Wudang Notes 8

Last section. We ended in ding bu ci jian. As best I can tell, the blade is edgewise–that is, its edge is perpendicular to the ground, so the back of the hand faces to the right.

45. Ding bu bao jian: Hold Sword in T-Stance. Step back to the left, from left ding bu to right ding bu. At the same time, beng jian to the embracing sword position as shown below.


46. Xing bu chuan jian: Bagua Walking with Piercing Sword. Turn the sword over, counterclockwise from palm-up to palm-down and block away. At the same time start walking (1) right (2) left (3) right in a circle. Block away with left hand on forearm on (1). Open arms on (2) and (3). On the fourth step (which is on the left) close the arms, stabbing under the left arm, across the ribs–chuan–which is palm-up. On the fifth step, which completes the circle, open the arms, still holding the sword palm-up.

He has just stabbed across his body to the left.

He has just stabbed across his body to the left–chuan jian.

47. Kou jian ping ma: Cover Sword and Spread Flat. Kou is fasten or button, ma is wipe. On the sixth step, turn the left foot in and face front. Step back (7) on the right foot and adjust the left foot to Xu bu. On 7, also make a counterclockwise circle with the wrist to turn the sword over, pulling back and down with both hands (like before the jump, teng kong tiao ci).


48. Bing bu ping ci: feet together level stab. This is a repeat of White Ape Offers Fruit, aka the Compass.


49. Shou Shi: Step left and reach under with the left palm up, thumb to the right. Step right, left hand high, right low. Bring up the left foot, left hand down, right high. Close form.

Wudang Notes 7

The next to last section is only six moves, and begins at the 2:05 mark on the YouTube video (which cuts away from the demo before this section is finished). From the second xie bu, we finished in cha bu, palm-down.


39. Xu bu bao jian: Hold Sword in Empty Stance. Step back to the left and slash left with the sword. He changes from palm-down to palm-up just before the sword passes in front of his face. The movement in front of the face is a lot like the yang shen in an earlier move (yang shen jia jian), except he leans away to the right, as shown above. He finishes as shown below (and as described by the name of the move).


40. Cha bu ping dai: Cross and Carry Sword Flat. He says to diagonally fly, and that’s exactly how this move begins. I also know this from Yang sword as Phoenix Spreads Wings. But that’s just the first part of the movement. Below, he diagonally flies.


Slash back, still palm-up (left crosses chest), then turn palm-down to finish in cha bu with the left leg in back. On that last slash back, lift the hilt and circle counterclockwise to finish as below.


41. Gong bu ping beng: Flick Sword in Bow Stance (these are the English names that Master Tsao gives–his own translation, I think). He scoops into crosshands standing up on the left leg and lifting the right knee. As he uncoils, he bends pretty deep so he’s opening up palm-down. Below, I’ve tried to catch him right before he flicks the sword–still palm-down.


He flicks (beng) to palm-up (gets a pretty good snap!) and finishes in bow stance, as shown below.


42. Ti xi dian jian: Lift Right Knee with Pecking Sword. Turn, as in zhuan shen, and do this:


43. Cha bu fan liao: Back Slash in Cross Stance. Repeat move number 7!


44. Ding bu ci jian: Thrust Sword in T-Stance. Step left right to left ding bu, stabbing forward as shown above. That is Master Liang. Reviewing that video now, I see that the flourish he adds to gong bu gua pi is even more elaborate than the optional version Master Tsao demonstrates. Check it out!

Wudang Notes 6

This section (which starts at about 1:45 on the YouTube video) includes the two xie bu and, between them, three moves that are straight out of 32-sword. This section also includes an optional flourish in the middle of the wheeling movement, gong bu gua pi.


33. Xie bu ya jian: Press Down in Resting Stance. From the Xia Ci, shift left and slice left. The left hand circles in, then around to press down on the sword in xie bu (right foot in front).


34. Xu bu dian jian: The charming traditional name for this move is Heavenly Horse Flies Across Sky. Stand up on the right leg, step left to right xu bu. Just like 32-sword.


35. Du li tuo jia: Lift Curtain on One Leg. Also straight out of 32-sword. Block to the left, circle down in a squat (shown above), turn and stand up on the right leg. In du li shown below, the left hand touches the arm and the sword is parallel to the ground.


36. Gong bu gua pi: Cutting in Bow Stance. The simplest version of this move is to wheel the sword left and step straight into the finishing position shown below.


Optional flourish: Wheel the sword first left (on left foot), then right (on right foot), and leap to the position shown below.


The leap (which is between 1:55 and 2:00 on the video) is from right foot to left foot, and the right crosses behind the left, as shown above. From there, unwind and chop down to the finishing position.

Second xie bu with right foot crossed behind

Second xie bu with right foot crossed behind

37. Xie bu hou jian: Thrust Backward in Resting Stance.Draw the sword back to take this position. For the second xie bu the right foot crosses behind, and instead of pressing down on the sword, stab backward (hou means back) as shown.


38. Cha bu yun zhan: Cut Flat in Cross Stance. Step out to the right, sword following (palm up), then shift back to the left to circle the sword in front of the face (yun), as shown above, and chop to the right (zhan). Finish palm down, in cha bu (right foot crossed behind), left warding off high, sword pointing up (below).


Wudang Notes 5

This has been the hardest section for me because of the double turn following the cutting kick shown below. Grabs are from the YouTube video, but I am studying the instructional video available from Taichihealthways by Jesse Tsao.

The kick with liao in lesson 5

The kick with liao in lesson 5

27. Zhuan shen hui chou: Turn Body to Pull Sword Back. This movement is familiar from 32-sword. My only new notes are that he chops out to the left front corner before withdrawing–and hiding, he says–the sword. So, four counts are turn, chop, pull back, and point. The sword finger points in that same diagonal direction.

A definite chop after zhuan shen

A definite chop after zhuan shen

28. Bing bu ping ci: Also familiar; White Ape Offers Fruit, also known as the Compass. Take a definite step to the left and point the sword slightly higher than shoulder level (although ping means level).

29. Xing bu liao jian: Dragon Walking with Slicing Sword (!). Step well back on the right, blocking up and back with the sword. Left hand to shoulder, ding bu with the left foot. The run goes left-right-left CUT, then right-left-right CUT. The cuts are up (lift sword). Start each run with a little kickback. The pattern is an S, rather than a zigzag; curve left, then right.

Preparing for the Dragon Walking

Preparing for the Dragon Walking

30. Yang shen liao jian: the kick is Lean Body to Cut Upward, a fen jiao, not a deng jiao as I thought. Yang shen is that body-facing-upward stance we’ve already done (as in Yang Shen Jia Jian). Flick the sword to cut up, palm facing in: liao.

31. Gai bu an jian: Cross to Cut Down. Gai means cover. Drop down from the kick onto the right foot facing front and make a small wrist circle with the sword. Then step across with the left foot facing front (release the heel of the right) while pulling down on the sword and covering with the left sword hand.


The hard part of this section is the transitional flourish between the covering posture and the skip-and-stab that follows. (1) From the cover position shown above, swing all the way around, sword following body in a big circle, both feet pivoting. (2) Step back with the right foot while making a small wrist-circle with the sword. (3) Pivot on the right heel to face the back while pulling the sword all the way around to a high position as shown below.


So it’s little circle, big circle, little circle, big circle. Then add one last (optional, but why not?) little circle as a flower before beginning the skipping move.

Finishing position for this section: gong bu xia ci

Finishing position for this section: gong bu xia ci

32. Tiao bu xia ci: Hop to Thrust Downward. Step left, skip to right gong bu and stab downward, left hand high.

Wudang Notes 4

We’re almost halfway through the form. Lesson four includes the leap.

In position for the leap.

Master Tsao in position for the leap.

20. Teng kong tiao ci: Leaping Thrust. Tiao is leap, kong is sky, and teng is soar. Leap to soar in the sky? Shift left from the xia ci, turning the right toe in and pulling the sword around with both hands. Then shift onto the right foot, pressing down with both hand, left xu bu, as shown above. Jump from the left foot, turning the right foot all the way in to land facing the back as shown below. JT4-2   21. Ma bu cang jian: Hidden Sword in Horse Stance. Note that the left foot faces forward. Both hands are palm-down, the left covering the right and the sword. The sword is flat–and sure enough, you can’t see it! JT4-3 22. Hui shen fan ci: Turn to Thrust Downward. From ma bu step around to the left, stabbing up and pivoting on the right toe. Then stab down behind you as shown above. JT4-4 23. Xu bu beng jian: Flick Sword Up in Empty Stance. Shift back to right xu bu and collapse the sword.

24. Du li shang ci: Step around to the right, pivot the left heel, rock back to swivel the right heel in, then shift forward into du li shang ci. Long Feng sometimes makes these shifts into steps, right, left, right. In any case, the du li is on the right foot. JT4-5 25. Che bu yun zhan: Che bu is a new one for me. It means to withdraw–step back with the left. I’m not sure how that’s different from tui bu, but you can see above how he is standing. Zhan is chop, or even behead. The turn of the sword inward is from the wrist; the arm hardly moves, and it stays flat. Then the cut is right to left. The left hand pulls down across the chest into a ward-off left, which gives some torque to the cut. JT4-6 26. Yang shen jia jian: Face Up to Ward Off. From both hands together and the sword in front, circle the sword flat in front of the face as shown, then cut from right to left, level, hands together in front again.

For best results, I highly recommend Jesse Tsao’s instructional video, available from taichihealthways.com.

Wudang Notes 3

Watching the video in slow motion (click on the gear), I see that after the left ping dai, the left arm makes two circles: arms open when he shifts back, left goes low, sword high, then the left threads inside the right so the sword is low and the left is high; then as the sword blocks up for the kick, and the left hand circles up to the right shoulder.

Fen Jiao - Master Tsao

Fen Jiao – Master Tsao

The grab above is from the instructional video, which I highly recommend. Available from Taichihealthways.com.

Lesson 3 begins and ends facing into the back left corner. We begin from Du Li Shang Ci, stabbing up, and end with Gong Bu Xia Ci, stabbing down. The seven movements in this lesson are (numbering for the whole 49-step routine):

13. Pu bu chuan jian: To start, we are stabbing up with palm up. Turn the wrist counterclockwise, pulling the end of the sword back and up.Then with the sword pointing down and left, thread the point in the path of a snake creeping down. Traditional name is Snake Creeps Down to Pierce. The left hand circles up, just as it does for the Yang Snake Creeps Down, then presses down over the right hand.

Pu bu chuan jian

Pu bu chuan jian

14. Deng Jiao Qian Ci: Qian means forward. Kicking Up and Thrusting Sword. Come up from snake on the left foot, opening arms to ward off. Scoop up the sword handle in both hands and lift the right knee. Thrust level forward (both hands) with the heel kick. When stepping down on the right, lower the end of the sword (point rocks up a bit). Reach to thrust forward with both hands.


This whole movement (and the next) goes toward the back right corner; it travels diagonally.

15. Tiao Bu Ping Ci: Wild Horse Leaping Over Creek (that is the traditional name; the Chinese descriptive name means “jump step level stab”). From the reaching thrust after the kick, hop forward onto the left foot, opening the arms. Hands drop to the sides with the landing. Stab level, left arm high.

Leaping Across the Stream!

Leaping Across the Stream!

16. Zhuan Shen Ping Ci: Turn body level stab. Circle the sword to the left, and turn the wrist counterclockwise to palm down. Do this while shifting left and turning the right toes in. Sword fingers go to the right wrist. Then lead a full turn to the left with the sword fingers, finish in zuo gong bu ping ci (palm up) facing the back. Below:


17. Chuan Jian Xing Bu: Bagua Walking. Block back and up to the right while shifting back. Turn left, pivoting on left heel, and thread the sword across the body to stab to the left. Curl under the right hand to go palm-down on the pull-back; spiral to palm-up on the stab. It’s a little hard to see, below, that his shoulders are facing us but his hips face away. Left arm is behind him (toward the camera).


18. Xing Bu Kou Jian: The right steps across the left and beng jian–flip the wrist to snap the sword up. Here’s where you walk in a big circle and a half. Starting with the left foot, four steps. Then on five, lift the hilt; on six, stab out to the right; on seven open the arms; on eight, bring them together overhead; on nine, circle down and pull the hilt up to the right, pressing down with the left.

Count nine of Bagua Walking

Count nine of Bagua Walking

19. Gong Bu Xia Ci: Traditional name is Cat Catches Rat. Head for the back corner. On what would be the tenth step, open out the arms. On eleven, step toward the back corner. On twelve (we’re on the right foot now) stab down with both hands on the sword handle. You gong bu xia ci = right bow stance stab down. Master Tsao notes that with enough space, you can make it fourteen steps, and that’s what he does on the YouTube video — watch :55-1:05 in slow motion.

Wudang notes 2

Lesson two begins from Zuo Ping Dai, a left bow stance with left hand high and sword stabbing level. These first two lessons cover about the first 35 seconds of the YouTube video, a low-quality excerpt from the instructional video.

Fen jiao ling jian

Fen jiao ling jian

6. Fen jiao ling jian: Shift back and turn the left toe out. Step in and block high with the left, drop the sword handle into a counterclockwise circle outside the left hand. Block up with the sword, circle in with the left across the chest. The kick is a toe kick (not a heel kick as I once imagined). Ling means lead. The descriptive name he gives is Point Toe and Lead with Sword. After the kick, step down (onto left) and pull down on the handle to circle behind clockwise. Make a figure-eight, circling the sword counterclockwise in front.

Cha bu is the back cross stance

Cha bu is the back cross stance

7. Cha bu fan liao: Cha bu is the crossing stance pictured above. Fan liao means the sword is raised backwards. He gives the name as Back Slash in Cross Stance.


8. Ma bu yun bao: From cha bu, the left foot pivots on the toe, the right foot pivots on the heel, to reach ma bu (horse stance) as pictured above. The sword swings from pointing backwards to the right all the way around over the head to the position shown. Yun is cloud (the circle over the head), bao is embrace (note the rounded arms above). This horse stance is shifted to the left.

Ding bu jie jian

Ding bu jie jian

9. Ding bu jie jian: Jie is cut. Cut Down in T-Stance. Flip the sword over and cut down on the left. For me, this movement is improved with the knowledge that the ma bu is shifted left. That way, the step up to ding bu is more pronounced. Also, that flip is accomplished by leading the hilt in a tight counterclockwise circle. The cut is along the left thigh.

Fan shen beng jian

Fan shen beng jian

10. Fan shen beng jian: Beng jian is a new concept for me. Master Tsao in this lesson gives a good look at how the wrist flips to snap the sword around. His sword visibly flexes with this sharp movement. Beng means collapse (outside of its use in describing sword play); the sword snaps back to rest more or less upright in the hand, which is like a collapse or a folding up or cocking movement. The wrist rotates from palm down to palm up. Master Tsao uses the word “flick”–Turn Body to Flick Sword.

11. Gong bu xia ci: Both hands are on the sword handle for the downward stab. Between the fan shen and the gong bu, there’s a little pivot on the left foot so the posture faces stage-left. The traditional name is Cat Catches rat.

12. Du li shang ci: The arms open up (this is a ward-off) and then circle into the shang ci. A correction for me: don’t try to keep the left hand on the sword handle; it slides back on the right forearm, which allows the sword to extend more. The footwork is to step left, then right. The traditional name is Birds Return to the Tree at Dusk.

Wudang Notes 1

I’m working my way through the instructional video by Master Jesse Tsao–eight lessons in all for the 49 steps.

Master Tsao: ding bu dian jian

Master Tsao: ding bu dian jian

I know the form already from working through Master Liang’s demonstration video and from following Long Feng and Mr. Cao on weekends, but there is so much more to learn from Master Tsao! A low-quality video of Jesse Tsao demonstrating the whole form is free on YouTube, however the instructional video, available from his website, Taichihealthways.com, is excellent, detailed, high quality video, and well worth $35.

Lesson 1 covers the first five movements. The following are my notes on this section.

1. Qi shi: When circling the left arm across, the left heel leaves the ground and the right sword fingers cross the chest to protect the ribs. When the right sword fingers point ahead, they should pass by the ear and point at nose level, centered. To draw back the right hand, turn palm-up and pull down and back before releasing the arm to the back. Reach for the sword handle with “tiger mouth” (Hu Kou) again at ear level.

2. Ding bu dian jian: Pictured above. Master Tsao describes the pointing of the sword as a pecking movement, like a bird pecking with its beak. The traditional name for this is Dragonfly Dipping Water.

Master Tsao- hui shen dian jian

Master Tsao- hui shen dian jian

3. Hui shen dian jian: Pictured above. From ding bu, block up with the sword, leading a clockwise circle with the hilt. Left hand circles low. Then again the movement is a pecking action, while the left hand wards off high. Du li. Look at the point of the sword.

Pu bu heng sao

Pu bu heng sao

4. Pu bu heng sao: Heng means horizontal; this is a horizontal sweep from a low squat, cutting at ankle height. The traditional name for this move is Swallow Skimming Across the Water.

5. You Zuo ping dai: Carrying the sword level. On the right, Master Tsao thrusts forward palm-up, then slices right palm-down. On left ping dai, he thrusts forward palm down, then turns his sword hand palm up to sweep to the left.