Friday, October 17, 2008

How to Do Cloud Hands Block in Tai Chi

Inside Cloud Hands Block
Step 1:

Stand with knees bent slightly and arms up in a boxer's pose with open hands.

Step 2:
Bring your right hand to the side, up, and back inward to be above where it started in a single motion. This should look a bit like your wiping a window or making a circular scrubbing motion. Sway to the left as you bring your right hand it looks like you're pulling the arm in. In a combat situation this would put the weight of your entire body behind your right hand and stop an attacker's strike cold.

Step 3:
Pull your right hand down to its original position with your palm flat, vertical with the open palm facing to your left. Repeat these steps continuously in smooth circular motions.

Step 4:
When your right hand comes in and down, mirror the motion with your left hand. When your right hand goes out, your left should come in, when your right goes in, the left should go out. Imagine two interlocking gears moving together and you'll have the right idea. Make sure to sway to your right when your left hand comes in to give it the same stopping power as your right.

Outside Cloud Hands Block
Step 1:
This block is similar to the Inside Cloud Hands Block except it's performed in reverse. Begin with knees slightly bent and hands open before you in a boxer's pose. Lower your right hand as if you were reaching for something on the left side of your waist or belt.

Step 2:
Bring your right hand up to be level with your head and out to your right at almost full extension. Leave your hand open at all times and move your arms so it looks like your wrist is pulling your hand along behind it. Sway and slightly turn to your right to put the weight and momentum of your body behind the movement.

Step 3:
Bring the hand down and back to start near the left side of your waist and repeat. When you pull your right hand back in you should push your left hand out so that your hand movement mirrors itself. Again it should put you in mind of two gears turning together. Make sure to sway and turn to the left when your left hand goes out.

Tips & Warnings
To make sure you have the movements right, perform these techniques slowly and increase their pace when you're comfortable with them. Practicing in front of a mirror can help you perfect your form.

Keep in mind that many forms of Tai Chi exist and may use the same names for different moves. There are likely other moves called Cloud Hands that differ from this one.

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