Cloud Hands

Cloud Hands demonstrated by Grandmaster Wong

The following discussion is reproduced from the thread What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan? started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 5th June 2006.

"In Wahnam Taijiquan we often have our own experiences confirmed when we read the classics of past masters."

-- Sifu Robin Gamble

Chiahua Chua-Hua
Shaolin Wahnam USA
30th June 2006

Question of history

Just a few questions I had after checking out the excellent series of videos from the Taijiquan Intensive Course. Great work! The following commentary accompanies the "Cloud Hands" video:

"It is reputed that the great Taijiquan master, Yang Lu Chan, practiced “Grasping Sparrow's Tail” thousands of times everyday. He was so skillful that he used only this pattern to defeat all challengers. But actually “Grasping Sparrow's Tail” was formulated later by his grandson, and its fore-runner was probably “Cloud Hands”. Hence, it was probable that Yang Lu Chan practiced “Cloud Hands” everyday. “Cloud Hands” is not a pattern with fixed forms, it is a general term for a collection of flowing movements."

Maybe it's just a matter of nomenclature, but I was under the impression that Yang Lu-Chan's Taijiquan came from the Chen Village. As such, they did have the "Grasping Sparrow's Tail" pattern (though it looks much different), as well as a version of "Cloud Hands".

However, as basic training, I thought that Chen stylists practiced "Silk Reeling" exercises before moving on to whole sets. I've seen some of the exercises and it looks quite a bit like how "Cloud Hands" is performed in Wahnam Taijiquan.

1. Is it likely that what Yang Lu Chan practiced were the "Silk Reeling" exercises, or are these drills a modern invention (given that you don't hear mention of them in the classics)?

2. Does Wahnam Taijiquan draw at all from these "Silk Reeling" exercises as inspiration?


Cloud Hands

Cloud Hands demonstrated by Grandmaster Wong

Robin Gamble Sifu Robin Gamble
Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
13th July 2006

Hello Sunyata,

Thank you for your interesting questions,

To answer your first question, it is possible that Yang Lu Chan practiced "Silk Reeling" exercises or something similar to develop his tremendous internal force. Personally I believe he would have performed "Cloud Hands" many thousands of times while in a continuous chi flow.

Also, I don't beieive that "Silk Reeling" is a modern invention, and from what I have seen it seems to give Chen style practitioners good results, namely, internal spiral force, chi flow and a solid foundation upon which to build.

To answer your second question. I do not believe Wahnam Taijiquan's "Cloud Hands" draws directly upon "Silk Reeling" for its inspiration, as Sifu has not learnt Chen style Taijiquan from a Chen style master. I believe we in Wahnam practice "Cloud Hands" the way we do as this is how Sifu honestly thinks Taijiquan was practiced in the past. I must say that after practicing this way for a couple of years I too honestly believe this was how masters trained in the past.

Why? Because in Wahnam Taijiquan we often have our own experiences confirmed when we read the classics of past masters. The texts are no longer abstract or difficult to understand because we have felt many of the things mentioned, and for this we are very thankful.

My apologies for the late reply, but I have been away for a couple of weeks.


"Cloud Hands" in Picture Series
"Cloud Hands" in Slow Motion
"Cloud Hands" with Force and Speed

What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan?


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