Qi Experience

Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:37 am

Greetings DavidJ,

Colorful presentation of many historical aspects which I had not heard before...

Fascinating post!

The banner , I thought was an interesting addition, as well as the ancient historical theories.

Thank-you for your contribution.

Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image
psalchemist
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Postby dorshugla » Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:30 pm

Louis,

A most excellent point. That 'unspoken' (nothing secret about it) lineage was handed down to me (late 1970's) and I shall try to find the source for you.

You bring up an excellent point. Whom does one believe when inconsistencies exist between the book, the 'lineage' the lies and the puffery? The bottom line is that people make choices, regardless of the preposterous(ness) -excuse my made up word here since I lack a dictionary-of the assertion.

Many book state Zhang Sanfeng is the founder of taijiquan (I do not believe it but it sounds good and is a good marketing tool.

I will get back to you with some kind of material proof.
dorshugla
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby dorshugla » Tue Nov 11, 2003 5:30 pm

Louis,

Perhaps your historical streak will exceed my own in depth.

The historical record (I have no idea which one) will show that Chen Pu left Shanxi for Henan (between 1371-1372?-you skill mill be better at asserting this fact.

The historical record will show he had five (5) sons-Gang, Hong, Yan? Shou and Wei.
My source(s) were not literate enough to say where they got the information but tis veracity is beyond reproach, at least for me.
SO I welcome anyone who seeks resolution.

Historical record states Gang's son was Chen Lin. Chen Lin's descendants form what we know as Chenjiagou (Chen village).

As previously stated this was given to me some years ago. The source I do not known Your scrutiny is acute so when you do find, let me know.

I used the 1500 time frame as a baseline to come up with the 500 year duration since as told to me the extent or development of Chen family art is insufficiently documented from 1372-prior to 1500. SInce Wangting is staated to be 9th generation (born 1600?) his father, grandfather and great grandfather possed the undiluted (without external influences) family art and passed on to Wangting.

I am sure that being part of the local town army, he was exposed to other ways of bettering the family heirloom plus proximity to the historical site, hence 500 year conclusion.

Why I did not use the 1370's date(1371/1372)? It told me nothing about martial beginnings so it was useless. My only clue was/is to use the actual Henan move as a beginning and incorporation of other style/ways. 1500 was a suitable timeframe.

Thanks for seeking the truth.
dorshugla
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Nov 12, 2003 9:35 pm

Greetings David,

Both yours and dorshugla’s posts were thought provoking, and compelled me to try to draft some inchoate reflections into a post, but it will probably ramble.

I appreciate myth and legend, but I don’t think we can rely on myth to build something that could accurately be called a “history of taijiquan.” Mythology plays a vital role in human history and consciousness. It can educate, illustrate, and clarify in ways that facts and figures cannot. In more malevolent forms, it can be used to oppress, denigrate, and to justify the unjustifiable (even wars). History has to take mythology into its account, but history endeavors to disclose “what happened” in terms of what can be verified and corroborated by some kind of concrete evidence. The discipline of history is not a science, but at its best it emulates the methodology of science. Like science, good history is less concerned with final answers than with questions, and a productive curiosity that leads to methodical inquiry—to informed hypotheses rather than wild guesses. Ideally, belief and ideology should not be controlling factors in historical accounting. I say ideally, but I know they frequently steer historical inquiry, consciously or not.

It is very tempting in Chinese history to look for connections between early traditions and later ones. Chinese thinkers have done this for ages, and I’ll have to confess that I do it too. I enjoy finding connecting fibers of continuity. However, in discovering connections I think we have to keep in mind the adage, “Correlation does not imply causation.” It’s fair to say that there are many figures, events, traditions, and practices that have discernable influence on the development of taijiquan, but identifying an influence is different than uncovering a solid antecedent or ancestor. Perhaps the most useful model to follow is an evolutionary one rather than a creationist one (but there, I’ve revealed my own methodological/ideological bias!). There are many unanswered questions about the origins of taijiquan. Many of these questions arise because of the sheer lack of documented evidence. Still other questions arise about key figures for whom we do have historical documentation, but still cannot say with precision what their roles were in creating, transmitting, or altering features of the art.

The temptation to avoid, I would suggest, is the temptation to accept convenient answers to questions because those answers fill a void of uncertainty. It might be better to learn to be comfortable with questions than to accept unverifiable answers.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby dorshugla » Wed Nov 12, 2003 11:12 pm

Louis,

I do not really need specific answers but I am willing, at times, to scrutinize the authenticity of an assertion, if it sounds "way out there" e.g. absurd but I have learnt to let it go.

When you say thought provoking, don't you believe, at least, there is a reference point then the "postulate" of whatever is stated by the individual.

For example, medicines heal people (the Western paradigm reference point, as it were)
then all of a sudden someone says "No. qi heals people". Then another says "prayer is good because it heals". Depending on the lengths people go to "verify" "elucidate" etc their position/claim, the way they choose sometimes strengthen or discredits their claim.

Your point is well taken.
dorshugla
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby Audi » Sat Nov 15, 2003 6:48 pm

Greetings All,

Louis, I like your post on Chinese history. I agree wholeheartedly with your approach.

I would also like to add that although it is an almost overwhelming temptation to look for simple origins for things, reality can be messy. Simplicity may beget complexity, but complexity may also beget simplicity. It is quite possible that Taijiquan has had and continues to have many origins and no real date of origin. Many things that appear to evolve in linear progression do not in fact do so. DNA sequences do not in fact evolve linearly, nor do languages. I would be quite surprised if Taijiquan were to be different.

Psalchemist, I do not think that either Louis or I am advancing the position that you should not seek knowledge. The real question is what you do with what you find.

Much of what is written and said about Taijiquan is heavily dependent on context. Limited space, limited time, and the subtlety of the art mean that proper context for many principles and many practices is not explicitly given, even under the best of circumstances. This tendency puts a tremendous responsibility on the student. Small misunderstandings can have big consequences.

Let me also say that in many areas of life, I believe that good questions are often more important than good answers. A couple weeks ago, I was doing push hands early one morning with one of my Taijiquan teachers on a sidewalk in Manhattan. Someone, who was watching us from across the street, called out and asked whether we were dancing or doing Karate. My teacher replied: “Tai Chi.” The person then asked whether that was like Chinese yoga, and my teacher replied: “Yes, and no.”

The stranger was obviously open-minded and to some degree knowledgeable. In this case, however, I think that her knowledge betrayed her and led her to ask the wrong questions. I can think of a lot of things she could have learned from even such a limited exchange. The way she framed her inquiry, however, rendered dialog impractical. I liked my teacher’s answers, but not the stranger’s questions.

Most of us do not discuss Taijiquan by shouting across a busy street; however, many settings, even in the classroom, are not necessarily very different. Good questions are not that easy to come by.

Psalchemist, you made some statements about Chinese medicine, Qigong, and internal skills. In my opinion, the most useful definition of “internal” in the context of what the Yangs teach is “something that is not easily evident on the outside.”

I, personally, do not care for definitions of Taijiquan that describe it as an art based on knowledge or manipulation of Qi or Qi meridians. In my opinion, the Yangs’ Taijiquan is not directly derivative of Chinese medical theories or Qigong, any more than it is directly derivative of Western medicine or physiology. In my opinion, one can be a Qigong master, traditional Chinese doctor, or a physiotherapist and be largely ignorant of the principles of the Yangs’

In my view, many people take very different approaches to Taijiquan. If one is unaware of this, one can make bad assumptions about the context of various statements. An example is how people use the form and how one is expected to learn and perform postures.

One teacher, who I liked a lot, said that the first thing you should do in studying Taijiquan is to learn the form, and the second thing you should do is to forget it, to avoid being confined. When we did form, he encouraged us never to do the same posture in the same way twice, even during a single performance. We spent at most 5 percent of our class time doing form. Some of my fellow students may have gone almost a year without doing the standard form even once in class. We practiced all sorts of forms with many different weapons. Given this context, if you attempted to slavishly copy how he performed postures, you would be completely missing the essence of the formlessness of his philosophy.

Contrast that approach with the Yangs’. The Yangs want you to learn how to do something in a standard way before you begin to experiment or do free form. As I understand it, their philosophy is more like: “If you cannot do it in the standard and controlled way, why worry about exploring variations and uncontrolled circumstances?” Even when you begin to learn the standard forms and exercises, you also begin to learn how much more there is to learn from doing standard movements.

In my view, these approaches are in direct contrast. I am comfortable discussing and operating in either, but cannot address or practice both simultaneously. I also prefer not to engage in substantive discussion without knowing something about somebody’s approach; otherwise, we end up talking right by each other. If I ignore this and begin to accumulate data, I run the risk of misapplying everything I learn, since I cannot be sure of the context.

If someone randomly collects data on Taijiquan through reading books, surfing the net, and similar practices and is not careful to establish context, I think he or she runs the risk of corrupting much of what he or she learns.

Let me make an analogy. If someone decides to learn Chinese by randomly collecting characters and asking Chinese speakers for their meaning and pronunciation, the result is likely to be disastrous. Such a student would eventually learn about the difference between simplified and complex characters and have to re-learn, character by character, which version he or she had learned. Such a student would also likely waste a tremendous amount of time on cursive forms that appear to follow no rhyme or reason if one is not familiar with the underlying standard forms.

If one can put things in proper context, all my concerns disappear. One will know whether and how to relate new knowledge to old knowledge. One can adopt and reject, sift and sort, etc.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1205
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby psalchemist » Sun Nov 16, 2003 3:06 pm

Greetings Audi,

Thanks for your posting.

I appreciate your your concern and caution in matters of proper context. Thanks for taking the time and effort to advise on such issues. It is all somewhat maze-like and easy to take wrong turns. Much information, different systems, various conflicting sources etc...I am sure you are speaking from experience and wish only that I avoid similar obstacles and pitfalls.

You said:
<Much of what is written and said about Taijiquan is heavily dependant on context...This tendancy puts a tremendous responsibility on the student. Small misunderstandings can have big consequences> Audi

<The Yangs want you to learn how to do something in a standard way before you begin to experiment or do free form..."If you cannot do it in the standard and controlled way, why worry about exploring variations and uncontrolled circumstances?"> Audi

<I am comfortable discussing and operating in either, but cannot address or practice both simultaneously. I also prefer not to engage in substantive discussion without knowing something about somebody's approach; otherwise, we end up talking right by each other. If I ignore this and begin to accumulate data, I run the risk of mis applying everything I learn, since I cannot be sure of the context.> Audi

<If someone randomly collects data on Taijiquan through reading books, surfing the net, and similar practices and is not careful to establish context, I think he or she runs the risk of corrupting much of what he or she learns.> Audi

<If one can put things in proper context, all my concerns disappear. One will know whether and how to relate new knowledge to old knowledge. One can adopt and reject, sift and sort etc.> Audi

These are all good and reasonable points you deliver.
I will certainly try my best to attain and maintain proper context in my studies and searches.

On the physical plane, I am relying on my formal instruction. I am concentrating on Yang style principles and am not deviating from the methods for this practice (as far as I can tell).

Presently, for example,I am personally working towards learning and applying the Yang family Ten Essentials, the general concepts of threading(Is threading a universal principle amongst Taijiquan practitioners of all styles?), opening my Kua bu and loosening the Yao(with some specific exercises prescribed by my instructor), as well as the forever ongoing mission of assimilating posture applications for the Yang style form in a Traditional Taijiquan institution.

On the physical level, my personal belief is that the form itself should remain true to authenticity, and have no personal desire to transform the established postures of the form through free style practice or creation. This does not interest me in the least. There are five official styles of Taijiquan already, I find this a more than adequate variety as it is, and would not wish to extend beyond those...If ever I reach a level of comfort in Yang style , I may consider learning one of the other four styles. I would never create my own form as some have.

On the subject of theory however, I find myself more compelled to delve into all aspects available, especially those concerning 'internal' matters...to investigate, "adopt, reject, sift and sort" in a more liberal manner.

The overall philosophies and literary precedents are of great interest to me as a source of inspiration for poetry. Which may, perhaps, eventually(after years of investigations and editing accordingly) be considered some type of derivative of Taiji or internal arts ideology. For now, it is simply an endeavor in creative conjecture seeking to be confirmed. I hope I do not offend.

I am quite concerned myself with maintaining the prospective aspects in their respective 'boxes' of ideology, even within the realm of creative endeavor, and do feel a ceratin responsibility towards understanding and maintaining such correct context in all absorptions and conveyances of Taiji materials.

Please continue to correct if I stray too far from the foregone path.

Thanks for all your advice, I will certainly try to apply it.

Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-16-2003).]
psalchemist
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Postby JerryKarin » Sun Nov 16, 2003 8:29 pm

Excellent posts by Louis and Audi! Most of what we know about the history of taiji is legend or hearsay. Most of the figures from earlier than say two hundred years ago are folk heroes of the Paul Bunyan type; entertaining perhaps but largely unedifying to someone learning taiji today. Zhang Sanfeng is a good example. What has come down to us today is a small body of theoretical texts of fairly recent redaction (much of which is probably a stringing together of earlier martial arts theory of folk and traditional origin), a second layer of recent texts by known authors (Yang Chengfu, etc)and a living tradition of instruction passed on from teacher to teacher. The two layers of textual sources in Chinese are only partly comprehensible in the absence of the instructions of a teacher in the tradition.
JerryKarin
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby psalchemist » Sun Nov 16, 2003 9:19 pm

Greetings Jerry Karin,

Thanks for your input...

You said:
<What has come down to us today is a small body of theoretical texts of fairly recent redaction(much of which is probably a stringing together of earlier martial arts theory of folk and traditional origin)>

<A second layer of recent texts by known authors(Yang Chengfu, etc)>

<And a living tradition of instruction passed on from teacher to teacher.>

<The two layers of textual sources in Chinese are only partly comprehensible in the absence of the instructions of a teacher in the tradition.>

Your introduction of 'three layers of thoery sources' certainly facilitates conceptualization.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Postby DavidJ » Mon Nov 17, 2003 6:54 pm

Hi Louis,

You wrote, > I appreciate myth and legend, but I don?t think we can rely on myth to build something that could accurately be called a ?history of taijiquan.? <

What you said is true but irrelevant to what I meant. I made no indication of building a history on myth. Though I mentioned myth I only touched on one myth and didn't take it at face value, but placed it logically within some of the known attitudes of the time.

Yes I did use it as a link, but the story of Chang Sang-Fung is part of the oral tradition of my lineage. Oral traditions, in some cases are accurate.

> The discipline of history is not a science, but at its best it emulates the methodology of science. Like science, good history is less concerned with final answers than with questions, and a productive curiosity that leads to methodical inquiry-to informed hypotheses rather than wild guesses. <

Simply because I am informal in how I write on this board does not mean that I didn't emulate the methodology of science.

1a. and b. is from Huang Wen Shan's "The Fundamentals of Tai Chi Chuan."

1c. is from the Wilhelm Baynes translation of the I Ching.

2. Is from Traditional Chinese Medicine, and research at UCLA that has shown a link between Chinese and Indian practices, and some additional research regarding gongs.

I put two stars ** after one item and wanted to include a photo of a statue from 13th Century India, but I couldn't. I've asked Jerry to post it.

2b and 3a is based on Shaolin stories.

3b is based on the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching and some similar occurances among Chinese who emmigrated long ago to Japan.

4a is based partly on tales of Wang Tsung Yueh, both written and passed on in oral teaching, and standard history.

5 is based on several different versions of Chen history.

Yes 4a and b are conjecture, for example, but I placed it in the context of conjecture. I put forward the ideas to point to a possible avenues of research - that is, I specifically wrote, > I don't however, consider these things carved in stone, < To label them as "wild guesses" is simply wrong.

You wrote, > It?s fair to say that there are many figures, events, traditions, and practices that have discernable influence on the development of taijiquan, but identifying an influence is different than uncovering a solid antecedent or ancestor. Perhaps the most useful model to follow is an evolutionary one rather than a creationist one (but there, I?ve revealed my own methodological/ideological bias!). <

This is true and that is specifically why I wrote that the theraputic dance was fully formed at the time, and noted that the the roots of Tai Chi Chuan may well be lost in unwritten history. Please note that I did not write that Fu Shi presented it as a recent creation, nor did I say that it was in the form it is now.

In terms of evolutionary development, I am aware that changes are brought to such arts by individuals and by circumstance: thus the Chen stlye can be shown to be good for fighting in a rural setting, Yang style for fighting in urban settings, and Wu style for fighting indoors in formal dress. I have in the past spoken of both Tai Chi Chuan and the I Ching being as evolving and changing over time, why did you think that wasn't included?

You wrote > The temptation to avoid, I would suggest, is the temptation to accept convenient answers to questions because those answers fill a void of uncertainty. It might be better to learn to be comfortable with questions than to accept unverifiable answers. <

I thought that what I wrote raised far more questions than it answered. What I presented was a larger context within which TCC may have grown.

I'm sorry that you see what I presented in the light of mistakes that others have made in the past. I had hoped by saying that I was willing to discuss it's features that people would generate good questions, and at the very least I hoped not to have the whole thing shot down as you did.

Regards,

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

Postby DavidJ » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:05 pm

Hi Audi,

> Louis, I like your post on Chinese history. I agree wholeheartedly with your approach.

I guess everyone missed that I took a similar approach.

> I would also like to add that although it is an almost overwhelming temptation to look for simple origins for things, reality can be messy. <

And how did my post differ?

> Simplicity may beget complexity, but complexity may also beget simplicity. It is quite possible that Taijiquan has had and continues to have many origins and no real date of origin. Many things that appear to evolve in linear progression do not in fact do so. DNA sequences do not in fact evolve linearly, nor do languages. I would be quite surprised if Taijiquan were to be different. <

I guess my use of the term "roots" went unnoticed.

I am discouraged by the responses to my post. That I approached the subject with due caution seems to be beyond my ability to communicate.

> I, personally, do not care for definitions of Taijiquan that describe it as an art based on knowledge or manipulation of Qi or Qi meridians.

Is this the stance of the Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun? Or do they have knowledge of meridians? If they do would you accept it?

I'm really curious how gathering the Chi in the dan tien and expressing it doesn't include knowledge or manipulation of Chi. Or I am misunderstanding you?

> In my opinion, the Yangs? Taijiquan is not directly derivative of Chinese medical theories or Qigong, any more than it is directly derivative of Western medicine or physiology. In my opinion, one can be a Qigong master, traditional Chinese doctor, or a physiotherapist and be largely ignorant of the principles of the Yangs? <

You should know that in my lineage it is traditional for a Tai Chi Master to be an acupuncturist.

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 11-17-2003).]
DavidJ
 
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:44 pm

Greetings David,

I apologize if my post gave the impression that I was specifically criticizing something in your post. That was not my intent. Actually, I was responding in a general way to what I considered some thought-provoking features in both yours and dorshugla’s posts. I could in fact take issue with some specifics in your presentation, and that would be a very different post than the one I wrote. In fact, what I wrote was some off-the-cuff desiderata that I thought took some of your thoughts as a jumping off point. In short, I responded to your invitation to think about the issues that you brought up. My post was more in the way of disclosing the way I think about those issues than an appraisal of your views.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:45 pm

David, putting Fu Hsi at the top of the 'lineage' is like talking about the history of computer science and saying it begins with Prometheus because he brought us fire...
JerryKarin
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby DavidJ » Tue Nov 18, 2003 12:58 am

Hi Jerry,

You wrote, > David, putting Fu Hsi at the top of the 'lineage' is like talking about the history of computer science and saying it begins with Prometheus because he brought us fire... <

Your point is well taken...however, since I didn't place Fu Hsi in the "lineage" I don't see the point in relation to what I said.

If you mean to say that a "theraputic dance" couldn't possibly be a precursor to Tai Chi Chuan then I disagree.

I presented that whole thing as a possibility. It is a hypothesis, and idea of places to look for some of TCC roots.

As far fetched as the whole thing may seem, one part of what I said might lead someone to look for something resembling Tai Chi Chuan in the context of a religious dance in India prior to say, 1600. I have found such a thing.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 11-17-2003).]
DavidJ
 
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Postby DavidJ » Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:20 am

Greetings Louis,

I have no particular political row to hoe, I just think that Tai Chi Chuan grew over a longer period of time, and perhaps a larger area, than is generally accepted.

If your post wasn't specifically criticizing something in my post then there's no problem, and no need for an apology. It did seem to me that you were contrasting your approach to mine.

I appreciate your using some of my thoughts as a jumping off point.

Regards,

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

PreviousNext

Return to Tai Chi Theory and Principles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron