Front Leg in Bow Stance

So 'distinguish full and empty' does not mean 'be aware of the relative degrees of fullness and emptiness in your left and right'. It means one is full one is empty, regardless of the percent of weight on each, and you should know at all times which is which. Full and empty are thus discrete, mutually exclusive categories. That is why we need to separate or distinguish them clearly, not allocate or distribute them as ranges on a spectrum. This is also borne out by the choice of two extremes - full and empty - to represent the binary nature of the 'distinction', even though in practice the weight or whatever may not be 100/0 .

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 12-30-2003).]
JerryKarin

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IMHO, I hasten to add!
JerryKarin

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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Greetings Louis,

Thank you for the translation for "fenxi yi xia".

Greetings Jerry,

Interesting discussion..."distribute" and "distinguish"...

As Louis stated, there are existant ambiguities in language which can make resolution in communications a very trying task...

I personally see very subtle differences between the two expressions, in application to Taijiquan "empty and full" theories.

Perhaps differing slightly with what you stated above, but drawing from similar idea...

Distinguish, I find, seems to carry certain connotations towards process...inherently...Since a 100/0 state cannot remain thus...Therefore there must be "process" involved in "shifting" from empty to full(regardless of weight factors). We cannot remain in this state of binary extreme, it is simply a moment in time before we must scale downwards again 99, 98, 97, ...

Of course you already know all this...

But you stated:
<You should know at all times which is which> Jerry

This throws me into confusion...I would like to understand how one would distinguish a full empty distinction in the middle portions of the process, when for example, a rt. arm (empty) is changing to a rt. arm (full) but has not yet reached its complete fruition???

I believe "distinguish" to be quite appropriate ( IMHO ) however must question your statement regarding "relative degrees being left undistinguished"...
You seem to imply disregard for attention on the process with full regards to the result...Is this your intention?

Does one perhaps "distribute"(during process) until one finally "distinguishes" (when one has realized completion of a full transition)?

Thank You,
Best Regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 12-30-2003).]
psalchemist

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Any time you are given two polar alternatives and asked to 'fenqing' them, it means discriminate, distinguish, or differentiate between them. This much a knowledge of Chinese tells us with some certainty. Just like in English if someone asks you if you can ___ between right and wrong, you won't fill in the blank with 'distribute'. So we toggle between xu and shi. This is essentially a mental activity, an intention, which is only indirectly related to weight shifts and so on.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 12-30-2003).]
JerryKarin

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I believe there are several places in the taiji literature (the 'classics') where the switch is described as instantaneous rather than gradual.
JerryKarin

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Greetings Jerry,

Thank you for your explanations.

Basically, as you state, it might be reduced, in essence, to the distinctions of whether it were implied as "instantaneous" or as "gradual" in the context of these "Classics" texts you have alluded to, but of which I am unfamiliar, unfortunately.

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist

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Hi Psalmalchemist. Well this started over whether fen xu shi was ambiguous, and mainly I have been trying to make the point that it isn't. The difficulty tends to be in the technical terms xu and shi, but I think even those are disambiguated by the context, ie 'fen1 qing1'. This does lead to interesting questions about gradual vs instantaneous switching between them. I will try to find the locus classicus for instantaneous switching between them.
JerryKarin

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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Greetings Jerry,

Everyones thinking in staccatto today?! :0)
To short choppy additions I am not immune...

I was just rethinking your employment of the expression " distinguishing between right and wrong"...

On the one hand I am familiar with the way the language uses the words there...but could it be an exaggerated simplicity, an inept or inadequate tool in reality...

It implies black and white...No gray...

Personally I find that statement quite unrealistic and over used, or so familiar that we use it without deep questioning...please, no offense intended...I of course include myself.

There are moreover cases where right and wrong are very difficult to distinguish...rather than cut and dried scenarios.

Courts of law see extreme deliberations over the subtle nuances between right and wrong.

A tragic example in medicine would be a terminal patient suffering constantly who requests permanent relief, or rather, a speeding up of the process...right or wrong?

I have difficulty in ignoring all gray areas and focusing only on the black and white...

If the yin yang were spinning (as intended) would it not become gray?

I am not disregarding your Taijiquan deductions...Simply questioning my understanding of the matter...

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist

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Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Greetings Jerry,

I just finished posting...So missed your last one above...

Thank you for seeking those passages for me, referencing "gradual" or "instantaneous" in the Classics...It will be greatly appreciated.

This seems, to me, perhaps imperative to the matter of "Yi" as well, and so I am quite eager to learn what you unearth.

Thanks again.

Best,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist

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In Taijiquan Lun this is written xu shi yi fen qingchu ÐéÊµÒË·ÖÇå³þ , 'empty and full should be distinguished' which uses the modern phrase fen qingchu 'distinguish'. I can see no way to render fen qingchu as distribute. More on switching later.
JerryKarin

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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Psalchemist, as far as your aside about distinguishing right from wrong, I'm not asking you to agree to the concept but only to the linguistic validity. In other words you understand what it means, even if you don't like the implications of it. The same goes for translating Chinese and whether or not a phrase is ambiguous. The question we are entertaining is not whether we agree or wonder if that dispenses with the subject, but what does the text itself say.
JerryKarin

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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Hello Audi, Gu Rou Chen, and Louis,

"Push as though you were pushing a small boat through the water." This is a good description of the amount of physical force used to do the form while being "song."

Concerning the idea that the human body differs from mechanical systems in the transmission of force. The force "disappearing without a trace" is only what it seems like.

I have long been a fan of Wallace and Darwin, and I understand there being no need for a designer, but, placed in the context of a completed function that furthers the survival of a creature, any action may be spoken of as "acting in that manner," such as "fighting off" a cold.

However, I generally agree that new terms might suit the situation better.

The term "work" in defined in physics (along with additional terms for the purpose of measurement) is the transfer of energy from one system to another. In my view this term matches "jin" as in fajin.

Three people were dicussing God and the human body.
One of them said, "God is a mechanical engineer, take for example the superb way that loads are taken by the human skeleton."
The second one said "God is an electronics engineer - look at the exquisite workings of our nervous systems and brain."
The third one said, "Nah, you're both wrong. God must be a civil engineer. Who but a civil engineer would run two waste disposal conduits though the middle of a major recreational area?"

May your next year be the best you've ever had.

David J
DavidJ

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Greetings Louis and Jerry (and all),

Louis, thanks again for the further thoughts. I think my problem with the moving boat is the image of slipping and gliding. In partner practice, I have been taught to stick, rather than slip, so that slipping imagery feels strange. When contemplating Peng, I think of water as being infinitely moldable, yet at the same time resistant to compression. As a result, the still metaphor works better for me. As for motion, I think of my partner and me as moving together in a mesh, like two gears operating against each other. Slippage is the last thing I want, because it implies a loss of energy and interconnection. Although the water upholds the moving boat, it does nothing to obstruct or alter its path, nor does it derive any perceptible benefit from the movement. It is interesting that such metaphors can connote such different things to different people.

Jerry, I agree with your point that Chinese is not an inherently vague language. Authors writing in Chinese have been able through the ages to debate logic, write about mathematical formulae, compose chemical process, and develop nuclear physics. I would insist, however, that Chinese syntax is sufficiently different from English syntax that much of the simple grammar is not compatible with English modes of expressions. I recently read a good rendering in Portuguese of the Ten Essentials and also noted that the translators were forced to make choices and specify things that do not exist in the equivalent English and Chinese renderings.

Again, I think that all these considerations pale before the importance of live oral instruction, which can resolve all doubts or give perfect specificity to what might otherwise seem like vague injunctions. Nevertheless, for those who derive a significant amount of their Taijiquan from written sources, I think these issues become important.

You also mention “fen” in your recent posts. I actually am fairly close to your interpretation, but by a different mechanism. First let me deal with why I am close, but not all the way there.

At one of the Yang seminars, I was instructed at several times to empty an arm, but was corrected for not “emptying the arm enough.” At other times, I was told to wait for the moment when the opponent would be making part of his body full and then to make it “fuller.” Here I was corrected for not always choosing the appropriate moment, and thus not succeeding in “overfilling” my opponent’s side. All this instruction was in English, so I do not know how it would have been said in Chinese.

I think it is reasonable to say that I was not accurately “distinguishing” between full and empty and leaving too much of one in the other, but I would find it hard to conceptualize that by falling short, I was converting full into empty or vice versa. For me, the simplest thing is to view “full” and “empty” as sliding scales.

Where I come close to your position is that I believe that translating “xu” and “shi” as “empty” and “full” betrays an important grammatical distinction between English and Chinese. I believe that in the default case “empty” and “full” are absolute terms in English, but “xu” and “shi,” like all graded terms in Chinese, are comparative ones.

“Ta gao” does not mean “he is tall,” but rather “he is comparatively tall” or “he is the tall one.” To translate “he is tall,” one must say “ta hen gao.” Likewise, whether something is “xu” or “shi” does not, in my opinion, depend on the absolute amount of emptiness or fullness in something, but on how it compares to something else or some other state. This is why one can instantly change from empty to full and why these terms have binary qualities. “Emptier” and “fuller” are inherently binary.

While I am pushing with my hand against pressure, it is full. While I withdraw it in the face of pressure, it is empty. I can begin to change direction and my intent instantaneously. Even as I decrease pressure, but continue to push to some extent, my hand becomes instantly 100% “xu” compared with my previous intent. Even so, it may not be empty or “xu” enough to sustain the application I intend.

Because of all these concerns, I happen to like both “distinguish” and “distribute” as equivalents of “fen.” For me, they imply the same thing. I “distinguish” in order to calibrate. I can “distribute” only once I have distinguished.

Take care,
Audi
Audi

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Hi David,

My last post crossed yours. You state an interesting idea about force levels. I think I like the idea of feeling the level of resistance the water provides against the boat, although I wonder about controlling for force levels overall.

I very much appreciate the joke, although I would prefer not to burn in eternity for the irreverence and so will deny that I smiled. .

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 12-30-2003).]
Audi

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Location: New Jersey, USA

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B> I would insist, however, that Chinese syntax is sufficiently different from English syntax that much of the simple grammar is not compatible with English modes of expressions. I recently read a good rendering in Portuguese of the Ten Essentials and also noted that the translators were forced to make choices and specify things that do not exist in the equivalent English and Chinese renderings.

<snip>
You also mention “fen” in your recent posts. I actually am fairly close to your interpretation, but by a different mechanism. First let me deal with why I am close, but not all the way there.

<snip>

I think it is reasonable to say that I was not accurately “distinguishing” between full and empty and leaving too much of one in the other, but I would find it hard to conceptualize that by falling short, I was converting full into empty or vice versa. For me, the simplest thing is to view “full” and “empty” as sliding scales.

Where I come close to your position is that I believe that translating “xu” and “shi” as “empty” and “full” betrays an important grammatical distinction between English and Chinese. I believe that in the default case “empty” and “full” are absolute terms in English, but “xu” and “shi,” like all graded terms in Chinese, are comparative ones.

“Ta gao” does not mean “he is tall,” but rather “he is comparatively tall” or “he is the tall one.” To translate “he is tall,” one must say “ta hen gao.” Likewise, whether something is “xu” or “shi” does not, in my opinion, depend on the absolute amount of emptiness or fullness in something, but on how it compares to something else or some other state. This is why one can instantly change from empty to full and why these terms have binary qualities. “Emptier” and “fuller” are inherently binary.

<snip>

Because of all these concerns, I happen to like both “distinguish” and “distribute” as equivalents of “fen.” For me, they imply the same thing. I “distinguish” in order to calibrate. I can “distribute” only once I have distinguished.

Take care,
Audi</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I guess you are referring to the Portuguese translation of the ten essentials published in the newsletter. Like all the other language translations published there, it was translated again from my English rendering into the target language! So it says something about the differences between English and Portugese, not Chinese and Portugese.

As far as words like gao1 'tall', they function differently in Chinese when used in pairs of opposites like high and low, light and heavy, empty and full, so I'm afraid your analysis won't hold up. If we return to the original text at issue, fen xu shi, there really is no support for 'distribute' nor is there any real ambiguity in the phrase. I'm afraid you are repeating Psalchemist's error of mixing up your own understanding of the issues at stake with the process of translation. What the text says, unambiguously, is 'distinguish full and empty'.
JerryKarin

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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

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