## Single weightedness?

Hi Louis,

Both statics and processes are involved in order to move the body according to Tai Chi techniques.

Depending on which way one wants to turn the body (which depends on the direction of external force)one has to FILL one leg if it is not already full so as to TURN the torso so as to neutralize the external force.

Once the leg has been filled (process) it is full(static). Static in the sense of no longer being filled, of completed action and static in the sense of staying filled until time comes to empty it, to shift weight to the other leg.

Something (the leg, one side) is being filled by something (the weight of the upper body plus the weight of the other leg.

This is the weight shifting action which involves redistribution of body weight over the legs.

The second process is the TURNING OF THE TORSO through its range of movement when only one leg bears the weight of the torso.

(Turning and weight shifting require distinct skills, but turning depends on weight having been shifted)

This TURNING range of movement is substantially different in cases where both legs are supporting weight of the upper body versus when one leg is supporting the weight of the upper torso (as well as supporting the 'empty' leg).

The range is about 11 degrees when both legs bear weight, regardless of the ratio between the legs.

And about 90 degrees when one leg for the time of the torso turning ALSO supports the weight of the torso for that time of TURNING.

The 90 degrees maximum depends on initial foot placement, ie. initial internal/external rotation position of the pelvis on the femur.

Also, so as to avoid confusion, though leg filling and torso turning are distinct movements they can be co-ordinated so as to fill while turning, turn while filling.
This is due to the ability of the hips to turn on the femur while both legs are weight bearing, i.e. for about 11 degrees.

After that for the remaining 79 degrees the other leg needs to be empty of weight of the upper body so as to allow that 79 degrees turning of the hip on the femur of the weighted leg.

The leg that is not bearing weight of the body, that is 'empty' in that specific sense, does not need to be off the ground.

Even when it is flat the weight of that leg can be supported by the other leg via being attached to the upper body which is being supported by the other leg. This is where the metaphor about the scale comes in.

Once in that position a very slight lateral upper torso adjustment will reduce the contact of that empty leg's foot to just toe contact,or heel contact, or off the ground entirely so as to move the foot to a different place.

Weight distribution is not only important re turning of the torso but re controlling momentum of strikes as well as for executing weight shifts for applications, eg. push, slant flying.

Double weighting, as you have pointed out in a previous post, is a term that occurs in the context of neutralizing.

"Shuangzhong as used in taijiquan is more of a noun phrase. Zhong can also refer to pressure, including pressure sensed from an opponent. The classic document in which shuangzhong appears uses the character zhong elsewhere as “weight” or “pressure”: “When the left feels weight (zhong), then the left empties. When the right feels weight, then the right is gone.” Moreover, the balance scale imagery immediately preceding the usage of shuangzhong pretty clearly contextualizes it."

It is the lack of double weighting of the legs that allows emptying the other side from the weighted leg so as to avoid the incoming force. So as to avoid resistance.

There is a two fold meaning of shuagzhong involved-weight and pressure.

The sides can't empty without the opposite side leg being filled.

To avoid double weighting (pressure) quickly, easily, avoid double weighting(weight supported by legs).

The Ying yang symbol, as PS reminded us, clearly distinguishes yin and yang.

The legs should be as clearly distinguished with respect to weight bearing as the fishes in the circle are to colour--as clear as night and day. And not as unclear as dusk or dawn.

In the I ching, using lines, it would be Greater Yang next to Greater Yin, instead of lesser Yang or next to lesser yin.

Two solids lines above each other next to two broken lines above each other.

In ideograph form it would be the ideograph equivalent of xu xu, shi shi.

Reduplication is an intensive formulation to indicate extremes. ALL YANG(re weight of body supported by one leg) next to ALL YIN(re weight of body NOT supported by one leg).

Once it is understood that to avoid being double weighted is to be single weighted, the meaning of single weighted should not be problematic. It's the positive complement to the proscription-logically and physically equivalent.

The issue of the Wu style 100/0 front foot weighting is a separate issue since that configuration does not allow for quick neutralizing in ALL directions. That weighting may have some purpose, but it is problematic since it goes contrary to another important injunction of 'not leaning'.

Not leaning is very important to turning with the least effort and the avoidance of loss of balance. But that's for another time.

Best,

Ron

[This message has been edited by RonKreshmar (edited 05-28-2003).]

[This message has been edited by RonKreshmar (edited 05-28-2003).]
RonKreshmar

Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Nanaimo, B.C.

Greetings Audi,

It’s interesting that you used standing in a subway car as an illustration of the exchange of full and empty. For years I’ve been commuting to work in San Francisco on the BART train that runs beneath the bay. I rarely get a seat on the crowded morning train, so the daily standing in the isle has become an important ingredient in my training. I don’t hang on to any supports or handholds, but I usually have a book to read, so I hang on to that. Your description of the instantaneous flow of balance back and forth between one leg and the other is precisely what I feel going on, whether the train is jerking over switches, or suddenly braking or accelerating. Other standees may be hanging on, and still are swaying or stumbling about. Loosening the waist and the kua are essential for being able to maintain balance in this circumstance.

What’s interesting is that to an observer, there is probably no outward indication of the constant adjustments I am making—I’m just standing there reading a book. I think this is what I was getting at in my earlier post when I said that maintaining equilibrium has to do with how adeptly one can shift one’s weight internally.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

Posts: 1284
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Ron,

The reference to "not leaning" is a common misconception from many people who may only see small bits, a few photos here and there or an inexpertly trained "practitioner" or two, of the Wu family curriculum. Since the major styles of T'ai Chi all have inclinations of the torso from vertical somewhere in their training, one suspects that the phrase in question is best understood as meaning not bending the spine relative to itself. The Wu family system (if done well) exploits a straight spine through a full range of motion, 365 degrees in three circles (vertical, horizontal and diagonal and their subsequent spirals in combination), and does so successfully. I have seen form photos of Yang Ch'eng-fu from around 1918 or so (when he was skinny!) in pronounced leanings to the side. I have seen a photo of Yang Zhenduo on this very website leaning far forward in pushing hands, very Wu style-like! The caption on the photo reads: "Switzerland 2001 Seminar"

The inclinations practised by the Wu family and their students allow for a greater reach, and therefore they can keep their feet closer together than other styles (always handy for defensive purposes!), so the turnings through the hip joint itself are correspondingly smaller. Neutralization with the torso in Wu style is done entirely with these turnings in the hip joint at first. Smaller circles means faster neutralizations, so the speed aspect you raise is addressed thereby. The extensions in the direction of the opponent are for proactive striking and following a retreating opponent. The extensions away from an opponent are for avoiding strikes or weapons. Sometimes, if we cannot step in order to reposition for an aggressive attack, we will jump and roll out of harm's way. In that sense, the inclination can be seen as a gateway to groundwork strategy relating to delivering and recovering from throws. Nothing dislocates a kicking attack like grabbing the guy's foot and spinning 365 degrees in mid air while travelling about 12 feet or so! Admittedly fancy, but we train such technique at senior level. Also, the emphasis on parallel positioning of the feet, in Wu style training, assures that the hip is trained to 100% of its full range of motion in every direction, regardless of whether the weight is 50-50, 90-10 or 190-0 (someone else's weight on us). The stance and weight distribution in training is one thing, designed to train complete mobility as far forward, back, left and right as necessary, not just in the middle - the theory being that if you don't train 100% then someday, when you need it, you won't have 100%. In application, however, the stance will be dictated by circumstance. We are not locked in to any one position.

Indeed, neutralization has historically been recognized as a specialty of Wu family from its earliest days of involvement in T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Yang Lu-ch'an's student, Wu Ch'uan-yu (the father of Wu Chien-ch'uan) was especially famous for his skill in this area. For another example, in 1914 when the Yang family invited Wu Chien-ch'uan to teach publicly with them and Sun Lu-t'ang in Beijing, they apparently had no objections to the theoretical aspects of his inclinations to the various directions in his forms.

So, while they may be problematic for those with no experience of them, these training principles work very well for those (such as myself) who have trained them for the better part of two decades, and have the recognition of the other family schools as an orthodox training style as well. These principles are, of course, easier to demonstrate in person, but my descriptions will have to do for now.

Regards,
P.

[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 05-28-2003).]
Polaris

Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:01 am

Hi Polaris,

I take the "no leaning" to be the negative version of "stand as if your head is suspended from above". This in effect eliminates all leaning.

The major styles don't all have leaning.
Chen style doesn't. Wu Hao has 2 postures with hip flexion, but no leaning bow steps.

YCF style has some leaning in bow steps but does not twist the spine the way some modern Wu Chian styles do, eg. the Ma Yueh-Liang line.

I'm not sure what is actually being done when you say:

"The Wu family system (if done well) exploits a straight spine through a full range of motion, 365 degrees in three circles (vertical, horizontal and diagonal and their subsequent spirals in combination)"

Concerning the issue of neutralization I don't consider the bow step to be a neutralizing step.

Bow steps have specific uses for transfering weight for some attacks as in push or slant flying, but that is AFTER an attack has been neutralized.

One likely source of confusion is the use of the bow step in push hands where 'neutralizations' specific to push hands are being done.

The hip turning allowed in the bow step as weight is transfered forward and backwards is only a small portion of the complete range of movement of the hip joint.

As a matter of fact, fixed step push hand exercise can be used to demonstrate how easily one can be unbalanced, backed into that little 45 degree corner, as long as one does not move one's feet.

And moving step push hands always turns into grappling using crude force, not what Tai chi is about.

So, the lesson of push hands is to not allow your opponent to lay a hand on you.

The jump and roll move is somewhat unorthodox for Tai chi, isn't it?

As is training so as to recover from throws.

Kicking neutralization is a beginner level move, but your version may indeed be more complicated.

As long as you keep the feet in a parallel position, the hip cannot move through its full range of movement. What you mean is that it will move through its range of movement allowed by the parallel footing.

Parallel footing as in Wu bow stance will not allow the hips to turn 90 degrees to the side, it allows about 45 degrees.

The parallel footing which does not allow the feet to turn limits the amount of hip rotation.

The kind of neutralization turning I practice allows 90 degree turns left or right.

On the issue of Wu Chian's form being
accepted at YCF's time this has no bearing on what the style now contains.

Wu Chian's form was very similar to YCF's.

The current state of toleration between styles is a recent phenomenon.

While there is an absence of inter school criticism, there is no real consensus re methods or principles. They simply leave each other alone while following their own ways. So, contradictions flourish.

This is especially true of the Wu school itself which has divided into all kinds of splinter groups each with some distinctive twist.

This lack of aggressive confrontration between Yang, Wu chian, Chen, and Wu Hao schools in no way amounts to a mutual recognition of each others' ways as "orthodox".

At most it is consistent with teaching T'ai chi for health only.

But things may change. There are some lively rumblings in the Chen camp re Zhao Bao 'small frame' documented on Jarek's site.

Take care,

Ron
RonKreshmar

Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Nanaimo, B.C.

HI Audi,

I see you have discovered the pleasures of subway surfing. Cool...very cool.

Regards,

David J

Audi wrote, > Since this thread began, I have thought of one situation in ordinary life that duplicates the feeling of ?separating full and empty? that I believe I train by doing Yang Zhenduo?s form. That situation is when I stand in a moving subway car without using my hands or arms to hold on to anything. When I do this, I have the sensation that the bumps and jerks of the subway car force me constantly to pass weight back and forth between my legs, to keep my ?qi? sunk, and to keep my ?Ming Men? (?lumbar region?) open and flexible. It never feels as if my legs are doing the same thing at the same time or that power is not flowing from one leg to the other. At the same time, my legs are absolutely interdependent and cannot operate on separate ?wavelengths.? I have no sense that standing on one leg would increase my mobility or that ?gripping? the ground with both feet simultaneously would give the slightest advantage. Full and empty change instantly from one to the other, and the weight percentages in my feet (other than 100/0 or 0/100) are really immaterial to the feeling. <
DavidJ

Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Hi Polaris,

You wrote, > For example, consider the mechanics of the bicep and the tricep muscles when a person punches. The tricep, activating the motion, has to shorten. The bicep should correspondingly lengthen to allow the motion. If the bicep has even a slight amount of latent tension due to incomplete relaxation (stress damage), then the tricep cannot extend the arm as well as it would otherwise.

Technically this is incorrect, and a common error. The bicep always fires when the tricep is being worked, and vice versa. No resistance means you have no tone. This isnt what is trained in TCC.

> In T'ai Chi theory, Yin and Yang are not separated, instead you have Yang and Yang, not Yin and Yang. Double weighted.

While this is fine as a concept in line with double weightedness it is in this case inaccurate. The correct questions are, "How much do you resist?" and "How much is under your control?"

You can resist your own movement to different degrees. Therein lies a whole spectrum of control. Song is a balance of resistance, not the absence.

> This can apply to weight distribution in the feet as well, it can be a symptom of double weighting, but such weight distribution or the lack of it doesn't define double weightedness as such. <

I agree.

Regards,

David J
DavidJ

Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

I haven't ridden on a subway since the last time I was in Montreal, about twenty five years ago.
I do ride on my father-in-laws yacht from time to time, and have experienced a similar sensation. I can stand steady on my feet in waves and chop that make everyone else sit down, hard.
I imagine it's similar.

Not leaning is completely new to me. I have been leaning for fifteen years. My YCF instructor is constantly saying to me, "We have to work on that lean." I look at myself in the mirrors and say, "But...? I'm NOT leaning."
To me, I'm not, but to the rest of the class, I most certainly am.
Can't help it, yet. I'm working on it.

The back is always straight in NAWS. No matter whether you're leaning or not you keep your back straight, your hips tucked in and your chin tucked down at all times.
The turns and circles are small, the stance is shorter, your steps are smaller and the reach is much longer, though paradoxically your arms are kept closer to your body when you're not reaching.
Your feet are parrallel to each other at all times. All motion is from the hip. The shoulder occasionally leads the way.
The Ten Essentials of Yang Cheng-fu are not even mentioned, by the way, during NAWS training. I only ever heard of them as something from "another school".
Wushuer

Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 7:01 am

Ron,

You wrote: ‘I take the "no leaning" to be the negative version of "stand as if your head is suspended from above". This in effect eliminates all leaning.’

I’m not sure there’s a taiji formula that exactly matches your “stand as if your head is suspended from above” wording. There is a phrase occurring in several classical taiji texts, “ding tou xuan,” which means to suspend the crown of the head. In my practice I tend to interpret it as I think you do, in a “gravitational” sense. That is, I tend to imagine a plumb line from the “suspension” point at the crown of my head, and down through the centerline of my torso. This is more or less the explicit interpretation in most Yang branches, and has always made perfect sense to me.

However, there is nothing explicit in the formula’s several appearances that mandates this reading. In fact, the formula appears to more explicitly address the orientation of the crown of the head with respect to the neck, the spine, and the weilu (coccyx).

As for the “no leaning, no inclining” formula found in the taiji classics, the wording (bupian, buyi) is pulled directly from a philosophical context that did not refer to leaning of the body. The Song Dynasty philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200) used this phrase and another found in the Taijiquan Treatise, “wuguo buji” (without excess or insufficiency) in his commentary on the early Confucian text, Zhong Yong (Doctrine of Centrality). In its original sense, bupian buyi did not refer to physical leaning of the body, but meant something more like “not wavering from the mean.” It still carries a meaning of “impartiality” or “unbiased,” or holding a very precise and considered position.

In his book, _T’ai Chi’s Ancestors_, Douglas Wile translates the following from Chen Xin’s famous 1933 book on Chen style taijiquan:

“Not leaning or inclining [bupian, buyi] does not refer to the physical body, but to a natural centeredness of the spirit. . . . If we combine this with bending forward and backward, flexing and extending, we will achieve a completely unified method. . . . Although the body may depart from the vertical, the vertical still exists internally; we must not be dogmatic. . . . Although the body executes leaning postures, the central ch’i circulating internally is naturally without unevenness.” (Chen Xin, quoted in Wile, 1999, p. 81)

Again, I am most comfortable in my own practice with the “gravitational” interpretation (with obvious adjustments for those YCF postures that do incorporate some leaning), but I try to avoid being dogmatic with regard to the interpretations of other well-developed schools.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

Posts: 1284
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Greetings all,

Darn, a lot of the points we are debating are only misunderstandings on a two dimensional message board! In person they would be as easy as 1, 2, 3 to demonstrate for you guys...

Ron first,

The head is suspended in the Wu style lean, directly up from the spine. It isn't vertical relative to the ground, but to the rest of the spine.

I've seen what I would call inclinations from vertical, leaning, myself in Ch'en style forms of Ch'en family members (photos of Ch'en Fa-ke), Yang style forms of Yang family memebers (photos of YCF and YZD), and Sun style forms of Sun family members (photos of Sun Jianyun). Four out of five! I haven't seen, due to lack of opportunity, enough Hao style to comment...

The three circles that I mention and their subsequent spirals in combination are the primary neutralization planes (the spirals represent everything in between) of Wu style TCC.

At first, the bow step IS usually for offensive training. But once the principles of are understood, neutralization is possible in any stance. I can completely neutralize an incoming force with my wrist, my foot, my back, my hip, my knee, my sabre, anywhere with any part that I can move in a circle. I can neutralize just as easily all the way forward as all the way back. My teachers made sure of that!

As for moving step push hands always turning into brute force grappling, all I can say is, what school do you train at? The teacher should be there to prevent that. It happens, of course, at a very low level, but moving step can stay T'ai Chi, if the people in question actually know T'ai Chi. I know this isn't what you mean, but it sounds like you are saying that there should be no stepping in T'ai Chi Tui Shou at all...

Jumping, rolling, throwing, foot-sweeping are Wu style specialties. The Wu family are originally Manchu, and wrestling was their national sport. That and conquering China . So they took the principles of TCC that they learned from the Yangs and applied them to throws and groundwork. The Wu family have been working and refining these techniques for 150 years now, so it isn't a recent innovation. Orthodox training in at least one style!

You are quite right about the parallel footwork, and that is just the point. What if your feet can't move? You might like to have the looseness in the body to be able to neutralize regardless. If you can turn comfortably through the full range of motion in that position, then, when you are fighting, not constrained by the training, your effective comfortable range of motion will be that much greater. The Wu family addressed the issue, and this was their solution. This is borne out by experience, at least in my case. the other reasons for the parallel footwork are so that the legs will be stretched evenly on both sides during the forms and push hands, as well as having some small utility in closing strategies during sparring, making it a little easier to keep the groin covered.

As to whether the modern Yang and Wu and Sun families have mutual respect for each other, you just have to ask them. The good relationships between the families in question goes back at least 150 years. Wu Ch'uan-yu learned from Yang Lu-ch'an and Yang Pan-hou. Wu Kung-yi learned from Yang Shao-hou. Wu Chien-ch'uan worked closely with YCF and Sun Lu-t'ang. They all worked anfd trained together from 1914-1928. My current teachers from the Wu family have nothing but good to say about YZD and his schools. Indeed, I myself have a cordial, respectful relationship with the YZD student teaching in my hometown. So, there is no problem with them. Disgruntled students may be another matter, but they don't really represent the teachers themselves.

There are dozens more variations of Yang style than Wu style. I've trained in Shanghai and Hong Kong, I've seen Ma Yueh-liang's son, Ma Hai-long, serve Wu Kuang-yu (and myself) tea in Wu Chien-ch'uan's original Shanghai apartment. The variations between the families and even within families are not contradictions, but opinions. Everyone is different! As long as at least some of the eight gates and five steps are somehow present in every motion, it is T'ai Chi if you are folding laundry! It isn't a cookie cutter art. Two dimensional rulebooks don't apply.

So, to say that there is or should be conflict where there admittedly isn't does indeed seem like an unhealthy attitude! T'ai Chi is for health only. Its military usefulness faded over a hundred years ago. It just happens that the martial art gets you healthier faster.

DavidJ,

Cheers! The separation of Yin and Yang is just the point. Yes, the firing of the "Yin" muscle (making it Yang) will happen, but we work on lessening and lessening it. "Tone" in the Western sense, is the mistake of double weightedness, and I can demonstrate it very simply, in person. That is how I have been taught, and my teachers also make convincing demonstrations of the principle.

Wushuer,

The ten essential principles are very important in Wu style, but they are YCF's summary of points of principle from other documents handed down from the former masters, not his own creation.

Regards everyone! Keep up the good work!
P.

[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 05-31-2003).]
Polaris

Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:01 am

Hi Louis,

Yes, I also take the phrases in a gravitational sense.

If you suspend the crown of the head so as to have the body align below it from "
neck, the spine, and the weilu (coccyx)."
the alignment will be a vertical line based on the force of gravity, there will be no leaning. That is what plumb means, and that's how plumb is found.

As for the “no leaning, no inclining” and "without excess or insuffiency" where would you say Zhu Xi got them from?

Guaranteed, the Doctrine of Centrality when explained in Confucian times would have been explained in terms of already, and better known meanings--meanings from carpentry, scales, and triangles, squares and circles so as to aid the understanding of "without excess or deficiency" or "no leaning, no inclining" in their moral sense.

Chen Xin's transfer of "without excess or deficiency" through his "naturally without unevenness" to "central chi circulating internally" while the external is "inclining,leaning" reveals his valueing of chi over posture.

Chen Xin makes this move based on a transfer of meaning from the Confucian meaning to chi via "natural centredness of the spirit". So we have 3 terms in this metaphor. That's how chain metaphors work.

But regardless, the internal chi will not help with what happens in the leaning posture, it will not prevent nor compensate for the results of leaning posture.

And Chen Xin is wrong.

In Tai chi bupian, buyi, does refer to the physical body.

"Although the body may depart from the vertical, the vertical still exists internally; we must not be dogmatic"

is gibberish if setting chi against gravity.

Or in his case setting "without excess,without insufficiency" against "no leaning, no incling" so as to justify a departure from the latter.

And we must be dogmatic about gibberish.

When you lean as well as when you do not lean gravity does its work.

When you lean muscular tension is created to countervail the effects of gravity in the leaning position.

Do you have any idea what the weight of your head does to the cervical vertebra during a leaning posture? To the upper back muscles, and neck muscles? On a daily basis?

You yourself talk about having a relaxed kua and lumbar area, well all those muscles are loaded to stablize the torso against gravity
when the pelvis is flexed==never mind the upper back and neck muscles.

I don't lean at all in any of the postures.

Not because I'm a slave to rules, but because it is the most natural,relaxed,efficient, and effective way to perform the movements.

So, while I may appear dogmatic with regards to the interpretations and practices based on those interpretations of some orthodox schools, I am really dogmatic about moving naturally, relaxed, efficiently and effectively. As well as my spinal health of course, can't forget the spine.

Best,

Ron

[This message has been edited by RonKreshmar (edited 05-29-2003).]
RonKreshmar

Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Nanaimo, B.C.

Hi Polaris,

"The head is suspended in the Wu style lean, directly up from the spine. It isn't vertical relative to the ground, but to the rest of the spine."

Thank god, some people might think that you are hyper extending the neck just to keep in accord with one interpretation of the classics. (Wink Smiley)

Yes, there is some leaning in the other styles, though I can't see any leaning in the Chen Fake pictures that I've seen.

But these are exceptions, and justified each time, though sometimes on the basis of strange considerations.

Leaning is not the rule in the other styles.

And since it is an important issue it makes nonsense out of the idea of orthodoxy given the difference in this principle.

And a difference in principle it is.

Wu style makes leaning their central principle.

Just as I make not leaning my central principle.

Examining principles, asking for reasons for or against, may appear impolite to some who believe that there should be no discussion of principles.

However,you have taken the time to give your reasons for the leaning. Thank you.

Based on my experience with the Wu walk I know that you can't step backwards when all the weight is on the front leg, nor can you step forward without straightening your torso. Nor can you step sideways without effort. But that's only my experience.

And those aspects may not be important for you.

Regarding push hands what I had in mind was push hands competitions, not drills.
Each and every one is a total brawl.

I wouldn't call it low level since so many high ranking players are involved in these matches.

What I'm saying is that Push Hands has nothing to do with Tai chi except to show what not to do, what not to allow.

You might be interested in reading some of the posts by John Wang over on the emptyflower board. He's a Shuai-Chiao master, who also does Tai chi.

The attempt to merge Mongolian wrestling and Tai chi would be be ok if Mongolian wrestling would end up looking more like Tai Chi, but the other way around?

When you say:

"You are quite right about the parallel footwork, and that is just the point. What if your feet can't move? You might like to have the looseness in the body to be able to neutralize regardless."

I do have the looseness if that were to happen, but why would I want to voluntarily render my perfectly good and nimble feet immobile and make a principle of that immobilization.?

Basically, current Wu style has turned the bow step into a grappling stance, and has complemented this with all sorts of grappling techniques but still wants to be taken as T'ai chi in spite of the difference in principles.

And in the current atmosphere of "live and let live" non of the other Tai Chi styles object.

The differences, while in fact actual contradictions of principles, are being treated as if these contradictions were just "differences of opinions".

And what we get is

"As long as at least some of the eight gates and five steps are somehow present in every motion, it is T'ai Chi if you are folding laundry!"

I just hope your floors are clean and there is some laughter while you are rolling around.

See, when one is using a cookie cutter to make different shape cookies from cookie dough at least cookies are made, but when one tries to sneak in some cement, well?

I think a good two dimensional rule book re what is cookie and what is brick might well save one from a case of severe indigestion.

So, to say that there should be conflict when there admittedly isn't does indeed seem like a very healthy attitude!

Take care,

Ron
RonKreshmar

Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Nanaimo, B.C.

Audi,

I guess the question is what are the dropped elbows being related? Some, as you state, think it is the shoulders. But as we all know there are some problems in the set with that point of view. I personally view the relationship to be mostly with the wrists. This relationship bears directly on the shoulders.

In any number of forms in which there is lateral, horizontal, or forward movement, ward offs, push,...if the elbow is rotated out so that the elbow is at the same height or higher than the wrist, there is resulting tension in the shoulder. In movements above the head, or when the hand(s) are lower, this is not a factor unless the same outward (upward) rotation occurs. Where the hands are in relation to the shoulders determines how much outward rotation of the elbows we can get away with.

Because of my Kuang Ping training my hands are closer together in push than in the "standard" Yang version. The outside of the hands are just inside the shoulders. This allows for "seeing" with the thumbs if anything begins to "slip" in between the hands. It is useful. I would hazard to say that in push hands (as you mention) the hands will almost never be in line with the shoulders. Just not efficient.

When I differentiated between "internal" and "external" it was just out of convenience. I am not saying anything you do not already know here, structure supports "energy". Structure makes the movement of "energy" possible. They can't really be seperated.

On the subject of style animosity

My teacher asked Yang Jun while in China about all the Yang variations and other styles that seemed to be somewhat in opposition (my word) to what we do in the YZD lineage. He said something about it being about "the principles" not how certain things were outwardly done. I do not think there that is much antagonism between the styles and their adherents. However, self rightous individuals are everywhere, and often teachers will spread this attitude (I know this only too well). They "know" that what they do is best or "right" and that everyone else is wrong, or what they do "worthless". They are the same types that think that a Chevy is the "only" car to drive and that you are a fool if you drive a Ford. Problem for those people is that they miss learning a lot of different things.

On the matter of "leaning".

I have an injured lumbar spine. If I do a set with the "standard" YCF "lean" in the appropriate forms, the muscles in my middle back tighten up. This often will make the set "uncomfortable" to say the least. I am very careful to have the spine "straight"---from top to bottom with special attention to the the hip joints. I have now been able to use a very small lean and remain comfortable. However, I do so only when assisting with beginners in class as I do not want to "pollute" them with my own preferences or "circumstances". When I do the set I remain "plumb" and have no back problems at all.

In the leaning thread from years ago I mentioned my preference to remain "plumb"---great for my back---but also it has great defensive value. Again this is from my Kuang Ping training. I have since found that when using a slight lean, with the shin nearly vertical you are safe from the pull. BUT as the knee begins to come forward a little you become increasingly vulnerable. With a "plumb" spine, the knee position is less of a factor, or not at all.

So I find myself agreeing with the two viewpoints stated here, but it is a matter of a number of contributing factors. "Lean or not to Lean"? "What really is "Leaning"? I know that the Yang family teaches that with forward directed "energy" we should use a small forward "inclination". Respectfully, I do not know if the power generated in that manner or that the "plumb" spine generates more power. I say this considering the closeness of taiji "combat". Do I NEED to "lean"? I certainly do not want to as the distance is increased. Also I can "revolve the spine in either direction with a "plumb" spine at any time to neutralize. Something I cannot do well when "inclining" forward. I do wish one of you Wu stylists were nearby to play around with this and other aspects of "leaning". It seems that the two viewpoints both make it work for them. If it works, it must be "right".

Good practice!

Michael
Michael

Posts: 278
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 7:01 am
Location: Wi. USA

Hi Michael, Louis, Ron, Polaris and all,

there are quite a few issues being raised as this thread develops. I think that dogma occurs when one group/person tells another "*what* to think." Anyone can be convinced of the rightness of his position and the logic he used to arrive at it. It only becomes dogmatic--imo--when someone imposes his or her own thought --instead of allowing people to use their own. That's what happens when the Church tells its members what orthodox belief is.

But, let's say that this is OK, and that tcc has its "orthodoxy." Let's also allow that the admonition against "leaning" is among the rules. And, we agree that YCF knew them. Well, it becomes highly unlikely that WCC did *not* know the orthodox methods. It's even harder to believe that he could have taught with and next to YCF and not have been informed of his unorthodox practice. Personally, the conclusion I come to is that WCC practiced orthodox tcc. To say that he did not is --imho-- a back-formulation based upon a new orthodoxy.

In terms of the "leaning" issue, it has only been in recent times that I've heard Wu-style practitioners describe what they do (in a few postures) as a "lean." In the WCC photos, he is generally as upright as YCF (and moreso than YCF in the latter's earlier photos, or the ones of Chen Weiming). The occurences of "leans" or "bending from the waist" that occur in the Wu forms I'm familiar with, as I've said, are relatively rare as far as the number of postures/movements overall. Moreover, they all are manifestations of specific applications; they are not "postural" requirements. I.e., none --afaik-- 'lean' thoughout the form.

OK, I have to say that any postural requirement that is taken as "orthodox" can be exaggerated to the point where it is useless or harmful. I can't speak of harm, not having had the experience. However, ime, *none* of the traditional tcc styles are as strict about maintaining a "plumb" line among "head, hip, heel" as are the Wu/Hao styles *or* the Beijing competition Yang forms. The easiest place to see this is in the form "Needle at Sea Bottom."

Imho, the admonition against leaning --if it means maintaining a central axis relative to the effect of gravity-- is a sound mechanical principle that clearly preceded tcc as a martial art. As Louis pointed out, it is also an old philosophical concept; and it --imho-- also related to moderation. It also comes up in the Suntzi and other works of military strategy. However, I do not think it was taken as an absolute postural requirement for any and all movements. It is also untrue --imho-- that not "leaning" is automatically orthodox (or even good) tcc. As I have understood it, good tcc is not linked to any particular form.

BTW, I do think that the bending in some varieties of Wu style has its origin in wrestling techniques. Ron also mentioned John Wang who, though his Shuaijiao teacher, Chang Dongshen, learned Chang's version of tcc --which he developed after studying with General Li Jinglin, who is said to have learned from Yang Jianhou and/or Banhou. Anyway, what Chang did was emphasize the parts of the Yang form in which he saw the use or application of Shuaijiao ('wrestling'). One specific example is Brush Knee, Twist Step --which is similar to the second (?) technique of the Shuaijiao training set. What makes it tcc, and not shuaijiao, is that he attempts to use tcc principles of "not resisting, not letting go" and not (just) using or depending on li or brute strength.

Anyway, here's a link to a great Wu/Hao site. Note to see any leaning. http://www.haotaiji.co.uk/history.html

Best,
Steve James

[This message has been edited by tai1chi (edited 05-30-2003).]
tai1chi

Posts: 253
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2001 7:01 am
Location: NY

Greetings Ron,

You wrote: ‘As for the “no leaning, no inclining” and "without excess or insuffi[ci]ency" where would you say Zhu Xi got them from?’

It sounds as if you know. Perhaps you might tell me where he got them, and what he meant by them.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

Posts: 1284
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Hi Louis,

My point was that the phrases were taken from everyday better known activities such as carpentry, wheelmaking, etc and applied to ethics and not the other way around.

Both would have been common phrases in oral speech, but since carpenters and wheelwrights do not normally write books they may not be part of the written tradition.

So when Chen Xin applies the the non physical sense of 'bupian, buyi', which I am saying is derived from a physical sense, in order not only to justify a departure from the physical but also claim to achieve a "complete unified method" he is talking gibberish. But that's just to my ears.

More, when he takes the ethical sense of "without excess, without insuffiency" and again uses this to justify the departure from the physical sense of 'bupian, buyi' he first transfers the ethical meaning to the central chi. Now we are talking about an ethical meaning embodied in chi flow which is opposed to physical aspects of posture.

So what we get is this do it yourself homebuilder looking at his crooked, about to fall down house, telling onlookers that its the moral centeredness that matters, and anyways the chi is flowing evenly through the windows, so what's to complain about.
Let's not be dogmatic.

Hope everybody is wearing his hard-hat.

Take care,

Ron
RonKreshmar

Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Nanaimo, B.C.

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