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Post  Matt_Stampe on Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:51 am

No not steal the thunder of Hein's article, it is here on Facebook. Posting it since it is not public and you have to join the Facebook group, "The Kwoon".


What I like about this is it is how my teacher Weiqi Ho from Shanghai who was a disciple of Fu Zhong Wen taught. 75% of the class was done with these basic exercises along with good warm-upsand stretches- walking part horse mane and holding last posture, holding white crane into walking brush knee and holding play pipa, walking repulse monkey, holding single whip transition into wave hands like clouds then holding single whip. there are more we did, but I dont want to publicly reveal her "trade secrets".

Hein Drop writes:


The beginning student in traditional Taiji Quan was first supposed to master a set of Basic Exercises (Jiben Gong 基 本 功) and Basic Postures (Jiben Zishi 基 本 姿 勢), before moving on to the practice of the Routine or Set (Taolu 套 路).

Now Basic Postures are postures taking out of the Routine and practiced in isolation. For example one can take the ‘Brush Knee, Twist Step’ posture and practice it repeatedly, alternating left and right. Or repeating the left form (or right form) in one movement ad infinitum.

The aim of training the Basic Postures is, according to Y. K. Chen (1979), that “to enable the beginner to know, understand, and learn Taiji Quan easily, the important and repeated movements of the course [i.e. Routine] are picked out as separate exercises …” Master Yang Jwing-Ming (1982) states: “The fundamental drills [i.e. Basic Exercises and Basic Postures] were constructed so that they could be easily coordinated with the inhalation and exhalation of deep breathing. While the easily performed fundamental drills include martial techniques, they help the beginner develop Taoist breathing because they are simple in form; the novice can practice deep breathing instead of concentrating his mind on remembering the correct outer form.” In another book (1987) Master Yang states that “after you have worked for a while on circulating your Qi with the [Qi Coiling] exercises, you should start practicing individual forms from the sequence.” And “individual forms should be practiced repeatedly, emphasizing root, stability, and balancing the Qi (氣).” Finally, Nigel Sutton (1991) writes: “In ‘Cheng Man Ching’ Taiji Quan there are five important movements, each of which exemplifies a particular movement pattern or application of power.”

So these Basic Postures are: a) helpful in introducing the beginner to the art; b) helpful in coordinating breathing and movement; and c) more important than the other postures in the routine because of their special features.

Below I will look at the Basic Postures from all these three teachers to see what kind of exercises they have come up with. Although Chen calls them ‘preliminary exercises’ and Master Yang ‘fundamental moving drills,’ in Chinese they are usually called Basic Postures (Jiben Zishi 基 本 姿 勢 or Gongjia 功 架), to distinguish them as a category from Basic Exercises (Jiben Gong 基 本 功), such as Qi Gong (氣 功) or Zhuang Gong (樁 功).

Y. K. Chen’s “Preliminary Exercises” for the Yang Style 108-Postures Routine:
• (1-6) Grasp Bird’s Tail (Lan Quewei 攬 雀 尾)
• (7) Single Whip (Dan Bian 單 鞭)
• (Cool Raise Hands and Step Up (Tishou Shangshi 提 手 上 勢)
• (9) Stork Cools Its Wings (Baihe Liangchi 白 鶴 亮 翅)
• (10/12) Brush Knee and Twist Step (Louxi Aobu 摟 膝 拗 步)
• (11) Play the Fiddle (Shouhui Pipa 手 揮 琵 琶)
• (13) Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch (Ban Lan Chui 搬 攔 捶)
• (14/15) Step Back and Repulse Monkey (Daonianhou 到 攆 猴)
• (16) Slanting Flying (Xiefeishi 斜 飛 式)
• (17) Fan Through the Back (Shantongbei 扇 通 背)
• (18) Wave Hands Like Clouds (Yunshou 雲 手)
• (19) Snake Creeps Down (Sheshen Xiashi 蛇 身 下 勢)
(The numbers are as given to the exercises by Y. K. Chen.)

Master Yang Jwing-Ming’s “Fundamental Moving Drills” for the Yang Style 113-Posture Routine:
1. Step on Kick [Chai Twe ?]
2. Wild Horses Share the Mane [Yema Fenzong 野 馬 分 鬃]
3. Circle Punch [Pieshenchui 撇 身 捶]
4. Repulse the Monkey [Daonianhou 到 攆 猴]
5. Left-Right Kick [Zuoyou Fenjiao 左 右 分 腳]
(Master Yang does not provide the Chinese characters so I added them for clarity.)

Elsewhere Master Yang mentions the following forms which should be practiced individually:
• Wardoff, Rollback, Press and Push
• Brush Knee and Step Forward [Louxi Aobu 摟 膝 拗 步]
• Diagonal Flying [Xiefeishi 斜 飛 式]
• Wave Hands in Clouds [Yunshou 雲 手]
• Step Back and Repulse Monkey [Daonianhou 到 攆 猴]
• Step Forward, Deflect Downward, Parry and Punch [Jinbu Ban Lan Chui 進 步 搬 攔 捶]

Nigel Sutton’s “Five Animals of Tai Chi Chuan” (Wu Xing 五 形 = Five Forms) for the Yang Style 37-Posture Routine:
1. Brush Knee Twist Step [Louxi Aobu 摟 膝 拗 步 = the Tiger 虎 hu]
2. White Crane Spreads Wings [Baihe Liangchi 白 鶴 亮 翅 = the Bird 鶴 he]
3. Step Back Repulse Monkey [Daonianhou 到 攆 猴 = the Ape 猴 hou]
4. Diagonal Flying [Xiefeishi 斜 飛 式 = the Stag 鹿 lu]
5. Cloud Hands [Yunshou 雲 手 = the Bear 熊 xiong]
(These five animals are from the famous physician Hua Tuo’s 華 佗 ‘Five-Animals Play’ Wu Qin Xi 五 禽 戲, a two-thousand year old health practice.)

Last but not least, Robert Smith (1974) makes a very intriguing remark about Grandmaster Yang Chengfu (楊 澄 甫): “During training he [Yang Chengfu] practiced the Single Whip for expansive power and Play the Guitar for contractive power, holding each statically for lengthy periods. He also moved repeatedly through Step Back and Repulse the Monkey (for moving the Qi up past the sacrum) and Step Forward, Deflect Downward, Parry and Punch.” So, schematically:
1. Single Whip [Dan Bian 單 鞭 = Kaizhan Gong 開 展 功, a type of Zhuang Gong]
2. Play the Guitar [Shouhui Pipa 手 揮 琵 琶 = Jincou Gong 緊 湊 功, a type of Zhuang Gong]
3. Step Back and Repulse the Monkey [Daonianhou 到 攆 猴]
4. Step Forward, Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch [Jinbu Ban Lan Chui 進 步 搬 攔 捶]

Significantly, some postures are mentioned again and again, like ‘Cloud Hands’ and ‘Brush Knee and Twist Step.’ But only ‘Step Back and Repulse Monkey’ is in everyone’s list.

So what to practice? I would suggest that simply depends on: a) to which school you belong, b) to the preferences of your teacher, and c) in the end, on your own gut feeling. What doesn’t make sense is to simply add the above lists up with the idea of ‘better safe than sorry’ and practice as much different postures as possible. Start with the favorite postures of your teacher, and later develop a taste of your own. My personal favorite is ‘Brush Knee, Twist Step,’ both without stepping or with stepping, and both using large expansive circles (kaizhan 開 展) or small contractive circles (jincou 緊 湊). You can also combine ‘Brush Knee’ with ‘Play the Guitar,’ as in the Routine (and suggested by Y. K. Chen), and alternate between them over and over. Anyway, pick your own favorite posture and get to work!


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