Master Faye Yip Videos

I came across some new (to me) videos of Master Faye Li Yip. Excellent! The first is Tai Chi sword. It’s made up of several clips, the first of which looks like 42-sword, but most of it is Wudang Tai Chi sword. Beautiful!

Master Faye Li Yip

Master Faye Li Yip-Tai Chi sword

The other two are both Fan Form II, both beautiful performances (and great uniforms, especially the pink and black).


Faye2The video on the left was posted on the Deyin Institute Facebook page (like it!) on August 11, 2015 with lyrics to Xi Yang Mei, which turns out to be all about China’s martial arts (“crouching like a bow,
standing like a pine”). Translation by John Fairbairn.

I tend to consider Master Faye’s demonstrations of this form definitive, seeing as her father created the form. A third video of this form, also by Faye Yip, can be found on the page for Fan Form II.

Yi Jian Mei Verse 3

Correcting a couple of details: the opening circle (verse 1, line 1) is clockwise (I’ve updated my earlier post); and in line 2, when she steps across with the left, she swings the sword left, too.


I’m halfway through verse three, in the position shown above, at 1:20 in the Meng Fok video. To recap verse 3 (see Aug 8):

  1. Xue hua piao piao bei feng xiao xiao: Step R, lift hilt, wheel sword, step R.
  2. Tian di yi pian cang mang: step around L/R/L, gong bu xia ci, withdraw.
  3. Yi jian han mei au li xue zhong: Now see below.
  4. Zhi wei yi ren piao xiang

From the position shown above: Stab once, then bing bu xia ci, wheel the sword the other way (counterclockwise) while stepping across in back with the left foot. Swing the sword first back, then out to this position:


That was line 3. This is line 4 (tres complique!): The right foot is nailed to the ground until the very last beat. From the position above, step out to the left, as in the first frame on the left below. Circle the sword up, left and down (ie, big counterclockwise circle).

Then step left around to the right to face backwards (180 degree turn on the right foot, which has not moved, frame 2). The sword, still making a big counterclockwise circle, has reached the high point when you’re facing the back.

The right foot does not move as she steps around left, left, left.

The right foot (circled) does not move, except to swivel, as she steps around left, left, left.

Keep going! Step around with the left again to face front (frame 3), shift left and make a small counterclockwise circle with the sword. Then the right foot will cross behind. So footwork for this line is left, left, left, right.

The sword emerges from the small circle leading with the point rather than the hilt. It then spirals through a figure eight on the right side. This whole thing takes 6 seconds, between 1:26 and 1:32, and ends like this:



This is the hardest move in the whole form if you ask me. That last bit with the sword is tricky; I can only suggest using the gear tool to slow the video way down. After this, there are just two more lines of lyrics. Then four lines of instrumentals. And from there, it’s all repeats! And close form.

Double Saber Names Parsed

For the Chinese, I am using the Absolute Tai Chi list (note one typo in move 16, chang for chao). For the English I am using that list but also referring to the translations in Master Tzu’s instructional videos and the MDBG online Chinese dictionary. In brackets, I am connecting to the informal descriptive names we’ve been using in class.

Qi Shi – Preparing form
Quan Wu Hua Chao Yang Dao – Full circle of flowers, Salute the Sun
Qie San Dao Chao Yang – Three cuts, Salute the Sun [3x jump to kneeling, turn around]
Yi Dao Yue Bu – One Cut Jump Forward [turn around, cross blades]
Shang San Dao – Step up with Three Cuts [3x chop on left; cuisinart]
Yan Bie Jin Chi – Swallow/Goose Spreads its Golden Wings [stab both dao on left]
Gu Yan Chu Quan – Lone Swallow/Goose Leaves the Flock [fajin with R dao]
Yi Dao Chao Yang – One Cut Salute the Sun [over the shoulder turn around/reset]
Zuo/You Cha Hua – Left/Right Arrange Flowers [monkey hops]
Hu Die Xi Shui – Butterfly Drinks Water [turn around, 3-cut left and double stab overhead]
Zuo/You Cha Hua – Left/Right Arrange Flowers [monkey hops]
Fu Hu – Tame the Tiger [turn around, 3-cut left, stomp R and cross blades]
Yi Dao Chao Yang – One Cut Salute the Sun [over the shoulder, turn around/reset]
Zhong Kui Zhang Jian – Zhong Kui Wields his Sword [jump L/R to snap blade]
Gu Shu Pan Gen – Uproot the Old Tree [360 turn, cross-step and double chop]
Fan Shen Kan – Turn Body and Cut [jump around to double chop]
Yi Dao Chao Yang – One Cut Salute the Sun [over the shoulder, turn around/reset]
Zuo Jiao Xiang – Left Stir the Top [180 degrees, double chops]
You Jiao Xiang – Right Stir the Top [1.5 turns, double chops]
Liang Dao Chao Yang – Two Cuts Salute the Sun [retreat L/R, turn around]
Liang Dao Zuo Zhuan Xiang – Two Cuts Left Rotation [Bagua Walking left]
You Zhuan Xiang – Right Rotation [Bagua Walking to the right]
Ba Wang Ju Ding – Ba Wang Lifts the Ding (= 3-legged urn) [stamp R and cross blades]
Luo Han Xiang Long – Luo Han Subdues the Dragon [double stab overhead left]
You/Zuo Pian Ma Dao – Left/Right Cut the Horse [fen jiao (toe kick) right and left]
Bai She Tu Xin – White Snake Spits its Tongue [turn around/ reset and snap blade]
Zuo/You Pu – Left/Right Pounce/Attack [Snap blades 1-2]
Shang Bu Qi Xing – Step Up Seven Stars [Turn around to face opposite way]
Xia Bu Kua Hu – Step Down to Ride the Tiger [Turn around to face opposite way]
Yi Dao Xia Shi – One Cut Downwards [repeat Quan Wu Hua then chop down left]
Shou Shi

I needed both Master Tzu (second video of two) and the Chen Zhenglai video to parse the last few names, but I think I’ve got it right. Names, at least. I’m not sure we are doing Shang Bu Qi Xing or Xia Bu Kua Hu quite the way these two masters are doing them, or that those two are doing the same thing as each other. I think not?

Then, where we repeat Quan Wu Hua, Masters Tzu and Chen are doing something different (talking about Yi Dao Xia Shi)–I haven’t figured out what! See ca. 25:00-30:00 on Master Tzu’s second video. But again, there are a lot of discrepancies, throughout, between these two versions and between both of them and ours, which is essentially Cheng Jincai’s (I think). This seems always to be the case with traditional forms. Makes me appreciate the standardization movement.

Yi Jian Mei Continued

This is slow work. First line in the third verse: Xue hua piao piao bei feng xiao xiao: First half of the line, step out to the right (wide, to gong bu), swing the sword across in front (palm-down) and then step up onto the left, thrusting the hilt of the sword up like this (palm-up):

YJM 3-1a

Chop down, touching left hand to right and right foot behind to a xu bu dian jian position, but don’t stop there; immediately wheel the sword and step out to the right. Swing through to this position:

YJM 3-1b

As you can see in the lower lefthand corner of the picture, we are up to 1:13. Next line is tian di yi pian cang mang, 1:13-1:20. Step around to the left, L-R-L, while leading the sword by the hilt, head-high, palm-up. Then lift up onto the left foot (by now, facing front again) and circle the sword overhead, like so:

YJM 3-2

The line is not finished. She steps back with the right and swings the sword around to a gong bu xia ci position as shown:

YJM 3-2b

She shifts all the way up on the left, lifting the hilt, then steps back onto the right and shifts into this withdrawn (chou) position at 1:20. End of verse 3, line two.



I’ve only advanced about 11 seconds! But these moves are very unfamiliar, and I am working straight out of video.

Yi Jian Mei verse 2

Yi Jian Mei (One Plum Blossom) is the title of a drama set in pre-revolutionary China.  Apparently there is more than one version and production—a 1931 movie? A Taiwanese TV show in the 1980s, apparently. A TV show popular in China in 2010? And the popular theme song was composed when? I would have to be able to read Chinese to get to the bottom of it.


I have been reading the Inspector Chen novels set in post-Tiananmen Shanghai. Qiu Xiaolong describes a nostalgia among the new generation for the glory days of Shanghai in the 1930s. I’ve just started his internationally best-selling book of short stories spanning the decades between those days and the present. His next Chen mystery, Shanghai Redemption, is coming soon. Nice covers! Macmillan/Minotaur.











Anyway, I’m learning the Tai Chi sword form to the popular theme song, currently working on the sequence of movements for the first two verses (4 lines each) using a video by Meng Fok. I had gotten as far as the middle of the second verse. To recap, Verse 1:

  1. Zhen qing xiang cao yuan guang huo [Circle arms, lift knee, point toe]
  2. Ceng ceng feng yu bu neng zu ge [Step L, R, point left and du li da hu]
  3. Zong you yun kai ri chu shi hou [Point to left, lift right knee]
  4. Wan zhan yang guang zhao yao ni wo [Walk in circle, switch to palm-up]
pose at end of line 1 verse 2

End of line 1, verse 2

Second verse:

  1. Zhen qing xiang mei huo kai guo [Step back L, R, pose as shown above]
  2. Leng leng bing xue Bu neng yan me [Take sword, R, L, pivot, step L, stab up]
  3. Jiu zai zui leng zhi tou zhan fang [Now see below]
  4. Kan jian chun tian zou xiang ni wo

Line three: I have to break this line into two phrases. Jiu zai zui leng: She swings the sword in a big counterclockwise circle on the left of her body while stepping up with the right foot. Then she closes with the left foot in a sort of bing bu dian jian, except her legs are straight and her left hand is in a high ward-off position:

End of line 3, verse 2

First phrase of line 3, verse 2

Line 3, second phrase, zhi tou zhan fang: She circles the sword as if to do you gong bu lan, but follows through to reach the pose below in a sort of du li ping ci:

End of line 3, verse 2

End of line 3, verse 2

The last line is hard! Kan jian chun tian zou xiang ni wo: 8 words for 8 counts. First four counts: She turns to her right and steps R-L-R-L, turning around. The last step left is a cross-step behind. The sword is just following her, but she switches from palm up to palm down as she turns. This is right about at the one-minute mark of the video (1:00-1:02). She’s here:

Middle of line 4, verse 2

Middle of line 4, verse 2

Now she unwinds all the way around so she is in cross stance with the right foot behind as shown below. That’s pivot on L toe, pivot on R heel, pivot on L heel, pivot on R toe. The sword traces one big circle overhead with a small circle in the middle, changing from palm down to palm-up. Finish like this:


Verse two ends at 1:06. A little more than two minutes remain, but I think maybe the repeated part (verse 3 and the 2 lines after it) repeats in movement as well. That would be cool.