Ba Fa

Ba Fa means Eight Energies. It’s also the name of a short Chen-style form consisting of only 16 movements corresponding to the eight energies: blocking, pulling, pushing, pressing, grabbing, breaking, elbowing and shouldering.

Ba Fa

Master Gohring demonstrates Ba Fa

Video by Master Gohring shows Ba Fa from the back at a walk-through pace. Movements are as follows:

Left:

  • Block (step left, fingers pointing right)
  • Pull Back (shift back left, close with right foot, step forward right)
  • Push (shift back to right cat stance, step forward right to push)
  • Press (open to left, press down, step back up left to shoulder width)

Right:

  • Block (step back right, fingers point to left)
  • Pull Back (shift back right, close with left, step forward left)
  • Push(shift back to left cat, step forward left to push)
  • Press (open to right, press down, step up right feet together)

Left:

  • Grab (Step left)
  • Break (block up left, pull back and down left)
  • Elbow (step left, right)
  • Shoulder (Step left, right, walk back)

Right:

  • Grab (step right)
  • Break (block up right, pull back and down right)
  • Elbow (step right, left)
  • Shoulder (step right, left, walk back)

The 108 in Chinese (1)

I think I’ll try to learn the whole 108 in Chinese. This might take a while! But I can do the first section, right now:

  • Commencement – Qishi
  • Grasp the Bird’s Tail – Lan Que Wei
  • Single Whip – Dan Bian
  • Lift Hands – Ti Shou
  • Strike with Shoulder – Ma Bu Kao
  • White Crane Spreads Wings – Bai He Liang Chi
  • Brush Knee Push – Luo Xi Ao Bu
  • Playing Guitar – Shou Hui Pi Pa
  • Deflect Downward, Intercept and Punch – Ban Lan Chui
  • Withdraw and Push – Ru Feng Si Bi
  • Cross Hands – Shi Zi Shou

For Strike with Shoulder, I’m using the name for Lean-in Horse Stance (42-form), which is a strike with shoulder. Kao is the name of the shoulder-striking energy. Tai Chi Wizard lists it as You Kao (right shoulder strike), so maybe that would be better.

“Shou” with a smile-shaped accent (rising inflection) means hand or hands. With a straight line accent (level inflection) means gather or collect. Closing form, or feet together, is Shou Shi.

Grasp the Bird’s Tail consists of four movements: Ward-off (peng), Pull back (lu), Press (gi) and Push (an).

Zuo is left and You is right. Pronunciation audio for all these names can be found on the Lau Shi site; most of these movements occur in either 24 or 42 form.

Chen Sword

This form is required for the second degree black sash. The sword is double-edged and flexible, so it snaps when jabbed sharply. It’s the first sword form I learned; I now recognize some of the same movements in the Yang sword forms I’ve been studying.

Chem sword form

2010 Black Sash Graduation

The 2010 Black Sash Graduation video shows the form as we do it, which is the way Master Cheng Jincai teaches it. Here’s a video of Cheng Jincai performing Chen sword at the Legends of Kung Fu tournament. My Chen class performed it at the 2013 Graduation (I’m in the back in gold silks).

I don’t know the names of the movements, though I did find a list of movements on a site for the Dragon River School. I have my own notes describing the sequence; I’ll have to compare the two lists and see if I can make any sense of it. I’m not even sure that list is for the same form.

  1. Opening Form. Step left, sword across chest; shift left, turn right toes in, shift back, pivot on left heel, right arm forward; Step right, circle the arms and present sword; shift back, right toes in, open all the way around to left, return back around to right, sink, switch hands.
  2. Stand on right leg and SNAP DOWN.
  3. Step left and stab level.
  4. Slashing. Cut Right, left, right, left and turn.
  5. Step left and stab level.
  6. Over-the-head stab down behind.
  7. Stamp, step left and stab level.
  8. Slant Flying.
  9. Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon.
  10. SNAP horizontal.
  11. Slashing. Cut left, right, left.
  12. Sink and Pull Back.
  13. Stamp right.
  14. Stand on right leg and SNAP DOWN.
  15. Stab Up. Cut left and right, left knee, stab upward.
  16. Slashing. Cut left, right, left, turn right, left, right, open.
  17. Stab Up. Knee, step right, left, skip, stab upward.
  18. Stab horizontal. Pull around to left, sink and pull back, step up and stab horizontal.
  19. Twirl Sword. Step left, twirl right; step right, twirl left, turn and face front.
  20. Lunge. Step back with right foot, wipe blade and brush knee, stab overhead and catch right wrist with left hand.
  21. Over-the-head stab down behind.
  22. Fish: Turn back to front, cast overhead to cat stance, step up and horizontal stab.
  23. Slant Flying.
  24. Stab Up Left. Cut left, left knee, stab behind and up to left.
  25. Fish: Open and step right, left, right cat stance stab down.
  26. SNAP vertical. Open to right, recoil and snap open to side, sword up.
  27. SNAP. Turn to front, scoop on right, stamp, stand on right leg and snap down.
  28. Over the Shoulder. Step left throw sword up and over the right shoulder, right cat stance.
  29. Over the Shoulder. Step right and left throw sword forward, around and down in front, right cat stance.
  30. Slant Flying. Facing front.
  31. Recoil, hilt right, step right, left, right, fajin.
  32. Cut right and left, recoil, step right, left, right, fajin.
  33. Fish: Open step right, left, right cat stance
  34. Circle sword and catch.
  35. Slashing. Cut left, right, left, and open, right knee, step right and stab upward.
  36. Fajin. Turn back and stab down.
  37. Slant Flying.
  38. SNAP. Coil, step right, left, right, and SNAP horizontal.
  39. Over-the-Head stab behind.
  40. Horizontal SNAP. Facing front.
  41. Slashing. Left, Right turning, right, right, sink and pull, step up and stab horizontal.
  42. Close Form. Change hands, step left, slip sword, feet together, left hand circles down.

One more video, of Master Chen Zhenglei, is recognizably the same form, styled differently and with a different opening. I like it! And another variation has the opening that looks a bit like a Buddha Stamp, plus a bit more Fajin.

Yang Sword

I am in love with the double-edged sword. This is the third sword form I’ve learned, after Chen sword and 32-sword. It is NOT required for either the first or second degree black sash test at Master Gohring’s school. Like other traditional forms, this one is somewhat time-obscured.

Sword

My sword is from KungFuDirect.com

I’ve found six videos, two from Master Gohring’s school and four by other masters. (1) This video of class with names seems a little brisk in pace to me; it takes only about three minutes. That’s barely enough time to say all those long names! (2) This student demo was performed at Master Gohring’s 2013 Black Sash Graduation (4 minutes). The form runs a bit longer when performed by (3) Sifu Peter Tam Hoy, (4) Yang Jian Chao, (5) Li Guang Qi, and (6) Yang Jun.

1. Yang sword class  2. Yang sword demo 3. Peter Tam Hoy

4. Yang Jian Chao 5. Li Guang Qi 6. Yang Jun

The form looks quite different from one video to the next! I think it might be characteristic of traditional forms, which are by nature handed down from one teacher to another, that they vary this much.

Michael Garofalo lists the same movements we learn in class, along with numerous alternative translations that he has come across in his rather extensive research. Here’s the list of names.

  1. Step forward moving sword and hand together
  2. Divinity points the way
  3. Three rings around the moon (L,R)
  4. Major literary star
  5. Swallow beats the water (times three)
  6. Block and sweep from the left
  7. Block and sweep from the right
  8. Minor literary star
  9. Bee enters the cave
  10. Alert cat catches the mouse
  11. Dragonfly strikes the water
  12. Swallow returns to the nest
  13. Phoenix spreads both wings (slant flying)
  14. Whirling wind counterclockwise
  15. Minor literary star
  16. Whirling wind counterclockwise
  17. The attitude of catching a fish
  18. Divide the grass in search of a snake (times three)
  19. Embrace the moon
  20. The bird returns to the forest
  21. The black dragon wags its tail
  22. The wind rolls the lotus leaf
  23. The lion shakes its head
  24. The tiger holds its head
  25. The horse leaps over the stream
  26. Turn your body to stop the horse
  27. The compass
  28. Wave tassels against the wind
  29. Push boat with current
  30. Shooting star chases the moon
  31. The running horse goes wild
  32. Rolling up the screen
  33. The wheel spins left and right
  34. The swallow holds mud in its beak
  35. The roc spreads its wings
  36. Scooping the moon from the bottom of the sea
  37. Embracing the moon, the spirit searches the sea
  38. The rhino gazes at the moon
  39. Shooting the flying goose
  40. The dragon stretches its claws
  41. The phoenix spreads both wings
  42. Cross fence with left leg
  43. Cross fence with right leg
  44. Shooting the flying goose
  45. The white ape offers fruit
  46. The flowers fall left/right/left/right
  47. Fair lady works shuttles
  48. The white tiger wags its tail
  49. The fish leaps over the dragon’s gate
  50. The black dragon coils around the pillar
  51. The divinity points the way
  52. The wind sweeps the falling flowers
  53. Holding the tablet before your bosom
  54. Embrace the sword
  55. Return to starting position

On my to-do list: learn the standardized 56-form and figure out how it compares to this traditional form.

Beijing 24-form

The so-called simplified form was created under the auspices of the Chinese Sports Committee in 1956 by four Tai Chi masters. It contains many of the major elements of the traditional long forms without the repetition. It was intended for popular use as exercise and conditioning, and because it has been so widely taught in mainland China, it is undoubtedly the most widely known and practiced moving form in the world.

Beijing form

Videos are numerous. This one by taiji.de captured my imagination as I was just setting out to learn Tai Chi, and I still refer to it. By the time I learned 24-form, every movement was already familiar to me from my study of the 108, but I had to learn the sequence and then relearn all the details of the movements. 24-form is good training for the numbered forms coming out of post-war China, which I call modern standardized Tai Chi (my term), because they are all similarly styled. Almost every movement is quite different from the traditional style we practice at Master Gohring’s school.

The movements are as follows, and again the pronunciations are available from Lau Sui Taijiquan.

  1. Commencement – Qishi [Q=ch]
  2. Part the Wild Horses Mane – Ye ma fen zong (L, R, L) [fun]
  3. White Crane Spreads Wings – Bai he liang chi
  4. Brush Knee Push – Luo xi ao bu (L, R, L) [x=sh]
  5. Playing the Lute- Shou Hui Pi Pa
  6. Repulse Monkeys L, R, L, R – Dao Juan Hong
  7. Grasp the Bird’s Tail Left – Zuo Lan Que Wei
  8. Grasp the Bird’s Tail Right – You Lan Que Wei
  9. Single Whip – Dan bian
  10. Cloud Hands – Yun Shou
  11. Single Whip – Dan bien
  12. High Pat on Horse – Gao tan ma
  13. Strike with Heel – Deng jiao [dung; ji=ch]
  14. Box the Tiger’s ears – Shuang Feng Quan Er
  15. Turn and Strike with Heel left – Zhuan Shen Zuo Deng Jiao
  16. Snake Creeps Down Left (usual way)/Golden Rooster – Zuo Xia Shi Du Li
  17. Snake Creeps Down RIGHT/Golden Rooster – You Xia Shi Du Li
  18. Fair Lady Works the Shuttle R, L – Yu Nu Chuan Shuo
  19. Needle at Sea Bottom – Hai Di Zhen
  20. Fan Through Back – Shan Tong Bei
  21. Turn Around Block Parry and Punch – Zhuan Shen Ban Lan Chui
  22. Withdraw and Push – Ru Feng Si Bi
  23. Cross Hands – Shi Zi Shou
  24. Close Form – Shou Shi

I wanted to learn this form because it is the form you are most likely to have in common with other people you meet who do Tai Chi. Certainly, if you meet anyone who has recently come to the US from mainland China, they will begin with 24-form. In 2008, in celebration of the Olympics, squads of 2008 women performed 24-form in all the provinces of China! Long Feng was among them; she still has the white silks with red piping and embroidered Olympic rings with the year 2008 under them.