Solo Push Hands?

Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:49 pm

I am most definitely not qualified to even begin to render an opinion on physics. What I know about physics would fit in a thimble and leave enough room for it to rattle around if you shook it.
However, is there not a line in the Classics of TCC that, after translation to English, states, "Use four ounces to redirect a thousand pounds"?
From this we should see, quite clearly, that you are required to use your own four ounces of force to redirect that thousand pounds of incoming force from your opponent and by doing so you are not violating any principle of our art.
From my own experience and training first you will receive any incoming force, then you will redirect it.
How could it be possible to redirect force without using some small amount of force of your own?
Obviously the admonition here is to use the least amount of your own force possible to achieve redirection, however "the least amount necessary" still requires using some of your own force to accomplish this.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby ChiDragon » Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:51 pm

Bob,
You'd just taken the words right out of my mouth.

Let nature take its course.
Wu Wei.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby DPasek » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:33 pm

I was not planning to continue with this thread, but perhaps I will try a different approach. The classics DO mention “four ounces (liang) moves a thousand pounds (jin),” and I do think that this phrase is what contributes to the confusion. But, since the phrase is not elaborated on, it is not clear what was meant.

First, 4 liang is not an insignificant level of force; we are not talking about the weight of a feather here. Four liang equals about the weight of a baseball. If the author wanted to indicate a lighter weight, they could have said ONE liang instead; but they chose FOUR liang. 1000 jin equals about 500 kg [an ox weighs 544 kg on average].

It is possible that the author was like many modern practitioners and did not understand force, but let’s assume that they were masters with high sensitivity and awareness, and that their perceptions were accurate. They would then know that if the opponent was using 1000 jin, they both would be feeling 1000 jin; if they were using 4 liang, then their opponent would also feel 4 liang.

Some, including me, think that the phrase is talking about leading an ox (1000 jin) by a rope attached to their nose. A 4 liang pull on the rope would then move the ox. Note that both the puller and the ox would be feeling the 4 liang, it is just that the ox is controlled by that force because of the strategic location where it is applied.

If this is the meaning of “four ounces (liang) moves a thousand pounds (jin),” then it is NOT talking about one person feeling 4 liang when the other person pushes with 1000 jin! Instead, it is talking about a strategic and well timed and placed small force that can control the opponent. One person cannot be feeling 4 liang at the point of contact while the other person feels 1000 jin! The level of force is equal and opposite. It is unlikely that they are talking about differences in tingjin; both participants feel the same amount of force at the point of contact (the hand pulling the rope = 4 liang; the rope pulls the ox’s nose with 4 liang; the ox resists the pull with 4 liang...).

Some people have, instead, interpreted the phrase to indicate that the opponent EXPECTS to issue 1000 jin against you, but you move in a way that only allows 4 liang to actually land. It is possible that the opponent would then loose their balance because their body is anticipating, and therefore is structured for, 1000 liang. Without actually gaining that support (the equal and opposite force of Newton’s Law) from the expected 1000 liang, their structure is broken and can be controlled.

I am skeptical of this interpretation since a trained opponent is used to missing their target and would likely be less vulnerable when their attack misses. It may work sometimes, but does not seem to me to be as likely as the ox interpretation. The ox interpretation can also apply to many situations, whereas the other interpretation only applies to situations when the opponent expects to land a large force and thus commits to it. Additionally, it would take a very strong person to be able to generate 1000 liang force (but the ox has that naturally due to its mass).

Other interpretations are possible, but I do not feel like exploring all of the alternatives at this time. If someone posts a different interpretation, then perhaps I will give my thoughts on it.
Last edited by DPasek on Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby ChiDragon » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:15 pm

四兩撥千斤

(liang) and (jin) are weight units in the Chinese measure system.

There are sixteen liang in a jin. Thus the phrase 四兩撥千斤 simply means in Tai Ji:
One only need to using one quarter of a unit force to subdue a 1000 times the unit force. It is not as simple as using a rope to pull a bull for a walk. However, it is a matter to subdue a charging bull in one's direction. It was not an idea to use the chest to take all the impact from a charging bull. It is a matter how to avoid the charging impact with much less effort.

The phrase has no numerical value. It is only an idiom was often used by Chinese martial artists.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby DPasek » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:49 pm

Why would they choose 4 liang rather than just 1 liang if it was only an idiom to represent a small force vs. a large force? It is reasonable to think that 1000 jin may just represent any large force, but why use 4 liang to represent any small force?
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby ChiDragon » Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:24 pm

DPasek wrote:Why would they choose 4 liang rather than just 1 liang if it was only an idiom to represent a small force vs. a large force? It is reasonable to think that 1000 jin may just represent any large force, but why use 4 liang to represent any small force?


There are 16 liang in a jin, thus 4/16 is a quarter of a jin. It is very easy logical for one to think only using 1 quarter of the effort to do something.

The Chinese writings are very poetic. 4 liang has a very rhythmic tone with the phrase. I have no other reason for the argumentation. There is no reason to argue about the idioms in any language. To understand all these, one has to be familiar with the cultural background and the characteristics of a particular language.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby DPasek » Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:59 pm

Well, I still think that the idiom is referring to a small strategically placed force moving a big and strong opponent.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby DPasek » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:06 pm

Here is a post explaining the idiom:
http://www.rockymountaintaichi.com/zmq-13-13-12/
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:13 pm

OK...
I guess I didn't realize the depth of feelings involved with this discussion.
Let's step back a bit.

Pushing hands is a skill that cannot be described to someone and then VIOLA! they can just do it, it can only be learned through constant, and hands on, practice.
So we are not going to be able to convey very much to each other about pushing hands using words.
ESPECIALLY as words have different meanings to different people. Further, the same words said to the same person will mean something entirely different if used in a different context.
I ran into this phenomenon quite frequently when I first started training TYFTCC and started participating on this forum.
I was constantly using words and phrases I had learned and used at the Wu Academy that had an entirely different meaning when viewed through the lens of those who trained in the TYF style, the Sun style, the Chen style, etc.
We butted heads over and over again only to figure out, eventually, that we were talking about the same thing but were talking in circles around each other because the terms we were using, even though we were using the same words, had entirely different meanings to each of us.
Further complicating the issues was the concepts of both frame and circle size.
I had previously learned Wu Chien Chuan TCC, which is small frame, small circle TCC.
TYFTCC is large frame, large circle TCC.
So our entire frame of reference was turned upside down, literally.
Concepts I had learned in Wu TCC's small frame using small circles just didn't fly in TYFTCC using their large frame and large circles. The cones are reversed, so things like.... oh... let's say "leaning" were approached entirely differently.
In WTCC I was taught, constantly, to lean. And not just forward but sideways, backwards, all directions. It is how it's done.
In YFTCC I was taught that you can ONLY lean forward and that leaning in any other direction is bad, bad, bad.
This didn't make the slightest bit of sense to me. How can these two supposedly identical arts have such a totally different view on something so important as leaning?
The answer came to me finally, but not for a LONG time. Don't believe me, just go back and read some of my earliest posts on this forum. You'll see that argument getting played out over and over and over again.
Then there was the usage of the hips and waist. I won't go there again, let's just say the two styles, and every other one as well, use the same words to mean entirely different things.
Once I understood, finally, that the cones are reversed in between the two styles... Viola! I understood why things that work perfectly well in small frame and using small circles work totally differently when you're using a large frame and large circles. AND why using the same words and phrases can, and should, mean different things depending on the context in which you're using them.
That only took me about five years, so not long.
I think we're doing that again here. Everyone is talking past each other instead of to each other.
Just because we have different points of view doesn't make anyone wrong.
It just means that we have a different perspective and are using different words to try and say the same things.

It seems to me that we all agree that when confronting that raging bull of an opponent we will accept his incoming and simply insane amount of energy and then use the smallest amount of our energy to redirect it to an empty place.
HOW we do that is going to be entirely subjective. We can only view it from our own point of view and have it make very much sense to us.
Some use physics, nothing wrong with that. They can put numbers and vectors (forgive me for misusing words here, I know literally nothing about physics) onto things on the fly and can use their knowledge of physics to visualize and actualize redirecting that incoming energy quite easily. Their point of view works for them that way, so that's what they should use.
Others will use the metaphors they've learned from their teacher. "Use four ounces to redirect that thousand pounds!" and their point of view works perfectly well to both visualize and actualize redirecting that energy in that way. That's their point of view.
Neither is incorrect...
As long as it works!
Me? What do I do?
I simply don't think of anything at all.
Something I'm really good at. My head is constantly empty. :)
For me visualizing anything at all while I accept and redirect energy messes me up completely.
I just take it all in and spin it back out in the manner that my body, not my brain, decides is best for this particular event. Simple as that.
The less I think, the better off I am. And not just in pushing hands, sparring, and free fighting. Just ask my wife! :wink:
And that's my point of view.
It works, for me, so again it's not incorrect.

So let's just slow down a bit and try to appreciate the points of view of others when they share them with us.
Will their point of view work for you? Maybe, maybe not.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try it on for size.
You never know...
You might just learn something. :shock:
What do I learn from this kind of discussion?
How to teach other points of view.
My students all have their own points of view. In order for me to be an effective teacher of so many pov's I have to know at least a little about a lot of them so I can help my students find their way to what works for them.
There is no "wrong" way to learn, do, think of, or teach TCC... well... unless what you're doing doesn't work.
Then it's good to have the opinions and points of view of others to work with.
Start at the top and keep on working through them all until you find the one, or more, that clicks with you.
Then do that. Work on it constantly to improve on it until you make it yours.
As long as it works for you... it's not wrong.

Just one mans point of view and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Time to practice.
I need it.
I'm not good yet.

Bob
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:19 pm

DPasek wrote:Well, I still think that the idiom is referring to a small strategically placed force moving a big and strong opponent.


No one was arguing about that. However, there is a missing factor here. It is the direction of the strong force is the main concern as indicated in the article.

則我以四兩之勁。
牽其手之末。
順其勢而斜出之。
此之謂牽。
Then, by means of a jin of four ounces, I
lead the tip of the opponent’s hand,
following its momentum as well as issuing obliquely (across the direction of momentum)

My translation:
Thus I am using four ounce of jin
To guide the end portion of his hand.
I move my hand obliquely to redirect the incoming force.
This is what it meant by guide(qian).

Note: BY changing the direction of the incoming force to move away from me by an inch, thus it will cause the opposing force to miss the target. Hence, the critical moment of the idiom is most significant in the redirection of the incoming force to save oneself.


因牽動之後。
彼之力已落空。
則此時以勁撥之。
未有不擲出尋丈之外者。
Because I lead (qian) the opponent's movement,
his force has already fallen into emptiness.
At exactly this moment, I use jin to move the opponent.
No opponent has ever not been thrown far outside.

My Translation:
Because after my guiding action,
He strength has become weakening.
At this exact moment, I issue jin to push him,
No one has not been thrown off few feet away yet.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby DPasek » Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:19 pm

Bob,

You are probably correct. My posts consider push-hands as being any time the two people are touching each other, regardless of the level of force. I am not certain, but ChiDragon seems to be stating that push-hands is only when the action is at the slightest contact, and that it is no longer push-hands when the pressure or force between the people increases beyond that level. We apparently are not using the term “push-hands” the same way.
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby Bob Ashmore » Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:20 pm

Dpasek,

That's what I mean, I don't see pushing hands as being anything other than two or more (not often but I have trained three person pushing hands, it's a trip) people working together to learn the circling patterns of the energies as a co-operative exercise.
I train ph's as both static and stepping types of exercises but never raising to the level of throwing strikes or applying joint locks.
Once you start working on defense against strikes or joint locks I start calling that type of training "sparring". I view that as a whole other level of training that falls definitively outside of "pushing hands". Sure, there's a bit of overlap; sometimes a joint lock will be implied during the training of pushing hands, or a strike will be slowly mimicked but, and as I've heard Yang Jun say, "Hint at it, show it, acknowledge it, but don't apply it" or, in my opinion, the training becomes something else.
Again, different meanings can and will be applied by different groups to this same phrase "pushing hands". That's not "wrong" it's just different.

I'm not trying to quash the discussion, lots of interesting ideas and theories have been expressed from it and I've learned a lot from everyone.
I'm simply trying to help move the discussion along more smoothly by pointing out that we might all be discussing apples and oranges instead of apples and apples.
Or...
Something like that.

Bob
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby Audi » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:57 am

Greetings all,

Jin has magnitude which can be controlled by a long time Tai Ji Practitioner. In other words, the magnitude of jin can be issued(fajin, 發勁) from zero to 100%. At the point of contact, both partners will issue zero jin and listen to whoever fajin first. Zero jin means no force was applied. As soon one issue jin, then the other will feel the amount of strength of the jin by ting jin. However, if both partners are starting to use force to push each other, then there is no need to use the application of ting jin or practice push-hands. Isn't it?

The principle of Tai Ji push-hands is learn not to issue jin, at all times, instead of using brunt force to push against each other by applying Newton's third law. Unfortunately, one will not accomplish the goal of push-hands if one cannot get over this hurdle.


If you issue zero jin, how do you learn to do Wardoff, Rollback, Press, Push, etc.? If you do circling drills, how can you change direction without issuing jin?

I think I should clarify how I use and understand some of these terms.

Li 力 is the strength we all have from birth. Jin 勁 is trained forced. Waijin 外勁 is trained force that makes use of very apparent and visible methods, e.g., great muscular exertion and high speed. Neijin 内勁 is trained force that makes use of less apparent and less visible methods, e.g., storing energy in curves and releasing it like an arrow.

As I understand it, the core of our Tai Chi study is jin and, more particularly neijin. According to my understanding, although we focus on neijin, it cannot be separated from waijin. The two are yin and yang aspects of one taiji. This focus of study is what we call “Taiji Energy.”

Wang Zongyue is reported to have written (The quotes are from Paul Brennan's Translations):

運勁如百鍊鋼何堅不摧
Wield power [jin] like tempered steel, so strong there is nothing tough enough to stand up against it.


Yang Chengfu commented:

運勁如百鍊鋼即內勁,非一日之功也,日月練習慢慢磨練出來的,猶如一塊荒鉄,日日錘鍊,慢慢化出一種純鋼來,欲作刀劍鋒利無比,無堅不摧,太極練出來細而有鋼之勁,即鐵人亦能打壞,何妨對敵者為血肉之軀乎。
“Wield power [jin] like tempered steel.” This refers to internal power [neijin]. It cannot be achieved in a single day. Practicing every day for many months, gradually work at it until it develops. It is like a lump of iron ore smelted and hammered day after day until gradually it is turned into pure steel, which if you then wished to use to make a sword, its edge would be the sharpest of all.
“There is nothing tough enough to can stand up against it.” Taiji practice develops a power [jin] that is delicate yet steel-like. It could break a man made of iron. So what defense would your flesh-and-blood opponents have?


We use external methods to study the internal, and will then rely on our knowledge of the internal, supported by what we have learned of the external, to accomplish our goal.

I take the image of smelting and hammering iron ore as a reflection of what I described of the experience of feeling and wielding jin in the limbs. With images of steel and needle in cotton, I don’t think “issuing zero jin” is a good description of what I understand and what I have been taught.

Another frequent direction about wielding jin uses the image of drawing a bow.

Wang Zongyue wrote:

蓄勁如張弓發勁如放箭
Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power [jin] like loosing an arrow.


Yang Chengfu commented:

蓄者藏也,太極勁不在外藏于內,如敵對手時,內勁如開弓不射之圓滿,猶皮球有氣充之,敵人伏我膊,雖綿軟而不能按下,使敵莫明其妙,敵心疑時,不知我弓上已有箭要發射矣,我如弓敵如箭,出勁之速,敵如箭跌出矣。
To store means to conceal. Power in Taiji is not apparent but rather is stored inside. When facing an opponent, internal power is like fully drawing a bow but not yet loosing the arrow, or like a leather ball filled with air. When he lays hands on my arms, although they are soft he cannot push them down, which baffles him. While he is busy being confused, he does not know my bow is loaded with an arrow that wants to be set free. I am like a bow and he is like an arrow, for due to the suddenness of the power that comes out, he stumbles away fast as an arrow.


Drawing a bow or filling a leather ball with air requires high pressure. Such pressure requires a balance between too sides. A bow made of grass is useless, and a ball full of holes are both useless precisely because they have no resilience to push back and support the high pressure.

There is further text:

如搭手如皮條搭在敵膊,所以我未用力,敵覺我手重如泰山矣,不用直力則巧力生,無濁氣者為純剛。
When crossing hands with an opponent, it is like leather straps have been hung over his arm. Even though I have not yet applied any force, he feels my hands are as heavy as Mt. Tai. By not applying direct force, a skillful power is generated. Being without corrupted energy [qi] is pure strength.

Here I might quibble with the translation “not yet applied any force,” which seems too specific to me. I would just say “not yet forcefully exerted myself.” In either case, the feeling given the opponent is not of zero force, but rather the weight of a famous mountain.

The classics often talk about “standing like a (balance) scale.” According to my understanding, this has two implications. First, even a slight imbalance between the two sides of the balance should be registered. Two, the registration of the amount of force comes from an equalization of actual weight, rather than a zero exchange of force. It is natural, and not something created by the mind. What the mind must do is set up the relationship, but not artificially maintain it.

以氣運身務令順遂乃便利從心
Use energy [qi] to move the body. You must get your movement to be smooth. The body can then easily obey the mind.


同志想使氣運身流通,必得十三勢敎正無錯,方是先師所傳的拳,姿勢上下順遂,勁不矯揉,氣纔能流通,如姿勢順遂,心中指揮手脚遂心矣。
If you want to get energy [qi] to move through the body, it is crucial that the instruction you obtain as to how to do the solo set be precisely correct. Only then is it the boxing passed down from the early teachers. The postures should be smooth in the upper body and lower. There is no forced strength [jin], so the energy [qi] can then get through. If the postures are smooth, the mind will command and the hands and feet will obey.


If you do not let the opponent bend the bow naturally, I think that you are “forcing the energy” (勁不矯揉). Either doing too much or too little is equally bad.

One reason why we practice Tai Chi at an even speed and with even “force” is to calibrate our internal scale for what should be “normal pressure.” We then can more easily register what is too heavy or too light. The key is not to make the balance scale incredibly light, but rather to treat any pressure the same and to register the slightest changes.

Lastly, Wang Zongyue wrote:

由着熟而漸悟懂勁由懂勁而階及神明然非用力之久不能豁然貫通焉
Once you have engrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will work your way toward something miraculous.

I personally think that "identify energies" is not the correct translation here. I think it is simply "understand energy." That is how I have been taught. The project is not being able to name different types of energy, but rather understanding how it works: where it comes from, how it moves, and what it can do. You need to understand the joint energy developed by you and your opponent. Then you have pure insight into what you can do. If you don't work with your energy, you cannot develop and understanding of energy.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby fchai » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:04 am

Greetings,
Do you know? You guys are great. You are all correct but come from different perspectives. None of you actually disagree with each other. I find your posts interesting and illuminating as it allows me to consider different perspectives, but actually meaning basically the same thing. Bob, you are into "unconscious, unconscious" which is great. When your actions become seamless without conscious thought, you are in a very special place!
Take care,
Frank
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Re: Solo Push Hands?

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:57 am

Audi wrote:Greetings all,

Jin has magnitude which can be controlled by a long time Tai Ji Practitioner. In other words, the magnitude of jin can be issued(fajin, 發勁) from zero to 100%. At the point of contact, both partners will issue zero jin and listen to whoever fajin first. Zero jin means no force was applied. As soon one issues jin, then the other will feel the amount of strength of the jin by ting jin. However, if both partners are starting to use force to push each other, then there is no need to use the application of ting jin or practice push-hands. Isn't it?

The principle of Tai Ji push-hands is learn not to issue jin, at all times, instead of using brunt force to push against each other by applying Newton's third law. Unfortunately, one will not accomplish the goal of push-hands if one cannot get over this hurdle.


If you issue zero jin, how do you learn to do Wardoff, Rollback, Press, Push, etc.? If you do circling drills, how can you change direction without issuing jin?


Take care,
Audi

Hi Audi...
Welcome back!

I thought this was all understood. I could and should have said this:
As soon one issues jin, then the other will feel the amount of strength of the jin by ting jin and take appropriate countermeasure by issuing jin. "In other words, the magnitude of jin can be issued(fajin, 發勁) from zero to 100%." Does this mean anything to you?
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