Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yang 24 Taiji Form - Setting the record straight

In my years of practicing the Yang long form and its many variations I have often heard disparaging remarks about the short form, Beijing form, or what is sometimes called the public form. Yet when I finally went to China, and visited with teachers and other martial artists I found most people did practice the 24 form, even the really hardcore martial artists! So I dug in, and began learning the form one morning in Nanjing with Shifu Gao Xiu Ming. Luckily, with my long form experience the choreography came very quickly and with just a few adjustments I was playing the Beijing short form.

Over the years I have come to love the form, and this past year I began teaching it. This opened my eyes even further to the beauty of the form - it's complete and relatively compact, and it has become one of my favorites. So how did this form come about, and was it really a conspiracy to remove the martial aspects, the heart and soul from taiji for the masses?

In 1956 the Chinese Sports Committee brought together four taiji teachers - Fu Zhongwen, Zhang Yu, Cai Longyun, and Chu Guiting to create a taiji form that could easily be disseminated throughout China and used in competition. In modern day terms, this is like bringing together Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and Larry Bird to teach the public basketball. These masters shortened the form to 24 postures, the 24 essential forms in the Yang family style, and created a sequence that could be completed in about 5-6 minutes. 1956 - 1960 saw many national martial arts competitions in China, and the Beijing form along with weapons, traditional forms, and what would become wushu were demonstrated. The 24 form has now become the most popular taiji form practiced throughout the world, and while it is practiced by many simply for its meditative aspects, the martial aspects are intact, and taught by many teachers who have this experience.

Taiji 24 or Beijing Form

  1. 起势  Qǐshì - Commencing or Preparation
  2. 左右野马分鬃  Zuoyou Yémǎ Fēnzōng - Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane (left & right)
  3. 白鹤亮翅  Báihè Lìangchì - White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  4. 左右搂膝拗步  Zuoyou Lōuxī Àobù - Brush Knee Palm and Step Forward, Brush Knee Palm and Twist Step (left & right)
  5. 手挥琵琶  Shǒuhūi Pípa - Playing the Pipa or Presenting the Pipa
  6. 左右倒卷肱  Zuoyou Dào juǎn gōng - Step Back and Repulse Monkey (left & right)
  7. 左揽雀尾  Zuo Lǎn Què Wěi - Left Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, Grasp the Bird’s Tail
    1. a. 掤  Peng - Ward Off
    2. b. 捋  Lǚ/Lu - Rollback
    3. c. 擠  Jǐ - Press
    4. d. 按  Àn - Push
  8. 右揽雀尾  You Lǎn què wěi - Right Grasp Sparrow’s Tail
  9. 单鞭  Dān biān - Single Whip
  10. 云手  Yúnshǒu - Wave Hands Like Clouds, Cloudy Hands
  11. 单鞭  Dān biān - Single Whip
  12. 高探马  Gāo tàn mǎ - Snake shows tongue, High Pat on Horse, Step Up to Examine Horse
  13. 右蹬脚  Yòu dēng jiǎo - Right Heel Kick, Separate Right Foot, Kick with Right Foot
  14. 双峰贯耳  Shuāng fēng guàn ěr - Strike to Ears with Both Fists
  15. 转身左蹬脚  Zhuǎnshēn zuǒ dēngjiǎo - Turn Body, Left Heel Kick
  16. 左下势独立  Zuo Xià shì dúlì - Left Lower Body and Stand on One Leg
    1. a. 下 势  Xià shì - Low Single Whip, Snake Creeps Down
    2. b. 左 金 鸡 独 立  Zuo Jin Ji Du Li - Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg
  17. 右下势独立  You Xià shì dúlì - Right Lower Body and Bird Stand on One Leg
  18. 右左玉女穿梭  Yòuzuǒ yùnǚ chuānsuō - Fair Lady Works with Shuttles
  19. 海底针  Hǎidǐ zhēn - Needle to Sea Bottom
  20. 闪通臂  Shǎn tōng bì - Fan Through Back
  21. 转身搬拦捶  Zhuǎnshēn Bānlánchuí - Turn Body, Roll, Parry,step through and Punch
  22. 如封似闭 Rúfēng shìbì - Yield and Push
  23. 十字手  Shízì shǒu - Cross Hands
  24. 收势  Shōushì - Closing