Wield the Pipa

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Richful_jedi
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Wield the Pipa

Post by Richful_jedi » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:53 am

Hi all, I'm one of Laoshi Rodell's Australian students.
I've primarily learned Public Yang Taijiquan forms with some martial intent previously here in Oz. Through seminars with Laoshi Rodell I'm beginning to learn Yang Michuan Taijiquan, Taiji Jian and Push Hands. Using the principles and applications I've learned from Laoshi I'm trying to inject more Martial intent into my Art. I'm also using Yang Cheng Fu's "The Essence and Applications of taijiquan" (translated by Louis Swaim) as my primary reference for public style applications.

Louis Swaim highlights the language used by Yang Cheng Fu and how it can describe the intent of the application, as well as the actual movement. This got me thinking about the names of the movements, specifically Wield the Pipa, and if there is more to the name than just looking like you're holding a Pipa/lute...

A quick wikipedia search later... Pipa: The name "pípá" is made up of two Chinese syllables, "pí" (琵) and "pá" (琶). These are the two most common ways of playing this instrument. "Pí" is to push the fingers of the right hand from right to left, thus more than one finger can be used at a time striking multiple notes, and "pá" is to pull the thumb of the right hand from left to right, in the opposite direction.

The idea of this back and forth motion seems to be what Yang Cheng Fu describes: (in response to a right strike to the chest)
"The right hand concurrently draws in and closes, following along the opponents wrist, and passing around and under it. I quickly use my wrist to stick to the opponents wrist, then use my right hand to gather and join with the inside of his wrist to restrain and pull it to the right and downward" The movement in his book is also named Hand Strum Pipa.
He goes onto describe using the righthand to "pluck" and "split" to the elbow with the left. To me this sounds like a Peng with the right arm to the incoming right into a wrap around the arm using Grasp Sparrows Tail and Pluck downward as the left hand pushes into duifongs centre to complete Split energy. I end this motion with hips facing the diagonal.

Does this sound familiar to anyone's applications of Wield the Pipa? In the public form there is also the raised front foot in empty stance, is this preparation for a possible kick or trip?

Mark Linett
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Re: Wield the Pipa

Post by Mark Linett » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:17 am

In the Louis Swaim's translation of The Essence and Application of Taijiquan, he interestingly translates on p.32 that when the opponent strikes the chest, "I then contain my chest". Containing refers to the softening or relaxing of the chest from inside out. This is a very important issue since the opponent finds that he has no place to land his intended punch since the the point of intended contact has softened, relaxed, and moved back and down.
From a Yang Jia Michuan point of view, after we contain or Hanxiong the chest, it is very important to control both the wrist and the elbow joints. Wang Laoshi used to be quite clear in showing the method for controlling the wrist. He used the middle finger and thumb to twist and control the wrist just above the palm. This should be done using a minimum of Li or hard strength. After leading the opponent into the void and controlling his arm, it is possible to push him with little or no strength.
By the way in the first Duan we practice this movement with quite a wide sweeping motion before making contact with the wrist. Of course the movements in the form tend to be quite a bit larger than when they are being appled.The circles get quite small in the applications. In the application, it is possible to also come from below (in Peng) as well as from above before making contact with the wrist.

Scott M. Rodell
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Wield the Pipa, public Yang vs. Michuan versions

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:07 am

The first thing I have to add is Louis Swaim's translation of The Essence and Application of Taijiquan is one of the best books on the art available in English.

I have been fortunate to study both the 3rd Generation public Yang Style Taijiquan in Zheng Manqing's lineage & the Yangjia Michuan lineage with the Wang Yen-nien (same teacher as Mark Linett, he is my senior classmate). Both forms have the movement the name of which is translated as "Wield the Pipa." However, these movements are quite different in application. In the public Yang Style, this movement is Lie, Splitting, along a vertical line. It is particularly effective if your duifang is taller than you are. In this case, as the duifang attempts to grab one's chest, one sits back into the root of the rear leg, pressing downward with one hand as the other lifts at the elbow. The front toe is raised in preparation to kick as it is often difficult to throw the duifang back off balance, though you can jam their movement & as they pause, easily deliver a kick to the knee, floating rib or with the toe to the arm pit.

The Michuan version of this movement is a voiding movement that captures the duifang's center as he or she attempts to grab your chest. In this case, one turns on the root of the front leg so that the duifang grabs only air, then capture the wrist & elbow as Mark described above. Then, following the duifang's movement, one either pulls them forward off balance or having stepped to the side, take a half step in & fajin, throwing the duifang back off balance. Note that in more demanding martial situations, one only tosses the duifang off balance, but still within one's striking range & then, & I am quoting the Yang Family's manual here, "pommel the soft flank mercilessly."

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Michuan Version of Wield the Pipa

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:47 am

Here is the Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan version of the application of
Wield the Pipa-

Yang Luchan took the stepping for this movement from the Plum Blossom stepping techniques of Northern Shaolin's Dahongquan & Shaohongquan.
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Wield-the-Pipa.jpg
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taiwandeutscher
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Re: Wield the Pipa

Post by taiwandeutscher » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:48 pm

It seems that both applications are widly known in any given Yang style, with small variations in stepping. In Wang Zihe 108 we do it without the step with the left leg sidewise, pulling more in backwards and then following with the same action as seen in the pics.
hongdaozi

Scott M. Rodell
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Re: Wield the Pipa

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:06 pm

taiwandeutscher wrote:... both applications are widly known in ... Yang style, with small variations in stepping...
Naturally, since all the Yang styles of taijiquan emanate from the same source, Yang Luchan, we should expect similarity in technique & approach to martial application. One of the major differences between the Michuan part of the Yang Family's system & those taught publicly, is the incorporation of stepping techniques from the beginning in the hand form. These stepping techniques (bufa) are drawn from several sources: Half-stepping from xingyiquan (which is used to control & vary the distance), the above mentions Plum Blossom Stepping (from Northern Shaolinquan, which included diagonal steps, both forward & backward & in combination & the circling step shown in the photos above) & Snake Stepping from an art known only to us as Snake Boxing. Some of these steps are seen in other parts of the Yang system including the public Yang, such as the circle step used in the Michuan version of Wield the Pipa, which is also used in the corning dalu two-man exercise.

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