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Sam Wiley
01-29-2001, 05:16 AM
After having almost threatened to go into absurdly deep detail for a comparison of the old and new Yang style forms, I realized that that's pretty much out of the question. Not only would it confuse people needlessly, but those kinds of details don't need to be addressed up front. If anyone has questions regarding subtle body movement, living yin and yang, transfer of weight, etc, then feel free to ask. Other wise, I'm just going to focus on a simple comparison for those who haven't really seen the old Yang form.

I am assuming that everyone reading this has studied Taiji before, specifically Yang style. However, any insights into the Chen, Sun, Wu, Wu/Hao styles, etc, are welcome. Any other similar movements from other styles are welcome to be discussed.

I am also not going into a whole lot of detail regarding history of the form unless asked. There is enough controversy about the form and its history without starting the argument over again. The history of certain moves, or the reason for the move being changed, that kind of stuff is welcome in the discussion, but getting into things like whether or not Chang San-Feng existed, or whether or not the Chens invented the stuff is really off subject and beyond the scope of simple comparison.

Now, for the sake of discussion, I will say that these are the names for the postures as I know them. Some are traditional and widely understood. For instance, if I say Fist Under Elbow, everyone knows the posture. If I do not know the name for a posture, you're going to get a description of the move. If anyone can tell from the description what the move is and knows the name, by all means speak up. Any alternate names for the ones I use are welcome as well, because it will make it easier in future when communicating about the form.

BTW, I am going into a little detail about how the moves are done because I know some people are taught to do them differently. It is these little things, which are incorrect, that I am hoping might be corrected by reading this. If any of you need more detail about something, just ask.

Well, the best place to begin is at the beginning...so...

Grasping Sparrow's Tail
New Yang: From Wuji posture, inhale and raise hand to about shoulder level, palms down, then exhale as you lower them. Breathe in again and circle palms in a counterclockwise circle out to the right and then over to the left. This posture is called Arn Right. As you exhale, lower the weight onto the left foot, turn the right foot out 45 degrees, and arc the palms downward following the same circle. This posture is called Low Block Right. (This is not Holding the Ball, which is what this move was changed to to make it easier for people to learn in the later versions of this form.) As you inhale again, you turn a little to your right and push your left heel palm out, as if striking. Then you pick up your left foot and place it forward, and step forward onto it as you exhale, and bring your left palm up into P'eng as your right palm pulls straight down. The right palm does not go to the hip, it drops straight down. This posture I know as Embrace the Moon and also as simply P'eng. As you inhale again, you turn back a little to your left to do Low Block Left, and then turn back to the right, pushing the right heel palm forward as if striking. You pick up your right foot, and then place it down, and roll onto it as you come forward into Double P'eng. Where you faced at the beginning for Wuji was the North, and now you are facing the East. From here, you turn your palms so that the right palm (uppermost) is palm down, and the left is palm up (the palms are facing each other). They sort of cut across to the right, like a double chop, and this is part of the same exhalation you did for Double P'eng. Then they pull down to your left in Rollback, as you sit back onto your left leg and inhale. Then you put your left palm inside your right wrist and sit forward again, pushing your palms forward in Chee or Squeeze Forwardwith an axhalation. With the same exhalation, you keep transferring the weight forward as you brush the left palm over the back of your right palm and cut forward with them like scissors. Then sit back and turn a little to the left as you inhale. Your palms will do a big arc counterclockwise here. As you sit back all the way, your palms reach the bottom of that circle, which is to say you have turn back to the East, and your hands are in your center. Then you sit forward, and Press Forward with both hands and with an exhalation. Many people have been told to sit back as they cross their hands for the above, but that is incorrect. Many have also been told to simply sit back, bring their hands in and push forward without the turn while sitting back, but there is a turn there.

Old Yang: From Wuji we do the same opening movement except for the fact that the knife edges of the palms are turned upward a bit. This is because of the martial application. For Arn Right, the move is the same, except their is a weight change to the right foot as the hands move to the right, and a change to the left foot as the hands arc to the left. When we do Low Block Right, the weight is on the right foot, not the left, so the weight change is done sooner here. Everything is the same until Chee. Instead of doing the cross hands move and going right into Press Forward, we do a second Chee movement. So, after Chee, we do another Rollback, but this time up high, as we sit back again, and then do the second Chee, which moves downward instead of straight forward. Then we inhale as we sit back again, and the left palm brushes acros the back of the right, and we do a Wrapping movement as we turn a little to the left. The we turn the palms up, and poke forward with the fingertips as we exhale, still in a back sitting stance. Then we inhale as we sit forward and do two rising elbow strikes forward, then as we come into a forward sitting bow stance, we turn the palms over and claw downwards with both palms as we exhale. This move is also called Press Forward.

From Press Forward in both forms, the next few moves are the same. We sit back and poke forward with the right fingers, a move called Sit Back Ready, Snake Fingers to Eyes. This is on an inhalation. Then we do Fishes in Eight which I think is also called Bagua Fishes. With the weight still on the rear foot, turn to the North and turn the front foot inward until the toes face the North. Your hands move across to the left, as if you are turning to the North and elbowing someone in the neck. (You are, actually.) Then you change the weight to the right foot, and as you do this, you push into the North-East corner with both Palms. This whole movement, the turn to the North, and then to the North-East, happens all on one out breath. Your hands sort of draw a counterclockwise circle on a horizontal plane in front of you. Now you circle your hand into the Single Whip hook. Your right palm turns palm up, and begins to draw a counterclockwise circle in the air. As it circles around to the bottom of the circle, you join your fingers and thumb into the hook, and then thrust them through the center of that imaginary circle. You inhale for the circling, and exhale as you thrust it forward into the North-East. Thrusting your palm into the North-East causes your body to turn to the left, back into the West. You pick your left foot up and, keeping your elbow in line with your knee, swing around to face the West. If you keep your wrist in the center of your chest, and your elbow in line with your knee, and you turn until your wrist faces the West, then you have the correct width for the Single Whip stance, which is one foot width thinner and about a half a foot length longer than a bow stance. When you are facing the West, you place your left heel down, and turn the left palm to face palm downwards. As you roll your weight onto it, you push forward with your left palm, and straighten your right arm out. Once you put your weight forward here, you should turn your right foot in a bit from 90 degrees. I mention these things because many people do not know about the rear foot turning in, nor do they know about the right hand making a circle before the swing to the West or about how the right arm is supposed to be straight.

Now: the reasons for the change: The changes were made to make Grasping Sparrow's Tail more of a qigong movement. It is the group of postures that works the Colon meridian, since it constantly flexes the wrists. Also, since several moves were left out, martial content was decreased. Also, the crossing of the hands is no longer done simply to open the arms in a Wrapping motion for a block, it has its own application, which is a cutting chop across the neck. This is not quite as deadly as the spear finger strikes in the old form, which were done to Liver 13 points, which can cause severe internal organ damage or even death.

If anyone wants, I can go into detail about the point strikes, but that's a lot of detail.

Compare these two versions of Grasping the Sparrow's Tail with the version done on Wudang Shan. Double P'eng, to Rollback (done high, though, not low), to a throat level Chee, to the cutting palms across the throat, and then two low punches, much like the fingertip strikes. These punches are actually wrist breaks, because you have the guy's wrists in hand as you punch them into his belly. Then you circle your left palm up and over and your right palm down and under (slamming his bones together, ouch) and then do an Oppressed Block with the left palm as your right palm thrusts forward over the top into his throat. This version of the sequence is done into the corner, not a cardinal direction.

Now, I was always told that P'eng, Lu, Chee, and Arn were the primary directions and primary methods of defense, and that the other four were secondary in importance, even though they were the fallback and were what made your defense impenetrable. But if P'eng, etc are done to the corners in the original, would that place the other four in the cardinal directions and therefore primary importance? It would seem to me that Pulldown, Split, Shoulder and Elbow would then have a little more importance placed on them and that would make sense if they truly make your defense impenetrable. Whatever, just a thought. Totally semantic.

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

Water Dragon
01-29-2001, 11:51 PM
Well, let me throw some arguments at ya’ so we can get the ball rolling

I’m going to say that Push, as a push, is a very useful application. No, it’s not going to kill or cripple someone. But as a strategic maneuver it does a couple of things. First, it creates necessary space in the event that you find yourself in a bad position. It can allow you to “start over” if you find yourself on the Whup-Azz end of a clinch.
Second, It’s unexpected. By making space you can set up a nasty kick.
Third, what if you’re fighting your **** drunk annoying Uncle Stu? You probably don’t want to hurt him. Well now you have an option available.
Let me use this example. I get in a fight on the street and we clinch. All of a sudden I’m getting cut to ribbons by Muay Thai elbows and knees. I push the guy to create some space and come back knowing that I’m up against a Muay Thai fighter. Of course, he may take me out with a leg kick, but I survived the initial onslaught.

I’m going to say that Chen Fu has Fa Jing. Fa Jing by definition means “emitting energy”. So, any art that allows you to emit power has Fa Jing. Of course they will all look different but power is power so the end result (hurting the other guy) is the same. In my tradition, the power is emitted in a very smooth, hard to see manner. The effect is almost like a Blackjack. I’ll go further and say this could be seen as an improvement over the Lu Chan manner in that smooth, even flowing power is more in line with Taiji principles.

Along the Fa Jing lines, I’m going to argue that doing the form in a constant even tempo is more beneficial than doing Fa Jing. The purpose of the form is to check your alignments, structure, and body mechanics. Doing the form all slow and even allows you to pay great attention to pay attention to these things. You can always practice power on a bag or during line work. I.e. doing Brush Knee, Twist Step repeatedly walking down a line. IMO, this is a better method as it allows you to concentrate more fully on one specific thing.

Although there are many styles, they all depend on the strong beating the weak and the slow falling to the quick. These are not related to the power that must be learned -- Taiji Classics

PlasticSquirrel
01-30-2001, 05:27 AM
i always wondered about holding the ball! it just seemed so out of place...

is the posture after the two grasping the sparrow's tails (in old style) the ready stance/position/whatever-you-want-to-call-it? it looks similar to others i've seen.

erle said in his old yang style book that there were 5 different ways to practice the form. can you elaborate on this? are they just different characteristic ways of moving, replacing certain postures?

as for fa-jing, i think that it has everything to do with taijiquan. the changing from hard to soft and fast to slow is taiji principle, and appears in all earlier forms (old yang, chen, zhao bao).

Sam Wiley
01-30-2001, 07:31 AM
Excellent comments, guys.

Water Dragon,
I agree with you about Push. Technically, that is the name of the posture at the end of each section of the form, according to Erle, and the other is Press Forward. While in Cheng-fu's form there is an actual Push here, the name Press Forward refers to the elbows pressing forward in the old form. However, the actual technique of Push, no matter where it's done in the form, is a very good technique.

It's said that the technique of Push is used to strike Stomach 15 and 16 points on the chest in a screwing motion, and that with sufficient concussive force you could stop someone's heart. Obviously, this requires much skill. I have never actually used it to strike to someone's chest. I have, however, used it to neutralize attacks and shove someone's arms against their chest, which is the way it is done in the Yang style Large San-Sau form several times.

While I agree that every posture and movement has the potential for fa-jing, I have never seen Yang Cheng-fu's form performed with fa-jing. I can tell you that when I practice that form (which is fairly seldom, compared to Lu-chan's form) I do it with soft fa-jing. Lu-chan's form is done at advanced levels with both hard and soft fa-jing in it. There are certain specific moves that are done very hard and explosive, and the rest can either be done a bit softer or as a sort of "fizzle" instead of an explosion. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone or not, but what I mean is that instead of doing an all out explosion, you try to do the move slowly and softly, and the fa-jing comes through anyway as a sort of soft twitch. Really, all you can see if you're watching someone doing this is their hands kind of twitch or shake. It's kind of hard to explain, but that's the best I can come up with.

While I can see refinement in the newer form, I am particularly fond of the older one. It has a feel to it I like. In my opinion, although both are said to be balanced, the older form actually feels balanced to me, while Cheng-fu's form feels more yin. (Well, it IS, but I mean it actually feels that way.) Since Taiji must be balanced, there must be both hard and soft. The old style form has both, though it still has a bit more soft than hard. And the new form has only soft. It's because of those reasons, that the Large and Small San-Sau forms were invented. They are more hard than soft. I'm of the opinion that if your main form does not have hard fa-jing moves in it, you should practice one of these forms as well to balance out your training between hard and soft.

Plastic Squirrel,
If you mean the posture called Sit Back Ready, Snake Fingers to Eyes, then yes. It is one of the ready positions/fighting stances. In fact, there are two advanced short forms (which are also san-sau methods for partner work) which start from this position specifically. They are called the Waving Hand and Breaking Hand methods, and are detailed in two of Erle Montaigue's books and several of his videos. I have seen many people demonstratin Yang style forms without this posture in them. They go straight from Press Forward into Fishes in Eight and Single Whip. I don't know if Yang Cheng-fu deleted this movement in his later versions of the form or if someone later did, but I lean towards thinking someone later did. However, I consider it an important posture to learn how to fight with Taiji.

The 5 ways of practicing this form are:
1. all slow moving, as in Yang Cheng-fu's newer form. With the exception of moves that cannot obviously be done slowly, all the moves are done slowly. Moves that, during this discussion, I will tell you are hard fa-jing moves in the form, are done slowly with no hard fa-jing.
2. all slow-moving except for the specified hard fa-jing moves.
3. all fa-jing, where the specified moves are hard fa-jing and everything else is softer fa-jing.
4. where the specified moves are hard fa-jing and the rest just sort of fizzle with very soft fa-jing. Still can't think of a term for that type of move beyond very soft fa-jing.
5. "free form" where your own qi tells you whether to do hard or soft fa-jing for every one of the moves. Although we call this one "free form" you are still doing a specific set, it's just that you do not have to do the form all slow- or with specific moves as hard fa-jing or whatever. If your body tells you to do hard fa-jing, you do the move that way, and if it tells you to do soft fa-jing, you do the move that way.

I'm personally not advanced enough for the free form way, but I'm getting there. It's a very introspective way of doing the form, as you have to be VERY in tune with your own energy. I like to do the form either the no.3 or 4 ways.

On top of this, there are 5 levels to this form. The first one is the way everyone must learn it and practice it at first, in block form, posture by posture. The second is where everything starts to flow really well. The third level, called the "opening and closing" form, not only has some of the postures changed, but the double-bowing of the spine starts to happen. The postures which are changed slightly are now done that way because the practicioner is learning about Dim-Mak and not simple throws, locks, holds, and punches and stuff. The Double bowing happens because the practicioner's qi has started flowing even more smoothly. The fourth level, the "waving" form, is where flow can really be seen. The practicioner learns about living yin and yang, not being double weighted in hands or feet, and it looks like there is a wave moving through his body during the form. If you're old enough to remember break dancing, think about the Wave movement many people did. They would look like a ripple went up one arm, throught the shoulders, and down the other arm. That's what it looks like, only a lot more beautiful. The fifth level is the "Small Circle" or soft fa-jing level (which is where a couple of the ways of performing the form listed above come in). Here, the hands start doing very small spirals and circles within circles during the movements. For instance, Inspection of Horse's Mouth would be done by the left hand spiralling forward instead of pumpin straight forward. I can tell you that after doing the form this way, you don't want to do it at any of the lower levels ever again. Erle also calls this level of form "small frame," using the phrase for something different, where others call certain forms small frame and others medium or large frame. When Erle talks about doing small frame, he talks about the practicioner doing something different during the form, like a form within a form, and he doesn't just mean whether the movements are tight or loose, or open or closed. When people talk about how one master's form is small frame and another's is large simply because one master did very compact moves and the other did very large and expansive ones, that just doesn't make sense. I mean, they are doing the same form, it doesn't matter whether the moves are done compacted or expanded, they are the same. But now if one master does spiralling movements within each movement and another does not, I can see differentiating, since one person is actually doing something different to the other.

By the way, I didn't think about this until after I had posted the comment about the eight directions above, but I guess it's actually a moot thing anyway, since Grasping Swallow's Tail is done into the corner in the second and third sections of the Yang style form as well. Whatever. :)

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

[This message was edited by Sam Wiley on 01-30-01 at 10:37 PM.]

Sam Wiley
01-30-2001, 08:41 AM
Old Yang: From Single Whip, there are a few moves left out of the newer forms. Since the content is purely martial, I can see why Cheng-fu cut them out. In my opinion, doing these moves feels more natural than going straight from Single Whip to Lift hands and makes the transition easier for me. However, I can see merit is turning and going directly to the one-legged posture to help develop some balance. Anyway, from Single Whip, we do a sort of spear fingers strike to the North-East (the direction our hooked hand is pointing in or thereabouts), called Pierce the Armor. Then we turn back to the West with Double Dragon Palms, a sort of push with one hand higher than the other. Then we pivot on the left heel, arcing the hands out to the North-West, and back again, coiling the body for a strike to the North-West corner. This strike, done with a slap step into the corner, is called Reverse Dragon Hands. It rebounds right back onto the left foot for Lift Hands.

Compare this sequence with simply turning from Single Whip to the West for Lift Hands, as in the newer form.

Anyway, the next few moves are the same in both forms, Lift Hands, Shoulder Press, Stork Spreads Wings.

Remember that The right hand for Stork Spreads Wings does not move straight up in front of you, it makes an arc out to the right and then overhead. It's not a block, it's a strike. It raises from Shoulder Press into a sort of P'eng posture, and then continues in an arc (counterclockwise) overhead.

After Stork Spreads Wings, there are a couple of moves in the old form that were replaced with Holding the Ball in the new form, called Guard the House. They look kind of like Lift Hands or Play the Guitar. We do them first to the West, and then to the North-East, both times without changing footing form the stance in Stork Spreads Wings. From the one into the North-East, we turn back to the West and do Brush Knee Twist Step. Then we do Play Guitar, BKTS on the same side, then step forward to do BKTS on the other side, and then step forward to do BKTS, Play Guitar, and BKTS on the original side again. The difference is that in the old Yang form, the "pushing" hand is drilling forward instead of just pushing. The palm starts with the knife edge up, and rotates throughout the movement until it ends up in the same position. So it rotates as it flexes and pushes instead of just flexing and pushing. This may not sound like a huge change, but it makes the strike more powerful in my opinion because you are squeezing the elbow inward, which gives you a little more force to use.

New Yang: From Stork, we just Hold a Ball, and then go into BKTS sequence. After having practiced the old form, Holding the Ball here feels like a useless movement. I know it has an application, but it still has a useless feel to me, as if Cheng-fu wanted to delete martial content but couldn't really find anything to stick in here, so he just told people to Hold a Ball. In any case, Holding the Ball is a more expansive movements, and feels nice to do.

Remember when stepping forward in the BKTS sequence, that you should do a weighted turn on the front foot. Do not rock back and lift the toes. I know, you are all tired of reading that in my posts, but that it the proper way. Also, do not bring the rear foot in towards your front ankle during the step and then arcing it out again. Also, do not touch the rear toes to the ground after lifting them and before stepping forward. The foot should roll up off the ground, and move in a straight line into the next stance. This will feel awkward at first. But once you get the hang of it, you will see just how mechanical and ungainly the arcing step is when doen here. To me, it feels like Holding the Ball does, useless for the most part. Also, remember that when your hands do the changeover from low to high positions during this step, the one rising up into position for the push does not arc out behind you, it rises in an arc to the outside, not behind you. Someone looking at you from the side would see your wrist travelling in a line straight upward, not in an arc. This has to do with the fighting application, which is an arm lock and strike to the shoulder. Most people will tell you it is a low block and a strike with the high hand. But the transition during the step is an arm lock that you cannot get on effectively if you pull your hand back first. It is simply impossible to do it if you do not bring the wrist straight up. This is, by the way, a Dim-Mak application. All the others I have seen for BKTS where the hand arcs back are very basic blocks and strikes, and are not as effective. My own preferred use of BKTS is a wrist grab and strike to the back of the head. Doing it by arcing the striking hand back first makes the application very nice and very long, long enough for someone to escape. But doing it by bringing the wrist straight up and brushing the knee with the other hand makes it quicker, more painful (because you are moving in a tighter circle) and more effective. You are not issuing power by withdrawing the hand, you are stepping right in there and dropping the atom bomb on his head.

Anyway, after the BKTS sequence, we have Step Up, Parry and Punch. In the newer Yang form, we do a simple block with theleft hand and punch with the right at the end of this sequence. But in the old form, we do a series of winding movements. This part of the form reminds me of dragging something on the end of a rope towards you. It looks like you're maybe pulling in an anchor or pulling a person in to shore on a life line. In any case, although it has very definite martial applications, it is basically winding you up for the punch at the end of the sequence, which while done slowly in the new form, is done with fa-jing in the old form.

The next movement, Push, is almost the same, except in the old form the hands drop lower just before, when we are sitting back from the punch. The turn to the North is the same in both forms, and both forms do Apparent Close Up, except it is done lower in the old form, squatting lower with a wider stance.

And that's the end of the first section. We'll start on the second third next time. That's where the differences start to become really apparent.

Now, for the most part, movements that were deleted here were purely martial. I still don't understand not dropping the hands lower for low blocks like just before Push in the old form. And I'll never understand why he stuck Holding the Ball in there. I guess he just had to have a linking move. But there was a significant amount of martial knowledge deleted here.

By the way, I didn't mention before, but here are the healing applications for the movements: Grasping Swallow's Tail heals the colon (new Yang style movements, which are more qigong), Fishes in Eight heals the Lungs, remember that the whole movement is done on one single out breath. Single Whip heals the Stomach. If you do Sit Back Ready, Fishes in Eight, and then Single Whip and hold it, it heals the joints. Lift Hands heals the Liver. Shoulder Press held for am inute and then Stork Spreads Wings held for a minute heal the spine and CNS. BKTS heals the heart. Play Guitar heals the entire digestive track. Step Up, Parry and Punch heals the glands. Apparent Close Up from Push heals general gastric problems ("stomach" problems). At least in this third of the form, Cheng-fu left in all the qigong, and only deleted the martial applications. In the second third, he deletes a few qigong moves as well.

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

khinbu
01-30-2001, 09:27 PM
Sam, try to see my post in Old Yang Style Clarification and e-mail me your comments, will you?

My e-mail address: khinbu@yahoo.com

Regards,

Wish for peace

Water Dragon
01-31-2001, 03:42 AM
Holding the ball: I don't use any blocks in my taiji, It just feels wrong to me. Against the principles so to speak. I'm more about yielding, bobbing and weaving, not unlike a boxer. It just makes more sense to me that way. Any way, if your "holding the ball" to your left side (left hand on top, right hand on bottom) picture yourself holding someone's right arm. Of course, you're not holding a ball anymore and the shape will chang, but it keeps the same feeling. Now, if you can picture yielding out of the way while doing that, you are controlling someones arm with your left hand near the wrist and your right hand somewhere under the tricep. It makes it easy to control someone from there and set them up for something else.

Personally, I love to do single whip from that position. Rip them "through" you with your right hand and as they are going through, the left hand slips over the neck and you end up holding them across the right side of their jaw with the knuckle where your thumb ends in that sweet spot behind the ear. Gives great control and if you extend your right hand out again so you are holding them by the wrist you can lock it nice and tight against your chest. Also, try holding someone's wrist normally and then holding it with a "hook hand" shape. Notice the difference?

FYI, I DO like the feel of that piercing armor move ;)

Although there are many styles, they all depend on the strong beating the weak and the slow falling to the quick. These are not related to the power that must be learned -- Taiji Classics

PlasticSquirrel
01-31-2001, 04:42 AM
thank you for listing the five ways to practice. i understand it now.

how difficult is the form to learn?

how many postures/movements does it have?

which form do you find is more energizing?

thanks for any answers.
:)

Sam Wiley
02-01-2001, 04:45 AM
Actually, there are no blocks in Taiji. I just say block because it's convenient and everyone understands what I'm talking about. But technically, there is no such thing in Taiji. So you're right on that.

Interesting thoughts on Single Whip. By the way, Single Whip is one of my favorite postures from the form, and the Pierce the Armor move is another of my favorites. They just feel great to do.

Something else about the Taiji "hook" from Single Whip: In the Small San-Sau form, there is an entire section dedicated to this hook and its many uses. From striking, to blocking, to locking a wrist as you mentioned. And Single Whip is done two different ways in that form, neither of which is the way it's done in the long form. There is also a section of the Bagua linear form that Erle teaches that uses the hook as a punch, much like in the Small San-Sau form. It's called Shooting a Series of Arrows.

Plastic Squirrel,
I'm glad you understood what I wrote there because I wasn't sure some of it made sense. :) I'm not sure how many postures the form has in it, but I know it's a lot. Certainly it has more than any of the competition routines (can't do a 30 minute form at a tournament because it's way too long), and obviously has more postures in it than the form I'm comparing it to here. There are several postures and sequences that are done two or three different ways in the form, which multiplies the number of postures right there. Anyway, I've never stopped to count because it's not really important how many postures any form has. It's just something interesting to know and helps to differentiate between different forms for competitions and such. I personally did not find the form all that difficult to learn. To me it was just another form. And there are certainly more complex and confusing forms to learn, which change directions several times in a row and quickly so it's easy to get disoriented. However, it is more difficult to learn than the all slow-moving form, and has several postures which require more flexibility. On top of that, fa-jing can be difficult to do even if one understands it intellectually, and fa-jing movements are dotted throughout the form. I personally find Yang Lu-chan's form more energizing. When I finish it, I feel great. After practicing Yang Cheng-fu's form on the other hand, I feel good, but I always want to take a nap. It just makes me too yin. While Erle Montaigue says that Cheng-fu's form is balanced energy-wise, I kind of doubt that, simply because it makes me way too yin in my opinion. It's like with Cheng Man-ching's form. it always made me feel dizzy and sometimes even nauseous, so I quit doing that one altogether, even though there are a great many people who swear by it.

If you have never learned any Taiji before, it might be better for you to learn Cheng-fu's form first, or have some other introduction to Taiji. It tends to make things easier in the long run. Or you could just "jump in the deep end without testing the waters" and see how it goes. I learned the old form before I learned Cheng-fu's form, and it was just like I was doing the same form but leaving some of the moves out. (Well, that's pretty much it.)

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

Sam Wiley
02-01-2001, 06:39 AM
Having finished the first section, or "third" of the form, we end up in the Crossed Hands position. This is one of the "closing up" postures. In the original 12 Taiji forms from Wudang Shan, there is a form that uses this movement, done several different ways, to "close up" the attacker physically. This form, the Closing Up form, uses several different version of this crossed hands posture for almost every technique in the form. In fact, it opens with the hands being crossed twice. The actual drop down at the end of the first third and the rise with the hands crossed, is done at the end of another of these 12 original forms, the Leaping Form. The difference is that in the original movements from the form from Wudang Shan, the hands are snapped downwards and then back up with fa-jing.

In fact, while I'm writing about these forms, there are several other postures also done in the original forms that are done in Yang style Taiji, which is one of the reasons that I believe Yang Lu-chan learned this style and at least partially based his Taiji on it.

I'll talk about these postures as I think of them. The first I'm going to tell you about is the very next move in the old Yang form, Brush Knee Twist Step. This is done directly from Cross Hands into the North-West corner. Believe it or not, we Hold a Ball with the left hand on top in this case. (Actually, I forgot to mention it, but, after Play Guitar in the BKTS sequence, we Hold a Ball before going into the next BKTS posture.) From Here, we pivot on the left heel and do another Spread the Weave into that same corner. (Sorry, I called this one Guard the House in a previous post.) It's the same movement we do after Stork Spreads Wings, except done on the opposite side. Then we turn and brush the knee again and turn to the South-East corner for Carry Tiger Back to Mountain, just like in the Cheng-fu form. This is not just a BKTS movement though. The fingers of both hands spear forward. Left hand above palm down, and right hand below palm up. That's why this posture is called "carry tiger" because it looks like you are carrying a tiger. Then we do the same movements as in the Cheng-fu form up to Chee. After Chee, we do the rest of Grasping Swallow's Tail, except in this instance, the old Yang version. After Sit Back Ready, Snake Fingers to Eyes, we do Fishes in Eight but not Single Whip. We do another Guard the House kind of movement, and step around to the West for Fist Under Elbow. In the Old Yang style, this is a double fa-jing punch. First the right fist punches to the West over the left hand's oppressed block (sorry, I know I said no blocks exist in Taiji, but I'm used to talking to Karate people and this is an oppressed block in Karate), then the right palm drops down into that same sort of block as the left fist punches forward over it. On this second punch, our stance changes into the heel stance with the left foot forward.

New Yang: From Cross Hands, we hold a ball to the opposite side, and turn directly to the South-East for Carry Tiger. Then we do the newer version of Grasping Swallow's Tail and Fishes in Eight. And, just like in the old form, we do a Guarding the House move and step around to the West for Fist Under Elbow. Except for this version, we simply bring the right hammer fist under the left elbow, slowly thrusting the left cutting palm forward. This is a hammer fist block to a left punch, and a left knife edge strike to the face. See what I mean about simplifying things?

Old Yang: We do a series of movements called Tripping Repulse Monkey. Three of them. Then we sit back and thrust the right spear fingers forward. I forget the name, Sit Back and Pierce the Armor or something similar, I think. From there, we step forward with Snake Wraps Around Willow Tree and then step into the South-West corner with Middle Winding. In Bagua, a similar move from the circular form is called Catching a Fish. The we do Part Horse's Mane into the South-West.

(Note: I personally do a Shoulder Press just before opening the arms up, something which Erle has never said not to do. Maybe that's just one of those little things that we were talking about people doing to make the form their own on another thread. In any case, a shoulder press is done before Slant Flying as well in this form.)

From there, we do Pierce the Armor to the North-East, as in the first third. Then we turn back to the West for Double Dragon Hands, then do Reverse Dragon Hands to the North-East, and continue on with Lift Hands, Shoulder Press and Stork Spreads Wings. However, this Stork posture is not the same, we are facing to the North instead of the West, with the left toe touching the ground beside the right foot. Then we turn to the West, doing Spread the Weave as in the first third, to both the West and then to the North-East, and then turn to do Brush Knee Twist Step, with the sametwisting "push."

New Yang: From Fist Under Elbow, we do the normally seen Step Back and Repulse Monkey three times. After the third time, we Hold a Ball and then do Part the Horse's Mane to the North-East. From there, we do Lift Hands, Shoulder Press, Stork Spreads Wings, Holding a Ball, and Brush Knee Twist Step. Notice how much was left out?

From there, we do Needle at Sea Bottom in both forms, except in the old Yang style, the left hand touches the top of the right wrist. Then we do Fan Throught Back, and Turn and Chop with Fist. I think we'll hold it there for today.

Now, as I said, BKTS is the qigong for the heart. Cheng-fu when he deleted it from his form at the beginning of the second third, actually deleted something that potentially was good for health. I guess he figured it was done enough times throughout the rest of the form that it really didn't matter. He also cut out the Spread the Weave move, which is not a bad movement martially speaking. I personally like the application, especially since it involves pulling the guy around as you turn for Carry Tiger so you can finish him off.

Fist Under Elbow, done the way it is in the old yang form is said to be a qigong to help people lose weight. And done the way it is in the new Yang form, it is a qigong to help people gain weight, No wonder Cheng-fu ended up so fat. Anyway, later on in the old Yang form, we do Step Back and Repulse Monkey anyway, so him replacing Tripping Repulse Monkey with Step back and Repulse Monkey really makes no sense to me. Anyway, Step Back and Repulse Monkey is the Qigong for the Liver. It's companion exercise is Lift Hands, which is for the Gall Bladder and the Liver (mainly the Gall Bladder, though it's pretty much interchangable). Why I wrote the Liver alone in the above post I don't know, but it's not like it's going to hurt you to do the wrong qigong, since it can only heal you. it may not heal what you're trying to heal, but it certainly can't hurt you. :) Needle at Sea Bottom heals the spine, and is said to build jing in the spine.

Anyway, I can kind of understand changing Fist Under Elbow, because that move can be quite difficult to teach people. I just don't really see a point in changing the rest of it, except for doing the new Yang version of Parting Horse's Mane, which is the qigong for the Spleen. My notes also say it heals the Lungs, though I don't see the connection. And by the way, Turn and Chop with Fist is said to help in losing weight. I don't quite see how these particular ones can do what I was told they do, but it can't hurt to try them.

Cheng-fu deleted a lot of martial content here, but some of it was a repeat of stuff done in the first third, which since he had already taken it out he kind of had to here. He also changed Stork SPreads Wings to the first way, when in the old form it is done a second different way, providing for variation. In fact, theapplications I learned for the second one I like better than the applications for the regular Stork posture. It's more direct. He changed Needle at Sea Bottom so that the hands don't touch, but that's not such a big thing. But by changing it, he took out a little of the martial application from the posture, though he did leave the excellent grab reversal and pulldown.

Although he left in Turn and Chop with Fist, I have heard that some schools teach people to do White Snake Sticks out Tongue here instead, which is a similar posture, and is done in the third third of the form, but would take out yet another most excellent application from the system. I don't know whether or not this is true, as I learned to do Turn and Chop with Fist here myself during Cheng-fu's form.

In the Large San-Sau form, as a little side note here, we do Needle at Sea Bottom with the left hand over the top of the right, as in the old Yang form.

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

PlasticSquirrel
02-02-2001, 03:43 AM
still, though, do you think that the cheng-fu form is still a good form when compared to the lu-chan form, or not really (for martial content)?

also, do you know whether erle changed the stance depths after he learned it (that goes for the 12 wudang forms too, if you know about them)?

also, i found something interesting written by fu cheng-yuan (originally in a free pamphlet). it shows that the yang family agrees with erle's history (i know this thread is one about comparisons, but i thought this might be interesting for some):

"at the time when yang lu-ch'an was employed in the household of a chen master, a great boxer called zhiang fa came to the chen village. zhiang fa was the greatest exponent of t'ai chi ch'uan of his time. the chen master was so impressed with zhiang fa's skills that he invited him to stay and teach t'ai chi ch'uan to his household. thus it was that zhiang fa taught t'ai chi to yang lu-chan..."

Sam Wiley
02-02-2001, 07:44 PM
Plastic Squirrel,

I think that Yang Cheng-fu's form is still good as far as fighting techniques go. It still has many of the techniques from its predecessor in it. The thing is that it is not as sophisticated as the older form. I was thinking about that yesterday. The reason I advocate the old Yang form over Cheng-fu's is because of the sophistication of the Dim-Mak contained in the old form versus the simpler applications from Cheng-fu's form. (Other arts which also have Dim-Mak applications are simpler than Yang Lu-chan's Dim-Mak. They are just not as sophisticated.) In my opinion, although Yang Cheng-fu's form is still good, Yang Lu-chan's form is the king.

There are people out there who are reputed to have become good fighters practicing the Yang style after these changes were implemented to the long form. It's not just the form of course that makes people good at fighting, it's training methods. They still had good training methods, and so they still became good fighters, despite the number of techniques in the system being diminished.

I have thought several times about the depth of Erle's stances. Many many people say that he does his stances too high. Others laugh at him for these high stances, saying that Yang Lu-chan could do Snake Creeps Down so low that he could pick up a coin from the ground with his teeth. Well, all I can say is that your own body is the ruler for how your stances are done. Some people can do long low stances, and some cannot. I have seen pictures of Erle doing kicks so far above his head that he is practically in a standing split. So I personally think that he can do these things if he wants, but has no need to.

In the beginning, we must do the stances higher for the sake of learning. Later on, after having learned the form, we can sink lower and do longer stances. This is for building power. But after we have gained the power, and start to take the art to its internal levels, we naturally rise back up into a higher stance.

Now, when I started to learn the form, I did a particularly shallow Snake Creeps Down. He told me to go lower in the stance. I now do it with my extended leg nearly parallel to the ground...extremely low. The are some days when I have discovered I was almost sitting on the ground. As for Single Whip, I have seen many pictures of masters doing this posture with a long low stance. But I cannot do such a long low stance without putting weight onto my front foot too soon. Nor can I do a long extended bow stance without making the same mistake in weighting. So my own bow stance and horse riding stance are fairly high up. In retrospect about the Single Whip/ horse riding stance, if I turn to the West with my elbow above my knee, then when my wrist faces into the West, if I put my heel on the ground there, I am in the proper stance without having to extend too far for the step and do the weight distribution wrong. My stance ends up about one foot width thinner than a bow stance, and about a half a foot length or so longer. It's higher up than many people's Single Whip, but I simply cannot do the long extended stance without taking my knee past my toes (bad) or putting weight onto my front foot too soon (also bad). So my stance is a bit higher.

Anyway, I know that Erle made certain changes to the form after his trip to China. He told me he came into possession of a text on the original Taijiquan forms (the Wudang forms). In the text, it supposedly says to keep the back vertical 10 times on the first page. So that was one of the changes he made, in almost every posture now the back is vertical. However, I do know that the proper weighting for these older forms is about 51/49, not 60/40 or 70/30. The stances are not double weighted, but nor are they totally on one leg. One leg is just barely yin and the other is just barely yang. That's all it takes. The theory is a bit deep to get into right now, but maybe later. Basically, in the form, you are not supposed to do a movement physically after the mind has finished doing it internally. So if your mind and energy have done the movement already, there is no need to keep transferring weight. Just like there is no need to keep doing anything with the hands. It should have already been done.

Now, it is possible that Erle changed the stance heights after his return from Wudang Shan, but I don't think this is at all a bad thing. The low stance training remains intact in the system. And if it didn't, one could always do it on one's own. But the stances are a bit more realistic as far as self defense go. You are not going to be in a 60/40 stance in a real fight, you will be weighted more naturally. Also, many people find it hard to do things in a higher stance after doing things in the lower one. They have learned that they must be lower to be stable, and this is simply not true. I can take a stable upright stance during push hands, and still remain untoppled. I still get pushed off balance, don't think I don't. But I am still pretty stable upright, where many are not. And it is because I train in more upright stances. I don't think he changed anything for the Wudang forms, though.

One thing about weighting and long low stances: The Yang family says that their Taiji has always been taught as having all the weight all on one leg. Not only have I never seen any of them do Single Whip (for instance) in a 100% forward weighted stance, I don't think it can be done. In fact, I don't think most of the postures from the form can be done with 100% of the weight on one leg. Especially not for Snake Creeps Down. Impossible. Maybe they meant something different, but what I got from the statement is that their Taiji is supposed to be done 100%/0% (which is, if I remember correctly, how they wrote it out).

The thing about the history is that there were many different versions written. In many of the earlier versions the story is the same as Erle's, but in later ones the same author for some reason stated something different. In one of Douglas Wile's books, he translates one of thee Yang family's personaly texts, which gives a direct lineage from Chang San-feng to Yang Lu-chan. And Liang Shih-khan's master, who was the previous lineage holder of the Wudang forms Erle learned from Liang Shih-khan, was quoted in an article saying that both Yang style Taiji and Chen style Taiji still retain many qualities they picked up from his own system, but that they have changed greatly, and for the most part do not look like his system in their modern form. Now why would the older histories say they came from there, and why would Liang's master say they came from there? I think they did. Exactly what happened for the same people to change the story, and for later masters to carry with the changed story, I don't know. But I read the "official" Yang family web page in English, and it was pretty lame. It sounded more apologetic and brown-nosey in its tone than I thought it would. I was disappointed, to say the least. I got the impression that what they wrote there was trying to gain the approval of masters from other styles, rather than trying to stand on their own feet. But of course, I have different opinions about the history. I could be biased based on that. But the tone was still apologetic.

*********
"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

Sam Wiley
04-05-2001, 09:54 PM
Just thought I'd bring this back up to the top for Shaolin White Crane.

I'll start discussing the rest of the form in the next couple of days. It only gets more different from here.

I also have a few more things to add about similarities between the Old Yang form and the Wudang stuff.

*********
"I put forth my power and he was broken.
I withdrew my power and he was ground into fine dust."
-Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice

MaFuYee
04-05-2001, 10:09 PM
sam,
how many times i gotta tell you?!?! there ain't no such thing as "old yang style". it's a farce. (IMNSHO)

* did you ever see that tape, 8 great tai chi masters of yonignan china? - some guy does 'yang ban hou style tai chi'?

water dragon,
push is not just a push; unless you're demonstrating on a student, and don't want to hurt him.

DoD #pending
Live to Flame
Flame to Live

Sam Wiley
04-07-2001, 10:23 PM
Ma,
No, I don't think I have seen that one. I actually don't have a lot of time or money to spend on videos because I'm trying to move soon.

There are a lot of demo videos out there that I would like to see, though. In my opinion, I have seen far too little of other styles and training methods.

So anyway, from Turn and Chop with Fist, we do Moving Hands Like Willow Tree in the old Yang form. This is kind of difficult to describe without showing it to you, but basically, it's a right penetration punch to the temple, followed by a hammer fist to the clavicle where it meets the neck, and a double handed block to a kick. Then we take a step back, and do the same movements on the other side. And next comes Quickly Punching Fist complete with the wind up and fa-jing punch. The we go into Grasping the Sparrow's Tail, touching a couple of acupuncture points on the wrist in the first movement into Rollback. This time, Grasping Sparrow's Tail is done with a step forward in between the two Press/Squeeze movements. From the End of GST, we go into Fishes in Eight and Single Whip just like in the first section of the form.

Now, in Yang Cheng-fu's form, after Turn and Chop with Fist, there is an uppercut, a rollover, and then Rollback, and then we go into Step Up, Parry and Punch again. After that, we do go directly into GST again. The Fishes in Eight and Single Whip again. Grasping Sparrow's Tail is done in much the same manner every time in this form, with onlly a couple of minor variations. But in the Old Yang form, it is done about 8 different ways.

These movements are extremely similar to movements from the 4th Wudang Taiji form Erle teaches. The very beginning movement of that form contains almost exactly the same body movement as the Move Hands like Willow Tree movement mentioned above. In fact, it is in that same form (the Spiral form) that there is also a punch just like the one at the end of each third of the Old Yang form. That same movement is also seen in the first of the Wudang Push Hands methods, called the Hammer. The first movement from this PH method is a P'eng/Hinge block to a punch, and the hinge arm circles around and the fist hammers down onto the forearm. There are a couple of other methods from these Wudang Push Hands sets that use similar body movement, but this is the one that uses the Hammer fist.

By the way, although Double P'eng is in the second (Leaping form) of the Wudang Taiji forms, it is also in the 12th form, the Finishing form. Except in this form, it is done not as a definite strike with the back of the wrist but as a palm strike to the forehead as the other hand pulls back on the neck. In the old Yang form, Double P'eng is done with a little shake on the end, and the hands move closer together a bit, as if doing this same application, which actually is quite good. I did this to a kid when I was younger, and he screamed in pain for almost 30 minutes. I didn't understand why, as I had only hit him on the forehead as far as I knew, but I recently found out that such strikes can bruise the back of the brain where it jerks back in the skull and hits the back of the skull. This is the location of the physical part of the Reptile brain, and there are a lot of strikes in Taiji that attack this portion of the brain. From what I understand, doctors will only declare a person dead after this part of the brain has quit functioning. So if you can shut down this part of the brain, as is the purpose of the strike, the person is totally dead. The hands are placed on the Gate at the base of the skull, and the fingers will most likely touch Gallbladder 20 points on either side, and the right palm (in this instance) will strike to the Third Eye point, so if the person dies, there will probably be either brain damage, slowed reflexes, or qi damage anyway.

After this Single Whip is where we do the first Wave Hands Like Clouds movements in both forms. The stepping is the same in both forms, but the hand movements are slightly different. Everyone knows the hands in the new Yang style come up with the thumb side of the wrist upward (like in P'eng), but in the old Yang style, the hands spear upwards fingertips first, almost like the movement Pigeon Flies to Heaven in Baguazhang. This movement is the same as in the Wudang Push Hands method called the Nun, which is also the basis for the Bagua movement Nun Offers Food. It is my belief that this same method is the basis for Inspection of Horse's Mouth as well. In fact, I prefer to do this Wudang PH exercise using [/i]Inspection[/i] handwork, where the spear hand comes over the top of the blocking hand, as opposed to Nun Offers Food, where it comes from underneath the blocking hand.

So anyway, After we finish Wave Hands in both forms, we do Single Whip again to the West, just as before. After that, we do Lift the Heavens and High Pat on Horse in both forms; the same movements. This posture is also done in the Spiral Wudang Taiji form, except with a jump (to change directions) to get into it, and we come down into the same posture facing 90 degrees to the left. This same posture is also the opening movement of the Finishing Wudang form, except we spin 180 degrees to get into it from the opening stance. This is the move followed by Double P'eng.

Now, in the 7th Wudang Taiji form, the Water form, there is a qigong movement done to open the Bladder meridian on the back. I can't really describe it, I'd have to show you. But the movement is the exact same movement as the entire Wudang Push Hands method called the Axe. I believe that this sequence of movements is the basis for the movements that come at the end of each section of the Yang style forms, called Withdraw and Push. (I think I called it just "push" in my first post on the subject.) The Axe Push Hands method also contains the qi disruption method from the 6th Wudang form, the Closing Up form, which also contains several different "closing up" techniques which look to me to be the basis of the Cross Hands posture, the final posture in the Apparent Close Up sequence, along with an almost identical sequence to Apparent Close Up from the 2d Wudang form, the Leaping form. Several of these forms also contain the exact same Shoulder Stroke posture as the first third of the Yang Taiji forms. In addition to this, the 12th form contains White Crane/ Stork Spreads Wings, with a very nasty application, and the posture is done with a step out the the right, just as in the first third of both forms, thought there is no shoulder stroke in this form.

Now, rest thy bleeding eyes...at least until the next post on this thread. ;)

*********
"I put forth my power and he was broken.
I withdrew my power and he was ground into fine dust."
-Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice