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Snake Body
Warming up with a snake movement

Tai Chi Chuan illustrates a duel between a crane and a snake as ledgend would have it. The snake body concept involves the free movement of the shoulders. We develop that by making circles with the shoulders while letting the arms just followly loosely.

If this were done on the ground the body would be able to ``snake'' along the ground. First circle one shoulder up and while circling back down begin the circle of the second shoulder up. After a while, reverse the direction of the circle.

Snake body can also be done horizontally to develop arm strength. The elbows will bend slightly with this movement from side to side. Each shoulder will still move counter to the other. This will help loosen and relax the shoulder as well as develop striking strength.

Snake form
The form we learn today is called single whip. It is often taught as part of the snake body movement called ``snake creeps down''. Today we will just learn the single whip portion of it.

circling our joints
Continuing the theme of circling our joints, this warm up can be done with all of our joints. Circle the hips while standing and imagine you are a drill turning into the ground and bringing up water from deep in the earth. Often tai chi traditionally teaches to rotate the hips 32 times in each direction.

Next circle your knees in a gentle circle for eight rotations in each direction.


Double Bamboo Step
5 star skipping (the double bamboo step)

Here we review the alternate step of 5 star stepping before showing the next style of stepping. Move forward to the middle of the box. Switch feet in place and continue to move forward in the same direction. The chinese would often use bamboo sticks in between the steps and began calling this step the double bamboo. Cross the top of the bax and move backward through the middle by switching the feet again and moving in the same direction.

Moving forward and backward quickly allows one to maintain their center while escaping or attacking an opponent.

Practise the new walking with brush knee, press, roll back and push. Notice how push works well with a forward or backward movement in the same direction. Other movements seem awkward and may need to be either elongated or doubled up on each side.


Review The Opening , The Beginning , Ward Off Left , Ward Off Right . Roll Back , Press and Push .

Single Whip
Review the form up to push. Now retreat from a push with the hands falling down to the waist level while moving 100 percent of the weight backwards. At that instant begin a left turn pivoting on the right heel. The right heel should move with both hands to the left. When turned stop and grab a ball to carry across the body as you shift the weight over to the right side while lifting up the left heel. Form a hook with the right hand (by bringing the fingers to the thumb).

Now put out the hook and step behind into a Bow Stance . The left hand will pivot at the elbow like a window wiper. Then both the hand and foot will turn in together. At this point the hips should face 45 degrees to the corner which is called an open bow stance.

Review this move several times and then review the entire form.

At this point we can begin to look at 5 star stepping as a movement across the floor by mixing up alternate stepping with skipping steps. Repeat 5 star stepping where one follows the leader.


Review the single whip again and warm down with brush knee.