“Raise Hands” is a form that is done while standing on one leg while raising both arms. The script tells us a little more if we look at the character 提 or Tí. A dictionary definition of Tí says it is a verb which means “carry in the hand (with the arm down). I think the implication here is one of raising something that has some weight. The first part of the character for Tí is a verb for “hand” but the second character 手shǒu is a noun. 上shàng is defined as “go upwards” and with 勢shì is “go upward with strength or skill”.
The idea that we are raising our hands up as though they are weighted is important here. In fact the whole series of characters suggests that something of weight should be raised with power. It is also very interesting that the instructions for square form of this posture first state the importance of moving the arms while keeping the body still. The Yin-Yang junction is once again at the waist with the moving part (Yang) being the upper torso and the stationary part (Yin) being below the waist.
Along the same lines, I think everyone would agree that picking up anything such thing as a weighted object with the hands would cause the other portions of the body to move. In our form practice we of course are not lifting an object, we are just lifting our arms with the hands open and empty. Nevertheless we are still instructed here to lift as though lifting something of weight. How is this possible if there is nothing in the hands?
For this we have to look to the “Round Form” and the internal discipline, our internal physical movement involving the core of the body.
· Of course we must tuck in the tailbone
· Have our elbows down
· Stand with body aligned
· Use “Yi” to lift the arms
· The movement uses “internal discipline” from the waist to lift the arms, keeping the knees bent and do not stand up.
· The feeling of lifting something that is weighted is what comes into play here. If one were to lift anything, such as a kitchen chair, one’s child, etc., the core muscles would naturally “engage” . We say “lift using your legs” and “put your back into it” when describing the sensation of lifting something. It is somewhat the same admonition here as applies to the feeling one needs in using the internal discipline to lift the arms and hands upward. The vast majority of people would never think to engage the core muscles when lifting an arm with nothing in the hand in an upward fashion. In fact, Master Hwa describes the whole process as a “dynamic” one wherein the internal physical discipline treats the arms as simply appendages that must be taught to move in coordination and direction of the torso.
· However, this is not simply movements of the arms from the shoulders…on the contrary
· The core muscles of the abdomen very low beneath the navel and are used to start the movement up, then the job is “traded off” to the muscles of the upper back to complete the lift. We only describe the “lifting” portion of the movement here, not the folding portion of the arm at the elbow.
· Do not push out the rear end when doing this and keep it under you. This is an important part of keeping one portion of the body still while another part moves. This may also be tested while practicing with the back close to the wall. You will feel the rear touch the wall if it is being pushed backward.
· The movement can be practiced by itself, uncoupled from other postures as both a silk reeling and qigong exercise.
· Part of the martial intent of the movement has Peng (ward off or even punch). Your “Yi” should encompass that as well. The rising portion could be used to deflect an opponents strike in a wardoff motion. As the opponents strike is deflected, the foot could be used to kick to the lower leg. The muscles of the torso do the work of lifting and positioning the leg, and planting the foot or kicking the opponent.
Note: The list of possible applications is not limited by any means.