Yin and yang are not always relative since our bodies are not homogenous. We have yin muscles (responsible for flexion) and yang muscles (responsible for extension) and their corresponding surfaces of the body. Yet the body is a whole (forming a complete human body), so there are dividing lines in the surfaces and interiors of the human body where yin touches yang. The muscles responsible for extension can not be used for flexion. While the arm as a whole can emphasize yin or yang, and be as a whole either yin or yang relative to something else, it will always be composed of both yin and yang which combine to make the whole.
Try this as an example of distinguishing the yin from the yang in a partner’s arm. Hold their wrist in your hand and try to affect their spine by pushing through the structure of their arm. If your energy travels primarily through the inside (yin) of their arm it will be very easy, if they remain reasonably relaxed and sensitive, for them to bend their elbow and prevent the energy from reaching their spine. If, on the other hand, your energy travels primarily through the outside (yang) of their arm, if your energy is controlled properly to travel in an arc through the outside of the elbow and then through the outside of their shoulder and finally to their spine, it will be much more difficult for them to bend their elbow with the result being much more likely that you will be able to push them, even if they still remain reasonably relaxed and sensitive. This result is because the nature of yin surfaces is different than those of yang surfaces. ‘Capturing’ their yang will always be fundamentally different than their yin (or both the yin and yang simultaneously). If you can be precise about the dividing line between the yin and the yang, then you will have more precise control of yourself and your partner/opponent. When you cross that line, then you know that you can do certain actions where those actions would be less likely to succeed if the line was not crossed.
While not stated in the same terms as in ILC, TJQ does address these issues. For example, the relationship of the shoulders to the hips helps to maintain the relationship between the yin and yang surfaces of the torso. If they are not properly aligned, then there is a structural weakness that both TJQ and ILC recognize.
I also want to mention that I am enjoying your informative posts, and I hope that you also get something from mine.
Thank you once again for a such "chi moving" post. What I mean is, as I was reading your post, it actually transmitted my reading energy from my mind into a physical sensation.That is, when my "yi body" occupies the words as i read your post. Some how that chi appear to leading my "physical body" forming what is call "body English" to manifest the li body. this is YI tao/arrive, CHI tao, LI tao, a TCQ flavor. I need not to "think" about the meaning of what you write. my "physical body" seem have the awareness to trust the knowing to follow your writing's path down my memory lane. I suppose that is what happen when taiji principle are embed with the process in the right order in your writing. Thank for the experienced
Since your "example" was so clearly stated and much better than I could ever phase it. I would like to borrow it as my soap-box to hand out what could be something for other to munch.
That was what I did exactly with some of our Taiji brothers and sisters. After a 3 years of absent from all of GM Xu's taiji workshops (because we had put all our resources into GM Sam Chin's ILC taiji principle workshops while we can,but can't afford to do both). There were a good deal of catching up in this week-long Taiji Camp of GM Xu last year. Especially they all want to see not just hear, what we have learned from GM Sam Chin's ILC (意力拳) teaching of the Taiji Principles. Because they have not heard of " I Liq Chuan" name before.
In order for me to save time and to convince them with less doubt. I pick this big Taiji brother, a teacher of his own right from Florida. His name is George. Who is over 6 feet tall and weight much over 200 lbs, and always smiling no matter what! I, on the other hand is stand 1" over 5 feet and tipped the scale at 128 lbs. We also had share some good time in China with GM Xu 10 days intensive Taiji Camp in 2007. There were about 10 native Chinese internal martial art masters to teach us. They seem to recognize George's good skill to picked him as their assistant from time to time. During the China trip I can't do much to up set his balance, because of his skill and size. ( I didn't know ILC then) So I too, pick big George for a good measure. He was happy to oblige.
I have big George stand shoulder width and hands down to the side, palm touching the thigh. In the preparation posture he start the"beginning" posture movement of the Taiji form. I held down his wrists as 'your example' said. At the "contact", I could sense his attention is not on his Taiji principles. Because I could feel his hands going straight up and forward, from a "dead-stop/deadpan" position at the thighs. This result his arms being stiff and shoulders locked. like most of TCQ and ILC practitioners i came into contacted with. Including myself when we have no awareness. The "deadpan" effect was cause by lack of understanding of, "before you go up you should go down(TCQ)". There was no 8 gates awareness to speak of. This means who he doesn't know how to produces a "fullness" will be weak. He can not moving up and toward me while my holding is "resting" on him. I use his wrists as my walking canes to rest my weight on. (I was using the yang side, he should had use the yin but didn't)
In ILC GM Chin's teaching the taiji principle was much more precise than I have been received from my TCQ teachings; One should have the awareness in the 6 directions, (8 gates for TCQ) and in the 3 dimensions. All movements should have "absorb/gather/draw in the yin muscle and project/release in the yang muscle". In order to do all these within one breath, he drills the class to recognize one little piece at a time with great details, especially with the Taiji principles. In due time we want just to observe them coming together with our awareness on every one of them in theory (the way) rather then techniques (the tools). What part of the body is yin and what part is yang. One should learn 'wipe' the feet downwardly in a spiral "sinking feeling" but not to a squatting movement (straight down), with recognizing of its "9 solids [points] and 1 empty [the bubble spring]. ( I had a similar study of this kind which called the "3 nails" by GM william CC Chen in his Yang Taiji workshop. he is the disciple of GM. CMC) The action to generate the power from the feet. The energy is from the dantien(yin) to project down through the S spiral of the figure 8, into the "yang muscle" ( back and along the outside of the leg) toward the center of the feet. Simultaneously absorbs the ground energy upward into yin muscle ( along the inner side of the leg) loop up through the S spiral toward the mingman (yang). This yin yang changing is at the cross road of figure 8, in the conjuncture of the kuas and the waist. This yin-neutral-yang movement should generates enough force to activates the kuas, that turns the sacrum thus turns the spine. Thus give phase to TCQ "chi stick to the back"(where the mingman is located). It should eventually reach the splitting point, that one is going down to the hands and the other up to the crown point. Upon the completion of this looping (use the "yi body" more than the "physical body"; 用意不用力), One will have a light-touch feeling of one completed torque winding-up of spring force. It had simultaneously connected to the wrists to raise the hands. Too bad George didn't use it.
Yes, this sounds complicate to all of us in some of the time. To some of us in all the time. But not to all of us in all the time. SO when you able to carve all these little pieces in your mind by keep on practicee-study-recogniz, until there is a whole clear picture in your mind. You don't need to think about them as one piece by piece at a time. Then one day your will come to the realization it can be done like to strung the "9 curve beads" within one breath. The mind's speed is unimaginable when you are in the PRESENT, because it is a moment of NOW (oh well, you just missed it. it just flyby ). Then George wouldn't have start with a "deadpan" hand. He also didn't remember his body's yin yang part. Because he use the yang muscle to project instead use the yin muscle to absorb to raise his hands upwardly until it reach the "horizontal line",while he was in the "close"position.(below the horizontal line). His action lead me to changing with a change to counter balance our "double weighted" ( I was using my yang to hold on to his wrists,and he was using his yang to project up. yang against yang). I changed at our contact point by following his leads to pivot my hand's "yang" muscle to the yin muscle. Then I draw-to-lead his yang force into emptiness. By redirect it into condensing spiral downwardly while my shen/spirit go upwardly to the crown and to be mindfulness on my 8 gates). Where ever he is empty, I go to all his empties with my "yi body". Then I follow up with my 'physical body' to occupied it (TCQ's). When he doesn't knows of his yin yang body parts, and not knowing how to pivot on the yin-neutral-yang taiji point. Then he will got lost at the "cross road". Then there is no way he can raise his hands to shoulder level to complete his Taiji "beginning" posture movement. This "beginning" movement is to set the decisive standard and spirit to executes the rest of the whole Taiji form. (TCQ)
At this point I should show George "where is the beef" that GM Chin drill into our mind and body. I will limit this writing just to the "horizontal line" for his hands raise to his shoulder hight.
As he stands with arm by his side. Recognize that the elbows is in the middle of shoulders and the hands.(this is a no kidding,some people did't knows that) Focus on the shoulders and the elbows and DO NOT MOVE THEM in any way. Then slowly raise both HANDS ONLY frontward and upward to the ELBOW hight. With shoulder width, and palms facing each other. Now the forearm stay level with thumb facing/point-to the sky and pinky facing/point-to the ground, The ELBOWS and the HANDS now are level. This is the 'Horizontal line" for this arms in this condition. Anything above this line is call "open/yang". Anything below this line is call "close/yin".
Maintain this "horizontal line" as you was. Now draw a line (use a marker pen if u like) on top of your forearm from thumb to the elbow. This line is the reference point to distinguish the right half and the left half of the arm. Right down the MIDDLE to divide which is the "Yin muscle" half and a "Yang muscle" half. The "YIN muscle" are; the front of the body; the dantien, the palms, inside part of arm.(the side that get the less sun tan), The nature of the Yin is to absorb/draw/suck. The "YANG muscle are; the back of the body. the back side of the palms, the body parts that get more sun tan. the mingmen. The nature of the Yang is to project/propel/expand. All these halves are every where in the body as long as there is a taiji. When there is Taiji there is yin yang. when there are yin yang there is this"half-line" call neutral/middle. this half line is the reference point to divide/distinguish yin-halfline-yang. It is very helpful if we are discussing that yin yang is relative(TCQ). The referring point to all these little yin yang is the circle with the center at this "half-line". In order for a changing with a change;yin yang change. or to counter with counter. The "pass words" to gain access to this "use yi not (excess) force" 用意不用力 is "You Must Cross The Half/neutral/middle line". It was at this "half line" , I able to cross OVER to aligned my yang muscle to his yang muscle. My yi is aiming to his "cross"/center mass to attack his balance. at best he will fly. At worst, to keep big George at bay.
For big George to able to cross this "half line" I need to give him GM Chin's Taiji principle formula:
1, When you are outside, you want to close.
2, When you are inside, you want to open.
3, When you want to close, you need to absorb.
4, When you want to open, you need to project.
5, When your hands are below the horizontal line, you absorb to raise/expand.
6, When your hands are above the horizontal line, you project to close/condense.
I may have misquoted them by + and - 5%
(1),When your hands are place "outside the half-line position, your hands should find a way ( not excess force) to cross the "half line" AT THE POINT OF CONTACT. To come in to occupied the inside position by CROSS OVER the half line. To close him first, (defend) and attack his "center mass" (offense) at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone by "use the yi. not excess force. (用意不用力). Otherwise he is too close to be comfort to you center mass and could attack you from there.
(2) ,When your hands are at the "inside of half-line" condition. You want to go outside by apply a spiral movement toward the outside to cross over the half-line AT THE CONTACT POINT. This is to create yourself some "elbow room" to align your yang to opponent's yang muscle from outside. Then by aiming to attack his center mass while redirect his advancing force away from you center mass. That too will kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Offend and defend one move did all.
(5), When your hands are below the horizontal line (yin); in a close position, like George did. He should applies absorb (the nature of yin) to raise/expand (yang) his hands up and outwardly to the elbow hight into the #6, and George did not do that. So he got stuck. (lost all the yin yang)
(6), Big George didn't get to do that. He got stuck in #5, because he couldn't distinguish the yin yang in his Taiji dilemma.
We have a happy ending. He did able to executed the whole thing again while I orally lead him to the end.We never have any confusion with our terminology. Maybe in this small gathering we all have the same interest to learn how to DO the Taiji principle rather than learn how to TALK to each other in the "likes", "don't likes", or "don't knows" terminologies. At end of the day we all go our separate way alone. At least we can take home some "dos" in our "doggy bag) to practice solo. We do have some confusion on which body part is yin and yang, or where is yin and where is yang. and the whys. The nature of yin and yang. Things like that. It was a good day for all.