Snake Style System Taiji quan

"Quiet as the mountain, moving like the river and the river"

Description of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan):

Source: Wikipedia
The tai chi or tai chi, or taiji quan (traditional Chinese: 太極拳; 太极拳 Simplified) is a Chinese martial art, called "internal" (neijia) Taoist inspiration.
Downplayed in the West as a kind of gymnastics, especially appreciated by seniors for his role as strengthen the body and ensure the health.
- Movements have both a martial connotation (dodges, parades, strikes, seizures ...) and energy;
- They were created and are worked by Taoist monks warriors;
- The tai chi is practiced with bare hands but is associated with the arts using weapons (range, sword, saber, ...)
The Chinese Tai Chi Chuan are composed of elements 太極 Taiji, "supreme ridge" and quán , "fist boxing" and literally translated by "boxing of the supreme summit" or "boxing with the shade" because the observer has the impression that the practitioner fights with a shadow. Another common translation is "the boxing of eternal youth", the supreme summit which can be less literally translated by "immortality" (the supreme goal in Taoist).

Our form
We practice and teach the traditional form of Yang style "Snake Style" form consists of 108 movements. (Ip Hand Form).
In the Snake Style System are also found in the saber form, sword form, the spear form and the fast form (long boxing form).

A martial art
Nowadays, some approaches tend to reduce the taiji quan to mere gymnastics. Yet the essence of the practice and its multiple benefits can not fully understand that the simultaneous work of the shape, internal energy work techniques and martial component.
These martial art is based on the development and use of qi (vital energy), li (muscle energy) and yi (mental energy). This explosive cocktail is certainly much more powerful than brute strength, but still requires a long process of relaxation and detachment (especially by meditation) so that the qi circulates develops and easily.
Today the gross physical attack frequently gives way to a relational or psychological attack. However, the taiji quan can respond properly in both cases, its fundamental principles that apply in the same way. So stay ... taiji

« To be anchored in the present to help an ancient knowledge to shape your future"

The Snake Style System of Yang tai chi is the most martial and exclusive of the three Yang style forms - crane, tiger and snake.
Grandmaster Yang Sau Chung learned this system from his father, Yang Chen Fu, and passed it on to his male heir and First Disciple, Ip Tai Tak.
In turn, Master Ip taught this system to his Disciple, Robert Boyd. Before his death, Master Ip gave Mr. Boyd permission to teach this system without prejudice to those who seek a deeper martial understanding of Yang tai chi.

The Snake Style of tai chi requires great flexibility of the spine, hips, rib cartilage and internal muscles of the abdomen and upper thoracic ribs and back. The serpentine movement of the snake style moves the center of gravity using 'core' muscles. These core muscles strongly root the foot at the completion of each posture, sending powerful jin energy through the spine to the hands. The result, over time, is the legendary 'iron in cotton' phenomenon that gives speed, power and sensitivity to the hands and arms. This is the key to the successful use of tai chi in self-defense.

The subtleties of the Snake Style System are hardly discernable to the eye. The hand positions are less extended than the tiger style, and certain hand positions are angular as opposed to straight ahead. The snake style also centers the bodyweight 100% on the standing leg, clearly defining the substantial and insubstantial leg in every stance.
The snake style offers the tai chi practitioner the potential of great martial prowess. However, the application of flexible strength in performing the snake style, including the animation of the spine and core muscles, make the snake style also a powerful exercise for health and longevity.

First of all the name - "Snake-Style"
Snake Style often appears along the descriptions Tiger-Style und Crane-Style. These are not traditional descriptions, transmitted down through the generations, ut relatively young "labels" witch help to clarify different ways of moving. Each generation of tai chi practitioners has contributed to spreading the art of tai chi chuan, and as eventually brought up new and different descriptions to make things clear for the people. In this way, grandmaster Ip has "labeled" the family style he was taught by Yang Shou Zhong the "Snake-Style".
He did this in regards to the ways of moving and using the internal core muscles of the spine, and picked the one being from the animal kingdom that moves in that way - the snake. The snake moves fast, efficient and powerful only by using the muscles of the spinal area and is not bound to use arms and legs. This characterizes the basic movement principles of the Snake Style and likewise the descriptions Tiger Style and Crane Style fit their ways of moving
Other descriptions also in use are: Large-, Medium and Smallframe, which are also new descriptions of ways of moving.
Teacher style and student style are two of the older descriptions for the content of the innermost family transmission, and for what has been taught to further family members and outside people.
Furthermore there are Cranestances, Tigerstances and Snakestances which have no connection to the way of moving, but to the height in which the moves are executed.

For instance, Cranestances employ high stances with almost stretched legs, Tigerstances are done at a medium height with a medium bent leg, and Snakestances employ extremely low stances with a heavily bent knee. The Snakestance is extremely taxing to the hip and knee area and have to be done extra carefully for there may very easily occur damage to the Joints.
The stances are independent of the styles, and the Snake-Style of Master Ip is not done in or connected to the snake stance.

All this "labels" and names must not be seen sacrosanct but as descriptive pictures that help the reader/listener to get an idea of the underlying principles. Sadly, almost all the ancient texts and translations of the Chinese classics are seen this, and thus are untouchable, but all these translations are incredible complicated to do, especially if you are translating form an iconic language into a western language. So it needs a true master of the respective field to get a true access to the respective area.

The knee - height of stance and health issues
The most common misconception in regard to Snake-Style is about the height of the stance. Usually one thinks:"... snakes live on the floor = low stances = knee problems".
As explained above, the Snake Style of master Ip is not about the height of the stance but about the way of moving. So there is no need for concern about Master Ip's Snake Style system being bad for ones knees, it is only told by uninformed people because of the misconception of Snake-Stance vs. Snake-Style.
The Snake Style enables the practitioner to bring the power/pressure up from the knee into the hip/kwa region and to stabilize the knee in all movements, thus actually rooting the supporting leg/foot and emptying the other one completely. Due to this training the whole hip/kwa area gets strengthened, helping the practitioner to connect the whole body down from the feet up into the hands and thus making him able to manifest relaxed power - not some more rigid structural force.

Full and empty - 100/0 stances and rooting
In Snake-Style the principle of "full and empty" is seen as a 100/0 weighted stance. All of ones weight is placed on one leg, and the other leg is absolutely empty and could be moved without even slightly having to shift weight or move the body to have it free from weight. The body is compressed onto the supporting leg, using rotation and and internal pulling and stretching to connecting solidly down through the foot and stretch upward at the same time. This creates a massive root downward, with the ability to issue force and be able to move swiftly.

The upper body - a flexible trunk...
The upper body becomes very flexible and mobile due to Snake Style training and the respective additional training exercises. All movements originate from the chest-/spine area. Through rotating, compressing, contracting and expanding all muscles become activated alongside the blood and lymphatic transport system. Over time, an "inverted breathing" is set into motion while training the form, massaging and activating the internal organs enhancing their function. In a combat situation the flexible body enables the practitioner to move, evade, advance, retreat and fight in really small space

Speed in form practice - connected Snake Style movements
The general rule is: "The slower the better". If the standard (Yang/Ip) form is done in 15 to 18 minutes in the beginning, this is really good. This is a relative short time to do the form compared to other lineages doing the form in 30 to 50 minutes so it is necessary to look why this is so. In Snake Style Tai Chi Chuan it is imperative to move the body absolutely connected, as one unit. This also means that the stepping is incorporated into the trunk movement. Never is one arm or one leg moved, without the usage of the thorax, unlike stepping techniques in other styles. So the slowness of a move is controlled by the weakest part, normally the hip/kwa region at the beginning of the training. One simply has not enough power developed there, when starting with Snake Style or switching over from another style, where more static structure is involved, like in tiger style. So with minimal power in the kwa, one has to step a bit quicker tha usual in tai chi demonstrations, and since the body is in a concerted movement, the rest of the body follows suit, keeping the connection. So at the beginning a Snake Style practitioner moves quite faster then a beginner in another style, but the good news is, that due to the training the kwa gets stronger and much more powerful, enabling the Snake Style practitioner to slow down more and more.

Self Defense - Snake Style in Combat
Master Ip called the Snake Style system as"...the most martial form of all Yang style tai chi chuan...", the most usable style for fighting. Every move in the form contains a vast amount of possible applications, ranging from issuing explosive powerful attacks to rather inconspicuous minute applications that are used to neutralize an attach, bringing the attacker of balance and to simply end the fight.
This includes techniques like: take & break, neutralize, uproot, chin-na, pressure points, penetrating, punching, sweeping and thrashing among other applications. A whole bunch of useful and practical things to make life more easy in "tight" situations.
The training of the Snake Style long boxing form enhances this ability greatly.