left and rear, thus exposing his or her side or back. To avoid being uprooted, the opponent is likely to resist by pulling and stepping backward to his or her rear, while reaching forward or striking with his or her right arm. I counter by stepping forward with my right leg, deflecting my opponent’s reaching right arm across to the right and down with my right elbow and forearm, and use a back fist to try for his or her nose in the bargain. I then reach forward with my left hand to press at my opponent’s right elbow to pin it across his or her body or perhaps to grab clothing to prevent escape. As my opponent retreats backward, I chase with a left-foot step and punch under the opponent’s right arm, which remains pinned by my left palm as allow that palm to close with my approaching chest.

By the way, throughout my description of applications, I am implying a subtle level of partial control or leading of the opponent through the so-called energies of listening, adhering, sticking, transforming, seizing, etc., and not a preplanned sequence that is forced onto the opponent or that beats him or her “to the punch.” More importantly, I am also not claiming to have answers, simply describing what is going through my mind from whatever source.

Cloud Hands

David, I find your allusions to the I Ching interesting and ought to add Da Liu’s book to my long list of things to read. I fear, however, that for me this would tip the delicate T’ai Chi balance over from enlightening to overwhelming. Out of curiosity, does his book talk about “random” correspondences between the hexagrams and T’ai Chi postures, or does he have a more evolved theory that attempts to “derive” all T’ai Chi theory from the hexagrams?

Separate Feet,

Michael, I believe that Yang Zhen Duo’s description of the arm position and movement used in the arm lock prior to the kick is “level (or horizontal) Roll Back” (ping2 lu:3). The direction of the torso and the stance are, of course, quite different from the Roll Back in Grasp Sparrows Tail. One of the discoveries I had in attending one of the Yangs’ seminars was that they apparently see explicit Roll Backs in many transitional postures of the form (e.g., prior to Strike the Tiger, after the last Fair Lady Works the Shuttle, at the end of Chop with Fist, etc.). On the other hand, I do not believe that the have a real “Holding the Ball” position anywhere in their form.

By the way, I have never been able to satisfactorily link up the applications implied by High Pat on Horse, the arm lock prior to the kick, and the wrist grab or release implied by the double ward off (or crossed) arms that start the kick. Do you have a view on this?

David, I find your proposed application of grabbing a foot interesting, given my wrestling background; however, not being familiar with your form, I am uncertain of the movement implied. Are you perhaps talking about windmilling the right arm upward, backward, downward, and forward to grab an opponent’s heel, prior to forming the double ward off (or crossed) arms that begin the kicks? Can you link up all the applications from High Pat on Horse through the first Separate Foot?

Thanks again both of you for the interesting dialog, whether “correct,” “informed,” or not. I find it very helpful in shaping my focus as I do form and appreciating all the options implied by the movements.

Happy practice,
Audi
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Jun 04, 2001 3:44 am

Greetings,

Audi has raised a number of great questions on “part II” of the posture names thread. I don’t have time to respond to all of them, but there are some I can’t resist chiming in on.

There is an explanation for the “ao” character in “lou xi ao bu” (brush knee twist step). For years I thought the twist referred to the action of the foot, but of course the foot does not turn out in all of the lou xi ao bu forms. Someone (thanks, Ron K.) brought to my attention the explanation in Huang Wen-Shan’s book, _Fundamentals of Tai Chi Ch’uan_(p. 220), which states that when the forward hand and forward foot are both on the same side, it is called “favorable hand.” When the forward foot and forward hand are on alternate sides, it’s called “twist step” (ao bu). Subsequently, I found this exact explanation in Xu Yusheng’s 1921 book, _Taijiquan Shi Tujie_ (Illustrated Explanations of Taijiquan Postures). In fact, Huang evidently translated his explanation directly from Xu’s book. (Xu Yusheng was a student of Yang Jianhou; Huang Wen-shan was a student of Dong Yingjie.). The term Huang was translating as “favorable” is “shun” which means “goes along with,” “in the same direction with.” One of the glosses one will find in Chinese dictionaries for “ao,” is “bu shun,” that is, “not” shun. So it is the opposite of “going along with.” Another meaning of shun is “easily, smoothly.” Shunshou means it comes easily to the hand: easy and convenient. In another usage, “bushunkou” means “doesn’t come easily to the mouth,” that is, something difficult to say, hence, a “tongue-twister.” That may be where the “twist” came from, but “ao” in any case carries a meaning of “counter to,” and that is the actual sense of it in the form name—simply that the forward foot is on one side, and the forward hand is on the opposite side. The explanation David relayed accords with this.

For “zhou di kan chui” (observe fist under elbow), I just want to note something fascinating in T.Y. Pang’s book, _On Tai Chi Chuan_. His form instructions name the transition between “Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain,” and “Observe Fist Under Elbow.” The transition is named: “Da Peng Zhan Chi” (Great Peng Spreads its Wings), which happens to be a form name in the Yang sword set. Also of note, Xu Yusheng’s form instructions do include an “oblique single whip” prior to the first High Pat on Horse, rather than the standing palm transitional sequence we now know. Curiously, Yang Chengfu’s book mentions neither. The form instructions simply go from Embrace Tiger to Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, then to Observe Fist Under Elbow, giving no clue as to how to do the transition.

On Shan Tong Bei (fan through back), I’m in agreement with David’s understanding. This posture is a great example of “opening” (kai). The way a fan opens (kai) is a great image for the opening and spreading out from the back that occurs in this posture.

The name Gao Tan Ma (high pat on horse) is fascinating. I’ve seen explanations that say one is standing in front of a horse holding the reins in the left hand and patting, or “soothing” the horse with the right. Others say one is on the horse’s back, sitting “high in the saddle,” and reaching forward. Again, this is Huang Wen-shan's explanation, and again it’s verbatim from Xu Yusheng. I’ve read that the early generation of the Yang family spent a good deal of time around horses, as did the Wu (Jianquan) family. So one might imagine that they were good horse whisperers. The verb tan means “to test, to put out a feeler, to explore, spy, scout,” as well as the physical motion of “stretching forth.” All of these connotations work for me in the posture, which requires a rising up and a stretching forth. There is, incidentally, a compound, “tanma” which means a mounted scout.

Audi, I do prefer “separate feet.” Also, you ask, “why are the slanting bow-step Roll Backs that precede the kicks not deserving of posture names?” Well, in Yang Chengfu’s book, _Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu_, they are named. The photos are accompanied by the names, “you fen jiao lu shi,” and “zou fen jiao lu shi.” But guess what? In Xu Yusheng’s book these are also named, but they aren’t named “roll back,” they’re named Gao Tan Ma. The sequence is conspicuously lacking in logical consistency though. First there is the familiar rear-weighted one, here named “zou (left) gao tan ma,” then Right Separate Feet, then the transition, which is named “you (right) gao tan ma (but is front-weighted), followed then by Left Separate Feet. Both Yang Chengfu and Xu Yusheng’s form instructions describe an application of rollback within the sequences leading up to the Separate Feet movements.

Well, that’s it for now.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 06-05-2001).]
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Postby Michael » Mon Jun 04, 2001 11:12 pm

Audi,

Did I say that in Deflect, downward....that the "backfist" (I agree with you) strikes the opponents RIGHT arm? My mistake , it should have read LEFT. Sorry for the confusion. The fist strikes the inside of the opponents left arm moving it slightly out and down. I hope that clears it up.

Fist under elbow

I agree entirely with your description of the use of the left arm in Fist under elbow. And for the first time, due to your description, i understand how some describe the fist being under ones own elbow. I would add that when bringing the opponents right arm up it may serve to "block" up and trap an attempt by the opponent to strike again with his left hand--also exposing his ribs. With his arms in such a position, the turn of the waist to the left and the extension of the arm will certainly compromise his root...or you can strike the ribs-or both. It is quite a move in any number of ways.

Separate feet

I tend to have a tighter definition of "roll back" but i understand your and others use of it.

This is just a guess as to the transition between High Pat on Horse and the arm work at the beginning in seperate feet. I tend to think of it (the waist move to the right)as throwing or "helping aside" a first opponent and then dealing with a second. then the second sequence dealing with the first again. Note that the step forward from the first kick could just as well be a step back on the diagonal.

I am beginning to form several other ideas on the transition as I write. I will get back to you if any seem realistic.

Cross hands

Davids description of grabbing a leg, I would agree with. I never put it together in cross hands before even though the technique is known to me. In Kuang Ping we lower ourselves, scoop behind the opponents legs (knees) and then stand up. I have seen the exact same technique in Shaolin. This seems indeed to be implied in Cross hands. It is particularily interesting that in Yang Zhen Duos form and in the Kuang Ping, that this is the only time that we are in a horse stance outside of the opening with that weight distribution. This does not seem to be a coincidence as in both instances the energy is directed up whether lifting ones arms for a number of purposes, or to lift up an opponents leg(s) with the (implied) straightening of the knees...this being preferable to just using the arms.

Concerning the "double ward off" held before one before intiating kicks. I have been taught (that among other things) that the inside arm (wrist) has been grabbed and you wipe off (and possibly grab and control) with the outside hand.

i like Davids technique in the transition from Turn and chop into Deflect downward.

Audi, David and Louis, I find your words very useful. Thanks
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jun 06, 2001 7:59 pm

Hi Louis,

Thanks for the "goes along with" meaning of "shun" which had been translated as "favorable." This makes better sense to me.

Would you translate (and comment upon) "you fen jiao lu shi," and "zou fen jiao lu shi?" I'd appreciate it.

Regards,

David
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jun 06, 2001 8:08 pm

Hi Audi,

> By the way, when you refer to the “Step Up,” are you referring to the preliminary movement of the left foot? <

Where I wrote, "'Step Up' here means a turn step, which is a higher step than the usual forward step, that is, the foot is raised for ease of rotation. But then again the term was also used to mean the usual step forward..." I coulds have said this better. I was refering to how I thought my first teacher used the term.

I've come to use the term "stepping up" to mean shifting all of the weight to one foot, regardless of a pivot before or during the weight shift.

> “hammer handles, buckets, and wells” are interesting terminology <
I forgot a term: in line with 'Grasping the Handle of the Hammer' the punch was called 'Ringing the Gong.' and the accent was on striking the opponent's center.

Fan through the Back
As I write this I just remembered that this was also called 'The Wheel' which, like a fan, can have spokes and a rolling motion.

A side note: You mentioned an arm lock -picture your arm locked at the elbow by an opponent, virtually any position, now picture rotating the arm either clockwise or counterclockwise, and see if that can resolve the arm lock.

> Out of curiosity, does his [Da Liu] book talk about “random” correspondences between the hexagrams and T’ai Chi postures, or does he have a more evolved theory that attempts to “derive” all T’ai Chi theory from the hexagrams? <

Not random at all. "Derive" might be closer to Da Liu's view. But the moves being an intrinsic part might be closer still. Some think that Tai Chi and the I Ching date back to the same time and place (4400 or 4600 BC), actually putting the development of Tai Chi before the invention of the trigrams of the I Ching. (Fundamentals of Tai Chi Chuan by Huang Wen Shan)

At the very least the idea of encoding Tai Chi in the I Ching is presented in the Wilhelm/Baynes translation on page 194. Hexagram 50 The Caldron, there is mention of the words hinting at the teachings surrounding Chinese yoga.

However, I know of no document that unravels the full relationship between Tai Chi and the I Ching. I've been considering it for some time, and I'm approaching it from the point of view of symmetry. I think that you may be wise, at this point in time, in placing it on a back burner.

If I understand the arm lock that you mentioned with 'High Pat on a Horse,' the left hand is holding the other's left wrist, and has rotated it counterclockwise, the right hand is near the elbow, you probably have control of the other person at this point, and there may be no need for following that particular application with 'Separation of the Foot.' (You can end up in this same position from 'Roll Back,' so I think I understand what you meant by explicit Roll Backs)

> Are you perhaps talking about windmilling the right arm upward, backward, downward, and forward to grab an opponent’s heel, prior to forming the double ward off (or crossed) arms that begin the kicks? <

Yes, but I was talking mostly about the downward and forward, then upward approach to the hands crossing. On way involves hooking the ankle with your wrist as the hand comes forward and up (don't be too intent on hanging onto the ankle because the opponent may lose balance at anytime,) and lifting the opponent's leg, through stepping up (the way I think of stepping up) Then, after the hands cross, the opening up of the arms starting to push the opponent off balance and using your leg, not as a kick, but to simply complete the push.
If, while opening the arms, the lead hand's rotation allows you grasp the ankle, then you can hold the leg up and kick to the crotch. This, of course, may be interpreted as rude.

Note: Some style variations put a second 'High Pat on a Horse' between the 'Separations of the Feet.,' which I believe Louis referred to.

> Can you link up all the applications from High Pat on Horse through the first Separate Foot? <

All the applications? Too many variables. I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to how many applications are possible. I think I mentioned before that I had heard that Chen Fa-Que knew 100 applications for each move.

If this opponent is one of many, you have the opportunity to break the elbow, or dislocate the shoulder, or lever the person into the other attackers.
Generally, though:
Either hand, but especially the right, can be used to give yourself a little room. Like Michael said, "helping aside" one opponent.
I think in terms of a general rule: parry first then strike.

I'm glad that you and Michael liked my application. Thanks to both of you for your feedback.

I'm enjoying the discussion.

David
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jun 07, 2001 3:32 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DavidJ:
<B>Hi Louis,

Thanks for the "goes along with" meaning of "shun" which had been translated as "favorable." This makes better sense to me.

Would you translate (and comment upon) "you fen jiao lu shi," and "zou fen jiao lu shi?" I'd appreciate it.

Regards,

David</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greetings David,

Yes, sorry; I should have done that. The name "you fen jiao lu shi" would be "right separate feet, rollback form," and "zou fen jiao lu shi" would be "left separate feet, rollback form." I place a comma in the English because each rollback (lu) is a subset of the "separate feet" sequence that it precedes. In Yang Chengfu’s book, he describes an application scenario in which he rolls back the opponent’s left arm in order to unbalance him prior to kicking his exposed left flank (ribs below the armpit). He notes a “hidden application” (an shi) involving a downword rotation of the left palm to employ pull down energy (cai jin). This of course is not how it appears in the form, where the left palm remains obliquely facing up, but is mentioned as an alternate method. In Yang Chengfu’s book, a photo for “right separate feet, rollback form,” with that caption precedes the photo captioned “right separate feet.” Then, captioned photos for the two left side forms follow.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jun 07, 2001 4:27 am

Greetings,

In my haste, I mis-spoke about something a few posts above. I said that Yang Chengfu’s book doesn’t mention either an Oblique Single Whip or the more familiar standing palm transition from “Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain” to “Observe Fist Under Elbow.” I was thinking about the photos in the book, which go from the An (push) posture to Observe Fist Under Elbow with no visual information about the transition. Yang’s narrative, however, says that “the movement is similar to the turning of the body in the prior Single Whip form,” advising the reader to consult that sequence. The footwork is explicitly described, and the hands are described as moving with the body, level with the shoulders. There’s no mention of a hook hand or a standing palm.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby cary » Fri Nov 14, 2003 12:59 pm

Hi- with reference to 'twist step', the name comes from the passing resemblence to the tortuous way of walking of women with bound feet.Ie once the front foot was down, the poor wretch had to swivel her hips to bring the back leg forward. In tai chi terms, we have the choice of briefly shifting back,then opening the front foot out, or for more advaanced practitioners,turning the weighted foot using the waist.This can strain a novice's knee.
Cary
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Postby cary » Fri Nov 14, 2003 1:04 pm

Hai di zhen... the 'hai di' is an energy centre at the perineum, so yes ,there's some wordplay going on here! Cary
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Nov 14, 2003 3:52 pm

Just a few comments

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>

Bao4 Hu3 Gui1 Shan1 (Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain)

My first reaction to considering this posture name was surprise that we go from something so prosaic as "X-Hands" to something so evocative as "embracing mountain tigers." Does anyone know if this posture name contains any specific literary allusions or antecedents from folk tales? </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is only supposition, but as the tiger image is used later within the later posture ‘step back to ride the tiger’ and therein infers a ‘ferocious attack’, perhaps the tiger symbol remains consistent here?

‘Mountain’ could perhaps be consistent with the usage in ‘stand like a mountain’

So going on a little further – perhaps receiving a ferocious attack by embracing it during the transition, and then ‘reasserting’ central equilibrium, is the inference from the name?


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>

Xie2 Fei1 Shi4 (Diagonal Flying Posture)

Does the slant refer to the angle of the foot movement, to the angle of the arms in the final posture, or to both? </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Cheng Man Ching described this posture as ‘delivering a a blow diagonally to his neck’

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>

Zuo3 You4 Yun2 Shou3 (Left-Right Cloud Hands)

Anyone have something interesting about this name? </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

To quote Cheng Man Ching again, ‘the name cloudy hands means I am moving like the floating clouds and running water, from inaction to action.’


Stephen
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Nov 14, 2003 10:06 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by cary:
Hai di zhen... the 'hai di' is an energy centre at the perineum, so yes ,there's some wordplay going on here! Cary </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greetings Cary,

May I ask what tradition used the name haidi for the perineum? I've seen it referred to as the huiyin point, but not the haidi. I also wonder what the reference to this point would mean in this context. It doesn't seem to be a plausible strike point given the position and direction of the right hand in this form. Perhaps it just describes an approximate locus of the practitioner's hand relative to his own perineum?

Now that I think about it, the dantian is sometimes called the "qihai" (sea of qi), so "haidi" would be a plausible name for the perineum. I'm just curious where you captured this information.

Let's get to the bottom of this.

Take care,
Louis
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