I know I promised a different topic for this (much delayed) post, but I think it’s worth looking a bit more about why we possibly cross hands the way we do. And now that my camcorder has arrived, hopefully the accompanying video will help with the explanations and the questions. This is the first Tai Chi video that I’ve ever uploaded, and it’s also the first time in years that I’ve videoed myself, so be gentle 😉

Cross Hands – A Popular Move

Here’s a short video I’ve uploaded to YouTube demonstrating the different places where we cross hands in our form:

  1. Cross Hands after Shoulder Press
  2. Cross Hands after Box Ears (which is repeated again at the end of our form)
  3. Cross Hands Low after Golden Pheasant Stands on One Leg, immediately followed by Cross Hands after Golden Pheasant Stands On One Leg (repeated twice, but not properly shown on the video)
  4. Crossed Guard in Fair Ladies corner #1
  5. Crossed Guard in Fair Ladies corner #2
  6. Crossed Hands in Fair Ladies corner #4
  7. Cross Hands Travelling Low after the Second Squatting Single Whip, immediately followed by Step Up To Seven Stars

In most of these moves, we’re in motion as we play Cross Hands. Normally we’re moving off to the side, which is consistent with the idea of using Cross Hands to bridge with an opponent before taking control of their energy and using it against them. But there are a couple of cases where this clearly isn’t happening in our version of the form, and I find that interesting.

Cross Hands As A Block

What’s going on with the Cross Hands Low immediately after Golden Pheasant Stands On One Leg, the third example in the video? Take another look at it. With my current understanding of Tai Chi, that looks like a two-handed block against a kick, in a very static position, followed by a block against a follow-up strike or punch.

This is where I had a better understanding of the fighting side of our art, for sure. The immediate question I have about this is one of practicality. Would the Cross Hands Low be strong enough to block a kick, and what is the likelihood of the kick causing serious damage to the hands and wrists in the process?

It stands out for me as something to investigate further because it seems quite the anomaly …

The Crossed Guard In Fair Ladies

In the first two corners of Fair Ladies Weaves Shuttles To The Four Corners, we almost cross hands but not quite. The left hand falls and the right hand rises, but they pass left hand inside right, as if guarding the right side of the head and body as one zone from attack. Lacking a better name for this move, I’ve started calling it Crossed Guard.

It shares one of the major characteristics of Cross Hands – the arm attached to the leading shoulder is on the outside of the move. Indeed, in corner #4, we actually play Cross Hands, which immediately separates out into a head guard and a body guard.

So my first question to investigate is whether or not we should Cross Hands in corners #1 and #2 before immediately transitioning into Crossed Guard (artistically, possibly, but from a martial perspective, I have doubts). And my second question? Where should the emphasis and explanation be for folks who are in it for the health benefits rather than the martial aspect?

Summing Up

Hopefully my video doesn’t suck too badly (I’m pretty sure my performance does!) and it gives you an idea of the different ways we play Cross Hands in the Ng Family Yang Style Tai Chi form that I study and teach.

The video shows two areas – Cross Hands Low and Fair Ladies corners #1 and #2 – where we play Cross Hands differently, and where I currently have questions about both form and function.