Single whip applications

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by robert.t, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. robert.t

    robert.t New Member


    I'm interested in people's thoughts on single whip applications and the circumstances under which they may or may not be practical.

    Right now I'm not really training taijiquan applications, but my teacher happened to mention the fact that the right hand in single whip is intended to be an eagle strike. As noted on the linked page, this doesn't seem like a particularly practical strike and I'm curious why anyone would do this rather than say, an open palm strike. Is it in the form mainly for stylistic reasons over practical ones?

    I had always assumed that the right hand was more of a grab, but of course there's usually more than one application per posture so maybe there are others that might be considered more generally useful?
  2. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    It's an (arm) drag a pull and yes a 'grab' if you like. That's how I like it and use it combined with the other hand as a strike (predominantly) it makes perfect sense. I have seen it too demoed plenty as a variety of striking. Some using the fingers held together as point hitting, others using the back of the hand or wrist.

    Nothing wrong per se, the shape and motion can be used that way, but it's more of an isolated use of that particular arm in the movement/ posture. In the overall holistic sense of single whip the 2-way pull strike nature of it is really the most useful way to look at it for me and makes the most sense. Others mileage may vary of course.

    It's quite common for posture/ motions to have more than one technique application and sometimes that may be the whole thing or parts broken down to particular limbs doing this or that technique "by themselves". There are a few varieties of technique that can be derived from single whip that I like that go beyond pull/strike (they can isolate smaller motions within the whole) but the overarching theme of single whip is "split" or force in two opposing directions whether linear or rotational.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  3. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I have learned both applications. The hook/grab being the primary one, but I have learned it as an upwards strike with the wrist as well.

    This application came with learning to do single whip in the 48 combination form me. Where you sort of swoop up going back into single whip rather than the more common sideways going back in the traditional Yang style.

    I figured the upward swoop was one of the other styles in the 48 combination. I think it is Sun or Wu style?

    But we also have that style of single whip,, with the upwards motion, in one of our fan forms. This fan form is Yang style, developed by our GM. But it may be this move is influenced by another style as this is the only other time I can think of us doing single whip this way in any of the forms I have learned that are reportedly all Yang style.

    As for the practicality, eh. I could see it if your hand just happened to be positioned the right way as an option. But it wouldn't be the first thing I would try.
  4. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    It's not something I've seen or been taught and the page I linked to earlier does say it is "a very powerful technique". I'm just at a loss to see why that is. It just looks to me like a broken wrist waiting to happen, with no obvious advantage over a palm strike or a closed fist. I do know there are a few parts of taiji (and most traditional martial arts) that are either superfluous or wildly impractical, but I don't want to write it off as one of those without at least trying to understand the intent behind it.

    I do agree that the other application seems to make more sense though.
  5. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    In hung gar the strike is not applied with the hand bones but with the end of the ulna bone. This should greatly reduce the likely hood of breaking ones own wrist.

    As for why to use that "hand" as apposed to another. Its a question of opportunity. the movement and mechanics of power generation make this strike effective when standing in postures when it is not possible to do a conventional punch. if the opportunity arises one uses it.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  6. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    I don't see why. Unless you are hitting a completely static target and striking with the back of the wrist, you're putting your hand in a pretty vulnerable position for a break/dislocation. It's like intentionally putting yourself in a wrist lock: the joint can only go so far before bad things happen.
  7. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member


    You might also want to consider that the target is/ could be a soft one. Palm for hard targets, fists/bones for softer targets; if you like.. Hit someone hard in and around the head with the fist for example is always a risk to hurt/ damage your hand bones.

    Under the chin/ jawline is a soft target. Coincidence ?
    The strike is a rising one that targets that soft area I think.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  8. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    No, because, in hung gar at any rate, one does not strike with the hand /wrist but with the arm bone. the hand simply trails behind the strike. it does not contact the target. Hence the wrist does not bend because no force is transmitted to it.

    In hung gar the strike is known as a cranes neck strike. It is one striking aspect of the crane "hand" although it is not the hand that strikes in this case but the arm bone.

    we do strike with the back of the hand / wrist this is called a cranes head strike. it is only done to large soft targets such as the nose or groin. It is used much like a flicking back fist over a distance of a few inches (not appropriate in context of a single whip) the cranes neck strike however can be used in conjunction with a larger single whip movement of the body.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  9. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    It's still rather unpleasant to hit a bag with though. Even if your targeting is spot-on and you just hit with the end of the ulnar/radius, there are a lot of tendons and nerves controlling the hand that stand to take a beating.

  10. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    OK, I still think there is quite a bit of risk involved there, but I can at least see how striking upwards with the end of the radius (probably not ulna) in that case could potentially be an effective way to KO someone. I think you'd probably want to turn your hand so it's pointing more in towards yourself rather than downwards where it's likely to make contact and cause a wrist injury.

    That said, we're talking about a strike to the jaw, not the throat so it's not really a soft area as such.
  11. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    OK, that seems sensible but it sounds like a completely different strike.

    Yes, that makes sense and also ties in with the idea that the eagle strike is supposed to be for soft areas. This actually bears some similarity to the way I was previously taught to do groin strikes, with a loose, whip-like action as this apparently maximises the amount of pain inflicted compared to a hard strike. However, I have my doubts that single whip is really intended to be a groin strike unless your horse stance is really, really low! :)
  12. 23rdwave

    23rdwave Valued Member

    The palm strike or push comes from the left hand but is powered by the right side. The chin na action (torque of the wrist and spiraling fingers) creates a whole body push. This can be used when one is attacked from opposte directions and the energy goes both ways, left and right. It can be used to create some separation from the opponent(s). It is not a finisher.
  13. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    It reminds me a lot of "sayu-nage" in aikido.
    [ame=""]Munetsuki Sayu Nage - YouTube[/ame]

    I think the guys in the following clip are horrible, but the clip at least shows that anytime you're on the outside of the opponent/partner's arm, you potentially have a sayu nage -- or a single whip.
    [ame=""]Aikido shomenuchi sayu nage - YouTube[/ame]
  14. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    In CMA, a

    - downward hook means a grip on the wrist.
    - upward hook means a grip on the ankle.
    - palm down strike is fingers attack the eyes.
    - palm up strike is fingers attack the throat.

    In the Taiji "single whip", your right "downward hook" is not a striking (has no striking intend).
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  15. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    That is not accurate. It may be so in your lineage/ style, but not in all TCC.

    I have indeed been taught this application, and the OP was told of it.
  16. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    Not wanting to drag this into being some sort of philosophical debate, but I do question how much mileage you can get out of arguing what is and isn't "correct" based on what happens to be taught in some schools.

    All I will say is that in every style of CMA I have personally experienced, a hook-shaped hand is used to represent a grab.
  17. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    When a traffic cop directs traffic, his hands may move into many different directions. Since the lacking of "intend", a traffic cop will never become a fighter.

    The preying mantis system likes to use the hook-shaped hand to strike on the face or up to the chin. To compare it with face punch and uppercut, the hook-shaped hand strike is not that effective.
  18. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    When I first started sparring a lot, I found I would naturally bring a similar strike up when my arm was in the optimum position for it. I worked on eliminating that reflex because it would only serve to damage myself. There are much better hand positions, even unorthodox ones, that would bring less risk of injury to myself that you can use from similar starting positions. Not only that, but the presumption that a head cannot turn away from/toward a strike before it lands is a mistake, in my opinion.
  19. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Yes, I am taught that too. But a wrist strike from a crane beak is also in CLF. And Hung Gar. And Mantis style. I rather suspect it is a common application in many styles.

    It is not an arguable point. It is in fact taught as a strike in some styles and schools. one can argue its effectiveness, but not if it is an application taught in TCMA.

    Most moves have multiple applications. One tends to be the most common one, but that doesn't mean it is the only one.
  20. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    If this is the technique I am thinking of, isn't the intended striking part here the knuckles rather than the wrist?

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