December 4, 2019by Daphne

Hello everyone. Today’s video is going to talk through that basic Tai Chi move that is called ‘Stroking the Horse’s Mane’ or ‘Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane’. I’m going to talk you through the bare bones of the movement. In Tai Chi there’s always more layers that you can add once you start thinking about your posture, breathing, the coordination and timing, the movement of energy, martial art application, your mind-body connection, but leaving a lot of those layers aside for more in depth practice, we
shall just concentrate on getting the basic movement and that will help you with your everyday Tai Chi. OK let’s get started.

This movement starts with our hands holding our chi ball. Don’t worry about which hand you have in front if you are looking at me on a screen, if you do it mirror image that kind of might help you along but whatever suits you best. So feet hip-width apart. Let’s get a nice posture and we’re holding our ball. Now imagine that you have a horse standing in front of you and I want this top hand to stroke down that horse’s mane so we’re making a horse, sort of a horse’s mane, like the back of that and neck and back of that horse. We’re stroking down that mane. Our hand is gonna end this movement on our imaginary tabletop, just next to us. As we are starting to stroke the horse’s mane, this other hand is going to come up and hold a mirror. If you imagine this palm is a mirror and you’re going to look into the mirror, there’s a hand mirror that’s what you’re holding in front of you.

So let’s combine those two hand movements, we’ve got the stroking the horse’s mane and we’ve got the holding mirror. So let’s do that again. First side, stroking the horse’s mane and holding the mirror. Let’s do one more. Great once we’ve got to this position here, if we are going to combine this arm movement with our Tai Chi walk, we want this top hand to drop to the top of the ball and the bottom hand scoops under to make the bottom of the ball and then we are ready to start on the other side because our other hand is now on top of the ball. So let’s just do that final movement again. It’s almost like this top hand is closing the box so it makes the top of the ball and this bottom hand is curling under, it’s like scooping under to make the bottom of the ball. It happens at the same time, so we kind of coordinate these arms to move at the same time. So we go from holding the mirror to holding the ball. Then we can do our stroking the horse’s mane hand movement on the other side. So this top hand is going to stroke that horse’s mane down to our imaginary tabletop and the other hand is going to come up to hold a mirror, like our palm is the mirror we are looking into. Let’s do that bit again so holding the ball we’re going to stroke that horse on the second side and hold the mirror. And again. Stroke the horse and hold the mirror. Once we get to here exactly the same you want this top hand to become the top of the ball and the bottom hand scoops under to become the bottom of the ball. So from here the top hand becomes the top, bottom the bottom, top hand is closing that box and the bottom hand is scooping underneath. So we’ve done it on one side in the other.

We’re going to alternate each one now moving from one side to the other. So starting again holding our ball. We stroke the horse, we hold the mirror. Top hand becomes the top of the ball, bottom the bottom. Stroke the horse, hold the mirror. Top hand  becomes the top of the ball, bottom the bottom. Stroke the horse. Hold the mirror. Top, top, bottom, bottom. Stroke the horse, hold the mirror. Top, top, bottom, bottom. Final time on each side.

So practice that bit until you get really good at it and then what we’re going to do is add a little bit of direction. Yes so a lot of our movement comes from this mid-line and the Dan Tien area. You really want to feel the whole of the body working through into these arm movements. So if I just get you to just soften your knees a little bit, just sink your weight into the ground so you’ve got slightly bent legs. We’re going to hold our ball. Then going to twist our waist to the corner a little bit. So we’re open out here, it’s
not across your body, so open out. So as we stroke the horse and hold the mirror I want you to feel that this power of this move is going to come from your Dan Tien area. What we want to do from a martial art point of view is this would be a striking arm and so this would be powered from, not just the arm moving, but the twist of the waist and once we add this to our footwork of the Tai Chi walk we will also have a transfer of weight. So each little part adds up to the move. If we turn our waist here we’re going to
stroke the horse down to the tabletop and this waist is going to turn to the centre, so we’re going from corner to Centre. Then as we hold the ball we’re going to twist the waist to the corner. We’re ready to go to the other side, so stroke the horse, hold the  mirror to the centre, coming back to the corner. Stroking the horse, hold the mirror, up to the centre, coming back to the corner.
Stroke the horse, hold the mirror. One more time.

That’s the bare bones of the arms and we’ve added that emphasis of the twisting of the waist so that you can sort of incorporate into the whole movement. I’m now gonna add my feet. So our foot work for this is the Tai Chi walk. If you need a recap on that
then please check out this video here. I have recorded myself explaining the Tai Chi walk, breaking it down to a few simple movements, so that you can get a good idea of that footwork. So I’m just gonna presume that you know your footwork for the Tai Chi walk and we’ll add the stroking the horse’s arms right now. So our starting position with the arms is holding the ball. Yes so
whichever hand you have on top of the ball I want you to put your weight on that same foot. I’d like you to turn your waist to the corner, or turn your whole hips, that whole mid-line should be turning to the corner. Just tap your foot in here. The Tai Chi walk we’re going to put our heel down, toe down and transfer into that bow stance. As we do that move that’s when we want to stroke the horse and hold the mirror. And I want you to twist the waist as we transfer the weight into that bow stance. So you should go from corner here as we hold the ball, to our centre here. Our hands are going to stay here as we rock back as part of that Tai Chi walk, we’re going to turn ourselves to the corner and then as we stand up again, with that transfer of weight, that’s when our arms are moving to hold the ball. And so again whichever hand is on the top of the ball that’s the leg that then has the weight on it.

Let’s do that on the opposite side. My heel is going to go out, toe down ready for my transfer of weight into the bow stance and as I do so I’m going to stroke the horse and hold the mirror. My body is turning from corner to centre and my weight is going from back to front leg ending in my bow stance. I’m going to rock back my weight, hands are staying where they are and then I’m standing up and I’m gonna hold my ball/ Let’s do that again. Heel, toe. Stroke the horse, hold the mirror, rocking back, turn and standing up. And again. Heel, toe, stroke the horse and hold the mirror, rocking back, turn, standing up.

Let’s practice that again, walking towards each other and then I’ll turn around and do it walking back so that you can should be able to follow me and see it from the back as well and that just might help with some of the movement. Our starting position
whichever hand you’ve got on top of the ball is the same leg that we have our weight in. We’re going to heel, toe, stroke the horse, hold the mirror into our bow stance, rocking back, turning and standing up, holding the ball. Heel, toe, stroke that horse and hold the mirror, we’re rocking back, we’re turning and standing up here. So facing the corner, moving that, twisting that waist and
transferring the weight, as the arms are moving and again to the corner and stroking the horse, twisting the waist, transferring the weight to the centre as the arm is moving, we’re rocking back turn into the corner and standing up. Let me turn around so you can see it from the back.

Stroking the horse’s mane or Parting the wild horse’s mane is one of those Tai Chi movements that crops up in quite a few of our Yang style forms. You can progress the movement by really thinking about your posture, your breathing, really getting that transfer of weight, and the grounding of the feet into the floor, that direction of the energy flow and thinking about the martial arts application as well. Lots of different layers to this movement to consider as you get more and more confident with the movement, but I hope that this video has given you the bare bones of that basic move and that will help you enjoy your Tai Chi practice. Take care. Please check out any of the other videos and let me know how you’re going on. I really would like to hear from you. I’ll see you again soon