Single whip application

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Linda Heenan
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Single whip application

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:26 pm

While practising martial applications from section one Michuan recently, I discovered something I need some suggestions for. We were working on the single whip application where the duifang attacks the chest area. I then use rollback and quickly go into the hooked hand formation, drawing down over his elbow points and breaking his structure. The hooked hand is then braced by the other hand and strikes towards the duifang's throat.



Here's the problem. i was using the knuckles of my hooked hand to strike until my duifang informed me it should actually be the bone at the wrist. My wrist isn't flexible enough to do that well and I'm looking for some ways to improve the flexibility. I have the one about stretching the fingers back. Any other suggestions for someone who has no hint of "double jointednesss".



Also, any discussion about the application would be welcome.



Linda

DavidM
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Post by DavidM » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:56 pm

Hi Linda, I seem to remember Laoshi saying to strike with the knuckles, to the throat.

I think that to strike with the top of the wrist (with the hand orientated the way it is) forwards to the throat you would have to bend it back substantially, quite a bit more than 'normal' perhaps.

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yowie_steve
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knuckles

Post by yowie_steve » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:22 pm

I'd be more inclined to use the knuckles to the neck - as laoshi had shown us - due to a smaller surface area that can really focus damage into that soft part of the body.



From my experience, the use of the hooked wrist is more natural to larger targets like the ribs or solar plexus. I found the wrist to be actually fairly tough and really good for striking, and you don't have to worry about having your wrist buckling as you can risk by punching with a fist. The same applies with the palm, it's really powerful and you are dealing out the power through the end of your arm, not through a fist that can buckle at the wrist. I think that is why taiji quan uses lots of palm strikes since it is the most versatile way to strike out with the arm. You are relaxed (not clenching a fist), able to quickly grab (or hook), and you can turn it quickly into a finger jab to sensitive areas. I also noticed that training to palm with the fingers outstretched - as done in michuan - you are extending your sensitivity (fingers touch first, and then the palm pumps into the target) more than you can with say the standard shaolin palm where you just pound the base of your hand into the duifang. That's my take on it. And it seems that by the outstretched palm (as opposed to fingers up palm) you are minimising the risk of having your fingers caught by the duifang and being bent backwards into a wrist lock. And also I suspect the outstretched palm is a little less visible and more deceptive than a full surface area fingers up palm. Sneaky. Really clever!



Anyway, I digress, this thread is about the hooked hand.



It seems that the need to support the hooked hand by your fingers of the other hand in the form is evident that your are going to strike with the knuckles since without the support there your wrist may buckle. Unless of course you are striking with the wrist itself - you don't really need to support your hand - however as you pointed out this can be fairly difficult unless you are really flexible or have an exceptionally tiny wrist. The neck is too small. And if you can somehow make it "fit" in drills, it would be incredibly difficult to pull it off in the actual flurry of combat or free hand.



I also suspect that the wrist is going to naturally "roll" upwards smack bang into the duifang's jaw/cheek region (a larger and more easily accessible surface area than the neck) and really knock his/her head off its supporting neck. Kind of the pulsing "ba-boom" method of knocking the duifang first off balance and then really driving him/her into the wall that laoshi has shown us - and shown me alot by using me as a demonstration target. :)



There is also the question of - why the sudden random hook hand in the midst of open hand deflects and palm/finger strikes? Did Yang Luchan decide to make his form more martial-arts-savvy by including it so he can say to his zen do kai buddies "Oh yeah, my form uses the hook hand. It really has everything. Top street fighting stuff!". I think it can be used in a variety of ways - just epitomised in the single whip application as a "base reference" - and I think it's a handy way to pull the duifang off balance as opposed to a natural grab where you are committed to holding the arm with opposing thumb wrapped around it. Those kind of grabs are easily turned into joint locks.



Some styles use the hooked hands exclusively - they like it so much. Or it makes you look like a praying mantis or crane beak in the spirit of Chinese martial lore. Yet I've only been exposed to techniques that use the wrist for striking, so it would be natural for me to think that single whip would be also.

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Linda Heenan
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Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:43 pm

Hi David, Steve, good to hear from both of you, and some good points.



This was one of the applications that was a little tricky in the timing. For a start, you have to hold the strike because it is at a vulnerable place that could easily cause harm to a practise partner. Then, there is that tricky change of direction where the fingers of the second hand have to get into position quickly to brace a return from the draw down.



I was thinking of getting in some timing practise by using a light tree branch in replace of a duifang's arm. This doesn't help with catching the timing of a strike though, or with a bending elbow feel. What do others think? Would training this way help, or hinder getting the timing accurate? Is it better to just train it in the form while focussing on an imaginery duifang?

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