What about those Spins?

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Mar 03, 2001 10:52 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tai1chi:
<B>Hi Louis,

thanks for sharing the quote. I wonder if you could answer a question about this part:

"Quickly, with the back of the right foot, kick the opponent's ribs, using transverse energy (heng jin)."

This "heng jin" (or "transverse energy") is special, isn't it? How would you relate it to other expressions of "transverse energy", as in "Brush Knee Twist Step"? I.e., does being on one leg or two make any difference?

Best,
Steve James </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Steve,

The word “heng” just means horizontal, transverse, or lateral. Here, it describes the pathway that the sweep movement follows. Fu Zhongwen’s form instructions for this sequence uses the same term. I don’t think being on one foot or two has any general bearing on the meaning of hengjin, as I have seen it used in other contexts where both feet are on the ground. Sometimes, for example, it is used to describe the shifting of the weight from one leg to the other after stepping—that is, one’s frame moves in a horizontal trajectory with no superfluous upward or downward motions.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Mon Mar 05, 2001 8:18 am

Hi Louis,

Thanks also for the quote. I had had this description in mind when I posted the question, but somehow I do not remember as much clarity or detail as you have supplied. This answers a lot of questions, and seems a fitting climax to the form.

As for the other kind responders to my post, I would love to see you execute the sweeps and spins you described. Perhaps we will meet one day at a seminar.

When I mentioned my confusion about possible applications of the spins as sweeps, it was because I have been taught only two types of spins. In high school wrestling, I was taught a sweep whereby I would use the sole of the foot of an empty leg to basically "palm" my opponents foot of the ground.

In Kempo Karate, I was taught to drop to the ground in a squat while sweeping one leg with the shin leading and then the other with the back of the leg leading as the supporting feet are switched and the spin continues in the same direction. The technique was relatively safe, because of the suddeness of the movement, the lowness of the stance, and the imminent threat to the opponent's stability. I really can't say my T'ai Chi spins generate enough power to mimic either of these techniques.

Many of you mentioned the 270 degree turn in Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. That was not in my original question because it neither involves a weighted pivot or removing the bubbling spring off the ground. I liked the comments, however, and had a semi-plausible application to offer. If after the first of the four stages of the posture, one envisions that the opponent puts great pressure on the blocking arm and begins to throw you to the right, you can go with the motion. Although this shows your back to the opponent, stealing the opponent's momentum might make the momentary vulnerability acceptable. One then continues the spin, leading the lifting and blocking right arm to meet whatever you may encounter from your blind side, and then you strike underneath.

By the way, no one addressed my question of rooting. When spinning on the heel of a weighted foot, do you shift your rooting through the heel, or do you act as if the bubbling spring were still in contact with the ground?

Audi
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Postby Steve » Mon Mar 05, 2001 11:22 pm

Michael,
Don't worry about your "misreadings." I sometimes have difficulty explaining things clearly in writing, so I appreciate the opportunity to work on my clarity. I enjoy the challenge. Part of learning from each other is the ability to accept criticism and adjust our understanding.

I'm glad you're feeling better Image

SB

[This message has been edited by Steve (edited 03-05-2001).]
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Mar 06, 2001 12:24 am

Audi,

For clarity in my answer to Charla, since she is beginning to learn Yang style from the Yang Family school, I omitted mentioning that I do the first to second shuttle as a weighted pivot.

Sorry about that! Image

David
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Postby tai1chi » Wed Mar 07, 2001 2:03 pm

Hi Audi,

you asked:

"By the way, no one addressed my question of rooting. When spinning on the
heel of a weighted foot, do you shift your rooting through the heel, or do
you act as if the bubbling spring were still in contact with the ground?"

You should wait for the official take on this, but -imho- in a previous post
I suggested that you should keep your foot flat (on the "bubbling spring"
point, if you will) and use your "intention" to determine whether the pivot
is on the heel or on the ball of the foot. Another thing you might consider
is this, imagine a your center line, if you pivot on the heel, your center
line moves to the rear. Vice versa for pivoting on the ball. There are
reasons to rotate forward and reasons to rotate to the rear. Using the heel
or ball or foot is a matter of the intended application/usage of the
rotation. Of course, there'll be more than one application.
Just an opinion,
Steve James
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Postby gene » Thu Mar 08, 2001 6:49 pm

Audi and everyone:

I think that some (not all) of the pivots and turns were included by the masters of old not for specific martial application, but principally to train agility. But I have an actual experience that I would like to relate. My first teacher, Sifu Al Bender, is not a traditional Yang stylist; he teaches Guang Ping and Northern Shaolin. I enjoy playing freestyle with him; because his roots are in Shaolin, he's extremely aggressive and tests my (meager) neutralization skills to the max. A couple of weeks ago, we were playing and he moved forward with a quick and aggressive hand technique aimed at my midsection. I stepped on a lateral line to my left, looking to take control of him from behind and maybe apply a press to him on a line of weak resistance. When he sensed my movement offline, he stopped on a dime and pivoted around on the ball of his left foot with left hand extended in a reverse split/strike - the mirror image of the pivot immediately preceding sweeping lotus kick in the 103 form. I agree that generally it's not a good idea to turn your back on an opponent, but in this case, I was already moving behind him. Because the strike originated in front of him, and his body was shielding my vision, I did not see the strike coming, so fortunately he had the control to stop short. It was quick and surprising, and, most importantly, it worked. As we analyzed it later, I came to the conclusion that, given his position and momentum, the strike he used was the most efficient line of attack at the time. I don't study Shaolin, but I have performed parts of the 103 for Al, and he says he can really see Shaolin roots in many of the movements. He also said that the pivot he used is very common in Shaolin. So while I would earlier have dismissed the pivot as pretty but generally impractical, now I'm not so sure.

Gene
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Postby Charla Quinn » Sun Mar 11, 2001 3:05 am

[QUOTE]Originally posted by DavidJ:

First I pivot my left foot about 135 degrees or so, step out with the right foot the remaining 135 degrees, then finish the left foot pivot, that's about 70 degrees to 90 degrees, depending.

One important thing here is that in the end of the first part of the pivot (at 135 degrees) the left foot points along a line that stays in front of the right foot. You don't want to get what I call 'cross footed,' where one foot points toward the other.

Thanks David for your answers to my questions (Yangfamily discussion board 3/3,etc.). Actually I goofed on my question with that pivot. I knew in practice I didn't go 270 degrees total with the left foot! However, in learning from the Yangs, so many of their pivots are complete in one fell swoop (movement), I was wondering if I had missed something and was supposed to pivot that lt. ft. all the way to its end position in one movement which is what I cannot do! I can go the 135, then with the weight shift/waist turn to the rt. I can then complete 90 more. In my previous form (different teacher/Yang style), we only pivoted 90 deg. on any of those kind of pivots--such as single whip from push and then finished the pivot with the weight shift/waist turn and interestingly, we always did weighted pivots in forward moves like the Brush Knees. I find now that taking a bit of the weight off before pivoting, which doesn't necessarily involve moving my whole body back, but rather just "loosening" the root on the forward part of the foot is a lot easier on my poor old and abused knees!
What I'm wondering, what difference does it make whether you do the whole pivot at once or pivot now/pivot more later? Before reading the discussion board I didn't realize how important the transitions are application wise--I've just viewed them as a way to get to the end of a move, albeit a precise way! Also, I've seen the pivots as that leg just following where the waist is going. Thanks again. CQ
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Postby DavidJ » Sun Mar 11, 2001 7:16 am

Hi Charla,

I think that almost all pivots are done in one fell swoop because it's not necessary to do them otherwise.

I think that the pivot between the first and second shuttles is done in two stages because it is more efficient to do it that way, not because it's necessary. It can be done in one stage.

Tai Chi works from strength, which includes the best leverage. If you look at the pivots this way they may make better sense.

You wrote, "Also, I've seen the pivots as that leg just following where the waist is going."
I think of it the other way around: the hips following the foot. This may sound like a small inconsequential point, but it's not.

David



[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 03-11-2001).]
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Postby Charla Quinn » Sun Mar 11, 2001 11:18 pm

[QUOTE]Originally posted by DavidJ:


"I think that almost all pivots are done in one fell swoop because it's not necessary to do them otherwise.
I think that the pivot between the first and second shuttles is done in two stages because it is more efficient to do it that way, not because it's necessary. It can be done in one stage." (David)

Really? This is confusing--how can two stages be more efficient than one? AND, I just don't see how its physically possible for someone to pivot that full 225 d. with the left ft. before stepping out with the rt. to the diagonal? Oh well, guess this is belaboring the pt.! CQ

"Tai Chi works from strength, which includes the best leverage. If you look at the pivots this way they may make better sense." (David)

Sorry, if I'm a little thick-headed, but I'm not sure what you mean here either. What does strength have to do with how far I can pivot (at least in this move)--seems likes it has more to do with the sung issue, how loose my waist is. Sometimes I feel like a corkscrew when I do these pivots! CQ


"I think of it the other way around: the hips following the foot. This may sound like a small inconsequential point, but it's not."
(David)

Here again, I'm confused. I thought I've been taught that the waist is what leads and the foot/leg are just following what the waist is doing. CQ Thanks David.
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Postby Michael Coulon » Mon Mar 12, 2001 5:57 pm

Charla,
I agree with your questioning of DavidJ's answars. They seem controdictory to the taiji principles that I have learned. A clarification by David would be nice.

In the move 'Fair Lady Works Shuttles' the turning motion is all generated by the waist movement. It is the turning and opening of the waist and hips that allow you to pivot the foot inward and then step out. As I have advocated before, all movement and energy originates from the waist. In the first and second turnings (corners) the left foot has to pivot in two stages. I do not see how it is physically possible to pivot the foot the entire approximately 270 dgrees without losing your foundation or turning the movement into a spin (which it is not).

The movement is precipitated by the sitting back into the right leg and the arms exhibiting pulling down energy. The waist leads the turning of the body and the left foot turns inward approximately 135 degrees. The application would entail your pulling your opponent off to the right. You are then shifting the weight into the left leg to allow the right leg to become insubstantial. The hips open up to the right allowing you to step out with the right foot to the next corner. The upper body performs a swiping motion with the arms (right under left) and you now have pulling energy in the left with ward off energy in the right. Finish the movement by shifting the weight forward and executing the ward off energy in the right arm while the left pushes out. As you shift forward the left foot corrects to the cardinal point, pivoting on the heel. I realize that this is a simplistic explanatin of the move.

Charla you are correct with the corkscrew analogy. As I said it is the waist that precipitates the movements. David's advocating of strength to get the best leverage seems controdictory the the essential of using mind intent instead of force. A clarification on David's part would be good.

Hope this is helpful
Michael
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Postby Michael Coulon » Mon Mar 12, 2001 6:14 pm

Audi,
Great question! I had not thought much about the spins in this manner before and much of what has been posted has been very helpful. Here is so information that I hope helps.

First, the spins you describe in (1) and (2) are pivoting on the heel, while (3) and (4) are pivoting on the ball of the foot. It is my understanding that this is due to the substantial vs. insubstantial nature of the foot pivoting on. In the first two you remain rooted on the leg you pivot on, thus you pivot on the heel. Pivoting on the heel gives you are firmer foundation and I find that itshould ideally be unneccessary to put the other foot or toe down to stabilize you in the next movement/posture. In the next two you transition your root to the other leg at the end of the spin, thus you spin on the ball of the foot. When you finish these movements you end up in a toe stance.

I beleive that the spins are generated from the waist and that the opening and the closing of the leg only help facilitate this energy.

Michael.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Mar 12, 2001 8:20 pm

Michael and Charla,

I would not be surprised to find that I do waist turns differently from the way you do them, because I have no trouble at all doing the full 225 degree pivot. This is doing it all in one move, either as a weighted, or as an unweighted pivot.

Perhaps the difficulty you find in doing the pivot in one fell swoop can point to what I meant when I said, "I think that the pivot between the first and second shuttles is done in two stages because it is more efficient to do it that way." Tai Chi is about efficient movement.

Michael wrote, "David's advocating of strength to get the best leverage seems controdictory the the essential of using mind intent instead of force." I'm advocating the best leverage in using strength.

The essential of using mind intent instead of force has much to do with awareness, and not meeting force with force, but redirecting another's force, and doing it efficiently. There are no admontions to not use your muscles.

Perhaps I should have said that Tai Chi moves/works from strength to strength.
Put your right hand against your sternum and try to push someone/something straight away from you. It's not easy because your elbow is closed, or nearly closed, and there is little leverage. Now move your hand eight or nine inches in front of your sternum and try the same push. You now have some strength because the elbow is open, giving you much better leverage.

It is the same at the other extreme. If your elbow or knee is straight you've very little leverage, hence the admonition to always have your knees and elbows bent. Strength is not a bad word in Tai Chi. It's all in how you apply the strength.
The same care for leverage and the application of strength is found throughout Tai Chi in how much, and when, the elbows and knees are bent. The structure found throughout Tai Chi is all predicated upon the best leverage for your strength.

As to my comment about the hips following the foot: the waist is central in tying the movements of the limbs together, but your root starts at the ground. If you wish to issue energy in a different direction from what is possible from where you are, you move your feet to accomodate the change in direction.

I hope that this clarifies what I meant.

David
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Postby Michael Coulon » Mon Mar 19, 2001 6:49 pm

David,
Thank you for the clarification on these issues. I think that we have different approaches to this move and that we would need to see each other perform the move to get a better understanding of these differences. Unfortunately, sometimes seeing is believing. Maybe sometime in the future we can meet at one of the seminars and compare notes.

Your further explanation on the usage of strength is better understood. I agree that we must have strong (heathly) bodies and that proper understanding of biomechanics and utilizing good leverage is important. Your first post implied forcing the leg around in the turn; this further information makes it clear that you are not forcing the leg but rather utilizing proper biomechanics.

I also agree that the issuance of energy starts from the ground and works its way up through the body. Proper footwork is important. I still hold to the idea that the foot gets to where it is going only by the movement of the waist and hips; all movement originates from the waist. It is the turning of the waist to the right and the opening of the hips that allows the leg and foot to get to its destination in the first place.

Michael.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Mar 19, 2001 10:24 pm

Hi Michael,

Putting Tai Chi things into words is akin to solving someone's Rubic's Cube over the phone; it's much easier to do in person.

You wrote, "I also agree that the issuance of energy starts from the ground and works its way up through the body. Proper footwork is important. I still hold to the idea that the foot gets to where it is going only by the movement of the waist and hips; all movement originates from the waist. It is the turning of the waist to the right and the opening of the hips that allows the leg and foot to get to its destination in the first place."

There are places in the long form where the hips and legs/feet turn together, and there are places where the shoulders and legs/feet move together, but there are many places where the shoulders and hips move in opposite directions.

Elsewhere today I wrote a little about waist turns. Do we do them the same way?

Part of this is how "waist turn" is defined, another part of this is how you look at it. We might not be disagreeing.

I can say, "all movement originates from the mind," would I be wrong?

You can look at it three basis ways - from the top down: mind first, then eyes, then hands/shoulders, hips/legs; or from the waist outward ; or from the bottom up: feet to knees, to hips, to shoulders, to elbows, to hands, to fingertips. All of these are correct.

Audi,

I think that part of what you're looking for, concerning the difference between spinning on the heel or spinning on the ball-of-the-foot, is found in understanding the direction of the spin. Ball-of-the-foot spins are outward, heel spins are inward.

David
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Postby Bob3 » Thu Mar 22, 2001 1:08 am

This has been a very interesting thread, to speculate about the spins in Tai Chi. I have been taught the Yang style form from a slightly different lineage, but perhaps more direct than most of these respondents.

The issue of spins has never arisen in the form I have been taught, since while the body re-orients itself in the movements listed, the rotation is accomplished around the hip joint. This is done by either moving the leg appropriately, or the body around the leg. The result is no real movement of the foot on the ball or heel of the foot. The obvious result is maintenance of the root of the foot, hence the strength and energy of the form are retained.

The movement around the hip joint is not very easy to accomplish and takes a significant amount of practice. The result though is a much more rooted form, and the opening of the hip joint to let energy flow freely. This is evident in the foot sweeps in the form as well as in such moves as the fair lady works the shuttles.

I did enjoy the translation of the description of the lotus kick from Yang Chengfu. It did make clear the intent of the almost circular movement made to address two opponents in the same move, when only one is fairly apparent. By moving the leg and foot as described above, the energy of the move can be maintained at both the 180 degree position and the eventual 270 or 360 degree position.
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