Single weightedness?

Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 08, 2003 4:46 pm

I didn't mean to "take you to task" for the word "swoopy". I just didn't wish to assume what you meant by it. I looked it up in Webster's, but found no listing, so I thought I would ask.
Actually,I think I know what you mean...I have 'gone through' certain Yang style forms which gave me that distinct feeling of "swoopiness" you referred to. Expansive, generous movements as opposed to the more compact Yang Zhen Duo long form. I think the forms I saw were ("international"?, and Tsun Kuen Ma"-old Yang style?" forms.) I find it very refreshing to "let-loose",(although TCC is always a very controlled business), so to speak.They feel very "free" in comparison. I find that executing both forms consecutively, creates a wonderful (inner?) and outer(physical) balance, an accomplishment of the full yin-yang cycle.These are only personal opinions, of course.
Thanks for the explanations, I really need a crash course on TCC terminology.
I have heard the term "Intent" in my Yang style teachings, only I really was not sure if they were in the same context, they sound like different topics,but I am really not sure. Your idea of INTENT sounds interesting, though. I will be sure, when I practice, to try to maintain an "awareness" of my entire body(without tension). That sounds much easier said than done. Wish me luck.
Take care,
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jun 09, 2003 6:08 pm

If this stuff were easy, we wouldn't need Masters to show us the way.
It's a good idea to keep your mind on your body, thus keeping intent present, but don't get bogged down on this one idea. As with all other "principals" or theories, it's only one aspect of the overall art.
I have heard that "chi follows mind intent", I have tried to keep my mind intent (double meaning punnily intended) on my entire body since I first started to understand this idea. But let's not forget that the idea is not only to keep your mind on your own body, but eventually to be able to make contact with an opponent and also put your mind intent into their body as well.
The way it was explained to me, you learn to direct and control your own body first, then you learn to direct and control others.
Your mind intent will also need to envelope your opponents body when engaged.
Just a rambling thought to add to the mix.

Spent some time working on Wu forms this weekend. Pulled out my Wu Tai Sin tape and followed along as best as I could on the broadsword forms I haven't practiced in way too long.
Haven't forgotten as much as I thought I did, actually.
I guess doing the sword warm ups and the nine cuts about twice a day for the last seven years has kept me in sword fighting trim more than I had hoped.
Or my memory is better than I give it credit for.
Either way, it felt great to swing my sword around for a couple of days.
Now if I could just find room to swing my spear around....
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Jun 11, 2003 2:50 pm

I think I now understand what you meant by(The Yin and Yang must be kept as separate as possible). I was lost, but now I am found(ha,ha,ha).

If I have deduced correctly,"double-weighting" COULD BE the combination of extreme yin and extreme yang.(or possibly being "caught" between them somehow.)If we go extreme yang we must be completely committed to it, if we go extreme yin we must be completely committed to it.

As an example, let me use a movement which clearly utilizes the 100%-0% weight ratio. A kick. If I deliver a kick(to a bag or an opponent)with my right leg(highly yang action) I must also maintain a great "awareness" in my left foot to "root" it(yang action as well).

If I were to execute that same kick with my right(yang action),without grounding my left with equal determination(yin intent), I would most likely end up lying flat on my back(looking at all the "pretty stars"),because my yin foot was swept away by my yang leg.

Yang-Yang must be used simultaneously, Yin-Yin must be used simultaneouly, but Yin- Yang must be alternated between.

Is that a correct interpretaion?

Best regards,
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jun 11, 2003 4:34 pm

I think it would be better to wait for an answer on that from one of our YCF stylists with greater experience in this families theory, maybe Louis or Audi.
I'm becoming a YCF stylist, slowly, but have that Wu taint in my movement theories.
I could tell you what I think, but that wouldn't be very helpful in furthering your YCF training.
Besides, my Wu theory is mostly of the type that goes, "I can't explain it in words, let me show you how". Since I can't do that here, it makes it difficult.
You have to remember, a lot of the people I trained under were native chinese speakers, most of my training under that family was "Here, let me show you how" because we couldn't communicate very well verbally.
Even after I switched to mostly english speaking teachers, THEY had learned from the chinese speakers and their training was in terms of "Here, let me show you how", so that's how they taught as well.
It's how I teach, too.
The question you ask is going to get you different answers depending on who you talk to. Mine won't be correct for this style, of that you can be sure.
If no one else takes a crack at it, I will. But let's wait and see if maybe we can get you a more correct for YCF style repsonse.
Maybe Polaris could take a crack at it from the Wu point of view?
I know how I do these things you describe, but I don't know the proper words to ralate it even from a Wu theory point of view.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Jun 12, 2003 1:06 am

Hi psalchemist,

Understand that I don't speak for the Yang Family. I do Tung style. I think you pretty much have it right. You're definitely in the right ball park.

However, if you are in the air you should still be able to differentiate between yin and yang and be able to root.


David J
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jun 13, 2003 2:56 am

To all subway surfing, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners,

Wushuer's comment"You learn to direct and control your own body first, then you learn to direct and control others. Your mind intent will also need to envelope your opponents body when engaged."
Audi's statement concerning maintaining balance on the metro"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.",have led me to the, perhaps, unusual comparison of TCC to horseback riding.

In the training of horseback riding, we must FIRST learn to direct and control our own body in the precarious position atop a saddle,feet in wobbly stir-ups.No exterior disturbances yet.
Then,SECONDLY, we must add the challenge of the horse under the saddle and stir-ups.Comparable to the subway, with it's unpredictable bumps and jerks(more jerks on the subway though,lol), we must shift our weight back and forth constantly, sink our qi, maintain the Ming Men open and flexible, pelvis tucked(obviously), back straight, head suspended, shoulders down, elbows'sunk' arms slightly flexed, armpits open,and relax,(tension is a hinderance), just to maintain a seating atop the grand beast.
Then, step THREE, one must learn to direct and control the horse with ones own weight shifting and body language, while still maintaining the equilibrium of a professional "subway surfer".
Some may think that the reigns are what control a horse, but it is actually, a shifting of the riders body weight,the pressure placed on the stir-ups and a squeezing action with the legs, which give a horse it's directions(suggestions). A good equestrian does not really require his hands(or reigns) at all. The arms and hands simply allow the intention to pass through to the fingertips, not interfering with unnecessary movements is taught.

This activity also develops a strong, silent communication between horse and rider, where eventually both become aware of each others intentions.

A co-operative type of pushing hands?
Just an observation,
Just for fun,
Time for me to mosey along...
P.S. I notice a 50-50 through 100-0 weight shifting percentage ratio in this sport as well.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Jun 13, 2003 5:40 pm

Good observation. Great comparison.
While I used to ride horses quite a bit, it sure wasn't on anything approaching a regular basis, so it would never have occured to me to compare the two.

Again, I'm better on boats. No subway riding experience to speak of, only a little horseback riding, but I've done a lot of boating.
Try standing up in five foot waves on a thirty-three foot yacht. That'll test your balance for you, right quick.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Jun 13, 2003 6:31 pm

I am turning green just thinking about it, too swoopy(ha,ha,ha).Thanks for your posting.

Thanks to Audi's recent mention of energy configurations, I realize now, that my yang-Yang kick thought must be deficient.... Missing the third line in the energy configuration.( I must remember that Yin-Yang theory is based in three, not two "elements").
Which type of energy would a kick use,(is kick too general?).
Would it use a Yang+Yang+X(yin/yang) configuration?
Am I "in the right ballpark", as DavidJ kindly stated?
If so, then what would the third (body part,action/intent???) be.The one I am missing...ground(left)foot(yang)+kick with (right)leg(yang)+ ???.

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Postby Audi » Sat Jun 14, 2003 5:40 am

Hi all:

Wushuer, I probably should have made clear earlier that I, like others, did not find any of your postings offensive or particularly partisan. I am not sure where Ron got his impressions. Although I may not agree with all your ideas, please do not read criticism of you or your ethics into anything I have posted.

I also want to make clear that I see no need to defend the authenticity of the Wu Family’s teachings and hope you do not feel I have taken such a position. I am a firm believer in the value of Occam’s (sp?) Razor and of “not forsaking the near for the far.” Any exploration of the theories of Taijiquan that requires the Wu Family’s theories to be “wrong” leads to territory I think is untenable.

I have heard seemingly cogent and authoritative criticisms of every figure of note in the “history” of Taijiquan. To give credence to all these criticisms, leads to the rather dubious conclusion that no one has every practiced the “real Taijiquan” to an acceptable standard. To pick and choose between them in order to decide which among them had the “real thing” and which were mere “wannabes” requires more expertise than I can aspire to. As big as my ego may be, I am not up to the task of reinventing Taijiquan with nothing to go on but a rudimentary knowledge of Daoism, Chinese philosophy, and martial theory.

On the other hand, I am not a supporter of trying to practice all styles of Taijiquan simultaneously or even of requiring all to be consistent with each other. The training methods simply do not seem to be the same. Because of this, I think it is completely legitimate to examine why one style adopts one viewpoint and another style adopts another one. Also, as one focuses at the level of styles, sub-styles, and the methods of individual teachers, I think it becomes increasingly imperative to understand what fits and what does not. If “Intent” is important, we must strive to understand the intentions of any teachers we attempt to emulate.

By the way, your posting to Michael about how you have recently done Wu Style forms sounds like a completely orthodox way of doing and describing Yang Style. Maybe there is hope yet for an easy and grand synthesis.

I like your analogy with standing up in a boat in high swells, but I like standing up on a surf board (or maybe in a canoe) even better. In my view, the whole point is that balance is not so much a state to be achieved, but a whole-body process to engage in. Letting the energy stagnate is just not an option.

Louis, just for kicks, I checked two dictionaries for the phrase “bu pian bu yi.” Both listed “lacking partiality” or similar phrases as the only meaning, without any reference to physical leaning. This seems strongly to support your findings about the reason this phrase was quoted in the classics. I also noted that “pian” seems to have a core meaning that is not so much “lean” as “deviate” or “to one side.” (E.g., “da3 pian1,” or “shoot wide of the mark,” and “pian1 ting1,” or “to hear only one side.”) Again, thanks for the reference.

Psalchemist, I think your reference to horse riding works pretty well, up to a point. The need to keep your spine “straight,” yet lively, is probably fairly comparable. The need for physical communication between horse and rider is especially apt for understanding the nature and necessity behind some push hands skills and why their external appearance does not capture their essence. I am not sure, however, that a horse riding analogy works well for how the legs and waist move in Taijiquan.

For what its worth, let me say that some of what Wushuer has said about his own experiences with theory and practice applies to my own, and probably also to many, if not most, of the contributors on this board. Although I have read a decent amount of Taiji literature, much of what I think I feel confident about comes from specific comments my teachers have made in specific physical contexts. The most important of these have usually occurred when my teacher could match up something I was trying to emulate physically with something he or she could perceive was going on in my mind. It is not easy to translate such magical moments into words that are meaningful to someone who was not there or has not shared the same experiences.

You recent posts also seem to address the idea of “mind intent.” My understanding is that Yang Style and Wu Style have exactly the same view of this; however, my understanding is that the mind intent must be precisely matched to the demands of the moment. Since the postures of Yang Style and Wu Style are different, the manifestations of the “mind intent” will also be different, even though the principle and method is the same.

The Chinese word “Yi4” that is often translated as “mind intent,” basically refers to the idea behind a person’s action, i.e., what the person intends the action to accomplish. As I understand it, it does not really refer to “will power” or “planning.” It also does not refer to mentally rehearsing something or even really to mentally anticipating something. As I understand it, focusing on your “Yi” means creating a mental framework that gives your physical actions purpose and meaning. For instance, how does the changing orientation of your hip or the changing position of the point of your elbow contribute to what the posture is supposed to accomplish?

Without such focus, your physical actions are said to be stiff and lifeless. Although I am talking about the mind and body as separate things, using your “Yi” does not really mean viewing your body as an independent object that is separate from your “mind.” Your very thought processes should produce sympathetic echoes in your body that reinforce your “Yi.” For instance, when you engage in a yawning stretch, you do not plan how your shoulders will move in relation to how your wrists bend; nevertheless, you can feel their relationship to each other and how the movement of each relates to every stage of your yawn. The whole movement is natural, rather than practiced or contrived.

If you are interesting in putting more “Yi” into your form, a good place to start would be by learning to channel “Jin” through the focus points on the body that are specific to each phase of the postures. This can give clear purpose to each part of your body and to the integrated movement that they create as a whole. This allows every part of your body to relate to every other part, rather than trying to make each part mimic some isolated standard without internal meaning.

I can make an analogy to someone trying to learn how to pronounce a sentence in a foreign language without knowing what any of the words mean or anything about the grammar. Although it may not be too hard to approximate the correct sounds and even make oneself understood, it is difficult not to reveal that one has no understanding of what one is saying. Emphasis and slurring will be in the wrong places. The stress rhythm will be off. The intonation, or sentence melody, will be unnatural. The word breaks will not be appropriate. The delivery of the sentence will not be adapted to the context. The style of pronunciation may not be appropriate for the speaker’s gender, age, mood, or station in life. In my opinion, the same considerations apply to doing form. Without the appropriate “mind intent,” it is extremely difficult to do the postures while keeping the internal principles intact. The movements begin to lose internal coherence and become empty and inefficient.

You also asked about Yin and Yang in connection with being double weighted. My understanding is that being double weighted is usually discussed in terms of full/solid and empty, not in terms of Yin and Yang. At least this seems to be true of what the Yangs teach. One way to think about it is in terms of air pressure and airflow. Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Where pressure is equalized, there is no flow. If you want Jin to flow, you want to distinguish between full and empty and create “pressure differentials.” Without differentials in “pressure,” the Jin will not flow. This applies not only to the body’s extremities, but also within each joint. Areas of stagnation and blockage can occur anywhere necessary change fails to occur.

Some of my other teachers have advocated bisecting the body into Yin and Yang parts, for instance, urging that one arm should feel strong, heavy, and firm, while the other should feel weak, light, and pliant. One justification I have heard for this is that it tends to confuse the opponent about the state of your body, since he or she will perceive contradictory signals. Although I can imagine how this can be the basis of sound martial strategy, I do not fully understand this reasoning in the context of traditional Taijiquan. I have not read about such a strategy anywhere in the classics. As I have posted before, a similar idea does indeed seem to fit the Yang Style stepping method, but I do not understand it outside of this context.

One last thing I would like to say is that the concepts of Yin and Yang do not seem to be used in the same way in all areas of traditional Chinese philosophy. I am curious, however, as to what others may have to say about this.

As I understand it, the theory of the Wuji and the Taiji is not quite the same as the theory of the Bagua. Both are somewhat different from the theory of the Wu Xing (“Five Elements/Phases”). When you talk about trigrams (e.g., “Yang+Yang+X(yin/yang)”), I think you are talking about the theory of the Bagua as put forth in the Yi Jing (I Ching). As I understand it, Taijiquan applies this theory to hand and arm techniques (i.e., the eight gates), but not really elsewhere. I myself am not sure where kicks per se fit within any of these schemes. Perhaps someone else can help with this.

Elsewhere on the web, Zhang Yun, who is a Wu Stylist, talks about something like “Keeping the Taiji in your head, the Bagua in your arms, and the Wuxing (“Five Elements/Phases”) in your legs.” By this, I believe he means that all three theories are important to Taijiquan, but each works best in a particular area of application. In discussing these theories, he says that the one concerning the Taiji is the most important for Taijiquan and that is why you must keep it “in your head.” I think that full and empty work better within the framework of the Taiji than within the framework of the Bagua.

I have heard that Guangping (Kuang P’ing) Taijiquan has a 64-movement form (the same number as the number of hexagrams discussed in the Yi Jing (I Ching) and otherwise emphasizes correspondences with it. I would be surprised, however, if all the ins and outs of such correspondences have been worked out and generally accepted. It seems that many authorities do not even agree on how the Eight Gates match up to the Bagua and do not make much of the theory beyond asserting certain correspondences.
Again, one of the other contributors to this board could probably give more detailed and more accurate information than me.

This is all I have time for now.

Take care,
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Jun 14, 2003 4:37 pm

Hi Audi,

you wrote:

"If you are interesting in putting more “Yi” into your form, a good place to start would be by learning to channel “Jin” through the focus points on the body that are specific to each phase of the postures. This can give clear purpose to each part of your body and to the integrated movement that they create as a whole."

I imagine that the "Yi" one manifest during form practice is somewhat different from "Yi" in the martial context. The primary reason is that, at least theoretically, tcc practitioners "respond" to the movements (and, consequently, the intentions) of the opponent. So, imo, it can't be a matter of my intention to put a particular body part in a particular "position" --There is no way to micromanage the body in those circumstances. Rather, again mho, the "Yi" is more like "no-intent" in that instance: i.e., the body does what it is necessary *without* the specific intervention of my "intention". Indeed, I might not even know exactly what happened, or only be vaguely aware of it. Anyway, my point is that "Yi" --in the realm of application-- is more of an over-arching intent than an intention to (literally) "do" anything physically.

Of course, I'm sure that in doing a form, and especially in learning a form, the practitioner's intent or "Yi" must be more specific. I was just making a slight differentiation in context. I can not be sure that is what "use intent" meant in the Classics.

Steve James
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 15, 2003 9:38 pm


Thanks for the posting.

To address your statement"If you are in the air you should still be able to differentiate between Yin and Yang and still be able to root."

That sounds quite phenomenal to me, a new student to TCC. I have experienced this 'phenomenon' once before. I slipped on the ice and was in the air, both feet off the ground and nowhere to land but solid ice. Somehow, my right foot instinctively slammed downward, with my left foot still suspended in the air and (certainly felt like it had) ROOTED itself through the ice right into the earth below.HUH?

I have done many kicks in the air before, and never been able to achieve that particular grounding feeling. I am unsure how it happened and am unable to reproduce that same 'essence' of rooting from the air.

Any tutelage welcome,

P.S. I was carrying a heavy weight in my arms at the you think there is any connection with the weight in my arms and my sudden 'ability' to root in the air?
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 15, 2003 10:02 pm

I just wanted to send out a HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all the great 'Dads' frequenting the discussion board.(especially to those fathers whose children wear their pants around their thighs or are contemplating body piercing).
Have a nice one.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Jun 16, 2003 11:38 pm

Greetings All,

Audi: the simplest form of differentiating between things is binary form. This is especially useful in mathematics and lauguage. Zero and one, light and dark, yang and yin, full and empty are all binary. The I Ching incorporates this by using solid and broken lines. Full and empty are a yin/yang relationship.

As to how the I Ching relates to Tai Chi Chuan I'll give you one (more) example. Hexagram 52 the Mountain pertains to ZZ the standing meditation, also called standing pole or staking.

psalchemist: rooting in the air is one of the more difficult things to teach apart from using a trampoline or a diving board. In those cases someone can learn how to be song fairly quickly, but like everything else it's an individual matter.

Carrying a weight can allow you to rotate around it's mass, using the weight's inertia for leverage. It sounds like you just did it instead of having to think about it. That's the sign of a good kinesthetic sense.

Steve: I agree with you about the intent being (also) about the general approach.


David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 06-16-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Jun 17, 2003 4:52 am

DavidJ, and all,

Binary,hmmmm....Yes, right, BINARY! Before I go wandering off in that direction...

TRAMPOLINE: I tried the activity several times before, a couple of decades ago. It made such an impression on me that I can still recall the movements and sensations very distinctly. This in itself however is unserviceable to me without further exploration. I am missing the HOW and WHAT. What am I trying to do? And how can I do 'it' on a trampoline to accomplish being 'song'(rooted?, right?).

May I also inquire after your reference to Audi? You said "52 hexagram...the mountain pertains to zz... the standing meditation, also called standing pole or staking".

52 hexagrams? Could you give more details on the subject please, or if you know of a website...?

Thank you very much DavidJ,

Now I will get back to Binary... Tonight instead of catching my usual ZZZZZZ's I wil be catching 1010101010's !

Thanks all.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jun 17, 2003 5:11 pm

Greetings P,

I'll let David explain what he meant (I'm interested too), but as for a website on the Yi Jing (Classic of Changes), here's one that's quite well done, with reviews of many existing translations, links to other sources, and for those who read Chinese, a wonderful transcription/concordance of the Harvard-Yenching Zhouyi. (The core of the book called the Yi Jing was originally called the Zhou Yi).

S. J. Marshall's site:

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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