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

Repulse Monkey: A creative Analysis


(the mirror image of brush left/right knee)

repulse monkeyGenerally "three times" is in the title of the whole Monkey Sequence for it is almost always performed that way i.e. three times. Within (only) the constraints of space and time - literally -depending upon how much space and time (both at the same time!) that you have - Repulse [short name] may in fact be performed any odd number of times. Any even number of repeats would only put you back into the posture and dynamic that you begun the sequence with. Nothing wrong with that if Free Form is your thing - in fact it is a stimulating challenge and interesting practice to investigate all possible variations and permutations - and Repulse is a good place to start. This is so because Repulse is one of the most obvious examples of 'Defensive/Offensive' (i.e. both) applications within the Yang Form.

Repulse Monkey sequence appears only twice within the whole long form - first in part two; about as far into part two as the Brush Left/Right Knee sequence is into part one, and again in the ensemble that is part three.

Not much can be said about free form other than - posh word's for 'making it up as you go along'.

But free form is not a 'short cut' to the complete form. All short cuts are by definition relative - are they not? A true practitioner (Budoka/Student of Budo/Martial Art) ought to not only have mastered (to a degree) the whole form (so to speak) Right Handed - they should ideally also have demonstrable ability (so to speak Left Handed. This may take some time - on average five to eight years

To complete the circle and be as 'in accord' as humanly possible or imaginable; the most diligent or accomplished Tai Chi Budoka would (if such an urge came over them) be able to do the whole form, right and left, and from back to front (last posture first/first posture last). Naturally, this takes longer to master! Frankly, the time that it may take to attain such a level of "no mind" is so unimaginable it becomes irrelevant; on average a lifetime!

Repulse is a good place to begin study and practice Tai Chi movements on the left and right side, and going forward backward - for in effect Repulse is Brush Left/Right Knee going backwards. If the Form is learnt in order Brush Left & Right have been learnt already, therefore it is literally just one short step away from Brushing either leg going forward to Repulsing either going backward!

monkey mind
In the context of Tai Chi the term 'monkey mind' is used to represent or suggest the 'mind' or the type of character that will not settle of stay still. One of the objectives (so as to achieve another objective) is to settle or still the mind; therefore monkey mind is 'repulsed'. Please note that it is not 'warded off', it is repulsed. Furthermore it is never so repulsed just once but a minimum of three times; hence 'Repulse Monkey (at least!) Three Times'.

The physical aspects of this posture are discussed elsewhere within this site so I'll not dwell upon this here and now; other than to point out that to accomplish Repulse correctly there must be an instant when one hand is high - palm up, and the other is low and relaxed. By the same token, when one hand is high the corresponding foot is empty. At this instant, disregarding the top half of the body, the legs and feet should adopt the position or posture of Cat Stance (also discussed elsewhere within).

The purpose of Cat Stance is to enable any successive posture or action to be executed in any direction; that is - forward, backwards or from side to side. These four Cardinal Points (north, south, east, west) become the first four directions to investigate with free form.

So, this posture going backward is Repulse Monkey and going forwards it is Brush Knee. Further investigation - in other words -from side to side - reveals that these movements are likewise intrinsic to Wave Hands in Clouds. So, on closer examination we now find that from Cat Stance we have the option to move in at least four directions whilst performing at least three different applications!

There is of course no need to practice Free Form in any particular order, however I do suggest that 'freeness' should emerge from the entire form like a solo emerges from (and therefore is at least 'in tune' with) the other instruments in greater whole. Please bear in mind that for a solo or improvisation to be enjoyed or appreciated it must (whilst being by definition separate and individual) have its own beginning, middle and end. Furthermore, if this solo is not at a similar overall speed or does not 'carry' the established theme back to where it began then even the greatest virtuoso performance is likely to be perceived by the listener as no more than a noisy ego trip!

Just Do It!

For those less experienced in the whole form that do now wish to practice free form I recommend that they begin by improvising with whatever postures that they do already understand.

If any person does lay claim to 'knowing' Tai Chi they should at least be very familiar with Attention, Preparation, Beginning and Grasp the Sparrows Tail - left and right. These are the first five postures of most Tai Chi forms, short or long.

The 'mirror' or other-hand of this sequence is:

  • Attention. Bring right foot to left.
  • Preparation. Position right foot/leg.
  • Beginning. It is no coincidence that from this point on in the form, the upright body-weight constantly shifts from one foot/leg to the other. It should not return to 50/50 until Conclusion.
  • Grasp the Sparrows Tail RIGHT. Hold a circle on left hip, Cat Stance -right foot 'empty'. Left hand lowers - right rises. Right foot steps forward.
  • Grasp the Sparrows Tail LEFT. Turning 90 degrees to the left, adopting Cat Stance with the left foot empty, hold a circle on the right hip, raise left had - lower right, step forward with the left foot.
  • Conclude. For good practice, conclude this exercise correctly. Mindfully (this is practice!) return the shoulders, hips, feet, eyes etc. to face your original or start position and 'close down'.
  • Attention. Right foot is returned to alongside the left.

mirror repulse monkey

In the context of Tai Chi the term 'monkey mind' is used to represent or suggest the 'mind' or the type of character that will not settle of stay still. One of the objectives (so as to achieve another objective) is to settle or still the mind; therefore monkey mind is 'repulsed'.
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