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Characteristics of Tai Chi
origins, meanings, lineage, analyses and exploration

Fist Under Elbow

 

holding the ballFist under Elbow is the first 'new' posture that we encounter in Part Two of the Long Form.

Part Two begins (apart from some variation in directions) more or less as Part One does.

video of moveFist Under Elbow (when viewed from this incorrect subjective/objective - beginning/end - start/finish standpoint!) is in fact the first of several other similarly 'new' postures encountered in Part Two that are not included in Part One. Literal descriptions of the sequence or order of postures from here on in become (as above) complicated and - to a degree - pointless. Tai Chi is after all better 'done' rather than talked about. If a Budoka (practitioner) has maintained sufficient patience to bring them thus far into their study of the Form they are rewarded about now with a new challenge that will require dedication and diligence to conquer. We all have our own ways of remembering things. Some of these things may require a list to jog the memory. Despite being 'long' the Yang Long Form is not one of those things. It should be committed to memory or (to use a pertinent if old-fashioned phrase) learnt by heart.

swing down


Phase one of the Posture Fist under Elbow

As it is certain and so that the form ought not be conceived of as separate bits put together, so it is also certainly so that each posture ought not be separated into parts. That certainly should be the practice. Forgive for what follows - the theory.

hold the ball highBoth hands are positioned above the right shoulder with a kind of dynamic tension approximating that of either catching or throwing a ball. It depends, depends upon you and your body - even you and your mood.

When performing it I personally used to think that I struck a pretty pose as an Art Deco Lamp-stand, and between my hands was a Tiffany glass Shade. More lately I picture a Goldfish Bowl complete with Water and Goldfish held level between my supporting palms, and then me - the whole of me - is also in a bowl … (being held…).

In theory, this is the first stage of "storing" or "accumulating" energy or Chi. Storing it for later? Storing for use soon! It is an uncomfortable fact that ultimately (wherever that is!) a strike in Tai Chi ought to be at least thorough and conclusive. At best this 'strike' might be relatively painless, however, ultimately the imperative of a conclusion to conflict should be swiftly sought.

swing down

Fist under Elbow is the first posture in the form the inclines us to explore the coiling nature of the form. We must also establish deep roots to Earth and a puppet string to Heaven from the top of our Heads. Remember now, a real benefit derived from the practice of Tai Chi is robust and resilient health and well being. The gentle massage and rearrangement of the Internal Organs enable all this. Coiling and turning motions naturally administer this most efficiently and when co-ordinated with the breath that is 'sunk' those Internal Organs are given all the space that they need.

Chi, like water, cannot be pushed

Even Winnie the Pooh can not push water uphill!



Phase Two of Fist under Elbow

In a symmetry quite rare within the form, both hands take parallel routes from above the right (Tiger) shoulder across and down to below the left hip. The left foot that was empty in phase one (cat stance left) is sent forward, coiling outward. The hips and shoulders coil to your left (Dragon) side. The hands still contain a sphere of some sort. For me this is a ball of light, concentrated now due to the body coiling - as if the current is literally 'wound up'.

In theory, evasive action has been taken by this step with the left. The energy of this coil is stored. Chi cannot be pushed - but like water it may be led - and with a method or storage it may be led downwards or upward.

sequence

The arms, like two pendulums together begin to swing by the shortest route to the other ® side of the hips. In the form this is performed at the usual Tai Chi pace so that meticulous attention can be paid to detail. In application the right leg steps into the opponent's zone and the accumulated energy is ready for effective use. The actual 'strike' now depends upon the opponents movements though at the least your own right leg might simply be brought down onto said opponent's left foot. If this is the quickest way to the imperative conclusion, so be it

swing back

Phase Three of Fist under Elbow

block

There are many applications of Fist under Elbow and few are in fact as pretty as these pictures indicate. In theory - at the accumulation of energy and correct positioning the 'classic' application of the move is to raise up an opponents striking arm (usually his/her right) beneath the elbow and armpit. This not only exposes that armpit for it also lifts and separates the ribcage - enabling far deeper (internal) penetration. This action might also turn an opponent side on. This 'play's into the hands' of the application and should it be that the opponent turns his/her back to you - so be it. The opponent will decide your next action. If you then simply 'run for it' or push the opponent to the ground you will achieve the imperative conclusion. If this is not the case - there are many other targets and options available. Having accumulated such energy you must remain prepared to use it as conclusively as possible.



Fist under elbow hexagram
hexagram 27: :
Corners of mouth - nourishment, craving (for an opening)

upper trigram: Ken, or hands or fingers  

lower nuclear trigram:
K'un, or belly, body or hidden

hexagram 27 upper nuclear trigram:
K'un or belly, body, or hidden
  lower trigram: Chen, or feet, movement  

 

 

 
Fist under Elbow is the first posture in the form the inclines us to explore the coiling nature of the form. We must also establish deep roots to Earth and a puppet string to Heaven from the top of our Heads. Remember now, a real benefit derived from the practice of Tai Chi is robust and resilient health and well being. The gentle massage and rearrangement of the Internal Organs enable all this.
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