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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Phase Three of Fist under Elbow
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)