General preparation and principles.
顺 呼吸 Shùn hūxi. Follow a natural, relaxed breathing pattern.
Don’t pay too much attention to breathing when you are new to taijiquan.
My teacher told me to practice the form without too much focus on breathing for this would disturb the natural flow needed in the form. After some years one will learn how to breathe with the form, supporting it and deepening it.
However, there are some points of attention:
– use calm abdominal breathing.
– try to inhale and exhale through the nose.
– place the tip of the tongue against the hard palate and teeth.
this creates a connection in the energy stream making it circular (beanshaped). Qi rises over the governor meridian (du mai) along the back and lets it “flow into” the conception meridian (ren mai) through the tongue which is placed at the palate.
It is important to relax both mentally and physically without getting saggy. Keep a natural tension in the body and see to it that movements are lead by the waist, 腰 (yāo).
虚领顶尽 Xū lǐng dǐng jìn (empty/neck/top of head/to the limit).
Relax the neck and raise the head (“as if the crown of the head is connected to the clouds with a string”).
含胸拔背 Hán xiōng bá bèi (contain/chest/to pull up/back of body).
Relax the chest downward and pull up the back. Don’t tense the chest making it expand but keep it relaxed which makes it more or less “go down” allowing the Qì 沉 to go towards the dāntián.
The straightening of the back does not happen by compacting it but rather by a “pulling apart” in order to “open up”.
松腰 Sōng yāo (relax/waist)
Relax waist and buttocks, the waist regulates the movements and is the source of sensation and perception.
沉氣丹田Qì chén dāntián (vital energy/bringing down/dāntián).
Let the qì 氣(vital breath, energy) sink towards the lower dāntián 丹田.
(a point 4 fingers beneath the navel towards the spine and the natural residence of Qì)
沉肩坠肘 Chén jiān zhuì zhǒu (bring down/shoulder/let drop/elbow).
Bring down the shoulders (relax) and leave the elbows hanging naturally (relax).
用意不用力 Yòng yì bù yòng lì (use/thought/not/use/force).
Use your mind (intention), do not use (muscular) force.
分虚实 Fēn xū shí (distinguish/empty/full, solid).
Distinguish between empty and full.
Try to combine the movements of your upper and lower body and be aware of your whole body. The movements should not only be on the surface but must be internally connected. The implementation of the form must be smooth and continuous, and your mind must remain calm so that you can find stillness in movement.
Avoid for this purpose the use of force as this, usually intentional effort, will separate movements, will only let you work the surface, disturbs the natural flow, unbalances the spirit, causes clamor and creates improper motion.
Five conditions for proper practice:
Calmness (jìng) 静
Softness (qīng) 轻
Slowness (màn) 慢
Precision (qí) 齐
Endurance (héng) 恒
Three groundrules for movement (sequence of motion):
a. Turn waist (the waist controls all movements).
b. Hand – Waist – Foot The logical sequence of motion*.
c. Finish together. Everything comes together simultaneously.
* There is much debate about this statement. As my master says “the hand starts moving while the waist regulates and the foot follows. It is a way of practicing the form.
Make sure that your shoulders remain relaxed and your back is straight (whether it is upright, forward or backward, the entire back remains straight).
Let the proper motion and the transferring of weight do the job. The shifting of the weight is essential when you have to make a turn. If done correctly and the turn is allmost complete you sort of “sit down” on the leg where the weight is. It makes the turning easier and the “sitting down” provides stability.
Zhan Zhuang (站桩 zhàn zhuāng / standing, stake)
Tree Posture / standing like a stake.
An exercise in which the practitioner stands motionless ‘as a tree’.
This also is a good preparation before practicing form.
Note: Use natural tension only! Once the stance is made, hold it without forcing to hold it, rise only to stop.
Here is a link to a very good article written by Wang Hai Jun translated by Nick Gudge.
It is about: The Five Most Important Taijiquan Skills For Students.
The thirteen postures of Taijiquan:
The eight positions of the hands (ba men):
The four straight directions are:
– Péng 掤 (ward of; intercept and control through upward motion)
– Lǚ 履 (roll back; deflect downward and back again)
– Jĭ 挤 (press or squeeze; apply forward force)
– Àn 按 (push or press; apply weight downward)
These four straight directions correspond to the trigrams:
Qian (heaven), Kun (earth), Kan (water) and Li (fire).
The four diagonal directions are:
– Căi採 (pluck; grabbing and twisting)
– Liè 挒 (splitting; applying force in two different directions)
– Zhǒu 肘 (elbow; strike through with the elbow)
– Kào 靠 (hit/body strike; with shoulder, hip or knee)
They correspond to the trigrams:
Xun (wind), Zhen (thunder), Dui (lake) and Gen (mountain).
The five positions of the leg (wu men):
– Jìn bù 进步 (forward, go in)(also: qianjin)
– Tuì bù 退步 (withdraw)(also: houtui)
– Zuǒ gù 左顾 (look left)
– Yòu pàn右盼 (look right)
– Zhōng dìng中定 (central equilibrium)
They correspond to:
Jin (metal), Mu (wood), Shui (water), Huo (fire) and Tu (earth).
Wúshì 吴氏 Wu family (clan).
WU STYLE TAIJIQUAN:
Five preparational excercises:
shuāng biān 双 鞭 (double, pair – whip – strike) Double whip.
diàodài 吊 袋 (lift, hangin up – bag) Hanging up the bag.
báihè liàngchì 白 鹤 亮 翅 (white – crane – shows –wings) White crane spreads wings.
shuāngfēng guàněr 双风贯耳(double – wind – throug – ear) Double strike to the ears.
yúnshǒu云 手 (cloud – hands) cloudhands.
Footstances in Wu style:
平行 步píngxíngbù (parallel – step, position)
parallel stance (feet parallel and straight forward).
虚步 xūbù (emptyness – step, position)
empty stance (parallel with one foot forward).
丁字步 dīngzìbù (T – letter – step, position)
T step stance (feet perpendicular forming the letter T.).
弓步 gōngbù (bow – step, position)
马步 mǎbù (horse – step, position)
吴氏 套路 Wúshì tàolù: Wu-style form (from Wikipedia).
The 108 postures of the Wu family style of Taijiquan are listed below. For each unique form name there is the literal translation and then, if it is different, the Shanghai school’s translation followed by the original Chinese characters:
1. Begin T’ai Chi Form – The Preparation Form 太極起式
2. Raise Hands Above Posture – Raise Hand and Step Up 提手上勢
3. Hand Plays P’i P’a – Hand Strums the Lute 手揮琵琶
4. Grasp Bird’s Tail 攬雀尾
5. Single Whip 單鞭
6. Slant Flying Posture (also known as Slant Single Whip) – Flying Oblique 斜飛勢 (斜單鞭)
7. Raise Hands Above Posture 提手上勢
8. White Crane Spreads Wings – White Stork Flaps its Wings 白鶴亮翅
9. Brush Knee Push Step Left Right 4 Times – Brush Knee Twist Step 摟膝拗步左右四度
10. Hand Plays P’i P’a 手揮琵琶
11. Step Forward, Deflect, Parry, Punch – Step Up Diverting and Blocking Fist 進步搬攔捶
12. As If Seemingly Sealed Shut (aka: Push Forward) – As if Closing Up 如封似閉 (進按)
13. Carry Tiger to the Mountain – Tiger and Leopard Spring to the Mountain 抱虎歸山
14. Cross Hands 十
15. Slant Brush Knee Push Step 斜摟膝拗步
16. Turn Body Brush Knee Push Step 轉身摟膝拗步
17. Grasp Bird’s Tail 攬雀尾
18. Single Whip (also known as Slant Single Whip) 單鞭 (斜單鞭)
19. Fist Under Elbow Punch 肘底看捶
20. Fall to Repulse Monkey Left and Right 3 Times 倒攆猴左右三度
21. Slant Flying Posture 斜飛勢
22. Raise Hands Above Posture 提手上勢
23. White Crane Spreads Wings 白鶴亮翅
24. Brush Knee Push Step 摟膝拗步
25. Sea Bottom Needle – Needle at the Bottom of the Sea 海底針
26. Fan Through Back – Play Arms like a Fan 扇通背
27. Rotate Body Away Body Punch – Parry and Punch 翻身撇身捶
28. Step Back Deflect Parry Punch – Move Step Diverting and Blocking Punch 退步搬攔捶
29. Step Up Grasp Bird’s Tail 上步攬雀尾
30. Single Whip 單鞭
31. Cloud Hands (3 Times) 雲手 (三度)
32. Single Whip 單鞭
33. Left High Pat Horse 左高探馬
34. Right Separate Foot Kick – Right Parting Leg 右分腳
35. Right High Pat Horse 右高探馬
36. Left Separate Foot Kick – Left Parting Leg 左分腳
37. Turn Body Kick with Heel – Turn Body Pedalling Foot 轉身蹬腿
38. Brush Knee Push Step Twice 摟膝拗步二度
39. Step Forward Punch Down 進步栽捶
40. Rotate Body Away Body Punch 翻身撇身捶
41. High Pat Horse 高探馬
42. Right Separate Hands 右分手
43. First Raise Foot Kick 一起腳
44. Step Back Seven Stars 退步七星
45. Step Back Hit Tiger Posture – Retreat Step Beat the Tiger 退步打虎勢
46. Second Raise Foot Kick 二起腳
47. Double Peaks Pierce Ears – Strike the Ears with Double Fists 雙峰貫耳
48. Lean Back Kick with Toe – Open Body and Kick 披身踢腿
49. Turn Body Kick with Heel 轉身蹬腿
50. High Pat Horse 高探馬
51. Step Forward, Deflect, Parry, Punch 進步搬攔捶
52. As If Seemingly Sealed Shut (also known as Push Forward) 如封似閉 (進按)
53. Carry Tiger to the Mountain 抱虎歸山
54. Cross Hands 十字手
55. Slant Brush Knee Push Step 斜摟膝拗步
56. Turn Body Brush Knee Push Step 轉身摟膝拗步
57. Grasp Bird’s Tail 攬雀尾
58. Single Whip (also known as Slant Single Whip) 單鞭 (斜單鞭)
59. Hand Plays P’i P’a 手揮琵琶
60. Wild Horse Separate Mane – Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane 野馬分鬃
61. Hand Plays P’i P’a 手揮琵琶
62. Wild Horse Separate Mane 3 Times 野馬分鬃三度
63. Hand Plays P’i P’a 手揮琵琶
64. Wild Horse Separate Mane 野馬分鬃
65. Jade Lady Works Shuttles Twice – Jade Girl Works at the Shuttle 玉女穿梭二度
66. Hand Plays P’i P’a 手揮琵琶
67. Wild Horse Separate Mane 野馬分鬃
68. Jade Lady Works Shuttles Twice – Jade Girl Works at the Shuttle 玉女穿梭二度
69. Grasp Bird’s Tail 攬雀尾
70. Single Whip 單鞭
71. Cloud Hands (3 Times) 雲手 (三度)
72. Single Whip 單鞭
73. Downward Posture (also known as Snake Creeps Down Posture) 下勢 (蛇身下勢)
74. Left Golden Rooster on One Leg – Golden Cockerel Standing on One Leg 左金雞獨立
75. Right Golden Rooster on One Leg 右金雞獨立
76. Fall to Repulse Monkey Left and Right 3 Times 倒攆猴左右三度
77. Cross Slant Flying Posture 橫斜飛勢
78. Raise Hands Above Posture 提手上勢
79. White Crane Spreads Wings 白鶴亮翅
80. Brush Knee Push Step 摟膝拗步
81. Sea Bottom Needle 海底針
82. Fan Through Back 扇通背
83. Rotate Body Away Body Punch 翻身撇身捶
84. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch 上步搬攔捶
85. Step Up Grasp Bird’s Tail 上步攬雀尾
86. Single Whip 單鞭
87. Cloud Hands (3 Times) 雲手 (三度)
88. Single Whip 單鞭
89. High Pat Horse 高探馬
90. Slap Face Palm – Palm Goes to Meet the Face 撲面掌
91. Rotate Body Single Swing Lotus – Turn Body Cross Swing Lotus 翻身單擺蓮
92. Brush Knee Push Step 摟膝拗步
93. Step Up Finger Stop Punch – Pointing to the Crotch Punch 上步指擋捶
94. Step Up Grasp Bird’s Tail 上步攬雀尾
95. Single Whip 單鞭
96. Downward Posture (also known as Snake Creeps Down Posture) 下勢 (蛇身下勢 )
97. Step Up Seven Stars 上步七星
98. Step Back Ride Tiger 退步跨虎
99. Turn Body Slap Face Palm – Turn Body Hit Face Palm 轉身撲面掌
100. Rotate Body Double Swing Lotus – Turn Body Double Swing Lotus 翻身雙擺蓮
101. Bend Bow Shoot Tiger – Curve Bow Shoot Tiger 彎弓射虎
102. High Pat Horse 高探馬
103. Slap Face Palm 撲面掌
104. Rotate Body Away Body Punch 翻身撇身捶
105. Step Up High Pat Horse 上步高探馬
106. Step Up Grasp Bird’s Tail 上步攬雀尾
107. Single Whip 單鞭
108. Conclusion of T’ai Chi – Closing T’ai Chi 合太極
Wikipedia on: Wu style Tai Ji Quan.
Ma Yueliang and Ma Jiangbao do Pushing Hands:
Ma Jiangbao does part of the Long Form:
Tui Shou 推手. Ma Yueliang and Shi Mei Lin.
Wu Yinghua and Shi Mei Lin.
(Color photo: Ma Jiangbao and Wu Yan Tang.
Black and white photo: Wu Jinghua and Ma Yueliang)
In 1984 i started learning Taijiquan with Shi Mei Lin (Wu Yan Tang), the adopted daughter of Wu Jinghua and Ma Yueliang. When she left for New Zealand i studied with Henri Herwijer (Han Lì) (┼) whose teacher was Ma Jiangbao, the son of Wu Jinghua and Ma Yueliang. Nowdays i study with Bart Saris and Ma Jiangbao in Venlo.
For lot’s of Wu Style Taijiquan video’s go to My YouTube account.
Names of additional forms of practice:
Tuìshǒu 退守 Pushing hands (litt: to retreat and defend / to withdraw and maintain one’s guard). An important partner excersice needed to deepen the understanding of taijiquan. It teaches the practitioner to sense the others intention and how to manage it. The classics state: “without tuìshǒu no progress”.
Qiāng 枪 Spear: The next level of learning after one has mastered the short form.
The spear teaches one to extend and wield force outward and away from the body. The spear is fairly long and therefore it gives a very different feeling of working with energy, weight and reach.
Dāo 刀 Sabre: The next level up.
Jiàn 剑 Straightsword: The “king of weapons” in taijiquan. The highest level of weaponforms.
Remark: there also was / is double sabre and double sword. However i do not know where it is tought in Holland.
I do know that some forms have disappeared due to the difficulty of these forms and because of the fact that there were no successors to teach it to new students. As such these forms are lost.