The Thirteen Postures of Taijiquan

Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:35 pm

Greetings all,

Please allow me to clarify any misunderstandings stemming from my unclear statements above.

I was thinking that the art of 'Push hands' or 'sparring' in Taijiquan runs on parallel lines with the art of 'interaction' in general,life terms.


Louis said in the "empty/full" thread recently:
<When it comes to "self-cultivation", my personal view is that the refinement you mention(Audi) refers to what I like to call the "interface". One's body is one's interface with, well, everything. It's one's point of access; It's where one gets a purchase. So self-cultivation is cultivation of one's body, one's connection with family, society and the environment> Louis

I agree.As mentioned, life is a "corporeal" matter, involved with the connection of one's self, one's family, society and the environment. Self cultivation is developped though the improvement, the evolution of our skills in interacting with others and the environment.

I am seeking to gain insight into such matters of self-cultivation in life, through the study of the art of Taijiquan.

In other words, I believe a physical 'Push hands' or 'sparring' encounter is similar to interactions in communications with outside stimulus in life's day to day dealings.

If one can learn to work effectively with an opponenet in a pushing hands setting by employing the Taijiquan skills/energies/techniques, then I believe one could apply those same skills to every human interaction as well, thereby improving one's ability in relating to others, improving one's understanding of life and how to effectively cultivate one's self through dealings with others.

I ceratinly don't expect to have to engage in a fist fight everyday. However I am forced to deal with 'push hands' types of interactions on a daily basis with other people in life. I was considering the possibility of applying Taijiquan skills to day-to-day human interactions as a self cultivation tool.

Louis also went on to mention a second point which seems to support these ideas:
< "Xu Ling ding jin"...the Taiji phrase is somehow grounded in a Neo-Confucian concept having to do with an open and receptive mind, while still clearly referring to a postural configuration>

This seems to confirm the the thought that postural configurations do possibly possess deeper meanings, hidden perhaps, underlying the statement pertaining to self cultivation BEYOND a push hands or sparring setting. To me, this implies that Taijiquan education reaches well beyond the art itself in 'physcical'/'martial' terms. It could be the ultimate science for self-cultivation...geared towards improving one's Life.

Does this make any sense?
Does anyone else employ Taijiquan skills to their interactions with others in general?
Is this practical, useful?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:05 pm

I have no idea if others do, but I do.
I practice TCC at every opportunity, physically, verbally, mentally.
I like that quote from Louis about the body being your interface to everything.

When I said "run like hell", I hope you realize I was talking about in a "real" fight situation.
If you're pushing hands or sparring you would, of course, use Lian to recover as described above as your partner, hopefully, isn't going to follow through with a kidney punch as you go by.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:12 pm

Greetings Wushuer,Louis,all,

I too find Louis sentiment apt and worthy of note. I have been swayed, pursuaded, convinced that corporeal and spiritual or mental cannot ever really be separated. If I understood your gestures correctly...right, Louis, everything seems to boil down to the physical.

Is the spiritual also physical?

Wushuer, you said:
<I practice TCC at every opportunity, physically, verbally, mentally> Wushuer

You seem to have summarized my thoughts quite efficiently...exactly so,I like the idea of incorporating Taijiquan skills into all aspects of life as self cultivation tools.

Wushuer, you also said:
<When I said "run like hell", I hope you realize I was talking about in a real "fight" situation. If your pushing hands or sparring you would, of course, use Lian to recover as described above as your partner, hopefully, isn't going to follow through with a kindey punch as you go by> Wushuer

Yes, of course, thank-you. Image

Also,
This sparks a motivation to explore further the other "nei jin?" concepts:
-Zhan-adhere
-Nian-stick
-Lian-link and connect
-Sui-follow and comply
-Ting-listen and feel
-Hua-dissolve
-Yin-lure
-Na-hold and control
-Fa-launch
-Others???

I invite descriptions of these skills, being shi san shi related. Beyond the superficial connotations supplied above...
What are some of the ways these are applied, when should they be applied etc. in push hands and sparring environments?

I realize some of these descriptions have already been provided on this discussion board, but feel any pertinent information would be useful towards my development, even repetition. I still have everything to learn!

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-24-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:06 pm

Greetings all,

I just realized there is most likely a distinction to be made between the expressions "loss of balance" and "loss of root"...I had used these terms simultaneously as loss of root/balance, and now believe that they are most likely two different issues addressed in two different manners.


If one loses one's balance...then perhaps simply focussing one's YI on the Dantian( Ding) will remedy the balance, restore equilibrium. (as Zhang Yun suggests)

Whereas,

If one loses one's root it is a different problem with a different solution. If one loses his root due to Zhan then Lian would be the proper recourse.

Is this distinction correct?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Audi » Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:06 pm

Greetings Psalchemist,

You asked me a few questions in one of your earlier posts that I will respond to here.

First, from what I have read of Zhang Yun, I would consider that he teaches traditional Taijiquan; however, he does not teach Yang Style, but rather a version of Wu2 Style. I think he calls it Northern Wu.

I personally like Zhang Yun’s writing quite a lot; however, I think that some of what he describes differs from the focus or interpretations of what the Yangs teach. Other things I have found quite helpful and have incorporated into my practice.

As for “tsi” versus “ji,” most of the Chinese words rendered in English are done according to one of two different systems of transliterating characters: Wade-Giles or Pinyin. I believe that “tsi” may be an alternate of “chi” in the Wade-Giles system. In Pinyin, this “sound” would be spelled “ji.” In either case, this syllable would be pronounced more or less like the “jee” in “jeep.”

Wade-Giles used to be the predominate system used in the U.S. and is the basis of spellings in most of the older books on Taijiquan. Nowadays, just about everyone outside of Taiwan uses Pinyin, since it is the official standard of the mainland government and taught in schools there as a beginning, indigenous script used in conjunction with characters. I have noticed that in your earlier postings, you used Wade-Giles spellings and assume that you are getting these from one of the older books on Taijiquan. Either system can be used, but mixing them can cause confusion.

As far as using Taijiquan in dealing life, I would have to agree with what Wushuer expressed. I try to use it all the time; however, I usually fail quite miserably in my attempt to apply the skills and live the principles.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby andres » Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:34 pm

Late, but...
Greetings, Psalchemist and all. As for the ba gua and five elements. My teacher was student under the late Jou, Tsung Hwa. As I have been taught, Master Jou brought frequently the issue about turning of the palms as the moon spins and orbits around the earth. In practice: As you move, engage the arms around a beach ball that turns in different planes. Push a basket ball. Ward off with a softball between your palms. Punch with a ping pong ball in the fist. Keep a ping pong ball under the armpits. Ride a beach ball when in horse stance and long stance. "Grab hold" of the beach ball when you have to step, so to enhance balance. Have you seen a ball fall to the side because of unbalance? These balls have to rotate in different planes, so the torso has to, the arms have to, and the hands have to. You will see palms up, down, diagonal up and down, front and back, inside and outside. Moving as if holding and turning these balls make the body move around balls being a ball itself. Whew!

The five elements as I saw Mr. Jou and my teacher, resembles the foldings of the Chen stylist body (yet I am describing Yang). It has to do with stepping and weight, plus torso turning. It literally helps to go right before going left (and vice versa), back before advancing (and vv). This helps to break a long, continuous, trajectory into small spaces you can manage better. For example, left ward off, starting of the sparrow's tail, allows you to segment it into various open/close, left/right, contract/expand, etc, episodes, and in each of these you draw a circle- as links in a chain. In fact, Mr. Jou challenged us- the few times he visited Puerto Rico- to do this "ball thing" when and wherever he yelled "now" amidst the form. Any stance in the sequence had to provide for vertical, horizontal and diagonal orbits. Was this helpful? if not, maybe you may have learned about silking the coccoon following the yin/yang symbol (Jou, Tsung Hwa's book: The Tao of Tai Chi Chuan). Take care,

Andres
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Postby andres » Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:28 pm

Hello again. Mr. Jou pointed out the foot had to move inside the shoe initiating the circular pattern that would later be seen in the ankle twisting, knee and upwards. I do not know if I am mixing things up here, but have the vague idea that he once mentioned about reflexology points on the sole of the foot being stimulated as the foot moved. If this rings a bell, please someone clarify. Ciao.

Andres
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:46 pm

Greetings Andres,

You said...

<In practice:

As you move,

Engage the arms around a beach ball that turns on different planes,

Push a basket ball.

Ward off with a softball between your palms.

Punch with a ping pong ball in the fist.

Keep a ping pong ball under the armpits.

Ride a beach ball when in horse stance and long stance.

Grab hold of the beach ball when you have to step, so to enhance balance.

These balls have to rotate on different planes,

so the torso has to,
the arms have to,
and the hands have to.

You will see palms up, down,
diagonal up and down,
front and back,
inside and outside.

Moving as if holding and turning these balls make the body move around balls being a ball itself> Andres

Beautifully expressed!
I think I'll frame it!

I will have some questions on the rest of your posting tomorrow...

Thanks for the explanation of "turning of the palms as the moon spins and orbits around the earth"

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-26-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:38 am

Greetings all,

As an extension drawn from the discussion on the metaphor "tempered steel jin" ...

I would be curious to learn how some of the qualities of the element of 'metal'(and also wood) are manifest into the Wuxing-5 step, footwork skills in actual Taijiquan practice.


Greetings Louis,

Do you think there is any relation between the the expression 'tempered steel' and the element of 'metal' in the Wuxing?

Any other references to steel or metal you are familiar with?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby andres » Mon Oct 27, 2003 1:26 pm

Good morning. The japanese katana lives up to its legend because of the preparation involved. The swordsmith enters prolongued meditation prior to start creating the weapon. He will move in -for a year, it is said- with the family of the future owner to know him and really grasp his spirit. Then the swordsmith's own spirit went into the blade. Only then would he begin the multiple layer tempering at white hot temperature. No other sword is supposed to meet this match. The metaphor sort of conveys the message, doesn't it? Peace,

Andres
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:26 pm

Goodmorning Andres,

I enjoyed reading about the details involved in tempering the Katana. It seems to be a very profound ritual...alot of energy put into the process.

I understood the metaphor directly...I am fishing for something specific, yet obscure, perhaps a second metaphor underlying the first.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:35 pm

Greetings all,

Is there an equivalent movement in the sabre or sword forms which are similar to the movement "Shan4 tong1 bei4" in the barehand form?


Greetings Louis and Audi,any and all,

Is anyone aware of any particular connotations to 'metal' in the chinese translation of "Shan4 tong1 bei4 - Fan through back" ?

Beyond these words presented, is there perhaps another translation or expression for this movement?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 5:24 pm

Greetings Andres,

I was practicing the form this morning with a particular emphasis placed on those circular planes you recited...

I found that it created a very strong and distinct feeling of vastness and space,

as well as a more profound oxygenation effect.

It also added a sense of quiet and stillness I do not experienced often.

I am glad you stressed that specific aspect, it is a valuable tool to work with.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:10 pm

OK.
Now, will someone explain to me, in simpler terms, what the "ball" metaphors, or mental images rather, are about?
I think I'm getting the idea, but I wish to be clear on it before I try it.
So, a bit slower and a lot more detailed descriptions for those of us in the "slow and special" category, please.
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:44 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

I can only pass along my own interpretation of the posting above...just the gatherings of a student.


I have heard of these circular spaces or orbits many times, but never all at once before.


The tennis ball under the armpits, I have heard as something akin to "hold a hot bun under the armpits"...(I forget where I read that, but it is an unidentified quote), kind of suspending the elbows to create a space under the armpits , as if you were forced to carry hot buns there...I believe that this action opens some channels by assisting in attaining "Ziran"- the "just right" or "just so" angle/nuance required for that position.

When "Pressing" one establishes a circular, round, space within the arms as though carrying a beach ball, and maintains a respect for that space throughout the movement.

The "Kua bu" is maintained 'open' by spreading the legs apart as though sitting upon a horse, or as though carrying a large ball between the knees.

Note in "An" and many other postures the cupped formation or subtle suggestion of roundness within the palms, as though possessed of a spherical object such as a basketball.

It seems to be inducive towards opening the channels which promotes efficient qi circulation, besides also presenting more martial effectiveness and stability in structure.

Also, I'm not sure if this is relevant, but the "Song of the thirteen postures" mentions a certain "roundness and smootness" which should be striven for...Perhaps these circular orbits assist in acheiving these qualities.

I am not sure about Wu style, but I think Yang style focuses on 'moving in circles', not like spiralling or reeling, but generally circular, not linear.

Andres spoke of rotating the body while clinging to those concepts. Rotations and circles are imperative.

One interesting point was "holding onto the ball to maintain balance" ... believe it or not, it does really SEEM to assist in that area. Imagination/intent probably not...I think it probably maintains a certain central equilibrium because if one IS holding a large ball then one is limited in his movement and therefore less likely to over extend etc.

Maybe this is something you already do, but just have not 'labelled ' yet.

Good day,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-27-2003).]

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-27-2003).]
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