form in 20 minutes?

Postby Wushuer » Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:47 pm

As stated, no disrespect to James Fu. I simply find it hard to believe that this quote is in context, or was ever made.
So what if a form takes 24 hours? Can anyone explain to me why that would no longer be TCC? Boring, certainly, but why would it not be TCC? Are you doing TCC when you do horse stance meditations? The only movement I know of in that meditation is energy circulation throughout the body. What about Little Sky? These are all part of training TCC. There is no external movement during these meditations, yet they are TCC.
To say that if you're not moving you're not doing TCC seems to be over simplifying the issue, at best.
There are plenty of times you are not moving yet are still doing TCC. What about the beginning of TCC? Before you start to raise hands you are standing perfectly still, yet you are doing TCC. What about the ending of TCC, where you stand and wait for a while before you disengage? Is this not TCC?
According to everyone I've spoken to it is a necessary part of the forms as taught. It is stillness, you are not moving. If it is necessary then it is part of TCC and therefore stillness is part of TCC.
How could the statement that doing a 24 hour form would move you so slowly that you lose "principals" even be accurate? Are we losing pricipals at the beginning and end of the forms where we are still?
If so then why do we do this?
How could you lose the "principals" just because you are moving very slowly? Are they not still principals just because they go slower? Is being upright and centered, holding your head just right, keeping your shoulders and elbows lowered, keeping hips tucked in, your kua opened, all these things we call "principals", are they invalid simply because we are standing still or moving extremely slow?
Again, these statements seem spurious, at best.
To train a form for 24, 48, 72, ad infinitum, hours will not, in my opinion, train the form any better. However, as long as these "principals" are maintained then you are doing TCC if you're standing perfectly still or if you're moving at a hundred miles a minute.
Otherwise, what's the point of the principals? Why have them if they are invalid simply because of the speed at which you are moving, or not moving?
I feel that this statement by James Fu is either being mis-quoted, or is being taken out of context.
I know nothing of James Fu. I honor his grandfather as a disciple of YCF. However his grandfather is not being attributed with this statement, he is. IF, I'll say it again, IF he made this statement, descendant of YCF's disciple or not, he was either not thinking it through logically, was making a statement trying to disuade a student from spending a month of forevers dragging out forms for no particular reason, or was simply incorrect.
As I don't know the history of the statement or the level of accomplishment of James Fu (hey, my grandad was a welder, I couldn't weld together two peices of steel to save my life, just because grandpa's good at something does NOT mean his grandkid became an automatic expert by osmosis of birthright)
I simply have to say that this is not correct.
Think it through people. Apply some logic to what we are talking about.
Going slower does NOT make something no longer be TCC. Can't, or the whole shooting match is out the airlock.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Aug 29, 2003 3:24 pm

Hello All,

This recent debate, which I find very interesting, has lead me to ask a specific question...


Are there any definitions of Taijiquan in print from Yang Cheng Fu or James Fu ?
Other master's definitions of what Taijiquan really is?
Are there some 'classical' quotations describing the definition of Taijiquan as such?
Also, how would you define Taijiquan personally?

Best regards,
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:38 pm


I think you got me wrong, or I was nit clear.

What I describe is not what I call "adverse effects". The "red mottled skin" is what a good set of Wild Goose chigung would give one. It tends to be an indicator of good "chi flow". This is not a deep red, but similiar to a very, very light sun burn. It goes away rather rapidly. It usually covers my hands, forearms, upper chest and neck--have not checked my lower extremeties. There is no breathing problem associated with it.

When I do a fast set I have no persperation. Only when doing a good slow set. Even though I describe can these slow sets as "endurance" sets, I feel no weakness or strain unless I am practicing very low. I am more comfortable then than I am at any other time, seriously.

practice slow so we can be fast is what it is about
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Aug 29, 2003 5:55 pm

Greetings Michael,

Thank-you for clarifying, I will consider this new information for a while. Image

Also, I'm sorry for the misuse of the expression 'adverse effects', I will choose my words more carefully in future.

Best regards,
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Aug 29, 2003 6:20 pm

Hi Psalchemist, Wushuer, All,

oops, first off, the stuff about "24" hour forms was my exaggeration, not Fu's. I'm certainly in no position to put words into his mouth. And, I think it would be necessary to ask him what he thought of a twenty-four hour form; however, we apparently have his thoughts on forms that last 40 minutes to an hour. I don't know the context of the statement --maybe César could provide it. My opinion on what Fu thinks is tcc (or tcc is0, and why he used that phrase is no more than speculation.

Wushuer, as to the logic of the 24 hour form, you are right. If I stand in Wuji from sunup to sunset, I could say I was practicing tcc. Fair enough. I also think that someone looking on might disagree. If that person has never practiced tcc, and has no experience with the theory, etc., I might just dismiss his opinion. If I respected his experience, then I might at least acknowledge his opinion, even if I disagreed.

Well, even if he would not be able to speak for the tcc that I was doing, he'd be quite qualified to speak for his own. That means, to him, it's not something that he would call tcc. Other people have the right to their own definitions.

Gee, I didn't want to argue about slowness or the definition of tcc.

Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:16 pm


In the 1984 British movie, “Nuts in May,” the hippie vegetarian couple, Keith and Candice-Marie are eating lunch in their campsite, and Candice-Marie, with some hesitancy, questions Keith on his rule that each bite of food should be chewed 72 times. She remarks that 72 times may be right for some foods, but that she noticed that when eating some kinds of food like berries, the food slipped down her throat quite nicely well before the requisite 72 chews had been completed.

Keith, who happened to be chewing at the time, listened to Candice-Marie’s argument with some effort. It was clear from his expression that he found her presentation persuasive, but that he was uncomfortable about the challenge to his cherished dogma. A long pause ensued while he continued to chew conscientiously, evidently closing in on chew number 72, and finally swallowing with some deliberation. “What do you think, Keith?” asked Candice-Marie. He finally answered reluctantly, but with the full bloom of authority in his voice, “One has to use one’s discretion.”

In spite of himself, Keith had managed to speak wisely on the matter.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:40 pm


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Postby psalchemist » Sat Aug 30, 2003 12:08 pm

10. Seek quiescence within movement.

"External martial artists prize leaping and stopping as skill, and they do this till breath(chi) and strength are exhausted, so that after practicing they are all out of breath.
In Taiji we use quiescence to overcome movement, and even in movement still have quiescence. So when you practice the form, the slower the better! When you do it slowly your breath becomes deep and long, the chi sinks to the cinnabar field(dan1 tian2) and naturally there is no deleterious constriction or enlargement of the blood vessels. If the student tries carefully he may be able to comprehend the meaning behind these words. "
(#10 of the ten essentials)
The 10 essentials of Taijiquan - Orally transmitted by Yang Cheng fu, recorded by Chen Weiming.

I was re-reading the Yang family 10 essentials this morning and thought I should add this quotation to the present discussion.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 08-30-2003).]
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Aug 30, 2003 8:41 pm

Hi Psalchemist,

I think Louis's story is appropriate to this no? Do you think that "slower is better" means either that 72 chews are necessary, or that 72,000 would be better?

Anyway, the quote also brings up the matter of breathing. It is said that the breath should match the movements. Specifically,

"Breathing is attuned to each of the movements of the body opening and closing. Inhale on opening, exhale on closing." ... During inhaling, the ch'i goes inside but does the lifting, and during exhaling, it goes out but sinks because Taichi breathing is based on prenatal (hsien tien) ch'i. That is why it is a form of meditation. Such exercise can surely keep your body healthy."

Anyway, maybe this has some relation to the discussion.

Steve James
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Aug 31, 2003 12:35 am

Hello Steve James,

Actually, my posting of the quote provided from Yang Cheng Fu was meant as an independant comment...with no reference to Louis' story.

I simply thought it would be helpful to the discussion of the 'speed of Taijiquan'-the motive behind the idea being -the more complete the board topic is, the better, no?

I am simply providing another point to ponder supplied by a 'traditional' Taiji Master. I don't know exactly what master Yang Cheng Fu meant by it, and won't be attempting to translate either. I am employing your advice about acknowlegement. Image

Onto some issues you've raised: You said,
< I think Louis' story is appropriate to this, no? Do you think 'slower is better' means either that 72 chews are necessary or that 72,000 would be better? > - SteveJ

I think.....If I ask a room full of people to picture a cyclist riding through a forest, that MOST would picture the cyclist moving at a moderate speed, A FEW would picture a three wheel bicycle progressing at a turtles pace, and the LAST COUPLE would picture a racer tearing down the forest path at a break-neck pace.

Without a definite guideline of 20-30 minutes to practice a form, there would always be some who would go to the extreme, and not realize it were beyond moderation.

I personally beleive in moderation with some extreme measures for the purpose of perfecting and also for developping ourselves beyond our present limits. (Practicing slowly to become faster).

Kicks and rooster stances seem like the occasional 'extreme' example, considering the extreme weight distribution to one leg. It seems to me that this is a type of limit expansion training of balance.

In the case of balance: Good balance, to most, would be the ability to remain perched on one leg with the appropriate applied mental concentration. To a gymnast good balance would possibly allude to the ability to do a one handed hand-stand on a balance beam six feet above the ground. To someone with a middle-ear disturbance simply maintaining themselves erect on two feet without swaying may prove a difficult task.
I also note that extreme practice is an occasional occurance in the form, not the rule of thumb.

You quoted: < "breathing is attuned to each of the movements of the body opening and closing. Inhale on opening, exhale on closing. " > -SteveJ

That is very helpful to my understanding of 'opening-closing'. I'm glad you pointed that out specifically. This can assist me in finding where the opening and closing actually occur.

You provided :
< " During inhaling, the chi goes inside but does the lifting, and during exhaling, it goes out but sinks..." > - SteveJ

So, if I am holding my breathe, is it logical that my chi will rise?

Also when 'taking a fall'...would the fact that we must exhale mean that we are sinking the chi to fall without injury?

It also seems to me that one could only practice as slowly as their lung expansion/contraction would allow within the limitations of the open/close 'rule'. Once you run out of breathe, you would have to begin the next posture. One would really need excellent breathing skills to stretch the duration of the form considerably and maintain the link between open- close and breath.

You continued...
< "...because Taiji breathing is based on prenatal chi(hsien tien). That is why it is a form of meditation. Such exercises can certainly keep your body healthy." > - SteveJ

What do you think of this portion of the quote?

It reminds me of some recent advice I heard that the action of Fa chin is to be used in moderation. What I guess this could mean is that preserving the chi unused would assist in maintaining a good health. Fa Chin would be the depleting of the chi and therefore may drain the health reserves...Just a guess. To me prenatal chi implies unused chi, but I am in no way asserting that what I say has any basis more reliable than my own opinion...That of a student.

Your posting has provided much thought provoking information...very interesting Image

Many Thanks,
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Aug 31, 2003 1:48 am

Gee Psalchemist,

I think your conclusions are really insightful, but I could never claim to answer your questions with other than more questions. Anyway, I pointed to Louis's story mostly to emphasize that the student must make some interpretative decisions for himself. Yes, I agree with moderation and avoiding extremes.

You ask several specific questions that you might want someone else to answer. Fwiw, yes, I believe that holding one's breath will make one's qi rise; but I wouldn't argue that making the qi rise is desirable. Don't go by me, though. As for falling, and the sinking of qi. Yes, I think it's desirable for several reasons including the relaxation effect. I.e., usually when someone wants to relax, it's helpful to take a deep breath. Relaxing and falling go together, but again, that's jmho.

You wrote:

"It also seems to me that one could only practice as slowly as their lung expansion/contraction would allow within the limitations of the open/close 'rule'. "

I agree with your conclusion. Yes, the movement should be coordinated with breathing in order to get the most health benefit. And, I do think that it has to do with the Qi, etc.; but, more importantly, YCF believed it did. I also agree that "fa chin" expends qi, as opposed to conserving it.

Anyway, I can't take any credit for any of these ideas. Why don't you buy "Tai Chi Chuan Ta Wen", by Chen Weiming (edited by Ben Lo and Robert Smith.) You'll have lots of questions to ponder for a while.

Steve James
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Sep 01, 2003 12:21 pm

Greetings Steve James,

It's been a pleasure discussing Taijiquan with you.

Thank-you for the excellent references... Many good points to ponder.

Best regards,
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Sep 02, 2003 4:41 pm

Only have a moment.
The question was asked, when we breath out when we are being thrown are we sinking our chi...
Can't answer that question. When taking a fall I breath out to keep my lungs from exploding when I hit the ground.
That's the only reason I know for it.
If that "sinks" the chi, then no one ever told me that. I was trained that it's because the air pressure in your lungs will increase when your lungs are forcefully compressed on impact with the ground, and if that increase is enough your lungs will explode from that pressure.
Breathing out removes the air volume from your lungs, there is no air pressure, they will not explode.

Have to fly. More as I can.
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Sep 03, 2003 4:47 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

At first glance, your posting struck me as quite direct and straightforward...However, upon deeper consideration, I find I have been lead to explore other thoughts on this matter of 'falling unharmed' in the martial arts.

As you pointed out, it is essential to release all the air from the lungs to avoid serious injury. You laugh automatically when you fall physically. I laugh when 'thrown' psychologically.

I find it quite amazing how the body has a natural tendancy to preserve itself. In the case of laughing, my guess is that it is an 'automatic self-defense mechanism'. The body forces us,without conscious thought, to preserve it's health and well being in times of physical, mental, or emotional crisis.

Without conscious interference, when surprised, our body reacts perfectly in order to preserve itself, by laughing or making a reactive sound (such as oooof, ahhh, ughh etc. )

I find myself now questionning the reason WHY hard styles of martial arts have decided to consciously insert these releasing expressions, as opposed to Taijiquan which, as far as I am aware makes no effort to do so.

I might guess... that it has something to do with 'quiessence'( the 10th essential principle of TCC as defined by Master Yang Cheng Fu).

Taijiquan being the efficient martial art that it is, seems to possess many common- sense efficiency techniques.

If we are taught and trained to inhale upon opening and exhale upon closing, then there really is no need for exteriorized sounds to release the air within the lungs.

Everything in TCC is done without effort.

After repeating a posture 10,000 times with the quiessence essential leads to an ideal automatic functionning of the body's reactions.

It is no longer necessary to 'force' the air out from the lungs with Waa's, Baa's or even HaHa's. Image We are being trained in Taijiquan to be as efficient in our functioning as possible.

In hard styles, perhaps these sounds are also useful as intimidation tools. It states agressiveness. But this seems ,to me, that it must also 'waste' or consume vital releasing energy/ Fajin which should be focused on one point(as the song of the 13 postures resumes) rather than diffusing and dissipating the energy output in two or more directions, which would be much less efficient and therefore less powerful than it's true potential.

Please correct me if I have erred in my deductions.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 09-03-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Sep 03, 2003 5:28 pm

I was trained into the laughter when offset or thrown, it was not a natural reaction for me that I am aware of.
Might have been, but this was a training tool taught to me by my Sifu at WTCCA and I was not conscious of it before then. It certainly was never part of my Tae Kwon Do training, I can tell you that. I do remember the "Ha!"'s and "Hiya!"'s and the "Ah, Ah, Ah!"'s and all that from those days. I always felt they were robbing me of breath, personally. My Master thought they were VERY important, so I trained them, but I really did feel a diminished capacity when I did them, it was called "I need this air to breath, thank you". The other guys thought they were VERY cool, and I'm sure they were, I just didn't like them and never used them in tournament. I was known as the "quiet one" a lot of times because I would just stand there and win instead of "HA!"ing all over the place.
It took months of training before it became a 'natural' reaction for me to laugh.
We started out by laughing when we were offset during push hands. There was no mention at the time of "compressed lungs" or any of that, it was a tool to keep the beginners from becoming aggressive during push hands.
The most effective tool I've ever seen used for that.
Especially hard style guys who were learning TCC for the first time and think push hands means "Knock your partner down as hard as you can". If you teach these guys to laugh when they feel themselves being offset, which happens a lot to hard style guys when they start to push against someone who knows what he's doing, they tend to stay non-aggressive even when being tossed around because they're laughing.
Again, I have NO idea if this is standard Wu training technique of if Sifu came up with this one on his own. I know my academy did that, and that they still do. At least the people I've recently pushed with from there still do.
Anyway, it works.
That training followed me when I began to learn to fall all on it's own.
We began by simply falling straight onto our backs, on mats, from a standing position with our arms thrown out to the sides to absorb some of the impact. When I would feel myself falling I would automatically laugh on my way down, because letting yourself go with gravity like that is remarkably similar in feeling to being offset. It had the desired effect of removing the air from my lungs and my Sifu praised me on it and then started telling everyone to do it, just like during push hands.
Then when we progressed to being thrown to the ground we kept at it, again because it worked very well for what we were doing.
We were one happily laughing group of sore people who were being thrown repeatedly to the ground, hard.
So I don't know if this reaction of mine is "natural" or trained into me. All I know is it works. I still do it, because it still works.
As for breathing in on opening and out on closing....
Don't get that written in stone in your mind.
Ever heard of "reverse breathing"?
It's a guide, not a hard and set gotta do.
I'll let the Yang experts take it from there, if that is part of the Yang training they will be able to help you much better than I could. It may be a bit advanced so they only teach their disciples, or they may simply not teach it. I dunno. But I'll not expound on a theory that may or may not be part of the Yang repetoire.
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