Written 04 Mar 2019

Yang 40 Single Whip

oh jeeze what’s this

Single Whip in the Yang 40 is a bit of an experience. It’s much more minimalistic than the 24’s version, and took a while to get used to. However barebones it is, though, it has a certain elegance I find appealing.

1: Let’s talk feet

The feet, and the weightshift, in this movement will be one of the most important things to get down. When we end this, we’ll be in a post stance facing North and not have really moved all that far. But not all movement is linear – much of the movement in this Single Whip will be internal.

Remember, we’ve ended our Stroking Bird’s Tail with the push - we’ve got weight in our right foot, and both arms extended at about shoulder level.

We start off simply enough - we’ll take our fully-loaded-right-foot-opportunity to turn our left foot towards the north, before shifting into it. Once our left foot is loaded, we’ll bring our right close by. (I’m frankly not sure if this stance has a name - the feet aren’t so close as to touch, but they’re not quite so far apart as to be a horse stance. “Staggered Parallel” seems about right). We’ll settle into the right foot then, and drop the ball of the left foot into a comfortable post stance.

#2: The hands

In a way, the hands for this are very easy. We’ll pretty much let them do their own thing.

In a way, the hands for this are very hard. We’ll have to coordinate them with the weight shift to get anything useful out of them.

For starters, they both remain at shoulder height throughout. As we shift our facing towards (and a little past) the North, they’ll ride along with the body. They will, naturally, lag behind a little bit. There’s a nice natural extension to the right arm as it’s pulled open by inertia, just the same there’s a natural closing to the left arm.

As we finish our leftward shift, and begin shifting to our right foot, they’ll continue to follow along. They will, naturally, reverse direction, and their states of openness and closedness will, natually, switch as they’re pulled the other way. But it’s at this point where we want to exert some amount of control. As we finish the shift, we need to guide them so as to end in the classic Single Whip position - with the right hand extended in a hook, and the open left hand positioned near the lung point on the right side.

Bear in mind that we’re just modifying their path – the impetus for motion should come from the Dan Tien.

Final notes Do take care to maintain softness in the joints throughout this movement. It’s tempting to go full Frankenstein’s Monster with the arms when letting them trail behind, but locking the joints is undesirable. We’re letting our arms ride along - not lifelessly pulling them behind.

The Yang 40 Series

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