<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
On the other hand, Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun emphasize, perhaps even more than other similar teachers, that each movement should have a definite endpoint. We probably show more of an external pause between postures than many other “schools.” The problem is How do we pause and still respect continuity?
I have asked about this difficulty and have been told that the issue is not so much about the duration or timing of the external pause, as about showing internal continuity of intent. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Yes, the duration and timing of my external pauses changes quite radically depending on how fast or slow I’m doing the form—not because of the external speed, but because the internal rhythm dictates how long the pause is.
So what is the pause? My sense of it is that it’s the changing point around which/within which energy shifts from yin to yang. Maybe some of you have heard these analogies before: a child on a swing reaches the farthest upward point in their swing and seems to hang suspended in the air for a moment before coming down again. Or a ball thrown into the air seems to slow as it reaches the apex of its curve, then stop briefly before coming down again. Or an ocean wave, rushing up the shore seems to slow and stop before gathering speed to rush back out again. But if you look at a wave closely, right at the point where it changes, you’ll see the grains of sand moving in two directions at once, both toward the shore and toward the sea (or you see turbulence, but I don’t know how that factors in here). The outward motion (visible when you stand and look at a wave from some distance) seems to stop or pause, but the internal motion of a wave (visible if you are very close to it) is very active.
So the pause, to me, feels like slowing slightly. No, that’s a bad description—inside, it feels like the same speed, but because some things are flowing out and some things have turned around to flow back in, it feels like the same amount of activity as a big sweeping arm movement only contained in a tiny space. So externally, the motion seems to slow and pause, but internally there’s a sense of cycling activity.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If you never pull the bow to the maximum, do you really learn how you need to initiate the pull in the first place? Can you be sure you have taken the best path for a journey if you abandon it before getting all the way to the destination? </font>
Good point. I think that taking the postures in the Yang form to their maximum (full extension of both the external form and the internal intent) is a way to generate a pause that is active instead of stagnant. I mentioned elsewhere that if I released the energy/intent of a movement completely, that it seemed to naturally cycle into the next movement, but that if I didn’t finish the movement, that the resulting transitions, while outwardly looking the same, felt internally tight or stagnant. I think that if these stagnant transitions were compared to the yin-yang diagram, it would be like trying to switch from one to the other in the middle of the cycle instead of at the extreme end. It’s easy to switch at the extreme. In the middle it gets muddled and stagnant if you try to switch from one thing to another…which might be why people end up developing more flowing versions. I think this allows the transition circles to be larger, perhaps easier to train, and the switch from yin to yang is less abrupt, but also less extreme.
I like the juxtaposition in Yang style between large, open, sweeping circular movements and very small circular internal transitions.
OK, I’ll take a stab at the transition between “DDPP” and Apparent Closure. I tried to do it your way, with the feeling of recoil back in towards the body…but for me, the feeling was that there was too much emphasis on the right side of the body. There’s also the suggestion that we avoid straight forward-back movements. I don’t know if I can help you out with fa jing followed by extension rather than contraction—it does seem to break the rules, but I have an idea. I’ll describe what I do and maybe you can extract something useful (because I’m not so good at distillation).
When I do this movement, I’m focused on driving the right fist with my waist turning counter clockwise. At the end point of Punch my contraction point isn’t at the fist recoiling, but at the left hip, which continues to make a tiny, tiny circle left then back (the beginning of Apparent Closure). In Punch, as the right side of the hip moves forward, the left can later move back for Apparent Closure. If my right side (fist) is full, then the left side (hip) can empty. When my left hip circles slightly to the left, then the right fist can extend more forward and open before it circles back. I still feel like the fist gets to relax back towards the body after the fa point—but it happens in the next movement and it’s the left hip that starts the cycle of relaxed contraction.
This is a tricky distinction and I don’t fully understand it yet. I may change my mind in a few years. You pose many interesting questions and trying to puzzle them out is definitely pushing my practice forward—thanks.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I think the “Taiji” of Taijiquan implies an inherent oneness in dualism that must be ever present. I also think that an aspect of Zhong Ding (“central equilibrium” or “settling on what is central”) implies an indifference to right and left, beginning and end, etc. that both encapsulates all extremes and denies their independent relevance. </font>
I agree. Well said.