It is said that the endless variety of forms is due to the mind’s perception. Yet the mind has no form and awareness no limit. So by practicing forms are we not enslaving the mind? Yet without form we cannot perceive the mind and its workings or expand our awareness of our mind’s capability.
Thus, a beginner learning Repulse Monkey sees a sequence of movements he has to remember for the sake of learning Taijiquan but he can never use it unless he couples the learning by understanding how the mind shapes the movements first before we can actualize the physical aspects correctly.
Why is it that sometimes beginners still cannot use Repulse Monkey despite learning the sequence properly? It is because they are trapped in the form. First know the mind, then the shape, then manifest the mind and forget the shape in order that from no shape emerges free shape. So from one fixed sequence of Repulse Monkey arises many movements to repulse the fierce attack of the monkey.
What is the right response to the attack? How can we tell unless the attack happens? So its useless to speculate until the moment it happens. In the meantime we should free ourselves to explore the many ways to use Repulse Monkey after learning some examples that accompanies the transmission of the principle which essentially is about attacking during retreat.