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Thread: Essence of Yang Style

  1. #1
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    Essence of Yang Style

    I haven't posted here in a while as I've been very busy but I thought I would share this with all of you. Comments and discussion are welcome.

    Divide and Conquer: Unlocking the Essence of Yang Style Tai Chi
    Randy Brown
    Plum Blossom Academy
    Littleton, MA 01460
    978-486-3095
    www.PlumBlossomAcademy.com
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  2. #2
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    Great research!
    Keep up the good work. It is sad that people prefer fairy tales more than hard training.

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    Nice article, thanks.
    One question, why did you divide kicks and strikes?
    Kicks are strikes, are they not?
    In that case we would have, according to your article - 48% throws and 42% strikes.
    By the way, your total adds up to 108%, related to the number of moves?
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    Thanks for the positive response mawali and sanjuro.

    I based the %'s off the total of 33 moves. If you reverse the numbers, as you did, then it comes out as off because some of them (such as Grasp Sparrows Tail) fall under two categories. There are two strike variations of High Pat on Horse but in the count of postures in the form I personally do not include that as a unique posture as it is a variation.

    Kicks - I separated for two reasons. The first is based on the 4 main categories that comprise most Kung Fu styles - strikes, kicks, locks, throws. We can certainly break this down further which is my intent as I go deeper into this project but the initial intent was to see where the emphasis was placed.

    The second reason for the separation is that kicking is a different animal for us. Even though it is striking with the feet, foot attacks have different principles and strategies than the hands.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by RandyBrown; 03-23-2009 at 12:47 PM.
    Randy Brown
    Plum Blossom Academy
    Littleton, MA 01460
    978-486-3095
    www.PlumBlossomAcademy.com
    Martial Articles

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandyBrown View Post
    Thanks for the positive response mawali and sanjuro.

    I based the %'s off the total of 33 moves. If you reverse the numbers, as you did, then it comes out as off because some of them (such as Grasp Sparrows Tail) fall under two categories. There are two strike variations of High Pat on Horse but in the count of postures in the form I personally do not include that as a unique posture as it is a variation.

    Kicks - I separated for two reasons. The first is based on the 4 main categories that comprise most Kung Fu styles - strikes, kicks, locks, throws. We can certainly break this down further which is my intent as I go deeper into this project but the initial intent was to see where the emphasis was placed.

    The second reason for the separation is that kicking is a different animal for us. Even though it is striking with the feet, foot attacks have different principles and strategies than the hands.

    Thanks again.
    Thank you for clearing that up.
    I have been exposed to Yang and Chen Taiji but have gotten "mixed" messages in regards to wither that are a striking oriented art or a grappling one.
    Basically, to me, they are both and indeed, should be both.
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    Great post on your blog.

    I think the essence of tai chi is learning pressure control (energy control)

    Its very subtle and you have to be very sensitive to feel it, however if you can master it style in of itself becomes meaningless.
    Finally Got my Sifu to share our Ngo Dac Na systematized training online.

    You can visit us on Youtube


    You can also find us at EnterShaolin.com

  7. #7
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    Did you would like comments at the actual blog too?

    I understand the separation from strikes of kicks.

    If some techniques are more that one area or fits more than one category, perhaps you might include it more than once in your article; each time, under the appropriate category.

    I see Fist Under Elbow as a block. Golden Rooster Rises Up as an uppercut with a leg block or guard from low or mid-range attack from outside to in. Or as a feint. Also, white Crane spreads it's Wings as blocking or deflecting...Pat the Wild Horses Mane as a pressing deflection or block. And Brush Knee and Push incorporating deflection.

    If you could do the percentages thing for each form including big and small or differing frame--this defines the numbers of techniques as finite except for repeated techniques. Where repeated techniques, two sets of statistics--one for techniques including repeated techniques and one having only each technique once.

    Do you theorize what the numbers say? What do more strikes than throws/trips/takedowns indicate or what's your take?

    I presume the analysis to see the essence was towards the end. In that case this would not be ongoing or something to delve into as you just did?

    Kicks are perhaps deflections, interference and or distraction, also feints to make space for stepping or distraction.

    Someone defending after a failed throw might need a lock or choke to regain advantage. Or prevent getting overtaken. But Locks and chokes are struggle and risk loss. These must be transitions to throws or strikes which are more decisive.

    Rooting for throws, yes, but rooting for significant strike or kicks or locks also. Once a lock is established motion can happen more but all these things require stability I might think; even if while in motion.

    You cite rooting in order to not be thrown, yet it is my say that flexibility int stability averts throws. Yielding is paramount to commanding being thrown or locked. Perhaps some such some might say.

    Equilibrium seems to have importance. T’ai Chi Ch'uan does seem to highly regard Equilibrium.

    Why do you, RandyBrown, think T'ai Chi Ch'uan values throwing above the rest of the categories or as a focus?

    "Striking is secondary and Locks and Chokes are there but the focus is small".

    What throws successfully happen without first a strike to distract, or a lock, including chokes?

    I might think that several of the Tai Chi techniques you mention might be converted to locks. you mention they are small but could they be ever present in several of the Yang Style Tai Chi techniques?

    Were you saying that the essence of Yang style Tai Chi looking analyitically with your categoizations is Throwing?

    That's neat how you distilled the essence of Yang Style Tai Chi. Did you boil it down to the essence do you think? I No_Know. Help me see, with your vision.

    No_Know
    Last edited by No_Know; 04-11-2009 at 12:33 AM. Reason: int in blah blah blah questions towards the end.
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    The striking part is obvious but tuishou (training+qinna+throwing) needs to be taught and drilled more for the many to see and experience.
    If you want to throw, you have to, at least, strike, feign, setup then do shuai. Some people might be too intimidated and afraid of this 'hard work' (gong) and so taijiquan become more of a challenge. Better yet, there is a verse/saying that 1 year of shuaijiao is as good or better than 5 years of taijiquan.

    Look closely and you will se more shuaijiao techniques in taijiquan!

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    % of Strikes = 24%
    % of Kicks = 12%
    % of Throws = 52%
    % of Locks/Chokes = 15%
    This is one of the things I've liked about yang. Throws involve so much more than you striking someone's body, like a strike or a lock. There's also different types of damage that's the result of a throw, using gravity and the objects in the environment for weapons in real life situations.

    Do you theorize what the numbers say? What do more strikes than throws/trips/takedowns indicate or what's your take?
    Mine is that it requires a greater awareness of your surroundings when the form focuses more on throws, as well as your opponent. If you're gonna throw someone or even something (this can include attacking animals), you need to know where you're gonna throw them, are there people or things that you don't want to hit with the thing you're gonna throw, etc. And, you also need to be more aware of the changes of things happening around you. Strikes, kicks, locks and chokes have the focus more on the subject of your attack and the immediate area, which is relatively clear, unless you're getting dog piled on. When these are your focus, changes to the surrounding environment won't be as important to fighting strategy.

  10. #10
    essence of Yang = Chen;

    if you understand that "Yang" style is basically watered-down Chen, it will save you a lot of headache when you try to "reverse engineer" the form; for example, if you look at the difference between "Monkey Retreats", you will notice something kind of important, which changes the application dramatically; same w/Brush Knee;

    if you want taiji to be "practical", then you will need to spend a lot of time working on entering, clinching, grappling and throwing; of course, the more "real" it gets, the more you notice it starts looking a lot like other similar arts;

    the form is the encyclopedia; you can spend all day on minutiae of movements, but once you stat practicing live under pressure, it moves beyond that, and then there's really not much point dissecting the form from a fighting perspective...

  11. #11
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    Thank you for the responses as well as the contributions to the discussion.

    taai gihk yahn,
    Watered down or streamlined? From my research it shows the style was heavily used at the time which often indicates the training elements are left by the wayside and the moves are broken down to the simplest form for effectiveness.

    I would like to see your version of Monkey Retreats or Repulse Monkey if you have a source to direct me to? The only book I have specific to Chen does not list that move as being in Chen. There are moves similar to it - 'Move back circling arms left and right' and 'Step back press Elbow' but nothing that indicates the name Repulse Monkey. In addition the applications depicted in the book are definitely suspect.

    Is there a place I can see your version? For us Repulse Monkey has one of two intents - Reaping Leg Throw or an escape.

    The form is the template rather than the encyclopedia. According to the classics translated by Douglas Wile it is stated that the 13 Principles have 10,000 applications. In Chinese that use of 10,000 is to indicate 'a lot of something' not literally 10,000. The translation also points out an indicator that the form was necessary for structure and order so the system would not turn into chaos but did not house all of the manifestations of the 13 Principles.

    --------------------

    No Know,

    Strikes are used at the appropriate range but striking should have a purpose - to disable with the strike, distract, soften, close in the range to throw or lock, or a combination of both. In other styles (Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, etc.) kicks are used at long range where the hands cannot reach. In Tai Chi (like Mantis) the kicks are used while the hands are engaged. This explains some of the spinning kicks in Yang that would make zero sense in a real fight but make perfect sense if you are hanging on to someones arms and they try to move around you.

    ------------

    Thank you all again for reading and commenting. I am posting a follow-up article soon with a further breakdown.

    And yes, feel free to leave comments on the articles themselves.
    Randy Brown
    Plum Blossom Academy
    Littleton, MA 01460
    978-486-3095
    www.PlumBlossomAcademy.com
    Martial Articles

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    If you take apart the Yang Chengfu frame, you wil see the Lao Yang (of Luchan)elements, which were taken out in order to standardize to fit the New Curriculum Taijiquan.
    In the Old Yang, you will see elements of varied stepping as in Sun, Wu and even Chen (the source). The predominat "bow stance" New Frame is such an adaption while the former retained varied stances!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mawali View Post
    If you take apart the Yang Chengfu frame, you wil see the Lao Yang (of Luchan)elements, which were taken out in order to standardize to fit the New Curriculum Taijiquan.
    In the Old Yang, you will see elements of varied stepping as in Sun, Wu and even Chen (the source). The predominat "bow stance" New Frame is such an adaption while the former retained varied stances!
    It is my opinion that the limited movement/stepping in modern Yang is due not to some standardization but rather the simple fact that most of it came from Yang Cheng Fu as he was over 6 feet tall and 290 lbs. How many 290 pounders have you seen that like to move a lot, or need to for that matter?
    Randy Brown
    Plum Blossom Academy
    Littleton, MA 01460
    978-486-3095
    www.PlumBlossomAcademy.com
    Martial Articles

  14. #14

    Two Person Set

    Randy Brown,

    I enjoyed your breakdown of the Yang style form. Have you considered the two person set, (Yang Taiji's 88)?

    Thanks,

    Baxian

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    Baxian,

    I'm glad you liked the article and thanks for the response. To which version of the two person set are you referring? To be honest I am not well informed on this set. Every time I have tried to research it I have found poor history and inconsistent versions (everyone's version is different). To be blunt - none that I have seen hold up to my understanding of how Tai Chi really functions with proper use of range, "real" strikes, etc. Not to say there are none out there but I personally haven't seen one.

    If you have a version you can point me to I'd be happy to take a look at it. I have also found some interesting discoveries in the Traditional Long Form that point to that set as actually being a two person set. It may well be true only on runs in one direction, and starts anew when it changes direction, but I'll let you know as I delve deeper into the set and it's applications.

    Best
    Randy Brown
    Plum Blossom Academy
    Littleton, MA 01460
    978-486-3095
    www.PlumBlossomAcademy.com
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