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 – 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!

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?!?


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!