Single whip applications

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

  1. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    I really don't mean to bark about this, but I'm quite upset, as you can tell. To be a serious Tang Fong Hung Gar student and put the massive effort required into learning the enormous GGFF sequence, then be told by someone "I did it in one month!". There is a lot I can take, but I can't take this insult to my intelligence, or lineage, and I don't 'pull lineage' or anything, but I feel the need to here.

    I should also point out that the GGFF is so long, in the Yee's school learning the GGFF encompasses two major rank levels. You can't rank up that fast in one month!! This link shows, we're talking about all the material you'd learn from two whole belt levels. You'd have to test not once, but TWICE, to reach Yat Cup Sr, the level at which the full GGFF is completed and displayed to a council of Sifus and assistant instructors.

    It's not the complexity at issue, there is not a single element in the fist set that is radical or particular terrible (unless you count the amount of stance training you need to endure before you can complete the sequence effectively without gassing). The raw numbers of individual changes, motions, steps,'s well into a few hundred from start to finish. I once tried to actually write out the sequence JUST in terms of named positions and got well past 100 (yes some repeat), but each named position has up to a half dozen minor transitions that are also taught to beginners, which brings the full sequence to somewhere in the area of 300-400 distinct motions, depending on what you count (and I counted anything that required a change from one moment to the next).

    So it's just math. Learn a 400 motion sequence in 30 days? You'd have to be given about 15 new movements every single day by a qualified Sifu (absurd!), in addition to practicing the sequence up to where you know. Find me a single Sifu who will admit to ever doing that, and I could be persuaded somebody, sometime did it. But that's simply not how the form is taught at all. It's not taught in huge chunks of technique. Sifu gives you a few new pieces now and then and you add them to the end. The whole point of GGFF is to take your time and build the foundation pillar, so that when you start learning the Tiger Crane, or Ng Ying, or Tid Sin Kuen, it all comes together smoothly. You've been there before, you've learned the 12 bridges, the 5 animals, and the 5 elements. It's all familiar territory.

    And the only reason it took me to year 3 to finish learning Tiger Crane (if anybody knows my posting history) is that I took some time off. But, the Hung Kuen family is close knit and I have great help from many Hung gar sifus to complete the Tiger Crane, and I know, in my heart, that every one of those Sifus would back me up right now.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  2. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Love it when you talk down to people :)
    I started hung gar in what 2003 or so with my current sifu and that was my first exposure to that form, after learning several hung gar forms from my previous sifu, honestly i prefer 5 animals to it though
    fits in with my other Chinese arts better from a personal view point:)

    of course the hung gar sifu wouldn't agree they could teach you in a month or two they are looking to earn money :)

    yes its long, as is five animals 5 elements, as is a lot of village hung gar sets
    but they dont take a year to learn, and there is no reason to split a form in half to teach it other than to extent a students learning time and thus take money off them, or as i have heard before to hide lack of knowledge of a system, turn the first form into 2 or 3, or 4 forms and look it takes so much longer to get to the advanced stuff

    Notice we are talking about learning the form not understanding it, or fine tuning it which takes a lifetime if you are into that stuff, but the gross pattern can be learned allot quicker than that stuff

    two points, its the 21st century upholding the honour of your system is a bit outdated, and shouldn't it read a former student or are you practicing again?
  3. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Personally I do not teach the form, I teach the student. If the student has good mechanics (either from prior experience or natural talent). I am happy to teach them as fast as they can learn.

    In our system we teach application and diagnosis of the form along with the form so in practice it takes a long time to learn as we only spend about 1/5th of the time in class working on the form. Most of the class is spent on partner work.

    When I first started teaching I taught the forms very slowly making many corrections. but I have come to appreciate that there are diminishing returns to this approach. More and more I am appreciating the value of just letting the student get on with it.

    On average from complete beginner to finishing the form takes about a year and a half. But if the student is an experienced martial artist a month is possible in principle, although I have not done this in practice.
  4. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Interestingly as this started as a tie chi thread. It took me two years to learn the taming the tiger form and also two years to learn the southern wu tie chi form. For the tie chi the whole class was spent on form.
  5. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    It really isn't. Depending on how you count it, there are something like 100 "postures" including various repetitions, not dissimilar to Tai Chi long forms.

    You could learn a set the long, slow way. Bit by bit, with lots of detail as you go. Or you could learn the basic movements and choreography and then fix it up with corrections later. A benefit of the latter approach is students can reach a point where they can "do" the set much sooner, which then opens up the stamina benefits of being able to run through it in its entirety, perhaps multiple times (as is the case in my school). A disadvantage would be the potential for more people to be out there who "know" the set but not to as high a level.

    Learning choreography - if you have the mind for it, and it is very much dependent on individuals - is not as difficult or time-consuming as some imagine. Iron Fist, I'm not here to offend you or challenge the method by which you were taught, only to point out that your experience is not the only possible reality.
  6. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    The principle disadvantage of leaning too fast is that it is easy to learn to do it wrong. In practice it is much harder and takes longer to unlearn something than it does to take the time and learn it correctly in the first place.
  7. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    I really don't intent to talk down to anyone, I'm calling out what appears deceptive, and it rang alarm bells in my head. Trust me if I thought I was possibly wrong about this, I'd be a lot more diplomatic. I don't think I've ever been more sure of something related to Hung gar.

    But are you contending that Frank Yee or Chiu Chi Ling or Bucksam Kong does that? Because I think there is not a single Hung gar master that would agree to teach, let alone be able to teach, a student the full GGFF in that time, simply because no student could learn that fast, but also it goes against the whole Gung concept.

    Recall, the name of the form is Gung Gi Fook Fu, translated literally, Patter I Taming Tiger, and in this case, "tiger" is a Buddhist metaphor for taming another fighter (based on the legend of Brahmin Pindola Bharadvaja).

    The patter I "gung" was chosen to represent exactly what it sounds like. Hence, the Hung gar student is supposed to put a great amount of time and effort to learn this form, and it unlocks all the later material. The GGFF is so difficult in fact that Lam Sai Wing's lineage often teaches much shorter Arrow Fist sets first, before GGFF.

    I get your point man, but let's pretend we're memorizing the digits of pi instead. You're going to learn the first 300-400 digits of pi in one month? Or, you're going to learn a few digits at a time?

    A sequence so long that it can only be memorized by physical practice, requires that you only try to learn a little bit at a time, building at the tail end. That's the standard teaching method for Tang Fong AND Lam Sai Wing's lineages.

    So my million dollar question: what Hung gar school claims to teach the GGFF in one month? What Hung gar sifus?? I can assure you none of the well known Hung gar masters do. So, let's be's an extraordinary claim, so where's all the evidence of people learning GGFF so quickly? If it's true that it's possible, there should be people everywhere who've learned it in 1-2 months.

    You won't find any, I know it, and if they claim they learned this specific form that quickly (And not a later form), I want to talk to that person in detail about what they learned. I owe it to Wong Fei Hung.

    Well it's just the dishonesty of it all that's upsetting my honor, not the tie to the school. I get that you and Tom are trying to put forward some good argument, and I agree with a lot of it, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

    I greatly doubt that this gentlemen learned the full GGFF in one month. I didn't want to call him a liar, maybe just confused or misguided, but this was like telling me the Earth is flat. El MEdico questioned why I took 3 years to finish Tiger Crane, and you picked up why...I took some time off. Hung gar is infectious though I could not stay away so I've spent the last year finishing the full Tiger Crane sequence, from bow to bow.

    Yes sir I picked it up back up some time ago and completed learning the Tiger Crane, and am now learning a hodgepodge of things (not class curriculum etc).

    I don't attend big classes anymore, because I am a doctoral student I have to take private lessons, so I train privately with various Sifus (always willing to meet a new one), but they are all in either Yee's, or Lam family schools who associate with Yee's. One school I've interacted with is actually home to BOTH Tang Fong and Lam Sai Wing masters, which is really cool because they have it all. Best thing I ever got out of Hung gar, was the social network of it (you must know what I mean).
  8. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    I agree.

    I have of course at no point claimed that I do the set well. Perhaps being able to pick up forms is my only real "talent" in martial arts. I should also note that GJFFK was not the first set I learnt, far from it actually. You could say that I am still learning it of course, some years after I initially "picked it up".
  9. aaradia

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

    Alright, I don't know Hung Gar. Can someone post a video that has the movement in question in motion?

    Below at 37 seconds in is Single whip done the standard way in Yang. At least the way I have been taught. So that people can see the whole movement - not a static picture.

    Can someone post a clip doing the same for the Hung Gar movement?

    Note: this clip does not have the upward strike that the original thread was about. I will try to find a clip of that too, but I may not succeed.

    Again- about 37 seconds in.

    [ame=""]Yang Tai Chi - Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong - YouTube[/ame]
  10. aaradia

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

    I have seen gifted hard working students and instructors pick up forms in a ridiculously short amount of time. The more experienced they are, the more masterful the forms look from the get go.

    A fellow student picked up the Hung Sing butterfly Knives form in three weeks. Mind you, even advanced, he just picked up the basic sequence. But most students take several months to get the sequence memorized. It is somewhere over 250 moves.

    We also have Grandmaster seminars once a year. Several forms are taught in a weekend. I have watched several instructors practicing all the forms (like 3 or 4) and having most of the sequences of the forms down after the weekend.

    Advanced CLF forms can be VERY long!

    One would think it impossible. It certainly is for me! But it isn't impossible for everyone.
  11. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    No, it really, truly is. I'd just rather you opened up more honestly about not learning the GGFF in one month. As a serious student of Hung gar I've caught dishonest people before, and when they admit the truth, I'm more than willing to help them out. Honestly if you'd said "3 months" or "6 months" my no-way-dar would have not kicked in so abruptly.

    100 is not even close to the full number. Unless you ONLY count the number of named positions in Lam Sai Wing's book or the posters of the sequence available online like this one:

    If you don't know anything else, then count these, yep it's just a tad over 90 names. I just counted, it came to 93. But that's not what I asked for, obviously, and this is maybe the most superficial and least descriptive answer possible.

    But that's the book/poster showing only the static positions. That's not anywhere near the actual number, because that book and the poster don't show any transitions or changes (or mirror image movement sequences, which are not trivial).

    About 100 is the answer that would be given by someone who hadn't learned the form, but read the book or looked online.

    What Hung gar school taught you the GGFF in one month, I'd like for everyone to see them so we can check things out. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it. But when I'm this sure, my position is practically immutable and the only thing you could do to convince me would be to bring your own instructor to the thread.

    Like I said, if you want I can go PM Sifu Onassis and ask him "who can Tame the Tiger in just one month", he'll probably respond with something really funny, like "Bodhidharma's Ghost, maybe".
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  12. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    I think (assuming you're being honest, which I doubt) that you learned something different, possibly a different set and something much shorter like the Arrow Fist.

    Otherwise you can easily tell me what specifically lies in the middle of the Gung pattern and connects the "serifs" of the Gōng.

    This is the Gōng: 工

    Ten words or less and you could easily convince me you've at least learned the first half of GGFF, which by itself, should take most people at least a few months.

    In Chinese, you can answer with 3 characters, if it pleases you.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  13. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    a very reasonable request but the problem is that the single whip movement does not occur in the forms but does occur in the techniques. About 27 seconds in you will see something along the lines of what some people have talked about.

    [ame=""]|Hung Gar| Real Southern Style Kung Fu Applications from Chiu Chi Ling master of Hung Gar - YouTube[/ame]

    The video below shows cranes wing techniques some of which to my mind have more of the motion of the single whip but they do not use the crane head hand.

    [ame=""]Chiu Chi Ling Crane Style - YouTube[/ame]
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  14. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    OK I was able to go through my library and find a proper, cite-able source for my numbers.

    Grandmaster Lam Chun Fai's (Lam Cho's) lineage publication 2013 publication Hung Kuen Fundamentals: Gung Gee Fok Fu Kuen. This is probably the most comprehensive manual on GGFF available today.

    The Lam Chun Fai/Lam Jo sequences is illustrated in this book in far more detail than Lam Sai wing's 20th century manual, or any poster available online (which contain about 100 illustrations, far short of the overall number, but necessary back when it was published in the early 20th century...all hand drawn.).

    271 individual movements.
    I hope I've made my point. And that's just the abbreviated Lam family set.

    The Tang Fong set, known for containing things Lam Sai Wing removed to make teaching the whole set simpler, contains even more, closer to 300-400. If there are any Tang Fong students here, they'll know what I mean in particular to how things like stance transitions are learned and performed (in numbered sequences...whereas in Lam Family they are sometimes all combined into just one movement for simplicity). In Tang fong moving from standing ready to horse stance is 4 movements (you even count them, yut, yee, saam, sei), and that's how you reach the Sei Ping Daih Ma Bo. In Lam family it is 1-2, which you could see in the video of the form being performed by GM Chiu Chi Ling. Et cetera.

    Sadly, Frank Yee has only published a Five Animal manual, not a Tiger Crane or GGFF one, or we could see how the Tang Fong grandmaster would count them.

    Now that I've been a total butt head about this, I'll bow out of discussions on Tai Chi 'Carry a Load' (mistrans: "Single Whip") and the general discussions about learning forms in general. My only goal here was to correct the record on something important to me, and I apologize if I've offended anybody.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  15. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    Sure that would work.
  16. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    I really can't be bothered with this. I admire your passion, but it does not excuse you for attitude. Neither of us claims to be an expert on this topic, so if you cannot be open-minded enough to accept that some stranger on the Internet has a different experience to you, then I am not going to try. I cannot prove to you anything as I could easily rip info off the Internet or out of some book. I won't put a video of me online doing the set, and I really don't think "winning" this argument is important. So yes, I am a fraud and I don't know Hung Gar. I'm cool with that. :dunno:
  17. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    What excuses my attitude is I am being truthful and you are not. I'm trying really hard to be direct and not attack you personally, in line with the TOS.

    My experience is actually the common one with respect to Wong Fei Hung's Hung gar (if not necessarily 'Siu Lum', 'Village', Hung Muen Hung gar of the Ching era, most of which can be found in the Wong Fei Hung lineage).

    We both know why you can't be bothered to answer the very simple question I just posed: you can't answer the questions because you don't know the form you claimed to. Three words in English or ideograms in Chinese would have done it, but you backpedaled and that's OK brother. I already knew it.

    I'm not an expert, but I have a significant amount of experience with the fist set we're discussing. I can discuss all 271 movements in the Lam Family version, and the 300-400 in the Tang family version. So I'm just here to speak the truth and educate others, not promote myself or flex my ego.

    And no, the answer is not in any book or online. That's why I asked that specific one. The answer is the strut of the Gung is the Chin Jee Sao, Thousand Character Fist sequence, one of the most famous sequences in Nan Quan. It's called this because the sequence draws the shape of "千".

    Well let's be serious man, we both know a video of you doing the GGFF would expose your dishonesty.

    I am considering recording a form video of the GGFF, something I swore I would never ever do.

    So thanks to you for inspiring me, brother. No hard feelings. I forgive you.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  18. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    OP here. The comparison with Hung Gar started out interesting, but at this point I don't care about whether it's possible to learn any given form in a month. Lets just all agree to accept that anything is possible no matter how improbable, and either move on or take it to another thread.

    I've just caught up on some of the stuff posted a few days ago and the videos posted by Cloudz especially are interesting as these seem like fairly practical applications. The style I practise has a fairly pronounced left-hand push in the form that isn't present in any of the styles demonstrated by J Zorja (sad to learn about her passing, I have seen a couple of her videos before). I can see how that push could be added to the same application as a finisher, and of course there's the outside application demonstated by Wim where the push is integral.

    Master Chen's video posted by Tom Bayley seems to have the most practical uses for the eagle hand (including one where it just isn't relevant, so may as well just be kept loose), but it most definitely isn't a strike in any of those examples either.

    I'm still curious if anyone has an example application incorporating a right-hand eagle strike.
  19. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    I have seen someone try to teach an application using the right hand as a strike, but it (necessarily in my opinion) splits the single whip into two simple techniques - eagle strike followed by push.

    Because the two elements (right hand and left hand) move in completely different directions, at least perpendicularly to each other, I find it hard to conceive of an application for the entire single whip movement utilising strike and push to the same person. I'd be interested to see what people who probably actually know what they're doing have come up with.
  20. robert.t

    robert.t New Member

    This is a good point. What's nice about some of those other applications is that they are both a deflection and a strike in one motion. That is one of the few core principles of krav maga (defend and attack together). AFAIK, taijiquan has no similar principle, but one could argue that the entire concept of taiji itself could be interpreted as the same.

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