A thinking, tailored and radical approach to mastering Tai Chi.
Continuing from the previous post Lockdown Learning 2a here.
The 3rd sub-movement is explained below :-
The study begins by learning how to step out of the way. The first movement teaches out to step out of the way by using a triangle even as we are using our left hand to either gently guide (or forcefully parry in actual application) a linear strike out of the way.
A more detailed learning of this part would involve :-
a) How do we train our ability to accurately parry?
b) How do we parry with power when we need to?
c) When and how do we step to get out of the way of the attack?
In this section I mentioned the rationale for the name of the techinque aka Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. The concept bears close examination as it teaches us how to stick and neutralize. At this point this is something we can keep in view and not worry too much about the learning.
What is important however is to practice a technique in the way that we would actually use it. Only then is the practice of form useful and meaningful.
Finally, the concept of hidden kicks is mentioned. I highlighted this to bring the point across for our fussiness in learning how to control the vertical axis in the first post here.
At the end its time to put together the sequence of movements of Beginning Posture, Grasp Sparrow’s Tail and Single Whip.
The last movement sequence to learn is Single Whip.
Below is an introduction to how to perform Single Whip :-
I have not tried to explain the more difficult cultivation of the 5 bows in Single Whip. Sometimes its best to keep things simple.
Single Whip contains the techniques of :-
a) Two handed uprooting pull
b) Grind and repel
c) Hold-detain and strike
I have not really discussed much about the two handed uprooting pull in the video. There are two ways we can do this. In the video I just showed one way.
The movement of grind and repel is more like a variation of Press. You use a 2-speed movement with gravitational drop to obtain a heavy grinding feel in the right arm movement.
Hold-detain and strike is what we normally view as the technique of Single Whip. The hook hand is the control hand, used to detain opponent’s arm and prevent it from trying to strike you. The left palm movement is shown here as a palm strike but it can be expressed as a palm cutting strike also.
The last technique is Push.
I feel that Push is a mistranslation of the Chinese term An but that’s another story.
Here’s how to do Push :-
Push is often perceived as a double palm attack but it can well be a single palm attack.
Separating the hands comes before Push. This is a neutralizing movement and can be used whether on the opponent’s side gate or inside gate.
The hands after separation on the side gate can attach to the opponent’s arm to repel him. Alternatively, if on the inner gate you can attach the hands to the opponent’s crook of the arm. There you can jerk him off balance, followed by the double palm attack.
The energy of the double palm attack is like that of a pouncing tiger. To generate this power you must learn to coordinate the movement of the wrist-elbow-shoulder and waist-leg in the manner of a hammer hitting a nail.
After Ward-Off we move on to Rollback and Press.
In the application of techniques Rollback is typically followed by Press so I tend to treat this as one movement.
Rollback teaches the skill of enticing the opponent’s attack to fall harmlessly to empty space. It also contains the strategy of counter-attacking during retreat.
The key here is :-
a) Manage the space
b) Manage the timing
c) Manage the angle of movement
The technique of Press follows closely on the heels of Rollback in that as the opponent’s attack falls into empty space you quickly seize the initiative to insert your attack.
Press contains :-
b) Compress and seal
When the conditions for applying Press are in place then fajing is very easy. In fact, most students doing it the first time are puzzled that it seems so easy, too easy and they could not believe that they are actually able to fajing with decades of training behind them, something they have been brainwashed to believe.
Grasp Sparrow’s Tail is followed by four important techniques that we use a lot.
The first of this is Ward-Off as explained below :-
The energy of Ward-Off is like water lifting a boat from underneath. We can easily model this by rotating an imaginary sphere with our hands.
Within the movement of the hands are :-
a) Left hand to twine, compress and lock
b) Right hand to generate rotational power in upwards direction to uproot and impart shocking momentum
You learn to use intent to turn the sphere to initiate the movements of the hands. Take your time to feel how various spirals move between the arms, body and legs.
After Beginning Posture we move on to Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. This is the sub-movement 1 and 2 of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail :-
The first sub-movement in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail is the principle of intercept, connect and neutralize. To perform intercept, connect and neutralize properly we need to examine the importance of distance and range.
Our ability to control distance and range also depends on timing. This in turn is a function of our ability to get where we want to be when we want to be.
Though it appears that we require contact for the technique to work this is not really the case. This will become apparent as you continue to study the movement of the feet in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail.
After we have made contact then we learn how to use rotation to get the opponent’s attack off us. There are two ways to do this – a) use a robust structure to remove the opponent b) move ourselves out of the way.
In this instance we learn how to use a robust structure. It may appear to be using strength to spin the opponent off us. However, this is not the case. By not allowing ourselves to sit back and turn we force ourselves to examine the question of how to use small movements to neutralize when we cannot move the body out of the way.
The study of turning requires us to examine in detail :-
a) How do we turn exactly?
b) When do we turn?
c) How much should we turn?
d) What is the exact process involved in turning to neutralize?
e) What is the logic of the neutralizing turn?
After neutralizing we move into control using a grasping movement of the right hand. The left hand is used to feel and probe before we make contact.
In this section we are introduced to the principle of moving the body by using the hand to lead the stepping. This movement control mechanism allows us to step nimbly like a cat.
In this practice you can observe the principle of how one moving thing leads everything else to move and then on arrival everything stops at the same time.