The absurdity of Single Whip

Yes, it’s pretty absurd


This is the ‘end point’ of the Single Whip posture. Like many, if not all, the postures in a Taichi form, it doesn’t look much like something you’d see in a fight. Why is this?

Even when demonstrated by the practical, hardcore, or no-nonsense tribe of Tai Chi practitioners, it’s a pretty absurd fighting application. That’s just my opinion, so feel free to reject it, but to be honest, a lot of Chinese martial art is pretty absurd, when it comes to fighting applications (“Monkey steals the peach!”, anyone?) Even the ruthlessly practical styles have a few applications that are aways on the edge, but anyway…

I was picking up on this old post from internal strength adept Mike Sigman:

“Silk-Reeling and the Taiji of Yin-Yang

There are two basic martial-arts postures in Asian martial-arts: Open and Close. In “Close” there is stress inward along the front of the body and the inward parts of the limbs; the knees and elbows and the joints bend and are generally under contractile forces of the front. Wing Chun’s basic stance, Uechi Ryu karate’s basic stance, “Play PiPa” (in Taiji), the closed aspect of “Squatting Monkey” (in Dai Family Xinyi), and in many other martial arts can be found variations of the Closed position of stances.

In “Open” the expansive forces from the back of the body and the outsides of the limbs pull the knees and elbows outward and the body lengthens, joints opening. Postures like “Single Whip” exemplify Open. In classically correct postures there is always a balance of the forces of Close and Open or Yin and Yang.”

So, if the point of practicing a Tai Chi form is to get used to going from open to closed in a sequence of postures, perhaps it becomes less relevant what those postures are. Of course, this implies that the form isn’t really for fighting, and that it’s for teaching a body method, which you then use in fighting… which means that the “fighting” probably doesn’t look any different to regular “fighting”, whatever that may be….

If you want to go from close to open then why not create a nice series of postures rather than simply repeat the same movement over and over. That way you get used to doing it in a good variety of positions.

Anyway, food for thought.

One thought on “The absurdity of Single Whip

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