Excellent pun! I should point out, though, that “song” in Mandarin is pronounced with a rather longer vowel sound, close to the “o” in “old,” or “obey,” but not exactly the same.
On “Fair Lady,” the form name is “Yu nu quan suo.” Literally this is “Jade Girl Threads Shuttle.” The term jade maiden is a euphemism for a fair or beautiful woman, hence the occasional rendering as “fair lady,” or “fair maiden.” The Jade Girl or Jade Maiden is in fact a mythological reference, as there are jade maidens in various Daoist texts who are fairy-like entities, and in particular there is a figure known as Xuan Miao Yu Nu, who was said by post-Han religious Daoists to have been the mother of Laozi.
In Yang Chengfu’s description of the Jade Maiden sequence in the form, he says, “In this form, the left and right hands thread reciprocally, suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed (hu yin hu xian) —unfathomable (zhuo mo bu ding) -- attacking by seizing upon his emptiness. Thus, it is called Jade Maiden Threads the Shuttles, in order to evoke the artfullness of the forms.” The imagery is that of the Jade Maiden working the shuttle of a loom, which disappears and reappears in passing through the weft threads.
Now as for the form sometimes called “Apparent Closure,” “Apparent Close-up,” or my least favorite, “Withdraw-Push,” the problems with these renderings is that they miss a subtle, and crucial, sequencing of movements. The sequencing has important implications for understanding the application of the form. The Chinese name for the form is “Ru Feng Si Bi,” which means “Like sealing, as if closing.” First there is sealing, then there is closing. The “like” and “as if” are there because these are metaphorical usages, but the metaphors themselves refer to important physical actions. The very best explanation for this can be found in Yang Chengfu’s narrative on the form, which I translate as follows:
Like Sealing, As if Closing:
From the previous posture [advance step, deflect, parry and punch], suppose the opponent uses his left hand to grasp my right fist. I then rely on my left hand to thread under my right elbow, using the palm to hem the elbow and guard the arm, attacking toward the opponent’s left wrist. If the opponent wants to change hands in order to apply push (an), I then extend and open my right fist, pulling it toward my thorax to the point where the two palms face in and intersect diagonally, like an oblique cross-shaped sealing tape (fengtiao)*, preventing the opponent’s hands from getting in. [It is] just like closing the door against a robber. This is why it is called ‘like sealing’.
Concurrently, contain the chest and settle the kua (inner thigh), then separate [arms], changing so that the palms of the two hands are pushing toward the opponent’s elbow and wrist, making it impossible for him to either move to his advantage, or to separate [his arms]. This is why it is called ‘as if closing.’ It is as if closing his door so that it cannot be opened.
Now, rapidly using chang jin (long energy), push in accordance with the an posture. Eyes looking forward, the waist attacks, with the left leg bent at the knee and substantial, the right leg following the kua and extending straight, combining as one energy (he yi jin), and striking toward the opponent. This is the method of joining (ci wei he fa).
*Note: Feng means to seal. Fengtiao were strips of red paper pasted across parcels, doors, crime scenes, etc., as seals.
[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-04-2001).]