In this section we meet with the narrow stances (seepage 14) in which most of the weight goes into the rear leg, with either the heel or the toes of the front foot in light contact with the ground. The focus here, therefore, is on developing greater balance, both physically and mentally. Narrow stances are also an excellent preparation for the kicking sequences that occur later in the form.
The name Play Guitar is one which is best not taken too literally. Anyone who has euer playecl this instrument will realize that the configuration of the arms is not in the least hit like playing a guitar!
However, the fingers of the left hand do curve inwards, rather like strumming an instrument of some kind, and this is perhaps where the name can he helpful.
Breathe In C— From the Single Whip, the point at which you finished the previous section, you now come to a movement called Play Guitar - a narrow heel stance to the south. Begin by letting go of the crane's beak in your right hand, relax your arms, and turn in your left toes slightly by pivoting on your left heel. The left hand changes shape a little with this, just as you commence your inhalation.
T _ In-hreath Finishes /L. «J CJ Now shift your weight entirely into your left leg. keeping the knee bent and soft. Rotate your waist a little towards the south (clockwise) and prepare for the final stage of the movement by-raising your right heel, ready to draw your foot across in front of you. Although at this point your right toes may still be in contact with the ground, they should be carrying hardly any weight.
A Breathe Out Z. T" Lift up your toes and draw your right heel across to place it down in a narrow heel stance, hips and shoulders facing south. Your hands, meanwhile, close in towards each other, your right arm extended a little further in front of you than your left, until you finish with the palm of the left hand facing your right forearm. Try to feel the energetic connection between your arms as they approach each other.
The most common error ill Step With Shoulder is to lean forward with the final step. Also, the right knee has a tendency to turn in as the waist rotates, resulting in a twisted look. To remedy this, at the end of the movement tiy to keep your right knee spiralled outwards, clockwise, above your right foot.
Breathe Out t— U Step wide with the right foot, transferring your weight, and rotate your waist a little more to your left as you go. so that your right shoulder appears to project forward - similar to someone barging down a door. Your right arm stays where it was in the previous stance, hut your left hand rises a little, roughly to the height of your lower ribs, palm slightly forward-facing but still maintaining a subtle energy connection with the right forearm, because of the twist to the waist, the hips and shoulders face southeast at the finish.
£— Lower your arms, rather like pulling a thick rope downwards with your hands — your left hand near your left hip, your right arm across your centre, almost vertical. Simultaneously draw in your right toes to place them just ahead of your left heel (this is about as close as the two feet ever come to each other in tai chi); your waist turns slightly anticlockwise as you do this. Do not forget to leave some space - even here - lx:tween your arms and your body.
'¡he crane is an important creature in oriental reckoning, since it exemplifies the two great qualities of strength and grace- a rare combination, hut one towards which the tai chi student should always aspire. The extent to which these qualities hare been reconciled in daily life is also quite revealing.
"7 Breathe In Z. / Tliis movement is said to emulate the spreading and drying of a great bird's wings in the sunshine and is one of the most beautiful and elegant of all tai chi stances. Begin by pivoting a little on your right heel to help direct your centre around to an east-facing position. This is by way of preparation for a narrow toe stance towards the east.
"7 _ In-breatb Finishes (L— / G As you form a narrow toe stance with your left foot, your arms become like great wings — broad, powerful and expansive. The left hand drops, to hover above the left thigh, while the right hand rises to make an extravagant kind of salute, almost as if you were shielding your eyes from the sun. Keep a little bit of energy in your left hand as well.
Q Breathe Out \J Keeping your feet still, change the wings by lowering your right arm and raising the left. Your arms should move in curves rather than in straight lines up or down - rather like turning a giant steering wheel. Try to maintain the subtle energy connection between the palms as they pass each other, and feel the buoyant energy of the crane in your limbs.
The term brushing the knee' here is. of course, wings, enhances further our powers of balance and figurative, '¡his movement, a natural continuation co-ordination, and. in time, provides a wonderfully of the wide expansive movements of the crane's fluid, rotational quality to our movements.
Begin to turn your waist clockwise and allow the right 'wing' to circle back behind you - palm up at this stage, almost like holding an object in your right hand, ready to hurl. Meanwhile, your left hand has circled up and over towards your centre, in the process of making a small clockwise circle. Keep your head and shoulders properly aligned with your hips. Focus your eyes on your right palm as it drifts back.
•J \J Step wide with your left foot, and as you do this 'brush' across your left knee with your left palm, from right to left, turning your waist anticlockwise as you go. Keep your left hand at a good distance from your leg. say 20 cm (8 in), throughout this movement, then, push out towards the east with your right hand. You finish in a wide 70/30 stance to the east - once again 011 those railway lines, your whole body facing east, left knee over left toes, and your eyes looking towards the distant horizon. Note the central position of the right palm at the end of this movement - not out to the south, but in line with the centre of the chest.
Play Guitar (Left Side)
The following movement is similar to that found on page 33, only done on the other side, with the left foot leading. So we will now need to distinguish between this Play Guitar and the one encountered previously, which was Play Guitar Right (right side leading): this is Play Guitar Left (left side leading).
A Breathe In
I Transferring all your weight into your left foot for a moment, allow your hack foot to leave the ground and follow through, just a short way, rather like kicking a football with the inside of the foot. This is really a little side-step, to test your balance, before returning your foot back down behind you again in roughly the same place as it was before. As this occurs, the hands relax, your wrists dropping a little with the in-breath.
1) Breathe Out
J C— Sitting back into the rear leg. draw your left heel across and place it down in a narrow stance ahead of your right foot. As you do this, your hands close in on each other, this time with your left arm extended a little further than the right, with the palm of your right hand facing your left forearm. Try to visualize your left palm in particular becoming energized. -though keep it relaxed at the same time. Your hips and shoulders should still be facing east.
Brush Left Knee and Push
This, again, is a repetition of a movement already learned (see page 36). The difference here is that yon are approaching it from a Harrow heel stance
(as in Play Guitar) whereas previously it was approached from a narrow toe stance (as in Crane Spreads its Wings).
right hand left hand right hand left hand
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