The meaning of an?

Postby DPasek » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:28 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
...I explained my take on ji as “a way of re-establishing and optimizing the effectiveness of your center-line trajectory when your peripheral point of contact with the opponent (in the wrist or forearm) has been been rolled back or deflected in such a manner as to make that point of contact ‘empty.’ With the ‘rear’ palm, one presses one’s wrist or forearm, channeling from your centerline to the opponent’s centerline.” </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Louis,

While your explanation of Ji is quite good for that specific application (one that is often used to illustrate this energy), I would say that it is way too form specific to be a useful explanation of Ji. For example, is Ji only used to connect centerlines? Could you not use Ji energy to rotate the opponent (e.g. by issuing Ji towards a shoulder, hip, elbow, etc. [i.e. off the centerline] of the opponent…)? Can it only be applied after your contact point with the opponent has been made ‘empty’ by their response? Can it not be used from a ‘full’, already advantageous position if desired (i.e., for this specific application, if you issued the same energy towards the opponent prior to them deflecting you, would it not still be considered as Ji, and if not, then which energy would it then be)?

I would say that the Ji in this specific application comes from energy being applied between the arms of the opponent who is in contact with you. This lets your energy penetrate into their deficiency (e.g. the ‘empty’ gap between their arms). From Audi’s post, and from what I consider to be a complementary perspective, I would say that the energy of the left/rear hand in this specific application provides the energy to expand your position (defined by your right/forward arm) into their weak space, thus displacing them.

Dan
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:47 pm

Greetings Dan,

These are excellent questions. As I recall, I was thinking in particular about applying ji in push hands, and my inclination is to apply it —at whatever point of contact—toward the center line of my partner in response to a roll-back. In my experience—which is limited to be sure—that’s the way ji comes into play, and it re-establishes a straight-line trajectory that has been compromised. In that same Posture Names thread I linked above I also translated a statement from Yang Zhenji about the use of ji:

“The method of ji is one of issuing force in a direct line. In Yang style taijiquan, when one issues, one “seeks the straight in the curved” with specific regard to the focal point of the opponent’s center line, seizing the opportunity and strategic advantage (dejideshi), and issuing jin along a straight line (zhixian fajin) rather than in a curved arc.” —Yang Zhenji, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_, p. 30

I hadn’t considered the notion of using ji to “rotate the opponent. . .off the centerline,” as you suggest. I’m inclined to think if I were doing that it wouldn’t fit my understanding of ji, but would qualify as some other jin. As for applying ji from “an already advantageous position,” I certainly agree it can be done, and have seen demos of ji to launch a partner that would fit that scenario. Practically, though, I tend to see ji as a way out of a tight spot, and in the context of a response, rather than an initiation of action.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DPasek » Fri May 02, 2008 7:44 pm

Louis,

As I stated earlier:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DPasek:
I tend to be reluctant to offer my opinions on the 8 jin since there are numerous published discussions of this topic by Taijiquan practitioners with much better credentials than mine, but my understandings vary somewhat from many approaches taken in trying to define these 8 jin...</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But let’s continue for now and see where the discussion takes us.

I view the application that you referred to as a good illustration of how Jijin can be applied in one particular manner to achieve the results that you have pointed out (issuing to the opponent’s centerline after your energy had been diverted by them…). But this is a specific illustration of how a ‘tool’ or ‘method’ (in this specific example, of Jijin) can be utilized for one project (application). It does not describe the component that is specifically Jijin. I feel that the manner that this jin can be applied is much broader than the way that it is used in that one application, although it is inclusive of that particular example. If Jijin is limited to only a few possibilities (specific applications), then why is it elevated to the importance of being one of only eight Jin (or one of 13 if discussing all Shisanshi) let alone one of the four primary (cardinal) Jins? Wouldn’t one expect it to be more generally applicable than that to warrant inclusion in this important list of Taijiquan energies? I believe that it is very generally applicable, being potentially present in every individual circle described by the movements of the body!

I would be reluctant to contradict an authority like Yang Zhenji, but I feel that he is describing the typical, or most frequently/commonly expressed, way that Jijin is applied. I hope that he is not stating that Jijin is exclusively expressed in a straight line, or exclusively with “the focal point of the opponent’s center line.” Since I view this energy as attacking into the gaps/spaces within an opponent’s structure, I think that the tendency would be to apply it linearly into the small spaces typically presented (a curved attack may be more difficult to fit accurately into small gaps). But against a less skilled opponent, they may provide larger spaces where perhaps a curved Jijin could be applied (but then, if the gap was so large, I would think that one would simply wish to go straight in and finish the opponent off). Likewise, if you wish to use Jijin as a finishing technique, then attacking directly towards their spine (centerline) is probably the most effective, but I think that Jijin could also be used to set up another finishing technique that utilizes a different Jin. In my earlier example of possibly using it off of the opponent’s centerline to rotate them, perhaps it could be used to set up a finishing throw (e.g. using Liejin), etc.

Perhaps a better way of illustrating my caution about using the terms linear or straight, and the opponent’s centerline as the target (at least using them as definitive terms), is that, while Yang’s statement may describe the interaction with a stationary opponent, what happens if they are moving (even slightly)? In this situation the opponent’s centerline would likely move from the initial position during your application of Ji. Would you not then be able to continue by utilizing a curved path designed to track their centerline? If not, then what energy has it changed to if not still Jijin? Conversely, one could continue the Ji in a straight line even with the opponent’s centerline moving, but then the Ji would be straight, but somewhat off the centerline. Would it still be considered Ji in this situation? If not, then what? Yang Zhenji is not stating that Ji can only be applied to a stationary centerline, is he? Or that it has to be applied to a moving target so quickly that the centerline does not move significantly in the instant it is applied? But then, could Ji not be applied with ‘long jin’ against a moving centerline because it would take too much time? Unless Yang has addressed these concerns in statements that you have not quoted, then I am uncertain how to understand his statement.

Perhaps Yang had a specific situation (application) in mind when he made his statements. It would probably apply to the same stationary push-hands drill that you were apparently thinking about. In any case, while I can not really say that I consider his statement to be wrong (as it does fit my criteria for Jijin in some specific situations), I also can not consider his statement to be complete. I think that this incompleteness could lead to misinterpretations as to what Jijin actually is (or at least lead to a rather narrow view of what it is).

The way that I have presented the 8 Jin allows me an ability to use extreme precision and detail to analyze any moment of any Taijiquan action (in form, application, free style pushing…) to examine what possible energies are being used, as well as to see how they can be changed into other energies depending on intent (and what is sensed about the opponent and their interaction with you). If readers of this forum find the same value in it for analyzing the energy transformations throughout Taijiquan as I do, then they are welcome to utilize what I have presented. If they do not feel that my ideas sufficiently address certain quotes made by Taijiquan authorities, then I guess that I can try to explain further (though, again, please note my reluctance).

To illustrate how I use my understandings of the 8 Jin to analyze Taijiquan, the following is a brief (since I have to rely on words here rather than working in person) examination of the application presented by Louis. I will only address the applications (Jin) in the arms in order to keep this relatively short, and let’s start at the point where the opponent has already diverted you, and initially, let’s assign their contact points on your forward arm as being at the wrist and elbow.

First, one should maintain structure (Peng) in the arm being diverted. By this I mean the Pengjin that maintains the shape of an inflated ball, not the rebounding type (since the opponent is diverting you rather that issuing energy into you). Allowing this arm to collapse (lose Pengjin) would make subsequently applying Jijin difficult since it would first be needed to ‘re-inflate’ your own sphere before it could be used to expand your sphere into the opponent’s space to displace them. It would also be incorrect to use your forward arm to push (Anjin) against the arms of the opponent as at this point their position is superior. Pushing against them would merely provide a structure connecting their two arms, that their superior position could enable them to use to solidify the space between their arms, such that there is no longer a space or gap for you to use to apply your Jijin. If the energy in your forward arm is correct, then…

The rear hand can then be used to expand your ‘sphere’ into the opponent’s space in order to displace them. This is typically done by using Jijin towards the opponent’s centerline if one desires to use this as a finishing technique, with the energy being transmitted through the forward arm by the rear hand being placed somewhere along the forearm of your forward arm, between where the opponent is contacting that arm. I can not, however differentiate this as being applied towards the opponent’s centerline or not, as I would not know what to call an off-center application of Jin when the technique is otherwise identical (to me it would still be Jijin).

Note that attempting to apply Jijin directly opposite where the opponent contacts your forward arm (at the wrist or elbow) often leads to a lack of success. I interpret this as being because you would then be issuing your force against their strength, rather than against the weaker gap between their arms. If, however, you detected stiffness, misalignment, or other defect that would allow you to transmit force through the opponent’s arm to affect their spine, then applying energy through your wrist or elbow may result in a successful attack. But in this case I would consider the energy being used to be Anjin rather than Jijin.

This type of analysis could continue, for example to examine the different possibilities available to you if the opponent was contacting your wrist and shoulder (rather than the wrist and elbow as examined above). Or examining what may be used if the opponent turns you farther than where you could apply Jijin to your forearm, etc. But by now I think that you should probably get the idea as to how I use the Shisanshi in analyzing Taijiquan. As this post has gotten so long already, I think I should end the example here.

If you can not utilize your understanding of the Shisnashi in a similar manner, then of what value does your understanding of these Jin play in your practice? How do you use them to understand your Taijiquan? Are they only used for isolated postures? Can you use the understanding of the Shisanshi in a practical manner to understand what is happening throughout your Taijiquan practice, or is it primarily a theoretical understanding that is only infrequently utilized in your practice?

I think that it would be valuable to have a compilation of the writings of past Taijiquan masters concerning the Shisanshi to see how the explanations differ or complement each other, to compare how broadly applicable or narrowly defined they are, etc. Unfortunately, this is a large project that is beyond my abilities, especially since my ability to read the primary Chinese texts is severely limited.

Dan
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat May 03, 2008 7:37 pm

Greetings Dan,

I can only admire your approach. This kind of rigorous questioning and pondering is very much needed. We are taijiquan students of the twenty-first century attempting to understand categorical terminology of nineteenth century experts. It’s a daunting challenge to get a grip on the theory that informs the eight root configurations of taijiquan. Just how do we go about grasping this bird’s tail?

Speaking of birds, I’m reminded of an argument device used by the philosopher Gilbert Ryle to illustrate that observations, definitions, and theories may work together, but they are not to be confused with one another. I’m paraphrasing, but say one person observes some wild geese “flying south.” Another person observes some wild geese “migrating.” Both observations are true. In both cases, the physical data observed is identical. The framing of the observation either as “flying south” or “migrating” draws upon different sets of assumptions, different knowledge bases, and different ability or willingness to make inferences. And so it goes with dispositions.

I agree that we should not confuse a given jin with a particular technique or application, and I understand your rationale for seeking a more general understanding of jijin beyond the push hands application described. Sometimes, though, definitions require constraints to make them accurate. In the case of the formulation I expressed about jijin, I think it is more of a definition of an objective, while the application cited is an illustration of a tactical attempt to carry out the objective. It will not always look the same or feel the same, but from a theoretical standpoint it will be the same.

You question whether we should accept that jijin “is exclusively expressed in a straight line, or exclusively with ‘the focal point of the opponent’s center line.’” I can’t make a case whether Yang Zhenji meant that explanation to refer to a specific application of ji or to the broader meaning of jijin. However, there is some further information on ji in Zhenji’s section on push hands that may shed some light on his explanation. Here’s my translation:

“Ji must be timely. The one being rolled back uses the ji method as the corresponding response. The duration of ji is very brief, so it must be timely. Otherwise, you may give the opponent an opportunity to exploit. Prior to changing to the ji form, the one being rolled back must have pengjin in warding off the other person’s two hands, so as not to allow the opponent to take the opportunity to change hands and push you into a backed-up position.” —Yang Zhenji, Yang Chengfu shi taijiquan, p. 176

So, by this explanation, the configuration of ji is constrained by time. It works in a very particular situation, and only in an instant. Like all of the thirteen jin, it is “perishable,” and can be countered. Once countered, jijin is unsuccessful, and one must adapt to the situation by engaging the opponent with a different jin.

I expressed the objective of jijin as “a way of re-establishing and optimizing the effectiveness of your center-line trajectory when your peripheral point of contact with the opponent (in the wrist or forearm) has been been rolled back. . . ,” but maybe it would be better to say that that is the tactical objective of jijin, whereas the strategic objective is more generally to maintain your central equilibrium. As you know, Ma Yueliang termed central equilibrium (zhong ding) as the “most essential and basic skill” of taijiquan. (Wu Style Taichichuan Push-Hands, p. 18) He further stated that “None of the [thirteen] kinetic movements are ever dissociated from zhong-ding. Strictly speaking, there is no fixed form for any maneuver, but all forms or methods are based on zhong-ding.” (Ibid.)

The scenarios you bring up so clearly are very worthy of consideration. For example, using jijin to elicit a response or as a feint is a legitimate option. I think, though that jijin may need to be understood in light of the time constraint noted by Yang Zhenji. It is effective in a very specific set of circumstances and only when engaged at a very specific point of time. You mention “long jin,” by the way, and the idea it couldn’t apply in the application of jijin “against a moving centerline because it would take too much time. . .,” but my understanding of long jin is that “long” does not refer to duration, but to engaging of jin from your feet up through your torso, and into your hands. It is a long pathway as distinct from the shortness of merely applying ji with your hands.

Your scenarios actually make a very good case for how to respond TO an opponent applying ji. If you sense you are lined up to be displaced as a result, it’s incumbent on you to immediately make your centerline unavailable so as to neutralize the attack. From the perspective of the one applying ji, if you sense substantial resistance, or if you sense the opponent has successfully diverted you from engaging his centerline, then you know ji has been unsuccessful, and you need to change to another line of approach.

These are just my thoughts on the idea, and I’m open to persuasion that I’m not on the right track.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DPasek » Mon May 05, 2008 8:48 pm

Louis,

I’m glad that you made those points in your first three paragraphs, and I agree. I try to keep an open mind to differing approaches, and this is why I stated that I liked Audi’s presentation, and why I felt that it was complementary to the way that I had presented it. [My approach tends to be to describe what the energy is at the point of contact or application, whereas Audi’s seems to focus more on how the application of the energy affects the opponent.]

Also, thank you for the additional translation of Yang Zhenji’s writing. If used as a finishing technique to attack the centerline, then what he points out as the ‘brief’ and ‘timely’ nature of jijin would correlate well with my analysis regarding a moving center. I also like that he is willing to mention the importance of pengjin in the arm being diverted by the opponent while describing a technique to illustrate jijin (i.e. the forward arm expresses pengjin while the other arm applies jijin, both within a movement used to illustrate an application of ji). This matches my understanding for this particular push-hands drill application (as I described in my last post) and leads me to suspect that he is, in fact, probably describing this particular application rather than a more general statement as to the qualities of jijin itself.

Both your and Yang’s statements address what I see as a fairly common fault in this posture in the push-hands drill, whereas my statements on ji do not (an example of the benefits of multiple approaches in the study of the shisanshi). Specifically, too often practitioners seem to repeatedly place their hand at the same spot on their forearm regardless of how far the opponent has diverted them while practicing this drill. Referencing the centerline can be used to correct this fault by pointing out that that centerline will intersect your arm at different spots depending on how far you have been turned. But I view the ‘centerline’ as essentially stating that the spine should be what is controlled, and controlling the opponent’s spine is what Taijiquan emphasizes for controlling an opponent.

While I agree that jijin could be used to accomplish your objective (“re-establishing and optimizing the effectiveness of your center-line trajectory…”), I think that it can be used for far more. I would not agree that “It is effective in a very specific set of circumstances and only when engaged at a very specific point of time.” Specifically in this application, perhaps this is correct, but in general, I would say no. It is, as I pointed out previously, one of the major energies in Taijiquan, and if jijin were so limited in its scope, then why include it as a primary technique? Plus, couldn’t something else (e.g. footwork, stepping; zhou or kao; etc.) be used to also accomplish your stated objective?

I agree with the primary importance of central equilibrium (zhongding) in the five elements in the feet, but pengjin (structural integration?) is also considered to be of primary importance in Taijiquan.

I may have misused the term ‘long jin’ as I have not studied it in quite some time, and not very extensively. I thought that essentially all Taijiquan used “engaging of jin from your feet up through your torso” and thus would not think of this as distinguishing long jin from any other type (if the body’s linkages are properly aligned then the transmission of force even in a ‘one-inch-punch’ could be transmitted from the feet). I thought that regardless of distance that the jin was launched (whether inches or feet – i.e. a ‘one-inch-punch’ vs. a typical punch that starts at ones hip and reaches near full extension of the arm), long and short jin could both be expressed upon contact. Short jin would be more penetrating (without significant displacement of the opponent) whereas long jin would significantly displace the opponent. I thought that short jin would tend to be shorter in duration and more percussive (the impact would be more explosive) while long jin would tend to be longer in duration since it would tend to include such things as a ‘follow-through’ to help in launching the opponent (forcing them to move over an extended distance). I’ll review my materials on this though (perhaps another thread could be started on these energies). If I misused the term, then I apologize.

Dan
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon May 05, 2008 11:08 pm

Greetings Dan,

I’ll try to respond more fully later, but in the meantime I just have a few quick remarks. Regarding the centerline, you wrote:

“But I view the ‘centerline’ as essentially stating that the spine should be what is controlled, and controlling the opponent’s spine is what Taijiquan emphasizes for controlling an opponent.”

Actually, I don’t consider the centerline to be synonymous with the spine. Like the human body’s center of gravity, the centerline as a vertical axis is not a fixed location. In particular, it varies with the angle of approach. If I am applying a technique directly at the center of a partner’s chest, that is, square-on to the front of their body, then the centerline could be said to *correspond* with their spine. For other angles of approach, however, the centerline is slightly forward of the spine. I’m also not sure I agree that “contolling the opponent’s spine is what Taijiquan emphasizes for controlling an opponent.” I would be more apt to say taijiquan emphasizes controlling center of gravity. Could you explain the basis of your statement?

Regarding your question about jijin: “It is, as I pointed out previously, one of the major energies in Taijiquan, and if jijin were so limited in its scope, then why include it as a primary technique?”

I am kind of at a loss here as to why categories of “major energy,” “limited in scope,” and “primary technique” would necessarily be mutually exclusive. Is any one of the eight configurations unlimited in scope?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DPasek » Tue May 06, 2008 7:18 pm

Louis,

Talking about controlling the opponent’s mass is probably better. Since I also seriously study ILiqChuan (ILC), I try to keep my references (concepts and terminology) separate, and with ILC’s emphasis on controlling the upper (sternum level) and lower (dantien) masses, I used an alternative reference for Taijiquan by mentioning controlling the spine. I thought this fit fairly well with the centerline, and have often viewed controlling the opponent’s spine as an easily understood way of subsequently controlling the opponent’s mass. The spine is, of course, on the opponent’s back centerline (assuming a symmetrical spine), but depending on your angle to them, as you point out, this does not always correlate with a centerline on their front (or through their middle) when thinking in terms of connecting your force to their centerline. Do you not think that Yang Zhenji was referring to a vertical centerline that includes the spinal column? Since Yang states “the opponent’s center line,” we can probably be confident that he is not referring to the centerline connecting the two people's centers, but it is unclear to me if he is referring to the centerline through the middle of an opponent’s body, their front centerline, or a centerline connecting the front center of their body to the back center (spine).

Your earlier statement that “It [jijin] is effective in a very specific set of circumstances and only when engaged at a very specific point of time” led me to think that you did not view jijin as being used nearly as frequently as I do. Combined with a suspicion that many Taijiquan practitioners can only point to a few places in form or interactive work where they think jijin is being used, led me to make my statements cautioning about defining jijin as a very infrequently used technique. Olson’s book “Intrinsic Energies of Tai Chi Chuan” lists more than twenty types of jin, yet only peng, lu, ji, an, zhou, kao, lie, and cai are considered as the eight energies/gates (bamen). If not due to their frequency of use and their comprehensiveness when discussed as a group, then why were these eight energies chosen to define Taijquan? Although I have no way of knowing why they were chosen, I examine these eight energies assuming that they are fairly commonly used, and that they represent one set of comprehensive techniques, and I acknowledge that this may lead to some bias in the way that I present these jin.

Dan
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Postby Audi » Tue May 06, 2008 11:29 pm

Greetings everyone,

I am short on time and so cannot yet address some of the excellent points that have been made; however, I do want to describe a quick image that underlies my previous post.

Imagine that you are standing in the Preparation posture in front of an opponent who steps forward to punch you in the chest. According to my thinking, you would have the choice of using Peng, Lu, Ji, or An to "deal with" the attack. You do not need any specific movement from the attacker, just the attempt to punch. Whether your actually strike, kick, or use a takedown is also an option within the four methods, but is only a small portion of what may needed to "deal with" the attack.

According to my understanding, the goal of the Tai Chi approach is to accord with the saying that is based on Sunzi's injunction: "Know yourself and know the other and you need not fear a hundred battles." This is a different philosophy than trying to slip in a strike when you are unsure of the result. Accordingly, I think the eight gates belong to a different level of theory than "strikes."

To use the Tai Chi approach, the number one requirement is to distinguish full and empty. The opponent's punch reveals this full and empty and allows you to initiate a response. In most real situations, you will use Peng, Lu, Ji, and An in combination, but you can construct scenarios where each of the four is clearly the predominate method used. For instance, you can deal with such a punch by using only An, to avoid getting hit and to launch the opponent away and off his feet.

What determines the categorization of the energy is what the opponent feels. This may apply to a moment in time or a range of actions. Ideally each method includes a circle, and so even though there is a characteristic direction that applies to the most impactful part of the motion, many directions are always involved. For example, even if Peng involves "lifting," your arm will usually move in a circle and you can even "lift" the opponent to make him fall into the ground head first. You can use the "downward" energy of An to launch the opponent into the air. In the case of Peng, the opponent will feel defeated by being made to float into vulnerability. In the case of An, he or she will feel defeated by being pressed and smothered out of action.

As for Ji, the Association has a circling method (Four Energies Circle) in which Ji is used to neutralize a Push. It is used with the weight stationary or perhaps even retreating. In this case, there is no attempt to Press offensively against the opponent's center line. What Ji does in this case is through off the opponent's push and allows you to switch arms.

That's all I have time for now.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby yslim » Mon May 19, 2008 1:35 am

Hi Master Swaim,

Some one send this link to me, I thought this is some scholar stuff which is up your alley..check it out yourself.

"Sorry the link did not work, first go to emptyflower web site
http://www.emptyflower.net/forums/index.php?act=SF&s=&f=7
and look for the link on Chen Xiang Motion Capture the study was done at Stanford University"

Ciao, have a nice day
yslim

if the other link too confuse, try this one
http://move.stanford.edu/08/podcasts/08_Ta...7_subtitles.wmv

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 05-18-2008).]
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed May 21, 2008 3:12 am

An: the palms rest on top of the opponent's Ji thrust in which the opponent has one palm outwards against the inside of his other forearm, the palm of which is in. This is an example of sticking and following. The movement is downward and backwards to control Ji and at the end of the movement to break the opponent's interlock. This is then immediately followed by Push, both palms out against the opponent's chest. Confusion often occurs about An because the term is sometimes used to cover both the retreating and controlling movement and the subsequent Push, but in fact they are distinct. The sequence is Li, Ji, An, PUSH.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed May 21, 2008 5:35 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Simon Batten:
An: the palms rest on top of the opponent's Ji thrust in which the opponent has one palm outwards against the inside of his other forearm, the palm of which is in. This is an example of sticking and following. The movement is downward and backwards to control Ji and at the end of the movement to break the opponent's interlock. This is then immediately followed by Push, both palms out against the opponent's chest. Confusion often occurs about An because the term is sometimes used to cover both the retreating and controlling movement and the subsequent Push, but in fact they are distinct. The sequence is Li, Ji, An, PUSH. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

?
--Louis
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri May 23, 2008 5:16 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B> ?
--Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
?[?]
--Simon
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Postby yslim » Fri May 23, 2008 7:34 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Simon Batten:
<B>
Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
?
--Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
?[?]
--Simon



Hi
Is there a prize for this ?
Let me guess.....
1, liang kong jing ?
2, the cat got your mouse?
Ok, I give up before the curiously kill this cat.

Have a happy? Memorial Day.

Ciao
yslim
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Postby Simon Batten » Sat May 24, 2008 1:40 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by yslim:
<B> Hi
Is there a prize for this ?
Let me guess.....
1, liang kong jing ?
2, the cat got your mouse?
Ok, I give up before the curiously kill this cat.

Have a happy? Memorial Day.

Ciao
yslim</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I was only trying to contribute what I knew about An/Push, nothing more and I was mildly but not entirely surprised by the sarcasm of a reply that consisted of nothing more than a question mark, as I have found from previous experience on websites that the shelter of the web appears to permit some people to express themselves in a way that they would not necessarily indulge in face to face. I had thought that my submission was plain enough. I could translate it, if desired into any or all of classical Greek, Latin, Spanish, French or Norwegian, but I am afraid I have no knowledge of any other languages. Immediately following this message, I will be resigning from this Forum permanently, as I have found that from my point of view, it doesn't matter how many words are expended discussing T'ai Chi, it makes no difference, and that constant practice even on a limited amount of knowledge is worth a thousand times more than swapping endless theories and speculations on the subject. I have contributed my 'two penn'orth' in the past, and frankly I now regret it. It didn't do me much good, and I don't think it did anyone else any good either. Kind regards; over and out -- Simon.
Simon Batten
 
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Postby Audi » Sat May 24, 2008 3:05 pm

Greetings all,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi
In contexts such as these, many people do not always make clean distinctions between the etymology of characters and the etymology of words. The etymology of Chinese words is an extremely narrow specialty, whereas the etymology of characters is a cottage industry (i.e., everyone can do it). </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Aidren
Although it is somewhat off-topic, can you elaborate on this a little – the difference between the words and the characters….</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Aiden,

I realized that I never responded to your question and apologize now for the omission.

Most English words are made up of component parts whose history can be traced over the centuries and millenia. To gain insight into the meaning of such words, it is often worthwhile to look into how the component parts of the words have fused over the years to create new meanings and uses. For example, the word "martial" probably originally meant something like "related to Mars, the Roman god of war." Words represented by a single Chinese characters are, however, rarely made up of identifiable component parts, and so a similar inquiry in Chinese is rarely as fruitful. The best you can usually do in Chinese is to trace changes in meaning over the centuries and millenia and perhaps make connections between words that seem to have a common ancestry.

On the other hand, the Chinese characters representing single words are themselves usually made up of identifiable graphic components. To gain insight into the meaning of these characters, it is often worthwhile to look into these visual components and see how they might have been chosen to convey the overall meaning of the character. Such a process does not apply to English, since it is not written with characters.

I separate the two processes because they really get at different things. One gets at the true evolution of a word's meaning over the years; whereas, the other gets at whatever meanings and nuances of a word might have been prominent in the mind of whoever first created the character to represent it. In modern linguistics, at least in the west, the spoken word is considered primary; and so the first approach would be the most natural from that standpoint. In China, the written character has been considered primary; and so the second approach would be the most natural from that standpoint.

An example of the difference between the two approaches can be seen in the word Peng (Wardoff). The graphic elements of this character include a symbol for a hand and the character for friend, which is itself made up of two crescent moons. Looking to these elements for insight into the meanings and connotations of Wardoff, you might be led to think of something like "use your hand to match with the opponent."

If, on the other hand, you ignore the character and focus on the word the Peng character represents, you are first confronted with the fact that modern Chinese seems to have no such word that obviously fits the Tai Chi meaning. If you look to other characters that are pronounced with a similar sound, you do find, however, a few that are somewhat suggestive, such as "covering, expand, puff up, hold level with both hands, etc." Typically, such an inquiry is thought of as illegitimate, since these are different characters; however, scholars believe that as words have developed different nuances over the millenia, it has not been uncommon for new characters to have been devised to represent these new nuances. This has even happened in English, where a word like "to" has split into two graphic representations ("to" and "too") as the word has split into two distinct meanings. Another example is Old English "an," which has split into three pronunciations ("an," "a," and "one") with two different meanings. To know whether "covering," "expand," or "puff up" is legitimately connected with Wardoff would require very specialized research that might not even be able to produce an answer; nevertheless, this sort of inquiry is very different from focusing on the graphic elements.

Another example is Lie (Split). It is written with a character that is unique to Tai Chi. The graphic elements suggest: "hand," "line up," "vertebra," "knife," etc. Focusing just on the sound might suggest: "crack/break open," "rend," "twist," "turnback," etc. Your fancy can take flight along either line of thought.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
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