Parting The Wild Horses Mane – Part One

A number of weeks ago during Saturday class it transpired that the lead into Part The Wild Horses Mane may have changed. This happens occasionally, things do change. The form has been tweaked a number of times since I started learning it and the changes have always made sense and been for the better ( adding a second Golden Cockerel or changing the stepping on Swing Fist ) but this “new change” made no sense. It might be because it wasn’t explained in person and we were kind of guessing what was meant. Fundamentally the change had come about because Dan had corrected somebody when they were transitioning from Single Whip into the Seven Stars before Part The Wild Horses Mane. He’d said there wasn’t enough torque in the movement and demonstrated the move. Now I know for a fact the square form doesn’t have a whole lot of torque but that really doesn’t matter too much. The round form *can* have a lot of torque depending upon how it’s performed but in this particular instance what was lacking were the feet. Nobody had seen how the feet moved… and that’s bad.

Assuming the feet didn’t move meant that Seven Stars changed direction by about 45˚ and so did Part The Wild Horses Mane. That’s not too much of a problem. The next Seven Stars and Part The Wild Horses Mane kept the same direction as the first, again not a problem but as soon as the step came everything went wrong. I was taught to turn my foot out 90˚ but I can’t do it from the new angle ( the not moving my feet angle ), it just didn’t work. Assuming that the feet did move ( so the left foot comes in as the right hand pulls down into Seven Stars ) then everything was ok and worked as it had done previously. I was fine with this…

…and then I started to wonder. Bad things happen when I start to wonder. I get confused. I question. I seek answers. In the first instance I started with YouTube, always a good starting place. Starting with Wu Ying Hwa Wu taichi long form ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y18sTuexaTo ), then George Lieu ( Dan’s tai chi elder brother ) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuGCAq3zeh0 ), the to some random internet chap who seemed to know what he was doing ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnqRzVNu8nw ), and another ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vnLz-20OzQ ) and another ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAycgaoKipI ).

I noticed a couple of things, firstly we’ve changed Part Wild Horses Mane to look at the palm-up hand ( more on that another time ) and the torque. The torque that sent me off down this rabbit hole simply didn’t exist in any of these videos. Footwork was similar, hands were similar, stepping was similar, I mean it’s reasonably easy to see the root. Yes there are differences and things have probably been lost in the myriad of forms but it’s easy to see the root.

What started out as a “small”, “possible” change led to an awful lot of research and I still need to talk my ideas through with my peers. I still don’t know if I’m doing it “right” though…