Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu

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High Performance Wushu

Issue No. 6| April 15th, 2008


Mastering the Butterfly Twist
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Mastering the Butterfly Twist (FHPW p. 123)

The butterfly twist is a cool looking move that is actually fairly easy to execute. The biggest problem people have learning it is getting over the fear of facing away from the ground during the rotation. No doubt its scary being several feet off the floor with your back facing the ground for an instant - but its exactly that, just an instant. So, what's the key to getting a great butterfly twist? Read on.

First things first, a butterfly twist is exactly that. A butterfly and THEN a twist. You won't get a good butterfly twist unless you have a good butterfly kick first. A butterfly twist should look high and effortless, with a horizontal axis of rotation. At least a portion of it should look like you are floating in the air. So, be sure to work on your butterfly kick as much as you work on your butterfly twist. If you need more help with the butterfly kick, read Chapter 7 from Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu: Taolu Jumps and Spins.

With that being said, as long as your mechanics are correct, you don't actually need all that much height to complete a butterfly twist successfully (you will need height to look good though!) The most important aspect of getting a good twisting motion is making sure to roll up, not roll down. Many people try to rotate by throwing their leading shoulder (right) down, instead of rolling the other side of the body (left arm and hip) up. Therefore it is counterproductive to what you are trying to do when you jump. You can improve your rotation and jump height by rolling up into the twist. (See FHPW p.125-126)

If you focus on these two aspects of the butterfly twist, your technique will look much more effortless and have greater “wow” factor. In addition, it'll make learning the butterfly hypertwist, double butterfly twist, and beyond much easier. To help you focus on these parts separately, be sure to break the technique down into parts and work on them individually. One great exercise is the delayed butterfly twist. This is exactly as it sounds. You would first perform a butterfly kick and then delay for a bit before pulling into the twist (see FHPW p.134-135 for more details). While this is harder than a basic butterfly twist, the delay forces you to develop clean mechanics. You can cheat a regular butterfly twist but not a delayed one. If you can perform a delayed butterfly twist, a regular butterfly twist will be no problem. For more exercises, read pages 131-135 of Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu: Taolu Jumps and Spins.

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