flowing like a river?

Postby Wushuer » Tue Jan 21, 2003 11:14 pm

Yes, my posing of the question was done tounge in cheek. Got me a really cool answer though.
I have not had the spare time and leisure I was previously blessed with and so have not spent very much time online reading all these wonderful posts. Seeing a direct reply with my name on it caught my eye enough to try to quickly catch up on this thread, but there's no possible way a quick read was going to get me to any kind of understanding of the material.
So MUCH stuff, so many theories.
Let me address the "curve in the straight" as you see it, very quickly as I'm extremely pressed for time right now.
I, too, felt I got a very slight handle on this bit of theoretical tomfoolery when I learned sword forms. My epiphany was due to a broadsword warm up/training form known to me as the Nine Cuts.
In this form you make, amazingly enough, nine cuts with the sword around your body, no steps, no leaps or kicks to get in the way, just straight out swinging the sword. Don't know if the YCF schools have such a practice, but it's REALLY a fantastic way to warm up your shoulders, dantien, wrists, legs...
OK. It's a really great way to warm up, without too much running around involved. Seems to have just about single handedly cured my carpal tunnel syndrome as well.
To make my short answer long... (you guys think I'm bad on here? TALK to me sometime. I don't even type very fast and LAND O'GOSHEN I'm windy)
These cuts swing the blade around your body in what looks like huge, circular arcs. Once you get really moving fast it looks like you've got a shield of moving swords around you. It's pretty impressive at parties.
But there is almost no curve in your arms (curve in the straight), they move pretty much in straight lines to make these movements look circular. All the curves of the blades come from the combination of forces between the near straight movements of your arms and dantien, with the circular motions through your wrists.
One of my all time favorite excersizes, I run through this training exercise for five minutes each side (right and left handed) every morning, right after regular warm ups and before I do my form.
In the NAWS broadsword form I learned, the "curve in the straight" theory is demonstrated and proved time and time again.

I will try to get back here more often and catch up on this wonderful thread.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Mon Jan 27, 2003 5:59 am


My understanding is that moves are broken down into four stages and that any ¡®move¡¯ can be broken down an infinite number of times. When practicing push hands your partner can change any number of times in any direction. Think of someone pushing down with raw, brute muscle strength on your wrists as you lift your arms from your sides in the opening move. If you do it well he may not be able to react before you complete the motion and send him jumping back. If he does react and collect himself for a continued push on your wrists you have to start over by ¡®catching¡¯ his new push, finding your direction, etc.

There are different ways of practicing with different results. Wang Yongquan writes about this specifically in his book as well. He distinguishes the ¡®for health¡¯ practice in which movements should be large, open, and have internal expansion, from the martial type of practice which has smaller, more detailed movements/changes. The ¡®for health¡¯ practice is the foundation for the martial type of practice. I think that by doing things large, open, and expanded makes clear the changes and wavelike motions inside the body. When these motions are clear one can do them smaller, quickly and in rapid succession without losing the total body connection.

So, to try to answer your question, I think it is definitely best to practice with the internal changes of the four stages corresponding to the beginning and end points of the external motions of the form. Once you feel the waves of internal movement and feel that you can change direction of large motions without losing connection you will naturally start to break things up smaller and more quickly.

Your comment below is important:
¡°I understand the Taiji energies to be analogous to the geometric formulas for straight lines, parabolas, hyperbolas, etc. Although these distinctions are meaningless at a single point of movement (i.e., Wuji), the instant there is any contrast or movement (i.e., Taiji), the nature of the curve is manifest in its entirety¡±

I think this and the other comments in this thread about curve in linear motion and lines in arcs may be clarified by thinking of a Taiji motions/energies being expressed as rotating spheres and flat circles whose centers move from point A to point B. At the same time the size of the rotating sphere or circle can expand and contract.

The word ¨Cna2- in this usage is best understood as both ¡®to pick up¡¯ (¡®something off the ground¡¯) and ¡®to take¡¯ in the sense of, ¡°it was yours and now that I have ¡®taken it,¡¯ it is mine.¡± This usage is standard Taiji terminology that occurs in the Classics in the phrases,
¡®na2 er2 hou4 fa1¡¯ (pick up and then emit)
¡®xu4 er2 hou4 fa1¡¯ (store up and then emit)
¡®xu4¡¯ is to store up as potential energy in a bow. It is the word used for charging a battery.

The object of ¡®xu4¡¯ and ¡®fa1¡¯ is, of course, ¡®jin4¡¯. Naturally, we might think that ¡®energy¡¯ would then be a logical choice for a translation of ¡®jin4¡¯. Based on my experience, ¡®jin4¡¯ needs a more concrete translation that relates directly to the elasticiy of the bow or rubber band itself and not the potential energy that the stretching of the bow creates. This deserves an entirely separate discussion altogether and is extremely important. All of the Taiji classics state very explicitly and in some detail that the process of understanding what ¡®jin4¡¯ is, is ¨Cthe- key to being able to begin practicing and understanding Taiji.

Regarding your question about pulling your jin4 back, I think that if you can experience a feeling of sending jin4 into your partner¡¯s body then you can try to do just the opposite- bring it back. When you bring it back, often your partner will follow you. If he does then you can continue to lead him out. Leading him out is called ¡®yin3¡¯ (lure) and ¡®taking up his jin4 or li4 (raw muscle strength)¡¯ is called ¡®na2¡¯. Giving it back to him is called ¡®fa1¡¯.

In Taiji it is important to always try to discover the opposite of every feeling. Try starting off with finding the opposite of the feeling of opposing gravity by standing up. Which muscles are being used to fight gravity?

Sending jin4 into the partner¡¯s body is like connecting with the gravity pulling your partner to the earth; the gravity that he is having to fight to stand erect. I think it is best to describe this as being done with varying amounts of your gravity, not your push against your gravity. Once you connect with his gravity you get a clear view or, as you say, ¡®sonar echo¡¯. After connecting with his gravity ¡®issues¡¯ you come back because you already have this clear picture. When you take your gravity back, no matter how small an amount went over, often your partner will follow your motion. If he does not follow, you can just sit and wait or you can use varying amounts of your push against gravity to trick him into pushing against his gravity.

Gu Rou Chen
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Postby Audi » Tue Jan 28, 2003 4:30 am

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the great clarification. I think I understand your description much more clearly now. If I could ever learn to do Roll Back right, I might even be able to execute some of this technique some day. Understanding in the head is, alas, not the same as understanding in the body. (Is this what “ti3 hui4” is about?). I especially like what you relate about opposites and gravity, although I have generally developed a slight aversion for approaches to Taijiquan that seem to stress minimalism at the level of basic skills.

Although I think I now follow your description, I am still a little unsure of what tactical realm this doctrine occupies or should occupy. I would have thought that what you are describing is the “Yin3 jin4” (“the luring of energy/power”? or the “energy/power to lure”?) you mentioned. I had thought that this was only a minor choice among many possible tactics; however, you seem to be describing a more general procedure for interacting with the opponent. How should this relate to zhan, nian, lian, sui (“adhering, sticking, connecting, and following”)? Is what you describe inherent in each of these techniques, something in addition, or perhaps a different view of the same interaction these techniques describe?

I am also slightly puzzled by your distinction between the elasticity of the bow and the potential energy stored. I would have thought of both as “Jin,” with the former perhaps corresponding to generalized “Peng Jin” and the latter merely being the stored up (“Xu4”) Jin that one can release or “Fa” back at an opponent. I think we had a discussion about similar issues on the Board a year or two back that was informative, but somewhat inconclusive. As I recall, I even had some doubt as to whether “Jin” should be interpreted merely as the potential object of various verbs, or as a noun that could be modified by various verbal participles. (I.e., should “Ting Jin” be interpreted as “listening to energy” or “the energy/power to listen” or even “the energy that is listened to”?). I hope you find time to initiate a discussion on it.

Take care,
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jan 29, 2003 5:58 pm

Pulling back Jin is primary to the way I was trained to "adhere" or "stick" to my opponent. So I sort of actually followed what Gu Rou Chen was saying.
He is giving great advice and I wish I knew enough of theory to really follow it, as it is I only know enough to know I don't know enough.
However, I find his use of the word "gravity" to be very comprehensive. I have frequently asked the question, "Am I using gravity here, or something else?" during my experiences with retracting Jin.
I don't recall what the practice is called, Fajin (fajing as I know it) is the issuance of Jin(g), Xujin(g) comes to mind for the retractaction of it, but I could be wrong.
Whatever it's called, it was how I was trained to "stick" to my opponent or "pull" him back to me.
I have allways felt I was using gravity for this, mine and my opponents at the same time. My question was never fully answered, usually I got "Some yes, some no" as the response and I went away feeling like I was missing something.
Since I was able to do it, I guess my philosophical wonderings weren't very important at the time.
Anyway, just wanted to add my quick two cents to the wonderful words of Gu Ruo Chen since it opened up some memories and seems to correlate to how I understood this to work.
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Postby Audi » Thu Jan 30, 2003 10:21 pm

Hi all,

The following link might give some more context to some of my questions. If you follow the link, it should take you to a list of articles, including one written by Zhang Yun on Zhan, Nian, Lian and Sui (Adhering, Sticking, Linking, and Following). It appeared in Tai Chi Magazine and was the subject of an earlier discussion on the Push Hands Forum on this site, maybe two or three years ago.


Take care,

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 01-30-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Jan 31, 2003 5:01 pm

I only had the chance so far to read the first article. This was very good, though it could use some editing.
If nothing else, it gave me the chinese word equivalents of sticking, adhering, linking and following. I have heard the chinese I studied with use these words, but since I can barely understand english I allways say, "I'm sorry. I don't speak chinese, can you give me those in english?"
Yes, I know I'm a dumb duh-merican, but I don't speak chinese so have learned only the english equivalents for these words Zhan, Nian, Lian and Sui.
I have allways, still am to some extent, been confused by the difference between sticking and adhering. Seems to mean the same thing, but this article cleared up a bit of my mental confusion.
Now, I just need to get a push hands partner and DO some. I have not really pushed hands with any regularity in over six years. I sometimes push with my son, but he is fifteen and has MUCH better things to do than push hands with the old man.
So my sensitivity is most likely down to NIL, NADA, ZERO, ZIP.
There's four words that almost mean the same thing right there! In a language I almost understand.
But the gist of the article seemed to be "Practice, practice, practice".
Some day, I will.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Jan 31, 2003 5:28 pm

Chen Xin lists NA as one of the 36 sicknesses to avoid.
So Wu stylists are not alone in calling this skill Na as opposed to chin na.
Just an insight.
This one surprised me. I have learned Na (control) since day one in my training. According to this article, this is a "sickness" that is keeping me from using real TCC skills.
Am I alone in not understanding this?
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 31, 2003 6:17 pm

Hi Wushuer,

fwiw, coming from a non-Chinese speaker, I'd say that "Na" --if defined as "grabbing" clearly is a fault or "sickness". Your interpretation of "na" as "control" is certainly valid, and correct. However, there are a lot of English words that could be used: grasp, hold, seize, etc., but which might not match what the speaker intended. In any case, no matter which word is used to express "what" is being done, it will probably be insufficient to express "how" it is done. For ex., a shuai jiao practitioner might also "na" in the sense of "control", yet it would be nothing like the (NA)Wu interpretation. Oh well, the same problem in translation/interpretation exists for "hua", "da", and "fa." I.e., none are prescriptions or descriptions of "how."

Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Feb 01, 2003 8:40 am


Re: "Hmmm.........
Chen Xin lists NA as one of the 36 sicknesses to avoid."

Yes, this does seem confusing. However, looking at the original document, I don't think it is meant to be a list of names of flaws or "sicknesses" prima facie. The named items are topics, and the words following are cautionary commentaries about what to avoid with regard to those discrete aspects of push hands. So the reading would be more like: "As for X, it would be a flaw to Y." Clearly, some of the named items could hardly be considered to be flaws in and of themselves. For instance, it would seem quite odd for a taiji document to say that peng is a flaw, but I believe the reading would go more like: “With regard to peng, it would be a flaw to use stiff force (ying qi) to rack up the other’s arm, rather than using centered qi to join with the other’s arm.”

So, na would not be a “sickness,” but there are potentially flawed ways of doing it.

This, anyway, is my take on it. Maybe Jeff could comment on this. Jeff? The document appears in the back of the Taiji Quanpu book, pp. 331-336.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Feb 03, 2003 3:36 pm

Yes, Louis. Thank you. That does make more sense. Re-reading it, I see what you are saying.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Sun Feb 09, 2003 3:00 pm

see below

[This message has been edited by Gu Rou Chen (edited 02-09-2003).]
Gu Rou Chen
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Sun Feb 09, 2003 3:04 pm

I can¡¯t access the geocities cite from China for some reason, so I can¡¯t comment on the English translation. Can someone send it to me? I assume that the follow-up after the 36 ¡®illnesses¡¯ was also translated. This is an interesting document, the end of which describes very succinctly ¨Cexactly- what we were discussing. His description of ¡®zou3¡¯ and ¡®yin3¡¯ are what folks in Beijing often use the word ¡®na2¡¯ to refer to. Interesting that there is a note for the line on ¡®na2¡¯. Since the Chinese graph (character) for ¡®na2¡¯ used in the text is not the usual graph for the word, ¡®na2¡¯ the editor felt some explication necessary. The note reads: ¡°This graph [na2] is pronounced like this graph [NA2]. There are two meanings associated with it: one is the same as [NA2] (probably taken to mean ¡®grab¡¯ here), the other can be explained as ¡®to lead along/draw out/lure¡¯ [qian1yin3].¡±

This document is precious in that it also points out the problem of how nomenclature can be very confusing.

¡°Zou3 is another name for yin3. How can this be called both ¡®yin3¡¯ and ¡®zou3¡¯?¡± . . .

Gu Rou Chen
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