Chen Applications (7)

Last but not least: Whirling Wind Arms, Flash the Back, Cloud Hands and Cannon Overhead.

Dao Juan Hong (?) – Whirling Wind Arms: Ugi grabs the right wrist with the right hand. Trap the ugi’s hand with the left, pull back the right, and as the ugi’s grasp breaks, twist the thumb down to the left, stepping back left and chopping at the ugi’s neck with the right.

Shan Tong Bei – Flash the Back: Ugi throws a right punch. Block up with the right hand turned out and palm up (as in the form). Turn away from the ugi to the right, shoulder in the ugi’s armpit, left hand holding the ugi’s upper arm like a tray. Pull down on the right, twisting and lifting the right leg to flip the ugi over the back (if not break the arm).

Yun Shou – Cloud Hands: This is a simple block (Peng), right block against right punch or left block against left punch, spiraling the arm outward.

Dang Tou Pao (?) – Cannon Overhead: block a right punch with both hands to the right, the kick the ugi’s back with the right leg. With double back fists, block a kick, then punch the face and solar plexus simultaneously, left fist to the face, as in the form.

Chen Applications (6)

Pie Shen Quan – Draping the Fist Over the Body: this application is similar to the second app for Xie Xing, except the ugi grabs the wrists. Make fists and hold the arms straight (but not straight, of course) down and connected. Sink and twist (usually left), pulling down and back with arm you are turning towards. If the ugi is not uprooted, reverse direction and uproot on the other side.

Blue-green Dragon Emerges from the Sea

Blue-green Dragon Emerges from the Sea

Qing Long Chu Shi – Blue-green Dragon Emerges from the Sea: Ugi is on the right. Six quick strikes closely follow the form: flip the right hand over, hammer with the left, back fist down and up with the right while reaching and grabbing with the left, then punch to groin.

Zhou Di Kan Quan – The Ugi punches with the right. Block up to expose the ribs and punch. The force of the punch comes from a twist of the body that shifts the weight to the right leg and lifts the left to cat stance.

Here’s an interesting page on Chinese names of movements. I’ve been puzzled about Fist Under Elbow, which I see everywhere as Zhou Di Chui, but which we learn as Zhou Di Kan Quan, which is looking at the fist under the elbow. Chui is beat or hammer; Quan is fist. Here’s a forum discussion of Zhou Di Chui and Pie Shen Chui (International Yang Family Association), which seems to be strike with back fist; our Chen movement is Pie Shen Quan (cast the fist across the body).

Chen Applications (5)

Oblique (Xie Xing) and Brush Knee Push (Lou Xi Ao Bu) have two and three applications, respectively.


Oblique 1: The Ugi throws a right punch. Block with the right,to the right and down while turning right and pivoting on the right heel. Trap the ugi’s right wrist close to the right hip and use the left to create an arm bar. Then as the ugi falls forward, do a qin na and push down and away.

Oblique 2: The ugi grabs both arms above the elbows. Drape both forearms over the ugi’s arms, trapping them, sink and twist to the side (usually left), pulling down and back with the leading arm and up with the following arm.

Brush Knee Push 1: Ugi throws a left punch. Block with the left straight ahead, grab the wrist and pull straight down close to your left side while pushing out with the right on the ugi’s shoulder.

Brush Knee Push 2: Ugi throws right punch. Rock back on right heel and block up with the right arm. Step in and strike with the right shoulder.

Brush Knee Push 3: Ugi grabs the right wrist with the right hand. Trap with the left and circle the hand (look at the palm, show the palm). Sink and knife downwards with the right hand.

Words of instruction

The names of some movements make reference to animals (Snake Creeps Down). Others invoke imagery (Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon). But many are instructive: Step Up and Punch Down, for example. Here are some words that recur in the various forms, telling you what to do.

strike with heel

You Deng Jiao = Strike with heel right

Jin means advance; Bu is a step. So Jin Bu is step forward, or advance a step. Tui is step back or retreat, so Tui Bu is step back. Chui means hammer or beat with fist (maybe punch)–this being martial arts, we see a lot of chui!

  • Jin Bu Ban Lan Chui = Step forward, intercept and punch
  • Jin Bu Zai Chui = Step forward and punch down
  • Jin Bu Zhi Dang Chui = Step forward and punch to groin
  • Tui Bu Kua Hu = Step back and ride the Tiger.

The four movements that comprise Grasp the Bird’s Tail (Lan Que Wei) are Peng, Lu, Ji, and An, the first four of the eight energies: ward off, pull back, press and push. The music we practice to has someone calling the names. She says, “You Lan Que Wei: Peng, Lu, Ji, An.” That’s Grasp the Bird’s Tail on the right.

  • Lu Ji Shi = Roll back and press

Chuan is thread, pass through, or penetrate. Zhang is palm. Shou is hand. Xie is slanted or diagonal.

  • Tui Bu Chuan Zhang = Step back and pierce palm
  • Yun Shou = Cloud hands
  • Ti Shou = Lift hands
  • Xie Fei Shi = Slant flying
  • Xie Dan Bian = Diagonal single whip

Zhuan Shen is turn body.

  • Zhuan Shen Zuo Deng Jiao = Turn body left heel kick
  • Zhuan Shen Ban Lan Chui = Turn body, block, parry, punch
  • Zhuan Shen Bai Lian = Turn body and sweep the lotus

P.S. The animals I have encountered so far are He (crane), Hu (tiger), Che (bird such as sparrow or peacock), Ma (horse).

  • Bai He Liang Chi = White crane spreads wings
  • Du Li Da Hu = Stand on one leg and hit the tiger
  • You/Zuo Da Hu Shi = Right/left hit the tiger
  • Gao Tan Ma = High pat on horse
  • Ye Ma Fen Zong = Part the wild horse’s mane

P.P.S. The “Jin” in Jin Ji Du Li is not the same as the “Jin” that means advance, as in Jin Bu Ban Lan Chui. The former has a level inflection and means golden (golden rooster stands on one leg). The latter has falling inflection. In context, this is not a problem, but for me it’s hard to hear (and pronounce) the difference.

Useful Words and Phrases

These words and phrases are useful for when I’m learning and practicing Tai Chi, picking people up or driving them home in my car, and arranging future practices.

practice group

Ni Hao does fine for hello and how are you and pleased to meet you and greeting in general. Thank you is Xie Xie (sounds like shyeh shyeh).

Ming Tian Jian is “See you tomorrow!” (I say that at the end of practice on Saturday). Xiage Li Bai Jian is “See you next week.” (I say that at the end of practice on Sunday.) Jian is the “See you” part; Xiage is next.

  • Jin Tian is today
  • Ming Tian is tomorrow
  • Zuo Tian is yesterday

Days of the week are numbered starting with Monday (1) and going through Saturday (6). You prefix them with either Xing Qi (sounds like sing chee), Li Bai, or Zhou (like the name Joe). My friends use Li Bai, so Monday could be Li Bai Yi, Tuesday is Li Bai Er, Wednesday is Li Bai San. And so on. Sunday is Li Bai Tian; there are other ways of saying Sunday, but Long Feng says Li Bai Tian.

Li Bai Wu Jian would be “See you Friday.” Xiage Li Bai Liu Jian is “See you next Saturday.” We meet at 8:00 am: Ba Dian.

Apart from hello, thank you, and when we’ll next see each other, our conversations consist of reciting things like numbers or names of forms or movements (I say Chinese, she says English). Right now we’re doing days of the week. I always wondered why Long Feng counted on her fingers to recite weekdays. Because in Chinese they’re numbered!

Directions include Zuo for left, You for right, and Ting for stop. If you learn the names for Brush Knee Push, Grasp the Bird’s Tail, etc., you can expand the instructions by adding left and right. Zuo Dan Bian is left single whip (the one we usually do).

Another good instructional term is Du Li, stand on one leg. Jin Ji Du Li is Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg (add left and right!), and Du Li Da Hu is Stand on One Leg and Hit the Tiger (42-form).

Jiao is kick. Fen Jiao is the “separate right/left foot” kick or sometimes more of a snap kick. Deng Jiao is a heel kick. Add left and right and you can make your way through a kicking section.

Learning the names of the forms and movements is not an idle exercise, in my situation. It allows me to ask questions, for one thing.

For example: The Fair Ladies movement in 42-form is different from what we do in traditional Tai Chi and different also from Fair Ladies in 24-form. Knowing the names of both the form and the movement, I can say, “Long Feng! Si Shi Er ShiYu Nu Chuan Shuo?” (I throw in a little pantomime.)

It’s primitive, but it works. She says, “Ah! Ha! Ha!” (She’s not laughing; that means yes, she understands.) And she shows me how to do Fair Ladies in 42-form, patiently repeating as many times as necessary, correcting details. I have learned four new forms (and a whole new style) in the year that I’ve been working with Long Feng.

Kung Fu Fan

Also called 52-step fan,  Fan Form I, or Taiji Gong Fu Shan, this form was created by Master Li Deyin in 2001. Here is a wonderful video of his daughter Faye Li Yip performing (pictured below).

Fan Form


As usual, Michael Garofalo provides a wealth of information on Cloud Hands, including a PDF of the movement names, which for the most part, mean little to me (except for Slant Flying, White Crane and a couple of others) and links to numerous video perfomances.

The form, like the song (Beauty of Sunset, Xi Yang Mei) has six parts. Part one is slow, Part two faster, Part Three faster yet, ending with a little tattoo. Part four is a repeat of part two. Part five is quite fast and staccato, culminating with crash and drumroll. Part six is slow and Yang-y.

Here are my notes from Pommelhouse, using names as Long Feng taught me:

Part 1 of 6:

  • Opening
  • Slant Flying
  • White Crane Spreads Wings
  • Hornet’s Hole (step L,R)
  • Rebels to Sea (pivot on R, step L)
  • White Crane Stands on Left Leg
  • Force Split Chinese Mountain (R, L, R)
  • Civet Rat (snake L, R, L, flip fan)
  • Sit Horse Flower (snake R, horse stance)

Part 2 of 6:

  • Part the Wild Horse’s Mane (feet stay put)
  • Chuyan Volley (White Crane w/feet together, fist)
  • Hornet’s Hole
  • Tiger’s Prey (step back R, forward L, push)
  • Mantis Stalks Cicada (kick stand)
  • Lema Back (step around R,L twirl fan)
  • Turning Tibet Fan (snake)
  • Sit Horse Flower

Part 3 of 6:

  • Ding Push Hill (push fan R)
  • Dragon Back (poke fan L)
  • Whiplash Horse (wind up turn L snap back)
  • Flew Swagger (snap stand R, cat L)
  • Arms Hold On (sink fan front)
  • Windward Liaoyi (stand tall fan points down)
  • Inverted Flower Wuziu (step R, point L, cross L sink)
  • Xiang Yu Yang Fan (fan front)
  • Hold Fan Interlude (starting position)

Part 4 of 6:

    Repeat Part 2!

Part 5 of 6:

  • Strike back with both elbows
  • Horse Shaking Fist (strike w/ two backfists)
  • Hop right cat stance
  • Kick with Right
  • Dragon intersect (R, ball-change L, kick back)
  • Lady Shuttle (stand w/ fan in front)
  • Tiannvsanhua (fan flutters over head)
  • Overlord Palm (close fan sit snap) Line Step Interlude (walk in circle)

Part 6 of 6:

  • Seven Star Hand (kick stand left)
  • Ward off right
  • Pull back and press
  • Su Bei Jian (fan behind back, push)
  • Brush Knee Twist Step
  • Single Whip
  • Bow to Shoot Tiger (snake pose)
  • Bai He Liang Chi
  • Close Form

The creation of the Taiji Kungfu Fan Form was completed in January 2001 in Beijing.  The first public demonstration of this new creation took place on February 18, 2001, by 2008 senior Taiji enthusiasts at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

 – Faye Li Yip

Counting and numbers

Here’s a video on counting to ten. The only hard part about learning numbers is getting the inflections right. They may be rising, falling, level or falling-rising. This is the hard part about learning how to say anything in Mandarin!

  1. Yi (level)
  2. Er (sounds like are) (falling)
  3. San (the a in sand) (level)
  4. Si (the vowel sounds sort of like the double-o in good) (falling)
  5. Wu (sounds like woh) (falling rising)
  6. Liu (sounds like leo) (falling)
  7. Qi (chee) (flat)
  8. Ba (flat)
  9. Jiu (joe) (falling rising)
  10. Shi (the vowel is close to the sound of eu in French) (rising)

Eleven is shi yi, 12 is shi er, etc. Ten plus the number. Twenty is er shi–two ten. Twenty-one would be er shi yi. It’s easy enough to extrapolate (though it would take a while to learn to count and say numbers readily).

The real pay-off to all this is that now I can say the names of the forms. We need one more tidbit, however: Shi with rising inflection is ten; shi with falling inflection means form. So shi occurs in the names of all the forms twice, pronunciation varying slightly (for those who can hear it).

Tai Chi Chuan (spelled variously as taiji quan or taiji ch’uan) means ultimate fist, but as I hear it used, taiji quan follows the empty-hand form names, while taiji jian is a sword form (jian being sword).

  • 24-form: er shi si shi taiji quan
  • 42-form: si shi er shi taiji quan
  • 32-form: san shi er shi taiji jian
  • 48-form: si shi ba shi taiji quan
  • 88-form: ba shi ba shi taiji quan

Just to add one final, random note of confusion: Bai, with falling-rising inflection, is hundred (yi bai is 100). Bai with rising inflection is white (as in crane).