Breathing and the Form

Postby Audi » Fri Apr 16, 2004 11:26 am

Greetings to all, and especially Wushuer, Michael, and Polaris,

I have quite definitive feelings about this, but before I express them further and rehash old posts let me say a few things.

Wushuer, Michael, and Polaris, I think I agree with the intent behind all the words that you three have recently posted; however, I don’t think agree with some of the interpretations you give to the words of others. I also think that many people express some similar thoughts to justify courses of action that I would advise against.

From the first day we begin to practice Taijiquan to the last day, I think we all remain both beginners and experts. On the first day, our teacher will ask us to perform certain movements. Taijiquan is about feelings, not externals. No teacher can be certain of all your feelings, and so you must be the expert in them, even on the first day. No teacher can be certain of the limits of your comfort, flexibility, or strength, and so you must be the expert in these and not try blindly to duplicate the motions of your teacher. If beginners ignore this principle, they risk injury. How low should a posture be held? How long should a stride be? How long should your breath be? Where is the line between “forcing” and reaching for a “natural” ideal? What is insufficiently challenging? Teachers can guide in these things, but the student has to make the final decision.

On our last day or most recent day of practice, we know what we know, but cannot be sure of what lies beyond our knowledge. Even if our teacher says that he or she has no more to teach us, this does not mean there are no other teachers around with something else worth imparting. Unless you know the contours of what you are learning and have “entered the gate,” you must retain much of a “beginner’s mind” and follow instructions without too much questioning.

As a beginner, you must follow your teacher’s instructions even when your “common sense” and “experience” tell you otherwise. As an expert, you must turn your back on your teacher’s apparent “instructions” and follow your own “common sense” and “experience.” I believe that the secret to progressing most efficiently in the art is to know when to adopt which stance.

Polaris, after all is said and done, I have to say that I find your advice more relevant for my experience and what I have seen of the experience of most of my friends. I do not read your words as saying that one should not study more than one style or that one must deny the validity of any of one’s previous learning experiences. I hear you as saying that prematurely mixing things means that one will be acting without guidance. In the guise of learning something new, one may in reality being trying to create a third way which no one has validated before. Many have succeeded in this, but I believe that more have failed. I believe that we all have no choice but to introduce changes into the traditions that we learn, but I believe that less change is much safer than more, unless one aspires to true master-level performance and wants to create something original.

Polaris, the only issue I have with the way you have expressed things is that some might conclude from your words that once you pick a teacher, you must stay with that teacher for 8 to 15 years, come what may. I do not think this is actually your view. Clearly, some people have the misfortune to pick the wrong teacher. A teacher can be wrong for a student for many reasons. He or she can have an incompatible goal, be inaccessible, or even lack knowledge of what the student ultimately wants. This latter is always a problem for beginners, who have little basis to judge the qualifications of teachers to teach whatever it is they might want to learn. Beginners also do not know the right questions to ask and so really cannot make proper sense of any answers offered.

Wushuer, I will let Polaris mostly speak for himself, but I have to say that I did not take his words as any criticism of your actions, but rather as a difference of opinion about what you have stated. I did not think he was accusing you of “teacher shopping” or showing disrespect to your former teachers. What I understood him as saying is that some people approach Taijiquan as a smorgasbord, where they can pick and choose what they want to study and when. By doing this, they unknowingly give disincentives to their teachers to invest in their learning and may also end up subtly corrupting the lessons that they are offered. As an occasional informal teacher, I have definitely experienced this. As has been stated before, why try to fill the cup of someone whose cup is already filled with something else?

I also believe I have seen people approach the Yangs in this fashion. The Yangs seem to feel very strongly about the standards that they teach, but not so strongly about what people choose to learn. Some people seem to expect them to talk in the same way as other teachers and seem closed to the fact that they may deliberately be taking a different approach. If someone does not like the “taste” of this teaching, I have no objection to this; however, if someone rejects it only because it is too “hard,” too “slow,” too “external,” too “big,” not “subtle” enough, or not “martial” enough, I feel saddened by what I usually believe to be misunderstandings. There are many things about the Yangs teaching that I do not find at all unique among the Taiji community I have been exposed to; however, there are certain areas where I believe they differ importantly from certain other teachers.

Wushuer, let me reiterate that I see nothing wrong with any of your training choices, even if I may have chosen a few different specifics. The only areas where we may have some differences is in your statements about the history of Yang Style. I do not so much dispute what you say as the certainty with which you relate certain things.

From what I have read, there is substantial controversy over the precise relationship of the current “Chen” Style to the current “Yang” Style, even though everyone believes that the Chens taught Taijiquan to the Yangs. My personal belief is that no one living knows the true story of the origin of Taijiquan and that the “true” story is likely to be more mundane and less “definitive” than any of the theories commonly circulated. I mention this, because I think it is better to analyze Yang Style on its own merits or lack thereof, than to take Chen Style as a jumping off point. Similarly, I have read at least one notated commentator discuss Wu2 Style as a mere variation of Yang Style and not really a completely separate style. Whether or not this is true, I think that analyzing Wu2 Style only from the point of view of most Yang Style teaching I have experienced or read would lead to bad conclusions.

Michael, I think you talked in one of your posts about all Taijiquan being “good” as long as it conforms to the “principles.” In theory, I cannot disagree with this; however, in practice, I wonder about these “principle.” Can you state what these common principles are that define Taijiquan? Everyone uses the same words, but do they really impart the same meaning to them?

I, like others, have often talked about the Taiji Classics; however, my understanding is that all styles do not define the same body of classics. To the extent the various styles agree on things in the classics, these are usually principles that are accepted by many, many martial arts other than Taijiquan, including so-called external arts. What defines Taijiquan differently from other arts? If there is nothing different, why study Taijiquan at all? One of the references from the “Classics” I frequently recall is the warning about missing the start of the journey by a hair and so missing the destination by a thousand miles. (I hope I am describing this reasonably correctly.)

I would love to find out that there is some overarching principle that unites the disparate practices I have been exposed to, but I have serious doubts about this. Are there not many, many cases where reputable teachers teach incompatible concepts? One person’s force is another person’s powerful technique. Some praise you because your arms in Push Hands feel light; others, because they feel heavy. Some say do the form with alertness; others say to do so as if in a trance or even as if falling asleep. Some say to push with the wrists flexed backwards; others say never to adopt such a position and to let them droop. Lead with the “waist,” lead with the “hips,” or both? Reel silk, or draw silk? Control your breathing, or let it do what it wants? When you issue, should you inhale, exhale, or make sure not to worry about either?

I, personally, am not much interested in pursuing which of such pairs is “correct” in any cosmic sense, but am quite interested in knowing which is correct from the point of view of whatever I am studying at the moment and what the implications of the choices are. I agree with Polaris. I would try to dissuade any student of mine from exhibiting Chen-Style silk reeling if I were trying to show them any of the Yangs’ form (or the Wus’ form). If I were trying to teach certain other Yang forms, I would have no problem with this, but would have to change a great deal of the teaching.

Michael, I have had brief exposure to at least one style of Taijiquan in the Philadelphia area that is not Yang Style, but in which I felt almost completely at home. All the principles made immediate sense to my experiences with the Yangs, except perhaps for a Chen-like emphasis on silk reeling that I find completely absent from the Yangs’ teaching. Some of the principles I learned there I incorporate into my Yang form, since I see no incompatibility. One of the other occasional contributors to this Board has shared some of those experiences and can comment on the commonalities, if he so wishes. Even though the principles and push hands made complete sense, I found the form in this style wildly different from what I am used to. Here and there a posture name was familiar, but the movements and the overall look were quite different from my experience. All in all, different externals covered very similar or identical internals.

On the other hand, I have had substantial experience with Yang Styles where I have known the names and applications of almost every posture, but many, many things were different internally from what the Yangs teach. The same words were often there, but the substance and emphasis were quite different. Not a single posture would be done the same. You could tell which was which from a still photo of almost any end posture. In my view, even the purpose of form study itself is often entirely different.

The vast majority of the folk I have practiced with in such “Yang Style” settings have never heard of the Ten Essentials as such and would not recognize many of the individual ones, except as neat phrases of no greater importance than a hundred others quoted in the Taiji literature. If asked about core Taiji practice principles, they might mention maybe three or four of the Ten Essentials, but none them would be in first or second place. If asked to describe the main skills practiced in push hands drills, they might describe two of the four skills mentioned by the Yangs (probably, sticking and following), and neither of these skills would be high on the list of things to pay attention to. I value these other experiences, respect the martial skills and Taiji knowledge of the teachers and students, but would absolutely disagree that their methods and guiding principles were essentially the same as the Yangs. I am not saying all this to run down these other practices, only trying to show how they are apples and oranges. I could mention a whole raft of things these other practices talk about constantly that the Yangs almost never mention at all.

If I were to restrict myself only to the Preparation Posture (i.e., before any overt movement takes place in the form), I could easily write four paragraphs of differences between the Yangs methods and those of others I have been exposed to. This does not make the Yangs’ methods better, only different. While I have benefited somewhat by being able to compare methods, many others I have seen with similar backgrounds seem more to have suffered from the resulting confusion than benefited from the added perspective. Without a frank acknowledgement of differences and inconsistencies, everything gets muddled. Using the same words to describe different things creates confusion that is hard to dispel. When people have been taught to interpret things in a particular way, it can be extremely difficult to imagine that things can be any other way if one has to refer to the same set of words. If one refuses to look or does not know one needs to look, it can be hard to find.

To be frank, I think I have seen many Yang Stylists do the form, and even before they begin moving, I can see that they are not interpreting the postures or the principles in the way the Yangs teach. I see some of the same folk do the Beginning Posture with an intent that does not intersect mine at all. For some people, this is rightly irrelevant. There is no reason everyone needs to do form the same way or conform to the Yangs’ teachings, the Wus teachings, or anyone else’s. For other people, however, it can be a pity that they do not realize they have taken a fork in a road, for better or for worse.

This does not make what I do right, only different. I frankly have difficulty discussing form or principles with people who do not recognize such differences and insist they are doing the same thing as I am or are pursuing the same principles. (By the way, I am not referring to any of the regular contributors on this Board when I say this.)

In a post a long while ago, I made an analogy with racket sports. I cannot say that squash is better than racket ball or better than tennis; however, if one tries to use the same racket for all three sports, one will not attain a good result. One racket is not inherently more efficient than another in any abstract sense, but they are not freely interchangeable. All three sports have forehands and backhands, but even the techniques and strategies are not freely interchangeable. This is one of the reasons I do not like approaches that talk only about efficiency. Abstract “efficiency” is not the question, but rather efficiency towards what particular goal. Change the goal and you change the criterion for judging efficiency.

Some people have accused me of being closed-minded, and perhaps I am. It is difficult to see oneself as others do. Everyone must choose their own path, but I think they should do so with open eyes.

Wushuer and Michael, let me say once again that I do not object to any of the personal practices you both have described, even within the context of studying with the Yangs or their students. You both have substantial experience and are probably judging correctly what best suits your interests and your development. Where I think I differ is that your words would lead many others to adopt an “expert” view in situations where I think they should retain a beginner’s mind. When it comes to Taijiquan, I think most of us are not good judges of what are good practices and bad ones, even though we are often forced by circumstance to make such judgments.

Mixing teaching is easy to do, but very difficult to do well. Most people who I see readily doing this seem to be leaving much between the cracks without realizing what they are missing. Some of the best learning comes from doing things that do not meet with our initial expectations or inclinations.

Respectfully submitted,
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Postby Polaris » Fri Apr 16, 2004 2:46 pm

Greetings All,

I'm glad to see that it seems clear that what I said was mere opinion, not gospel.

As Michael says, one couldn't forget previous training physically, of course, but my point in reply is that one has a power of discrimination that may be applied to the matter. A competent teacher will be able to tell if they have your undivided attention. Again, for Michael and Wushuer, I want to stress that training systems are just training systems (which I think is what YZD was talking about), not the art, and, by extension, if you have faith in the training system you should apply your attentions solely to its unique "firing order" if you want to get through it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. From my personal experience, if a training system is complete then there seems no practical need to continue routines from another (especially unsupervised) at the same time.

Beyond practicality, however, there is a sentiment involved, a reciprocation of respect, of trust, a way of showing your good faith to the instructor who is teaching you out of the goodness of their heart (as is certainly the case with the present Yang family teachers, I feel safe in saying). There is no way your muscles are going to completely forget the timing, coordination and positioning of previous training. It is a question of the spirit that I am on about. Teachers who are teachers appreciate students who tackle their lessons wholeheartedly, it gives them the incentive they need to keep teaching! To add my bit to what Audi says, the teacher/student relationship dynamic from classical Chinese "Confucian" culture is fueled by constant consideration of fine degrees of discrimination as to how the hearts of everyone involved in the process should be supported and protected in the process of teaching. A consideration which doesn't seem to be much appreciated in the modern West. Another way to look at it is that, as a student, you should try to make the communication lines between yourself and your teacher(s) as clear as possible, and my advice is in aid of that.

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Postby WU » Fri Apr 16, 2004 10:07 pm

Greetings all!

It's an interesting topic on "Multiple-Style" of Tai Chi training! I have been studying several styles of Tai Chi including the Chen’s, the Yang’s, the Wu’s and Wudang’s San-Feng Tai Chi from the Wudang Mountain, Hubei, China. At the moment, I also focus on both Wu’s (Hao) and Sun’s style as well.
Tai Chi, as an internal martial art and a natural healing exercise, has the same root or same principle that is based on Chinese ‘Yin-Yang’ theory. Why someone would think they are totally different styles? There is one simple answer for that. He or she doesn’t comprehend the true meaning of Tai Chi yet or still stays outside of the Tai Chi’s Gate.
I believe that a Tai Chi practitioner should find a teacher who knows about the internals. This teacher doesn’t have to be famous or well known or belong to lineage of those five Tai Chi families. Taking care of his or her internal energy or understanding what ‘Yong Yi Bu Yong Li’ means, is the priority. Without knowing or tasting the real ‘Yi’ or ‘Qi’, it doesn’t matter how long the practitioner would train or practice. He or she would still be an outsider. Best of luck!


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Postby Michael » Sat Apr 17, 2004 12:30 am


I would not disagree with much from your recent post other than this.

"From my personal experience, if a training system is complete then there seems no practical need to continue routines from another (especially unsupervised) at the same time."

I have not studied any other tai chi other than two Yang styles. So I cannot comment on comparing systems such as Chen with Wu or with Yang etc. The Kuang Ping Yang style which I once studied has a different outward appearance but basically the same internally. They share many of the same techinques done slightly different. Most of the techinques in KPY are found in the YCF set as well, some more obvious, some not so. BUT it does (as does the YCF set) have techniques and certain postures that are not found in the YCF. One is what I can best describe as a "Repulse monkey" with the hands going across the body, right and left as one steps backwards. This is called "Brush Knee". It is a "block" a throw (over the front leg) it can also be an arm lock. This is not practiced in the YCF set. My use of this posture as a single movement practice, in no way is inconsistant or inappropraite to my YCF practice. Being that my emphasis in practice is martial, all I am doing in this single movement practice is training nerve pathways to respond quicker, and to develop linkage. To add these techniques only make me a better martial artist. I believe this is "practical". I do not collect styles or teachers. I do collect "techniques", one's that are appropriate to the style and framework that I am dedicated to.

My study of the small frame (G)Kuang PIng Yang style greatly enhanced my YCF style in understanding of different concepts I had not yet been exposed to because of different teaching styles. The study of the small frame showed me that the large frame was the "same"(within this style) and taught me how to make the LArge frame smaller without losing my linkage and still be effective. I found that within the Yang family branches, small or large framed, it worked the same even though a technique might change in how applied. Studying only one branch may have brought me to the same understanding, but not maybe as quickly.


Good thoughtful post as usual, and I agree with much of what you asy.

On "principles". My comments I guess were vague, or misleading. I have only studied two branches of the Yang family and so my comments really were only concerning those two. I have not trained in another famly style, so I would not feel qualified to make any comments concerning those and similiaries with the Yang style.

The principles in the KPY are the same as the YCFs "Ten Essential" but with a couple additions, which I think apply here in our style as well. I will post them elsewhere as they may be of interest and possibly worthy of some discussion.

You spoke of how in the other Style the ending posture was the same but getting there wasn't. If the transition had a different intent does that mean it is "different" than what the Yangs teach? In actual use of a technique, is it always going to take the same pathway as found in the set? And it changes with the technique you are using. When I do single Whip for instance, I will often be concentrating on a different aspect of it, or a different technique of application, One time it may be a throw,, another time an arm lock, a strike,... Most will never see the difference, someone very skilled may see a great deal of difference. To do each technique demands different "qualities" because of the intent. I cannot comment on what you found different in that other style. It seems that the KPY style often accentuate a different technique and that is why they look different, but internally they were the same to me. And when I first studied it seemed very different inside as well, until I understood it better, and then I found internally it was basically the same.

You mention hand positions being different, or leading with the waist or the hips, etc.... As we have talked before these "differences" are a matter of the framework of the style and it's intent and and corresponding structure. I mentioned that I find that the KPY style sems to be generally in closer than the YCF, hence the differences. This difference mandates that things are done different because of the structure needed to accomplish the task. And again there is the "Small vs "large" frame. BUT when in close I must adjust my large frame techniques as they need adjusment. Now I might need to have that upright palm or use the hips instead of the "waist" or both. Are the "principles" realy any different? When I deal with an atacker with my feet shoulder width apart, is it not going to be different than if I was in a bow stance? Now I am talking actual useage. It is not really different from what the Yang family teaches, because stance, angles, and circumstance changes everything. The practice of the set is something different. If understood you can use hips instead of waist, because circumstance may demand that you use one and not the other.

I think what the Yangs "teach" is a basic method that if understood, allows one to make adjustments as needed.

I asked Yang Jun if it was OK if in bowstance that the toes of my front foot turned in about 5-15 degrees. I explained that my root felt stronger and more powerful. He basically said if that feels good, do it.

Often we talk about the "standard". Yang Zhen Ji does not bring his foot back in first as YZD does when stepping out from a Kick or whatever,. He steps directly out. I doubt anyone ever told him that it was "wrong". Yang Jun often does Part Wild Horses Mane without shifting weightback, but steps directly. This is much different than his Grandfather. I have heard he does a posture differently in one place than another because he looking at the posture differently. I have seen him also do weighted steps, shifts etc. Is anything different inernally? Maybe not, but the internals often do change slightly with the intent.

"Mixing teaching is easy to do, but very difficult to do well."

I completly agree. And I hold myself to be nothing but a student, no "expert" in any way. The only "mixing I have done is technique wise, and posture adjusments for range and angles. The internal of the two styles as I have said before seem as different on the surface as the outward form. BUt when one realizes that as circumstance changes everything seems. But as my structure changes, the internals go along with that change. so what appeared to be different is not really different, the "principals" remain the same but have a different "flavor". I am only speaking in terms of the two styles I have studied. I am not speaking about any other family styles.

Interesting discussion, doesn't have much to do with breathing. I never heard anyone associated with the Yang family say not to do reverse breathing, or to do it. I don't think it matters to anyone but the individual.

THere is much more in your post I would like to discuss.

my best to you all!


I am here to learn fron you.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Apr 17, 2004 9:37 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polaris:
<B>Greetings All,

This does get us to Yang Zhenduo's statement:

"Whether you do Chen style or Yang, or the two different Wu styles or the Sun style, they are all different. You can say that each one is unique, that they are all different.
In China, there are different tastes: sweet, salty, sour and spicy. You may say spicy is no good, but all the people in the south have to eat spicy food. People in the north, when they eat spicy food, all say this is horrible. So it depends on which one the practitioner likes. You say this one is no good, but I say this one is the best. So you cannot say which one is better than the other."

Yang Zhenduo's analogy is quite subtle. Fundamentally all these different kinds of food are the same things: meats, fish, vegetables, noodles, rice and various combinations of spices. The differences between these cuisines are not really of kind but of emphasis. The same ingredients are shared by all. Even Cantonese use hot peppers. Even in Sichuan they eat some sweet dishes. The differences are mostly relative: how much or how little of the the various flavors, spices methods of preparation, etc are favored.

I think that students tend to go through phases where the styles are first seen as very different - as the differences are noticed and understood - and then later as rather similar - as the underlying principles are discovered to be mainly the same.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Apr 17, 2004 10:41 am

I think it is also very important to distinguish between what an individual teacher may be purveying and the mainstream of the several 'family' styles.
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Postby Michael » Sat Apr 17, 2004 2:00 pm


I think your last post is an important one. To study and understand the "mainstream" of your style is very imprtant to understand and to be able to discern the quality of what other teachers are offering.

This is in no way being negative towards my Kuang Ping, the system or it's teachers. There were a number or things that did not "seem right", some of it was the teacher, and some aspects of the set itself that left me with questions. These things I never would have been able to recognize had it not been for my concurrent training in the YCF. I have still not been able to determine what was the set itself or what that individual teacher taught. I do not regret any of that training. It has served me well

I have also watched others practicing "Yang style TCC" and have been greatly confused by what they do. Had not for my experience with the Yang family teachers I would have thought what they were doing was "wonderful".

When I assist my teacher I teach what the Yang family teaches, I may have an opinion or something feels right for me--as in my angled toe--but that I keep to myself and only share those ideas with those much more experienced. It is very important to maintain a certain consistancy. If Yang Jun makes a "change", I will pass on that change, I make no changes myself.

I would ask you Jerry, how much "leeway" if any, do you think is there for individual teachers within the Yang family system? And in what areas? An example would be Yang ZhenJi and his just stepping out and not bringing the leg/foot back in for balance. JUst a simple discussion question, I have no agenda or anything.

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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Apr 17, 2004 6:20 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Michael:
<B>I would ask you Jerry, how much "leeway" if any, do you think is there for individual teachers within the Yang family system? And in what areas? An example would be Yang ZhenJi and his just stepping out and not bringing the leg/foot back in for balance. JUst a simple discussion question, I have no agenda or anything.

I think that there is actually quite a bit of leeway and frequently it has to do with 1)the application (and hence the intent) favored by the practitioner, 2)physical limitations that the practitioner may have to work around and 3)influences from other styles and other martial arts which the practitioner has incorporated into his taiji practice. Let me give an example. Even among top players well within the Yang mainstream, you can see some differences. Fu Zhongwen generally did not shift back before turning a foot; Yang Zhenduo shifts back slightly; others shift back completely. Each of these approaches has a rationale based either in application or general useability for people at varying levels of fitness and strength. Still this type of difference is superficial and there is no contradiction in terms of the underlying principles.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Apr 17, 2004 6:24 pm

If on the other hand we were to find someone advocating taiji without silk reeling, i.e. doing all the movements in linear or square fashion instead of circular and never rotating the arms - this would really be a break with all the major traditions and would contradict the basic, common principles of taijiquan, IMO.
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Postby Michael » Sun Apr 18, 2004 12:42 am

Thanks Jerry,

You verify all my thoughts concerning what I have heard from Yang Jun, what he implies and what my teacher tells me about Yang Jun's comments.

There is an outward form but it varies with the individual and as one progresses. But the princples do not. Thanks

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 04-17-2004).]
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Postby Polaris » Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:10 pm

Greetings All,

I'll agree with you Michael, an interesting discussion that has little to do with breathing anymore!

Regarding the practicality of learning techniques from different styles, I've never seen a technique (that I'd practise anyway, more below) from another style that isn't contained in the style I'm learning. I've had some experience judging internal and external styles in competitions (forms, san shou and pushing hands) and have been sent to different seminars with outside instructors by my Sifu to help with this. So, I have studied other martial arts, but on the recommendation of my T'ai Chi Sifu for a specific purpose (not for self-defense) so I don't disparage all cross-training. Of all the Chinese styles that I've seen and been coached in, there are only a few that have technique that isn't covered by the curriculum I've learned - those techniques that aren't covered we simply wouldn't use (head-butts for example) because they aren't considered "safe."

My apologies to Wushuer, I had gotten the impression that you'd moved away from Detroit and no longer had a Wu style teacher.

Learning T'ai Chi takes a looong time, and I have noticed a tendency for people to want to shorten the process (human nature, really). To that end I have seen as many people as start somewhere and then move somewhere else as I have seen people try to deliberately shortcut around their instructors by studying somewhere else at the same time they are studying with their "home" school. I was decrying the latter more than the former. What I've been doing here, for the sake of discussion if nothing else, is giving one opinion concerning how important it is to and therefore to what degree one should "buy into" the syllabus of a traditional martial art school.


[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 04-18-2004).]
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Postby Michael » Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:04 am


I understand you a little better now. I would agree that most of the "technique" you will find within an art--but not all, at least in a "formal" way, or taught as in my example above concerning the KP Brush knee. BUt not all teachers teach them all, often mostly what they themselves prefer.

I would only disagree with you on one point, and we should agree to disagree. If I was Wushuer I would not abandon my Wu forms for anything. I did that with my Kuang Ping and I think it was a mistake to at least not retain the set in a "maintenance" way at the least. I abandoned my other style and I think in some ways I am "poorer" for it. At the same time I do not regret that nearly all my practice time is devoted to the YCF set.

I will be honest with you, with the blessing of my teacher I studied Kuang Ping. He even went to a few classes earlier. One of my reasons was the belief that this was an "older" version coming down from Yang Ban Hou. I have always been interested in taking anything I learn as far back to the source as I can, so I can understand the present better. THis was my interest in the other style. But there is one more reason, there were a number of things I questioned about my YCF set( I had only been practicing two or three years). So in some regards I was also seeing if this one was "better" or more "suitable" to me as my experience with other styles of TCC was nil at the time. What I found instead, besides other "methods" and some postures, was that I began to recognize how complete the YCF style was. Also that it would not take much to incorporate what I had learned in the KP and how to expand the possibilities within each individual posture of the YCF. How to make something that went forward into something that went backward, to make something small from large,.....

It took me just about six months to know I would never abandon my YCF style, no matter what lures there were. It was enough. I was extremely interested in Bagua and still am, but I doubt I would ever begin to study it...though I do admit that if I had the time I would like to learn their stepping, I do not know how it could not be a benefit to my TCC. I would be interested on what you may have to say concerning anything here and especially my latter thoughts on Bagua stepping, as you probably have some experience with it.

make it good!

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Postby Michael » Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:06 pm


"I've been made better, not worse, by this training. I've been in no danger. My art has not suffered, in fact it's grown."

"Just one mans opinion."

Two men's opinion.
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:52 pm

Greetings Polaris,

You wrote, > What I've been doing here, for the sake of discussion if nothing else, is giving one opinion concerning how important it is to and therefore to what degree one should "buy into" the syllabus of a traditional martial art school. <

That depends on the school.

Some schools are mainly into teaching groups, and the teaching is aimed at the slowest learners.
Where there is individual training teachers sometimes don't adapt to the individual so a person is stuck learning at the pace he or she is given rather than a pace that suits him or her.

In some cases this is a serious problem, and it comes down to money. Some people will happily teach you three months worth of training at $50 per lesson, two lessons a week, and stretch it out over six years.


David J
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Postby lob » Thu Apr 22, 2004 11:29 pm

Hi to everybody, I'm new to this forum and english is not my native language so...please be patient! ;-)
My understanding of the matter is strictly linked with the neigong practice performed during the form.
I use to make a little bit of Yi (intention) circulating along the Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian paths during the movements. The rise along Du Mai e the descent along Ren Mai are linked respectively to the yang and to the yin part of the movements. The breathing (exhale and inhale)follows this rule except for the preparation and beginning form, where it's exactly the contrary as in the most of the static qigong methods.
Every movement has a special circulation in the arms and legs following the Da Zhoutian and special attention is paid to some topic moments in which there is a cross-exchange of intention between, for example, the two arms, or a passage from the hand to the eyes or to Dantian as in Yun Shou.
To this respect, there is a special synchronization between arms and legs that allows this process....ok, sorry..this is already off topic!! ;-)
Anyway, the breathing is kept natural meaning that there is no intention to force it to the reversal pattern.
According to the teaching I received, which were also followed by direct experience, there is a misunderstanding about the matter of reversal breathing.
In the matter of fact, reversal breathing is a pattern which arises naturally in static qigong at a certain level where the opening of the Xiao Zhoutian is already attained. At that point, during Ru Jing state, it spontaneously happen that "something" goes up along the column causing an in-breathing with a back-pull of the abdomen, while when descending, it causes an out-breathing with abdomen protrusion.
As I said, this is a natural and spontaneous phenomenon which shouldn't be forced and be simulated intentionally.
Coupling the practice of TJQ with a static qigong (Zhang Zhuan, for example, or a seated one)the spontaneous reversal breathing will be transposed to the movements, so that the abdomen will protrude during exhalation.
The eyesight too is involved in the circulation of Yi and consequently linked to breathing, but this is another matter!
Hope my english is understandable! ;-)
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