Cloud Hands In Depth

This page is a bit raw, a non-exhaustive checklist of all the details you could put into the Standard Exercise called Cloud Hands.  It is said that if you fully understand Cloud Hands you will understand Tai Chi.  This photo shows a forward stepping variation.  Despite the endless details keep in mind that clouds are amorphous and always changing.

Cloud Hands R Fwd

A. Physics

Lower Body

1. Feet in full contact with ground

2. Weight centered in each foot

3. Weight shift to one leg, Place unweighted leg at appropriate distance to side

4. Keep center of knee over center of foot on weighted leg

5. Turn hips right/left when on right/ left leg

6. Keep kneecap aligned with toes especially when that leg is weighted

7. Knee joints are never locked


8. Drop tailbone, keeping sacrum vertical or lightly tucked

9. Drop belly

10. Keep space between top of legs

11. Lengthen hip out of lower torso/midriff


Upper Body

12. Torso is not twisted. Keep chin/sternum/pubic bone aligned

13. Sternum is neutral, neither lifted nor collapsed

14. Lift back of neck lightly.  Ideally this lengthening continues down whole   spine

15. Eyes and face are level or slightly down

16. Lower arm, palm down,  is outside hip of weighted leg

17. Upper Arm, palm in front of throat, forearm vertical approaching centerline

18. Palms face each other in front of belly when weight is 50/50

19. Lengthen shoulder out of upper torso

20. Elbows down, blades down


B. Energetics

1. Dissolve

2. Sink/Ground

3. Down Right, Up Left and vv. Heaven to Earth and vv

4. Yin Down Yang Up

5. C. 80% Descending 20% Ascending

6. Pulse all joints and cavities. Close toward center, Open towards outside

7. Down Close = Liu, Down Open = An, Up Close = Pung, Up Open =Ji

8. Connect Up and Down like a pulley.  Down causes Up

9. Create continuous circularity of Up and Down

10. Close palms to pull down halfway, then Open to release into earth.

11. Close palms to pull up halfway, then Open to release into sky

12. Close feet to pull, connect with earth, Open feet to sink into earth

13. ? Close weighted leg to push off earth. Open unweighted leg to push into earth.

14. Trace side channels: Down Yin to Yang, Up Yin Yin

15. Trace channels on back of body

16. Trace channels in center of body

17. Split like in diagonal flying

18. Activate micro cosmic orbit, e.g. Close up yang, Open down yin

19. Earth Feet, Cloudy Hands

20. Follow Rules. Free Form. Alternate


C. Physics + Energetics

1. Twist legs in on Close. Twist out on Open. Try VV.

2. Or, Twist one leg in as other twists out

3. Twist arms in on Down and out on Up

4. Connect twisting of arms and legs through torso in one line

5. Experiment with weight shift in feet (balls/heels) to activate up/down

6. Engage posterior spinal ligament on open and close

7. Engage shoulder & arm + hip & leg ligaments on open and close

8. Wrap forward on close and back on open

9. Change wrapping at hips like in Gods


D. Variations

1. Experiment in Free form. There are c. 200 variants.

2. Asymmetrical hands

3. Side stepping

4. Forward stepping

5. Backward stepping