Motion in stillness

Motion in stillness

Postby rakyat » Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:34 pm

What is motion in stillness and is it any use in combat?
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Postby Audi » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:35 am

Greetings Rakyat:

I think that the normal focus is on stillness within movement rather than the reverse; however, I do think that both principles are implied.

How is stillness useful in combat? If you already hold the strategic points, any further movement simply weakens your positions. Charging out of your castle and across the moat merely undoes any advantage you had with your walls and water.

I think Taijiquan stresses how to build a "castle" and a local advantage at whatever point you engage with the opponent. You then allow the opponent to go anywhere else and weaken his or her position.

On the few occasions I have done push hands with high level people, one quality I have noticed is that they always seem to be where I needed to go. I have "launched" first, but gotten there last, simply because my partners have already already "been there" when I launched. If I probe to plan for an attack, I find that they are already prepared. If I probe in order to ready a defense, I find they have already destroyed my ability to establish a base. The more I move, the more strategic advantage I yield up. If I do not move, I have to settle for an inferior position that I know is untenable.

Does this help? If not, I am sure others have ideas.

Take care,
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Postby rakyat » Thu Apr 21, 2005 2:17 pm

Hi Audi,
That was like a light-bulb Image Thanks.

I'm no expert in push-hand, but since your probes gave you away, what if you try not probing and attack to a random position. Since this is unexpected, could this give you an advantage?
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Postby Anderzander » Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:40 pm

I think it would work just the same - an attack and a probe both reveal yourself.

Their mind can still be previous to yours.

You need to empty yourself of intent.

If both of you are empty then the one who is the most empty / yin will make the other full / yang by default.

My teacher said this is where real push hands starts.

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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Apr 21, 2005 5:23 pm

Hi Rakyat,

I’m still trying to get a handle on the idea myself, but I can give you something of an answer. Motion in stillness sometimes refers to the internal movement of chi while outside the body seems still. For example, during nei gung (internal practice) a practitioner might be standing or sitting still, but internally, there’s a sensation of great movement as the chi circulates. This practice probably contributes to stillness in motion, which is often talked about in tai chi chuan, but I’m not entirely sure how they’re related.

Stillness in motion is very similar, but while the outside body is moving, inside the thoughts are calm and still, the energy is smooth and refined. It’s very useful for combat because when the mind is calm, it’s easy to mobilize the right response. Having a calm mind gives the fighter the time and ability to assess the situation in a very relaxed way so that they can muster a response very quickly and be able to do exactly the right thing at the right time.

Also, if the center is still, then everything external (arms, legs, waist) can spin around the center like an axis. In a bicycle wheel, the axis has to stay still in the center (revolving, but centered). If it moves all over the place, then the spokes of the wheel can’t be well connected and the wheel won’t work, it will collapse. Similarly, if the center of the body-mind can be still, then thoughts and movements coordinate together, making for efficient combat applications.

We can also see what is not stillness in motion by observing push hands or sparring situations. There’s usually the guy who’s usually fairly calm and relaxed who often “wins” and doesn’t seem to get upset when he “loses” and doesn’t really seem fazed by much. This is pretty close to stillness in motion. Then there’s the guy who gets pushed off his root, gets angry about it and fights back with a series of wild motions that aren’t well executed and gets pushed over repeatedly until he calms down. This is not stillness in motion. It’s more like motion in motion—anger and frustration can have the energy of a wild blaze—powerful, but not controlled, and easily neutralized by someone who can maintain their own sense of stillness amidst the maelstrom.

The closest Western idea that I can think of for relating stillness in motion to combat is the phrase “Revenge is a dish that’s best served cold.” When the heat of anger and passion is stilled or distilled, it can manifest in a potent cold calm. Let me be clear that I’ve never heard of a tai chi master advocating revenge, and think focusing on revenge is a super bad idea myself. Whatever the situation though, staying calm in all situations is key to stillness in motion and is especially useful in combat.

Having a quality of stillness is also useful for avoiding combat in the first place. Who’s more likely to start a fight: the relaxed guy sunning himself on a beach towel, or the jittery one on the corner glaring at everyone who walks by? Moreover, if you are the guy on the beach towel, how likely is the jittery guy to even notice you, much less try to pick a fight? He’s most likely scouting for danger, so if you seem safe-still-calm-quiet, then you don’t even register on his radar. People who are agitated tend to attract other people who are agitated. So stillness in motion is useful for both combat and for avoiding combat.

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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:42 pm

In his book Yang Zhenduo says this in regard to the Preparation posture:

"From the point of view of application, this posture is very crucial. Here I use my stillness to await the opponents movement. Although quiet I am still moving because I'm observing the direction of the opponent's movement and although defensive there is still an intention of movement, so that the posture is like drawing the bow in preparation to let the arrow fly."

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 04-21-2005).]
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Postby shugdenla » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:03 pm

Previous training is the key, not qi.
qi is deceptive because it gives people erroneous cues on how to proper handle themselves.

Motion in stillness is still meaningless if no action behind it. It looks good and sounds other worldly and people become satisfied.
Awareness may be better since it tells you are doing and planning ahead on how to stop and attack or defend, and also how your opponent is responding to the attack.
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