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The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:58 pm
by ChiDragon
Greetings, all
The terms and were emphasized in the martial arts.
They are most commonly mistranslated as follows:
1. is emptiness
2. is fullness

I know people have different interpretation of them. I would like to know what is your interpretation and how they were applied in your Tai Ji practice? Any thoughts? Thank you!

Re: The Application of Emptiness(虛) and Fullness(實)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:46 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings CD,

This would be a good topic of discussion. You may be interested in a very lengthy discussion thread that took place on the board many years ago on Empty and Full. viewtopic.php?f=7&t=673

Take care,
Louis

Re: The Application of Emptiness(虛) and Fullness(實)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:17 pm
by ChiDragon
Greetings, Louis
I just had a quick glance of the thread in the past. However, it was only a general discussion of these two terms. What I am looking for is more pertinent to Tai Ji Chuan. Most of the time, the terms 虛實 were applied to the steps taken doing the movements such as 虛步 and 實步. How would one interpret these two new terms? Let's be more specific and get to the point!

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:09 pm
by ChiDragon
Let's start with a linguistic approach of these two terms by listing all the possible meanings.

(xu)
1. sky
2. empty; void; hollow
3. to keep empty or unoccupied
4. weak; feeble
5. afraid because of guilt
6. timid; diffident

(shi)
1. solid; not hollow
2. true; real
3. reality

None of the definition for says fullness. The compound characters is 虛實. What I think that is was first to be translated as EMPTY, therefore, the complement was resulted as FULL.

If would have been translated first as SOLID, then, the result would be HOLLOW for . IMO This is where the linguistic error which led us to a big mistake in translation.

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:09 am
by ChiDragon
Greetings!
Let me give it try at this.
The compound term 虛實 (xushi) was often used to describe the amount of weight which was placed under the foot. The terms like 虛步(xu bu, hollow step), 實步(shi bu, solid step), 虛足(xu zu, hollow foot) and 實足(shi zu, solid foot).

Here are the basic definitions for the four terms:
When some or none of the weight of the body was placed on one foot, then, it was considered to be a 虛步(hollow step) or 虛足(hollow foot).

When most or all the weight of the body was placed on one foot, then, it was considered to be a 實步(solid step) or 實足(solid foot).

In Tai Ji, in general, it was advised not to apply equal force on both arms or legs simultaneously. Otherwise, it would be considered to be a disease of 雙重(double weight) . However, there is an exception for the legs due to the unusual circumstance. It is because the body requires both feet to stand in parallel, in order, to be balanced at normal position. There is a restricted definition of 雙重 for the legs. That is when there are equal weight on both legs and the body joints are locked in an unmovable or awkward position. BTW When uncertain about the definition of 雙重, just remember when the body is in an awkward position which disable its normal flexibility to move freely or effectively.

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:45 pm
by Louis Swaim
ChiDragon wrote:Let's start with a linguistic approach of these two terms by listing all the possible meanings.


1. sky
2. empty; void; hollow
3. to keep empty or unoccupied
4. weak; feeble
5. afraid because of guilt
6. timid; diffident


1. solid; not hollow
2. true; real
3. reality

None of the definition for says fullness. The compound characters is 虛實. What I think that is was first to be translated as EMPTY, therefore, the complement was resulted as FULL.

If would have been translated first as SOLID, then, the result would be HOLLOW for . IMO This is where the linguistic error which led us to a big mistake in translation.


Greetings CD,

Where are you getting these definitions? Are you sure that these are comprehensive definitions that represent "all the possible meanings?" You might want to check out some early usages that may or may not shed light on 虛 and 實 :

http://ctext.org/dictionary.pl?if=en&char=%E8%99%9B

http://ctext.org/dictionary.pl?if=en&char=%E5%AF%A6

Take care,
Louis

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:22 pm
by ChiDragon
Hi, Louis
The list of definitions for 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)are from my electronic dictionary. What you have cited are very typical classic writing and esoteric. They are not suitable for the discussion here. Anyway, the OP was intended to define what these two character mean pertaining to Tai Chi Chuan. It was not intended for a linguistic study. Thanks.

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:45 pm
by Louis Swaim
Hi CD,

I was actually responding to your statement: "Let's start with a linguistic approach of these two terms by listing all the possible meanings."

Traditional taijiquan writings are often informed and influenced by words and phrases from classical writings. For example, one can see the influence of the Sunzi (孫子兵法) in taiji theory, in particular with regard to 虛 and 實。Or, consider the taijiquan injunction, 得機得勢 -- it clearly reflects bingfa terms and theory from Sunzi. Certainly, there are whole passages in the taijiquan classics that explicitly or implicitly reference language from Mengzi, Zhou Dunyi, and Zhuxi. One could say that early taijiquan documents are written very much in the form of classical literary Chinese 文言。And, although your electronic dictionary doesn't account for "full, filling, fullness" as an entailment of 實, it's a well-established meaning, as for example in the well-known words from the Daodejing, 是以聖人之治,虛其心,實其腹,弱其志,強其骨。

Just some thoughts -- on a linguistic approach.

Louis

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:11 pm
by ChiDragon
Hi, Louis
I had seen one of your posts about Sunzi in particular with regard to 虛 and 實. You see, these two characters have different meanings in different fields. We cannot cited any literature with the characters 虛 and 實 as reference for another meaning which was completely different.

In the Sunzi classic, the interpretation for these two characters cannot be empty or full. Their classic meanings should be interpreted as false(虛) and true(實). It's even better to define them as falsehood and reality. Sunzi was a military strategist. He was emphasized in deceiving the enemy by creating a falsehood(虛) to hidden the true situation(實) of his own.

The strategic idea was that Sunzi knew his side was weaker than the enemy. What he needs to do was to create a false situation for the enemy to believe that he is much stronger than them. The logic here is about deceiving and believing. Thus it has nothing to do with fullness and emptiness.

As in the case of the Daodejing, it is correct to interpret them as verbs for emptying and filling.
....虛其心,實其腹....
Emptying their hearts, filling their stomachs.
The interpretation of emptying their heart means don't teach the people too much. The philosophy was just to keep their stomachs full and stay out of trouble. Such as overthrown the government.

Just a thought, it is impossible to list all the things that we know in all the books and dictionaries. Using references are very helpful. However, it is wise for me to have a thorough understanding of the source before I cite it as reference. Sometimes, citing someone else's words may not be suitable for one's own idea. As a general rule, I would like to put my understanding in my own words to prevent obfuscation. What do you think?

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:05 pm
by ChiDragon
ChiDragon wrote:Greetings!
Here are the basic definitions for the four terms:
When some or none of the weight of the body was placed on one foot, then, it was considered to be a 虛步(hollow step) or 虛足(hollow foot).

When most or all the weight of the body was placed on one foot, then, it was considered to be a 實步(solid step) or 實足(solid foot).


Understanding the meanings of the terminologies, it will make it easy in the communication among ourselves as Tai Ji practitioners. So, how does one distinguish a solid foot from a hollow foot.

Let's look at the 弓步(gong bu, bow stance) in the "Single whip" of the Yang style.

The final posture of the Single whip is a Bow stance. The centroid of the body is shifted toward the front leg and the weight distribution on the foot is about 2/3 of the total body weight while the rear leg is 1/3. Hence, by the above definitions, the foot in the front is considered to be a solid foot. The rear is a hollow foot.

Based on this understanding, when someone has mentioned that the solid foot is in the rear. Thus it was understood that more weight is on the rear foot; and the centroid is shifted more toward the rear.

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:41 pm
by ChiDragon
So, why is so important in knowing about a solid foot and hollow foot? Well, all the Tai ji moves are based on the solid and hollow feet; and that is where the whole concept of Tai Ji. I am sure that all Tai Ji practitioners have heard of the term 陰陽, yin-yang. Each Tai Ji move has an attribute either , yin or yang. The attributes of 陰陽, yin-yang were defined by the Yi Jing Classic. For the sake of the discussion and simplicity, let's just concentrate on the yin-yang attributes for (Hollow) and (Solid). By the Yi Jing definition, the attribute of (hollow) is yin and (Solid) is yang.

All Tai Ji practitioners were told to apply the yin-yang principle. How does one know when the principle was applied correctly? If one had given a good analysis of the 弓步(bow stance) of the Yang style, then one will have a good comprehension of the yin-yang principle. Let's skip the minor details and just pay close attention to the position the legs and feet.

The position of a bow stand is having the one leg with the knee bent facing the front. The position of the knee cap should not be passed over the toes. The hind foot is at 45 degrees. Let's use the Tai Ji jargons to talk about the Bow Stance.

The foot in the front is being yang and the hind foot is being yin. An experienced practitioner would understood that the solid foot is in the front and the hollow foot is in the rear. The centroid is shifted toward the front. How does one know that the position has been done correctly? Well, one may try by moving the torso back and forth and lifting either leg. If the movements were flexible and freely, then, it is correct. Thus the yin-yang principle was applied properly and one knows what Tai Ji Chuan is all about.

I stop here for now and welcome any comments.

Let nature take its course,
Wu Wei

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:31 pm
by ChiDragon
ChiDragon wrote:
ChiDragon wrote:Greetings!
Understanding the meanings of the terminologies, it will make it easy in the communication among ourselves as Tai Ji practitioners. So, how does one distinguish a solid foot from a hollow foot.

Let's look at the 弓步(gong bu, bow stance) in the "Single whip" of the Yang style.

The final posture of the Single whip is a Bow stance. The centroid of the body is shifted toward the front leg and the weight distribution on the foot is about 2/3 of the total body weight while the rear leg is 1/3. Hence, by the above definitions, the foot in the front is considered to be a solid foot. The rear is a hollow foot.

Based on this understanding, when someone has mentioned that the solid foot is in the rear. Thus it was understood that more weight is on the rear foot; and the centroid is shifted more toward the rear.


Just for curiosity, the posture highlighted in red, does anyone know what form that was implied to ?
Who would like to give it a try? :)

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:02 pm
by ChiDragon
No one wants to take the challenge?
Well. it is:
白鹤亮翅(Báihè Lìangchì)
White Crane Spreads Its Wings

To understand and identify the solid or hollow foot, please pay close attention the feet of the swordsman in the video. You will see the yin-yang principle in his every move.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ymiNWTR6c

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:44 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings CD,

I would still have to take issue with the initial assertion of your post, that “empty and full” are mistranslations of 虛 and 實.

To be honest, I find your remarks about words having “different meanings in different fields,” and your assertions about the meaning of xu and shi in the Sunzi Bingfa to be somewhat facile. Earlier you suggested engaging a “linguistic approach,” but in my opinion your linguistic understanding is superficial. Words seldom have fixed, case-hardened meanings. This is especially the case with classical Chinese.

Taijiquan terminology did not come out of nowhere. The genius of early taiji theorists, like Wu Yuxiang, is that they appropriated terms, phrases, and ideas from classical tradition into a body of sayings and texts very deliberately. They repurposed language from the literary traditions they were steeped in, creating in some cases some unique and proprietary usages. Examples are too numerous to list, but just take as an example the phrase 舍己從人 (“give up yourself and follow the other,” or as I have sometimes translated it, “yield to the initiative of the other.”) This is a very early phrase found in the Mengzi and the 尚書 (Book of Documents). The meaning in these early sources was moral/ethical, but it was repurposed in taiji theory as a succinct way of expressing a key body-mechanical phenomenon in push hands and martial application that is a brilliant innovation.

In this vein of thought, I disagree with an attempt to constrain the meaning of xu/shi in taiji theory to “hollow/solid,” or the meaning in the Sunzi to “false/true.” The Sunzi usage is very sophisticated and encompasses more than these simple terms alone. The Sunzi, after all, is a book about strategy, and these terms are used very deliberately to apply in diverse scenarios, and in some passages the meaning is clearly not “false/true.” As for translating the terms as “empty and full” in the Sunzi, some very careful translators have done so, John Minford being one. He translates the 虛實 chapter of the Sunzi and “Empty and Full.” In the commentary section of his book (p. 177), he includes a note about the medical usage of虛實: “In Chinese medicine, “full” (shi) refers to the Yang state of “energy abundance” or “repletio,” while “empty” (xu) refers to the Yin state of “energy exhaustion” or “inanitas.” (See Manfred Porkert, Chinese Medicine [New York, 1982], p. 71.”

An understanding of the enduring terms xu and shi cannot be limited only to phenomena of “weight,” “weakness/strength,” or to “pressure,” although all of these things come into play. Again, what early taiji theorists did was appropriate terms from bingfa, philosophy, medicine, and other traditions into proprietary language of the art, a sort of 行話 (hang hua), if you will.

Take care,
Louis

Re: The Application of 虛(Hollow) and 實(Solid)in Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:31 pm
by ChiDragon
Greeting! Louis
I don't know how is your Chinese. Here are some of the native sources of how 虛實 were used to describe steps. Take a look and see if you have any questions.

Please pay close attention to the beginning of the video at about xu and shi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPJDlYU2GzI

Description in how to apply pressure on the feet.
http://www.360doc.com/content/13/0402/2 ... 5051.shtml