Comparison of the two Wisdom Fists

This is a comparison of the two versions of the Wisdom Fist/Wise Hammers form–the one in my book, and the one in the Imperial Yang VCD.

Firstly, I would like to answer a couple of questions I have been receiving since I first published this book.

I’m not claiming a “secret” lineage in the Yang family arts. I’m not claiming a lineage at all. All I am claiming is that this is the form as I learned it, as precisely as I can describe it to you.

This hasn’t been my personal style of Taiji for over eight years, since I started studying Wu/Hao style formally. I have developed the habit of carefully documenting everything I learn as though I am teaching someone else, so this book is essentially a cleaned-up version of my own notes.

Also, the name “The Indoor Yang Style” is just a name. I put it in capitals to distinguish it from the other versions of Yang style. My teacher, whose English wasn’t fluent, simply called it “indoor” as opposed to public”.

On to the form:

The Imperial Yang version begins with its signature hook-handed, super-extended version of the standard Commencing Movement. The Indoor Yang version begins with a one-sided demonstrative version of the Commencing Movement, as does the Sun Style form. This is really the application of this movement, but it is unusual to see it shown.

Beyond that, the movement sequence is exactly the same. The major differences come in from the movements Grasp Sparrow’s Tail and Single Whip.

Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: The Imperial Yang version shows these movements in its signature style. The Indoor Yang shows a more classical “medium frame” version of both movements, but also elucidates the lower-body skills. If you have never had the opportunity to learn the lower body skills, simply understand that in Yang Taiji, the upper body protects the upper body and the lower body protects itself. Most of the skills you learn with your hands can be done with the legs as well. This is usually only implied, rather than shown, but you may notice that in a lot of the movement in the Yang Main Form one of the legs is copying one of the hands.

Single Whip: The Imperial Yang form performs this movement in it’s normal style, lifting the knee up in the air to show the all-important relationship between the elbow and the knee in the applications of this movement. The Indoor Yang form performs a fairly standard “large frame” version of the movement, but also lifts the knee a little higher than most styles do.

Imperial Yang style

The other differences between the two versions are more differences in the two styles: The Imperial Yang forms tend towards rather reserved, tight movements, whereas the Indoor Yang forms tend toward a more medium-frame version, rather like the way Cheng Man Ching might have performed them. (I have always wondered if Cheng Man-Ching learned a medium-frame version of the form.)

I think that covers the differences. If I have missed something, please comment or email me as

Jonty Kershaw