Repulse Monkey: A creative Analysis
(the mirror image of brush left/right
"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
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!
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- Attention. Right foot is returned
to alongside the left.