There are lots of tigers in Yang style Tai Chi. There’s ‘Bend Bow to shoot Tiger’, which is a pretty obvious punch, and each section of the forms ends with the classic ‘Carry Tiger to Mountain’. Today we want to look at ‘Retreat to Ride Tiger’.

In Yang Cheng-Fu-like forms it looks like this:

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It looks a lot like ‘White Crane spreads wings’ on the surface, but the hands are at a slightly different angle. Also you are always stepping back when doing this move and the intention of what you’re doing is slightly different to White Crane, too.

One aspect of the move I really like to emphasis is the Kou or ‘Shoulder Stroke’ that it contains. Rather than striking forward with your shoulder you are striking behind you as you step. I happened to be near a hanging heavy bag the other day so took the opportunity to show where the power goes in the move, like this:

Rather than thinking of it as striking with just the shoulder itself, it’s more like the whole of your back is the striking surface. In fact, the literal translation of Kao is not “shoulder stroke” as it’s normally written, it’s “lean”, so that gives some more insight this member of Tai Chi’s 8 energies.

Obviously, ‘Retreat to Ride Tiger’ isn’t just about striking behind you, the hands and legs can be doing applications facing forwards at the same time. Here are some ideas:

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