monkey head?

monkey head?

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:24 pm

Greetings,

I moved this from the history thread on Ho Chi Minh, in case it gets buried.

In the Luo Jihong article linked by Danny http://www.taichi.ca/publications/LuoJiHong.htm there is the following:

'In one of the earliest treatises on Tai Chi, an author stressed the importance of developing a "monkey head". Later publishers did not understand the meaning of "monkey head" and assumed it was a misprint. [Ed. In Chinese writing, the characters meaning Monkey Head look almost identical to the characters meaning Throat. The confusion is further compounded in certain dialects as both terms are pronounced the same.]'

It’s true that “monkey” and “throat” share a graphic/phonetic element, and individually these graphs are pronounced the same in Mandarin, but “monkey head” would not be a single character. I’m kind of lost without seeing the original Chinese referenced. Can anyone shed any light on this? I don’t recall encountering anything resembling “monkey head” in any early taiji documents. I appreciate the process that Luo Jihong went through to personally understand the meaning of the term, and the conclusions he reached in his observations certainly square with my own experiences with regard to head/neck alignment. I’m just curious what “early treatises” this “monkey head” phrase may have appeared in. Any leads?

Thanks,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 09-06-2007).]

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 09-06-2007).]
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Postby HengYu » Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:30 pm

Dear Louis

This is only a tentative attempt at clarification. So please forgive its weaknesses in advance. In Hakka parlance, the term 'monkey head' is used (sometimes) to refer to the position where the chin is placed slightly forward and down. This has three distinct purposes;

1) Such a position covers the throat area from a direct attack.

2) A blow to the chin is easily deflected away from the area in such away that does not cause the brain to rattle, and cause unconsciousness.

3) With the chin sligtly forward and down, the spinal bones of the neck are anatomically aligned, and the musculature of the area can relax.

This is actually a technique found in Hakka Dragon Backing, where the upper back is allowed to curve inaccordance with its natural anatomical position. This position is both powerful and relaxed.

It might be that the Hakka term of 'monkey head' was used in the Tai Chi classic under discussion, and that the scholars of later times, (who could understand the concept), wanted to convey its more practical aspect to non-Hakka Chinese people. In so doing, the covering of the throat was conveyed (albeit poorly), and the extension of the neck was all but forgotten.

As it stands, it might be clearer to say that the 'monkey head' does indeed mean to stand with alertness, as the text says, but that in so doing, the chin is placed slightly forward, so that it covers the throat area, thus extending the neck. This allows all to be correctly aligned for the generation and transference of Qi.

Thank you



[This message has been edited by HengYu (edited 09-07-2007).]
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Postby HengYu » Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:48 pm

Dear Louis

In the Hakka dialect, the term 'monkey head' is pronounced 'mahlow tow'. Whilst 'throat' is generally pronounced 'how', but can be pronounced in its longer form of 'how lung'.

The second pronounciation of 'how lung', would be written with two chinese characters - whilst 'monkey head' - 'mahlow tow' is written with three characters.

Thank you
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:11 pm

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

In the Hakka dialect, the term 'monkey head' is pronounced 'mahlow tow'. Whilst 'throat' is generally pronounced 'how', but can be pronounced in its longer form of 'how lung'.

The second pronounciation of 'how lung', would be written with two chinese characters - whilst 'monkey head' - 'mahlow tow' is written with three characters.

Thank you</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, well in Mandarin, "monkey head" would be "houtou," and "throat" would be "houlong." I don't know that Hakka dialect comes into the picture here. Again, without seeing the manuscript referred to by Mr. Luo Jihong, it's difficult to assess the provenance of this "monkey head" idea.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby HengYu » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:43 pm

Dear louis

Yes of course, assuming that the Tai Chi Classic was written in Putonghua (modern manderin) script - which is what I assume you are calling Manderin? Rather than Guanyu (classical Manderin) script, or one or two of the other versions of Manderin.

The point being that in our living Hakka tradition, the term 'monkey head' is common. Master Luo was of course, a Hakka (that is, Kejia), and might well have undestood this concept much more readily. Hakka language is often similar to the Beijing dialect, and some researchers are of the opinion that Hakka language might be the fore-runner to the so-called Guanyu. Putonghua is 'simplified' script, reducing concepts to their written minimum. Hakka, being older, tends to have fuller explanations for concepts.

Good luck with your studies.

Thank you

[This message has been edited by HengYu (edited 09-07-2007).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:39 pm

Greetings Hengyu,

I don’t question that there is a Hakka term for “monkey head,” but what perplexes me is that your description of it—that it refers to “the position where the chin is placed slightly forward and down” is at odds with Luo Jihong’s:

‘My father noticed how they held their heads as they began to rise up on their hind legs. Their heads were held high with their chins slightly tucked in. He began to imitate this posture in this practice and immediately noticed an improvement in the flow of his Chi. This is what the old masters meant by "monkey head"!’

Moreover, Luo’s description is completely in accordance with my understanding of traditional taijiquan prescriptions for head/neck alignment, whereas positioning the chin “slightly forward and down” appears to contradict those prescriptions.

Here’s an old thread regarding taijiquan head/neck alignment that you may find interesting: http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000046.html

Again, I would feel more comfortable if I could see the original text Luo was referencing.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yuen-Ming » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:34 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Again, I would feel more comfortable if I could see the original text Luo was referencing.

Take care,
Louis[/B]</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hello Louis,

not sure if this is what you are looking for.

心會要訣
 腰脊為第一之主宰,猴頭為第二主宰,地心為第三之主宰。
丹田為第一之賓輔,掌指為第二之賓輔,足指為第三之賓輔。

張伯夷 explains it as:

字義:猴頭為第二主宰。
「猴頭」又稱「百會」,為道家所言之「上丹田」。拳經所言:「虛領頂勁」,將頭部上頂直豎,能提挈一身之精神。頭頸端正,則身形 自然不偏不倚。而其功用如陳鑫所言:「頭為六陽之首,周身之主,五官百骸,莫不以此為向背」。以頭容正直,凝神於外,使走架中正 安舒,不離中土,故稱「猴頭」為第二主宰。然而人之頭項為向陽之首,屬天地人三才中純陽之位,故頭勁上頂,能提振一身之陽氣,使 人精神奕奕。
【論述】
近代太極名家吳圖南與熊養和,均將「猴頭」稱之為「喉頭」,熊養和更在其所著《太極拳釋義》說道;「喉頭在喉間氣管之上端,上通 咽頭……居於頸項之間,與虛領頂勁有連貫之關係」。熊養和表示「喉頭」頂懸領虛,「喉頭」內收方能中正安舒,呼吸便能順暢,周身 受其領導,則前後左右無不輕鬆活潑。作者認為不管是猴頭之「百會」,或是頸項之「喉頭」,其目的均要求走架時,虛領頂勁,中正安 舒,兩者只是在字義上敘述不同。
前太極拳學術研究會(今之中華民國太極拳總會前身)創會會長韓振聲曾言,走架除遵守楊澄甫之「練拳十要」外,尚須注意三點,一是 喉頭有準,即喉頭勿拋。二是腰有主,主宰於腰。三是足有根,氣勁俱穩紮於湧泉穴。從此可知,「喉頭」勿拋是走架時中正安舒之重要 依據。拳經記載「猴頭」之說有:「週身大用論」中之「三要猴頭永不拋,問盡天下眾英雄」。「猴頭」之說,「週身大用論」認為喉頭 不能向外拋出(下顎微收),就算是問盡天下眾多英雄,其道理也是一樣。

Best

YM
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:35 pm

Greetings Yuen-Ming,

Long time no see! I'll look at this more closely when I have some time. In the meantime, what can you tell me about the provenance of this little text, "Xinhui yaojue?"

Grazie,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:47 am

Note: I had trouble viewing the Chinese text above till I chose Unicode encoding.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:07 am

There is some explanation of provenance here: http://blog.xuite.net/fan888/blog3/10238944
Gu Liuxin is quoted as saying "I suspect it was written by Song Shuming himself and passed off as dating from the Tang dynasty" 疑為宋書銘自著,託始於唐人



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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:09 am

OK, I've found it in the Taijiquan pu. I'll have to study as time permits.

--Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:14 pm

Greetings Jerry,

I'm kind of inclined to agree with Gu Liuxin on the dating. One thing that caught my eye immediately in the text is the term “dixin.” I would be inclined to read that as “center of the earth,” or, “earth’s core,” as in “dixin yinli” (gravitation). If it is in fact “earth’s core,” that would put serious doubt on a Tang dynasty provenance for this text. The term dixin did not emerge in China until the late Qing dynasty. One of the commentaries in the Taijiquan pu says that “dixin” could mean “xindi,” a moral term. That strikes me as implausible, given that the other “leaders” and “followers” referred to in the text are clearly physical and physiological. On the other hand, the intriguing notion that a text of this kind would explicitly or implicitly refer to the body’s interaction with gravity seems fairly advanced, even for the late Qing.

I have more questions than answers regarding this text.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yuen-Ming » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:52 am

Hello Louis,

as I am sure you are aware Wu Tunan claims that the first text was given him by a friend in 1908. A few years later while visiting Song Shuming it was found that the text was basically identical to that in possession of Song, who claimed having received it inside his family.
Nowhere it is said that the (physical) text we have today dates the Tang dynasty, but only that the tradition was passed inside Song's family since then.
WTN's disciple Ma Youqing, who owns the text, claims that his copy is early Qing. I have proof*** that, however, his is only ONE copy of the various made by WTN for the group of seven people that visited Song.
The text was most probably passed orally in a number of traditions and was only put to written form later, which explains the issued you are mentioning.
I have prepared a couple of articles on this very topic but given new findings I am still working on them.

YM

*** I own one of the copies made those days
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Postby Yuen-Ming » Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:10 am

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

I'm kind of inclined to agree with Gu Liuxin on the dating. One thing that caught my eye immediately in the text is the term dixin [...]</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Dear Louis,

I am not sure if you are on the right track with this way of dating the text. See this brief info and later we can discuss more in details if you wish.

Image
Image

Best

YM
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Postby yslim » Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:31 am

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

I'm kind of inclined to agree with Gu Liuxin on the dating. One thing that caught my eye immediately in the text is the term “dixin.” I would be inclined to read that as “center of the earth,” or, “earth’s core,” as in “dixin yinli” (gravitation). If it is in fact “earth’s core,” that would put serious doubt on a Tang dynasty provenance for this text. The term dixin did not emerge in China until the late Qing dynasty. One of the commentaries in the Taijiquan pu says that “dixin” could mean “xindi,” a moral term. That strikes me as implausible, given that the other “leaders” and “followers” referred to in the text are clearly physical and physiological. On the other hand, the intriguing notion that a text of this kind would explicitly or implicitly refer to the body’s interaction with gravity seems fairly advanced, even for the late Qing.

I have more questions than answers regarding this text.

Take care,
Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Louis

I finally have a chance to read the link Jerry post which is in Chinese. But not sure if it in Cantonese or Mandarin. It explains the term "dixin" (di/earth and xin/heart) is mean the Bubble Spring point on the heart of the sole (almost). I think it is very logical for the Chinese as they use the yao (waist) #1 for the middle body as the axles for spiral force and the "monkey head",#2 for the up left the "spirit" skyward and the Bubble Spring #3 for the sink the chi into the earth. Anyway it did clearly state dixin is for the Bubble Spring.FWIW.

By the way, it also did clearly state the two word of monkey and throat in Chinese with their reasoning. I let you decide how to use it.

I thank you for all your hard work to our benefit.

Ciao and have a good Chinese Mooning night (the Chinese Moon Festival is on)
yslim

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 09-26-2007).]

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 09-26-2007).]
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