DOUBLE TIGER CLAWS AND CLOUD HANDS
When practicing footwork, waist rotation and moving in stances, I sometimes add the Double Tiger Claws whilst moving in stances, rotating the Tiger Claws with each step.
After a period of time when the chi flow is becoming stronger I sometimes find the Double Tiger Claws changing into similar movements as Cloud Hands. I have also experienced this once in chi flow. I started thinking that Cloud Hands originated from the Double Tiger Claws.
Is there some connection of the Double Tiger Claws and Cloud Hands?
If all things would be equal in terms of progress, who would have the most force, a Shaolin Kungfu practitioner who practices Iron Wire and Double Tiger Claws, and then starts practicing Cloud Hands, or a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner, who practiced Cloud Hands from the start?
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Congratulations. Your experience is the result from the benefits of breadth and depth.
You have practiced your footwork, waist rotation and moving in stances so well that your Double Tiger Claws emerge spontaneously. All these techniques complement one another excellent.
Practitioners who only know Double Tiger Claws but have not practiced footwork, waist rotation and moving in stance, will probably perform the Double Tiger Claws from their shoulders instead of from the waist as you do. This will distract both from their application of force as well as combat efficiency.
For example, if a practitioner executes his Double Tiger Claws from his shoulders, he may generate 200 units of force. But if he rotates his waist he can generate 500 units!
Why can he generate more force by rotating his waist? There are two reasons. By rotating his waist he issues his force from his dan tian, where internal force is stored. By starting from his shoulders he issues his force from his shoulders which have less internal force stored there than at the dan tian. The flow of force from the dan than is more than the flow of force from the shoulders.
Secondly, when he rotates his waist, he generates spiral force. When he issues force from his shoulders, the force is linear. Even when the amount of force is the same, spiral force is more powerful than linear force. But here the amount of spiral force is more than the amount of linear force. Hence, if all other things were equal except that you rotate your waist when applying the Double Tiger Claws but another practitioner starts from his shoulder, as many practitioners do, he generates only 200 units of force but you generate 500 units.
Besides force application, rotating the waist also has an advantage in combat efficiency over starting from the shoulders. The Double Tiger Claws are often used to deflect an opponent’s attack with one tiger claw and simultaneously counter-attacking him with the other tiger claw.
If an opponent’s attack with a force of 500 units is coming towards you, you can deflect it with just 200 units of force by moving your deflecting tiger claw from your shoulder. But if you rotate your waist instead of moving your arm from your shoulder, you can deflect the 500 units of force with only 100 units.
You may have a feel of this application of minimum force by doing the following simple experiment. Hold a heavy object, like a table, with both hands. Try to move it by moving your hands issuing from your shoulders. Next, hold the same object with both hands. Move the object not by moving your hands but by rotating your waist. You will find that moving the object by rotating your waist is easier than using your shoulders. This, in fact, is a core principle why in Taijiquan a smaller-sized exponent can defeat a bigger-sized opponent.
When one starts to train the Double Tiger Claws, waist rotation is very important. But when his Double Tiger Claws are very powerful, he can use them any way he likes, sometimes without rotating his waist.
The physical movements of the Double Tiger Claws and of Cloud Hands are similar. Hence, your Double Tiger Claws may spontaneously change to Cloud Hands, and vice versa. This, again, is the result of benefiting from breadth and depth. For example, a Shaolin Wahnam student may only train in Double Tiger Claws, but eventually he can also use Cloud Hands, and vice versa.
The benefits are not only in physical movements and combat application, but also in force development. Suppose a Shaolin Wahnam student trains Double Tiger Claws for three months, he will develop 1000 units of Tiger Claws internal force. Instead of training Double Tiger Claws, he trains Cloud Hands for three months, he will develop 800 units of internal force.
Given the same training time, there will be more internal force developed in Double Tiger Claws than in Cloud Hands. This is because Double Tiger Claws use the force method, whereas Cloud Hands use the flow method. The nature of training is such that, if all other things were equal, the force method develops force faster than the flow method.
But this does not necessarily mean that the force method is better than the flow method. The flow method may have other advantages over the force method. A flow method practitioner, for example, may be more agile than a force method practitioner.
Now, if the Shaolin Wahnam student uses the same three months to train both Double Tiger Claws and Cloud Hands, he will obtain not half the result of Double Tiger Claws, i.e. 500 units of Tiger Claws force, and half the result of Cloud Hands, i.e. 400 units of Cloud Hands force, but he will obtain 1500 units of internal force which he can use in Double Tiger Claws or in Cloud Hands.
When he performs Double Tiger Claws he will have 1500 units of Tiger Claws force. When he performs Cloud Hands he will have 1500 units of Cloud Hands force. In other words, for the same time spent in training, he gets more than double the amount of benefit in each art! This is our concept of breadth and depth.
The benefit of breadth and depth applies in our school. It may not apply in most other schools. For most other schools, if students practice two opposing force training methods, like Double Tiger Claws and Cloud Hands, at the same time period, they will get less than half the benefit they would get had they focused on just one art. For example, they may get only 120 units of Tiger Claw force and 100 units of Cloud Hands force.
Yes, there is some obvious connection between Double Tiger Claws and Cloud Hands. The physical movements are similar, except that the former uses tiger claws and the latter uses open palms.
The combat applications are similar. One tiger claw or open palm is used to deflect an opponent’s attack, and the other tiger claw or open palm is used to counter-strike the opponent. A master can use either technique to counter any attack – be in a strike, a kick, a felling attack or a chin-na technique!
The force development is quite different. Double Tiger Claws use the force method, and Cloud Hands use the flow method. But for us in Shaolin Wahnam, we can combine the flow and the force methods in either art to have better and faster results.
I don’t have historical evidence for the origin of Double Tiger Claws. The earliest record of tiger claws I have was in a classic called “The Internal Arts of Shaolin” which I believe was written in the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century). It showed the development of internal force employing the Shaolin five animals.
There was mention of the tiger form in Xingyiquan, which was invented by Yue Fei during the later part of the Song Dynasty (10th to 13th century). Claws were used in the tiger form, but they were more like Eagle Claws, and very different form the Double Tiger Claws we use in Shaolin Wahnam. The Art of Tiger Claws was probably established during the Qing Dynasty (17th to 20th century).
On the other hand, I believe that Cloud Hands originated from Zhang San Feng during the later part of the Song Dynasty. After practicing his Shaolin Kungfu, Zhang San Feng entered into standing meditation. Extreme stillness produced movement. Soon chi flow resulted in graceful movements, poetically described as “flowing water floating clouds”, and later shortened to “cloud hands”. These cloud hand movements were stylized into forms which evolved into Taijiquan.
Hence, from this historical background, it was more likely that Double Tiger Claws evolved from Cloud Hands. This was also more logical from the perspectives of force training and combat application, than the possibility of Clouds Hands evolving from Double Tiger Claws. It was more logical and likely that the powerful flow of Cloud Hands evolved into the internal force of Double Tiger Claws, and that the simple strikes of Cloud Hands evolved into the more sophisticated chin-na or Double Tiger Claws.
If all other things were equal, in our school a Shaolin practitioner who practices Iron Wire and Double Tiger Claws and then starts practicing Cloud Hands would have more force than a Taijiquan practitioner who practices Cloud Hands from the start.
Let us compare the force of four students instead of two. Student A practices all the three arts. Student B practices only iron Wire. Student C practices only Double Tiger Claws. Student D practices only Cloud Hands. The range of students from having the most force to the least force will be A, B, C, D.
This is because Iron Wire is more powerful than Double Tiger Claws, and Double Tiger Claws is more powerful than Cloud Hands. The student who practices all the three arts have the most force because he has the benefit of breadth and depth.
As stated earlier, this does not necessarily mean that Cloud Hands is the least useful because it may have advantages in other aspects over the other arts.
The above comparison applies to our school, but may not apply to other schools. In other schools practicing different arts at the same time usually distracts from one another. Thus, a student who practices all the three arts would have less force than one who practices only Cloud Hands.
But if they practice the three arts as physical exercise instead of as internal force training, both students would not have internal force, but the one who practices all the three arts will be muscularly stronger than the one who practices Cloud Hands. This is because Iron Wire and Double Tiger Claws develop more muscular strength than Cloud Hands.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Wahnam Cloud Hands Grasp Sparrow Set: 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.