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Tai Chi Chuan my Student Notes part 01
This series of blogs will form a single long threat of my
experiences as a new practioner of Tai Chi Chuan. I
will add links to the b ottom of this blog to each other blog in the series and
also a link to the next and previous blog in each part.
I hope that someone will find something useful in my explorations and
Some warnings about the fact this is a Student's Notes
This is the first in what will become a series of blogs on Tai Chi Chuan. This series, is, as the title implies a students observation; it
is not an experts opinions or instructions. As such it will be full of error of
omission and commission, and the general misunderstandings of an initiate to a
complex discipline. The reader should be warned that there may be things that I
say and think as I start my explorations that may end up just being incorrect.
I therefore welcome comments, corrections and suggestions that will help those
who are reading these blogs to a better practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan is a set of exercises that are intended to promote good health,
to heal illness, to support self-defense and contribute to physical and mental
recuperation. There are several styles, and within each style there are
typically different forms. These forms typically are based on a main form or
set of movements which may be modified for specific reasons, from the main
form. Often this is to remove or modify some positions to make the set easier,
or shorter so that it can be practiced my students with less skill or less
Some pre-suppositions that I have as I approach Tai Chi
I will actively suspend any disbelief in the assumptions that make up the
system. Therefore you will not get opinions on the validity of such things as
Chi, of energy meridians, of balancing Yin and Yang energies being needed for
health and wellness, of the existence of viable pressure and acupuncture
points, etc. If you want to discuss these things please feel free to do it
somewhere else. I will not remove comments that challenge these
presuppositions, however, in my discussion I will accept the existence and
validity of all these things and include in my exploration my real or imagined
experience related to the them. I will do my own
evaluation about these elements at some point or points
down the road, however, when I begin an expiration I typically take the
position of acceptance of the pre-suppositions of the system I am exploring.
General and Specific explorations.
There are several main families or styles of Tai Chi Chuan. These are typically
assumed to be based on the teach or creator of they
style and are sometimes based on traditions of information handed down, but
difficult to verify. The five main forms generally accepted and recognized are:
Chen Style or Chen Wangting (1580 - 1660)
Yang Style of Yang Lu-Chan (1799 - 1872)
Wu or Wu/Hao Style of Wu Yu-hsiang
(1812 - 1880)
Wu Style of Wu Chuan yu of Wu Chuan-yu (1834-1902)
Sun-Style of Sun Lu-tang (1861 - 2932)
Within these styles there are also sub-style that may be long or short forms of
the primary style. There are also modern adaptation of
the forms that have been developed For instance, China has developed a form of Tai
Chi Chuan that is designed to be more or less available to everyone and that
may have dropped out many of the underlying assumptions of some of the
There are also various forms that have migrated from the original forms. Tai
Chi Chuan typically does not have a system of determining a persons level or
mastery of a form, and often a student my leave a master after a fairly short
period to form his or her own school ant teach his/her own variation on the
form. Typically masters trace their heritage in Tai Chi Chuan by tracing the
family tree of their master and their masters masters.
Again I will not be interested in the veracity of claims or in debate about
claims. It is not that this topic is not of interest,
it is just that this is not the place for it.
The practice of Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan involves a number of movements that make up a complete sequence
and can typically be completed in a fairly brief period. Some of the longer
forms are broken into shorter sets which can be practiced as separate routines
if there is a time constraint.
Tai Chi Chuan typically requires only a limited space and no equipment.
Tai Chi Chuan forces on movement and relaxation and so is available to people
who may not be able to undertake more vigorous forms of exercise.
Tai Chi Chuan is generally easy to learn, however requires practice, time and
generally correction form a knowledgeable instructor to master. Generally, the
movements should be light, lively, balanced and with little muscle force. Some
style have more forceful movements including strike, block, and so on that are
preformed with bursts of energy, but these burst of energy are driven by whole
body movement not by the use of a specific muscle set. So a strike with the
hand is not driving by the muscles of the upper arm, but by whole body
movements starting where the feet meet the ground and including the whole body
with the hand simplely being the end point of that
Every movement should come from the Tan Tien (the
center). This is typically a point 3 fingers below the navel and internal about
2 thirds of the way to the spine from the front of the body.
All movements should be done with balance and continuous motions without pause.
One can think of the following: upright, relaxed, continuous and balanced-as
the watch words for the motion of Tai Chi Chuan. Breathing should be natural,
relaxed and deep and generally through the nose rather than the mouth.
Tai Chi Chuan and self-defense
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art. The movements suggest and are based on martial
art movements. For many, understanding the Martial aspects of
the movements in informative to the correct form. One should keep in
mind that many Martial Arts included healing in their structures and forms as
well as the ability to inflict harm.
The posture should be upright, comfortable and natural In
the west we tend to stand with our shoulders too far forward and our hips too
far back creating an exaggerated S in the spine. In Tai Chi Chuan the spine
should be held erect. You can think of the back of the head being supported by
a string or thread when lengthening the spine.
The correct performances of many principles such as full and empty; right
directs right, Left directs left; millstone; let go (release); sink; and
straighten from within can not be achieved without the erect position of the
Tai Chi Chuan should be practiced with relaxed movement. This is not easy to
achieve when coming from our western background of stress and tension. To some
extent it requires some unlearning of many things from our culture.
There is a principle of exerting no force. One should not think of this as
being weak or without power, but rather that power in Tai Chi Chuan does not
come from the exerting of force in the way we typically experience it. The
power in Tai Chi Chuan comes from the whole of who we are and from the unified
movement of body, mind and spirit.
I am aware that this post has already become overly long,
therefore I will stop here and pick it up in the next part. I will complete my
overview of Tai Chi Chuan and then begin sharing my actual experiences and exploration against the frame work setup up here in part 1
and in the next entry Part 2.
I hope this is of some value to someone out there.
In this second part I shall complete my overview of Tai Chi Chuan
from my current perspective.
I will issue my warning, This is a new students
reflection and ramblings about what I am learning and exploring. It is what it
is. It is not an experts guide on Tai Chi Chuan and
should be read with an understanding that it may have errors, omissions and
misunderstandings. I hope that over time these are corrected in my practice,
but in any event, they will not be correct in this text.-
I find that in the short time I have been practicing Tai Chi Chuan,
it is like peeling an onion, that gets larger as you remove layers. I find it
to be full of incrediblely simple things that seem
very difficult to do all at once.
We should be sure to be balanced at the beginning and end of every movement,
and especially so before direction changes. The sinking energy is centered
under the feet.
Complementary forces and states
Tai Chi Chuan utilizes the idea of several complementary states. This are not
oppositional or antagonistic, but rather are complementary and co-operative.
This idea extends beyond the few pairings noted below and extends in to all
aspects of Tai Chi Chuan. Visually we will learn to defocus our central visions
and to better utilize our peripheral vision. As we practice Tai Chi Chuan, our
mental state will shift from full awake to a meditate
Alpha state some where between full awake and full asleep. These dualities are
pervasive in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
Sink and Rising
The idea of Sinking Chi, being grounding and doing the movements in a grounded
way at the same time as holding the posture vertical and long to allow the
Rising of Chi, these two imply relaxation and release as well as intention and
holding structure. From the Taoist teaching there are Heaven Chi and Earth Chi
and we want to learn to bring these into balance. Many of the movements in Tai
Chi Chuan contribute to this balancing.
Full and Empty
There are a least two ways we can think of the full and empty. The movements
within Tai Chi Chuan result in the movement of energy through the body. We can
think of empty as being related to Yang energy, and thus having Yin potential
and empty is related to Yin energy and thus has Yang potential. So the concepts
around full and empty can be considered in terms of the flow of Yin and Yang
energy around the body. They can also be consider
within the movement of parts. For instance, when I move from a Right Block near
the beginning of the first set of movements I am facing NE (North East), I am
going to turn more to the East and sink onto my right this twisting to the NEE
and the sinking down on my right left allows my left heel to come up with very
little muscular effort. The left leg come up and steps and drops to the ground
on the heel and lands empty. That is there is no weight on it. This does
several things it place the leg in a Yang state with Yin potential it allows
the left foot to be free to move anywhere as it has not taken any weight and is
placed but not committed. There torque of the spin as you move to the NEE
provide potential for the step and the step is take as you allow the waist to
return to NE, so the full right leg (with Yang energy) provide much of the
movement of the empty left leg (which is Yin).
This idea of Full and Empty is important, it is also not true that one arm will
be full and the other empty, or one leg will be full and the other empty, but
rather, one will be more full and the other more empty. When they are equally
full and empty, they are said to be double weight. This will generally occur as
we do a transition from one to the other.
It is fairly easy to get the idea of full and empty when we think of the legs,
and it is easy to sense as we shift the weight from one leg to the other. With
the arms it is more easy to understand in terms of the
martial aspect of the moves. The active are performing an attack will be full
and the other arm will be empty.
During the single whip there is a point in my form where at the advanced levels
you will be doing four strikes, thus the arms alternate quickly from empty to
full and therefore from Yin to Yang.
Open and Close
Open and closed should be practiced accompanying the weight shifts. Opening
usually accompanies moving forward and closing when withdrawing. When
withdrawing energy is accumulated, compressed and concentrated. When Opening this energy is brought outward. The
understanding of the Martial Arts elements of postures can help in
understanding aspects of opening and closing.
Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang energy are complimentary aspects of the energy and all movement in
Tai Chi Chuan. They are not opposites, Yin energy has Yang potential and Yang
energy has Yin potential. They are part of the whole and our goal is to develop
balance, and the ability to utilize the appropriate energy as it is needed and
I am again aware that this has become overly long, so I will stop here and
finishing my overview, and my presuppositions around Tai Chi Chuan in the next
blog. There is lots to think about here and these are
not so much things to think about when practicing the form. For me, they are
things I think about when learning a movement, or working on refining a
I will complete my overview with a few ideas that I have come across that have
been useful for me in starting to practice Tai Chi Chuan.
They are: Ten Rules, Practice and Application, Without Arms, The Bow Step, and
the Millstone principle.
Again, I hope this be of some use for someone out there.
Ten important rules (Cited by Petra and Toyo Kobayashi)
1.connect all the individual movements together into one
2. seek the unity of the body and energy in the
3. move as lightly as possible.
4. move naturally.
5. always observe the millstone principle
6. Not the movement of the arms, but the movement of the hips is essential
7. When the arms are moved independently from the torso, one cant speak any
more of Tai Chi Chuan
8. Pay special attention to the center equilibrium.
9. Develop natural breathing.
10. when practicing, concentrate on the lower tan tien.
There are two aspects to the form(s). One is practice and the other is
application. Practice serves to develop the aspects of Tai Chi Chuan and
especially to cultivate Chi. The movements are
performed to develop balance, transitions and cultivate Chi. Even the Martial
Aspects are preformed slowly to add to these developments.
Application is the use of the movements in relation to self-defense. Here the
positions would be removed form the form and the techniques contained within
them would be driven by the situation. A press or squeeze can be performed up,
down, or forward, steps and speed can vary. Techniques can be combined in different
ways according to the situation.
I describe an exercise I do which is to perform my set of postures without the
arms, that is leaving the arms at my side and doing the weight shifts, the hip,
torso and head moves but without the arm being involved. It is sometime to easy
to lead with the arms instead of letting the arms take their place. So the arms
should move as a result of the movement of the Torso. The shoulders and elbows
should remain relaxed and flexible. This is important for the form of Tai Chi
Chuan movement, for the movement of Chi Energy and from the point of view of
Martial Arts where the relaxation of the arms makes it difficult for an
opponent to grasp the arms to control the body.
The Bow Step.
Much of the movement in Tai Chi Chuan is performed from the Bow Step, therefore
being able to do this correctly is important. It is important to make this step
the correct size. The front foot step should be longer than the width of the
feet, the front step typically about 1 and one foot long (Use your body as the
measure) and the width should be the same distance as your begin stance feet
about shoulder width. Fit the step is too wide, too narrow, too
long or too short it will be difficult to move in accordance with the Millstone
The Millstone principle
The hip area should move even and flowing, it can be
compared to the turning of a Millstone. A Millstone is heavy and turn around a
Tai Chi Juan (Xian Xiang Gong)
Translation : Tai Chi Circle (also known as The Coil
It is easier to leave a circle than to enter it.
The emphasis is on the hip movement whether front or back.
The difficulty is to maintain the position without shifting the centre.
To analyse and understand the above situation is to
movement and not with a stationary posture.
Advancing and retreating by turning sideways in line with the
shoulders, one is capable of turning like a millstone, fast or slow,
as if whirling like a dragon in the clouds or sensing the approach
of a fierce tiger.
From this, one can learn the usage of the movement of
the upper torso.
Through long practice, such movement will become natural.
The Millstone Exercise (from Tai
Chi Chuan by Petra
and Toyo Kobayashi Tuttle Publishing 2006)
1. Stand in the right bow step. Lift the arms (then lower arms as though
lying on a board); 90 percent of the weight rest on the right foot.
2. Turn the torso somewhat to the left; the right leg remains unchanged (dont
shift the weight); by turning left, the right hip joint is opened.
3. Shift up to 70 percent of the weight onto the left foot. Turn the torso to
the left; at the same time the coccyx depicts a horizontal arch.
4. Shift up to 0- percent of the weight onto the left foot. At the same time
turn the torso to the right and open-the left hip joint. The coccyx depicts a
somewhat smaller arch than in step 3.
5. Shift the weight to the front again; the torso turns to the left at the same
time. The coccyx depicts a longer flat arch. Continue as in 2. In advanced
practice, compliance with the Millstone principle conveys the sensation of watchin the movement of the body while resting in the
The millstone moves by the axis doesn't-
It is advisable to practice the millstone exercise over longer periods of time,
five minutes daily, in the right as well as the left Bow Step.
When movements are described in this series of blogs, I will typically use
Compass points to describe where the torso, hips, feet, hands, head etc are
facing. I will use short forms N, S, E, W, NE, etc to represent these compass
points. These compass points will assume that you start facing north. It is
unimportant if you are actually facing north but we will assume that the
direction you are facing at the beginning of a movement is towards the
designated compass point. When I stand on my deck to practice outdoors, with my
back to the house I am actually facing West. For the
purpose of describing the movements I would still say that I am starting facing
north (even though I am actually facing West) and then
describe any movements relative to that starting positions of North.
Tai Chi Chuan is described as a series of steps or movements, however, when you
practice Tai Chi Chuan you should think of it as one continuous movement from
the start through to the end of the set. As you are learning and practicing
movements you will, of course, break them down into parts for the purpose of
learning, however, you want to attach the movements back into the whole form or
Family style and form.
There are various family style and sub forms. Many of the movements are going
to be the same, however, the order of the sequence
will vary. I am learning the Yang Old Frames. This is different than the Yang 108
form. I will be talking about the sequence and movements I am practicing. The
order and names of the various movements may be different, but hopefully the
ideas and some elements will be helpful.
I may describe a sequence that happens near the beginning of my set that fits
nearer then middle or end of the set you are learning the movement may be
similar and so the principles around the movement may be useful. For example,
near the beginning of my Sequence I am facing NE from a Block Right and am going
to turn my torso back to the N do complete the Peng.
This may not fall in the same place in your routine, but there will likely be a
place in your sequence that does contain these moves. I may detail what I have
learned about doing this sequence, when and how I am shifting weight, sinking,
opening the hips, etc. These details may be of some use to students of any
I will once again, note that I am a new student, this is not a how manual from
an experts vantage point, but a students notes documenting what I am learning
and my current understanding. If there are things that I detail that do not go
with what you have learned I am certainly interested in your input and
understanding and I certainly encourage you to check with your own instructor.
I do not think there is only one right set of description, nor only one right
or correct way of doing things. I am also aware that some sequences are taught
in a bit of a simplified way for a beginner and that once the basic movements
are learned refinements and corrections are added.
This document (the whole series) is part of my process of learning. I find that
by trying to turn my learning into something I can pass on to an other, I am forced to considate
that learning and really work on understanding it. So this document has three
intents: 1) to help me to really look at, feel and understand what I am
learning as I move through my practice of Tai Chi Chaun,
2) to share my experience with my friends here at Sparks and 3) to encourage
others practicing Tai Chi to enter into a discussion of their own experience as
we each develop our practice.
These first three parts outline my overview, the underpinning of how I am
currently organizing my thinking about Tai Chi Chuan. They form a backdrop for
the other posts in this series. I will post a note in the Tai Chi Team general
discussion area as I add each of my blogs to the series. The first blog will
have a link to each of the blogs in the series and each blog will point to one
before it and the one after it.
Hopefully this will be useful to someone out there.
In my 3rd installment I suggested that I had completed my overview, however, this 4th
post seems to be more on the understanding I am developing about Tai Chi Chuan
as a practice. That is the nature of the beast. I intend for my next
installment to be a Qigong exercise with enough detail as to be useful for
someone to explore the exercise.
I have continued to progress in my Tai Chi Chuan. I am slowly moving through
the form. I expect that by the fall I will have completed the first 3rd which
ends with an apparent Close. From there one can move on to the second 3rd or
once can close the form. In theory, Qi has made one
complete revolution through the 12 main meridians. The second third is moves
the Qi around the 12 main meridians again, however, it is more movements described than the
first third. Many of these movements are exactly the same as in the first
third, some are similar with differences in the details and some new movements
I have also be doing a Qigong exercise before my Tai
Chi Chuan. This is basically a grounding stance and a static meditation. I have
found it very interesting that although it involves what could be described as
standing for 10 minutes, then changing your hand position and standing for 5
min, and putting your hands behind your back and doing 10 leg lift steps; it
has changed some things in my Tai Chi Chuan practice. The qigong exercise, of
course, has a specific focus on breathing and on the Dan Tian
so this translates into my practice of Tai Chi Chuan. I also have found that
after doing the Qigong exercise by Tai Chi Chuan has a greater sense of the
I will likely make my next blog in this series specific and detailed about the
Qigong exercise so that if anyone is interested that she or he can incorporate
it into his/her practice.
I was having a discussion with a friend about Tai Chi,
he is learning one of the Yang Style forms and the topic of how many movements
are our forms came up. His form is the Yang long form which is often referred
to as the Yang 108 form. (It may also be referred to as the Yang 105, 85, 150,
94 and 88 form).
So what is that about?
Well it really depends where and how you bracket the move. In my form a Single
Whip can be described as follows.
Start with your weight on the right foot which is facing N. Your left foot is
in front of the right foot and left of the right foot and is facing NE. Your
upper body is facing NNE and your waist is facing NE. Your right arm is
extended almost straight with a hooked hand with fingers pointing down your
left arm is across the body at about chest level with the palm in and slightly
up in a slightly Yin position.
Sink your weight into your left leg as you raise the right leg slightly, toes
are down. Turn your body N and then NWW. The left arm will move with the body
as will the foot. The left elbow will remain in line with the left knee. The
fingers of the left hand will point down slightly. The hips will end facing NW the
waist will continue to turn to NWW the left arm will extend as the body
completes its rotation. The left foot is placed down empty facing W and then as
the weight transfers to the left foot left palm will slowly come up through the
movement onto the left foot. the right arm will remain
out to the right having followed the motion of the body. As the weight
transfers to the left foot the right foot will turn in to face NW. The step to
the west with the left foot is a little longer and a little narrower than a bow
This is my description of the Single whip at a certain point in my form. This
follows a movement called Fishes In Eight and proceeds
something called Spear Fingers Pierce to Rear. The specific begin and ends of
these moves could easily be punctuated and named differently. This is one of
the reasons that my friends form is know by several different name or has
several different counts for the number of movements involved.
One of the things I am beginning to understand is that these individual
movements are convenient, and are useful, however in
the end they are not really relevant except for the purpose of learning the
form or perhaps as Qigong exercises using a specific sub set of the form. (For
instance, the sequence commonly referred to as Wave Hands Like Clouds-can be
used as a Qigong exercise for strengthening the stomach and many for the
sequences can similarly be used as Qigong exercises for specific things.)
My point is that Tai Chi Chuan, is really a moving
meditation. We start in a balanced position and begin, the goal is then do one
continuous movement until we reach the end and then do a close. In the form I
am learning there are two apparent closes one at the end of the first 3rd and
one at the end of the second 3rd and one may pause at these points, however, it
is my opinion that the movement of energy and therefore the little adjustments
happening in the body, do not stop unless we actually close the movement.
Throughout my form there are slow, medium, fast and explosive moves. This may
suggested that they are separate, however I think in
the end we want to start and have the movement continue, to allow the energy to
flow from the start to the finish.
This is like life, we start with an explosion as the egg is fertilized and that
starts something happening that continues to ebb and flow through our life
until our life here ends. With young babies we bracket their lives with weeks,
and then with months and they with years. People talk about their baby being 18
or 20 months, but they rarely speak about their father being 720 months old.
When I learned Fishes in Eight and Single Whip I
learned each in a couple of parts, then I began to put the parts together. This
made the learning easier, and more bit sized, I call this chunking down. It
also made it necessary to then learn to put the parts together so they became
one movement, and then to learn the entire sequence of Fishes in Eight, Single
Whip and Spear Fingers Pierce to Rear so that it became a complete sequence as
So my learning this week is about how the individual element are useful for
some things, but also how the elements eventually have to become a unified
whole and that this whole is much more than the some of its parts. The ancient
wisdoms are correct, then part of when a Tai Chi Chuan form is about is moving
Chi (Qi) around the meridians, it is also about
learning to move in healthy ways, in powerful ways. It has embedded within it
the elements of strength and self-defense and also is full of lessons about discipline
and balance. It is a metaphor for life and living.
Chuan -Yang Old Frames
I have decided to make the first third of my form the subject of this set of
blogs. I will remind you that I am a new student to Tai Chi Chuan and
therefore, this is not an experts take on the
practice, but a students notes. I find it helpful in my learning to define
things into a teachable format. It forces me to think through what I have
learned, and what my experience with that learning is. How I might define
things in a year might be quite different, but these blogs will reflect what my
experience is and will help me to consolidate my thinking and practice. I hope
they may be helpful to someone out there.
I will start by noting this is neither the Yang short form (34) nor the Yang
long form (103 or 108) form. This is the form taught by the late Erle Montaigue. This form and
this teach remain controversial in the Tai Chi and Martial Arts world. I will
therefore begin buy saying I have no interest in debating the merits of the form nor the Teacher, and I will resist any attempts to
enter that debate in these blogs. I will do my best to present the sequences
with words and diagrams. They may not fit exactly into your practice, however,
they may be useful and the sequences may be similar enough so as to be useful
for you to think about them and contrast and compare them to your own practice.
The order of some movements will be different from either of the two forms
mentioned above, however, you could still find where in your form certain
movements come and consider what is similar and what is different due to what
proceeds and what follows the movement.
If you were so inclined you might also explore the form. I will do my best to
explain it and document it so that with some patience and practice you could
work out the details.
Please keep in mind that this is part of a students notes, it is not an
experts opinion I will welcome comments, observations and suggestions
consistent with a positive and forward moving discussion. I will do my best to
break the first third of the form down into a set of blogs that one could
follow from blob to blog and get a sense of the form (at least my current
understanding of it.)
I present this as it is, and in the hopes that it will encourage others in the
Tai Chi Team to share their experience and join in discussion of Tai Chi. I am
most interested in each of your experiences, practices and thoughts on the
practice of Tai Chi and how you bring it into your daily life.
The importance of the idea of Chi and Tai Chi Chuan should not be forgotten,
and therefore the Energy Gates-know as the Dan Tien
(there are variant spellings for these but let us not quibble). We usually are
most concerned with the Lower Dan Tien, located 3
fingers below the belly button and with the one(s) on the soles of the feet
where we make contact with the earth. It may also be useful to be aware of the
Top Dan Tien, at the top of the head where in yoga we
think of being suspended from above by a string. The Up Dan Tien,
located between and above the eys (the third eye in
some meditative practices and the Middle Dan Tien
near the heart and just below the breast bone. Tai Chi is also a complete
Qigong exercise. In theory each third of this form moves the Chi around the 12
main acupuncture meridians, and as such could be practiced as separate short
form if there are time constrains.
There are martial applications to all of these posture,
however, I will not focus on these for now. I personally find it useful to at
least understand these. For instance the begin can be
thought of as facing someone trying to grapple you. You are striking at the Neigwam-or Perccadium point 6 on
the inside of the writs as your arms move up and Stomach points 15 and 16 as
the arms descend. I note these to say that most movements in Tai Chi Chuan
suggest a martial application and some of the structure of the movements are
related to this focus.
Figure 1 Begin
All forms start with either a preparation step or with the Begin posture. This
form starts at the Begin. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width
apart in a balanced posture. Palms are at your side, shoulders are relaxed,
elbows slightly open. Your posture should be vertical and you knees slightly
bent. Your wrists will be slightly flexed (Yang Shaped). Your weight is evenly
distributed to each foot with slightly more weight on the heels.
Figure 2 Arms Raise
As you breath in you will begin to shift your weight towards the balls of your
feet, to sink into the ground a little by bending the knees slightly and to
allow you arms to come up to the front to shoulder level. Think of this raising
the arms as being driven by the sinking into the ground. The hands will trace a
slightly inward arc as they come up. Their shape will become slightly Yin (relaxed
and curved in). The hands will also turn in slightly so that the little fingers
are higher than the thumbs
This shift of the hands happens over the whole
movement, not at the top or bottom of the movement. Remember to keep the
shoulders relaxed and to focus on sinking the core to elevate the arms.
Figure 3 Raise hands to shoulder level
As the hands reach the shoulders they will begin to
turn as if circling a ball. This puts the thumbs higher than the little finger
during the movement back down. As the arms go down the weight will shift back
towards the back of the feet. The hands will trace a slightly hourglass shape
and the hands will slow change to a Yang shape.
As the balance of the weight shifts to the back of the feet be
careful not to lean backwards. You want to maintain your posture over your
center the weight shift is relative front to back. Allow the hands to move out
to the sides as they reach the bottom of their travel.
Figure 4 Weight shifts back hand go Yang
As the balance of the weight shifts to the back of the feet be careful not to
lean backwards. You want to maintain your posture over your center the weight
shift is relative front to back. Allow the hands to move out to the sides as
they reach the bottom of their travel.
Figure 5 Hands flare out slightly
From this position we are going to turn the body to the NEE (North East East) and shift the weight into the right leg while
emptying the left leg. As we sink the weight into the right leg you will begin
to move the arms upward. They will describe a circular motion when viewed with
the body motions, however, the arms are actually just going up and down and
following the movement of the torso. Hands will change from Yang shape to Yin
Figure 6 Turn the torso to NEE
As the arms reach the top you will begin to turn the body to the west and to
shift the weight from the right leg to the left leg. The arms will move across
the top of the circle due to following the movement of the body not due to the
body. Note that the hands only need to come to shoulder level figure 7 show the
hands a little higher than is needed (Remember this is a students notes, not an
experts reference. I will try to note corrections
where I see them).
Figure 7 Arms follow the body.
As noted the arms should actually be slightly lower as you turn the body to the
NW and the arms follow the turn of the torso. The arms to not
change their relative position to the body. As the left hand begins to
point to the NW bend the right elbow and allow the right hand to pint towards
the left elbow with the palm facing the chest.
Figure 8 Sink on the left leg
The right Wrist should come to about the middle of the
chest. As you sink the weight into the left leg allow the left arm to descend
about half way to the waist.
I shall leave you hanging at this point and will pick up here in my next blog
where we will proceed to block right which will lead to a series of movements
often called Grasp the Sparrows tail.
Figure 9 Turn to the NE
I will pick up where we left off. You should have a sense of the left hand
pushing down. Sink your weight into your left leg as you begin to turn your
body to the NE. The right foot turns to the NE and as the body turns you will
move the weight from the left foot to the right foot. As you turn be careful
not to shift your weight back or arch your back we want to keep the weight over
the feet and perhaps just a little bit forward. As your left hand moves from NW
to NE the palm can go a bit Yin and then back to Yang Shaped. You head stays
centered over you torso by your eyes can continue to look N.
Figure 10 Left leg empty and lifted by sinking
You right leg become fully weighted and the left foot becomes empty. You will
continue to turn your torso to the NEE and allow the weight into the right foot
and the run of the torso to help lift your left heel off the ground. As you
turn back to the NE you will step your left foot to the north. You will drop
your left foot empty. That is when you take the step and put the foot down you
will put it down with no weight. From a martial point of view this means the
step is not committed and you could move the foot easily, it your attacker were to attack the foot, there is no resistance and
so you could adjust it easily.
Figure 11 Step to the north with the left foot empty
Keep your shoulder width distance on the step and make the step naturally long
to bring you to a bow stance.. As you begin to shift
your weight 70% to the left foot you will rotate you torso to the north. Your
right had will move down and your left hand will move up. The fingers of the
left hand will pass between the thumb and fingers (dragons mouth) of the right
Figure 12 P'eng to the North
Your left hand will end up palm facing you with the writs at your center line,
and you right hand will end up in front of your right knee at waist level. This
sequence is some referred to as Grasp the Sparrows tail and involves the next
Your left knee will end up over your left toes, your shoulder and hips will be
You will sink your weight into your left foot as you begin to turn your torso
to the NE. Change the state of your hands. This left block is the reverse of
the Right block.
No image avaialble
Figure 13 As you sink into left let right foot come empty.
As you turn to the NE allow your right heel to come up. Your eyes will look
east your head will be to the NE. Change the state of your hands right is now
Yang and left is now Yin. Pick up your right foot and replace it in place or
just slightly forward on the heel. Exhale as you roll your weight onto your
Figure 14 Imagine holding a ball of Chi
As your weight comes onto the right foot bring up your right hand. Your hands
will be in a position in front of you as if they were holding a grapefruit
sized ball. Turn your left foot so that the toes now point NE.
Figure 15 Turn the hands over maintain state.
Turn your palms over so that their positions are reversed. Your left palm is up
your right palm is down. You may turn a bit more to the ESE. Maintain the state
of the hands Right is Yin and left is Yang. Turn your body to the left as you
allow your hands to drop down to the waist. You will also change the state of
the hands over the course of this turn.
Figure 16 begin to turn torso to NE and change hands
Keep the distance between the hands as they move down.
They will appear to be moving to the left, however, this is really only because
they are following the turn of the Torso.
Figure 17 As they arrive at the bottom state has
Your left hand will be brought over the right wrist in preparation for a double
Figure 18 Right Yin hand over left Yang hand.
This is often referred to as Press we think of it as Squeeze. The whole body is
squeezing the two hands outward. The weight is shifting to the left foot the
body is turned to the NE. As this happens roll the right arm so that the
forearm is facing in. Place the mounts of your left palm over the radius side
of your right inner forearm.
Figure 19 shift weight forward and squeeze
Exhale as you turn back to the East and bring your weight onto your right foot.
Squeeze forward and change the state of your hands.