Pao Chui (con’t)

After the wrap crackers (Guo Bian Pao, on the Chicago list), we do the “beast head pose” (Shou tou shi). The freeze frame below occurs at 2:14 in the Bing video that I am using.

Beast Head Pose (Shou Tou Shi)

Beast Head Pose (Shou Tou Shi) at 2:14

From the last wrap cracker, at 2:12, step back with the right while circling the right fist down, back and around. The left fist circles down, back and around following the right fist. Finish in left cat stance with the left fist inside the left knee and the right fist by the right temple.

Step onto the left (he doesn’t appear to pick it up first), skip once (right-left), and fajin, hammering back and down with the right fist and at head-level with the left at 2:15:


He then drops his arms and makes a huge leap, turning 180 degrees, landing with the right fist punching down. He immediately ball–changes right-left for Yan Shou Gong Quan. The slow motion feature (see Jan 22 post) is a life-saver! I wish I had discovered it a long time ago!

From the list of names I’m using (Chicagitaiji laojia erlu list of names), it appears we are at the end of the second section. Pi Jia Ji (Wearing a Frame) must be the fajin; Fan Hua Fu Xiou is the 180-degree leap. It’s the same leap that immediately preceded Yan Shou Gong Quan at the end of the first section.

The next section begins with Subduing the Tiger (Fu Hu) at 2:20. I note that he does step back a step with the right; I find that I have to, even though I try to widen my stance for the cannon fist. The right hand pulls back, palm up, then circles up. Both hands spiral into a hit-the-tiger position.

Subdue the Tiger (Fu Hu) at 2:20

Subdue the Tiger (Fu Hu) at 2:20

Rise for a palm strike. The right arm circles out, the left arm circles under it, and the strike is to the right near corner.


We get a break. Two sets of three one-handed cloud hands-type moves follow, and these are comparatively slow. From the Palm Strike (Mo Mei Gong?), he faces away, feet together, left hand at the waist, and backhands to the right while stepping sideways to the left, cloud hands-style. Then he cross-steps behind with the right as the arm circles down, so the right hand sort of follows the right foot.

After three steps to the left, the final cross-step is a ball-change 180-degree turn to face front. I think it’s actually the same turn as the one in the middle of the firecrackers. The right hand goes to the waist and the left backhands, cloud hands-style with a step to the left. In this direction, the left hand follows the left foot for three steps.

That series is called Yellow Dragon Stirs the Water Three Times–Huang Long San Jiao Shui. The next two moves are Zuo Chong and You Chong, left and right thrust kicks. At the point when his feet are together after the third step, he steps back to his right, circles the arms out and scoops to gather for the kick:


He pivots on the left foot to face away for the right kick. He lands with a ball change right-left for Yan Shou Gong Quan and we are ready for the dreaded sweeps. We are at 2:40, and we’re halfway through the third section (of four).

Pao Chui – Firecrackers!

Wrapping Firecrackers, Guo Bian Pao, takes less than 10 seconds. From the Yan Shou Gong Quan (punch) at 2:05 (Bing video), Master Bing turns around to the right and makes two fajin moves to his left. Then he turns 180 and does two more.


That first turn: he picks up his right foot, pivoting on the left foot, and does a ball-change, right-for-left. It’s a 270-degree turn. His arms close on the turn, then he does a double back-fist. Picks up the right foot, does a ball-change to the left, landing right-left, and does another double back fist.

The second turn: picks up the right foot, pivoting on the left to the right, and does a ball-change right-left. Pow. Pick up the right, ball change right-left. Pow. So it’s actually sort of simple (in slow motion! In theory!) — he does the same thing four times, with two turns. Easy, right?

Pao Chui Part 2 (cont.)

We left off with Waving Hands (da gong quan xiao gong quan) and four quick bamboo steps. On the last step, we pivot on the right foot to the right, to face back in the other direction. Circle the right arm out and around on the pivot, so the right hand is at the left shoulder. The left arm follows, circling across the body and down to the side.

The position after the 180 turn

Position after the turn

The frame above is at the 2:02 mark in the video by Master Chen Bing.  Master Bing has a website, by the way, You can study with his student in Los Angeles, if you can’t get to Master Bing’s school in Chen Village.

After the turn, advance three more bamboo steps, turn around and punch. As best I can tell, the four bamboo steps to the right are Yu Nu Chuan Shuo–Fair Lady Works the Shuttle– and the three steps back to the left are Dao Qi Long–Riding the Dragon Backwards.

The four bamboo steps right are led with the right foot; the three bamboo steps back to the left are led with the left foot. The turn for the punch is to the right on the ball of the left foot. He sets his feet for the punch right-left. The turn is propelled (partly) by the switch of the hands from the position in the picture above to the position for the punch (right hand chambered, left reaching out, as in the picture below).

You can click on the settings icon (looks like a gear) in the lower right-hand corner of the video screen and set the speed of the video to .25 for slow motion playback. You can see the footwork from 1:58 to 2:03 for the bamboo steps and turns in this section of the form. Below, he has just pivoted on the left foot, after riding the dragon backwards, and and landed right-left to set up for the punch.

Landing right-left for the punch.

Landing right-left for the punch.

The punch is Yan Shou Gong Quan. (I am going by the list of names on the Chicago website; the Absolute Tai Chi list is different, which is confusing.)

Next: Wrapping Firecrackers. Guo Bian Pao. We’ve advanced about 7 seconds, and we’re only about halfway through the second section of the form.

Pao Chui – Cloud Hands

The Chicago school (Chenjigou Taijiquan, USA Chicago, which appears to be pretty closely tied to the major proponents of the Chen style in Chen village) divides the form into four sections, with the first section ending in Yan Shou Gong Quan. This is just before where I left off.


The second section begins with the 180-degree turn and the elbow strike (hit the left palm with the elbow, by the way). What follows is a turning version of Cloud Hands. The footwork:

  • Step around with the right to face front.
  • Cross step behind with the left.
  • Step out to the right and pivot on the right heel to face away.
  • Step out with the left.
  • Cross step behind with the right.

In this frame (below), Master Bing is about to face away. The left foot was planted across and behind the right; he is stepping out and pivoting on the right heel.

Pivoting on the right heel to face away

Pivoting on the right heel to face away

At the end, step out to the left and prepare to take four bamboo steps back in the opposite direction (see below).


I call this Cloud Hands, but it’s not Yun Shou. It’s Da Gong Quan Xiao Gong Quan. The translation offered is simply waving hands. To me, it looks like “big fist work, little fist work”–never mind! I am mystified about quite a few names, at this point. I see chopping hands, overturning flowers and waving sleeves in between Zhi Dang and Yan Shou Gong Quan. Hmmm!!!!

Anyway, the waving hands pretty much follow the left foot when he’s facing forward and the right foot when he’s facing back. That is, when he steps out to the right, his hands are to the left of his body; when he cross-steps behind with the left, the hands are waving to the right of the body. When he swings 180, he’s pivoting on the right heel and his hands swing to the right of his body as he step left. When he cross-steps behind with the right foot, his hands are waving to the left.

Advance with bamboo step right

Advance with bamboo step right.

Step back onto the left foot, touch-step with the right, hands crossed at the chest, right hand in front. Advance four quick bamboo steps, leading with the right (above). We have barely begun the second section, and we are at the two-minute mark, so apparently, we are going to cram the rest of the form into one minute twenty seconds!

Miyamoto Musashi

Love this video. Miyamoto Musashi was a legendary Samurai swordsman, but here he’s using a short staff–what we call the flute.


And here’s a cool documentary on the Samurai by Mark Dacascos (about an hour and forty-five minutes long, on YouTube).


My interest is Tai Chi, which is Chinese, whereas the Samurai are Japanese. And although Tai Chi is a martial art, my interest is more in the art than the marital part, more about health than fighting. But this is pretty exciting stuff.

Also, in the short clip, I recognize some of the moves we practice in flute form, including two-handed poke at the end of the form, which he is about to execute below.

If you haven’t read Shinju, by Laura Jo Rowland, I recommend it. It’s a satisfying nail-biter of a detective story, set in 17th century Tokyo. The main character, Sano Ichiro, is a Samurai and the most admirable protagonist ever. Here’s a lovely old Japanese woodblock of Musashi from Wikipedia:

Miyamoto Musashi (Wikipedia image)

Samurai Miyamoto Musashi

Pao Chui (1)

The form opens with Jin Gang Dao Dui, Lan Zha Yi, Liu Feng Si Bi, and Danbian. All four movements are (deceptively) simple versions, compared to what we did in the Chen 38. In the Bing video, these four moves bring us to 1:23 (out of 3:20).

Chen Bing: Protect the Heart

Chen Bing: Protect the Heart

Hu Xin Quan (Protect the Heart) has three parts: (1) a 180-degree leap followed by a right back fist; (2) advance left and grab for an elbow-strike; and (3) a right knee-up onto the left leg, left hand up.


From the du li, he lands (right, left) in position for Xie Xing, with left foot in advance of the right. He pushes from left to right with the left hand, and from right to left with the right hand, before opening up to the final position of Oblique Form at 1:32.

Begin Hui Tou Jin Gang Dao Dui (Hui Tou () is turn around): He chambers up as if to punch, strikes with the palm, then strikes back with the elbow, before turning all the way around to the right for the second Buddha stamp at 1:37. He pivots on the right heel, steps around with, then pivots on, his left foot, sweeping the right around and up for the stamp. From the point shown below, it’s a lot like Hui Tou Jin Gang Dao Dui in the 38.

Turn around Buddha stamp

Turn around Buddha stamp – Chen Bing

There is no pause between this move and the next, which is Pie Shen Quan, which we call Draping the Fist and/or Lean the Back (different names for the same move). From the Chen 38, we know this one as a twisting move with fists pulling right (fist) to left, left (fist) to right, and right fist to the left, ending in the leaning position shown below.

Lean the back - Chen Bing

Lean the back – Chen Bing

This form has an unfamiliar (to me) detail at the beginning: He steps out to the right, opens up and crosses his hands before beginning the “drape” with the left hand over to the right, then with the right hand over to the left. Despite the “quan” in the name, there’s no fist until the final leaning position. The hands are open, palms up.

This immediately follows the second Buddha stamp.

This position follows the second Buddha stamp, just before draping the fist and leaning the back.

From Lean the Back, he winds up in a Hit the Tiger-type position, then opens the arms diagonally:

hitfredHe then steps left (or maybe pivots on the left heel), then steps right to left cross behind and punches down. He jumps 360-degrees (turning to his left), punching to groin (Zhi Dang).


He finishes the jump here (above). You can tell he just landed because his jacket has flown up. From here, he does a ball change to switch the feet so the left is in advance. Chamber the right fist and punch.


Step around 180 degrees to the left with the right foot, pivoting on the left, advance left and throw the right elbow. We are at 1:50 in the video, and we are ready to slow down. Whew!

elbowI usually figure that 30 seconds of new material is a reasonable bite-size, but this 30 seconds has me reeling. Tough class. Without this video, recorded in Chenjiagou in 2001, I would be L-O-S-T. This last grab says it: Can I do this?!?


Chen Double Saber

In addition to Pao Chui, my class will be learning the Chen tai chi double saber form. It’s fairly short, less than three minutes. Here’s a walk-through by Master Gohring of the opening moves.

Opening moves, double saber

Opening moves, double saber

Here’s a demo by Grand Master Chen Zhenglei. The form we are doing in class is slightly different, since Master Gohring learned it from Grandmaster Cheng Jincai, whose Chen Taiji differs from the prevailing style practiced in China today.


A fourth degree student at our school performed double saber at our last black sash graduation. This video of Mr. Guidry differs slightly from what we learned in class; he has added some flourishes.

Lao Jia Erlu

Old Frame Chen Tai Chi, second routine, is my official new project for 2015 (though between us, what I really want and plan to learn is more sword). Here’s Chen Bing–impressive.


I found two great websites with information about the Chen forms:

Absolute Tai Chi offers an excellent Syllabus page with links to videos and lists of the names of the movements for the major Chen forms. The Chicago school Curriculum page offers these resources, too. Both schools seem to follow the teachings of Chen Xiaowang, whose videos I’ve been using.

I was excited to see that both curricula include sword and broadsword (Dao). The latter is the same one we learned–with names in Chinese. The sword form is the same but, wow, different. And names for the sword, which we’ve never had. More to come on both of these!

Chen Xiao Xing: Lao Jia Er Lu

Chen Xiao Xing: Lao Jia Er Lu

In addition the Chicago website includes the Chen 38, though not the same one taught by Cheng Jincai. Differences here are substantial, based on the names; I haven’t looked into the video resources on that one yet.

Anyway, this is enough Tai Chi to occupy me for the next few years. And we’re starting with Laojia Erlu. I note that the London school cautions against excessive practice of Erlu alone because it can be wearing on the body.

So of course the two lists of movements for Laojia Erlu are slightly different. However, they both start off with the same movements up to the second Buddha Stamp, and these opening movements are all familiar from the Chen 38.

The first four (disregarding Yubei and Qishi) are also the opening to the 38, but each movement is styled quite differently–seemingly more simply. The London and Chicago lists for Erlu then agree up to a second Buddha Stamp.

  • Jin Gang Dao Dui
  • Lan Zha Yi
  • Liu Feng Si Bi
  • Dan Bian
  • Hu Xin Quan
  • Xie Xing
  • Jin Gang Dao Dui

That’s the first minute and a half of a three and a half minute form, but it’s only eight of more than forty movements. In other words, it start out slow and gets very fast!