Wudang Tai Chi Videos

Here’s an additional (and excellent!) resource for the combined Wudang (49-step)Tai Chi Sword form: an instructional video in two parts on YouTube, with Li De Yin teaching and his daughter Faye Li Yip demonstrating.

Master Faye Yip demonstrating

Master Faye Yip demonstrating Pu Bu Chuan Jian

The videos are 45-50 minutes long, each covering about half of the form. The second video includes the optional flourishes that can follow #36, gong bu gua pi.

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.

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.

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.

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.