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Exploration of Yang Moves
discussion, analysis and exploration of moves in the Yang Form

Fair Lady sequence: the Broader View

Familiarity with the application of techniques in many martial arts is a relativly straightforward affair and one is trained to block if going backward and strike only when going forward. However, right from the start, training in Tai Chi Chuan through Form ("Form MUST come first") builds upon a concept of simultaneous or multiple high and low block and strike and indeed many of these (especially 'grab' or 'break-grip') are applied with the practitioners hands/arms (and sometime legs/feet) positioned back to front or inverse and then 'transferred' to an attacker - thus rendering that attacker as the person then tangled or back to front!

In Tai Chi training 'Form must come first' and it is common procedure to undergo years of training and practice in form with little regard for martial defense application of any these postures which are, anyway , filled with many other facets and 'first things first' fascinations to demand attention. A case in point is the GST sequence which when studied and analyzed presents a categorical list of every necessary self defense or martial application, yet it is quite expected that the practitioner not realize this themselves for several years!

A dedicated practioner of Tai Chi is one who studies and practices the whole of a form without discrimination (if a person knew just one of Shakespeare's Sonnets could you describe that person as an 'expert'?) and those so dedicated will find that the Yang Long Form has many facets with each requiring specific effort and discipline; and ultimately the singular connector between all of these apparently disparate facets is the practitioner.

The I-Ching. The Classic Chinese Oracle of Change

It is (I think) easy to understand that 'the answer' depends upon 'the question'. One provider of answers that is 'connected' to Tai Chi is the I-Ching (the Classic Chinese Oracle of Change) which is utilized by:

1) Having a question and 'meditating upon' or simply thinking about that question for a long time.
2) Randomly (?) selecting small sticks or tossing a coin several times to define a series of broken or unbroken lines (or if you wish - 1's and 0's just like binary (computer) code/language.)
3) The I-Ching or Oracle is then applied to the selection ...
4) and finally (as far as that question is concerned) an answer is given. If the practitioner knows what the question is he/she alone may discern 'the answer' that is given specifically to that individual.

There are only so many combinations of these selected sticks or tosses of a two sided coin therefore only so many answers and it is within the realm of possibilities that the same answer may come up more than once and maybe weeks months or even years apart. Should this be the case the diligent would appreciate that the time between then and now has not 'stood still' and this 'answer' (which often in effect raises another question anyway) should be considered in the context of present (not the future or past) conditions and in full awareness of the reality that gave rise to the question. If the question is not relevant to the person that asks then little or no satisfaction may be found in any answers which which are therefor by design - irrelevant.

Fair Lady at the Shuttles. Hexagram 60: "Articulating/Limitation"

  upper trigram: K'an, or water, turn, wheel  

lower nuclear trigram:
Chen, or movement, strength, or wood

hexagram 60 upper nuclear trigram:
Ken, or mountain, arm, leg, hand
  lower trigram: Tui, or fair lady  

Every posture in the Yang Long Form has a martial application and an associated hexagram which is the pictorial representation of an I-Ching selection - six lines, broken or unbroken [1 or 0] arranged in a particular order. In the case of "Fair Lady at the Shuttles" the hexagram is #60 which has the title of "Articulating" and describes your situation in terms of 'confused relations'. It is further emphasizes that making limits and connections is clear, particularly through speech, and goes on to 'say' that: "To be in accord with time, you are told to articulate!

In the publication before me now (Rudolf Ritsema and Stephen Karcher, Element books ISBN 1-85230-536-3) it goes on to say: " ... separate and distinguish, as well as join different things; express through speech; joint, section, chapter, interval, unit of time, regulation, limits; zodiacal sign; lit.: nodes on bamboo stalks ..." and in an abridged version by S. Karcher Ph.D., Element ISBN 1-86204-134-2 it is surmised that: "By articulating the times and measures, people and things are kept from harm". As further illustration I quote as follows from my master's (Raymond Wood) unpublished collection of Tai Chi Chuan writings:

"The Jade girl works at the shuttles as serving maid to the Taoist Immortals. The [Ancient Taoist] Chinese believed that the world was square and the heavens were held in place by the four legs of a tortoise. Its legs represent the four points of the compass, like the four corners of the earth. This sequence is also connected with the theory of the Five Elements. The four corners of the earth are represented by four mythical animals. South - Red - Bird [Phoenix] - Fire; East - Green - Dragon - Wood; West - White - Tiger - Metal; North - Black - Snake - Water. The earth is in the center. The Fair Lady moves the wooden shuttle with smooth body turns, again and again like a water wheel. There are four turns - the number of seasons in the year. When used in self-defense, one hand blocks and the other hand pushes forward offensively."

I have tried to make it clear here that any understanding of the I-Ching relies upon singular and individual interpretation and actioned only in full consideration of conditions [all things] at that instant and that instant only. Yet even when all of this is done one can expect no more than a word or two of the suggestions ( i.e."articulate") to make any solid sense! But that's the way it is. You ask a question, you are given an answer and 'hints' (visulisations?) as to how be "in accord with time".
As it is so that any action following any I-Ching 'reading' should be considered 'in accord with time', so it is also that any martial application of the posture "Fair Lady" be administered in accordance with that one instant in time and space, and as appropriate to "conditions" that moment. It may be that all that is required against certain attacks is a block and another may require block and push - or poke - or grab - or punch and or kick ... and so on, in accord. The permutations are as infinite as the moments that have passed and as infinite as the moments to follow. Ultimately, when self, desire and aversion are extinguished and we truly 'go with the flow' questions become redundant. In the meantime, we practice ... and we practice Form because "Form Must Come First" and we (stay healthy! and ...) refine our movements relative to time and space; and in this instance: get 'better' at Tai Chi.

The Jade girl works at the shuttles as serving maid to the Taoist Immortals. The [Ancient Taoist] Chinese believed that the world was square and the heavens were held in place by the four legs of a tortoise. Its legs represent the four points of the compass, like the four corners of the earth.
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