01 September 2007

Yang Long Form (Week 1)

We started learning the Yang Long Form this morning. It's...different. So far, the moves are just different versions of those in the Cheng Manch'ing form. They're done differently, but they have the same names, and similar ending postures, just using the principles of the Long form rather than the short. We made it up to single whip, which is generally counted as "13 moves" into the form. I have no clue how those '13' are enumerated. Let's see... (1) preparation; (2) Ward-off left; (3) Double bung; (4) Take-down (rollback in the CMC form); (5) press; (6) withdraw; (7) push; (8) withdraw leaving fingertips; (9) roll up sleeve (fishes in eight in CMC form); (10) single whip. Okay, so there are three other things that ought to be enumerated in that sequence, but I got closer to 13 than I expected.

The short version of the differences between the forms is that the Cheng Manch'ing form is...smaller, more refined, more relaxed. In the yang form, they say "distinguish full and empty", whereas in CMC we say "separate full and empty". For non-players, this primarily refers to weighting. The leg supporting the weight is "full" and the leg with less (or no) weight is "empty." In the CMC form, we make a point of getting ALL the weight onto one foot in most moves, to separate full and empty. In the long form, the emphasis is just on being aware of which leg is bearing most of the weight. Also, in the CMC form, we never lunge onto a foot; we always place the foot, no weight, and then shift the weight onto it. In the long form, you pretty much have to lunge to get into the correct stance.

Those differences might not be obvious to an untrained observer, but other differences would be. In the CMC form, we maintain an erect, vertical back, except on two moves that I can think of (low-punch, squatting single whip), and neither of those deviates all that much from vertical. In the yang long form, there are lots of places where you lean from the hips, getting the body in line with the (straight) back leg. Perhaps the most distinctive difference, however, is the use/lack of "fair maiden's wrist." That means keeping the wrist and fingers straight but not stiff. In the yang long form, they deliberately pull the hand to ninety degrees with the forearm, "breaking the wrist" in CMC terminology.

Still, I'm enjoying the new form. It's more physically challenging. Don doesn't think much of it in terms of push-hands, but it will build up our leg strength quite a bit more. That's a good thing. As for push-hands... Don's experience has been that the long-form-players have very good pushes, but very poor roots, so if you can deflect the initial rush, you can probably get them to push themselves out. I've never pushed against a long-form-player, so I have no direct experience. The powerful pushes, though, seem to come from the lean-aligned-with-the-back-leg. The power comes straight up. But leaning can very easily become overcommitment. Additionally, the longer stances make for less side-to-side stability. Anyway, more next week.

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