Page 2 of 4

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2001 9:50 pm
by DavidJ
Hi Jerry,

I have an observation and a question.

I think that one of the problems that I've seen people have in translating 'jin' as 'energy' is the wide variation in the colloquial use of the term 'energy' in English, and has nothing to do with Chinese. (I'm referring here to informal discussions, not to formal translations.)

Aside from the cultural differences between the China and the USA, and the specialized nature of terminology within the art, can you shed some light on the difference between languages like Chinese that use ideographs, and languages like English that don't?

I have read that there is a real difference, but it was long age and I forget what it was.

Thanks in advance,

David J

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2001 11:01 pm
by JerryKarin
Yes, David, I agree that 'energy' has all kinds of baggage in English which 'jing' does not have in Chinese (and vice-versa). Unfortunately the same can be said for 'strength', 'power', 'force', and probably any other single word in English you can come up with. All of these fit into a constellation of related concepts in English which is different from the relations that obtain in Chinese. Awkward or ugly constructions, like 'skill-strength' are not even worth bothering about: in addition to adding elements not present in the original they don't mean anything without explanation and a translation should not require further translation - try substituting that locution in an essay involving 'jing' and you'll quickly see what I mean.

Whatever 'x' and 'y' translations you map onto jing and li will have their own baggage, their own disadvantages. Yet some (Mike Sigman and his surrogates) have made this into a holy war: "my x/y are right and your choice of x/y is wrong; not only that, but your choice of x/y indicate that you really don't understand anything about taiji.....". This attitude is grotesque and informs us more about the insecurities of its adherents than the meaning of the Chinese terms. I do not insist on any one word to translate jing. Lately I have been experimenting with 'strength' for jing and 'force' or 'brute force' for li. Bottom line: any rendering you settle for is a convention and a technical term which the hearer has to be familiar with.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 08-08-2001).]

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 2:47 pm
by Michael
I have to say that I agree with Jerry's observations. I must add however this concerning the word "Kraft". I asked my friend a German Prof. He said the main meaning/use is of power in weightlifting. It was also used in one of the first word pertaining to automobiles..there are geopolitical uses also.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 5:01 pm
by JerryKarin
Suppose some Chinese are translating a book about baseball from English. They ask the translator, well, what about 'pitch'? The translator offers some Chinese words meaning 'throw' or 'toss'. Then a Chinese baseball player says he knows about pitching and it should really be translated 'hard and fast'. (And if you don't believe me, he says, come out on the mound and I'll show you.) Admirable as that is as a commentary on how to pitch, it is not a good translation for 'pitch'. When Mike Sigman offered the rendering 'trained skill' (on this board) for jing, that was much like 'hard and fast'. Now he is touting 'skill-strength' or some such. That would be like translating 'pitch' as 'hard throw'. Well, he's getting warmer!

(In my original post, following out the analogy of taiji/baseball, without thinking I used a second, very poor example: 'walk' in baseball. Actually 'walk' is an example of the exception to the rule I am trying to promote: when translating, translate rather than explain out of my own experience. Walk has the idiomatic meaning 'go free'; it's difficult to translate the original 'ambulate' meaning and still indicate this idiomatic usage. The current Chinese phrase for walk in baseball is an explanation which does not attempt to retain the original idiomatic root word: bao song yi lei loosely 'free advance to first'. jing does not fall into this category.)

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 08-11-2001).]

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 7:17 pm
by DavidJ
Hi Everybody,

All of this reminds me of the difference between horsepower and torque.

Horsepower is the amount of work that can be done over a period of time, ie, moving 16 1/2 tons one foot in a minute.

Though technically torque is power turning around an axis, in cars it pertains to the delivery of horsepower. Acceleration differs when the same amount of horsepower is applied with different amounts of torque.

In other words, horsepower has to to do with energy doing work and torque has to do with applying that energy.

Is the pitch the ball moving, or the body moving the ball, and is this zen enough? Image

And Jerry's pitch can be thrown at different speeds using the same amount of energy.

So is jin closer to horsepower or torque?

Or does it have more to do with leverage inside our bodies?

As for "trained skill," if "li" is "raw strength" or "brute force" might "jin" be "refined strength" or "elegant force"?

I like "elegant force".

** ** **

Perhaps a clearer distinction should be made when we describe what we do, as opposed to when we try to describe what the Chinese concepts are.

For me the map is not the territory. As useful as maps are, I don't care if the mountain has an English or a German or a Chinese name, as long as I can get there.

And though I've generated my fair share of words in the last several months, Tai Chi is not in the words it is in the doing.

Respectfully submitted,

David J

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 8:45 pm
by tai1chi
Hi All,

the problem seems clear, and I agree that ultimately the word used to describe whatever it is we're talking about is irrelevant. I understand why "energy" isn't acceptable because it can cary the connotations of something "New Agey." Power" seems fine. But, "power" can also be used as a verb with close associations. For example, "the 'jin' powers the movement." This can sound correct, but results in a tautology if we replace 'jin' with 'power.' So, the sentence doesn't really tell us what the "power" is --while "jin" is quite specific. Anyway, I'd prefer "force" to power --really the same word, but not as liable to the same type of misinterpretation. Well, David J. uses "torque', and I like the term too. Some, however, think of torque as something negative --as in torquing the knee. We shouldn't confuse the two. My only disagreement with "torque" in this context is that we probably distinguish between/among "resultant" forces and "initiating" forces. Torque is a result that has a "power" output ("manpower," imho, btw). There probably are statistics that define an average output. But, even a horse can't generate 2 horsepower Image. However, he can produce more than 1 horsepower of torque. Centrifugal and centripetal force, momentum, leverage, etc. can all increase the output (i.e., power generated). I think that the ideal would be able for an individual to use these physical and mechanical advantages to maximize his one manpower. Using any member individually fails to maximize the "unified body power." Anyway, once (a human) changes or translates "energy" from one direction to another, torque will occur. Yet, torque might not really capture the meaning of "unified." Well, the problem I have with "skill-strength" is that I'm not certain that was what was meant in the classics, but, even if so, we still need to define "skill." Did someone suggest "special strength" already? True, but still begs the question, "define special?" Well, both seem to be ways to qualify a use of "strength." Afaik, the classics spoke of "jin" as a result produced, not the method of production. Fwiw, though, whatever definition is understandable to the practitioner is the best. Lots of stuff in tjq have more than one single definite meaning. Or else, what would there be to talk about?

Steve James

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 10:09 pm
by JerryKarin
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tai1chi:
<B>Hi All,

I understand why "energy" isn't acceptable because it can cary the connotations of something "New Agey." </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Sigman once mentioned playing blues in Haight Ashbury and his dislike of hippies. Maybe that might explain why he gets all bothered by 'energy'. I don't make that association at all and have no problem with 'energy'. If it bothers you, substitute 'strength'. I like 'energy' and 'strength' for jing because they generally have 'good' connotations, whereas 'force' is frequently negative. Translating peng jing as 'peng power' or 'ward-off power' sounds infelicitous to me, like 'girl power' or 'puppy power'. But if you like 'power', use it. There is no perfect translation of this word! Whatever English words you use are ultimately tokens in a contrasting relationship: force vs strength, force vs energy, etc.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2001 12:15 am
by tai1chi
Hi Jerry,

actually, I like and use "energy." I prefer "force" to "power," but I agree that it's really a non-issue of exaggerated importance.

Steve James

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2001 1:41 am
by DavidJ
Hi All,

I like these discussions, for they've brought me closer to understanding the terms.

Some good words are out there, but due to overuse or misuse in the past people may be reluctant to use them. Two examples:

Copacetic: operating as a fully integrated whole unit, where all the parts are knit together correctly.

Synergy: the behavior of the whole can't be predicted by the behavious of its parts; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

These terms seem to apply very well to the idea of "using the whole body" and not neglecting the roles played by each part. Elsewhere I suggested "integrated articulation".

Torque doesn't seem to work where the motion is in a straight line, except that we get the straight from the curved. Torque seems to work well for 'split' if 'split' is seen as a rotational application. Maybe we could use torque if we specified, "Don't TWIST the knee."

I'm not really campagning for any of these words, as I don't have a problem with 'energy', but if they are useful, why not use them?

Even if we come up with perfect terms, who is to say that a decade from now these terms won't be used in unfortunate ways.

Perhaps we need to COIN some new words or terms...



PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2001 6:46 pm
by Andreas Graf
Hi Louis,

sorry for the late reply, I have been rather busy.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:

I actually like the suggested German word "kraft" for jin, insofar as it means "strength, force, or power." I would point out, however, that although the English word "craft" comes from the German root "kraft," it seldom carries this meaning of "strength," but rather "skill, dexterity" or an occupation or activity involving those qualities.

In my opinion using "Kraft" for "jin" is so-and-so, but still opens
a can of worms (it has been pointed out in other posts that there are often semantic problems), because Kraft has a lot of connotations and uses.
Since I am not L'Academie Francaise, I have no problem seeing foreign words in german or english texts - so I would prefer to see translators keeping the term "Jin", probably with an explanation of the term in the introduction.
You need to explain why you chose any other term anyhow, since we saw all the problems with translating in other posts.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
In other words,
you cannot have movement, strength, or skill without energy. Isn't this obvious?
You also always have forces (in the physics meaning of the word) - so you could also use force as a translation.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
My own translation of the word jin is "integrated strength/sensitivity."
IIRC, you mainly use "energy" in your translation of Fu's book.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
It really depends upon the context. To really be semantically careful about things, I would not make an unqualified statement that jin as it is used in the taiji context means ?energy,? but rather that jin is a particular instance of, and a particular configuration or disposition of, energy.

This is IMHO related to the "New Age" use of the word "energy" that has been pointed out. I'd guess that most german readers would not immediately relate "energy" in a Taiji text to the physics meaning, but more to the New
Age meaning - and I guess most English readers would do the same.



PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2001 7:02 pm
by Andreas Graf
Hi Audi,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>Hi Louis and Andreas,

As for German, I think that "Kraft" does indeed have a slightly wider connotation than "strength." In the case of "dong jin," for example, a compound like like "verstaendniskraft" might be acceptable, whereas "understanding strength" seems forced to my English speaking ear. I think "power" includes most of the meanings of "macht" plus some of the meaning of "kraft." The only issue I might have with translating "dong jin" as "understanding energy" is that it leads to confusion with "qi"; hence I think I now prefer "understanding power."

Take care,

Just wanted to point out that my discussion
with Louis about his reasoning for "dongjin"
or "tingjin" being a verb was merely about his grammatical reasoning and I don't think
there is value in prolonging that discussion.

Just to confuse the russians:-) :
There is a chapter in the "Taijiquan Quanshu"
about "Neiqi and the use of Yi" where it says: This kind of Qi is called "zhongqi, neijqi, neijin, etc.".
Here, jin seems to be used as a synonym for qi......

PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2001 9:52 pm
by Bob3
The original question posed was the appropriate response when a wrestler attempts to uproot a tai chi person by lifting one or more legs. This thread has gotten bogged down in describing the different types of energy involved rather than answering the original question.
In this topic, the question seems misplaced, since by lifting a leg, the question is not one directed to push hands play, but rather what is the appropriate martial art response, using the energies inherent in Tai Chi. The best response is to not be there when the attempted leg lift is executed, but this is not always possible. At this point, the question confronting the practioner is the use of the appropriate energy & technique and what the expected goal of the energy or applied technique is to become. Since the topic of push hands has been put aside for the moment, the assessment must be for maintaining the safety of the practioner or for the dominance of the situation.
An observation at this point. If push hands is not the issue, the question is what rules apply to the situation. By admitting that a leg lift is possible, the tai chi practioner is putting themselves into the rules of the wrestler, and almost admitting defeat unless also trained in this skill. One of my teacher's statements is that in martial arts, the opponent will attempt to attack within the rules of his art. There is never any agreement in such a conflict that the tai chi practioner has to abide by those rules. One does have to maintain a calm mind and see what the dynamics of the situation exist and react appropriately.
One observation from watching wrestlers perform such takedowns by lifting a leg. During the attempt to lift a leg, the head and body are typically bent down and thus vulnerable. 'An' force can be applied to the back of the upper body, forcing the opponent into the ground before the leg is caught. The head being vulnerable can be attacked in many ways, but applying the technique of hitting the tiger with two hands on the ears should stop the attack cold. If this is the start of a more serious attack, the elbow can be employed in several areas on the neck or upper back to inflict more serious injury. The technique used must reflect the intent of the practioner and their assessment of the conflict. As always, finding a way to avoid the attack and deflect the leg lift attempt is best. If the opponent gets inside your protection zone (a technique I've heard described as jamming) then different tai chi applications for very close opponents come into play. Standing on one leg like in the Golden Rooster posture is okay when the opponent is at a small distance, but when the opponent's object is to capture a leg, don't offer it to him! Likely, given some momentum from the opponent, the one leg stance is not that strong or flexible to react suffiently to avoid the momentum.
One last thought - Chen Fa Ke defeated the wrestler by being able to control the wrestler's root very quickly. Each was then able to recognize what had happened and not to progress any further, to be embarassed by the conflict. This takes a high level of skill on both people's part. One that is likely not to be found in more normal lives.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2001 1:36 am
by tai1chi
Hi Bob,

Audi's final thought on his post was:

"I have occasionally pushed with people who retreat very low and far to the rear and have wondered how they would counter an attempt to seize their lead foot or to lift their knee. Does anyone think that this is just a question of proper sticking/adhering energy?"

So, energy did have something to do with is question, but you're right about the digression. Anyway, 'sticking' to the point, I guess part of Audi's quesiton is about how one can/should use tjq skills to deal with an attempted single leg takedown. Well, personally, the first advice I ever received was about the same as your first suggestion: "Don't let him grab you." But, as I understand it, several masters have proposed that, if they were grabbed, they would use some form of strike. I've also thought that, if one could depend on a strike, it would make sense to let the opponent grab the leg --and expose himself. Of course, grapplers often say, "That's been tried, and it doesn't always work." This gets into the effectiveness of vital-point striking techniques. Let's assume, though, that deadly stiking is inappropriate. Then, I think the question become a) how exactly does one use tjq to avoid? [and here I do think things like "sticking" energy are relevant. B) which tjq techniques are effective for dealing with the situation once it has occurred? As for avoidance, I suppose the simplest method is to stay/step to the outside of the opponent's approaching arm or/and leg. (If he jumps in with both legs and arms --which is not absolutely unheard of-- he's more susceptible to counterattack, but he is in a stronger position to lift (as in a potential fireman's carry, etc). Anyway, the same strategy applies. So, avoidance --imo-- is a matter of agility, not a specific technique. In terms of engagement, i.e., after one is grabbed, and excluding strikes, I think the forms that are considered "retreats" are always applicable. (Retreat, I know, is not really a good description). Anyway, my .02.

Steve James

PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2001 1:17 am
by Bob3
One method that was not discussed in the above is simply using internal chi energy to link with the ground. Using this type of energy, which takes some mastery to apply, can make one's foot 'stick' to the ground so that it can not be lifted by the opponent. This technique does take a strong, calm mind to apply. I would hesitate to recommend this unless the person had some practice with the technique to become comfortable with it to feel the confidence necessary. The only negative point is that the opponent in this case has their body very close to the person so that when the lift attempt is aborted, a 'retreat' move is in order to protect against the opponent's use of their arms against vulnerable parts of one's body. If possible, I would recommend a retreat position that would place the practioner to the side or in back of the opponent. This maintains a favorable position for the practioner so that further 'play' can be met appropriately with tai chi techniques. I believe that the word "retreat" is not really appropriate for this type of play. What is needed is a position of flexibility that offers options for applying techniques without undue exposure to the strengths of the opponent. Make the 'play' proceed by your control rather than by the rules of the opponent.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2001 4:27 am
by tai1chi
Hi Bob3,

ok, "retreat" doesn't seem to be an appropriate term. I think you're right about moving to the opponent's back or side --if one doesn't want the leg to be grabbed. I'm not sure if grapplers would agree with your suggestion of "rooting." It's true that it's almost impossible to uproot someone, or let's say the 700lb. gorilla. But, many would argue that someone strong enough, if allowed, will find a way eventually. (I've seen demonstrations of rooting where several men have been unable to budge a person.) Still, two things: first, usually a grappler will do just that grab and not let go. (2) What movement from the form would you suggest using once the opponent has latched on? Given, the leg that is rooted will be unable to move. Anyway, back to retreat: how about "step to the rear" or "step diagonally"?

Steve James