Audi, Polaris, all,
Last fall I got onto a big kick about "bamen", the eight gates or eight methods. I was looking for anything that could explain to me, in detail, what the eight methods are and a little about what they mean.
I even did some digging and asking on this web site.
My mother, a veritable treasure trove of information on this kind of thing from the Wu family perspective, had sent me copies, via snail mail, of quite a few of her hand written notes about "bamen" from Wu Kwong Yu, Wu Tai Sin and Wu Yan Hsia's seminars (yes, I know, WYS's seminars are going back a bit), but before I even got them she found this (I think my brother may have sent it to her, but I'm not sure) translation from the Gold Book and forwarded this on to me.
I may have posted some bits and pieces of our correspondance on here back then, I don't really recall, but I feel certain that I didn't post this bit.
Here, in it's entirety, with the exception of all things that could reveal her identity (her and my brothers request, I'm sure P understands this, but no one else will. Audi knows but I must, again, ask him not to tell) is the single best reply she ever gave to me.
Reading Audi's response to Polaris about bamen made something at the back of my brain pan itch, until I went in search of this e-mail she sent me.
I think there is no one here, or anywhere on this planet, who could argue the authenticity of the knowledge of the person who wrote the original.
Here you go and I hope it helps clear some things up for you Audi, and all. It sure did for me.
From my mother, a Wu family disciple:
OK, found a translation from the Gold Book of Wu Kung-Tsao:
"Motion" refers to any change of position of an object as a result of force
being applied to it. Mechanics is the discipline that examines the cause of
The ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes wrote "If I were able to secure a point
and set up a fulcrum in outer space, I could cause the Earth to move".
Archimedes discovered the principles of leverage and buoyancy. He thoroughly
understood the use of the lever, that by adding a small force to one end a much
greater force could be affected on the ohter. No matter an object's quality or
weight, it can thus be moved.
The T'ai Chi Ch'uan principle of "four ounces moving one thousand pounds" is the
same as the lever: maximum effect is gained from using a relatively small
force. The martial artist relies solely on the body and the four limbs.
Whether striking or kicking, the body must move. This movement has inevitably a
fulcrum and a point of force. As the fulcrum moves, so the effective point of
force also changes. When T'ai Chi Ch'uan practitioners face opponents they do
not directly contact the opponent's center of gravity, but rather they move his
fulcrum, thereby setting him off balance. Or by drawing in an opponent's force,
it spends itself. They focus on the opponent's incoming momentum and turn their
force to a different direction. The eight power generations, ward off, roll
back, press, push, pluck, elbow, and shoulder, will be discussed below in
relation to mechanical principles of rotation.
1. P'eng (ward off)
This functions as the top spin of a wheel. If the opponent pushes downward with
great force, his offensive is aimed at the upper body. By following the
direction of his momentum and rotating with a top spin arc, you leave his force
hanging in space. The top spin effect is like spinning a wheel from below.
this offsets the opponent and draws him in, nullifying his attack.
2. Lu (roll back)
This is expressed as a wheel spinning on a horizontal plane. The upward slant
is called P'eng roll back, the downward Tsai (pluck) roll back. It is not
necessary to rotate the hand when applying Lu with the palm, add a sticky,
drawing in quality by using the center of the palm or the fingers. The
opponenet's course of movement determines one's weight transfer and relative
speed. Yield and stick to the opponent so that your movement merges with his.
3. Chi (press)
This is like two wheels on tread, spinning in opposite directions. It resembles
the axles of a noodle pressing machine simultaneously rotating inwardly. The
sheet of noodle is squeezed out from the two rotating surfaces. In pushing
hands, if the opponent attacks with the elbow or shoulder, Chi can be applied to
"enter with the flow and counter upon exit". This involves hard power,as in the
verse: "Like a coin tossed on a drumhead or a ball bouncing off a wall".
4. An (push)
This is similar to the downward pushing force of a belt driven pulley wheel.
The belt is situated between the power source and the wheel. Its quality of
movement is like water venting outwards. At the same time it has a drawing
tendency. The power is on the inside, where the belt meets the wheel. Remember
that this does not mean simply to push downwards. All power generations of T'ai
Chi Ch'uan are circular. The employ living movement rather than brute force.
5. Tsai (pluck)
This has a back spin effect, like a downward spinning wheel. As the opponent
attacks, apply the axle to the top of his arm. This has the effect of drawing
him forward and uprooting him as in the sayings: "If the opponent is above,
draw him higher. If he is low, lead him deeper. When advancing on the
opponent, lengthen; when retreating, quicken".
In measuring the opponent's energy, this power generation functions like the arm
and sliding weight of a balance. Whatever an object's weight, miniscule
adjustments to the slide arm will cause it to move. Similarly, no matter the
degree of incoming force, draw the opponent in by slightly adjusting the weight
and distance from the fulcrum and swiveling. Then Tsai will lure the opponent
in as long as he attempts to push forward or up. He will become uprooted and
his body will float upwards.
6. Lieh (split)
This is like a potter's wheel. Split is either a horizontal or off centered
position. An object dropped onto a potter's wheel will be tossed outwards.
Lieh not only upsets the opponent's stance and unbalances him, he feels as if he
has been thrown. Split incorporates the functions of ward off, roll back, and
press, and has it's own inherent power as well. The circular power of Lieh is
quite hard and intense.
7. Ts'ou (elbow)
This incorporates aspects of all six previous types of power generation. The
method of application demands that one tenaciously follow the opponent's
movement. "Fist under Elbow" is an example of power generation with Elbow.
Applied upwards it is called Ward Off Elbow. The downward application is called
Pluck Elbow. Applied in a horizontal plane it is Roll Back Elbow or Shoulder
Elbow. No matter how applied - from the inside, outside, above, below, or while
turning from the left or right, Ts'ou resembles an unfolding flower. The
classics state: "Envelop the chest, pull out the back, relax the shoulders, and
drop the elbows". This is the basis for power generation with the elbow.
Remember to be relaxed and supple.
8. Kao (shoulder)
There are two types of Kao: Shoulder and Back Shoulder. The Shoulder is
generally employed as on "enters by riding the emptiness". The Shoulder strike
pounds the opponent, just as a pestle thumps the mortar. The Back Shoulder is
predominantly used when opponents are holding each other or changing direction.
The back rotates with the waist. Shoulder and Back Shoulder are related; those
good at Kao with the shoulder will also naturally employ the back strike. It is
not the stance, but the ability to send Ch'i energy that is crucial to Kao.
Properly applied, it is like a sudden explosion that shakes the opponent.
So, now you can toss what I sent before. This is the real deal, from the Gold
Book. Also, I have a couple more notes, on a post-it.
P'eng - roll over top of forearm
Lu - roll under top of forearm
Chi - outside of forearm
An - hand strike
Tsai - straight down
Lieh - lower thumb bone
Tsou - elbow strike
Kou - shoulder, from the side