Yang Taichi

Yang Taichi was founded by Yang Lu Chan (杨露禅), of Yong Nian County (永年县) in the Hebei Province in China, in the 1800's. It is relatively simpler and easier to learn than Chen Style Taichi, with much less body winding and coiling. Movements are more curvy, direct ,and open. Yang Cheng Fu once said: "Yang style Taichi is the art of softness containing hardness, of a needle concealed in cotton. The postures must be centered and upright, rounded and full, calm and steady, relaxed and tranquil, the movements are light, lively, and curved – a completely marvelous action."

Health Benefits

In China, Taichi is used as a form of recuperative therapy in most major hospitals.

  1. Nervous System: The Yang Style of Taichi requires you to use your mind in a relaxed yet focused manner. The mind should lead the movements for a minimum of one round which is approximately twenty minutes. Because of the subtle nature of the movements and the way they are strung together, practicing the form requires a high degree of concentration and relaxation. As a result, your balance, coordination and fine motor control are improved. With the mind fully involved in leading the body, you eventually enter into a state of absorption. As the mind develops more power, your concentration improves and you begin to gain more control over your nervous system, which in turn helps you to stay calm and maintain mental and physical balance. With regular practice, this process of strengthening the nervous system goes on indefinitely. Hence Taichi is especially beneficial to those whose concentration span is short; who are working under constant pressure; or are suffering from insomnia.
  2. Respiratory System: By practicing Taichi regularly, you begin to breathe Diaphragmatically, which enables the chi to sink to the dantian. Gradually your breathing becomes deeper, longer, finer, smoother, and even. This helps to increase your lung capacity, and strengthens your diaphragm. Using the diaphragm reduces the pressure in the chest cavity which allows your lungs greater freedom of movement. This process improves oxygenation of the blood and the elasticity of the lung tissues. For this reason, Taichi is regarded as being beneficial for the respiratory system.
  3. Cardio-vascular system: A requirement of your practice is for the whole body to be relaxed and avoid using brute force. Your movements should be light, agile and alive. As a result of moving in a slow and relaxed manner, the functioning of the lymphatic system and the circulation of blood and chi are improved. A more efficient circulatory system reduces the workload of the heart. While practicing Taichi, you can be perspiring, but your breathing will be deep and slow, your pulse rate will not increase. It is now common for doctors to recommend Taichi to their Patients who suffer from heart conditions and blood pressure problems because the movements are continues and gentle, and do not strain the heart.
  4. Muscles, Joints and Tendons: Taichi requires your joints to be relaxed and rounded, and your movements to describe circles and parabolas. All the muscles and joints of the body are involved in performing the movements. As the muscles relax, it becomes stronger and more flexible. By comparison, it is easier to strengthen the muscles than the ligaments, tendons and joints. One reason for this is the lack of blood circulation to these areas due to the density of their construction. The constant gentle and rounded movements help to exercise these difficult-to-get-at areas. It is well known that regular exercise helps to strengthen the skeletal system. A major requirement for Taichi practice is good posture. Learning how to hold your spine straight yet relaxed will help to reduce stress on the joints, spine and internal organs. In Taichi the combination of good posture, strong legs, and the constant rotation of the lumbar spine helps to prevent and alleviate lower back problems and reduce the effects of the natural degeneration of spine and joints which occurs with age. The constant contraction and expansion of the muscles help to improve their elasticity reducing the likelihood of them being damaged. On the other hand, muscles that are tense and inflexible are more susceptible to injuries. In the Authentic Yang Style Taichi, you turn on your solid leg without rocking your weight back first. This thoroughly trains your leg muscles. With regular practice over a period of time, you improve your strength, balance, agility and flexibility.
  5. Circulation of Chi: One of the special features of Taichi is the circulation of Chi. Chi is an essential energy which flows through the meridians to nourish your body and protects you against disease. Sickness is usually associated with sluggish flow of chi caused by blockages in meridians. Health on the other hand, is associated with an unimpeded flow of the chi throughout the body, which is analogous to running water which never stagnates. The guiding principle of Taichi, such as relaxation; roundness of joints; slow continuous movements; and quiet mind; are all prerequisites for circulating the chi freely. Taichi is one of the tools which traditional Chinese Medicine employs to stimulate and strengthen the flow of Chi through the body.
  6. Importance of Relaxation: The beneficial effects of mental and physical relaxation on your health cannot be over emphasized. Many people believe that they are relaxing while reading, listening to music , walking, playing sports, watching television or sleeping. In comparison to the levels of stress experienced, for example, at work, the above activities are less stressful, but they are only the initial stages of relaxation. The deeper levels of relaxation are experienced when the mind is no longer chattering, that is in the calm and focused state.

 

Resources

Books and Videos

Books and Videos on Fu ShengYuan's site

Insights on Yang Style Taichi

  1. Eyes: Gazing out at eye level and follows the movements of the body lively.
  2. The Waist: The waist is referred to as the general of an army. In your practice, it should be straight to maintain your center of gravity – to be able to sink your chi to dantian (your center) and breathe smoothly. If your practice is not correct, you will never reach higher levels, even if you spend a lifetime practicing.
  3. The requirements of the Limbs: Taichi training involves the use of 4 limbs. An old saying goes: "The arms and legs should assume the shape of a circular cane basket." This means that the arms and legs are slightly bent, without the joints fully extended. The curve shape is similar to that of a bow ready to release an arrow. In particular, avoid extending the limbs with force.
    1. Hands: The palm sits on the wrist, but the heart of palm is slightly concave.
    2. Fingers: Relaxed and slightly opened.
    3. Shoulders: Relaxed and sunk.
    4. Elbows: Dropped and pointing down.
    5. Order of Movement: The shoulder guides the elbow. The elbow guides the wrist. The fingers lead the palm. While the palm leads the arm, the elbow and shoulder should be dropped and relaxed. Coordinate your waist and legs with your hands, elbows and shoulders, so that the upper and lower parts of body are all connected and flow as a unit without using force.
    6. Move like a Cat: Whenever you step forward, gently land with the heel first then gradually transfer the weight until the front leg is solid. The front knee should finish in line with the toes.
    7. Lift the Foot: Lift the heel, then the toes.
    8. Sinking the Chest: As you become more relaxed, your chest will sink vertically.
    9. The Thighs: Keep them open and maintain the circular shape.
    10. Stance: Keep the knees bent moving on the same horizontal plane. Adjust the height only to meet the requirements of certain movements. The lower half of the body is solid.
  4. Frame of Mind: A. The mind should be quiet, calm and spirited – the mind is constantly directing even the smallest movements. B. Follow the classical standard. This refers to the standard set down by the great masters.

Summary: The first stage is for the movements to be open and expansive. As your practice matures, your movements become more refined and closely knit. Pay attention to the details and practice diligently.

Yang 24 Forms

  1. Commencing Form
  2. Part the Horse’s Mane (3 times)
  3. The White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  4. Brush Knee and Twist Step (3 times)
  5. Hand Strums the Lute
  6. Step Back and Whirl Arms
  7. Grasp the Peacock’s Tail on Both Sides
  8. Single Whip
  9. Wave Hands Like Clouds
  10. Single Whip
  11. Pat High on the Horse
  12. Kick with Right Heel
  13. Kick with Left Heel
  14. Push Down Left Side
  15. Stand on Left Leg
  16. Push Down Right Side
  17. Stand on Right Side
  18. Work at Shuttles on Both sides
  19. Needle at the Bottom of the Sea
  20. Flash Arms
  21. Turn to Deflect, Parry and Punch
  22. Apparent Close-Up
  23. Cross Hands
  24. Closing Form

Yang Classic 85 Forms

  1. Opening Stance
  2. Opening Form
  3. Grasping the Peacock’s Tail
  4. Single Whip
  5. Raise Hands
  6. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  7. Left Knee Brush
  8. Hands Strumming the Lute
  9. Brush Knee Left, Right, Left
  10. Hands Strumming The Lute
  11. Left Knee Brush
  12. Step Up, Parry, And Punch
  13. Apparent Close Up
  14. Cross Hands
  15. Return to Mountain with the Tiger
  16. Fist Under Elbow
  17. Step Back to Repulse the Monkey
  18. Oblique Flying
  19. Raise Hands
  20. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  21. Left Knee Brush
  22. Needle at the Bottom of the Sea
  23. Flash Out Hands
  24. Turn, Sidle, and Punch
  25. Step, Parry, and Punch
  26. Step up to Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
  27. Single Whip
  28. Wave Hands Like Moving Clouds
  29. Single Whip
  30. Pat the High Horse
  31. Right and Left Toe Separations
  32. Left Turn on Right Heel and Left Heel Kick
  33. Brushing Left and Right Knees
  34. Circle to Right and Punch Down
  35. Turn, Sidle, and Punch
  36. Step Up, Parry, and Punch
  37. Right Heel Kick
  38. Sidle to Left and Tame Tiger
  39. Sidle to Right and Tame Tiger
  40. Right Heel Kick
  41. Boxing the Opponent’s Ears
  42. Left Heel Kick
  43. Right Toe Turn and Right Heel Kick
  44. Step Up, Parry, and Punch
  45. Apparent Close Up
  46. Cross Hands
  47. Return to Mountain with the Tiger
  48. Diagonal Single Whip
  49. Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane
  50. Grasping the Peacock’s Tail
  51. Single Whip
  52. Fair Lady Works at Shuttles
  53. Grasping the Peacock’s Tail
  54. Single Whip
  55. Wave Hands Like Moving Clouds
  56. Single Whip
  57. Snake Creeps Down
  58. Golden Cock Stands on Left and Right Leg
  59. Step Back to Repulse the Monkey
  60. Oblique Flying
  61. Raise Hands
  62. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  63. Left Knee Brush
  64. Needle at the bottom of the Sea
  65. Flash Out Hands
  66. White Snake Shows Tongue
  67. Step Up, Parry, and Punch
  68. Step Up to Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
  69. Single Whip
  70. Wave Hands Like Moving Clouds
  71. Single Whip
  72. Pat the High Horse
  73. Sidle and Right Heel Kick
  74. Step Up and Punch to the Groin
  75. Step Up and Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
  76. Single Whip
  77. Snake Creeps Down
  78. Step up to Seven Stars
  79. Retreat to Mount the Tiger
  80. Turn to Sweep the Lotus Leg
  81. Bend the Bow and Shoot the Tiger
  82. Step Up, Parry, and Punch
  83. Apparent Close Up
  84. Cross Hands
  85. Conclusion of Form

Yang Longsword 32 Forms

(Opening form)

  1. Point sword with feet together
  2. Reverse thrust sword, standing on right leg
  3. Sweep sword with crouching stance
  4. Withdraw sword horizontally right bow stance
  5. Withdraw sword horizontally left bow stance
  6. Circle hack with standing on right leg
  7. Bring sword back with left empty stance
  8. Thrust sword upward standing on right leg
  9. Intercept sword with left empty stance
  10. Horizontal thrust with bow stance
  11. Turn the body withdraw sword
  12. Withdraw sword retreat steps
  13. Raise right knee hold sword front
  14. Leap step horizontal thrust with bow stance
  15. Upper-cut sword with left empty stance
  16. Upper-cut sword with right bow stance
  17. Turn the body bring back sword
  18. Thrust sword with feet together stand upright
  19. Block sword left bow stance
  20. Block sword right bow stance
  21. Block sword left bow stance
  22. Advance stance with reverse thrust
  23. Turn body hack sword
  24. Point sword with empty stance
  25. Hold up sword with knee lifting
  26. Down-cut and hack sword with bow stance
  27. Circler hack with empty stance
  28. Tilt sword with back step
  29. Horizontal thrust with advance step
  30. Bring back sword with t-step
  31. Horizontal slice sword with circle steps
  32. Straight thrust with bow stanc

(Closing form)

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