Gilman Studio On-Line Lessons



Yang Style Tai Chi Special 34 Movement Short Form

This Lesson Contains:

Movement # 19 – Single Whip


This movement, one of the most versatile and beautiful, is probably the most recognizable as a Tai Chi movement. The balance and strength of this posture, combined with the hook hand was so popular with the authors of the Yang Style form that it is repeated 10 times. In the form as I learned it, these 10 repeats were all done in the same way. As I become more confident in what I knew and taught, I decided to make each repeat have a different application, thereby causing the outward appearance of the posture to change slightly. For me, it makes the form more interesting, informative and fun. I hope you will agree.

Single Whip is a complex movement and I’ll break it down into small pieces so you can understand it and hopefully be able to practice it without too much difficulty. You can always e-mail me questions or come to the park on Saturday.

This first application clearly expresses another of the eight basic energies, that of Lieh or splitting. Lieh is two energies moving in opposite directions, like pulling a rubber band apart or tearing something. My opponent attacks from the front with her left hand. I join, stick, and lead this energy to the left with my left hand, and at the same time, attack her with my right hook hand.

Following Push there is a transition into Single Whip. This could have an application, but for now just think of coming around to the front.

1)       1)       Shift the weight straight back into left foot sit stance. As you do this the arms lengthen. What actually happens is the hands stay in the same place they were at the end of Push and as you move back, the hands turn palm downward.

2)       2)       Keeping the weight on the left foot, turn your waist to the left. As you start to feel tension in the right hip, allow the right leg to rotate inward, pivoting on the right heel. The right foot ends up facing straight ahead (north) and your torso also faces in the same direction. Be sure to keep the weight on the inside of the left foot, not on the outside.




Shift the weight onto the right foot and let the left foot pivot easily on the toe until it is facing north. The right arm starts to fold a bit in front of the body by letting the forearm pivot inward at the elbow. The left arm is making a smooth circle down toward the left side of the hip. At this moment everything is pretty much facing north.

This is still part of the transition. I am close to being in center position. My weight is back; the right hand is held high while the left hand is lower. It looks somewhat unbalanced at this moment, yet I have a good root in my right foot and my left toe is acting as a support. Keep in mind that this is part of a flowing movement and this is a transition.





The body continues turning to the left and I step down my left heel in the new direction (west). Do not put any weight on the foot yet. Also, be sure to step behind (south) of your right foot. It is important that the left foot act as a brace and brake for your energy, which will be twisting and moving in that new direction.   As my body opens a bit to the left and my foot steps out, the right arm concludes it’s folding and ends up roundly enclosing the right side of the chest. The left hand has continued its circle back up and ends up facing inward, on the inside of the right wrist. The two hands are in the center of the chest in the direction your body is headed, which at this time is half way between north and west.   This is the point where I join with my partner’s incoming strike with my wrist. Focus on the wrist.




Shift the weight onto the left foot, turning the waist as you go, and at the end, using the heel as a pivot, turn in the right toe. The left knee should just cover the toe and point in the direction of the toe.

The left hand has moved with the body and ends up in line with the left leg. Keep the elbow drooped. The right whip hand has extended outward by pivoting at the right elbow. From the previous position above with the right arm folding around the right side of the chest, unfold it using the elbow as a pivot. When the waist twists to the left, the right arm is whipped backward. It is like pulling a rubber band apart from the center, as you turn left.

I am leading partner’s strike to the left with my left hand and strike her chest/ribs with my right hook hand.





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