Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 371

Same Name – Different Applications

Last week in the park we worked on Needle at Sea Bottom. In the Yang Style Long Form, there are two repetitions. As I evolved my form, I gave a different application to each repeated movement. Let me explain by examining Needle At Sea Bottom. Both applications start from Left Brush Knee, which means I have my right hand in front of the center of my chest, as if striking or pushing using the right hand. The left hand is facing downward by the left knee. Left foot is forward.

Tai Chi Chuan has eight basic energies, used in many different combinations. In Needle, I use two different energies primarily – peng (expanding), and tsai (pulldown). See if you can picture these.

#1 Peng. Partner grabs my right wrist with her right hand. I relax my right arm. (If I tense up, I am vulnerable to being pulled forward out of my root.) I then step up (Advance, bringing the right foot up, placing it about half way up by the left foot). In this case, the left foot is in front and I bring up the right foot then step into empty stance on toe with the left foot to change the distance between us.

As I step up, I use Chan Ssu Jing (silk reeling energy) with my right hand/wrist. I apply a joint lock to partner’s wrist. I then point my fingers towards partners lower body and expand forward and downward – slow and steady- which is quite painful when done correctly. I am not pulling down. I am expanding outward and towards the opponent’s lower body putting her wrist and elbow in a very awkward and painful position. Also, all my weight is on the right leg. I should be able to kick with the left foot if so desired.

#2 Tsai. Tsai is not used much by most Tai Chi players. Among advanced Tai Chi players, Tsai or pulldown, is thought of as being the most vicious energy. It can be a soft, slow pulling down, but usually it is a sharp, jerking energy downward that can result in a whiplash. So be careful if practicing with a partner.

I am in Left Brush Knee. Partner grabs my right wrist with her left hand. I can’t use the first application because I can’t apply a wrist lock on her left hand due to a few factors. Plus, I don’t want to pull partner onto me, so I step back to create more space for partner to land on the ground. I relax, replace the right foot back, which extends her right arm. As I shift back I bring up my left arm, knocking off her hold, wrapping into a grip with my left hand, and apply Tsai, jerking her down, and a bit to left which closes her up from attacking me with her other arm, and at the same time, I poke her kidneys with my right fingers. All my weight is on the right leg and I should be able to kick with my left foot.

So, the difference is:

#1 uses a step up. #2 uses a step back.

#1 Partner grabs with her right hand. #2 Partner grabs with her left hand.

#1 uses Peng energy (expanding forward and down). #2 uses Tsai (pull down and a bit towards my left usually in a jerking fashion).  Even though I talk about jerking energy, when done in the form, it is performed in the same slow, steady, consistent way as all of the other moves in the form.

Class Note:

We are just finishing our exploration of all 10 Single Whips. Has taken about two months on Saturdays mostly. We are now going to closely examine the eight repetitions of Grasp The Bird’s Tail (Ward off, Roll Back, Press, and Push). Should take much of the summer. Will be informative and fun.