Beginning movement(s) in Yang style

Beginning movement(s) in Yang style

Postby shugdenla » Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:38 pm

Louis or Jerry,

An old teacher of mine studied with Yang Shaohou and his version of the beginning posture 'qishi' was radically different from the Chengfu version. It has been some years but I took some notes but according to my memory, if it serves me right, Chen Weiming's book on taijiquan came out before Chengfu. With this comparison, Weiming's version of 'qishi' principles/instructions was different from Chengfu's although Chengfu was the teacher of Weiming.

Apparently Chengfu's instruction for qishi approximated Shaohou's but since Weiming name was more well known, his way of doing the raise hands posture/movemnt became the standard!
According to my teacher, the instructions for the qishi (raise hands) movement was different in execution. Can you lead me to the exact name of the books?

thanks
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:01 pm

Greetings shegdenla,

You wrote: "An old teacher of mine studied with Yang Shaohou and his version of the beginning posture 'qishi' was radically different from the Chengfu version."

Could you describe this?

Thanks,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:04 am

Greetings shegdenla,

Chen Weiming’s book, Taijiquan shu (The art of taijiquan) was published in 1925. It has no beginning posture named qishi (qishi really means ‘beginning form,’ or ‘commencing posture’). Within the opening Grasp Sparrow’s Tail sequence, it does describe a lifting of the arms, but the description is pretty sketchy. Roughly, it goes:

“Stand facing squarely to the south with the two feet parallel, and separated equal to the shoulders. The eyes look forward. The two hands hang down. This is the form before taiji movement begins. The two hands, with but the slightest application of strength, lift upward and forward, lifting even with the chest, with the palms down. The two arms are slightly bent; they should not be too straight.”

That’s about it. The first photo is an early photo of Yang Chengfu standing with his arms at his sides, but his fingers extended slightly forward. The next photo is Chen Weiming in Ward Off Left.

Yang Chengfu’s first book, Taijiquan Shiyongfa (Application methods of taijiquan), was published in 1931, and his second, Taijiquan tiyong quanshu (Complete book of the essence and applications of taijiquan), was published in 1934. Neither one mentions lifting and lowering the arms as a distinct movement prior to commencing the Grasp Sparrow’s Tail sequence, but they both give a detailed description of the commencement standing posture and the alignment principles. An even earlier book by Xu Yusheng, Taijiquan shi tujie (Taijiquan forms illustrated), pub'd in 1921, also has no description of raising and lowering the arms. Xu studied mainly with Yang Jianhou, but I think he worked closely with Yang Chengfu as well.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 06-14-2006).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:40 pm

There is a form described in Wang Yongquan's book, Yangshi Taijiquan Shu Zhen, where it is called Lao liu lu "the old six routine". The hands move differently from the way Yang Chengfu's descendants do it, fingertips meeting close in front of the body and following the body up. More of a qigong look to it.


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 06-14-2006).]
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:13 pm

Usually described as 'like stroking a long beard', which they all seemed to have back then.

Jeff
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:44 am

I am very interested in this posting. I have learned Yang style Tai Chi from a Grandmaster in London and his postures are almost identical in all but a few small details to Yang Zhen Duo's postures in his book Yang Style Taijiquan, published in Beijing. I have a number of books on Yang style Chi including 'Tai-Chi Chuan Its Effects and Practical Applications' by Yearning K. Chen, published in 1947. Chen was taught by Tien Sou-Lin. All of the line drawings in this book are obviously based on the famours Yang Cheng photos as can now be seen in Mr Swaim's recent translation of Yang Chengfu's 'The Essence and applications of Taijiquan'. However, there are two main differences: the opening, and Grasp Bird's Tail. Perhaps Yearning K Chen's book, although of relatively late date, might supply the 'missing link' as far as the opening movements are concerned. The entire text for the opening movements is as follows:

"1. Commencement of Tai-chi Ch'uan (T'ai-chi Ch'uan Ch'i Shih)
Stand upright facing north. Separate the two feet at a distance approximately equal to that between the shoulders. Put the two hands beside the thighs with the palms turned downward and the fingers pointing forward. Put the head straight and set the eyes to the front. Keep your whole body loose, to make every part natural and at ease. Raise the two hands before you gradually without exerting any force up to the height of the shoulders. Bend your knees and lower your body, and at the same time draw your right hand back to the front of the chest, your left hand remains in its former position, then turn the upper part of your body to the left, stretch your right hand out northeast, and draw your left hand to the back to the front of the chest with the palm turned upward. Turn your right hand to the left. When it is about to reach your left hand, lower your left hand and cause it to make a horizontal circle counter-clockwise. Turn your left palm upward again. When your hands are before the left side of your body, the left one is under the right and they appear as if they were carrying something. Turn you hands to the right in front of your right side. Cause the two hands to change positions, that is to say, lower your right hand and cause it to make a horizontal circle clockwise. Turn the right palm upward and the left palm downward, the left hand up and the right hand down. Turn the hands to the left in front of the left side (the position of the hands is unchanged). Shift them to the central front. Lower them and cause them to make two and a half horizontal circles clockwise, making the circles smaller and smaller and lower and lower. Simultaneously lower your body and rest on your legs. Put your right hand under your left elbow. Turn the heel of your left foot to the left. the centre of gravity is shifted to the left foot."
The Grasp Bird's Tail posture is then in two parts, firstly beginning by stepping out to the southeast and warding off with the right hand, and then reversing the posture to face to the northeast. Otherwise, the form is the same as Yang Cheng Fu's and Yang Zhen Duo's.
Clearly, the opening movements differ radically from the Yang Cheng Fu raising and lowering arms movement with which we are all familiar, and are considerably more involved. Perhaps, as I've said, this book provides the link you are after. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby shugdenla » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:19 pm

Simon,

Thanks.
The raise hands of my teacher's was similar to a Sun style Raise hands then it would progress to Slanted flying-Yang frame (upright) then brush knee (raising) tended to be high then place heel/toe to ground.

I will check out YK Chen's book.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:04 pm

Greetings Simon,

Re: I have a number of books on Yang style Chi including 'Tai-Chi Chuan Its Effects and Practical Applications' by Yearning K. Chen, published in 1947.

Yearning K. Chen is a Westernized name for Chen Yanlin, also known as Chen Gong. The ‘Effects and Practical Applications’ book is an edited-down translation of a larger book he published in 1943. I don’t know if we can draw any conclusions vis-à-vis a missing link. There are numerous variations on the opening movements within the Yang style. Perhaps different teachers wanted to put a personal imprint on the form they taught.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:25 pm

Dear Shugdenla,
I think Y.K. Chen's book may be out of print, so you may have to get it via Abebooks or somewhere. As Louis has pointed out, there are indeed many variations of the opening movement in the Yang style, but it seems like the most straightforward one has been settled on as the canon in most variants, though I've even seen a variant where the arms are waved around in a circle in the air. Kind regards, Simon.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by shugdenla:
<B>Simon,

Thanks.
The raise hands of my teacher's was similar to a Sun style Raise hands then it would progress to Slanted flying-Yang frame (upright) then brush knee (raising) tended to be high then place heel/toe to ground.

I will check out YK Chen's book.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:28 pm

Thanks, Louis for your reply. I agree it doesn't necessarily make any conclusive point about a missing link, but I just threw it out as a possible suggestion. Do you happen to know if Chen's teacher was personally taught by Yang Cheng Fu? If so, then that MIGHT add weight to the case for a missing link, but of course not necessarily so. Kind regards, Simon.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>Greetings Simon,

Re: I have a number of books on Yang style Chi including 'Tai-Chi Chuan Its Effects and Practical Applications' by Yearning K. Chen, published in 1947.

Yearning K. Chen is a Westernized name for Chen Yanlin, also known as Chen Gong. The ‘Effects and Practical Applications’ book is an edited-down translation of a larger book he published in 1943. I don’t know if we can draw any conclusions vis-à-vis a missing link. There are numerous variations on the opening movements within the Yang style. Perhaps different teachers wanted to put a personal imprint on the form they taught.

Take care,
Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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