Single Whip posture in standing meditation

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by mtkoan, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. mtkoan

    mtkoan New Member

    I've been working on this for about a month, 7 minutes and 30 seconds on each side. The back arm is raised just above the shoulder, and front arm at the height of face.

    After 4 or 5 minutes I develop incredible aching and my arms begin to shake uncontrollably. My teacher started me on this, but I haven't seen anyone else do it successfully. Actually I'm questioning if there is any real value in it except to torture myself.

    Has anyone ever practiced this posture in standing meditation? Did the pain ever subside? What benefit did you gain from it? I suppose any posture with the arms raised in a high position would be similar.
  2. embra

    embra Valued Member

    What are you training in? and for how long have you been training? who is your teacher?

    Single whip means different things to different people.
  3. mtkoan

    mtkoan New Member

    Thanks for the response. I'm learning the Yang Cheng Fu 108-movement system. I've been training on and off for 8 years, functionally I'm in the beginning of the 3rd year of training, with the last year being continuous practice 6 days a week.

    I'd rather not post my teacher's name/school without permission.

    Here is a picture of the posture I'm talking about:
  4. embra

    embra Valued Member

    Classic Yang Single Whip is very different from the Wu Single Whip that I do, so I can only comment to an extent.

    After 8 years and 1 year of 6 days a week training, standing for long periods in postures may be a reasonable request, depending on the nature of your teacher's particular style, direction and interest - hence it is helpful to know whom.

    How your teacher imparts meaning to these postures is his/her prerogative BUT understanding the martial applications of Single Whip, is to me much more interesting and taxing than standing in postures for long periods. In general I find all TaiJiQuan practitioners with a very, very few exceptions, insufficient in developing applications. These applications are developed - in my Wu Lineage, partly through Form, partly through Neigong exercises which are posturally very demanding. partly through Pushing Hands, but mostly through fighting and self-defence exercises and training drills against 1 or more opponents.

    Are you, your fellow students as inclined as Yang ChengFu is the picture you post? Some Yang stylists are much more upright, but the incline will add to the joint discomfort.

    Years ago, I had to spend 30 minutes sometimes in Aikido postures which did hurt like hell, but they sometimes hold relevance for me, in developing subtlety into postural alignment, to enable efficient turning.

    Turning is another area that I do not believe - IMHO - TaiJiQuan folk study enough, so some of these complex joint loading exercises may be of some benefit to you - but it really depends on your teacher.

    Some Yang Stylists here may give you better and more relevant answers than mine.

    Hope this helps a bit, even if just a little.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  5. embra

    embra Valued Member

    The 'secret' to making long postures less painful is relaxation, but this is no secret, just effort.
  6. mtkoan

    mtkoan New Member

    We try to keep as upright as possible, Cheng Fu is leaning a bit more than we're taught. Also the back foot is closer to a 45 degree angle rather than 90 as pictured there.

    I'm definitely deficient in martial applications, I wish I had more of that. Several of the senior students are quite strong there, but have been unwilling to teach me so far. The arms are accurate, very outstretched and high, this is what makes it so painful.

    My main concern is the horrible aching, and uncontrollable shaking. After 6 or so minutes, my whole body is protest. Am I doing some damage by persevering? Even today my triceps are shoulder are sore from yesterday. Does holding a posture like this actually benefit a practitioner?

    Did you too experience the uncontrollable shaking? Did it subside, or did you do anything to help it? For me it begins in my back arm, and soon the whole body.
  7. embra

    embra Valued Member

    Well if people are unwilling to teach applications after 8 years, I would suspect that they do not have that much understanding of these applications - I encounter this quite a bit. I meet a lot of people who are good at Pushing Hands, can defend themselves, some can even kickbox pretty well, but whose knowledge of applications is weak for 1 reason or another.

    If this is happening after a year, then I would say that this is not good. If it is new, persevere a bit.

    For me TaiJiQuan is about fluidity of movement for martial purpose, more than static postures; but this is just me.

    Yes, the shakes went away for me, all those years ago, until the teacher Minoru Kanetsuka demanded that we do them even longer.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  8. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    The purpose of posture training is not for "comfort". It's for developing a good "body structure". To be able to keep your head, body, and back leg in a perfect straight line is a very important CMA posture requirement no matter what style that you may train.



    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  9. embra

    embra Valued Member

    Yours is classic inclined posture Yang TJQ John, as per pictures?
  10. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    During the ancient time, the line up for head, body, back leg was a general requirement for Taiji. During the modern time, someone removed it and tried to make it easier for the general public.

    IMO, if you are not old or sick, you should train the ancient way. You will never have "spine problem" by using the ancient training method because you are used to keep your spine straight and less chance to have your nerve pressed by your spine.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  11. embra

    embra Valued Member

    It is certainly that way in my lineage, with quotes of Classics text 'suspended head top' added to - not from classics text - 'when inclining and moving, always maintain the line'.
  12. embra

    embra Valued Member

    There seems to be a lot of this in TJQ.
  13. Avenger

    Avenger Banned Banned

    Doing postures before you are ready would not be a good thing. Years of just regular mountain posture should be undertaken before you even attempt the easiest postures.

    Until you build your core through basic posture, any posture will not give you proper benefit, you might build strength through straining, but that is not what the purpose is.
  14. mtkoan

    mtkoan New Member

    Would you suggest stopping this posture then? If my teacher forbids it, I guess I'd have to leave the school.
  15. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    The key is in relaxation - so forcing yourself to hold the posture though your body is tiring will not get you any benefits.

    I always say, it's not about the TIME that you hold the posture, but about the QUALITY of how you hold it.

    Instead of just forcing yourself to hold the posture for an arbitrary length of time, you should begin softening down your structure, releasing excess tension as you go.
    We work the body through the following sections:

    1- Face & Neck
    2- Shoulders
    3- Chest
    4- Abdomen
    5- Hips
    6- Thighs & knees
    7- Calves & ankles

    On the in breath, feel the tension in the first area, then release it as you breath out slowly. Work your way through each section, and as you go, your should feel yourself sinking into your posture.
    Instead of trying to hold the posture for a 'time', hold it for a certain number of repetitions of this cycle - I start my new students off on 2 reps, and gradually work up from their.

    Doing this with all of your standing postures is the first stage of our neigong system.
  16. aaradia

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

    Have you talked to your instructor about this issue?

    I would suggest start with shorter times and work your way up. But I am not your instructor. Talk to him/ her. That is what they are there for. To help you with any issues you have in training.

Share This Page