Fair Lady sequence: the Broader View
Familiarity with the application of techniques in many martial
arts is a relativly straightforward affair and one is trained
to block if going backward and strike only when going forward.
However, right from the start, training in Tai Chi Chuan through
Form ("Form MUST come first") builds upon a concept
of simultaneous or multiple high and low block and strike
and indeed many of these (especially 'grab' or 'break-grip')
are applied with the practitioners hands/arms (and sometime
legs/feet) positioned back to front or inverse and then 'transferred'
to an attacker - thus rendering that attacker as the person
then tangled or back to front!
In Tai Chi training 'Form must come first' and it is common
procedure to undergo years of training and practice in form
with little regard for martial defense application of any
these postures which are, anyway , filled with many other
facets and 'first things first' fascinations to demand attention.
A case in point is the GST sequence which when studied and
analyzed presents a categorical list of every necessary self
defense or martial application, yet it is quite expected that
the practitioner not realize this themselves for several years!
A dedicated practioner of Tai Chi is one who studies and
practices the whole of a form without discrimination (if a
person knew just one of Shakespeare's Sonnets could you describe
that person as an 'expert'?) and those so dedicated will find
that the Yang Long Form has many facets with each requiring
specific effort and discipline; and ultimately the singular
connector between all of these apparently disparate facets
is the practitioner.
The I-Ching. The Classic Chinese Oracle of
It is (I think) easy to understand that 'the answer' depends
upon 'the question'. One provider of answers that is 'connected'
to Tai Chi is the I-Ching (the Classic Chinese Oracle of Change)
which is utilized by:
1) Having a question and 'meditating upon' or simply thinking
about that question for a long time.
2) Randomly (?) selecting small sticks or tossing a coin several
times to define a series of broken or unbroken lines (or if
you wish - 1's and 0's just like binary (computer) code/language.)
3) The I-Ching or Oracle is then applied to the selection
4) and finally (as far as that question is concerned) an answer
is given. If the practitioner knows what the question is he/she
alone may discern 'the answer' that is given specifically
to that individual.
There are only so many combinations of these selected sticks
or tosses of a two sided coin therefore only so many answers
and it is within the realm of possibilities that the same
answer may come up more than once and maybe weeks months or
even years apart. Should this be the case the diligent would
appreciate that the time between then and now has not 'stood
still' and this 'answer' (which often in effect raises another
question anyway) should be considered in the context of present
(not the future or past) conditions and in full awareness
of the reality that gave rise to the question. If the question
is not relevant to the person that asks then little or no
satisfaction may be found in any answers which which are therefor
by design - irrelevant.
Fair Lady at the Shuttles. Hexagram 60: "Articulating/Limitation"
trigram: K'an, or water, turn, wheel
Chen, or movement, strength, or wood
Ken, or mountain, arm, leg, hand
trigram: Tui, or fair lady
Every posture in the Yang Long Form has a martial application
and an associated hexagram which is the pictorial representation
of an I-Ching selection - six lines, broken or unbroken [1
or 0] arranged in a particular order. In the case of "Fair
Lady at the Shuttles" the hexagram is #60 which has the
title of "Articulating" and describes your situation
in terms of 'confused relations'. It is further emphasizes
that making limits and connections is clear, particularly
through speech, and goes on to 'say' that: "To be in
accord with time, you are told to articulate!
In the publication before me now (Rudolf Ritsema and Stephen
Karcher, Element books ISBN 1-85230-536-3) it goes on to say:
" ... separate and distinguish, as well as join different
things; express through speech; joint, section, chapter, interval,
unit of time, regulation, limits; zodiacal sign; lit.: nodes
on bamboo stalks ..." and in an abridged version by S.
Karcher Ph.D., Element ISBN 1-86204-134-2 it is surmised that:
"By articulating the times and measures, people and things
are kept from harm". As further illustration I quote
as follows from my master's (Raymond Wood) unpublished collection
of Tai Chi Chuan writings:
"The Jade girl works at the shuttles as serving maid
to the Taoist Immortals. The [Ancient Taoist] Chinese believed
that the world was square and the heavens were held in place
by the four legs of a tortoise. Its legs represent the four
points of the compass, like the four corners of the earth.
This sequence is also connected with the theory of the Five
Elements. The four corners of the earth are represented by
four mythical animals. South - Red - Bird [Phoenix] - Fire;
East - Green - Dragon - Wood; West - White - Tiger - Metal;
North - Black - Snake - Water. The earth is in the center.
The Fair Lady moves the wooden shuttle with smooth
body turns, again and again like a water wheel. There
are four turns - the number of seasons in the year. When used
in self-defense, one hand blocks and the other hand pushes
I have tried to make it clear here that any understanding
of the I-Ching relies upon singular and individual interpretation
and actioned only in full consideration of conditions [all
things] at that instant and that instant only. Yet even when
all of this is done one can expect no more than a word or
two of the suggestions ( i.e."articulate") to make
any solid sense! But that's the way it is. You ask a question,
you are given an answer and 'hints' (visulisations?) as to
how be "in accord with time".
As it is so that any action following any I-Ching 'reading'
should be considered 'in accord with time', so it is also
that any martial application of the posture "Fair Lady"
be administered in accordance with that one instant in time
and space, and as appropriate to "conditions" that
moment. It may be that all that is required against certain
attacks is a block and another may require block and push
- or poke - or grab - or punch and or kick ... and so on,
in accord. The permutations are as infinite as the moments
that have passed and as infinite as the moments to follow.
Ultimately, when self, desire and aversion are extinguished
and we truly 'go with the flow' questions become redundant.
In the meantime, we practice ... and we practice Form because
"Form Must Come First" and we (stay healthy! and
...) refine our movements relative to time and space; and
in this instance: get 'better' at Tai Chi.