Single weightedness?

Postby Wushuer » Thu Dec 19, 2002 10:04 pm

Yes, I do mean 100% of weight remains on the left leg and you pivot it at the same time you turn your body.
There is no weight in your right leg at any time, only intent.
I don't know how to explain it to you. You have an, obviously, advanced grasp of both english and chinese, so I feel after reading your articulate posts I look like a kindergartner trying to explain algebra to a college professor.
But I am willing to try.
Here goes how I, almost inevitably, perform "turn body chop with fist" from the Yang 13 posture form.
I don't recall, off the top of my head, the posture name before this one, but you end up on your left leg, facing east, your supposed to "give back" weight to your right leg, pivot your left foot to SW, turning your body along with it, and then "give back" entirely 100% to your left, step with your right foot all the way to W, turning your body and chopping W with your fist.
I go from facing E on my left leg, I almost automaticlly go "100 percent" on that leg through force of habit, then I do a weighted pivot on my left leg, turning my body with it, step and chop with my fist to the W, all as one continuous motion while transferring all my weight to the right foot.
I don't have the time right now to go into more detail than that.
Tommorow I should have a lot more time and can, hopefully, respond to your post in a much more detailed manner.
Let me just say now, that the idea of a stringed bow between my legs is completely new to me.
In Wu style, the way I learned it anyway, we used that line from the song almost as a mantra:
"You've got to keep them seperated!"

We did not keep "tension" between our legs, we kept the weight firmly and solidly one hundred percent on the Yang leg at all times, the Yin leg was purely filled with intent only. There were a few postures, I believe I've listed them here, that had 50/50 distributions, that was it. No "tensioned" weight stances.
I do like the way your write these things. You are SO clear.
Are you an author? You should be.
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Dec 19, 2002 11:56 pm

Hi Wushuer,

you wrote:

"we kept the weight firmly and solidly one hundred percent on the Yang leg at all times, the Yin leg was purely filled with intent only. There were a few postures, I believe I've listed them here, that had 50/50 distributions, that was it. No "tensioned" weight stances."

Besides this, there are a couple of things that you said about Wu (Ng) style that I wanted to address, if not clarify. According to Wu Jianquan's daughter and her husband Ma Yueliang, there are 5 "Stance patterns and stance methods" in their style:

1. the parallel stance (as in the Beginning Form, obviously, but also in the Wu style "White Stork Flaps Its Wings, Hand Strums the Lute and Cross Hands). I pointed out the Beginning Form, but the others seem to indicate that this stance is not just for the as yet undifferentiated "wuji" beginning, but also for to "enable the practioner [sic] to respnd timely and conveniently to the attack of an opponent". I.e., that is also a functional position.

2. The empty stance (Xu bu), of which there are two variations: one with the heel of the empty foot touching the ground; the other (the "para empty" stance) with the toe touching the ground. These positions are also part of Hand Strums the Lute, but also of Grasp the Bird's Tail and "Parry Punch." Here I wanted to point out that in his manual, WCC stated that one of the "Essentials" of this stance is "the distinction of void and solid."

3. The T-step
There are several examples, but I was more interested in the "Essentials" (stated at the end of the paragraph on this stance) because it states that "For the purpose of turning the foot easily the body weight should be shifted to the rear foot first." This suggests to me that there is indeed "shifting" of the weight, and consequently, there are times where the weight is divided between the two feet.

4. The horse riding stance
With this stance, there is an injunction, however; "Although the legs in the Single Whip posture in Wu style taichichuan are separated and weighted symmetrically, it is never the case of committing 'double-weighting.' The distinctions of void and solid are usually exposed in the forms externally but in this stance the sense of void and solid is held internally." I think this gets to your point of external and internal manifestation of "solid and empty," but the passage also suggests that these are *not* a function simply of the amount of body weight on one foot or the other.

5. The archery stance
You mentioned something about the bow and string thing earlier, so I wanted to quote this part; "The front leg bent forward with the rear leg sloping and straightened naturally. This is called the archery stance. The front leg is the arch of the bow and the back leg is the string. If the leg steps one foot length forward, it is called the minor archery stance; if the leg steps one and [one] half feet [soot] forward, it is called the major archer stance.

I think it's hard to argue that it's possible to adopt the "major" archery stance and not divide the body weight between the two legs. Well, I also wanted to say there is an enormous amount of room for misunderstanding on this issue. The first is to think that there is one Wu style at present. In fact, there are at least 3 or 4 distinct and legitimate "schools" (eg. Beijing (Northern), Shanghai (Southern), Hong Kong (Wu Gongyi's group who have a "square" or "articulated" form as well as a "round" form, and a North American branch. There are clear differences and variations among these Wu styles, but they all came from Wu Jianquan. And, often, they will point out that Wu style is just a variation of Yang style. Anyway, it's perfectly possible that there are those who adopt a total weight always on one leg or the other approach. Imho, that shouldn't necessarily be taken as a characteristic of "Wu" style, per se. Oh well, just my nickel's worth.

Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Dec 20, 2002 9:51 pm

I've not seen or heard of these "stance patterns" laid out in this way before.
Wu Chien Chuans daughter and husband taught a slightly different style than what I learned, apparently. I've not heard much about them or their style before.
I'm sure they have their own, valid methods and theories and I really cannot speak about them with any authority.
The school I learned from was overseen by Sifu Wu Kwong Yu (Eddie). I trained with his disciples there and we all took instruction in the form of seminars with Sifu Eddie, the late Master Wu Yan Hsia and Master Wu Ta Sin.
The style and theories I trained in were given directly to me by them and I learned them to thier satisfaction. At least enough to be granted permission by them to teach students, up to what in their school is called "intermediate" level, on my own without the need to be overseen. I trained mamy beginner students and quite a few intermediates and was never once brought to task for teaching this style incorrectly when my students went to my Sifu for more advanced training.
If I learned thier theories or style incorrectly, I would hope they would have corrected me before they let me loose to spread their style on a host of unknowing beginners.

There appear to be a few differences in how this branch of Wu style does things from what I learned.
In the form I learned there is not a form called "Hand Strums the Lute". So there is one minor difference right there.
Here are the form names I learned:

1. Beginning of Tai Chi Chu'an
2. Raise Hands
3. Play Guitar
4. Grasp Bird's Tail
5. Single Whip
6. Slant Flying
7. Raise Hands
8. White Crane Spreads Wings
9. Brush Knee, Push (Left & Right, 4 Times)
10. Playing Guitar
11. Step Forward and Push
12. Push Forward
13. Carry Tiger to the Mountain
14. Cross Hands
15. Slant Brush Knee and Push
16. Turn Body, Brush Knee & Push
17. Grasp Bird's Tail
18. Single Whip
19. Fist Under Elbow
20. Step Back, Repulse Monkey (Left & Right, 3 Times)
21. Slant Flying
22. Raise Hands
23. White Crane Spreads Wings
24. Brush Knee and Push
25. Needle at Sea Bottom
26. Play Arms Like a Fan
27. Turn Body and Strike Fist to Back
28. Step Back and Punch
29. Step Forward and Grasp Bird's Tail
30. Single Whip
31. Wave Hands Like a Cloud
32. Single Whip
33. Left Hight Pat on Horse
34. Right Foot Kick (Separate)
35. Right High Pat on Horse
36. Left Foot Kick (Separate)
37. Turn Body, Kick with Heel
38. Brush Knee and Push (Right & Left)
39. Step Forward and Punch Down
40. Turn Body and Strike Fist to Back
41. High Pat on Horse
42. (Right) Separate Hands
43. 1st Raise Foot
44. Step Back Seven Stars
45. Step Back and Hit the Tiger
46. 2nd Raise Foot
47. Hit Opponent's Ear with Fist
48. Lean Back and Kick
49. Turn Body and Kick with Heel
50. High Pat on Horse
51. Step Forward and Punch
52. Push Forward
53. Carry Tiger to the Mountain
54. Cross Hands
55. Slant Brush Knee and Push
56. Turn Body, Brush Knee and Push
57. Grasp Bird's Tail
58. Single Whip
59. Play Guitar
60. Wild Horse Separate Mane (Right)
61. Play Guitar
62. Wild Horse Separate Mane (Left)
63. Play Guitar
64. Wild Horse Separate Mane (Right)
65. Fair Lady Works at Shuttle (Twice)
66. Play Guitar
67. Wild Horse Separate Mane
68. Fair Lady Works at Shuttle (Twice)
69. Grasp Bird's Tail
70. Single Whip
71. Wave Hands Like a Cloud
72. Single Whip
73. Snake Creeps Down
74. Golden Cock on Left Leg
75. Golden Cock on Right Leg
76. Step Back and Repulse Monkey (Left and Right Three Times)
77. Cross Slant Flying
78. Raise Hands
79. White Crane Spreads Wings
80. Brush Knee and Push
81. Needle at Sea Bottom
82. Play Arms Like a Fan
83. Turn Body and Strike Fist to Back
84. Step Forward and Punch
85. Step Forward and Grasp Bird's Tail
86. Single Whip
87. Wave Hands Like a Cloud
88. Single Whip
89. High Pat on Horse
90. Slap Face with Palm
91. Turn Body and Single Lotus Kick
92. Brush Knee and Push
93. Step Forward and Punch to Opponent's Lower Abdomen
94. Step Forward, Grasp Bird's Tail
95. Single Whip
96. Snake Creeps Down
97. Step Forward Seven Stars
98. Step Back Ride the Tiger
99. Turn Body and Slap Face with Palm
100. Turn Body and Double Lotus Kick
101. Shoot Tiger
102. High Pat on Horse
103. Slap Face with Palm
104. Turn Body and Strike Fist to Back
105. Step Forward and High Pat on Horse
106. Step Forward Grasp Bird's Tail
107. Single Whip
108. Conclusion of Tai Chi Chu'an

The "stance patterns and methods" you list are not familiar to me as you have laid them out, though they are all, essentially, the same things I learned in a different format. I say "essentially" because of one glaring, inconsistency, among a few inconsequential ones, with what I was taught.
You have stated:
"For the purpose of turning the foot easily the body weight should be shifted to the rear foot first."
We learned almost the exact same line, with the inclusion of only two words. I'll change it here for you:
"For the purpose of turning the foot easily the body weight should be shifted to the rear of the foot first."
Sort of changes the whole context, doesn't it?
Though this is not exactly how I remember learning this theory verbatim it is close enough and should illustrate how easily an entire theory can be changed through mistranslation or misunderstanding.
Those two little words change the entire concept of the art between what I was taught by my former Masters and what this other school, apparently, teaches.
Funny, aint it?
But maybe I'm talking apples and oranges with you, because there are places in the Wu form I learned where you "shift your weight" from one leg to the other then adjust your other toes angle or move the foot, then you "shift your weight" back to the other leg and complete the form, it's just that you shifted that weight entirely, not just "some".
I was, as I stated, under a time constraint yesterday and looking back at what I posted I was definitely unclear. I should have waited to post until I had more time instead of typing in haste and running out before I could do much more than fix my grosser typing errors.
I hope I can make things clearer if I state there is no "giving back" of weight between the legs of "some" of the weight in my "other style". In the style I learned the "shifting" of weight is either all or nothing, there is no "giving back some weight, shifting your toe then giving the weight back", leaving you at a point of less than 100/0 when you make positional change in the forms.
At the beginning and end of any single form, except the above mentioned, you were single weighted, entirely on one leg or the other. During the form, of course, you had to shift the weight between your legs, so you were progressively 100/0, 90/10, 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, 50/50, 40/60, 30/70, 20/80, 90/10, and all of the weight shifts in between until you were back to 100/0 on one leg or the other.
This, I believe, is where our verbiage differs and why we're having such a hard time talking about this.
I honestly believe this is where you guys are talking about a "strung bow" and I'm talking about "shifting of weight". I think we're on the same page, just using different languages.
We used to use "connected springs" instead of a "strung bow" to illustrate what appears to be essentially the same point. The idea of "tension" between the legs is there DURING the "shift", as I've stated earlier, the only difference is how far the "giving of weight" is pushed between the legs before you make your transitional movements.
So what I'm saying is, in my "other" style if you "shifted your weight" between your Yang and Yin legs during a form to make a transitional move, you did it all the way to 100/0 and held that while your other foot was postioned by a step or dragging of the toe, no "some" of the weight, no 90/10, 70/30, it was 100/0.
That is all I've tried to say.
Maybe, through my admitted lack of verbal skills and the fact that I only type about 20 words a minute and then come on here and ramble on incessantly, I have misrepresented my case. If so, I appologise to all. I have not once tried to say that there is no "shifting" of weight between your legs in Wu style.

I'm not sure, by your definition, what I should call my "other" style.
I've always called it "Wu style" or "Wu Chien Chuan style". I never heard it refered to as anything else.
Maybe I should refer to it as "The Fifth Generation of Wu Chien Chuan Style Tai Chi Ch'uan as taught to me by (insert the names of all my instructors, thier instructors and their lineage here)", for the sake of clarity?
But I guess "North American Wu Style" will do, since I was definitely north in the Americas where I learned it!
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Dec 20, 2002 10:43 pm

I talked myself silly again in my response to Tai1chi.
Actually, if you read my rambling response, some of the points I wanted to make are in there.
Let's stick with the "100 percent weighted pivot" for right now. Unfortunately I left myself short of time again.
The part above where I responded with: "For the purpose of turning the foot easily the body weight should be shifted to the rear of the foot first.", should answer part of the question for you.
It's a simplification of the process, but it starts to explain, at least a little, how you go about a 100% weighted pivot without loss of balance or ground.
You use your tantien, of course, and an extrememly small backwards "lean" (there's another word that we'll have to lose the apples and oranges language on, another time) to make these pivots.
I wish I had your skill with even one language, because I'll be poleaxed if I can think of a good way to explain this to you in words. I usually just showed my students how to do this then made them practice it until they got it close it to right. That's how I learned it too.
Here's the only way I can think to do it.
In "grasp the birds tail", between left ward off and right ward off just before you "give back" to the right leg and reposition your left toe to 45 for right ward off, stop right there. You should be fully engaged at the end of "left ward off", getting ready for "right ward off".
Now, let's get a bit NAWS (North American Wu Style) for a moment, as this is the perfect place in the YCF 103 form to do this.
Get 100/0 weighted on your left leg, just like you're going to step with your right leg only leave it on the floor, with no Yang energy in it (no "weight" only intent), only Yin energy. It should feel light, without Yang, you should feel as if you could move it in any direction with little or no effort, your tantien shuold be completely relaxed, so that if someone were to take their finger and gently push against your knee or shoulder your body would simply flow with the movement.
THAT'S the way 100/0 should work the way I learned it.
Now, the idea is to shift your left toe 45 degrees to the right, without putting ANY weight, any Yang energy, into the right or using it for balance. In fact, you should, eventually, train to the point where you can do this with your right foot in the air. That's MUCH later.
For now, let's concentrate on that left foot. You need to make a very slight "lean" (bear with me, we'll tackle the "lean" thing later, I promise) backwards on your left leg, so the weight goes from being evenly distributed across your entire foot to being located somewhere closer to your heel. Not ON your heel, just closer to it than your toes.
Now use your hip, put your tantien into it, and very gently pivot your left toe to 45, bringing your arms with you just as if you'd "given back" the weight in the YCF form.
Not easy, is it?
In fact it's very hard. It took me a long, long time to do it right. I'm not sure I am yet, to be honest. I'm closer to right than I was when I started, but I don't think I've mastered it yet. I'm doing well enough to say I can do it, but not in anything approaching a masterly fashion.
This is a "weighted pivot". Until I started taking YCF classes, I had no idea it could be done any other way.
The Yang form I took before I went to NAWS, which was a 108 posture form by the by, used this same "weighted pivot" throughout. The "step to the center, then step out" was there, but these pivots were almost identical to the NAWS weighted pivots.
Now, there is a LOT of power generated in this little "pivot". The wrist strike generated in the beginning of NAWS "single whip" is totaly dependent on this "pivot" and I have no doubt I could break a mans jaw with it if I so desired.
Try this, if you have the desire, and let me know what you think.
As always, if I'm not making myself clear, please let me know.
I must apologise to you Audi, I have not had the leisure to experiment with your suggestions in your last post. I had class last night and then this morning I didn't even go online, I just did my form practice and got my butt to work.
I should have time this weekend to re-read your latest excellent post and follow up on it.
To all, have a very safe weekend. I hope you are done shopping!
I am not. Anyone surprised?
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Dec 21, 2002 2:26 am

Hi Wushuer,

Eddie Wu is very well respected here and everywhere else I know in NA. He is considered the Wu (Ng) family's "First gatekeeper in NA." As I said, I quoted from Wu Chian Chuan's book, but there are other books that might have a different translation, or perhaps a better one. The so-called "Gold Book" is an example, called so because it was first printed with a kind of metallic cover. If you're still in contact with Wu sifu, then there might be a translation into English by now. I've never seen that one. As far as the movements of the form, it is interesting that the form you have described is much closer to the Yang family long form names than the Chian Chuan form translations that I know of. The examples I see immediately is the use of "White Stork Flaps its Wings", "Tiger and Leopard Springs to the Mountains", "Downward Posture", and "Jade Girl Works at Shuttles." None of these are significant differences, though, just differences in translation. It is very interesting that your version (108) uses the language it does. Anyway, one of the reasons I posted was to note that, from the perspective of the Wu stylists I have met, the Wu and Yang styles are much more similar than dissimilar. And, as we've seen, there are differences among the vaious branches of each family. As far as my point about stepping," my basic asertion is that movement requires a shifting of the weight --regardless of "style." Footwork, or method of shifting, does differ, but there are legitimate reasons for the differences at particular stages of training. Your last explanation of "100/0" weighting was the most clear to me. It is a matter of semantics, it seems. Some people would argue that the weight of the leg must always be counted: i.e., that when one is in a bow stance, the weight distribution is not 100% to the front. I understand what you mean, though. You might say that all the weight is forward. I agree. It might be described as something like walking up "steps." Anyway, enjoy your holidays.

Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Dec 23, 2002 6:01 pm

I'm not very "wordly" when it comes to Tai Chi Ch'uan, I only know what I learned in the Wu Academy, what my current teacher has told me, and what I've been reading the last couple of months on the internet. So to me, the list I posted of the WCC style 108 was the only one I knew.
I copied and pasted that right from the Wu family website, by the by. So I would hope the translations are the "official" ones, for that style anyway.
It's the only one I've ever seen them use.
I have almost no contact with my old teachers. I stop in and see them when I travel north to visit relatives, but nothing steady.
I have heard of the "gold book", I never saw one but I have heard it mentioned. I still have several friends that attend the school that I e-mail from time to time, I'll ask if they know anything about an english translation for it.
I guess I'm new to Tai Chi general theory. The only way I learned theory previous to coming on here was to learn it from my Sifu, or my Masters, or from other WTCCA students. I have not read a lot of books on TCC, maybe that's why this is all so fascinating to me. I got all my theory, previously, in the traditional manner, directly from my teachers. There was no one that ever said, "this is the only way to learn" or anything like that, it's more that I just never considered reading to learn this stuff. I figured I was getting everything I needed to know from Sifu Eddie and his disciples. It just didn't cross my mind until I had moved and was away from all contact with TCC for six years to go looking for it elsewhere.
I hope everyone here can forgive my ignorance of other kinds and theories of TCC, I just never thought about them much until I was forced to broaden my horizons and wound up here.
I have certainly found out there are whole worlds out here I never knew about. And I have been discovering, through my classes and here on this website, that there are TONS of things about TCC I don't know, and am now very eager to learn.
I am starting to find those similarities you've talked about. At first, all I could see were the differences.

It's funny you should say "walking up steps" in reference to NAWS stepping, because stair walking is my primary form of exercise other than TCC, prescribed to me by my doctor to help with some medical problems I have had.
I have developed an entire regimen of TCC inspired stair walking, based mostly on the NAWS "Tai Chi Walk". It is the basic 'walking' pattern taught to beginner students to get them in tune with how to move properly, modified (by me, this is NOT an official NAWS exercise, it is what I made up to integrate my doctor prescribed stair walking with my TCC about a year ago) to accomodate stairs.
I didn't have to do much, really. I just take bigger steps to accomodate the height of the steps and "walk" just like in the beginners exercise I learned: weight one hundred percent forward in bow stance, lift the back heel, step forward landing on the heel, toe down, shift weight forward, lift the back heel, step forward land on the heel, toe down .....
All of this is done, by the way, with the feet parallel to each other, no need to worry about 45 degree angles or any of that. During "The Tai Chi Walk" (no idea of any "official" name for this, that's just what it was called in the Academy) you keep your feet in line with each other.
I also have invented (again this was all on my own) what I call "step play guitar", which incorporates a slightly modified "play guitar" form to give me upper body integration as I come down the stairs. The "step play guitar" movements, complete with "Play Guitar"'s little bow forward as you take the step down, so closely correlated with my bodies movements coming down the stairs that I just started doing it one day. For going up the stairs, I found that "brush knee and push" from NAWS works almost flawlessly.
Just an aside there. Nothing really meaningful towards our discussion. It was just that your mentioning stair walking in conjunction with what I typed about NAWS movements struck me as funny when you think about what I'm doing with my stair walking, but then I'm easily amused.

Hope everyone has a very happy, safe holiday season.
I am off for Florida. Sun, sand, beaches, girls in bikinis, a much needed vacation.
If you're in the Ft. Lauderdale area over the holidays, look for the short, stout, pasty skinned, blonde guy doing NAWS (half way decently) and YCF style (downright badly) forms on the beach. That'll be me.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 12-23-2002).]
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Postby Audi » Sat Dec 28, 2002 10:48 pm

Hi Wushuer and Steve,

As a result of your postings, realization has finally dawned on me. Steve, I think you have it right. When I have been discussing percentages of body weight in earlier posts, I have been talking about the body’s full physical weight. When I have referred to a pivot with 100% of the weight on one leg, I mean that the other leg is not resting on the ground at all. Wushuer, when you have mentioned 100% of the weight, I think you have meant that no additional weight is moved from the leg before a pivot is initiated and that 100% of the existing weight on the leg remains. This is what you have called “giving back weight.” With this understanding, I think your practice falls very close to what David has described in the past, although the internal details may be somewhat different. Wushuer, we did indeed have past postings on this issue that you might find interesting, although I do not recall what the subject of the thread was.

If we are only talking about whether or not to “give back” weight before a pivot, I think I only have a few things to say about what I see in the Yangs form. Most of my previous posts were aimed at justifying why most of the final postures in the Yangs form have weight in both legs.

First, “giving back” some weight (perhaps, 5% to 70% of one’s total body weight, depending on the posture) makes the pivot easier, by reducing the friction with the floor and the stress on the joints of the pivoting leg. When I have occasionally done form on thick grass, I have been concerned about wrenching my knee. During weighted pivots, it is not easy to judge whether the sole of the shoe can break free of the grass blades. In pivots with 100% of the body’s entire weight and no way to adjust during mid pivot for the uneven grip of the grass, I have been particular concerned with the risk of having 100% of my body mass behind a pivot.

Second, I believe the Yangs see the “give back” as following the classical injunction that says something like: “To have the intent of going forward, you must first have the intent of going backward.” The intent is not to completely remove weight from the pivoting foot. Also, how much one “gives back” is not so much the issue as making sure to give “some” back. Although some aspects of the form require tremendous attention detail, I am not sure that there is much practical difference between 70% and 60%. The Yangs seem to talk about weight percentages only under “duress,” explaining that such things were not part of the traditional teaching. For normal form purposes, I recall the Yangs speaking only of shifting a “little” or “some” weight, without really specifying percentages.

Third, I am not sure that the same principles apply to doing the form for learning/demonstration purposes, doing it year in and year out for health purposes, and doing it for martial ability. I have heard some people, with more experience with me, assert that the amount of the “give back” should approach or be zero if one is primarily interested in martial proficiency. This is more or less what I do when I fool around with applications that do not require more, but I do not do this during my regular practice.

Wushuer, you walked us through how you would apply your old shifting to the transition between Ward Off Left and Ward Off Right. This was very helpful to me. Let me say, however, that this is just about the only place in the form where I have no application in mind for the “give back” or for the pivot. As I perform the various postures, I have applications for just about all the other “give backs.” These applications would become weaker and more isolated if I did not change the percent of weight in my forward leg. By the way, I believe Yang Zhenduo has specifically called attention to not overdoing the weight shift in the Ward Off Right transition you described, since it is merely a repositioning to prepare for the subsequent posture.

Another thing I want to add about the transition between Ward Off Left and Ward Off Right is that I believe that the orientation of the initial Ward Off Left has been determined in some versions of the form (including the Yangs’) largely for aesthetic purposes. Elsewhere in the form sequence, there are unnamed transitional Ward Off Lefts with a different orientation that flow continuously into Ward Off Right. Interestingly, I believe I recall seeing video performances of either Fu Zhongwen or Fu Shengyuan or both performing the named Ward Off Left with an orientation to the southwest that made a pivot between Ward Off Left and Ward Off Right unnecessary.

Take care,
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Postby Michael » Sat Dec 28, 2002 11:02 pm


YES!.... and happy holidays also to you all
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:42 pm

I guess I wasn't making myself clear enough and I apologise.
You do all those weighted pivots with your other foot on the ground, optimally. You CAN do them on one foot, if you have to. Much, much later in training you do practice doing them on one foot, with the other suspended, but that is VERY advanced training for last ditch, "you've screwed the pooch", applications that may come up in actual combat.
As for training one way for martial applications and another way for "health reasons"......?
I don't claim to speak for the Wu family, however when I attended thier academy and seminars I was told you NEVER do that. That you only ever train as if you were training for combat. That the health benefits can only come to you if you train in such a way as to be ready for combat. I was first told this during a seminar by Wu Ta Sin, I believe.
In fact, the way I understood it, being combat ready is the first "health benefit" you derive. If you can defend yourself, you've gone a long way towards staying healthy. Don't you agree?
I may have misunderstood, I am not a very scholarly fellow, but I never once saw any of the disciples or Wu family members train one way for combat, then another for "health purposes". In fact they downright frowned on it.
Only one way, ever, was taught to me. The emphasis being on combat readiness, with the health benefits only being obtainable as a very agreeable side benefit to learning the martial aspects correctly.
I was often told that the only way to be sure you knew you were obtaining the health benefits was to "test" your knowledge of Taijiquan through the martial aspect. That gaining health benefits in a true Taijiquan way could only be tested by proving that you actually could do the martial portion correctly.

After a long time in training, I found I could do those single weighted pivots on nearly any surface. Grass, ashpalt, concrete, tile, carpet, anything.
In fact, the floor of the room I am taking my YCF classes in is probably the single most difficult surface for single weighted pivots I have ever found, and I can do them there quite well. This floor was, I think, designed for sure footedness during aerobic excersize and seems to have sand or some other gritty substance embedded in the paint. It is VERY gripping on your feet and holds you down snugly when you're standing on it. It has sanded my canvas chinese shoes down to almost smooth bottoms. I practice doing weighted pivots on it before class when I'm warming up, as it really does help to do these on the most difficult surface you can find.
I have to admit, doing the YCF "giving back then pivoting" is much easier on a difficult surface.
I am finding no fault here, please understand, with EITHER way of doing it. My object is to learn the theory of this new, to me, way of doing transitions and hopefully help others understand my old way of doing it.
I am pressed for time right now, but will address this further as soon as I can.
Happy New Year.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 01-06-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jan 06, 2003 9:02 pm

OK. Got another few minutes to type madly away on here.
The resting weight of the Yin leg is, of course, held on that leg. The leg isn't floating or anything, though it does sort of feel like it if you're doing it right. It's there, on the ground unless you're stepping, and can be used for any purpose necessary at any time.
The instructors I trained under used to come by as we did our forms and one of the most frequently made tests of form correctness was to kick your Yin leg out from under you. If you held your balance and moved with the force of the kick, remaining single weighted on your Yang leg but not necessarily maintaining the flow of the form, you passed the test.
So the "weight" of your Yin leg was considered to be negligible for the sake of discussion.
"Yin" energy, the way it was explained to me, is "accepting" energy and is used to accept and redirect incoming force. "Yang" energy is used to "root" your postures, holding you to the floor.
This is basic and crude, and only the way I understood it. I'm sure it's much more intense, deep and philosophical in Chinese, but this is MY understanding of it as it was explained to me in practical terms to deal with combat.
My favorite analogy:
Your Yang side is to be used as a pivot point, the post of a gate. Your Yin side was the actual gate, swinging freely in any direction if pushed with force. The tantien is the hinge on which the gate turns.

Again, this is crude, but it does illustrate the way I was trained rather nicely.
In push hands, you tried to push to your opponents center, he used his tantien as a hinge and pivoted his body on his Yang leg, using his Yin side to accept the force and the swinging of the hinge to redirect it like a fulcrum point. The Yin side accepted the force and swung out of the way letting the force go right past, or rooted it to the ground, or redirected it back into your opponent in whatever fashion was deemed necessary.
Maybe that will help you understand the reason behind "single weighted" as I understand it.
It's not that the "gate" doesn't have any weight, it's just being supported by the "post" using the hinge as it's fulcrum. The "weight" is there, but it's not really significant to the action.
Now, if your opponent gets your "center" and pushes in such a way that the gate cannot swing, THEN you step back onto your Yin leg, accept the energy into it, empty your Yang leg and then go through the same motions of either redirection or rooting of the force.
That's where the idea of connected springs comes from that I mentioned earlier. You used your legs like two springs, one accepted the force, the other redirected or rooted. So that even if you took a hit dead on your center, you still had somewhere to go with it.
Again, crudely stated, but it's the best I can do with my limited vocabulary and undertanding.
Is there any kind of corralarly in YCF style? I imagine the idea of the "strung bow" between your legs is similar to "connected springs"? But I have not heard of the "gate" theory in YCF style yet and was wondering if such an idea is there and how it differs.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 01-06-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Mon Jan 06, 2003 9:51 pm

You describe how it works.
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Postby Audi » Sat Jan 25, 2003 7:26 pm

Hi Wushuer and Michael (and anyone else interested),

Wushuer, your description above was very elegantly put. It makes clearer some of the statements I dimly recall from reading some of the classics. However, even though I think I follow your description at a philosophical level, I am having difficulty linking it to my actual practice. Maybe I do not quite understand what you mean by “rooting.” Maybe Michael can provide a bridge, since he seems to have had long experience with both of the approaches we describe.

Where I think I can relate to your description is where I have had brief experiences doing things like pushing with the legs or engaging in exercises where I was trying to explore what should be done to protect a leg that is being attacked. Unfortunately, those were isolated experiences that I do not associate with basic form principles. I also recall that Steve started a brief thread on leg energies awhile back that went way over my head.

Here are some of my difficulties with the theories you have described. By listing them, I am not trying to imply that anything you have said is “wrong.” There are too many people who do what you say for a simple rejection to be meaningful, in my view. On the other hand, I tend to take a holistic view of things. My learning style needs a “theory of everything” to approach even a simple seemingly isolated thing. For me, that means that even a small inconsistency tends to be magnified into complete incompatibility at all levels, until I can readjust my theory and move forward, or not.

First, I have never understood which leg is supposed to be Yin and which Yang in any general sense. I believe I have read reputable writings stating opposite views on this, one saying that a full/solid leg is Yang and the other saying that a full/solid leg is Yin. When one steps into a bow stance, it would seem that the front leg should be the Yang leg, since it is the leg which is actively rooting (that is, if one is trying to root only through one leg). On the other hand, it would seem that the front leg should be the Yin leg, since it is the one accepting force from the back leg. On the third hand J, the front leg has moved most recently and therefore should be the Yang leg. On the fourth hand J, the front leg is the least active, flexes the least in the final instance, and thus should be the Yin leg. Which is the relevant opposition to figure out which is Yin and which is Yang?

Second, you talk about the “gate” or “Yin” leg moving out of the way of the opponents force, redirecting that force, sending that force into the ground, or returning it to the opponent. While I can imagine doing either of the first two actions with a relatively unweighted leg, I cannot imagine using that leg to transfer energy into the ground or returning it to the opponent without rooting through it first and turning it into a “post.” Don’t the first two responses imply the opposite of the latter two responses?

Third, I have never thought of my legs in connection with emptying one side of my body or the other. This is something I have always thought of as connected with the waist and the upper body. Emptying or filling legs is something I think of more in connection with moving energy toward the opponent or accepting energy from the opponent. In either case, I am passing “solidity” between the legs, rather than “rooting.”

I can think of three different instances of Roll Back in the form (the named Roll Back posture, the unnamed one following three of the five Brush Knee and Twist Steps at the beginning, and the unnamed ones that precede each Separate Foot). In none of these instances, can I envision a post and gate feeling. In each, one empties one side of the body, but ends up with the leg on that side as the substantial one.

I would even be tempted to call this a principle of Yang Style, if I did not recall that the Four Hands Push Hands exercise has combinations with Roll Back ending on the side with the front leg forward and where the front leg ends up relatively unweighted. I even recall one teacher advocating to do the Roll Back as an uprooting technique only in this combination, stating that the arrangement of the opponent’s legs made it more effective. In short, it seems that which side one empties is independent of which foot begins or ends up more weighted.

Fourth, I currently have no theory of when one should step to avoid an attack, since most of my Push Hands experience is with fixed stances. The closest thing I can relate to is the stepping in the version of the Da Lü I learned (which may not, by the way, be the same as what the Yangs teach). In that version, the “Big Roll Back” would seem to fit the bill as a posture where you move the “gate” leg out of the way of the opponent. However, the way I learned it, one actually begins and ends the Roll Back by rooting through the leg that will take the large step to the rear. One first shifts weight to it to kick out the heel of the other foot, then shifts weight away from it to allow the leg to step back, but then shifts weight back to it to complete the Roll Back.

Fifth, when I used to wrestle in High School and when I later studied Karate for a few years, I experimented a little with leg sweeps using the sole or instep of my foot. I found that it was quite difficult to sweep out a weighted leg and usually tried to sweep legs that were relatively unweighted.

As a potential “victim,” the feeling I have when I root through both legs is that my feet are nailed to the ground and that someone would be more likely to injure them directly than to sweep them off the floor. This seems to be the opposite experience of the form testing practice you describe, where you are deliberately trying to keep the leg light. A more extreme version of this is what one does after kicking with a leg. In the way the Yangs do form, it seems to be important to retract the lower leg quickly after kicking in order to prevent the opponent from seizing it. I have no sense that the leg is “safe,” because it is not being used for rooting.

Sixth, I recall reading at least two authorities that I respected (I do not recall the names or the styles they represented) talking about the importance of being able to instantly change the polarity of a leg from full/solid to empty and vice versa. I understand how this might be possible when both legs are rooted, since it is merely a matter of changing the direction of the energy flow. I do not understand how this might be done if one is rooting only through one leg. When I physically have one leg in the air or even have that feeling, I cannot switch the root to that leg without a palpably gradual process. As we have discussed on other threads, the Yangs do not teach placing the whole foot on the ground at one time. For me, this means that beginning to root and fully rooting are distinct.

Seven, occasionally, after I have stepped and begun to shift my weight onto a leg, I realize that I have made a mistake and need to reverse direction. An example of this is when I have done form early in the morning on my deck in bad lighting when it is covered in unseen frost. If the rooting of my stepping leg is imperfect, it can begin to slip. Because I have some root in it, I can attempt to reverse the flow of energy and withdraw my foot or, at a minimum adjust angles to improve the root and avoid falling on my behind. If I try single weighting, am I not committing to an all-or-nothing strategy that I cannot alter while the process of weighting the stepping foot is underway?

Since these are altogether too many questions to address, perhaps you could pick one or two. As I said, I tend to learn through holistic theories. If you can get me to figure out one detail, that could remove my mental blocks and allow me to begin figuring out the rest. Another thing that might help me is if you could simply clarify how the “gate” and “post” approach would apply to the Roll Back posture or to the following Press posture in the form. Again, as I approach these postures, rooting through both legs simultaneously seems essential to both the neutralizing aspects and the issuing aspects.

Take care,
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Postby Michael » Sun Jan 26, 2003 2:17 am


Forgive me if I chime in here.

Yes. What the two of you are describing in most instances, are the same thing but looking at it with from different positions and in your use of terminology. I will let Wushuer explain himself. legs (Yang or Yin are connected to and compliment the same in the upper body. The waist is indeed the connector.

I often have the same trouble as do you Audi in what REALLY is yin and yang in the legs in particular, let alone tying it to yin and yang in the upper torso at the same time. But I do understand what you and Wushuer each are describing. I also have read the opposing views. All I can figure is that it is transitory and depends on usuage.---am I absorbing energy, am I expressing energy,.... I think the main point is to know where the energy is and where it is going rather to put into rigid definitions. I don't know that there really are any really "reliable" ones. They seem dependent on point of view or rather, how energy is being used at one time. Especially considering, as you well know, what the literature tells us.

If I am in a wide horse stance---50/50 in each leg. Am I double weighted? Some say yes, some no. Can you see if it is 49/51- or is it that the legs yang and the torso yin? There are so many definitions and points of view that it almost becomes meaningless. Maybe in reality "double weighted" means the inability to respond. Yin or yang is just what makes response possible. And this varies depending on if one is redirecting/absoarbing, or issueing----AND at what point you in the action that one is applying the terms.

I know the concept and it's definition can be very important to you---this is this and that is that. I completely understand . And I don't know if there is an "answer" as i stated earlier. I have struggled with trying to see a "law" of yin and Yang and frankly I gave up in some certain applications of it....I guess I am just a little "boneheaded". Instead I try to "feel" the meaning that conceptual language doesn't seem to make clear to me. Just because I "gave up" on the "words" doesn't mean that I would not welcome being "enlightened" by someone.

You forgot to mention the rollback between Lift Hands and White Crane--and a small one implied at the end of the arm break in Carry Tiger....I think there are others but I'll have to think about it.

The leg coming quickly back after a kick. Yes it can protect one from having it grabbed. But also consider that most kicking in taiji is actually fairly low. None of those Cresent kicks to the head you find in TKD. Now this is "true" despite what we practice in the form. The higher kicks serve, to me at least, to teach the use of energy. We practice large to be able to fight small. It was explained to me that bringing the lower leg back IS a rooting move. This will re-establish your root after your foot (energy) has come in contact with a moving or solid object. You have studied Karate so I think you know what speaking about. I understand that Yang Zhenji does NOT bring his foot back in, but rather places it directly down. This is just a guess, but to me this implies the low kicking where it would not be necessary to to protect your root as there would be little danger of "falling" into the kicking foot as you place it down.

NO answers, just some thoughts.

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Postby Wushuer » Tue Jan 28, 2003 11:24 pm

Michael has said much what I would have on this subject in terms of the "words" not really meaning much. The "idea" is much more important and the "execution" is even more important still.
Let me start out my answers with the idea that I may not finish them with one post. I am at work right now, sitting and waiting for someone else to finish their end of a project so I can start mine. My time will, therefor, be limited to how long they take to finish.
Also, let me say that my time at Wu's T'ai Chi Ch'uan Academy was mostly spent DOING, not talking about it. Almost every theory that I learned I learned in practice. All the talking about TCC I have done, mostly, HERE on this website. So my experience in relating theory is limited to the time I spent trying to TEACH new students how to do these things.
I learned in a very "I'll just show you" atmosphere and that was how it went for me the whole time I was there. So when I put these things into words, especially considering that I don't really type very well, I am most likely a bit off the mark.
All these things considered, and if you still wish to read what I have to say after that, I will give it my best shot.
Let me just say this last thing and I'll move on:
I feel better now that is out in type.

Question the first:
I was trained that your supporting leg is your yang leg. I have no idea who's theory that is from history, it's just how I was trained. I have heard other theories, that since your empty leg is in motion it is your yang leg, but in the Academy I attended we were told that the supporting leg, the one holding you up, is the yang leg.
May not be "correct" to some, but at least we had a definition we could rely on. As the supporting leg is definitely expending MUCH more energy, I think it a fair definition.
Of course, that changes just as soon as it stops being the supporting leg, so...

Question the second:
"Rooting" is a word with too many definitions.
In this case, it means "sending energy to the ground that you will not use for anything else". In other words, if you are simply looking to get rid of that energy, you are not going to redirect it anywhere for a purpose, than you "root" it through your yin side into the ether of nothingness. I have allways much preferred "grounding" for this term and tried, unsuccesfully I might add, for many years to get this definition changed.
You can do this through ANY part of your body touching the ground, regardless of "weight". It DOES, sort of, almost, violate the "double weight" rule, because you have to put that energy into your yin leg to get rid of it.
There have been many, way too many, wasted hours of discussion trying to rationalise this. I prefer to use my Tung style friends take on this, "if it works, do it, if it doesn't, don't do it".

Question the third:
Upper and lower body are completely seperate, and completely together. It's Yin/Yang all over again.
So are your legs.
So are your arms.
So is your chest.
So is your dantien.
So is your brain.
So is your hand, each seperately, both together.
There are way, way too many combinations of yin/yang to cover in one post, or one book, or on all the combined servers in the known world, or unknown for that matter.
Your upper/lower body can and often will be yin-right/yin-left and vice versa. Equally valid is yang-right/yang-right and so on.

Sorry, that project is in my face. I will continue ASAP.
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jan 29, 2003 5:35 pm

Back again, for a bit, so onward...

Question the fourth:
The idea of when to step is really quite simple, when your center moves or is moved to such a degree that it is no longer "centered" for you, you need to step.
Hope that makes sense?
If your center is suddenly two feet ahead of you, behind you, beside you, whatever, you need to get it back to where it belongs, so you step into it.
Also, if there is too much force incoming against your center and you can't accept or redirect it in any other way, you need to move it.
The THEORY is simple, what's hard is actually knowing when that is.
It takes a LOT of practice.
By the by, the Ta Lu (spelling corrected by a Wu Disciple acquaintance of mine from my last e-mail with them) you learned must be miles away from what I learned. Of course, so's the entire idea of "giving back" some weight or energy in order to shift your foot. I just, plain old fashioned, do NOT understand this concept. What for? It takes time, it doesn't accomplish anything that you can't do easier and faster, not to mention more effeciently, by simply positioning that foot without all that shifting around first. I believe we covered the "weighted vs. un-weighted pivots" somewhere on this site, so I won't restart it here.
I DO all that shifting around during practice, and there are martial applications just screaming from it that I have yet to explore. But let me tell you, I won't be using it any time soon in combat. Makes me feel like a Ferrari trying to move like a snail. Hopefully I'll "get it" soon and can learn the "why?" of it and use it to advantage.

Question the fifth:
I can tell you now, from direct experience, that if you sweep the leg, EITHER leg, of a good NAWS practicioner, you will get a gleefull smile and then introduced to the floor, wall, whatever is convenient.
One of the nice little secrets, that is NOT a secret, of Wu style is that "lean" I keep yelling about, that is SO absent from YCFS. There's a reason for it, it works.
I won't go into it in any more detail here, some things just don't seem to cross over between the styles.
Let's just say, you're right. For YCFS, what you do is correct. For NAWS, it just doesn't apply.
The reason the instructors sweep your yin leg is because that's what EVERY other martial stylist in the world tries first against you when you practice NAWS.
It doesn't work, so I wouldn't recommend it.

Question the sixth:
The way I learned NAWS is just the same. You need to transition smoothly and quickly between your "weighted" leg.
Again, see above. It's in the "lean". The space required to go into a theory I can DO but have never yet been able to explain would be formidable. The time would be prohibitive and I can't garuntee that when I was done, you'd understand it any better.
Let's just say, I and my fellow NAWS practicioners can do this with very little difficulty.
HOW we do it is another matter entirely.
You've got to keep 'em seperated!
I'll just leave it at that for now. Maybe later, when I have LOTS of time ...

Question the seventh:
Back to the "coiled springs" theory.
You do NOT "commit" to your yin leg until you have FELT and are sure of the root. You "coil" the energy in your yang leg, as you "spring" it to your other leg, there is a moment of transition where you "feel" our your root. If you don't have it, you don't "spring". You reseat or move your yin leg, test, then "spring" onto it.
So the idea is the same, you "feel" or "sense" the root before you commit.
Again, the idea of "lean" comes into play in ways I cannot, for all the above reasons and more, easily explain.

Hope that helps. I am again sorely pressed for time and must depart.
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