COMBAT APPLICATION AND INTERNAL FORCE OF WUDANG COTTON PALM
Could you please elaborate the differences in combat applications of the following Wudang Cotton Palm patterns that have at least superficial similarity: Wild Horse Chases Wind versus Open Window to Look at Moon; Lone Drake Leaves Crowd in comparison Whirlwind Cotton Palm; and Green Dragon Lifts Head compared to Poisonous Snake Emerges from Cave? Are there comparative differences in force also? I am thinking that out of the pairs Wild Horse Chases Wind, Lone Drake Leaves Crowd, and Green Dragon Lifts Head are comparatively harder but still as flowing as the corresponding pattern I suggested.
What distinguishes the force and combat application of the Wudang Cotton Palm set generally in contrast to Taijiquan sets and the Cosmos Palm set in our school?
How does the skill of Cotton Palm relate to Weave Flowers Cotton Palm pattern in Drunken Eight Immortals and Mien Shen's Cotton Palm technique in Praying Mantis Eighteen Collection? Are there other notable ways of bringing the best out of the Cotton Palm skill in combat application except open palm techniques?
Both “Wild Horse Chases Wind” and “Open Window to Look at Moon” are excellent methods to explode internal force, but the origin of the force is different. In “Wild Horse Chases Wind”, the origin of the force is at the wrists, whereas in “Open Window to Look at Moon”, it is at the abdominal dan tian.
Before one can explode internal force, he must have built sufficient internal force. He must also know the mechanics of the pattern he uses to explode the force.
Firstly, he builds up his internal force using the Horse-Riding Stance or the Goat Stance, Then he uses “Open Window to Look at Moon” to explode his force. He must start with his back leg, rotate his waist and end at his hands in one smooth continuous movement.
When he hears a “wom” sound while executing this pattern, it indicates that his internal force has flowed from his dan tian, through his body, through his shoulders, along his arms, and out of his palms. This is what masters meant by “keng thow ng kwan” (Cantonese), which means his internal force has passed through five gates.
It shows that his chi, or internal force, has filled up the meridians linking frim his dan dain to his palms. It is important to note that this chi is flowing, not stactic. Not only it enables him to have powerful palm strikes, but also makes all his organs strong, and gives him a lot of vitality.
He can then progress to “Wild Horse Chases Wind”. In this pattern, his internal force shoots out from his palms at his wrists. But the internal force is connected all the way to his dan tian.
Will he be depleted of energy when a lot of energy flows out? No, because he is both relaxed and focused, or in a state of Zen or Tao. Energy from the Cosmos will immediately replenish the energy he has just used in his strike. The more powerful his strike is, i.e. the more energy he emits from his palms, the more energy will replenish him from the Cosmos.
In “Lone Drake Leaves Clowd”, internal force is channeled to his front hand. Internal force will also flow to his back hand, though the focus is at the front hand. It is a diagonal strike or block, moving from inside out, using the side of the harm or arm, similar to a Mirror Hand.
“Whirlwind Cotton Palm” is softer. It is a palm strike, from outside in. There is also a reverse palm strike, using the back of the palm.
In both “Green Dragon Lifts Head” and “Poisonous Snake Emerges from Cave”, energy is channeled to the palm and fingers. “Green Dragon Lifts Head” is a close-body attack using the False-Leg Stance. You can also use the knees of the False-Leg Stance to hit an opponent’s groin. “Poisonous Snake Emeges from Cave” is a far-reaching attack. It may be used when an opponent tries to move away.
Cotton Palm force is alive, so you need not worry about any comparative differences in the application of the various patterns. Use the force for the combat situation. In other words in some situations “Wild Horse Chases Wind” may be harder than “Open Window to Look at Moon”, and in other situations, it may be softer. The same explanation applies to the other patterns.
The force in both Cotton Palm and Cosmos Palm is more powerful than the force in Taijiquan. I believe the difference is not just a matter of level, but a matter of class. In other words, Cotton Palm, Cosmos Palm and Taijiquan Palm are of different classes, not that when the force is less we call it Taijiquan force, and when it is more we call it Cotton Palm or Cosmos Palm.
When an opponent is hit with Cotton Palm, he may not know it, but the injury, though insidious, can be very serious or fatal. When he is hit with Cosmos Palm or Taijiquan Palm, he normally knows it.
The pattern, “Weave Flowers Cotton Palm”, in the Drunken Eight Immortal set uses the Cotton Palm force. The force is soft, flowing and insideious, similar to the force we developed in the Wudnag Cotton Palm set.
In the pattern, “Mien Shen’s Cotton Palm”, in the Praying Mantis Eighteen Collection set, the Cotton Palm force is hard, quite unlike the Cotton Palm force we trained in the Wudang Cotton Palm set.
As far as I know, there are two types of Cotton Palm force, one from Wudang Kungfu and the other from Praying Mantis Kungfu. Both types of Cotton Palm force may have the same origin, i.e. from Shaolin.
In my younger days I learned a set of Cotton Palm from Praying Mantis Kungfu, called "Mien Zhang". I just learned the forms, and did not know how to develop Cotton Palm force. While it is softer than most Praying Mantis sets, it is much harder than the Wudang Cotton Palm set.
When one has developed Cotton Palm force, not only his palms but all parts of his body are powerful, yet soft and flowing. In other words, when you have Cotton Palm force, you can strike, kick, fell or grip an opponent better than had you not attained the Cotton Palm force. You will also have better health, more vitality and longevity as well as attain peak performance and spiritual joys.
This question and answer are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions Cotton Palm in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.