Another iconic posture that everyone who studies the Yang Style Taijiquan would immediately recognise is the “Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture”. When I teach this posture as a Taiji Qigong exercise to my students I much prefer to teach the “Rocking” (Yao Fa) practice, rather than the standing as I believe it connects the whole of the body much more than the standing practice and every student increases their circulation.
The Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture involves the first four basic energies of taijiquan. Which are Rollback (Lu), Ward Off (Peng), Press (An), and Squeeze (Ji). Each time one of these particular four energies are performed the student will also shift their bodyweight from their front or rear leg. If you are practicing your Taijiquan form or sequence for the maintenance of health and wellbeing, then the whole forms actions will be performed slowly, dictated by the individuals breathing and their ability to lengthen their breath. Whereas, if the student was practicing their taijiquan form as a martial art, then their movements would combine both slow and fast actions. In the practice of the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture as a martial art, the Rollback is performed slowly, the Ward Off, Press and Squeeze Methods would be performed fast to release power and strength (Fa Jin).
When the student performs the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture the torso is held upright even if it is practiced for health or self defence reasons. As with all of taijiquan movements it is the waist that leads the movements, so each individual as to develop a loose and pliable waist, which means the core muscles of the abdomen and the muscles of the back must remain relaxed, they should not held in a tense or rigid way.
For every action of the four energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji which make up the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture. The both hands must also change their shape as they draw various circular patterns that interchange with each other smoothly, there should be six wrist changes performed by the individual as they go through the actions of the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture. These particular wrist actions also help to pulse the blood, lymph and Qi to flow strongly into the palms and fingers, as well as strengthening the tendons.