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Thread: Tracing Oblique Step Through History 拗不入

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    Tracing Oblique Step Through History 拗不入

    Tracing Oblique Step Through History 拗不入

    The first manual of Praying Mantis Fist has a section called Seven Long. Seven Long are the techniques that define Praying Mantis techniques, or the techniques that Mantis can’t be without. They are the six techniques of Zhao Kuangyin and Han Tong. The second is called ‘au step entering hand.’

    As for shaking step entering hand; the front leg swings out and the rear stays on the center road. The front hand seals and protects. The rear hand attacks. Twist the body and enter.
    搖步入手著。前腿外擺後腿中路。前手封護。後手前出。扭身以入也。

    The first appearance of au in modern Praying Mantis is in the First Essentials. The name ‘essentials’ meaning the techniques that are essential to the style. Two important masters who used this name in First Zhai Yao are Li Kunshan and Cui Shoushan, students of Jiang Hualong and Song Zide respectively, who wrote au step entering hand as either 搖步入 or 拗步入.
    Last edited by Tainan Mantis; 08-08-2017 at 05:32 PM.

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    The 'au' step in the military book 'Wu Bian'

    The au step has a long history first appearing in the military manual Wu Bian (circa 1560) three times; 1. A list of Longfist techniques. 2. Explanation of a longfist technique. 3. A follow up to ‘patting horse.’

    1. A list of Longfist techniques.

    There is the four-level maneuver, the jin-lan four-level maneuver, high pat on horse, point to the groin maneuver, single whip maneuver, seven star maneuver, ride the tiger maneuver, earth-dragon maneuver, single let-go maneuver, au step maneuver.
    一勢四平勢、井闌四平勢、高探馬、指襠勢、一條鞭勢、七星勢、騎虎勢、地龍勢、一撒步勢、拗步 勢。

    2. Explanation of a Longfist technique.

    The banner and drum fist uses dodging sideways and the au step. The advancing foot fears 'yellow oriole.' Double slapping hands fear a groin kick to the bottom. Leg riding fist leans in close and tight and chases. When releasing the hands move diagonally to the side and vie for a side.
    旂(旗)鼓拳閃橫拗步,腳上前高怕黃鶯,雙拍手低怕撩陰。跨襠拳挨靠緊追,休脫手會使斜橫﹐搶 半邊。

    3. A follow up to ‘patting horse.’

    Longfist traveling-moves and the common striking methods of traveling-moves often start with patting horse and follow with ‘running tiger.’ The striking methods are three; striking left and right, seven star, and au step. 長拳行著﹐凡打法行著,多從探馬起直行虎,打法三著,打左右七星拗步。

    Au is a maneuver or shi which the author defines;

    Longfist transforms the maneuvers, short strikes doesn't change them. Close in using short-strikes, use longfist if distant and open. First know traveling-techniques, then add short strikes. When it comes to traveling-techniques short is not as good as long. 長拳變勢,短打不變勢,逼近用短打,若遠開則用長拳。行著既曉,短打復會,行著短不及長矣。

    We can conclude four things; 1. Longfist is long range, 2. The student should master Longfist before mastering short strikes. 3. Long range doesn’t use short strikes. 4. au step maneuver is a follow up to 'patting horse.'

    The significance of 'patting horse' becomes clear when looking at New Book on Effective Training Methods.

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    Ao Step in New Book on Effective Training Methods

    The most well known example of ao step is ‘ao step single whip’ in the Chen Family lineage of Taiji Quan and ‘brush knee ao step’ in other branches of Taiji. These families themselves attribute their techniques to the military method of the Ming Dynasty outlined in the thirty-two boxing illustrations of New Book on Effective Training Methods(circa 1562), so it is worth taking a look at the original quote.

    4. Ao single whip presses like yellow wood-sorrel flowers, He'll find it hard to defend left and right when you open and lift the leg, force in your step and connect the cleaving and lifting fists, Chen Xiang's maneuver pushes over Mount Tai.
    拗單鞭黃花緊進, 披挑腿左右難防, 搶步上拳連劈揭, 沉香勢推倒太山。

    What is more interesting to students of Praying Mantis is the tendency to juxtapose ‘ao step’ with ‘following step’ within the old manuals themselves. It first appears in the Ming and continues within our own first manual of Praying Mantis. In the first Praying Mantis manual the Seven Long section has;
    ‘1. following step asking hand’
    ‘2. ao step entering hand’

    Within Effective Training Methods we have 29. ‘ao luan elbow’ and 31. ‘following luan elbow’, allowing us to make a clear distinction between 'ao' and 'following', one with the striking hand in front and one with the striking hand in the rear.

    29. The ao luan elbow attacks the step with bumping and cutting, move your palm down pluck and strike the heart, the grasping eagle captures the rabbit and forcefully open the bow. The hands and feet work together.
    拗鸞肘出步顛剁, 搬下掌摘打其心,拏鷹捉兔硬開弓。 手腳必須相應。

    31. Following luan elbow moves him with leaning, Quickly strike and roll and it is difficult for him to stop, repeatedly twist to the outside and brush with a return of fastening, attach to his belly for the fall, Who dares contend?
    順鸞肘靠身搬,打滾快他難遮攔,復外絞刷回拴,肚搭一跌,誰敢爭先。

    This idea of juxtaposing the ao step with the following step is common both to boxing and weapons of this manual as well as within the first manual of Praying Mantis, but perhaps the most interesting can be found in Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method (circa 1614-1621)

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    Patting horse on the right side, ao step single whip on the left


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    A Strange Bird-the Luan Elbow

    Illustrations of ao luan elbow and following step luan elbow.

    As Robert Hui (Mantis 108) once informed, Luan is a bird similar to the phoenix. Why name a potentially deadly elbow strike after a bird not known for fierceness? I believe it has to do with the way one holds his hands when performing this posture. Luan is an epithet of rooster or cock. A bent elbow looks like the folded wings of the rooster and they are used more or less in the manner of the rooster in cock fights. In China cock fights have been very popular since ancient times. This is why the rooster's claws, beak, wings and their movements are often used to describe attributes of a martial arts techniques.

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    Ao Step in Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method

    Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method (c. 1614-1621) is the fruit of ten years study under the tutelage of several monks of Shaolin near the end of the Ming dynasty. The fame of Shaolin’s stick fighting is evidenced by its inclusion in several military manuals of the time and recruitment of monks for several of the last dynasty ending battles of the Ming. Unfortunately they lost in the end and a huge blow was dealt to the transmission of their art form.
    This is a brief look at one of their staff techniques that juxtaposes ‘ao’ with ‘following.’ The author’s illustration looks like au step and he insists that it is not following step.

    Riding Horse Maneuver
    Riding horse is not following step, push open and advance the right foot, though 'pass through the sleeve' can na, yet it is not as fast as 'subdue the tiger.'
    騎馬勢
    騎馬非順步推開上右足穿袖雖可拿不如伏虎速

    In this example Na 拿 is to rotate the tip of the stick in a clockwise circle with the force of your technique reaching maximum power on the downward motion thus forcing the opponent's weapon to the ground. It is the same meaning as used in Praying Mantis empty hand techniques.

    There are many more examples of ao and following from the Ming but the meaning is obvious without going into all of them. What they show is that striking with the lead hand is following and striking with the rear hand is ao.

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    Riding Horse Maneuver

    Riding Horse Maneuver
    Riding horse is not following step, push open and advance the right foot, though 'pass through the sleeve' can na, yet it is not as fast as 'subdue the tiger.'
    騎馬勢
    騎馬非順步推開上右足穿袖雖可拿不如伏虎速


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    Great posts. I almost don't want to comment and break up the chain so my apologies. But I thought some input from Shaolin might be helpful. Yao bu is still commonly used terminology today in MinJian (folk) Shaolin.

    搖步 Yao bu is a stance/footwork in Song shan styles. Almost always when striking off the rear hand we will use Yao Bu instead of Gong bu, but modern versions replace all yao bu steps with gong bu for some unknown reason.

    The mecahnism of the step is important. The front foot steps out forwards and slightly to its side, after it has stepped the rear foot then catches up while striking with the rear hand. So although you may step far the stance ends with the legs quite close together. It is a Da-Da rythm. The rear foot catching up powers the rear hand strike. The shoulders twist so the rear shoulder is over the front foot and the head moves slightly over the front foot with the body leaned slightly forwards. So the head has moved from its initial position quite significantly to the side.

    What is important about yao bu is that it is almost always done continuosuly left and right. So for example after striking the right hand with the left foot forward Yao bu, we then step the right foot in front with a long step and the left foot catches up to form a right side yao bu this time striking with the left hand. Do this left right 3 times. The rythm is; Da-da, Da-da, Da-da. The head has the appearance of zig-zagging from left to right.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIxEOo866f4

    In this form, Er Lu Xiao Hong Quan, we see Yao bu many times. Starting at 26 seconds, notice him turn around and stride forwards twice in Yao Bu push palm. This is repeated in the form multiple times. This is the standard action of YaoBu.

    So the technique you mention above;
    打法三著,打左右七星拗步。
    In my estimation of terminology this is all one move. Qi-Xing refers to the hand position where one hand assists the other by pressing against it at the inside of the elbow joint, or at least hovering there to guard. Aobu is the step and tells you it is the rear hand striking. Zuo-You means you do this to the left and right and strike 3 times in combination. So this move is for example start square; Step forwards with the left leg far and let the right leg catch up slightly to form the step the same as in the picture, an almost standing walking stance. Strike with the right fist and hold the left fist by the inside of the elbow of the right hand, have the left forearm horizontal, parallel with earth. Then step forwards with the right leg, stride far and let the left leg catch up slightly, move the right hand back towards yourself and let the left hand punch out from underneath the right hand, to form the opposite position from before (rotating underneath is the action of Qixing technique, the punch is upwards and forwards). Then repeat again on the left. Assume you are using these 3 moves as a combination chasing an opponent down. Bob your head over the front leg each time. This is a move practiced today. Secondly this is the same technique as the Qixing mentioned by QiJiguang and the same hand position and action. it is also the same technique you mention in your first post about sealing with the front hand, one could use it that way.

    Shun 顺, Heng 横, Xie 斜 , Parallel, perpendicular, Diagonal.

    In Shaolin there are the 3 key attitudes, Shun, Heng, Xie. Shun doesn't necessarily mean you are striking with the front hand but means that you are completely side on to the opponent. If he pointed his spear at you, your shoulders would be parallel with his spear. Heng means you are perpendicular, standing square to your opponent. For example standing Ma Bu accross the opponents line, facing him with shoulders completely square. Xie means diagonal shenfa and this is where you are coiled so your rear shoulder is over the front foot as in YaoBu. Ao (reverse) can be used to mean the Xie diagonal shen fa.

    Luan Zhou is still a common technique. The part of action is the upper arm between shoulder and elbow. This section is called 膀 'Bang' which means shoulder or wing. I agree with your assumption, I have always assumed it is named after a bird because you are using the upper arm 'wing' as opposed to the elbow joint and the arm looks wing like. It can thump the opponent but is more often used to guard. Moving the wing horizontally across inside to guard a heart level spear thrust and trap it between the arms.

    So when we say for example 'Shun bu' that is not a specific stance but it means we land side on to the opponent. If we say Yaobu or Aobu however that is a specific stance, just like gong bu or ma bu, it is the walking step stance just as in the picture above from the shaolin staff manual.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 08-12-2017 at 11:49 PM.
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

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    correction of Wu Bian Translation

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    So the technique you mention above;
    打法三著,打左右七星拗步。
    In my estimation of terminology this is all one move.
    Good eye RenDaHai, thanks. I left a technique out of the translation which is "high pat on horse"
    So the corrected translation is:

    Longfist traveling-moves and the common striking methods of traveling-moves often start with patting horse and follow with ‘running tiger.’ The striking methods are three; striking left and right seven star, ao step, and high pat on horse. 長拳行著﹐凡打法行著,多從探馬起直行虎,打法三著,打左右七星拗步高探馬。

    This book is a difficult translation because it is written in a more formal unpunctuated Chinese. The author was a real scholar, his calligraphy is still a part of Sotheby's auctions. Here is the page in question (starts from the fourth line) Wu Bian original.

  10. #10
    the books

    - cheng zongyou's books were for public dissemination, that's why the shaolin staff and katana books are so easy to understand. that's why that Singapore guy is selling them.
    - long fist books were private military instructional texts and were coded to prevent outsiders from understanding them.
    that's why American mantis people, who show the most interest in qijiguang 32, cannot understand it.
    - codewords successfully prevented Japanese from understanding it, whose spies got copies almost immediately
    - the codewords is why that Singapore guy does not sell the qijiguang 32 dvd. I'm sure he would if he could.

    the codewords

    - the concepts of the long fist codewords are extremely simple and are taught in the first month to beginners and children
    - they are mutually intelligible in almost all systems north of the Yangtze river, and even to limited extent in the south. for example, half of the Fujian techniques in karate buishi.

    why some people don't understands them today

    - longfist systems are the most politically involved and insular systems in Chinese martial arts.
    - the systems that became popular in the republican period (which spread to canton and Taiwan then usa) were obscure, non mainstream, non combat oriented systems.
    - after the peoples liberation the sanda system was designed to label techniques clearly and remove codewords
    - if you don't train long fist system then you cant understand them.

    how to understand the longfist system codewords

    - train in a longfist system
    - train with traditional people in Shandong, henan, or shanxi
    - meihuazhuang group in Germany
    - English translation of tai chi manuals.


    why it is difficult to get knowledge on this subject

    -inappropriate reference to qijiguang 32 for personal marketing and merchandising
    -inappropriate interest in qijiguang due to action movie god of war starring Zhao wenzhuo
    -inappropriate interest in qijiguang due to autism or some form of mental/personality disorder which causes obsession in a narrow and obscure topic
    -intellectual theft
    Last edited by bawang; 08-17-2017 at 01:47 AM.

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    So WuBeiZhi, 5th scroll, section 106-107. Thats where most of the 'fist' techniques are mentioned.

    This section is good and seems to be together;

    追休脱手會使斜横搶半邊長拳行着凡打法行着多從探馬起直行虎打法三着打左右七星拗步高探馬驚法右腿蹴驚右手 斬手左手飛拳上臉連右手拳一齊再發撘脚進步高探馬左拳哄臉右腿低彈左腿右拳飛拳上臉倒身一蹖倒揷旛髙探馬専 打髙探馬右腿驚左腿左腿上蹖玉女穿針高探馬變一條鞭右拳驚右腿隨拳窩裏暗出倒馬鎈四平變身法回身勒馬聽風諸 勢俱打一腿六腿左右通用本家俱有短腿可破又有還腿可用一鑚左上右鑚右上左鑚一蹖左顛右蹖右顛左蹖左偷右蹖右 偷左蹖一鎈一蹴一掛一跟一低彈演法凡學腿先虚學踢開腿後依法演習鑚腿虚學蹖腿懸米袋或蒲團學鎈腿虚學或用柱 掛蹴腿虚學或用掛柱腿用柱學跟蹆虚踢後用柱式彈腿用三尺長櫈竪立或用石礅在平地上學

    Yes, the lack of punctuation makes this extremely difficult to interperet. No one would have perfect success with this.

    But its interesting to indulge in some conjecture.

    Here is interesting;

    多從探馬起直行虎打法

    Frequently use the Scout technique followed by the straight Tiger strike.

    So what does this mean. Well, Tanma means to scout and spy. Tan is frequently use as 'spy'. An anology is made between individual combat and battlefield combat. So when meeting the enemy the first method is to send out scouts (tanma) to observe the enemeis defences.

    In single combat this is done with the technique Tanma. It is frequently referred to as the position with one hand raised high above the head. Since it is described as being capable of intercepting strikes then we can I think quite safely assume that the technique is 'Tiao Zhang' but leaving the hand suspended high in order to dissuade the enemy from entering and to force him into an attitude, much like in sword fighting where you would first suspend the sword above the head. Tiao zhang lifts upwards and outwards, using the ridge of hand and arm and back of hand and arm also to intercept, then it is prepared to strike downwards with a chop. It can be done on front or rear hand, but the images passed down appear to show it with the rear hand raised. The equivalent Taiji posture is not a good source since all of Taijis names are not coherent with most of northern longfist names. Tiaozhang, the raise, is the most common block in all longfist styles.

    So we have the Tanma, scout position as our standard first reaction. One could step forward or backwards into it, or just assume it from the spot.

    ZHi Xing Hu. Straight tiger. It is a matter of fact that in old Quan pu the left (front) hand is referred to as the Qinglong, the green dragon and the right (rear) hand is referred to as Baihu, the white tiger. This is because the gods of the directions in Chinese mythology. Baihu is god of the west, Qinglong is god of the east, Xuanwu (black tortoies with snake coiled, sigil of wudang mountain) is god of the north and Zhuque (red phoenix like bird) is god of the south. Every form begins facing south and as such your right hand is the west (hence the white tiger) and your left hand is the East (hence the green dragon).

    So in short, my estimation is that zhi xing hu is a straight strike from the rear hand. Though it should be right hand, it will be whichever hand is to the rear, so it is the power hit. Zhi xing is straight so it is basically a reverse punch. This lines up with Baihu quan in Shaolin, white tiger fist.

    This technique will then as we shall see line up with what is said next in the manual and also a common techniqe.

    三着打左右七星拗步

    Strike 3 times Yaobu qixing. I think this sentence refers to what to do after the initial technique.

    Next the technique is described quite clearly;

    高探馬驚法右腿蹴驚右手斬手左手飛拳上臉

    高探馬驚法

    From scout position, surprising method. So use the scout position to startle the enemy.

    Assuming this is as the picture most frequenlty used to present it then you are in yao bu with the left leg forwards, right arm up high.

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    右腿蹴驚右手斬手左手飛拳上臉


    lit. Right leg kick and startle the enemy, right hand chop, left hand flying fist hit the face.


    So from the tan ma position right hand high, left leg in front I kick my right leg out at the opponent (low) with my right hand still suspended then as he is reacting to this kick (startled) I chop downwards with the suspended right hand, probably at his arms, then strike him in the face with the left hand (which is now the rear hand since the kick has landed a step in front and I am now right leg forwards).

    So this technique described clearly lines up with the conjecture that Tanma-zhixinghu is to follow the tanma technique with the reverse punch.

    (Funnily enough this precise combination is a common one in old frame forms, most especially those of Mogou village in Shaolin).

    連右手拳一齊再發撘

    connect with right hand fist to strike again (this may be the triple qixing strikes mentioned at the beginning)

    Then after this

    脚進步高探馬左拳哄臉右腿低彈左腿右拳飛拳上臉倒身一蹖倒揷旛髙探馬専打髙探馬右腿驚左... .

    It appears to step forwards and do the same again on the other side, then it spins the body over using gao tan ma to change direction, then it goes into gaotanma changing into yitiaobian, the whip.

    SO it appears to be either common combinations using Gaotanma, the scout posture as the starting postion or even a short form like sequence of practice.

    It is difficult to interperet but the section I described seems clearer than the rest.

    Of course this is conjecture, who knows where the punctuation should be. To interperet this one would have to be certain of the terminology as Bawang says above but I think even the people in the know would argue over this exact interpretation.

    Its a bit like If i were to write a manual today and say 'use the mayweather guard...' everyone now would understand what I mean, but in 400 years probably not so much. Incidently the mayweather guard is exactly as 'Shun Luan Zhou' would be used in Shaolin today, only mayweather uses it in a smaller frame.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 08-17-2017 at 01:58 AM.
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    then it goes into gaotanma changing into yitiaobian, the whip.
    Wait, so there is a whip that is not single (dan bian)? What's it like?
    And is the Wu Bei Zhi online somewhere? Not on Wikibooks, I'm afraid.

    Very interesting thread. Thank you guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cataphract View Post
    Wait, so there is a whip that is not single (dan bian)? What's it like?
    And is the Wu Bei Zhi online somewhere? Not on Wikibooks, I'm afraid.

    Very interesting thread. Thank you guys.
    Here on ctext,

    http://ctext.org/wiki.pl?if=gb&res=150824

    Has the Wubian houji 武編後集
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

  14. #14
    rendahai is the only guy with legit knowledge on this topic big respect. no one else calls properly scout hand.

    unfortunately this topic is one i will not discuss in detail since i received 2 knockouts and multiple concussions in my research. no one is gonna hustle pdfs and dvds from my sacrifices.

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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Here on ctext,

    http://ctext.org/wiki.pl?if=gb&res=150824

    Has the Wubian houji 武編後集
    Thanks, RenDaHai.

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