Student Notes-Play Pipa Lock

I saw this video when I was writing the other post earlier today :-

Even though the caption did not indicate it this is application of Play Pipa. The demonstrator looks nice and soft. To me this is a double edged sword.

The pros are that :-

i) This is a good demonstration of softness and fluidity.

ii) The timing is good and the angling just nice to put his partner off balance.

The cons are that :-

i) His partner could have done more than just passively putting out his arm for him to grasp

ii) The way the demonstrator grasped the opponent’s arm may work at this pace. Would it work if the opponent had moved the arm forward faster perhaps in a palm strike?

iii) That the demonstrator reached out left his head open to a strike. For example in the screen grab below in that position an astute opponent may just bring up his left hand to do a parry and crash through with a strike.


iv) The angle at which the demonstrator pulled his opponent caused himself to be exposed to a potential shoulder stroke – see picture below. Why this did not occur was probably because this is a demonstration not a push hands practice and besides the angle at which his opponent was moving his body would not facilitate the use of shoulder stroke. Some readers may point out that the demonstrator had stepped out of the way. This is true but the opponent could still come through with a shoulder stroke. How to do it when we are being pulled is part of the learning of the Push Hands Game that we do.


v) Play pipa can be a good technique for locking your opponent’s wrist, elbow and shoulder joints in addition to breaking his balance. Unfortunately, this is not demonstrated in this video. Its not a difficult technique to learn.

If you can’t make it work or figure out the biomechanics part you can refer to my eBook TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form and reading the following pages :-

i) Page 68 – explanation of the biomechanics of Play Pipa

ii) Page 196 – 201 – how to practice Play Pipa from perspective of Movement, Intention, Qualia & Biomechanics

iii) Page 333 – 336 – application of Play Pipa; I have shown the last three movements below from page 336 that highlights the locking aspect of Play Pipa. Observe how after I applied the lock on the opponent’s arm I prevented him from escaping by stepping on his foot. I then broke his balance. For purpose of demonstrating the use of Play Pipa I ended the demonstration at this point.


Finally, take a look at the video below of how Grandmaster Dong Huling applied Play Pipa in push hands. The technique is at 2:35. You can see how GM Dong applied the lock in a manner that leaves no doubt that his opponent could not have gotten out of it if he did not let go.

Another view of the same video. Play Pipa is at 1:56.

How to Master Tai Chi Today? By paying attention to the principles and small details.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.


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