First Section of Standard Simplified 24 Form Tai Chi (Yang Style) Movements 1 – 5

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First Section of Standard Simplified 24 Form Tai Chi (Yang Style)
Movements 1 – 5

Before you begin your Taijiquan form practice, be sure to do some walking and/or progressive warm up exercises.  There are many sets of exercises that can be used to warm up that have been developed in Qigong practices.  Yang style Taijiquan players use many different Qigong sets for warming up the body before they begin Taijiquan form practice.  I often use an exercise set like the Eight Section Brocade, Five Animal Frolics, Wild Goose, Nine Temple, Bagua Walking, gentle Hsing Yi drills, Sun Salutations, or a brisk walk as part of my warm up exercises.  Be creative and playful in selecting your warm up practices.

1.  Opening Posture of Taijiquan

Variations of names for this movement include: WuJi, Standing Quietly, Reconnecting with Oneness and Emptiness, Quiet Standing Mediation
Beginning, Commencement, Starting Posture, Commencing (Qishi), Taijiquan Opening Movement, and 预 备 : Yu Bei : Preparation Form.

Face N 12 (1a) .  For an explanation of the directional scheme used in Cloud Hands webpages, please see below.
Stand at attention for awhile.  In Taiji and Qigong, standing quietly in a meditative posture for awhile is the first phase.  Relax (Sung).  Shoulders are down, hands relaxed and gently touching the side of leg, and head is erect.  This is the phase of WuJi (empty state), or standing like a tree (Zhan Zhuang), and Reconnecting with Oneness and Emptiness.  Breathe easily and comfortably.
Sink weight into right leg, and then step out to the left to shoulder width (1b).
Gently raise both arms up (1c), palms facing down, to about shoulder height (1d).
Lower both arms, palms down, to Dan Tien height, and lower knees (1e).  The lower Dan Tien is a sphere of energy located a few inches behind and below the level of the navel or belly button; the middle Dan Tien is located in the heart area, and the upper Dan Tien is located behind the eyes in the brain. The most important for Taijiquan is the lower Dan Tien.   Practitioners of Kundalini Yoga might consider correspondences of the 3rd Chakra (Manipurna) [Power, Will] with the Lower Dan Tien, the 4th Chakra (Anahata) [Compassion, Love] with the Middle Dan Tien, and the 6th Chakra (Aina) [Intuition, Vision, 6th Sense] with the Upper Dan Tien.  The Chinese energetic system is quite different from the Indian energetic system, so correspondences are weak in this case.
This is movement often called “Raising Hands and Lowering Hands.”
Breathe normally as you stand, relax, and center in position 1a.  Breathe in through nose, and out through the nose.  Slow the respiration rate to inhaling for 4-5 seconds, holding the full in-breath for 1-2 seconds, exhaling slowly for 4 to 5 seconds, pausing 1-2 seconds before beginning the yin/yang cycle of breathing again.  Breathe in at 1a, breathe out as you step to 1b.
Breathe in as arms float up 1b-1c, and breathe out as arms float down (1d-1e).


(1a)                            (1c-1d)

Here is a description of the beginning of the Opening Posture of Taijiquan (#1, 1b) from the book Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan by Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, p.37:

“1.  Preliminary Stance:  Stand naturally upright with the feet placed shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly inward, and arms hanging naturally at the side.  The body should be kept upright with the shoulders relaxed, eyes slightly closed and breathing naturally.  The body should face north.  The mind should remain empty, calm and clear.  This is the state of WuJi, (Negative Terminus in Taoist Teaching).
2.  Commencing Form:  The body should exhibit being relaxed externally while solid within.  The head is held naturally erect as if pulled upward by an invisible string.  Close the lips slightly with the tongue touching the upper palate.  The toes firmly grasp the ground with Yongquan point pulled upward.   The eyes are looking straight ahead with the chin drawn slightly inward.  The hip is turned up and the coccyx turned back and upward with the waist directed downwards.  The whole body should remain relaxed.  A mind state of intent is maintained while the vital energy flows upward from the Dantian to the Baihui point, while the turbid energy flows downward from the Dantian to the Yongquan point.  During this time, the body exhibits no external movement.  Yin/Yang, for example, closing/opening, supple-firm and fast-slow are manifested internally, portraying the image of the Taiji, (Grand Terminus) (1b).
Key Points to Remember:  For the beginner, the primary concern should be to cleanse the mind and spirit of tension and anxiety, removing all negative thoughts.  This develops even-temperedness and an alert mind for quick movement and response.  Once this technique has been mastered, the practitioner can begin to understand and practice Taijiquan more effectively.”
–   Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan

2.  Wild Horse Shakes Its Mane

Variations of names for this movement include:  Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane, Wild Horse Waves His Mane, and 野马分鬃  : Ye Ma Fen Zong  :  Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane.

The general direction of movement is in a straight line from E3 towards W9 in Movement #2.  Part the Wild Mustang’s Mane Three Times: 1. To the left side (2e), 2. To the right side (2j), and 3. To the left side (2o).  Please study the recommended online videos to see how the series of postures in this particular movement are performed.

When performing the short form, players should: move slowly, move continuously, keep the movements rounded, move without great effort, relax, keep the head up, let the mind direct the movements, don’t bounce, and maintain an upright posture.  Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, breathe deeply and regularly, breathe in when pulling back or reaching up, and breathe out when going forward or reaching down.  All the basic principles found in the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Classics should be followed when doing the Beijing simplified Taijiquan form.

Gently rise up to normal height (2a).  Circle right arm counter-clockwise up to chest height, with the palm facing down.  Draw left arm to waist, with the palm facing up (2a).  Imagine holding a ball between the two hands.   Turn the waist to NE1 (2b).  Draw the left foot to the side of the right foot (2b).  Hold Tai Chi “energy ball” with right hand, palm down, at chest height; and left hand below, palm up, at Dan Tien height (2b).  Relax and gently inhale.

“Part Wild Horse’s Mane to the Left” by stepping diagonally with the left leg (2d), bring left hand out, palm up, to about chest height (2e).  Exhale as the left arm extends.  Left elbow is slightly bent.  Right hand moves down to right hip (2e), with the right palm down.   End with chest facing W9, left hand to SW7.  Left bow stance with 60% of weight in forward left leg (2e), left knee bent; and, 40% of weight in rear right leg, with leg bend.  Head upright.   Shoulders down.

“Part Wild Horse’s Mane to the Right” by first drawing the weight back into the right leg, pivot on left heel (2f), drawing the left hand back as the torso turns to face SW7 (2g).  Step forward with the right foot to side of left foot (2g).  Step out the right leg to the diagonal (2i).  Exhale as the right arm extends (2i).  Right elbow is slightly bent.  Left hand moves down to left hip (2j), with the left palm down.   End with chest facing W9, left hand to NW11.  Right bow stance with 60% of weight in forward right leg (2j), right knee bent; and, 40% of weight in rear left leg, with leg bend.  Head upright.  Shoulders down.

“Part Wild Horse’s Mane to the Left” by first drawing the weight back into the left leg, pivot on left heel (2k), drawing the right hand back as the torso turns to face SW7 (2k).  Step forward with the left foot to side of right foot (2l).  Step out the left leg to the diagonal (2m).  Exhale as the left arm extends (2n).  Left elbow is slightly bent.  Right hand moves down to right hip (2o), with the right palm down.   End with chest facing W9, right hand to SW7(2o).  Left bow stance with 60% of weight in forward left leg (2o), left knee bent; and, 40% of weight in rear right leg, with right leg bend (2o).  Head upright.  Shoulders down.  Look towards W9.

(2j)                                       (2f)                                        (2f)                                          (2f)

3.  White Crane Spreads Its Wings

Variations of names for this movement include:  White Stork Spreading Its Wings, White Crane Lifts Its Wings, White Stork Cools Its Wings;
白鵝亮翅 : Bai E Liang Chi.

The general direction of movement is in a straight line from E3 towards W9 in Movement #3.

2o = 3a.  From 3a draw the right foot forward a half step (3b).  The right hand moves upward (3b) as the left hand moves downward (3b).  Draw the left foot backward (3c) as the right hand moves up and left hand moves down (3c).  Finish (3d) with the right hand above the head and palm forward, in a left toe stance with 90% of the body weight in the back right leg, and the left hand rests along left leg with palm down.  End with chest facing W9.  Face to W9.  Relax and exhale as the weight settles down in the back right leg.

Notice how the body turns at the waist slightly to left SW7 (3b) and then to the right NW11 (3c) before it settles to face W9.  This represents the subtle internal rotation of the Dan Tien, a “silk reeling” movement, more pronounced in the Chen Style of Taijiquan than in Yang Style Taijiquan, but still present in all styles of Taijiquan.  Many movements in the 24 Form include this turning of the waist from side to side, and rotation of the Dan Tien.

(3d)                                 (3d)                              (3d)

4.  Brush Knee

Variations of names for this movement include:  Twist Step, Brush Knee, Palm Strike; Brushing Your Knees and Stepping; Brush Knee and Twist Step; and 左搂膝拗步 : Lou Xi Ao Bu : Brush Knee and Twist Step.

The general direction of movement is in a straight line from E3 towards W9 in Movement #4.  Please study the recommended online videos to see how the series of postures in this particular movement are performed.



3d = 4a.  Brush left knee and right palm strike (4a-4h).  Left Knee and palm Twist Step (4b), turn body clockwise (4c-43), Brush Left Knee (4f), Right Palm Forward Strike (4h).  End with chest and face facing W9, look to W9 (4h).  4h = 4i.

Brush right knee and left palm strike (4i-4o).  Twist Step (4j), turn body counter-clockwise (4k-4l), Brush Right Knee (4m), Left Palm Forward Strike(4o).  End with chest and face facing W9, look to W9 (4o).  4o = 4p.

Twist Step, Brush Left Knee, Right Palm Forward Strike.  End with chest facing W9.

(4n)                                 (4o)                                (4u)                                         (4u)

5.  Playing the Lute

Variations of names for this movement include: Play the Guitar, Strumming the Lute, Hand-hold the Lute, Playing the Pipa, and 手挥琵琶 : Shou Hui Pi Pa : Hand Strums the Lute.

The general direction of movement is in a straight line from E3 towards W9 in Movement #5.

4u = 5a.  End with chest facing W9, and look to W9.

Here is a description of Playing the Lute “Hand-hold the Lute” (#5, 5a-5d) from the book ‘Tai Chi for Health: The 24 Simplified Forms” by Cheng Zhao and Don Zhao, p.88:

“Form 5 resembles a person playing a lute, a common music instrument in old China’s time.  It is more accurate to describe it as hands holding the lute, which is also a literal translation from its counterpart in Chinese.
1.  Shift the body weight onto the left leg (5a).  Life the right foot and move it a half step forward, placing it behind the left foot (5b).
2.  Lightly shift the body center back to sit on the right leg (5c).  Extend the left heel a little forward touching the floor in an empty stance (5c-5d).  At the same time, rotate the waist slightly to the right (5b-5c), lift the left arm and hand upward to the nose level (5b-5c), lower the right hand to guard the inside of the left elbow (5d).”
–  Dr. Cheng Zhao

(5d)                                    (5d)                                        (5d)

Return to Index for Sections  or  Proceed to Second Section (Movements 6 – 9)

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