Kung Fu Fan

Kung Fu Fan is one of two fan forms created by Li Deyin in the early two thousands. Both are popular and widely practiced, at least in China and among Chinese people living here, and both are usually performed to a piece of music called Xi Yang Mei, or Beautiful Sunset.

Here is Master Faye Yip performing Kung Fu Fan. She is Li Deyin’s daughter, and I think of her as the gold standard for both of his fan forms.

Fan Form

In an earlier video, Master Faye performs Kung Fu Fan with a group of students at a workshop in Madrid.

Kung Fu Fan has 52 movements, divided into six sections corresponding to six sections in the music. The first and last sections are slow and Tai Chi-like. The second section is faster, the third faster still. The fourth section repeats the second section exactly, and the fifth section starts out fast and emphatic, reaches high point, then stops and slows dramatically.

Most of the movements in Kung Fu Fan are based on traditional tai chi forms, especially sword forms, with the fan substituting for the sword. In the list I’ve got, the names of the movements are followed by the name of the traditional movement in parenthesis. Here’s the list: (PDF) kungfu fan

I’ve found a two-part, two-hour instructional video by Li himself. It’s in Chinese but as usual, he presents it so clearly, with such ample demonstration, that you can learn without understanding what he’s saying (though I wish I could!). The captions that appear on the screen match the list in the PDF above.

Instructional videos:

Just for fun, and not to be missed, check out a couple of WOW renditions of the same form in tournament play:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3XRUF48z2c
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7cz03oIFGc&t=3s

Kung Fu Fan is an entertaining piece to watch, fun to perform, not to mention good exercise in practice.  It works very well as an ensemble piece for as many people as you can fit on the stage. It’s not that hard to learn, at least well enough to perform in the back row, so a lot of people get to be in on the act.

My weekend practice group has performed with as many as seven people, in settings as diverse as Chinese New Year parties, community centers, and nursing homes. Above, Long Feng, Hu Peiyi and I (L-R front row) perform Kung Fu Fan  for a senior lunch at the Asian American Resource Center in Austin in 2018.

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Taijiese

Taijiese is what I call my lexicon for Tai Chi. It encompasses many Chinese terms of art and words and phrases used during instruction, as well as the names of the forms and movements of Tai Chi. It is Chinese for the Western student of Tai Chi.

taijiese

A vocabulary of about 100 words of Taijiese is sufficient for taking instruction from a Chinese teacher who speaks no English.

Anyone in America who is fortunate enough to study Tai Chi with a Chinese master is likely to pick up at least a smattering of Chinese. Students are also likely to learn names, most often English names, for the movements of the various forms they study. Less often do they systematically set out to learn all the names of all the movements in Chinese. But I have done this, and I’ve found it to be easier than I expected and more valuable than I imagined, as a supplement to classes, lessons, and practice.

Taijiese is a very specialized vocabulary, one not covered in most tutorials and programs for learning conversational Chinese. Even dictionaries and phrase-books are of limited use, omitting words and phrases unlikely to occur in everyday situations. And when you do find the words and phrases used in Tai Chi, the meanings given in the dictionary usually have little relevance to the practice of Tai Chi.

Chinese is a difficult language for a Western speaker of English to learn, but learning Taijiese is actually quite doable. For one thing, the vocabulary is relatively small. For everyday conversation in  most languages, you need a vocabulary of about a thousand words. A vocabulary of fifty words is a very good start in Taijiese. Learn one hundred words and you will be fairly fluent. And because Taijiese is used in such a specific context, it’s easier to understand and make yourself understood, as compared to everyday conversation, which can range over many possible topics. Pronunciation and regional accents are less of an issue, too, for the same reason.

I’ve added a new section to this notebook, Taijiese in the main menu, where I’ll be collecting all my various lists of useful words and phrases. If a reference like the one I have been building for the last few years exists, I am not aware of it.  I haven’t got everything uploaded yet; I’ll be adding more links soon.

36-step Taiji Dao

Over the summer this year, I learned a wonderful new saber form. My friend and teacher Hu Pei Yi (below) knows this form and does it very well. I am so lucky to have access to first-hand instruction!

@peiyi4

This form has 36 steps. It was created by Ma Chonxi, who performs in the video below.

Video: https://www.  youtube.  com/watch?v=HFZOiVs6vrA

Here, also, is a good article about Ma, who started out as a street performer, then became a quite well-known wushu master and coach. She was born in 1940, so she is 66 in the video (published in 2006), which is inspiring to someone as old as I am.

36machonxi

Though it seems to be considered predominantly Chen-style, it looks like a combined form to me. Several saber techniques used here are not found in either the Yang or Chen saber  forms I’m familiar with—jiao and ya, for example. Hit the Tiger and the double jump kick are both in the Yang form, not the Chen. And I have never seen yang shen in saber anywhere. Interesting!

Here’s another very impressive performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a844FVYDIl0

36yellow

I found a list of the movements on the Chinese search engine hosted by Baidu. I’m not sure quite all the characters are correct (as noted in the list): 36-Taijidao (PDF).

While searching out videos and names for 36-dao I came across a 56-step saber form that I love. Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to learn this one. 56-step dao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-tkuoEErgI

56dao

Chen Sword

Yet another form that I have been revising this year is Chen sword, and right now I’m working through it with Hu Pei Yi. Chen Zhenglei’s demonstration of the form is an excellent paradigm:

chaoyang-jiajian

 

In a series of short videos, Chen Zhenglei goes through the form a few moves at a time, with names and some instruction. The videos are in Chinese, but with a list of names and a modest vocabulary for sword techniques and stances, etc, I find I can understand a fair bit.

  1. Moves 1-11 (起势 Qǐshì  to  斜飞势 Xié fēi shì )
  2. Moves 12-21 (展翅点头 Zhǎn chì diǎntóu to 白蛇吐信 Bái Shé Tǔ Xìn)
  3. Moves 22-28 (乌龙摆尾 Wūlóng bǎi wěi to 斜飞势 Xié fēi shì)
  4. Moves 29-37 (鹰熊斗智 Yīng Xióng dòuzhì to 斜飞势 Xié fēi shì)
  5. Moves 38-44 (左托千斤 Zuǒ Tuō Qiān jīn to 斜飞势 Xié fēi shì)
  6. Moves 45-49 (哪吒探海 Nézha tàn hǎi to 还原Huányuán)

I have also worked my way through Jesse Tsao’s English instructional video for Chen Sword, which can be downloaded or streamed from his website: Taichihealthways.com.

Master Tsao’s Chen lineage is directly to Chen Zhenglei, so the form is the same. It is called 陈氏太极剑四十九式 (Chén shì tàijí jiàn sì shí jiǔ shì): Chen Style Tai Chi Sword 49-step form. Here is a list of the 49 steps:

Chen Sword List of Movements: Chen_Sword (PDF)

I arrived at this list by transcribing from the six videos by Chen Zhenglei. The Chinese names should all be good. The English translations are mine and are not guaranteed (or even likely) to be what anybody else uses. This form is not so well known that there are established English names. I use the Chinese.

Here is Chen Bing, Chen Xiaowang’s oldest nephew, performing Chen sword:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVoAts7CnRM

Bing’s younger cousin, Chen ZiQiang, is the head instructor at the Chen family school in Chenjiagou. He also offers a step-by-step instructional video on YouTube, with names.

Chen ZiQiang performs Chen Sword: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nem8pEmoAzE&t=7s

Here is his instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhxErjCbXxU

In the frame below, you can see that Chen ZiQiang gives the nine sword techniques (Jian fa) in the Chen system as follows: beng, gua, liao, pi, ci, dian, tuo, jia, and sao (for the characters and standard pinyin, see my vocabulary for sword). The move he’s doing is Qing Long Chu Shui (Bluegreen Dragon Emerges from the Water). It repeats twice, in moves #14 and #33.

chenjianfa

Just for fun, some of the personalities in the form are:

Zhong Kui (鍾馗), the Ghost King (vanquisher of ghosts);

Luóhàn (罗汉), aka Arhat, an enlightened person in Buddhism, one who has reached nirvana;

Yèchā (夜叉), a malevolent spirt;

Nézha (哪吒), the protection deity; and

Wéi Tuó (韦驼), aka Skanda, one of eight divine protectors in Chinese Buddhism.

Chen-style Dan Dao

The Chen-style single broadsword (單刀 Dān Dāo) is an exciting form that lasts only about a minute. I first learned it (a slightly different version, actually) about five years ago. This year I have been practicing and correcting my form with the help of Hu Pei Yi and Jesse Tsao’s excellent teaching video.

Here is a beautiful demonstration by Chen Zhenglei: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4ld2HZ8rSY

zhenglaidao

Chen Zhenglei performs Chen Saber

He also offers a YouTube instructional video with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL2SvwTYE7Q .

Here is the list of names of the movements, of which there are just 21: ChenSaber (PDF).

Michael Garofalo offers a thorough, interesting, and ultimately bewildering discussion of broadsword techniques, dao fa, on his excellent Cloud Hands tai chi blog: http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/swordtech.htm#Daotech. He lists 18 altogether; the Chen style seems to employ 13 (read the source notes that follow his list). Chen Zhenglei lists “slicing, hacking, blocking, cutting, pricking, rolling, closing, scooping, cross-cutting, twisting, shaking, supporting, and tilting”—but these are not his words. This is English, and as usual, the translation muddies the water.

I come away with the following vocabulary for saber. These are terms that I think I understand (meaning that I know what to do with the saber). I list them here in roughly the order that they are introduced in the form.

  1. 刺     Cī (Stab)
  2. 缠     Chán (Wrap)
  3. 划     Huá (Slash)
  4. 挂     Guà (Hang)
  5. 托     Tuō (Support)
  6. 撩     Liāo (Lift)
  7. 切     Qiē (Slice)
  8. 扫     Sǎo (Sweep)
  9. 劈     Pī  (Chop)
  10. 拦     Lán (Block)
  11. 截     Jié (Intercept)
  12. 扎     Zhā (Stab)
  13. 砍     Kǎn  (Hack)

The wrap, chan, is chan tou, wrap the head. The saber passes close around the head, protecting the back and head and positioning for a second slash (hua). The chan tou/hua combination is continuously repeated in Yang saber. Here, it occurs only when the wind sweeps the wilted flowers (and in closing form).

42-step Tai Chi Sword

The 42-step combined sword form is the competition routine for tournaments in China. With movements from the four majors styles of Tai Chi – Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun – it employs a wide range of sword techniques—jianfa.

yellowguy

Most of my practical knowledge of jianfa comes from studying sword with Hu Pei Yi. Other valuable sources include books by Scott Rodell and Yang JwingMing and a couple of videos by Huaicheng Lu, in which he specifically demonstrates most of the sword techniques employed in 42-sword.

Last year, I posted a Vocabulary for Sword, a comprehensive listing of names of sword techniques as well as instructive terms frequently used in relation to sword. English translations of these words—equivalents in everyday English of everyday Chinese—are of little use. The words are terms of art, and their meaning is the sword technique they name.

In his two-part video, Huaicheng Lu discusses and demonstrates, in order, dian, liao, pi, lan, zhan, xiao, yun, mo, jie, chuan, ci, sao, gua, jia, and tuo. The form he is working from is 42-Sword. Huaicheng Lu:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THrwJCLB_1I&t=67s

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifuur4eLa1w

Also invaluable is a tutorial by Li Deyin (who I believe created this form). In two hour-long segments he provides ample repetition and demonstration by a student who is awfully good.

I arrived at a list of the names for this form by transcribing from these videos. There’s a demonstration of the whole form at the beginning, and then a good bit of lecture in Chinese before the demonstrations begin. I wish I could understand it all!

Part One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxugZkkwUT0

Part Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujO2v6bUxvk&t=1259s

At about the 8-10 minutes section, Li gives a very interesting discussion of grip. Although it is in Chinese, if you have learned the names of the sword techniques, you can see how he is demonstrating the correct grip for the different jianfa.

List for 42-Sword: 42-sword

The list of movements for 42-sword is in the style of instructional names rather than traditional poetic names. The movements are mostly called by a combination of the stance and the sword technique. For example, the first move of 42 (after qishi), is bing bu dian jian.

Bing is together, bu is step. Bing bu = feet together. Dian jian is the short-range cut made by lifting the handle sharply upward so the tip of the blade pecks down. The wrist is rotated slightly so the handle rides up past the wrist. Here is Wudang Master Yuan Xiu Gang demonstrating dian in a video on sword techniques:

yuanxiudian

That’s Yuxu Temple! I was there in 2017! But there was no sign of Master Yuan, unfortunately. The temple sits right in the middle of Wudangshan:

1505yuxu

Another view, from the same terrace that Master Yuan is standing on:

1503yuxu

Elsewhere, I have posted a vocabulary for stances. Between that and the vocabulary for sword, most of the names on the list for 42-sword are covered. Deng jiao and fen jiao are the heel and toe kicks, respectively.  You see ti xi (lift knee) rather than duli (stand on one leg).

Some additional terms in the list for this form: hòu diǎn (hou is behind) and jǔ tuǐ (lift the leg, pronounced like tway), and bai tui (bai is swing, swing the leg). You can always paste the characters in the names into the MDBG online dictionary. But again, that won’t tell you anything about how to use the sword.

It’s also good to know bu yao: It means “don’t want” so if you hear that, he’s telling you what NOT to do. Usually you can tell anyway, because he exaggerates and the error looks obviously wrong.

At about the 26:00 point in the first video, Li Deyin discusses and demonstrates the sword techniques in the first section of the form: dian, xiao, pi, lan, liao, and ci – shang ci, xia ci, ping ci, and qian ci. You can see all these terms in the names of the first 11 moves.

One note:  Peng jian means to cup/hold the (handle of the) sword with both hands, but in this kind of form, you don’t, actually. In traditional sword forms you release the left sword fingers and clasp the right hand. In this form, you just lay the sword fingers under the right hand.

At about the 36:00 point, Li discusses and demonstrates some of the footwork in the form.

Here’s a separate video showing the whole form (demonstrated by the same student) from the back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqqKTq3Q20I

When I first learned this form, I relied on a tutorial by Amin Wu, which is also very good. The links for that are included in this post from 2016.

From these sources, I was well prepared to work with Hu Pei Yi when she came to town last winter. She’ll be back this month, which is why I am brushing up on 42-Sword right now.

Chen-Style Double Saber

This has to be one of the flashiest forms in all of Tai Chi. I’ve been working on it off and on for about three years. As usual, I have Jesse Tsao’s instructional video (available from taichihealthways.com either as a DVD or for download). Here is a YouTube clip from that video:

Jesseshuangdao

Chen Zhenglei has made a YouTube tutorial consisting of 8 short videos, each covering a few of the 35 moves. The tutorial:

  1. Moves 1-3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvs_bIsWw_E
  2. Moves 4-8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq0T3Z4Pwr0&t=8s
  3. Moves 9-13: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze__qQeKwD8
  4. Moves 14-18: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JujcbNnUwyo
  5. Moves 19-22: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JW9gWM8bLs
  6. Moves 23-26: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eQqcHmBOlA
  7. Moves 27-29: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EFsa5qFYsg
  8. Moves 30-35: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1ZXgwJal78

Here’s a video of Chen Zhenglei doing the whole form:

CZjump

When I first learned this form in 2015, I used the long, two-part tutorial by Master Tzu Tian Cai. It’s in Chinese with some English subtitles and rewards patience with very clear footwork and swordplay for every move.

Here is a list of the names of the movements, derived from multiple sources as well as my own translation. The Chinese and Pinyin are certainly correct; the English translations are, as usual, all over the map. I’ve settled on fairly literal, simple English. I use the Chinese. The name of the form is 陈氏双刀 (Chén Shì Shuāng Dāo).

Shuang Dao Names (PDF): Shuang-Dao

Finally, here’s the link for all my posts (notes) on this form, but the resources in this post cover everything I find useful when refreshing or trying to improve my form.