Forward Sinking and Rooting

Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:50 pm

Audi wrote:The English word "pull" and its usual Chinese equivalent (la) are not identical in meaning


Hi, Audi
Yes, they are the same equivalent. Please try not to confuse the public. :)
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby Audi » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:14 am

Audi wrote:
The English word "pull" and its usual Chinese equivalent 拉 (la) are not identical in meaning


Hi, Audi
Yes, they are the same equivalent. Please try not to confuse the public. :)


I was actually trying to give your position a little help. If you think the two words are identical, then how can you argue that pulling doesn't exist in Tai Chi?

Most people in the Association translate 采 as "pull down," even though I personally prefer "pluck." If "pull" and 拉 are identical in meaning, then 采, 拉下, and "pull down" are all identical in meaning, and "pulling"necessarily exists as one of the basic eight energies of Tai Chi.

I can see no way out of the logical necessity of this equivalence other than that 拉 and "pull" seem to have some subtle differences in usage. In English, "pull," "tug," "draw," "drag," etc. all have some subtle differences in usage and meaning. My point is that Chinese words like 拉 ,拖,牵,拔 also have differences in meaning and that these differences don't map exactly onto the differences between the English words.

I did some quick searches for 拉 on the internet with other search terms indicating Tai Chi contexts and surprisingly did not find many occurrences. This finding might support your position from a Chinese language viewpoint. In English, however, you would find many occurrences of "pull" among people discussing Tai Chi on line, except perhaps in reference to refined translations of the classics.

I also did a quick look in Grandmaster Yang Zhenduo's book Yang Style Taijiquan (which is in English) in the section dealing with applications and saw numerous references to "pull back" and "pull down," e.g., on pages 257, 265, 268, 270, 279, 280, 288 etc. I am certain that many of these occurrences of "pull back" and "pull down" do not correspond to where 拉 would be used, but I am not sure about all the occurrences.

In any case, my purpose in posting the previous links was to get away from the potential treachery of words and translations and let people judge by their own eyes whether or not Master Yang was engaging in any "pulling" techniques that could offset an opponent in the direction of the oppnent's front foot.

I am not a hundred percent sure that what he did to his partner could be described as 拉 in Chinese, but I am sure that some of it meets the definition of "pulling" in English.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:19 am

Audi wrote:I was actually trying to give your position a little help. If you think the two words are identical, then how can you argue that pulling doesn't exist in Tai Chi?

Most people in the Association translate 采 as "pull down," even though I personally prefer "pluck." If "pull" and 拉 are identical in meaning, then 采, 拉下, and "pull down" are all identical in meaning, and "pulling"necessarily exists as one of the basic eight energies of Tai Chi.

Audi

Hi, Audi
Thank you for your help. However, helping should be jeopardize the true meaning of 拉 (la). I do appreciate your effort. Am I envy your bilingual ability and hope to learn from you more.

BTW After all the argument and discussion, I have just realized that we only arguing with semantics. We all understand what all these mean. However, we had ignored that 采(cai) is an esoteric classic term in Tai Chi. It was not up to us to say what it is. It is up to how the Tai Chi experts had defined. So, let's bring out this universal definition of Tsai or Cai again.
採在十指
Tsai(Jin) is in the ten fingers
是以手抓住
It is using the hands to grab
对方手腕和肘部
the wrist and elbow of the opponent
向下向后下沉之力
to press downward and backward force

In other words, it is a force by using the hands to grab the opponent's wrist and elbow pressing downward and backward.


Chen Xiaowang wrote:Cai is the same as "Lu", but directed downward. There will be times when you brings energy downward. Then follow him downward. Cai is like plucking something.

1. "............ but directed downward" indicating pushing downward.
2. "...... you brings energy downward" Indicating pushing downward.
3. ".... follow him downward" again indication pushing downward.

All the above action were directed, followed and pressing downward. Thus there is really no pulling action at all it the descriptive definition.

This is my final argument. Sorry, I have to put it this way. I will use this argument to invalidate any translation which state that Cai is pulling down.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:38 am

Chen Xiaowang wrote: Cai is like plucking something.
采好像采摘東西一樣

While Chen was making this statement, he raised his right hand like he was picking a fruit from a tree. I don't why Chen make this statement to contradict himself? If one rely on this definition for Cai as pulling down, something has really gone wrong.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby BBTrip » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:07 pm

Audi wrote:There may or not be some subtle linguistic thing going on here.


Greetings Audi,

I always enjoy your insights on Taiji.
And the link was cool too! :)

But, the topic of my post are not about semantics.
My posts are simply about this statement.

ChiDragon wrote: There was no written rule. It was understood and self discipline. Just think of it this way grab and pull is wrestling not push hands. If one insist that pulling is push hands, then you might like to call it the modern version of push hands.[/size]


Versus these statements:

This is from The Illustrated Cannon of Chen Taiji pg. 189
Alternating the two forces of push-pull severs the opponents root, leading to his quick and certain defeat*


Here's a quote from Cheng Man Ch’ing 13 Chapters. pg. 201
“A's (Cheng) left elbow Rolls back B's left Elbow and right hand pulls B's right wrist. This is Ts'ai.”


In "Tai Chi Touchstones" pg 23, Douglas Wile quotes Cheng:
"If one approaches from a certain direction, say head-on for example, then with four ounces of energy I pull his hand, following his line of force..."


From a classic - the Playing Hands Song from Master Chen Weiming's 1925 Book on Taiji.
https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... -quan-shu/
[part 5] PLAYING HANDS SONG (note: playing hands means pushing hands)

I will let him attack me with as much power as he likes,
for I will tug with four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds.
Guiding him in to land on nothing...


Here's Tung Huling in 1956
https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... lications/
He attacks me using a thousand pounds of force, but I can deflect it away using four ounces of force. To be able to do this is not really a matter of four ounces of [oppositional] force, but of tugging force...


Here's Yang Chengfu from his book The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan 1934
With the left palm facing down, there is a hidden application of pull down (an shi cai jin).


The quotes from these Taiji Masters shows that Pull & Pull Down, Pluck has long been written about in Taiji.

ChiDragon's focus on Chen Xiaowang
attempts to switch the topic of my post away from his statement
that pull is not written about, and his inference that Pull, Pull Down is not Taiji.

It is diversionary tactic that avoids the key issue, rather than him honestly addressing the above quotes
that directly contradict his statement and inference.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:00 pm

Hi, all
I am sorry for causing all the confusion. I would accept that the push-pull situation, in push hands, as advance and retreat movements. Where push is advance and pull is retreat are only describing the motion of the action which has no actual pulling force involve. In other words, there should be no pulling force applied to the opponent to initiate an attack. It is a no no in push hands. There may be a slight pull on the offensive side to direct the opposing force away from the center of the defender; but the main defensive force is mainly depends on the heavy push by the other hand. For instance, the Cai method is to grab the wrist of the opponent to direct the his/her hand away and follow by a big push on his/her elbow with the other hand.

In addition, there shouldn't be any high resistance to the opposing force. If there was any, then, it wouldn't be a softness(yin) subdue hardness(yang) situation. Otherwise, it would be a yang/yang situation: hardness against hardness which violates the Tai Chi principle.


I hope this will clear the air. :oops:
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby BBTrip » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:32 am

Greetings ChiDragon,

Totally understand what you’re saying here.
Though, there are some minor issues,
I won’t go into detail because the main issue has been addressed.

And, your post shows a very fair understanding of the use of pull in Taiji.
Thanks for sharing. :)

...

P.S.
I’m going to post a couple general things on the use of pull.
They are general posts to everyone.
Please don’t take it as an address directly to you.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:36 pm

OK...
I want to clear something up here...
Pluck is not Push. It's as simple as that.
They are not even remotely the same energy.
It simply boggles my mind that anyone would seriously imply that they are.
Also...
Push is not just expressed "down". It can be applied up, down, or even flat. You Push forward, cardinal energy.
Pluck is not just "down" either. You can Pluck upwards, level, or down. You Pluck on a diagonal, corner energy.
If they were the same energy, just dressed up differently...
Why would we have different names for them?
Why would we talk about "Thirteen Energies" if there were only twelve?
They are different, with their own sets of rules and attributes.

As for "no pulling in push hands"...
Wow. I can't believe that was even said once. Yet, there it is again.
I did my best to express my incredulity at that suggestion, that hasn't changed from any of the replies here.
I am simply stunned that anyone who has done any serious training would ever suggest such a thing.

But... maybe I'm thinking of this wrong.
If you are training your push hands simply to do push hands in your school and nowhere else, then maybe, possibly, you might want to say something like "there's no pulling in push hands".
I can't see it even then but...
Maybe. I dunno, I have never trained that way.
Again, training like that makes no sense to me.
Still, maybe that's where that came from?
Possibly if we said, "In Tai Chi Chuan during pushing hands we shouldn't use pulling to initiate an attack..."
And if all you're ever going to do is pushing hands with no intention of ever applying what you learn from it to a real world, combat scnenario...
Ok then, I guess that would make some kind of vague sense.
It's a game, we're all playing by the same rules, so no pulling, yanking, plucking, whatever.
I mean, it's kind of weird to my way of thinking but there it is.
Still...
I train pushing hands with the idea that I'm learning to control energy, any energy expressed in any direction at any time, so that I can be prepared to handle that in combat with an opponent.
I do not assume that my opponents are only going to be using TCC. Why would I do that?
In all the time I've trained TCC, I've rarely heard of anyone engaging in actual combat with another TCC trained person. I haven't. Not "for reals" anyway. We tend to be a bit more mellow than most folks and talk out any real aggression. I'm sure it's happened... It almost has to have.
However, I personally have engaged in actual combat with people trained in other styles of martial arts. A few times.
And I can tell you this from personal, hands on experience...
They ARE going to try to pull you.
And push you.
And hit you.
And kick you.
And gouge at you.
And...
ALL OF IT.
They are not going to play "by the rules" of pushing hands, at all.
How could they? They don't know them!
So in order to understand the martial art that is Tai Chi Chuan, you might want to nail this concept down hard in your mind:
There are no "rules" in actual combat.
So wouldn't it be best to practice that way?
And learn how to use your TCC skills to react when your opponent stubbornly refuses to not pull you, hard, fast, suddenly, and without any warning, into them?
Because they will.
You can take that to the bank.
If you haven't trained for that, game over right there.
First time.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:10 pm

Hello, Bob.
I see that you are training yourself as a street fighter. Please keep in mind, a street fighter will never understand the essence of Tai Chi. The intention of a so called TCC practitioner is to learn how to fight, in the first place, tends to miss and ignore the subtlety of Tai Chi Chuan. So, one will become a fighter quickly. As a TCC practitioner, one's legs are in oscillation, on a stance, is an indication that one hasn't met the general requirement to accomplish its goal.

Please keep in mind that the fajin Cai method was being discussed, here, rather than its pseudo-translation of the word "pluck." I think we had resolved this issue already. Thanks.



Please note that the issue was being attacked but not the person. :)


Wu Wei,
Let nature take its course!
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:31 pm

Street fighter? Um...
In my misspent youth, yes.
Can't say I wasn't, because I was.
I grew up in a "street fighter" atmosphere, in a place where fighting in the streets was part and parcel of the neighborhood.
That, however, was a LONG time ago in a state far, far away.
And long before I ever trained TCC.
I haven't been in a street fight in simply ages.
A small part of me says, "More's the pity" when I think that.
Most of me says, "That's how it should be."
Still...
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art.
I train it that way.
I can't see any reason not to and I do see many reasons why I would.
My Si Kung frequently drilled into me, 'You want to get healthy? Good. Train hard and learn how to defend yourself. You'll get all the health benefits accrued from the training AND you won't get your *butt* kicked out in the street. You'll stay a lot healthier if you don't get your *butt* kicked than if you do."
My perspective comes from that angle right up front and I've seen no reason to change it.
I teach most of my students the "kinder, gentler, healthy movement based art of Tai Chi".
Because that's what they want and I'm happy to give it to them.
I teach some of my students the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan.
Because that's what they want and I'm happy to give it to them.
It's the same training for a LONG time...
Then it's not.
Still...
I would never do one of my students the disservice of teaching them incomplete pushing hands skills.
Do I yank them across the room and out the door during the first lesson?
No.
I progressively work them up to it, then I teach them when they're ready how to handle that.
Some with more "aggression" than others, it's up to the student to let me know how far they want to go.
But they will all get a basic foundation in handling energy.
Even unexpected energy applied in a hard fashion.
Because that's what they're going to run into out in the "street".
And not someone playing by a non-existent set of push hands rules.

No attack perceived or implied.
Simple incredulity on my part.
I don't see it the same way and doubt that I ever will.
To each their own though, have yourself a time.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby BBTrip » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:11 pm

Greetings all,

Thought this might be interesting.


High Pat on Horse - The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan pg. 55
Yang Cheng Fu explains High Pat
With the palm facing upward, I fold it against the opponents wrist and pluck (cai) it back in toward my chest, as in the illustration.

Image

Yang Jun demo
Pull your opponent in, striking out. That’s High Pat On Horse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtSJDB0ir9o
Image
Last edited by BBTrip on Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby DPasek » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:24 pm

Addressing the OP, yes there should be rooting into the forward leg when in a forward bow stance. If you dislike the idea of it being “resisting,” then perhaps it would be more acceptable viewing it as “centering” into the front leg. Both legs support the body in the forward bow stance, and both legs should contribute to rooting.

As an aside, from the way that I teach I would say that bracing with the back leg is different than what we want in Taijiquan. If your back leg is pushing in a way that would slide if standing on ice (or other slippery surface), then that is resisting (pushing back against the partner’s push) rather than rooting. Instead you may want to experiment with trying to transmit the energy of the legs more vertically into the ground (i.e. centering into the legs) in order to root; otherwise you are pushing forward rather than rooting by centering downward.

I am not an Association member, so others could address this with more authority, but my understanding is that they determine how far the forward knee can bend by being able to maintain a rebounding energy from the front leg (i.e. rooting into the front leg) when someone pulls the practitioner forward.

Although a follow stance is not common in Yang style forms, rooting into the forward leg when using a follow step is also desirable. Depending on the dynamics of the teaching, this can be experienced in some Yang style weapons work (especially two person practices) and in the sanshou form. In sanshou, after your attack ends in a forward bow stance it is not uncommon to need to move the back leg to respond to the partner’s counterattack. In order to enable to back leg to step without sacrificing ones stability (becoming vulnerable to your partner), one should root into the front leg.

In weapons work, the follow step may be more common when using the spear. While thrusts can be done in a forward bow stance, some schools will use a follow step in order to slightly increase the advantage of the spear’s reach. When using a spear the partners are usually beyond physical contact range, but a partner could still grab and pull on the spear, so it is important to remain centered and rooted in the front leg even when using a follow step.


BBTrip wrote:Image
I am not certain that I want to become involved in the pulling discussion, but I do want to mention something that often gets overlooked in our practice. One can use either pulling or pushing to pull an opponent forward. The video of Yang Jun shows pulling to pull the opponent – notice that his elbow is flexing (bending). One could instead pull the opponent’s arm downward (towards the hip) by extending (unbending) the elbow – this would be pushing downward with your arm in order to pull the opponent forward.

However, CD is probably not referring to the above. Perhaps he is referring to the formal push-hands drills where pulling does not occur. But even in formal drills, pulling still occurs in dalu (four corners practice). It may be something specific to CD’s school tradition, but it is different than what I practice. I think that push and pull are a yin/yang pair, and should be more common in our practice (in general, players seem to favor pushing while neglecting pulling).

Also, I agree with Bob that pluck (cai) can be in any direction.

Finally, I do not understand the “street fighter” comment. I thought that early generations of this art used it in street encounters.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby ChiDragon » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:06 pm

Greetings!
We were talking about push hands(推手) all this time. It is because the OP was focusing on push hands. Actually, the OP should have been addressed the issue as sanshou(散手). There is a big difference in the two arts. Sanshou(散手) is for street fighting; and push hands is a more refine art for tingjin(聽勁) which is a much high level of practice.

The purpose of push hands is to sense the magnitude and direction of the strength from the opponent. By feeling the strength and its direction, the off-center position of the opponent could be detected. Thus it is the time for the partner to make an instantaneous decision for a countermeasure.

BTW Cai was mentioned in the last video shown is because Mr. Yang Jun is only using his ten fingers to Fajin. By definition, fajin with ten fingers, the esoteric term for push hands is called Cai(采). Please don't add any other thoughts to it! Then, we'll be fine. :)
Last edited by ChiDragon on Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby BBTrip » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:37 am

Greetings Parkallen,

Parkallen wrote:...my point is that sinking and rooting is typically applied to incoming force, but recently I have been applying it to pulling force (as applied to me). When your push hands partner pulls on you, we can sink into the front leg and dantian, making it very hard for your opponent to pull you forward...

I must say it is quite effective, and was wondering if others had experimented with this, and what their thoughts are on it.


I know you’re focused on rooting in the forward leg.
Others have already mentioned that when they are full you should empty, but as soon as they empty you should be full. Like when you are pulled you should press or shoulder, etc.

I think someone may have hinted this suggestion but...
Another option you could have in your toolbox is having the capacity that when attacked—be able to empty yourself joint by joint.

For example, if they pull the wrist,
release the elbow,
if they pull again release the shoulder, and so on.

If you gain this skill, it can be surprising how difficult it is for someone to destabilize you by pulling or pushing.
This may not be a perfect written description, but with a little practice you could gain the physical sense of this idea.
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Re: Forward Sinking and Rooting

Postby Audi » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:33 am

Greetings all,

BBT and DP, nice links and commentary on the Yang family doing some pulls!

I would like to make some additional comments about the original post. Like a number of styles, we have a number of doctrines that overlap in meaning and usage. I think it is best sometimes to make sure not to mix them.

The first of particular relevance to the OP is Five Element theory applied to the lower body. Our basic idea is that the legwork in a stance should be balanced in all directions. In this case, to make it simple, Advancing Footwork (进步 jinbu) should be balanced with Retreating Footwork (退步tuibu) to leave you “Established in the Center” (中定zhongding).

“Rooting” is a separate doctrine that is most driven by relaxation in the legs.

“Sinking qi” is another doctrine driven externally by body shape and internally by the mind and breathing. This connects with rooting in many places, but perhaps most obviously externally in keeping the lower back/waist loosened/relaxed (松腰song yao) and the tailbone centered and aligned (中正zhongzheng).

Our stepping method is another doctrine which involves:

1. “Stepping Like a Cat,” or stepping in an agile precise way (heel, to ball, to toe and bend knee)
2. “Walking on Thin Ice,” or placing the moving foot lightly and shifting weight smoothly
3. “Walking through Mud,” or not lifting the feet too high as if trying not to splash mud on our pants

Our stance characteristics are another issue. In our typical bow stance, we have a forward lean that can leave the back leg and the back in one straight line. The back leg is naturally straight, but not locked. The weight distribution is 60%-40%. The weight must be in the Bubbling Wellspring of both feet. The crotch must be rounded with the knees in line with the toes of the respective feet. The front knee should not bend beyond the toes. The tailbone must be centered and aligned (中正zhongzheng).

The last doctrine is that you should generally not meet force with force and should use softness to overcome hardness.

Some practitioners train back-leg sinking by letting their partner push on them while the other sinks continuously, but I have not seen the overt training of front-leg sinking. It was nice to hear fchai's response that they are mindful of front-leg sinking in the form and therefore why not as a training exercise as well?


Since our form frequently trains a bow stance with a lean, I find it beneficial to do stance testing against a pull in the direction of the front toes. Often I find people, even with substantial experience, who do not perform well. I think this is because they have not really gone beyond the simple instruction to avoid bending the front knee beyond the toes. In my opinion, this simple guide is insufficient and even becomes irrelevant if the other stance aspects are observed and understood.

To do the stance correctly, I think it is important to understand the thrusting (蹬deng) role of one leg and the supporting (撑 cheng) role of the other leg. In a final stance, these roles become latent, but are still arguably aspects of the underlying equilibrium. Many people just rest on the ground like a chair and do not feel the "motion" of the energy in the stillness.

When I assume a bow stance and just lift my front leg and change nothing else, I automatically leap slightly forward (and then bring up my back leg to resume the same bow stance). I “leap,” not because I send a command to my legs to do so, but rather because that energy is already there and merely manifests itself when no longer balanced against the supporting energy of the front leg. It is the same principle when lifting my back leg, except in the opposite direction. The components of the already existing equilibrium become manifest.

If you feel this energy in your legs, it becomes increasingly obvious to your feeling why you have to have weight in the bubbling wellspring of both legs. Many people do not maintain the feeling in the back leg and just let it rest on the ground, like the legs of a chair. To maintain the feeling, you have to “round the crotch,” keep the knees in line with the toes, keep the tailbone centered and aligned, and loosen and open up the lower back. Above all, you need to maintain a feeling of looseness and relaxation in the legs to allow the tendons to communicate with each other and form a flexible unit. I actually feel the bubble wellspring of both legs actually pressing into the ground, almost like my stance is squeezing in between the contacts with the ground.

If you have fulfilled these conditions and someone begins to pull you forward during stance testing, you do not have the feeling of needing to initiate countermeasures or setting up a pivot point in the front foot with a dead back leg. Instead, you have the feeling of adjusting a lower leg relationship that is already active and present. Your tendons just automatically adjust. More pulling force feels like it wants to pull the entire structure forward, like a car breaking suddenly. Maybe you might “skid” a little bit, but the car has no tendency to flip over or lose control.

If we are not talking but stance testing, but rather about true counters to a pull, then we must consider “not meeting force with force.” This is our general, but not universal rule. I can think of four or five general category of tactics that we use to observe this rule, but also a few we use as seeming exceptions. Those are my personal thoughts, based on what I have been taught. I can perform counters corresponding to most of the tactics, at least in semi-controlled circumstances. These are best experienced during our practice of counters, rather than intellectually through discussion and reading.

Take care,
Audi
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