Posture Names

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Apr 04, 2001 6:41 am

Greeting Steve,

Long energy definitely implies movement, but it is movement that is soft, gradual, and extending forth with continuity. In Yang taijiquan theory, long energy is often associated with the method An (push), or with the An application within the Like Sealing, As if Closing sequence, but as you can see from Yang Zhenji’s discussion of Press, it comes into play in Ji as well. There is a good explanation of long energy (chang jin) in Chen Yanlin’s book on Yang style from 1943. Stuart Olson translates it in his _Intrinsic Energies of T’ai Chi Ch’uan_, and has some good notes. In Chen Yanlin’s essay, he refers to the line in the “Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures” about how one should “. . . move the qi as though through a pearl carved with a zigzag path (jiu qu zhu, literally, “nine-bend pearl”), reaching everywhere without a hitch.” I think this is particularly applicable to Press, since it requires a gradual, even issuing from the legs, kua, and waist, but where it comes out is only determined at the last instance, depending upon where the opponent’s center is at that moment.

This ties in with your question about where ji is “applied on the opponent’s body.” It can be applied anywhere on the opponent’s body. In a push hands scenario, the point of contact in applying ji is generally the opponent’s forearm or wrist, but the press is applied through that point of contact toward the opponent’s centerline.

With regard to form practice, I think it’s helpful to think of the concept of long energy, not only in the several instances of ji in the Grasp Sparrow’s Tail sequences, but also in the more subtle instances, such as the transitions between Lift Hands and White Crane Displays Wings, and between Needle at Sea Bottom and Fan Through Back.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Sun Apr 08, 2001 3:57 pm

Hi Louis,

Could you elaborate on how you see Long Energy in the two transitions you mentioned? Prior to your post, I had envisioned Long Energy has coming into play principally in applications designed to uproot an opponent through a push.

In Lifting Hands to White Crane, are you referring to the feeling of pulling the opponent in and down while you "stand tall" from the left foot to the crown of the head? In Needle at Sea Bottom to Fan through the Back, are you again referring to the feeling of "standing tall" as you recover from the folding of the waist?

I have read through portions of Intrinsic Energies of T’ai Chi Ch’uan several times. I would like to think I am deepening my understanding each time, but I fear I usually have more of a sense of having repeatedly having to discard outmoded ideas of what the various "energies" are.

Best regards,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Mon Apr 09, 2001 6:53 pm

Hi Louis,

"In Yang taijiquan theory, long energy is often associated with the method An (push), or with the An application within the Like Sealing, As if Closing sequence, but as you can see from Yang Zhenji’s discussion of Press, it comes into play in Ji as well. There is a good explanation of long energy (chang jin) in Chen Yanlin’s book on Yang style from 1943."

Thanks. I, too, have learned a similar perception of "long" energy and its relation to An. Funny thing, we never called it "chang" energy, but always "Anjin" However, it was generally taken that it could be associated specifically with the first four "method" (An, lu, etc), but with all the others as well. It certanly has the quality of "press down [while moving]" (as in English "press"). It also seems, imo, to be a reasonable method of considering the fact that "An" (the form movement) contains a forward and a backward movement --and in some styles, I believe these are reversed in "Like Sealing". I never learned of a specific "chang" energy, or called it such. My guess would be that there might be a corresponding "short" energy, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

Best,
Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Apr 12, 2001 6:29 am

Greetings Audi and Steve,

Audi, you wrote: “In Lifting Hands to White Crane, are you referring to the feeling of pulling the opponent in and down while you "stand tall" from the left foot to the crown of the head? In Needle at Sea Bottom to Fan through the Back, are you again referring to the feeling of "standing tall" as you recover from the folding of the waist?”

No, I’m referring to the actual potential use of ji as implied in these transitions. It’s probably most subtle in the Needle at Sea Bottom/Fan Through Back transition, where the left palm draws near the right forearm (toward an imagined opponent on one’s right flank) as the right palm is turning out, and the waist is unfolding. There is a suggestion of ji there, just before the direction of the left palm changes to thrust directly forward (Yang Chengfu actually describes the movement of the palm strike here as chongkai “bursting open,” and says that its “continuous energy thrusts forth toward the opponent’s ribs.”) So, I think that the “nine-bend pearl” imagery here is particularly apt. In transitioning from Needle at Sea Bottom to Fan Through Back there is this implied ji in one direction, with the attendant “closing” (hejin), and then a smooth change to the “opening” (kaijin) of the two palms spreading, one thrusting forward, one drawing back. The “long energy” (changjin) strings it all together.

The ji is more explicit in the transition between Lift Hands Upward and White Crane Displays Wings. There is first a roll back (lu), then, as the weight shifts to the re-positioned right leg, there is a ji-like posture. Yang Zhenduo makes reference to this on p. 53 of his _Zhong Guo Yang Shi Taiji_, saying that the movement “contains the intention of ji” (han you ji yi). There are also photos of him demonstrating the ji application of this transition on pages 175-76. To me, the “long energy” idea here means that there is more going on than a shifting of weight to the right leg—there is a definite “path” and a configuration of force into the ji posture prior to the turn into White Crane. Again recalling Yang Zhenji’s words: “Long energy (changjin) is the entire body from the feet to the legs, then the waist, expressed in the hands and arms, and strung together into one jin, extending the waist and lengthening forth to issue.”

As to reading the Chen Yanlin material translated in _Intrinsic Energies of T’ai Chi Ch’uan_, and I guess this is in response to both Audi and Steve, I’ve come to think that much of the kind of taiji theory and language found therein should not be approached as “definitions” or description of objective phenomena. Rather, it is more like mappings of subjective experience. These experiential mappings are to be approached as correlative, analogical ways of expression. Rather than addressing “what the various ‘energies’ are,” they address “what they are like.”

This is just my take on it, I hasten to add.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Apr 12, 2001 4:50 pm

Hi Jerry and Louis,

I like the translations and commentary that you have posted.

Would you both consider putting together a glossary of terms and posting it here?

I get a lot out of reading bits and pieces translated, but then I run across a Chinese term and I don't remember what it means. At times this can be very frustrating. I don't know about others, but a glossary would be vey helpful to me in this regard.

I realise that this might take up more time than you have available, but it looks like you guys enjoy the work, and I think that you might enjoy working together. The result might be useful to you, too.

David
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Postby Kevin Wallbridge » Tue May 01, 2001 7:27 pm

One interesting thing to consider about Ji-Jin, is that it has been compared to barging in, or elbowing/shouldering in. If you consider that in the Dalu elbow and shoulder substitute for Ji, the image of squeezing into a crowded place may one of the most complete.

Another interesting aspect of looking at the relationship between the square and the corner (beng-lu-ji-an/cai-lie-zhou-kou) is the relationship between An and Cai. An may be used to load a person into their own base to engender an upward force out of their legs, which when released gives them a light quality which is easily moved. Essentially this can be done by reaching though their Dantian.

With Cai the energy can be thought of as heading the opposite direction. The pluck closes or draws into you own Dantain to lift them out of their base more directly (and perhaps somewhat more crudely, hence Cai is not one of the four sides of the square).
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Postby DavidJ » Fri May 04, 2001 7:02 pm

Hi Louis and Steve, (and others),

In these discussions about jin I've been gathering the impression that the different names are talking about the same energy, but in different directions.

The idea I have is that when the hands are moving in the same direction the jin is unified, like upward, to the side, downward, forward; and when the hands are moving in different directions the jin is named for that difference, like when the hands move towards each other it would be 'squeeze,' the hands moving away from each other would be 'split,' etc.

Does the idea make sense in terms of the Chinese characters used?

Does this make sense to you in general in terms of doing Tai Chi Chuan?

Thanks,

David

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 05-04-2001).]
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Postby tai1chi » Sat May 05, 2001 7:24 am

Hi David,

you wrote:

"The idea I have is that when the hands are moving in the same direction the jin is unified, like upward, to the side, downward, forward; and when the hands are moving in different directions the jin is named for that difference,"

Wow, this is complicated. In general, I don't think one could necessarily judge by the hands. The hands do "manifest" jin, but they don't necessarily "indicate" the use or direction of "jin." For example, the hands may stay in the same position and the direction of the forces involved could be opposite. Imagine two semicircles like this ( ). Imagine that one has a direction, circling clockwise; and the other is circling counter-clockwise. Now reverse the semicircles like so ) (. At some point the circles are moving towards each other; at others, away. So, for example, this )( can change to this () can change to this ( ).
Anyway, the hands may be circling toward each other and produce "ji" (i.e., squeeze)while the body shifts forward("long energy"). Or they may, as been pointed out, produce "squeeze" in a movement such as "Lift hands." Still again, the hands may make very big circles and produce "squeeze." From what you wrote, I'd guess that "Slant flying" might be considered a "split." But, one way to differentiate "SF" from "Part Wild Horse's Mane" (in some styles) is the way one hand, the right, circles inside then outside to complete movement. Anyway, my point is that the hands circle toward each other, then away. If they were close together, however, they'd be squeezing. Oh well, words are inadequate, and this are just idle opinions.

you also wrote:

"like when the hands move towards each other it would be 'squeeze,' the hands moving away from each other would be 'split,' etc.""

IMHO, the same principle holds here. Though, I'd also argue, imo, that "split" and the other "corners" are "short energies" that can/do exist in the others. So, both "SF" and "PWHM" can/do contain "kao," for example. My present understanding of "split" is to think of it as "splitting" or dividing the opponent's "energy:, or his arm -in many usual applications. It doesn't necessarily mean "kai" or open as opposed to the implicit sense, to me, of "ji" as compress or squeeze. Not to say that "split" can't be used as a movement to open, just that, ime, "split" is often used in "close" and in a way that is more like closing. "Intercept" is obviously not an appropriate translation, but --again imo and ime-- the short energies are best used in between the opponent's long ones. If you know what I mean. Well, I have seen people practice "kao" against "kao" in training.

"Does the idea make sense in terms of the Chinese characters used?"

I'd be very interested in Lousis and Jery's take on this.

Best,
Steve James
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Postby tai1chi » Tue May 08, 2001 4:43 pm

Hi All,

A post on another board leads me to ask more specific questions about the translation of "Split." Can "lieh" (split?) also be translated as "tear", or does another word have that meaning? I ask because "tearing" is an important principle in some xingyi styles, and I can understand it in that context. "Tearing" usually suggests an "opening" as opposed to a "closing" movement. But, I was thinking in terms of tjq theory and terminology. I am just wondering how far the metaphor for "split" can be taken. BTW, the tjq idea that, ime, comes closest to xingyi "tear" is something like "tsai"/ "chai", or "pluck."

Best,
Steve James
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Postby Audi » Sun May 13, 2001 9:48 pm

Hi David, Steve, Louis and everyone else,

Dave, thanks for the vote of confidence about the glossary, but I fear I lack the qualifications and time to attempt anything comprehensive. If you have a particular list of words in mind, however, I might be able to give it a shot for others to pick apart.

Steve and Dave, as for the terminology describing the various jins, I can add the following. The term "jin" itself gives no linguistic clues as to the T'ai Chi uses of this term, other than a connotation of integration, as dicussed earlier on other threads. The short tag I would give the term would be "integrated strength or power."

As for peng, lu (with two dots on the "u"), ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, and kao, all of these characters can apparently be written with a picture of a hand on the left side (the hand radical) that looks like a "t", except with the bottom hooking toward the left and an extra crossing stroke near the bottom of the stem that slants upward from left to right. In my meager reading of T'ai Chi in Chinese, I have seen the hand radical used in the characters for "zhou" and "kao" only in Yang Zhen Duo's book when he quotes from his father's book. The significance of the presence of this radical is that all the characters would be seen as basically indicating hand manipulations or techniques. This should not be taken too literally, however, because there are many instances in Chinese where characters have taken on or always had expanded or figurative meanings that go beyond what the composition of the character would indicate.

Here are my operating definitions based on linguistic grounds. "Peng" would be to "manipulate something to provide shelter for something." "Lu" is problematic, but my best guess would be that it "means" to "manipulate with constant pressure, as if trodding slowly on something or stroking it." "Ji" would be to "squeeze either the hands or different energies together." "An" would be to "press onto something." "Cai" would be to "pluck" something. "Zhou" would be to "manipulate with the shoulder." "Kao" would be to "bump up against something."

"Lie" is somewhat problematic. I posed a brief question to Yang Jwing Ming about this character at his stall during one of the Zhang San Feng Festivals at the T'ai Chi Farm. He said that the character was unique to T'ai Chi. I can confirm that there are three graphically related characters with the same pronunciation, and I have been unable to find the T'ai Chi one in any dictionaries.

Homophones are extremely common in Chinese and graphical similarity only occasionally indicates that the spoken words are etymologically related. Sometimes, in fact, related spoken words (in classical and modern Chinese) have been expressed by graphically unrelated characters.

Of the three characters I refer to above, the basic one is a picture of a vertebra on the left and a knife blade on the right and is thought to convey an idea of "cut up or butcher a piece of meat in the proper sequence (vertebra by vertebra?)." The basic meaning, however, is to arrange in order or in a row.

The T'ai Chi character adds the hand radical to the left of this, which would indicate a meaning something like "manipulate something into order or in a row." This putative meaning seems prettly unhelpful for T'ai Chi practice, however.

The third character adds a picture of a gown (the clothing radical) under the vertebra and the knife blade and means to split or tear (open or in two) and can refer to fruits, seeds, skin, vessels, clothing, etc. As far as I know, it does not refer to "tearing off," but I defer to Jerry, Louis, or other real Chinese speakers on this point. Given that the oral tradition has given "split" as the meaning of the T'ai Chi character, I believe that the third character, rather than the first one (to arrange in order), is the one that gives the T'ai Chi character its meaning.

I personally gloss T'ai Chi "lie" as meaning "to bisect lines of energy (force vectors) or to use energy in opposing directions to set up a rotation." An example of the first would be to use roll back ("lu") and pluck ("cai") with one arm to extend the opponent's arm and then to use your other forearm to break your opponent's elbow. An example of the second would be "Parting Wild Horses Mane," where you can step to the side and rear of your opponent with one leg and use your lower arm to topple the opponent over your thigh.

I have read many descriptions of the four square or straight (zheng1) energies (peng, lu, ji, and an) that relate them primarily to directions: up, back (or sideways), forward, and down, respectively. I personally do not find any real support for this linguistically, although I do not see any inherent obstacles to such interpretations. I do not like them because I see nothing uniquely evocative of T'ai Chi techniques or strategy to such descriptions.

As I reconsider this position while writing this, perhaps it is best to think of these energies has having four typical components: a situation, a hand and arm shape, a mental focus (jin point?), and a direction.

Starting from the push hands routines, which were designed to practice the four square energies, one could view the energies this way. The situation for using generalized peng energy would be keeping the opponent away from one's center, by aborbing his or her energy and returning it to him or her. The characteristic shape would be keeping one's arm in an arc to provide maximum protection, with the hand higher than the elbow and the pinky side of the palm rotated slightly inward and upward to best connect the arm to the body. The focus of the mind would be the outer surface of the forearm from elbow to wrist, and the direction would be outward from one's center.

Specific peng energy would differ from the generalized peng energy as follows. The situation would be receiving an attack above one's arms and diverting the opponent's energy upward off its most powerful trajectory and circling it back into the opponent. The shape would be the same. The mental focus would change to the thumb edge of the forearm near the wrist. And the characteristic direction would change to upward.

In "lu" (roll back), the situation would be diverting the opponent's mid-level attacking energy to the side and to the rear. The shape would start the same as in "peng," but would change by rotating the palm upward and dropping the elbow slightly. Also the other forearm comes into play to assist, as one's side becomes exposed. The mental focus is on the back of the forearm, wrist, and hand of the primary arm and on the pinky edge and inner side of the assisting arm. The direction is sideways and rearward.

In "ji," the situation would be dealing with having one's side exposed and diverting the attacking energy forward into the opponent. The shape would be using one arm and hand to increase the ward off energy and shape in the other hand. The focus would be on the outside of the ward off arm and wrist and on the palm heel of the assisting hand. The typical direction would be forward.

In "an," the situation would be needing to confront an attack below the arms or from the outside, as in an attempted two-hand choke. The shape would be using the seated elbows and wrists of both hands independently, but linked through the mid back. The focus would be on the fingers, palms, and palm heels. The direction would be downward.

All of these techniques seem geared to solving recurring problems in push hands or close-in fighting or clinching. The four elements would be varied, depending on the specific application, the position and intention of the opponent, etc. With this interpretation, no one element would define these energies, but rather the combination of all of them in their infinite variation.

The four diagonal (or corner)(yu4) energies, cai (pluck), lie (split), zhou (elbow), and kao (shoulder stroke or bump), would be supplemental techniques that round out the square (or straight) energies. "Cai" would add grasping to extend the opponents energy out of his or her root. "Lie" would add intersection of energy vectors to split joints or set up body rotations. "Zhou" (literally, "elbow") would add use of the elbow, and "kao" (literally, "be next to", "lean on," "oppose") would add use of the torso through the shoulder, back, or hip.

As I understand it, all the eight primary energies are present in each of the form postures to varying degrees and, as such, should not be thought of as completely separate. An attempt to apply this logic to a posture such as roll back would be as follows.

You are standing with arms at the side and your opponent attempts to shove you with both hands or punch to your mid section with the left hand. You then use "peng" energy in your left arm by circling the left arm vertically counterclockwise to lift the opponent's arm off target with the thumb side of the wrist and forearm while aborbing some of the energy. You then use "lu" by stepping back with the left leg to further yield and absorb, turn the waist to the left and return some of the energy to the side as you stick to the attacking wrist with the outside of your left arm. As your side becomes exposed you use your right forearm to stick to the opponent's elbow. You then use "cai" by snaking your left arm counterclockwise around the opponent's arm and grasping and twisting it lightly by the wrist to extend the opponent's arm and energy to the rear and side. You use "ji" to squeeze your hands slightly towards each other and lock the opponent's elbow joint. You use "an" by pressing the opponent's forearm downward with your forearm and further drawing him or her out of his or her root. You use "lie" by drawing the opponent's energy out with the left arm and splitting through the elbow joint either to dislocate it or to use leverage to bounce the opponent out. You use "zhou" by reposition your right elbow to adjust or perform the right forearm techniques. "Kao" is inherent in rotating the whole body counterclockwise to add force to the right arm techniques or to perform them directly if the right arm gets out of position.

In addition to the eight primary energies, there would, of course, be other energies or qualities used in this one application, such as listening, understanding, adhering, sticking, transforming, seizing, issuing, filing, short snapping, long drawing out, suddeness, etc.

Steve, you referred to the corner energies as "short." Can you elaborate on this point? I believe I have heard descriptions of "zhou" as "short and fierce," and I believe I recall Horacio as quoting Yang Zhen Duo as referring to "lie" as being like a dragon fly skipping off the surface of water. I do not recall anything similar that is said about "kao" or "cai." In fact, I have always thought of "kao" as requiring "long energy" because of the particular need to bring energy up from the feet. Do you (or does anyone else) have a useful definition of "short" energy?

Louis, I like your comment about these definitions setting forth subjective mapping of the experiences, rather than describing objective phenomena. I have forgotten this too often to my detriment.

Recently, I was at a seminar of a T'ai Chi master in New Jersey. He was having the students explore an application of the Beginning (or Arising) Posture of his style in which the opponent is grabbing both of your wrists, which are hanging down by your sides. You then raise both arms diagonally forward and upward in arcs, like two parentheses, while circling and twisting the wrists with the thumb sides inward, downward, then outward (i.e., leading with the pinky side). This uproots and forces the opponent to his or her rear.

I was having trouble performing this applicating and tried all sorts of variant angles of arcs and twists. I was advised by my partner to sink more, but I avoided following this advice, because I knew that even if I sank by tailbone to the floor, it would not change my lack of feeling. Also, I am fairly strong and knew that I could use brute strength and changes in my body positioning to move my partner without gaining any T'ai Chi insight.

The teacher saw my difficulty. Rather than giving me any physical advice, he told me that my mental focus was too internal and not sufficiently on my opponent. Also, he mentioned that all I should be trying to do is use my open back to close my opponent's back. With this advice, I immediately understood what was wrong, moved my arms only a few inches to uproot my partner and could feel a difference of night and day. The teacher looked me in the eye and said: "Now you've got it."

Although I needed a physical approach to learn the technique, a purely physical approach would never have been sufficient for me. Also, such an approach could never sufficiently take into account variations in arm length, the strength of the opponents grip, the strength exerted by their wrists, elbows, and shoulders, the degree of tension in their mid back, etc.

Respectfully submitted,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Mon May 14, 2001 12:22 am

Hi Audi,

you asked:

"Steve, you referred to the corner energies as "short." Can you elaborate on this point? I believe I have heard descriptions of "zhou" as "short and fierce," and I believe I recall Horacio as quoting Yang Zhen Duo as referring to "lie" as being like a dragon fly skipping off the surface of water. I do not recall anything similar that is said about "kao" or "cai." In fact, I have always thought of "kao" as requiring "long energy" because of the particular need to bring energy up from the feet. Do you (or does anyone else) have a useful definition of "short" energy?

Well, I'd be happy to go into more detail with you off-list, but I'll say that, ime, "corner" "energies" (if we can use the terms for the sake of explanation here) are all "shorter" than the other four. In one sense, they generally emit their energy closer to the body's center. Clearly, this can be seen in a comparison of "kao" and "ji", etc. They also generally use more abrupt changes in direction, as in "cai". In some respects, this abruptness allows them to effect the opponent in a "shorter" amount of time. Maybe a good word to describe it is "sudden." As for using "kao" with "long" energy, I think it's very hard to accomplish. OK, none of this means that the "short" energies can't be lengthened, or that the "long" energies can't be used suddenly. Anyway, just my .02.

Best,
Steve James
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Postby DavidJ » Tue May 22, 2001 12:41 am

Hi Audi,

Thanks for your post, and the insights into the Chinese ideas. I am building a list of terms that I'd like more information about, but it'll take a while; I'll post it later.

Regarding "split" an image that I've been given applies when one hand passes over the other in 'Repulse th Monkey.' It is an image of tearing meat apart.

Another idea of split is from American slang: to leave, as in, "Let's split this joint." Image

Regarding the four corners, "Cai" "Zhou"
"Kao" "Lie" I think that they all relate to secondary application techniques.
For example, "shouldering." The main use of this that I was shown was that after striking with the hand, and the elbow, the shoulder could be used directly.
Part of this was the understanding of the rule: when moving forward always have a hand in front of you. This precludes leading with the shoulder.

Part of what you wrote about jin and direction seems contradictory. You wrote, > I have read many descriptions of the four square or straight (zheng1) energies (peng, lu, ji, and an) that relate them primarily to directions: up, back (or sideways), forward, and down, respectively. I personally do not find any real support for this linguistically, although I do not see any inherent obstacles to such interpretations. I do not like them because I see nothing uniquely evocative of T'ai Chi techniques or strategy to such descriptions. <
But later you wrote, > In "lu" (roll back), the situation would be diverting the opponent's mid-level attacking energy to the side and to the rear [snip] The direction is sideways and rearward. <

Could you clarify what you mean?

Thanks again for the post.

David
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Postby Audi » Sat May 26, 2001 5:21 pm

Hi Steve and David,

Steve, thanks for a clear and convincing explanation of "short" and "long" energies. I think I will find this very helpful in shaping how I focus on various aspects of the postures.

David, good pun about "splitting the joint." Speaking of such energies, I am curious as to whether you would view Parting Wild Horses Mane as having the shoulder or hand leading? I guess I agree with the rule you state about having a hand in front of you and not generally "leading" with the shoulder. However, I think I view such things in terms of feeling energy vectors. If I am trying to move energy from my feet through my hands, leading with my shoulder would involve putting an unacceptable kink in the energy flow. On the other hand, if the basic movement of the energy involves an uncurling movement or if my hands and elbows are unavailable for use, focusing energy through my back and shoulders seems appropriate.

As for my explanation of the four square/straight energies, I fear consistency is not one of my strong points and confess to some contradiction in what I said. Let me try to clarify what I meant to convey.

If peng, lu, ji, and an are only about direction, what is the point? Every martial art or health practice I am aware of has upward, downward, sideward, and forward components. Why merely practice moving energy in these directions? How would one do so?

As I tried to express in the second posting you quoted from, I think that the "directionality" of these primary energies is only one of several components (others being how the hand and arms are characteristically moved, the focus of the contact ("'jin' point"), what you are typically trying to accomplish by the movement, etc.)

Louis mentioned the subtle application of ji energy in Fan through the Back, when the hands come together just before the strike. Ji is typically described as the "forward" of the four square/straight energies, but how is such a view helpful or even literally descriptive of the movement Louis describes?

To begin to appreciate what Louis may be suggesting, I would instead advocate feeling such things as how the left hand joins and squeezes into the right wrist to unit with the rising peng/ward off energy in the right arm, how both arms form an expanding circular shape, how your left arm seems to guide the rotation of the circle, and how your whole body rises and straightens up to perform the movement in what I now understand to be an aspect of "long" energy.

In performing this move in the form, I also focus on my left palm heel and the inner right side of my right hand as "'jin' or power/energy points." In rising, I see one of my tasks as using my waist/lower spine to line up the jin/power produced in my feet with the jin points in my hands. Of course, none of the other requirements are relaxed, but I feel I have to focus on something to bring it all together.

To take another example, the way the Yangs perform the pushing component of Push in Grasp Sparrow's Tail involves a clear forward and upward trajectory, yet "an" is supposed to be "downward." I reconcile this be viewing the essence of "an" energy as the smothering downward pressing movement (including its transforming/neutralizing (hua), seizing/capturing (na), and issuing (fa) components) of the palms. The peak of this process happens as your weight is shifted to the rear. The forward and upward "shove" is only a continuation of the previous energy movment and not the crucial aspect.

In short, I see direction as only one of several components of the four primary energies and often not the most important one. Many T'ai Chi principles can be reduced to very simple statements that are true only if viewed in very specific ways, but which can be reduced to meaninglessness or even obscured into something else if taken in the wrong sense. I guess this is my feeling about saying something like peng is upward energy, lu is sideward energy, ji is forward energy, and an is downward energy.

Is any of this helpful?

Best regards,
Audi


[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 05-26-2001).]
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Postby tai1chi » Sat May 26, 2001 7:57 pm

Hi Audi,

fwiw, I don't necessarily take the "squares" and "corners" to be purely "directions." That is, unless you mean "vectors of force", which they could be, but that's not your argument. I suppose the problem you see is that "peng", or "kao," for ex, aren't limited to any specific direction. Ok, first the obvious; we are given clear instructions about "advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, and central equilibrium." Within these, any tjq movement can (must?)be performed. If you want to consider "Lu" a "jin," then this jin is expressed somewhere within that context. When one is standing in a left foot "forward stance," Lu will have a direct (and directional)relation to what you do next. FWIW, if you stay in the same position and "retreat, gazing right", you will be doing "Lu." If you "retreat, looking left", it will be "cai." One is a "long" shift back; the other is "short." Anyway, that would be the overly simplified answer because, "directions" are all "relative." If you shift your feet, you will change the ways you can apply "peng, lu, ji, an", etc. Well, I can't hope to address you more technical questions. I believe the potential for expressing any "jin", energy, force, is apparent in any posture or movement. For example, some might argue that all tjq movements that use the hands have some "An," but that's not the same as "An" in the form. It's an expression, not a posture, imho. Some might also point out that any shift backward can be used as "Kao" in reverse. Personally, I take the directions as a template, like a drawing of a square box with lines going through the center, and connecting the corners. But, we are 3D beings, and the template infintely more complicated, but theoretically reducible to "yin and yang."
Oh well, that's just my take on it. YMMV.
Steve James
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Postby DavidJ » Sun May 27, 2001 8:18 am

Hi Audi, and everybody,

I see 'Parting the Wild Horse's Mane' as having the hand leading. For me, this is a move that clearly shows a 'spiral' aspect of movement, where it opens like a flower. Generally speaking, if all you can do is apply the shoulder, then do it, but don't try to put yourself in a position to apply it.
> If peng, lu, ji, and an are only about direction, what is the point? <

Awhile ago I did a study breaking down the direction of movement of the hands and feet and body (during the long form) and it lead me directly to a much greater understanding of the principles behind the timing of the moves. And from a certain vantage timing is what it is all about.

In March Louis Swain posted Yang Chen Fu's "Turn Body Sweep Lotus" translation which included, "using transverse energy (heng jin)." I see the direction aspects in a similar fashion to the way I see the different palms. Useful partial descriptions.

I think that the different jins are all the same energy used in a different manner. This manner depends on the symmetry of our bodies and the mechanics of our musculoskeletal system.

> Every martial art or health practice I am aware of has upward, downward, sideward, and forward components. Why merely practice moving energy in these directions? How would one do so? <

I think you may be looking at it too much in the abstract. Being three dimensional, isn't it logical that activities that we do would have three dimensional components?
Isn't the point to learn to issue energy in any direction from any position?

> I think that the "directionality" of these primary energies is only one of several components (others being how the hand and arms are characteristically moved, the focus of the contact ("'jin' point"), what you are typically trying to accomplish by the movement, etc.) <

I agree. I think I use "directionality" as a hook to hang it on. Like in the old westerns: "Where'd he go?" "He went thataway."
When you throw a ball do you look at the ball or at the target?

> To take another example, the way the Yangs perform the pushing component of Push in Grasp Sparrow's Tail involves a clear forward and upward trajectory, yet "an" is supposed to be "downward." I reconcile this be viewing the essence of "an" energy as the smothering downward pressing movement (including its transforming/neutralizing (hua), seizing/capturing (na), and issuing (fa) components) of the palms. The peak of this process happens as your weight is shifted to the rear. The forward and upward "shove" is only a continuation of the previous energy movment and not the crucial aspect. <

I think of it similarly. The initially-downward redirection of an incoming whatever, while pulling out of the way, is a continuous thing, and the forward/upward pressure is started by the downward pressure. I think that the shove is crucial, but maybe the jin is "named" after the downward aspect since that is the major part of the beginning of this redirection.

Anyway, I think of the two moves 'Pull Back' and 'Push,' as one. The hands go up and back, back and down, down and forward briefly, then forward and up. How would you say, "Describe a kind of a fat wing shape, with the flat part 25 to 35 degrees from the horizontal, in the air in front of you with you hands," in Chinese?

> Many T'ai Chi principles can be reduced to very simple statements that are true only if viewed in very specific ways, but which can be reduced to meaninglessness or even obscured into something else if taken in the wrong sense. <

I agree with this.
I'm only trying to put things in English, and it can be very difficult.
Sometimes we seem to be like the blind men and the elephant, each in touch with a different part, but maybe between us we can arrive at a workable picture of the elephant.

I don't know if the distinctions I'm making are useful to you. I hope that they are.

Best regards,

David
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