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Tai Chi Styles
introductions to other styles and aspects beyond the Yang From

Introducing the Lee Form

 

Tai Chi in itself is has no single 'method', but rather a number of different styles that have evolved along with its growth. This site is predominantly Yang Style because, simply that is what I, the two sensei's by whom I have had the pleasure of being taught, and those who are connected to the Southampton City Dojo practice. This does does not, however distinguish us as separate from the whole of what is tai chi, nor makes us feel that our style is superior to any of the others - just a different aspect of the same.

Chee So performing Lee FormThe Yang and Ch'en styles developed around the same period, by members of the same family - although Ch'en seems to have declined almost completely. Wu style (developed by Yu-Seong Wu) practised very much smaller circular movements with smaller arm stretches, and again seems to have declined. The Sun and Lee styles possibly make up (with the Yang style) the three main forms practiced today. Because of the fact that the entire Lee form uses very little movement across the floor (unlike Yang), it is often commonly known as 'Square Yard Tai Chi' as it can be performed within this boundary, and I have even heard it called the 'wardrobe' style, alluding to the ability to practice it inside a wardrobe - although actually why you would want to do this is not neccessarily clear. Whilst the Yang form likes to spread out, and requires some small adjustments to movements to make it workable within a relatively confined area, the Lee form has the advantage that it was specifically designed for small spaces, and for those who are very limited in this aspect could start looking for Lee instructors first (or see my article adapting the Yang form...).

The Lee form is possibly the most 'Taoist' of all the tai chi styles, rooted deeply within this form of religion/philosophy that has been around in China for, according to some, up to ten thousand years. Certainly the eight health philosophies known as the 'eight strands of the brocade' that deal directly with equilibrium and balance of energies (yin/yang) are a fundamental aspects of Lee. It has been said that this is the most 'spiritual' style still in existence, I may be forgiven for leaving this open to debate. Lee style does however revolve around perfect harmony and balance within its movements. While the specific evolution of the current form is not clear, it has deep roots that date back to around 1,000 BC, where it is said that it was created by Ho-Hsieh Lee - the first of the Lee family that would practice it in China right into the 1930s, when Chan Kam Lee moved to London and started classes there.

Originally there were just eight basic postures or stances to the Lee form - this now stands at fourteen. These are: Eagle stance; Bear stance; Dragon stance; Duck stance; Monkey stance; Cat stance; Leopard stance; Riding Horse stance; Snake stance; Lion stance; Crane stance; Dog stance; Scissor stance; Crossed Leg stance.

From these fourteen, a sequence of 140 moves completes the form. In Chee Soo's book: The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Aquarian/Thorsons, isbn: 0850303877) these 140 moves are split into 42 'sequences', with differing combinations within each:

 

sequence stances in order
preparation eagle bear
1. gather the celestial energy eagle eagle eagle
2.play guitar dragon monkey dragon
3. fair lady weaving monkey dragon monkey dragon monkey
4. crane excersises wings riding horse leopard eagle eagle riding horse
5. drive tiger away dragon duck dragon
6. grasp the bird's tail cat dragon
7. brush knee & side step monkey leopard
8. repulse mokey cat dragon
9. the stork is aroused crane dog monkey dragon
10 double whip snake leopard
11. the cobra unwinds leopard dragon cat dragon
12. the wild dog retaliates monkey dog leopard dragon
13. The tail of the peacock cat dragon monkey dragon
14. brush knee & side step monkey leopard
15. the edge of the cyclone monkey dragon cat dragon
16. single whip unleashed duck dragon
17. double whip cat leopard
18. the playful dog cat dragon dog dragon
19. catching the chickens monkey dragon leopard dragon
20. the archer prepares riding horse dragon cat
21. mount the wild horse dog riding horse dragon cat
22. flexing of the single whip dragon cat dragon
23. repulse monkey leopard dragon cat dragon
24. encompass east & west cat dragon
25. the dog awakens monkey dog
26. roll & stretch cat dragon
27. the five elements riding horse dragon cat leopard monkey
28. double whip leopard cat
29. wave hands like clouds dog duck dragon snake
30. consoling the north wind dragon riding horse dragon duck
31. the leopard shows its teeth dragon leopard dog monkey dragon
32. the scissors cut the silk scissor dragon crane
33. the archer releases his arrow dragon cat dragon
34. brush knee & side step duck leopard
35. within the cyclone cat dragon monkey dragon
36. the wild horse resists monkey dragon crane leopard
37. the playful monkey monkey dragon duck dragon
38. the chickens become excited duck dog monkey crossed leg
39. eight strands of the brocade monkey dragon cat dragon monkey dog monkey dragon
40. enclose the inner ch'i orbit cat dragon monkey
41. gather earth's energy eagle eagle
42. finish eagle

 


Bibliography:
Chee Soo: The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Aquarian/Thorsons, isbn: 0850303877


 

 
The Lee form is possibly the most 'Taoist' of all the tai chi styles, rooted deeply within this form of religion/philosophy that has been around in China for, according to some, up to ten thousand years.
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