Shuang Dao Names

Looking further at the names for the first half of the form using:


I’m looking at the Chinese names because they tend to be the same everywhere. English names vary so much with the translation. Absolute Tai Chi gives the Chinese names, but they don’t give the characters or the standard Pinyin, so it’s a little harder for me to look up the exact meaning of individual words. Master Zhu gives characters but they are images, so I can’t copy/paste to a dictionary.

Chaoyang — — means facing the sun or exposed to the sun. This is what Absolute Tai Chi calls Salute the sun; Master Zhu calls it Sun-facing (the Sun-facing Broadsword). This posture, pictured above, recurs throughout the form.

Dao —  — means knife, blade, or single-edged sword, but it seems also to mean cut (Jess Tsao’s translation) or chop, as in Yi Dao Chao Yang: one cut, salute the sun. (I have to believe that’s a typo in #16: surely it should be “chao” not “chang”.)

“Monkey Hop” – Cha Hua (arrange or stab flowers)

Hua is flower. I can’t figure out what cha is, in cha hua. Master Zhu says arrange; Absolute Tai Chi says stab. This is precisely why I prefer to use the Chinese names: Just call it Zuo/You Cha Hua. Easy enough.

Yi Dao Yue Bu

Yi Dao Yue Bu – Master Zhu Tian Cai

Yue bu is a new one to me. Yue can mean jump or jump forward. Yi dao yue bu is one cut, jump forward, pictured above.

Wudang Tai Chi Sword

I’ve posted on this form more than a dozen times. Pulling it all together now: This is a combined form with elements of both Wudang and Tai Chi sword. That is, it combines postures from the traditional Wudang sword routine with movements in the traditional Yang style Tai Chi sword form.

Master Liang's video is excellent.

Master Liang’s video is excellent.

Three YouTube videos were helpful to me in learning the form:

In addition, Jesse Tsao’s instructional video is invaluable for the excellent demonstration, for learning the names of the movements, getting the details right, and for multiple views of the form both front and back.

Best resource: Master Tsao's video

Best resource: Master Tsao’s video

Here is the List of names in Chinese (both characters and Pinyin). My friend and teacher Long Feng, who introduced me to the form and provided the essential in-person teaching time, uses a recording of some wild, tribal-sounding music that includes the names. I haven’t found this recording anywhere in the Web–don’t even know where to look. But if you can find it, it’s fun to do the form with the names. I like it better than the music in any of the videos I’ve seen.

The 49 steps in Standardized Wudang Sword form, handwritten

The 49 steps in Wudang Tai Chi Sword form, handwritten

I worked my way through Master Tsao’s instructions and posted notes on each of the eight lessons. I don’t know if these notes help anyone but me, but they are here:

Wudang Sword Notes: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

All posts on this form are tagged Wudang Sword. And finally, below, click to see the traditional Wudang sword form for comparison. Exciting form, that! looks hard.

Yi Jian Mei Lyrics

No end of artists have recorded this song! I found a YouTube video with the lyrics in Pinyin (the singer is Timi Zhou), which makes it easier to keep my place in the music while learning the form. I also found a video with English subtitles:

Click to go to English version.

Click on image to go to English version.

I actually like the vocals in these two recordings better than the one that goes with the video of the form. I’ve transcribed Pinyin and English translation below. The opening movements that I wrote up the other day extend through the second line of the second verse.

Zhen qing xiang cao yuan guang huo     True love is like the wild field

Ceng ceng feng yu bu neng zu ge      Wind and rain cannot create barriers

Zong you yun kai ri chu shi hou      The cloud will break and the sun will shine

Wan zhan yang guang zhao yao ni wo      On you and me


Zhen qing xiang mei huo kai guo      True love is like the blossoming plum

Leng leng bing xue bu neng yan me     It cannot be buried by the snow

Jiu zai zui leng zhi tou zhan fang    It blossoms at the coldest time

Kan jian chun tian zou xiang ni wo     And sees spring coming towards us


Xue hua piao piao bei feng xiao xiao     The snow falls and the wind blows

Tian di yi pian cang mang     The heaven and the Earth are completely white

Yi jian han mei ao li xue zhong     One branch of plum stands proudly in the snow

Zhi wei yi ren piao xiang     Its scent is only for you


Ai wo suo ai wu yuan wu hui     My love is without complaint and regret

Ci qing chang liu xin jian     This love always stays in my heart

One stanza’s worth of instrumental music follows. Then repeat from xue hua to the end. At the end of the vocals, there is a short instrumental closing (about two lines’ worth). The form closes with the music for a grand total of about 26 lines, lasting just over three minutes in this video.


BLUE LAKE  by Elizabeth Buhmann

Richmond, Virginia, 1968. Regina Hannon’s family was destroyed by the loss of a sister she can barely remember. When she learns that the death was once investigated as murder, Regina sets out to find the truth about tragedy reaching back to the early years of the century. Stirring up old heartache and fury, she is blindsided by unexpected danger. Read the book…

Double Saber Names

Absolute Tai Chi (an all around excellent website–look through it!) offers a list of movement names in both English and Chinese. I’ve also transcribed a list from Master Zhu’s instructional videos (which are in Chinese with English subtitles).


Master Tsao also has an instructional video, too, which would be in English, with good (and sensible!) translations. All of his videos are good and well worth the moderate cost.

The immediate challenge is to figure out which name goes with which movement. The one Jesse Tsao demonstrates in the picture above is Butterfly Drinks Water. Referring to the Absolute Tai Chi list, Part I ends with the snap of the right blade, which is demonstrated in Master Gohring’s Video 6. Lone Swallow Leaves the Flock is the fajin.

What we call the Monkey Hop, and Master Zhu calls Arranging Flowers, on the Absolute Tai Chi list is left and right Stab and Flowers.  Honestly, why not just use the Chinese? Cha Hua. Short and easy. And correct! After the second set of Cha Hua, the move with the crossed swords is Subdue the Tiger, Fu Hu in Chinese.


Zhong Kui Wields His Sword is the 180-turn with fajin right before the series of double chops (above). This is the end of Part II. To be continued!

Yi Jian Mei

One Plum Blossom is the title of a song for which a lovely and unique sword form has been choreographed. I have seen it before, a couple of years ago, but that was before studying Yang sword. Sword is an acquired taste. Here’s a video:


So this is a surprise new project–I had planned to learn 56-sword next. Long Feng does this so beautifully it makes me weepy. Another woman, new to our group, knows it also. How can I pass up the opportunity to learn it? It is longish–more than 3 minutes.

Here’s another video of the same form, Yi Jian Mei Tai Chi Sword. The performer is 80! So no excuses.


Using that first video, vocals start at :15. Opening form: she circles both arms clockwise (from the performer’s perspective) and finishes with the left arm extended, right arm raised and left knee lifted.


She pulses once on the beat, then extends the right arm higher and points the left toe to touch the ground. Then she circles the right arm counterclockwise, stepping left, right and extending the left to the side. Eyes follow the right hand.


Lift into this position, which reminds me of Wu-style kua hu as shown below. Then unwind, stepping left, to point ahead as you would doing three rings around the moon. That’s the first 30 seconds.


She will not take the sword for another 15 seconds or so. From the pointing position, follow through and circle the right arm up and back, while stepping up to point the right toe. Lift the right knee, point both arms left and look left:


What comes next is complicated–a 7-count Bagua walking with the sword spun overhead. Unwind to the right (she does a little pulsing move to start) and take seven steps R-L-R-L-R-L-R in a circle, turning out to the left on step 6, the back to the right on step 7 so the right foot faces front. Sink and step back with the left to reach the position shown below. This move lasts 5 seconds, from :35 to :40 in the video.

plum-qishi4.The sword circles all the way around overhead, from a back-carrying position to a front carrying position. The right arm is just following the body in front, then circles down and overhead at the end. Just watch the video (slow motion: use the gear symbol to select .25 speed).

She stands up in the right leg, swinging both arms in a clockwise (to her) circle, steps back with the left and then the right, dips, and swings both the right arm and the right leg across the front of her body as shown below. Finally! She takes the sword.


She then steps right and left and pivots on her toes. While turning she slashes down in back, high in front and around behind her. She steps back with the left and stabs overhead like this:


That’s 53 seconds. What an opening. I’ll try to learn it before next week.

Chen Double Dao

In class at Master Gohring’s Tai Chi & Kung Fu, we have resumed learning the Chen double saber routine. Below, the routine is performed by Chen Zhenglei.


Earlier this year, we had reached the two jumps that we call monkey hops, which occur at about :30-:35 in the video. The name for these hops is actually Arrange Flowers (left and right).

The next move is a combination of three-cutting, a turn, and what we call cleaning the blade. This move occurs repeatedly as a sort of punctuation between sections of the sequence. We do a lot more blade-cleaning than I see Chen Zhenglei doing–it is an optional flourish, as far as I can tell. In any case, the move finishes in the position shown above.


Next we do a three cut on the left and stand on one leg with both knives overhead, as shown above. Afterwards, turn back to the right, leading with a right chop and turn around.

Then we do another set of monkey hops/arrange flowers, followed by 3-cut turnaround and clean.


Then we do a turn that finishes with blades crossed and extended as pictured above–sort of. It’s hard to catch an image of this. He stomps down with the right foot, steps forward on the left, and extends the crossed blades. And Master Chen snaps the blades, thrusting forward.

Three-cut, turnaround and clean. Again, the wash is optional. With or without, we finish each new move in the Chau Yang (Sun Facing) position.


From here, jump around from the position shown at the top of this post to the position shown above, snapping the right saber. We are doing a vertical snap. Chen Zhenglei does a horizontal snap.


Turn to the left, slashing with the right saber, swing both sabers in a big clockwise circle and chop down in a cross stance (cha bu) as shown above. Unwind, jump around, and chop down with both sabers. This movement looks just like Fan Hua Wu Xiou (Pao Chui).


Three-cut, turnaround and clean. Then turn back to the left and perform the same move as above but facing in the opposite direction. That’s cut right, circle sabers and chop in cha bu, then unwind and chop with both sabers, fan hua wu xiou.


Then turn to the right, slashing with the left, in the mirror image of the same move–cha bu with right foot behind, unwind and fan hua wu xiou to chop with both sabers, left foot in front as shown above. From here, return to sun-facing broadsword position at the top of the page.

Recapping the sequence starting after the first set of monkey hops:

  • 3-cut turnaround and clean
  • 3-cut stand on one leg
  • 3-cut turnaround and clean
  • Second set of monkey hops
  • 3-cut turnaround and clean
  • Cross blades
  • 3-cut turnaround and clean
  • Hop around and snap
  • Cross-stance, unwind and double chop
  • 3-cut turnaround and clean
  • Cross-stance, unwind and double chop, opposite side
  • Cross-stance, unwind and double chop, opposite direction
  • 3-cut turnaround and clean

This is a lot of moves at once, some of them quite difficult. We are three quarters of the way through the form, at about 1:30 of 2:00.

Ba Duan Jin 4

Exercise seven is wò quán nù mù zēng lì qi. Nu mu is angry eye! Wo quan is grasp (or maybe clench?) the fist. Zeng is increase (and li, as we’ve already learned is put in order). Qi here is vital energy (as in Qi gong).


Start in horse stance with both fists chambered. The movement is well described by Rashka. Inhale while punching with the left. Open the hand and rotate. Inhale, clench and withdraw. Repeat on the right. Do this four times.

The movement (one English version) is Punching with an angry gaze. Or Clench the Fist and Glare Fiercely.  The benefit is increasing Qi–vital energy. Rashka calls it Punch with Fierce Glower to Build Strength.

Lastly, the eighth movement is bèi hòu qī diān bǎi bìng xiāo, Dian is jolt. Rise onto the toes, then drop down on the heels with a jolt. In the version I do, rise high, then lower about halfway before dropping the heels. Do this eight times. The benefit: Bing is illness; xiao is disappear. Make illnesses disappear.

Ba Duan Jin 3

The fifth exercise is yáo tóu bǎi wěi qù xīn huǒ. Yao here is shake or rock; tou is head; bai is move; wei is tail; qu is go away; xin is heart; huo is fire. Once again, the first part of the name describes the movement, while the second half describes the benefit. Rock the head and move the tail to get rid of “heart fire” — is this about heartburn???


Cloud Hands gives the name of this one as Big Bear Turns from Side to Side. Master Faye Yip, in her video, rocks from one side to the other and rolls the head. Repeat left and right four times.

Number six is liǎng shǒu pān jiǎo gù shèn yāo. Liang is two or both (hands) and pan is climb; jiao is foot or leg. Two hands climb (down) the legs. And the benefit: gu is strong; shen is kidney; this yao is waist. The two yaos have different accents.


Do eight repetitions of this nice gravity stretch. Doing this exercise just twice a week for the last six months has noticeably improved my flexibility. If you lay your hands along your feet, you can get a nice pull through the heels of the hands.

Ba Duan Jin 2

The third exercise is Separate Heaven and Earth in English, a pretty far cry from the Chinese: tiáo lǐ pí wèi dān jǔ shǒu.  Tiao is harmonize or reconcile; li is put in order; pi is spleen; wei is stomach; dan is single or sole; ju is yet another word for lift or hold up. Hold up one hand to harmonize spleen and stomach, in other words.

In this one, one hand is raised, palm up, and the other extends down, palm-down. Then the upper hand is spirals down and the lower hand spirals up along the centerline of the body. At about stomach level, the hands pass, the rising hand palm-up, lowering hand palm-down as in the video by Faye Yip, at about the four-minute mark.


Exercise four has a charming English name: the Wise Owl Gazes Backwards. The Chinese is wǔ láo qī shāng xiàng hòu qiáo, which when I look up each word comes out to something like “five work seven upwards towards behind look.” Rashka translates as “Look backward to eliminate five fatigues and seven illnesses.”

Sink down with both arms lowered, both hands facing back. Then open the arms to the left rotating the hands and arms all the way outward, so palms face up as shown.



Also turn the head all the way to the side. Notice that Master Yip does not turn at the waist. This is a stretch of the neck. Keep the head upright and suspended. Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do both sides four times, alternating.

Ba Duan Jin 1

According to legend, the twelfth century Chinese general and folk-hero Yue Fei, also known as Pengju, created the Eight Brocades and required his soldiers to do the exercises every morning to stay fit for battle.


Exercise 1: The short way to say this (from Wiki) is Shuang Shou Tuo Tian–two (both) hands support heaven (tian). Rashka uses Qing (raise) instead of Tuo. Li means put in order. San jiao is the “triple warmer,” a term in Chinese medicine that refers (according to Michael Garofalo) to the heart, lungs and stomach.


There are quite a few variations of this exercise (and of all the others). I am using the one where you sink down, join the hands palm up in front of the dantien, then lift the hands slowly while straightening up. In front of the face, the hands invert to palm-up, then extend overhead.

Faye Yip follows the hands up with the eye, then looks down before releasing the hands and allowing them to float down. In any case, inhale while the hands rise and exhale as they come down. We’re doing eight of these (the number of reps also varies with different versions).

It’s a matter of choice (and fitness and desired level of exertion) whether to remain standing straight the whole time, or whether to squat, possibly all the way to horse stance with thighs parallel to the ground. I am doing the Yang-y modified squat you see in the two videos, one by Faye Yip the other by Peter Chen:

The Mandarin word for inhale is xiru. Exhale is hu. Breathe is huxi and breath is qixi.

Exercise 2: Kai Gong Si She Diao means open the bow to shoot the eagle/hawk/vulture; diao means bird of prey. This exercise is supposed to benefit the kidney and spleen.

Step left, sinking to horse stance in crosshands position. Look left and point left with the left hand while drawing back the right hand to the shoulder (elbow back). Then look right, extend the right arm, lower the arms, and straighten up.

We do this four times on each side, starting with the left side and alternating. Matoko Rashka describes a rather different version in which you shift from left bow stance to right bow stance. In either case, inhale while “drawing the bow” and exhale while switching sides.