Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:10 pm

Greetings,

Paul Brennan has posted his most recent translation, a substantial essay by Xiang Kairan on his taijiquan experience that was first published in a journal in 1929, then later in Wu Zhiqing's fascinating 1940 book, 太極正宗 (Orthodox Taiji). I've valued that book for many years, and especially liked Xiang's essay, bits of which I've translated on this forum. The parts I translated included Xiang's thoughtful explication of 雙重 -- "double weighting," which Brennan translates quite plausibly as "double pressure."

Xiang Kairan was a well-regarded martial arts novelist, known to many by his pen name, Pingjiang Buxiaosheng 平江不肖生. In addition to writing wuxia fiction, however, Xiang was a practitioner, and had good understanding of martial arts. The value of his writings on taijiquan results from his talents as a writer and his probing investigations into the workings of taiji theory.

Brennan also includes a translation of a lengthy Xiang Kairan essay on push hands. Another partial (and flawed) translation of that essay has been on the web for years, but it's good to see it in full, including the Chinese, on Brennan's site.

The Xiang Kairan material is really worthwhile reading. There may be some aspects that are controversial or off the mark, but I find him very thought provoking. Kudos to Paul Brennan for another fine contribution.

https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... xperience/

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:14 am

Louis Swaim wrote:Greetings,
..... The parts I translated included Xiang's thoughtful explication of 雙重 -- "double weighting," which Brennan translates quite plausibly as "double pressure."

Louis


Greetings!
May I jump in. Due to I have a little Chinese language background, I would like to point out that in the term 雙重 is short for 重點. 重點 is the centroid of a body. I believe what the book says if there are two centroids in a body, then the body cannot be moved or rotated. Thus a body can be moved, only, if it has one and only one centroid.

雙重 should be properly translated as "double centroid."
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:43 pm

Greetings! I have investigated further into this matter; and here are my findings.

Original text:
前面說過:「身如車輪,腰如車軸」,試想車輪着地,哪有兩個重點?若有兩個,便推不動了

Translation:
As was already mentioned: “The body is like a wheel. The waist is like an axle.” Think of the way a wheel touches the ground. Are there two points of pressure? If there were two, it would not be able to move.


The proper translation for the following sentence:
哪有兩個重點?
Where are the two centroids?
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:36 pm

Greetings CD,

Right off the bat, I like that explanation of 雙重 very much. I’m curious, though, on what basis you make your claim that “重 in the term 雙重 is short for 重點,” and that it in turn means “centroid.” The term 重點 itself is relatively modern. Some of the earliest published occurrences of the term are 1858, 1895 (mechanics: point of weight), 1903 (mechanics: point of balance; point of force), and some usages with the meaning “center of gravity,” later succeeded in physics terminology by another neologism, 中心, etc. Xiang Kairan’s usage (1929) seems to align most closely with the “point of pressure” meaning, or more generally “point of contact.”

You can investigate early occurrences here: http://mcst.uni-hd.de/procSearch/procSearchMCST.lasso

In short, the explanation strikes me as anachronistic, since the proprietary taijiquan term 雙重 certainly predates the modern mechanics/mathematics/physics term 重點 by decades at least. Again, I think the explanation is very helpful, but it uses modern terminology that probably didn’t apply to the originators of the term 雙重.

Just some quick thoughts.
Take care,
Louis
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Sun Aug 07, 2016 7:29 pm

Louis Swaim wrote:Greetings CD,

Right off the bat, I like that explanation of 雙重 very much. I’m curious, though, on what basis you make your claim that “重 in the term 雙重 is short for 重點,” and that it in turn means “centroid.” The term 重點 itself is relatively modern. Some of the earliest published occurrences of the term are 1858, 1895 (mechanics: point of weight), 1903 (mechanics: point of balance; point of force), and some usages with the meaning “center of gravity,” later succeeded in physics terminology by another neologism, 中心, etc. Xiang Kairan’s usage (1929) seems to align most closely with the “point of pressure” meaning, or more generally “point of contact.”

You can investigate early occurrences here: http://mcst.uni-hd.de/procSearch/procSearchMCST.lasso

In short, the explanation strikes me as anachronistic, since the proprietary taijiquan term 雙重 certainly predates the modern mechanics/mathematics/physics term 重點 by decades at least. Again, I think the explanation is very helpful, but it uses modern terminology that probably didn’t apply to the originators of the term 雙重.

Just some quick thoughts.
Take care,
Louis


Hi, Louis

I appreciate your response with your effort going into the semantics. However, semantics is not important here. It is the law of physics plays an important part here. Speaking about semantics, the terms 重心 and 重點 are synonyms for the center of gravity long time ago, even, before 1908. The terms were translated in 1908, it doesn't mean that they do not exist before then. If we read the text carefully, we will see that the center of gravity was hidden in the text. The Modern Chinese Scientific Terminologies that you had cited is a good source of reference. However, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the date rather than their actual meanings of the terms. Thus we can get the message across.

又說:「單重則隨,雙重則滯。」
If you drop one side, you can move. But if you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.


BTW The above phrases are not the original text. The original should read as follows:
偏沉則随,雙重則滞

In the Chinese language, most of the time, when the character is used was referring the weights in general. In order to translate a Chinese text, regardless, it is a classic or modern, a good interpretation has to be done before the actual translation. All the terms must be thoroughly investigated and understood before come to a final conclusion.

I would like to spend more time for going into the cited text in the near future. If you don't mind?

Let nature take its course,
Wu Wei
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:14 pm

Greetings CD,

You mention,

又說:「單重則隨,雙重則滯。」
If you drop one side, you can move. But if you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.

BTW The above phrases are not the original text. The original should read as follows:
偏沉則随,雙重則滞

Yes, I noticed this discrepancy a long time ago. I mentioned it in this 2007 thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=725&p=9870&hilit=xiang+kairan#p9870

There I said, 'As it turns out, the term Xiang used for “single-weighted” was in fact “danzhong.” But his reference to the saying was either an accidental or intentional mis-quote of the lines in the Taijiquan Treatise, “Sink to one side (pianchen), then follow. If double weighted, then one will stagnate.” So, Xiang replaced the phrase “sink to one side (pianchen) with “single weighted” (danzhong). Perhaps he did so in order to reveal what he saw as a better parallel with the term “shuangzhong” (double weighted), but I haven’t found any support for that usage outside of his own.'

As for the importance of semantics, I disagree with your thinking; at least when it comes to translation, the meaning of words and phrases is crucial. So an assertion that “重 in the term 雙重 is short for 重點,” in my view, needs some sort of corroborating evidence, since you are making an assertion about the meaning of words. That aside, I acknowledge the importance of using physics and kinesiology in analyzing traditional taijiquan writings, but when it comes to translating traditional taiji documents, we need to strive to understand the terms as they were being used by the originators.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Sun Aug 07, 2016 10:25 pm

Louis Swaim wrote:Greetings CD,

You mention,

又說:「單重則隨,雙重則滯。」
If you drop one side, you can move. But if you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.

BTW The above phrases are not the original text. The original should read as follows:
偏沉則随,雙重則滞

But his reference to the saying was either an accidental or intentional mis-quote of the lines in the Taijiquan Treatise, “Sink to one side (pianchen), then follow. If double weighted, then one will stagnate.” So, Xiang replaced the phrase “sink to one side (pianchen) with “single weighted” (danzhong). Perhaps he did so in order to reveal what he saw as a better parallel with the term “shuangzhong” (double weighted), but I haven’t found any support for that usage outside of his own.'

Take care,
Louis


Greetings, Louis

FYI You will not find any literature in English to support my assertion. Sorry to say that my knowledge are collective throughout the years as I have been practicing and studying Tai Ji. As you said: "we need to strive to understand the terms as they were being used by the originators." No one really know what the originators were saying, except by someone's interpretation. Even someone else's interpretation was the offshoot of the original text. We all are guilty of that. I am no exception. I can try to interpret it with the best of my knowledge from what I'd learnt in the past.

Let's strive to understand and give it another try! If we stick with the original phrase, then it would be more
meaningful and explicit.

偏沉則随,雙重則滞
The first two characters, 偏沉(pianchen), sink to one side is more pertinent than 單重.
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:33 am

Greetings! All
Let' s go back to these phrases.
偏沉則随,雙重則滞
The first two characters, 偏沉(pianchen), sink to one side is more pertinent than 單重.


Let's look at all the possible meanings and translation of the compound characters: 偏沉(pianchen).
1. sink to one side.
2. lean toward one side
3. shift to one side

All the above implicates that the weight of the body is moved to one side. Since we have introduced the weight of the body into the discussion, now, let's list all the possible Chinese terms for "the weight of the body."
1. 重量: amount of weight
2. 重心: center of gravity
3. 重點: centroid of an object.

So, in the Chinese language, it depends how the character was used in a sentence or phrase. Its interpretation will be derived from the contextual meaning. Thus the character may be referred to anyone of the above terms. One might say: hey where is your reference to support this. FYI There isn't any. If one doesn't speak the language fluently, then it's really tough luck. Sometimes, we may google it in the Chinese internet to find some explanations and interpretation to get some kind of idea. Again it is still somebody's interpretation. Accepting those interpretations, one must use one's own discretion.

One might say: hey there no weight in the characters 偏沉(pianchen). Of course not, but the implication is there. Now, with all these cleared out of the way. Let's begin with our interpretation. If one stands on the ground with the weight shifted to the left, then there is less wight on the right. The body is forced to move to the left which disable one from moving to the right at the moment. The implication signifies that the weight of the body is dominate, here, rather than the pressure of the legs. The interesting thought here is that the weight was shifted to the left, thus the center of gravity of the body was also shifted in the same direction.

Now let's look at the term 雙重, the implication both legs are on the ground. Thus the body weight is distributed evenly on both legs. The center of the body or center of gravity is located in between the legs. The body does not tend to move because it is in balance. Since weight of the body are divided on both legs, therefore, under this condition was considered to be 雙重, double center of gravity. It's simply implies that there are two centers of gravity and two axises on the body, one for each legs. So to speak.

Going back to the 偏沉(pianchen), since the majority of the weight is on one leg, then it was considered to be 單重, single center of gravity. It is because there is one axis due to the weight was distributed on one leg.

This is how I understand it. I hope it make sense to you all!


Let nature take its course,
Wu Wei Taoist
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby fchai » Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:44 am

Greetings Louis,
Thank you for drawing my attention to Brennan's latest translation. The part that intrigued me the most was Xiang Kairan drawing attention to the idea that emptiness and fullness is not restricted or limited to the feet. Because ''weight'' is often mentioned we often and erroneously assume that it is about the feet. In consideration of what Xiang Kairan relates about how emptiness and fullness can also be experienced even with a finger, and that the state of emptiness (insubstantial) and fullness (substantial) changes frequently even with a single movement sequence, I have now become more aware of this when doing my form and especially pay attention as my arms and hands circle, withdraw, extend, etc. Every transition has emptiness which then is followed by fullness and the cycle continues without end. Every applied movement the same. Most illuminating. Even breathing has aspects of emptiness and fullness.
Perhaps I may be getting overly excited?
Take care,
Frank
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby DPasek » Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:06 pm

Here is a perspective on “double weighted” from a Chen style master:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxrdPNw4Nyo

My perspective is similar to that of Chen Xiaowang and Xiang Kairan (i.e., double weighting can occur anywhere, not just in the feet/legs; and at every point of contact, and actually everywhere in the body, there should be yin+yang in order to avoid “double pressure/weighting”).

My viewpoint is expressed in the following article:
http://slantedflying.com/be-the-ball/
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Re: Brennan translates Xiang Kairan

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:11 pm

DPasek wrote:Here is a perspective on “double weighted” from a Chen style master:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxrdPNw4Nyo

My perspective is similar to that of Chen Xiaowang and Xiang Kairan (i.e., double weighting can occur anywhere, not just in the feet/legs; and at every point of contact, and actually everywhere in the body, there should be yin+yang in order to avoid “double pressure/weighting”).


DPasek,
Thank you for citing the video for the explanation of double weight by Cheng Xiaowang. The critical point is at 4:30. He mentioned that the original meaning of double weight on both legs are correct. However, that was not the intended meaning of the ancients. In addition, they had defined further by stating that while the legs are in the equal weight state; the body joints are also locked in an unmovable position. Thus that was considered to be in the state of 雙重, double weight.

Now, it is much clear to me what is the difference between 單重 and 雙重.


@ Louis: My apologies for drawing to a hasty conclusion without further investigation. BTW Xiang's article had not defined 雙重. He assumed everyone knows what it is. Unfortunately, I was misled by his other terminologies also. The character重 in 雙重 is definitely about weight. Thus the English translation it "double weight" is more appropriate. IMMHO.

Let nature take its course,
Wu Wei
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