Chen Yi Dao

I’m reviewing Chen Saber for a demonstration next week. For video, I’m looking at Chen Zhenglai. This sequence is slightly different from what I’m used to, but it’s mostly the same.

Chen Zhenglei performs Chen-shi Yi Dao

Chen Zhenglei performs Chen-shi Yi Dao

Also, Master Gohring has an entire playlist from a workshop that Master Blue Siytangco held at our school a few years ago.

Master Siytangco teaches Chen Saber

Master Siytangco teaches Chen Saber

I’ll combine this post with an earlier one on Chen saber to make a page for the form and link to that from the Moving Forms page.

Tiger Section

The Tiger section of the Tiger-Crane 108 is all footwork, and travels to four corners like the Yang Fair Lady Works Shuttles. Here’s the video, with names:

Snake section leads into Butterfly Scatters and Black Tiger Claw Method. Then Tiger Exits Cave points to the right front corner. Tiger Captures Sheep points to the right rear corner. Repeat.

Then Tiger Combats Wolf points to the left rear corner. Tiger Exits Cave (same move as before but mirror image) points to the left front corner. Repeat Tiger Combats Wolf.

Tiger Ascends and Descends Mountain are left and right symmetrical moves, as are the two Return Horse to the Stable. Here’s the full list of names:

  • Butterfly Scatters
  • Black Tiger Claw Method
  • Tiger Exits the Cave
  • Tiger Captures Sheep
  • Tiger Exits the Cave
  • Tiger Captures  Sheep
  • Tiger Combats Wolf
  • Tiger Exits the Cave
  • Tiger Combats Wolf
  • Tiger Ascends the Mountain
  • Fierce Tiger Descends the Mountain
  • Return Horse to the Stable
  • Return Horse to the Stable

Yi Jian Mei: Names

From the instructional video on Yi Jian Mei I have gleaned the names of the movements. It wasn’t easy! I took screen shots of the captions, but of course I couldn’t paste the characters into a dictionary because they were images. So I drew them one by one into the MDBG dictionary.

For all but the very simplest characters, the dictionary will not recognize a character unless the brush strokes are entered in (at least approximately) correct order. So from the lovely book shown below, Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy by Rebecca Yue, I learned (more or less) the proper order of brushstrokes. Altogether, this list took hours!


Of course, I could have just asked my friend Pan Huai to translate, but doing it myself the hard way was fun and I learned a lot. Pan Huai did tweak my translations of the movement names, many of which, like traditional names of other forms, are poetic, folkloric, and idiomatic.

Yi Jian Mei was the title of both a 1931 silent movie and a 1984 Taiwanese TV show. The plots are completely different, so I assume the two dramas are unrelated. The song written and recorded by Taiwanese singer-songwriter Fei Yu Qing was the theme for the TV show.

The sword form, which is based on the song, must therefore be less than thirty years old and might be a lot more recent: New versions of the 1984 TV show were made in China in 2000 and 2009. I’ve been told that the sword form was created by a master who is no longer living, but I haven’t been able to find out his name.

The list of 20 movements is divided into stanzas of the song, and I’ve included the lyrics that go with them. Love the song, the lyrics, and the sword form!

Names for 32-sword

I’ve put together a list of the 32 movements in the standardized short sword form. The contemporary forms have two sets of names, descriptive and traditional. Descriptive names are instructions, like Feet Together Point Sword. The traditional names are mostly poetic, often idiomatic, and sometimes make reference to folklore and legendary gods and heroes.

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky

For descriptive names, I have used the list written out for me by a friend (below). For the traditional names I have relied heavily on Michael Garofalo’s excellent blog, Cloud Hands. He has compiled an extensive list of names for each movement–these older names appear in many forms and have numerous translations. I have chosen the poetic names used at my school for the Yang sword form.

photo (15)

起势, Qi Shi (Commencement) is not one of the 32 movements. For 32-sword, 三環套月 (San huan tao yue) is a form of Three Rings Around the Moon, which also varies in traditional forms, but is mostly the same in contemporary sword forms.

Long Feng doing 32 sword

Three Rings Around the Moon

Here’s the list, in Chinese, Pinyin and English, as a PDF: 32-Sword Names of Movements

If you are confused by the two different names for Da Kui Xing—Big Dipper and Major Literary Star—Michael Garofalo explains how and why the great scholar Kui Xing took up residence in the constellation. See Cloud Hands.

Interestingly, the MDBG dictionary translates 海底撈月 (Hai Di Lao Yue), which we call Scooping the Moon from the Bottom of the Sea, as an idiom for a hopeless illusion, which makes sense, since the moon in the sea is just a reflection that you couldn’t scoop up.

Push Boat with Current is an idiom for taking advantage of a situation for one’s own benefit, and Shooting Star Chases the Moon is an idiom for swift action.

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky ia an idiom for boldness and imagination, unrestrained style, especially in calligraphy. Garofalo notes that a number of words for sword techniques are also terms for strokes in calligraphy, and that many sword masters have also been accomplished calligraphers.

42-Step Taiji Quan

I’ve just been through Li De Yin’s instructional video on the 42-step combined form for competition. I have the DVD and have not found that material on YouTube; it might not be available on the Web.


I did stumble upon a short video in which Professor Li explains (in Chinese, alas and of course) and demonstrates one of the moves I have found most baffling: the sequence of Yan Shou Gong Chui and Ye Ma Fen Zong. The Hidden Hand Punch I get, and although it’s different from the Chen I know, Part the Wild Horse’s Mane is clear, too. What I have been puzzled about is the little fajin in between. This is the clearest exposition I’ve seen. Helpful!


For sheer beauty of form, Amin Wu’s version is the performance I am trying to keep in my mind’s eye. I’m a big fan of this many-time Chinese champion. You can read about her accomplishments here:

I’ve been learning the Chinese characters for numbers and a few of the words that occur most commonly in tai chi. The red letters in the image above say 42 form taiji quan:  = 4,  = 10, = 2 (combine four, ten and two for 42), 式 = shì = form, 太极拳 = taiji quan. Learn Chinese numbers here:

For names of movements, other videos, etc., see the main 42-form page.

Wudang Tai Chi Videos

Here’s an additional (and excellent!) resource for the combined Wudang (49-step)Tai Chi Sword form: an instructional video in two parts on YouTube, with Li De Yin teaching and his daughter Faye Li Yip demonstrating.

Master Faye Yip demonstrating

Master Faye Yip demonstrating Pu Bu Chuan Jian

The videos are 45-50 minutes long, each covering about half of the form. The second video includes the optional flourishes that can follow #36, gong bu gua pi.

Snake Section

The Snake Section is the fourth part of the Hung Gar Tiger Crane set. Videos:


And the names are:

  • Wipe the Sleeve
  • Snake Spits Poison
  • Rising Falling Block
  • Lift and Press
  • Snake Points to Heaven
  • Double Falling Back Fist
  • Fist Going Through the Sky
  • Continually Piercing the Sky
  • Staggered Horse Stance, Fist Like an Arrow

Repeat other side. Then:

  • Snake Pierces the Eye
  • Cat Stance Chopping Down
  • Turn Around and Slice bamboo
  • Snake Strikes from the earth

We are going to stop here for a while and return to Laojia Yilu, but there are two more sections remaining to this form. We’ll learn them before the end of the year.