How to Do the Simplified Yang 24 Style
Tai Chi: The Meaning Behind the Movements
This is Patrick from Yoga Garden. We all know Tai Chi as a series of slow and peaceful movements designed to improve health. Often it’s compared to dancing or moving meditation. However, it’s important to remember that Tai Chi originally developed as a kind of practice on your own Kung Fu and that will made you these beautiful hand motions and execute the softer work. We are actually practicing a martial art.
Understanding the martial applications of the Tai Chi movements will bring depth and vigor to your practice and if you are just starting, it’s a great way to remember the forms as well as the names. On the screen here is Kieye Go Hogi, we all call her Kieye (ph). She heads up the Tai Chi program at Yoga Garden and as for me, I will be playing the part of Mr. Tanaka, drunk and slightly earnest salary man who just can’t get enough of Kieye. We will just add the glasses here and the transformation is complete. We hope you enjoy watching this video as much as we enjoyed making it.
Of the 24 forms in the game simplified style, we will just be taking a look at a few that shows some interesting variations on combat techniques starting with Yema Fenzong. This is a classic Tai Chi movement. You can see the curved arms encircling that Chi. All actions linked with bow steps, turning back and forth from the legs.
A primary importance in this posture is moving with the center rather than the extremities. You can see how she sweeps her arm forward, her whole body moves giving power to the action. Right hand switch back, as left hand pushes forward, all powered from the hips. In a fighting situation, it’s not going to make some ground for Kieye. She uses that forward powers, knock him off balance, hooks under his armpit and he is down. Then notice guy in the Yang style, he always maintain a 90 degree with her back and employ barbing the head up and down. This provide a lot more stability as you move through the forms.
Next is Louxi Aobu. This looks similar to Yema Fenzong but the power is actually quite different. Yema Fenzong used the sweep and as you can see here this is more of the foots. That’s why I start again. A key importance, using the hips, linking the arms and legs, watch how Kieye’s heels and toes have the same timing as the forward pushing. This allow the natural force to the movements and the form strip down to its essentials, a sweeping blocking arm, a forward push, all powered from the back leg, linked with Dung Chen. This time Tanaka chose to kick Kieye. The Kick is blocked and the push is applied to the Solar Plexus.
Next up is Shouhui Pipa. This is one of my favorite forms, it looks so enocuous compared to the others but it’s has dangerous secret. Let’s watch that again. The right hand reaches forward and pulls back in console with the right foot, as together the left leg and left arm come to the front. In this angle, you can see a little better what’s happening. The right hand goes back, the left comes forward and together they both push towards the center, right there, push. You can see the result on Tanaka’s arms. As he goes for a punch, punches traps and the force is applied at the joints. Tai Chi is based upon the ideas of Daoism, one of the most important of which is the interaction between Yin and Yang, yin being passive with drawing energy. Yang being forceful, aggressive energy.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Daojuan Gong, you can see the back hand is soft and withdrawing and suddenly transforms into a strong forward push. Even as the other hand against is melt away. It’s kind of like watching a living, breathing Yin Yang symbol in action. Let’s watch that again in isolation, the arms here are working together, one pushing as the other pulls, all linked with the hips. This movement is called for when someone is coming at you with strong energy, that forward moving energy is welcomed with the back hand, even as the front hand comes on, grabs it through as that’s for us. You can see here Tanaka san getting up close and personal with Kieye. She uses that forward movement and applies it against him.
Of the 24 forms in the Yang simplified style, many practitioners argue that it’s this one, Zuo Lan Quewei, that is the most important. This series of movements has been called it by one master, a kind of entrance exam for Tai Chi because it contains the fundamentals of all of the forms. Zuo Lan Quewei actually consists of four parts, you know it is the first one moving a bent arm forward stiffly, Pong, using Pong energy and moving to U, from U we go right into G. Dispersing the G energy, we bring it back to one final action Aan, which is why there is an isolation, his Pong, again the shoulder is secondary, kind of a delivery system for the power of the hips, waiting until it is knocking his off balance and adding the correct force. Next is U, it’s pretty easy to see martial application of this part. Having trapped, you pull his arm, drawing back until he is off balance enough so that you can follow through, keeping him away from you.
Next is G, this is great for close corner situations. And finally pulling everything back. Watch how the hips are working. Arm, this form has the additional benefit of stripping the arms from the neck and shoulders. Tai Chi is always moving slowly, never stopping, you can see it close right here and it’s Dung Chen. One of the most recognizable Tai Chi forms. You can see how the weight is constantly shifting between Kieye, never static, never staying in the middle of the body where there is little power to be found. Timing with the front foot, as usual will get it into down yet, simplified it might look something like this. In a real life situation, to knock his punch, as he captured and the energy is transferred and amplified into a neck chop. That actually really hurts much as acting right there — following a heel kick, to move right into Shuangfeng Guaner.
You have watched a few of these now, so maybe you can tell of this would actually be used in a fight. Tanaka san going for Kieye’s neck and she tried to cease the knee to the head in the boxing of the ears or temple. Here at the end of the 24 form, we come to this individual movement, Haidi Zhen. Haidi Zhen is a great example of balancing, the forces of Yin and Yang one action. You can see the right hand strongly moves forward but at the same time, the hips are dropping back and withdrawing. So their overall balance is maintained, that’s much of a Yin simplified.
You might be wondering, what the hell is going, well you will find out right here, a kick is blocked, oh that’s hard to watch, that’s hard to watch. Perhaps nowhere else can you see the Kung Fu history behind Tai Chi even in this action. Zhuanshen Banlanchui, there is that despite this being a very aggressive movement, you never see a straight line. There is always little bit of power with in. As always, the timing of the legs and hips is key here, much of the back leg and hips go together to deliver maximum power to this punch. You also have the chance to stop on your importance foot here, throw him off balance. Tanaka san leaves himself open and from there on he is putty in Kieye san.
Our final movement today would be cross hands, Shizishou. Well, long time I thought this was just a pretty way to end the 24th form allowing you to come down and back to the original starting place. However, in the making of this video, I found out that this too has a martial meaning. Keeping these meanings in mind as you practice your Tai Chi forms will not only make them more interesting, but more powerful and authentic. As for Tanaka san, this is as close as he ever got to Kieye. Well, a man can dream.