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Two-character Mount (二字马)


By Yun Choi Yeung


The full name of the two-character mount should be Er Zi Qian Yang Ma. Er is two in number with one stroke on top and a longer stroke on the bottom. Zi is a character or a word. Qian is to clamp. Two different characters are used for Yang, goat or male genital. And Ma is a horse or a mount. In the South of China it is commonly referred to as sitting on a horse for any standing posture. So, the word mount may be a more suitable translation for standing posture. The turning and bending structure of the two-character mount actually supported the idea of resting on the legs. This enables the practitioner to have high mobility in moving into a one legged posture and transfer the body weight between the legs, etc. This requires flexibility, and stiffening of the legs and groin will not contribute to this effect.


Goat clamping is basically clamp the knees together which should be avoided in any exercise. The knee joint is a hinge joint and it does not bend inward, and forcing it inward will only result in overuse and injury. It is the rotation of the hip joints that turn the knees inward and do not require any force to clamp the knees. But this in fact has an effect on the male genital by pushing the testes to the rear leaving the penis in the front. The testes are safe to a frontal strike to the groin, and they are safe from a kick between the legs as well. The inward rotation of the hip joints actually generates the springy effect on the posture, and it can spring into a one legged posture to the side away from the centre of attack instantly.


From the story of Yip Man he learnt the hard and stiff forms in Foshan before he learnt from Leung Bik in Hong Kong. The teaching of Yip Man was very unique when he returned to Foshan and taught a small group of students. His students in Hong Kong are very diverse, but some of his private students and their followers are still holding on to the unique development of adhering. So, it is very clear that Yip Man took a very different approach in martial art and stayed away from the hard and stiff methods.


Some practitioners of Yuen Kay-San system do emphasis the grabbing of toes, clamping of the knees, and drawing in the anus in static postures (Ritchie, 1998). May be this is due to the influents of the Shaolin Hard Qigong methods. Li, Qiang, et al, (2003), identified Shaolin Qigong or Shaolin Internal Exercise Standing Postures included example from Ji Jin Jing (Reverse Tendon Exercise) as isometric muscular contraction. Muscular contraction is isometric or static when both ends of the muscle are fixed and no movement occurs in the joint(s) involved (Aastrand and Rodahl, 1986). Practice in such a static way is not an advantage to the mobility required in martial art. But this is a very effective resistant training method in building up concentric muscular strength. And many Chinese Martial Arts Styles do include this type of method as part of their training programs, a kind of cross training of speed and strength.


Some of Yip Man’s students said that the two-character mount is also Bagua (eight trigrams) steps. The two-character mount is by no mean unique and is use in Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, and Baguaquan as a transitional stepping rather than as a static standing posture. And there is no evidence that Yip Man learnt any other martial art. The various arts do have separate developments. For example, the dummy techniques do not go around the opponent in a circle as in Baguaquan because this strategy does not work when the opponent is fighting with his or her back against the wall. However the steps in the dummy techniques do exhibit similar idea of moving from the frontal position to the blind side which might be left or right and moving in from various positions to attack. The practitioner is in fact stepping back and forward in a semicircle with quick turns always facing the opponent in the centre. It is interesting to see the differences and similarities between different arts, especially those might have their origin from Internal Martial Arts and have revolved in different ways.


The two-character mount is with the knees bend slightly to let the weight of the body sink into the legs to stretch the calves and quadriceps, outward rotation of the hip joints and then inward rotation of the hip joints to stretch the outer thigh and buttock muscles. There is no concentric contraction of muscle but very tight because of the body weight and rotational stretching effect. The small thought routine with static standing posture is a very strenuous kind of reverse tendon training to improve one’s immune system and muscular strength. Spring open to the single legged posture from the two-character mount, kicking, stepping and turning in the bridge finding routine are very practical to train flexibility. The piercing finger routine focus in the training of the transfer of body weight between the legs and the power generates from these movements. Therefore, from the two-character mount there are many variations and applications to adhering fighting.   


Fighting is very different to the sport of Sanshou (a Chinese combat sport) or kickboxing, etc., as the participants are protracted by the rules and gears. In reality, kicking between the legs, and punching on the face are quite standard practices therefore the two-character mount and sun-character punch are very practical defensive techniques and are not difficult to learn.




Aastrand, Per-Olof, and Rodahl, Kaare, (1986), Textbook of Work Physiology (3rd Ed.), New York, McGraw-Hill.


Li, Qiang, at el, (2003), “Changes in Respiratory and Circulatory During Shaolin Internal Exercise Standing Postures” Chinese Manipulation & Qi Gong Therapy, Vol. No. 19, No. 6, pp. 16-18 (in Chinese with technical terms and reference in English).


Ritchie, Rene, (1998), Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen, Los Angeles and New York, Multi-Media Books.