Grasp Sparrow's Tail

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Grasp Sparrow's Tail

Postby chh » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:50 pm

Hi All,

Issues surrounding the beginning of the YMAA form and Grasp Sparrow's Tails/Wardoffs in other long forms have come up a few times:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4959
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5170

Thanks to brer_momonga and Greg Jah for reminding me of this :)

I wanted to ask what "Grasp Sparrow's Tail" means in the system you practice. Is it one move or a sequence of several? Is there a left one and a right one? If so do they have different applications or are they mirror-opposites of each other? That kind of thing.

Can you give a description of what's going on structurally, energetically, and in the applications? Maybe a link to the movement(s) being done in a youtube video?

To be clear, I'm not really interested in what the original way is, or who changed it and when. I realize that this is an interesting topic to people, but it's not what I'm asking about :)

So that's the question. Below is my initial thinking on the question.


It looks to me like part of the issue which hasn't been fully addressed yet is the following:

In the YMAA system Grasp Sparrow's Tail Right and Left are two different moves, each with its own set of applications. The moves do contain a few energies each (I'm not describing this to save space), but those energies don't make up the sequence Peng, Lu, Ji, An. It looks like in a lot of other systems "Grasp Sparrow's Tail" is used to refer to the sequence of Peng, Lu, Ji, and An.

In the YMAA form, the Peng, Lu, Ji, An sequence is called "Wardoff, Rollback, Press, and Push Forward", or "Peng, Lu, Ji, An". Kind of weirdly, one thing that contributes to the 108/113 issue Greg mentioned is that the Peng, Lu, Ji, An sequence counts as 4 separate moves in Part 1 of the form, and only one move each time it happens after that. I think most forms with 108 moves always count this sequence as one move.

There is no Wardoff Left in the YMAA form. Grasp Sparrow's Tail Left in the YMAA form looks a bit like what's going on in Wardoff Left from some other forms though.

Here's someone who says they do Yang Family Style showing GST, which appears to consist of Peng, Lu, Ji, and An: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njz6S62lpTc

And another person showing GST as those four energies, who only says it's Yang Style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noK1mc5dWaM

Here's someone in the YMAA system (Dr. Yang) doing GSTR (2:26), GSTL (2:28), and the Wardoff, Rollback, Press, Push Forward sequence (2:30). During Wardoff the right forearm is usually parallel to the ground- this doesn't come out clearly in this video where the form is being done with Fa Jin, and the elbow quickly sinks as Rollback starts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnc12Xl59Uw#t=2m24s

Thanks for your input.
chh
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Re: Grasp Sparrow's Tail

Postby Josh Young » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:09 pm

I wanted to ask what "Grasp Sparrow's Tail" means in the system you practice.


I can speak for myself, but am not a member of any system. My primary training and focus is Yang style but I draw from many resources and do not affiliate with any specific transmission anymore, so my opinion is mine alone and is not representative of a system. I will share my understanding thus, it being known that I am just a lowly and singular proponent of what might be considered my own style though I made up nothing in it. Note also that I do not teach, i merely share.

Grasp Sparrows Tale, is a pun i like to make because it contains information about this very topic. There is the story of holding a bird so it cannot fly away, the posture that this involves is known in most (yang) systems as ward off left. The right hand is in front of the sternum and the left varies a bit, being either by the hip or down and back just a bit from the left hand (depending on frame size largely) This posture is holding the sparrow, the right hand cups the breast of the bird and the left is on the tail of the bird.

This posture, known as ward off left is called Grasp Sparrows Tail (GST), the sequence after it has been called Grasp Sparrow's Tail sequence because it follows ward of left (GST) it (the sequence) being called grasp sparrows tail is fairly new in the evolution of the terminology of Yang style.

As for applications... here are some Yang style applications for the sequence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yty33eQduoU


You are right about the count, it is actually meaningless and arbitrary, used largely for the auspice of the number 108. A long long time ago, thousands of years, there might have been 108 postures, this is another topic, but each posture itself had several moves and applications so even then the 108 was well over 300 moves.This relates today to how taiji has endless application and manifestation.

My use and understanding of the energies of GST is not the same as that of many others. It is all about energy and not technique, so I use press for example (ji) as an energy that can manifest through different techniques and things, like weapons and different strikes etc. I also use the applications of the formal techniques with the same energies but recognize that the techniques are not the same as the energies.
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Re: Grasp Sparrow's Tail

Postby chh » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:21 pm

Thanks, Josh. That's exactly the kind of thing I was wondering about. I think you or someone else posted that video on here a few years ago. I had forgotten about it so I was glad to see it again- there's a lot of good stuff packed into a short amount of time there!
chh
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Re: Grasp Sparrow's Tail

Postby Josh Young » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:49 pm

I know not everyone agrees, but I think Chen style is really good to become familiar with to understand Yang better. After all Chengfu in a book stated that the Yang art was the Chen art and was received by his grandfather from the Chens. The 8 energies are identical in the two styles, though the external aspects differ somewhat.

For this reason the grasp sparrows tale energies of Peng, Lu, Ji and An from Chen are quite valuable, in my mind, to help appreciate the Yang versions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cSSWcwXfQY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOqLJdlry7A

I found such demonstration and instruction (in person and online) quite useful. The applications in Chen are amazing too, but there is too much to it to do it justice with a simple video or paragraph. Subtle moves and angles can have very important application aspects that are hard to understand until you feel what they do. Qin-Na often makes use of simply and subtle motions such as a hand turning over that are not apparent when you watch the form or even a push hands exchange.

Yang is even more subtle than Chen and the latter does contain a lot of subtle moves.

Also worth reading and it has to do with the topic:
http://ymaa.com/articles/yang-tai-chi-f ... ets-part-2
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