Mind Intention in Taijiquan

Postby dorshugla » Thu Oct 09, 2003 5:44 pm

wushuer et al,

what i ave seen is that mind/heart may be synonomous while at the same time being different due to its present separation in the english language and orientation.

What you described as I undertandt it is that one has to learn/synchronize/internalize the physical/external (obviously throught the body (muscle entrainment) then when completed (based on gong (duraion of practice-not the same for all), then the mind will take over because the training has become part of the psyche/mind/heart (through rote) similar to the concept of periodization.

It is hard to judge skill today as in skill of life and how they utilize internal arts concepts? I try to be openminded e.g.Zheng Manqing studied with Chengfu between 2-4 years but despite that was able to further taijiquan worldwide. TTLiang studies less time with Manqing over a period of years and was less studious (master of 5 vices vs 5 excellencces of Zheng) but lived to be over 100 years.

Lineage is wonderful but not all important. People always want tobe basking in the fame of masterhood or be associated and that limits their view-sometimes.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Oct 09, 2003 7:54 pm

Well... Sort of...
What you say is true, that one must first learn the physical movements, the external, then learn the internal. I don't know of any other way to learn this. That's how I am learning.
What I was trying to convey, and I'm sure I did not do so very well, was the idea of focusing your mind on to an accupoint, internally, to express energy (fajin) using the Bamen (eight gates). That first you focus your mind internally on the pertinent accupoint or accupoints (fixed uses one, changing uses two) to express the desired energy, THEN your body will move along with the energy.
This is how using the mind not the body to express energy was explained to me. I, in turn, am doing a very poor job of trying to explain it here.
Again, when first presented with this concept my eyes glazed over and I was finally shown how, rather than learning in words. It wasn't until later, much later when it became my job to try to teach others, that I began to try and verbalize this. I don't think I learned how to verbalize this concept very well, as I had to have my Sifu come to teach my students this concept as they were not understanding it the way I could explain it.
While all the above posts have much truth in them, it just seemed to me that the crux of using mind instead of body was being missed in this discussion and so I was hoping that if I got us pointed in the direction of Shi San Shi, someone who can explain the concept much more clearly than I ever could would pick it up and run with it.
Again, I'm sure there are many others here who will have a much better grasp of Shi San Shi than I ever will. I'm doing my best to try and explain a concept in words that I don't really know the words for. I come from a school where "Here, let me show you how" was the norm rather than a long time spent on training theory.
I hope someone (Polaris, are you out there?) with a better understanding, at least, of the proper way to word this can take up from here, as I have expressed myself as best I can on the subject.
Anyone? Anyone at all?

I'm not particularly worried about "masterhood" or lineage. I know I will not come to be known as a "master", nor would I want to, ever.
Lineage is also important to me, but not so much that I would claim it if it weren't there.
My lineage is getting a bit mixed up. I started in Yang (traditional), moved on to Wu Chien Chuan style (studied under fourth and fifth generation of the family), now am studying Yang Cheng Fu style under a wonderful instructor.
I have studied this crazy, wonderful style of martial art for seventeen years, more on than off, and I sure am not ready to fill the shoes of a Zhen Manqing or TT Lian. By those standards you give, 2 to 4 years or less to "masterhood", I'm the lowest form of pond scum imaginable. I'm still just a student, and happy to be that way.
When I stop learning, I'll be dead.

"I'm not good yet, I need more practice"-
Yang Cheng Fu.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Oct 09, 2003 7:55 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

I’ve never heard the phrase, “use mind not body.” I would have to quibble that if there’s no body, there’s no mind, no bamen, no wubu, and nothing through which to conduct jin. Also, if I’m following your remarks, I would have a problem with the notion of moving energy in taijiquan that is not physical. How would one do that?

There is a phrase in taiji theory that may be similar to the one you’re citing. That phrase is “yong yi, bu yong li,” which means, “use mind-intent, not strength.” Yang Chengfu amplifies this statement in the sixth of his “Ten Essentials.” As a rhetorical aphorism, it cannot be taken literally, but more as a persuasive contrast of approaches. Aphorisms of this kind are meant to challenge conventional or habitual ways of thinking or doing. An example would be an aphorism like, “slow and steady wins the race.” Is that literally true in all cases? Of course not; but the saying expresses the wisdom behind a methodical approach over sheer exuberance. In the case of the “use mind-intent, not strength” saying, I think it means not to rely on strength alone (li, a character depicting a flexed arm sinew), and not to engage local, isolated groups of muscles in ways that will compromise the flow of energy, or the integration of the body as a whole. The mind-intent (yi) is what enables the integration of all of the muscles and joints so that they work in concert. I like to use the analogy of the little tool I bought years ago to remove the freewheel from my bicycle wheel. It’s basically a cylinder with a hexagonal wrench fitting at one end, and little exterior splines on the other end that fit into the interior teeth of the freewheel. The splines in this tool appear to be so small and fragile that one would think they would strip under the torque applied by the wrench at the other end. However, because the load is distributed and shared by all of the splines simultaneously, the tool works efficiently every time with no sign of wear. The same principle applies, I think, to the integrated movement of taiji, where the muscles working in concert achieve very efficient results, seemingly with a minimum of exertion.

The mind-intent is also what enables split-second responses to the opponent’s actions—whether to reserve or to issue strength. This does not entail deliberation or thought processes, but as we’ve touched on in another thread, it does entail sensitivity and awareness to the situation at hand. In taiji theory this is called “deji deshi” (seizing the opportunity and strategic advantage). This requires knowing what not to do with strength, as well as knowing what to do with it, and when.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby Michael » Thu Oct 09, 2003 8:13 pm


I thank you once again for saying what I felt to be "true" but could not express well. On the other thread I think you described your approach as "mechanical". I would say that it mine as well. I also think your take on "mind intent" is on target also. A definition always eluded me. How you describe it is the way I "feel" it "works". Why would one have to learn techniques at all, if all we had to do is send a mysterious power toward the opponent with our minds? It really is not that "mysterious".

I know this only slightly applies to this thread, but what would your take be on Yang Jun's admonition to me to not use fajin very often.

Once again, right on target. Thanks
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Oct 09, 2003 8:50 pm

Once again, glad I have you around to catch my gaffs.
Yes, "mind not strength". I apologize for my word mix up.
I appreciate your picking nits in such a graceful manner as well. When one is not making himself clear, his nits should be picked as often as possible.
I was not trying to say that the body does not move, if that was how I came across than I must once again apologize for my lack of communication skills.
My intent was to convey that the mind controls the energy first then moves the body along with that energy, controlling both. First you control the energy with your mind by focusing on the correct accupoint to generate the desired energy, then you use the jin to move your body, rather than using the energy from your body to move you use internally generated jin or externally accepted jin that you convert appropriately and use as you need it.
Again, I'm not saying these things as clearly as I would like.
I can hear it now, "Huh?" from all corners. So...
Here is a link to a site where maybe you can understand what I'm trying to get at. This is not exactly the way I recall this concept, but it is very close and the author is MUCH better at expressing himself than I.
I'm sure there will be much applauding as I post this link and then shut up. Allowing everyone to read something that makes sense, rather than my pitiful attempts to express an idea that I have never been able to convey to anyone else with any success.

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Postby Wushuer » Thu Oct 09, 2003 9:09 pm

At what point did I ever say there was a "mysterious force" being generated that you issue against an opponent with your mind and that will topple tall mountains and kill thousands and that super-heroes from the distant past can issue from across the seas?
Don't see it...
I'm looking again in case I missed it....
Nope, not there.
My above statement being slightly rhetorical and out of context ON PURPOSE, to illustrate that what you seemed to have read, Michael, is not what I wrote.
Please, at least bash me on what I said, not on what you think I said.
I gladly take the hit from Louis on my gaff with "mind not body" instead of "mind not strength". It was deserved because I SAID that, I was wrong and I find that humorous because I KNEW what I was trying to say, but was so wrapped up in trying to express a totally different idea I got that one completely twisted up. Louis gracefully and with a great deal of tact, more than I've ever had, pointed that out and then kindly went on to point out how what I said could be completely misconstrued because of HOW I said it.
Thank you, once again, Louis, for your verbal reparte and your generous words of wisdom. As always, a treat and pleasure to here from you.
I must remind you though that I do not posses Louis's tact and grace with words. I am also somewhat less oblique than Louis, hell I'm downright crude. So..
That said, here it is:
Do you not use Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kou jin when you practice Michael? If you don't, then how are you able to "fajin" to be in a position to ask Yang Jun about it?
Am I the ONLY one here who does use jin? I don't think so, I've seen it mentioned on this form once or maybe twice in the past by others who are not crack pot former Wu stylists.
Is Jin such a "mysterious force" to you then?
Do you believe in "chi", Michael? Because "chi" is a "mysterious force", yet we all talk about it and we all seem to believe in it.
You ask Louis why Yang Jun would have told you not to use "Fa-Jin" very often...
Fajin is exactly what I'm talking about with ALL of what I am saying here. Exactly.
If you say you "fajin", then you would sort of HAVE to be using Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kou to do this.
Because these crazy "mysterious forces", Michael, are the names of the types of "Jin" you "Fa".
Still feel it's a "mysterious force" that can be issued against thousands from across the plains of the firmament to topple mountains to mole hills, that was previously unkown to modern mankind that the ancients speak of with awe and that only Wushuer, that gullible but loveable moron, could believe in?
If you say "yes" then kindly never bother Yang Jun, or anyone else, with questions about fajin.
I, too, am a hands on kind of guy, Micheal, in case you've missed that in my previous postings. Can you not tell that from my fumbling postings on theory? I must have done SOMETHING right to survive for nearly fifteen years of sparring against two Wu family disciples to whom I am immediately related. But let me tell you I hold my own against them, not with theory, but with "hands on" training in these very techniques.
I'm not good at relating theory, as I say over and over, that's why I'm here, to learn how to do that so someday I too can be clear when I expound on theory.
Until I was shown that this concept of Bamen worked, no, more than that, until I could DO these things myself, I didn't believe them either. Now I do.
There's no mystery here, Michael. Pick up a book on accupressure, accupoints, that kind of thing. Learn a touch about meridians and trigrams and accupoints and internal jin before you make sweeping statements about their validity.
These things do have a bearing on TCC, or why would the Wu family, who learned their art from the Yang family, be teaching them in their Academies? I may not have the concept exactly right, in fact I KNOW I don't and I said that, over and over ad nauseum, in my posts, but I know them to be valid.

Still feel Louis to be "right on target", Michael? Because, by your own words, you believe in "fajin" and have asked questions about it from Yang Jun. Did you never wonder what this "mysterious force" called "jin" is, and how you "fa" that "jin"?
I have, and that's when I was taught about Shi San Shi in this particular manner. That was when I was taught about meridians, accupoints, internal jin, how to create it and how to express, or "fa" this "mysterious force" known as "jin".
Pure body mechanics cannot explain a lot of what occurs in TCC. That's why it takes so long to learn.
I would like to believe that body mechanics alone can explain a lot of what I can do, it would be easier for my poor "hands on", mechanicaly oriented mind. But they don't, so I have to learn this kind of thing to help me understand what it is that I'm doing.
Open your mind a bit, expand beyond what you can "see" with your eyes or "feel" with your hands.
You've got a start, with "chi", you obviously at least think you can "fajin". So why don't you take a moment or two, or a year or two, and see what else you can discover about these things.
I made it plain, the Yang family may not use this in this way. I am really beginning to feel that they don't. That's fine. However at least one other major family DOES use this type of theory. Also Zhang Yun does as well, as shown by the link I pasted here.
If you still feel it is all "mysterious" then that's fine, too. But at least have an open enough mind to explore it before you take anyones word that I am wrong.
Even Louis may not know it all...
Sorry Louis, but it's at least remotely possible that you don't.
I KNOW I don't.
But, the more I know, the more I know I don't know.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 10-09-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Thu Oct 09, 2003 10:51 pm


Whoa, hold on my friend!

Now, I have not read your entire (last)post, I will, but I have to jump right in and say I was not referring to anything you have said concerning "chi" or any "mysterious power". It had nothing to do with you. I do not consider "chi" to be that "mysterious". I won't go into what "it" is. I rarely even mention it. My reference was to those who consider it a "spiritual" or some metaphysical mumbo jumbo. I understand a certain Mr. Moy who started "Taoist Tai Chi" used to speak of it in those terms--and it is so in the more "new agey" circles. Physics and biochemistry have more to do with "chi" than any metaphysical/spiritual explainations or connections.

From your posts (and more) I know much better than that from you of all people. In no way did I infer I was speaking about you. I did not think that in any way you would even have considered that I was. Sorry if you got that impression. I honestly do not know how you did. If I have a question about anything you say I certainly would direct it to you in a respectful manner, count on it.

my best.
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Postby dorshugla » Thu Oct 09, 2003 10:56 pm

At my low level, I ahve found fajin to be "mechanical" and morese in Yang style a I have felt limited expression of this, meaning few Yang stylists can show this (even myself) with a Yang style frame. More Chen style tend to exhibit this.

One of my first teaches (from Hong Kong), a Yang practitioner was good at this but that seesm to be "lost". For me it has been difficult to find someone (other than Chen styel practitioners) to show the mechanics of fajin. I realize a lot of people talk about it but action is lacking.

Alhough Wu (Jianquan learned from Yang, he also went to Chen village for awhile because he was stated to think Yang was holding stuff from him (secrets?????-I doubt it but their level of response is a lot softer than Yang proficient practitioners.

"Pure body mechanics" does explain a lot but the determination of the practitioner is also a fact and that is hard to measure. Perhaps, as someone once said, one learns to yield, and learn/practice, then come the gong (periodization) then actual skill (technique). Someone once stated people do not want to be told how long they should practice and this MAY be a telling point, I do not know.

Why does a hummingbird fly. According to aerodynamic principles it shouldn't but it does!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Oct 09, 2003 11:43 pm

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Postby DavidJ » Fri Oct 10, 2003 12:59 am

Hi All,

What may be useful here is a definition in English: synergy.

"Synergy "- I know people threw around this word for a few years, but I don't mean this in a philisophical way, I mean this in a tangible way.

Synergy means that the behavior of the whole cannot be predicted upon the behavior of the parts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Descriptions of the properties of atoms differ from the descriptions of the properties of the molecules they make. For example, the properties of bronze cannot be predicted from the properties of copper and tin - not its strength, not its hardness, not its melting point.

The difference between jin, refined strength, and li, crude strength, may be found in this synergy.

Assuming a right-handed model, consider what you can do with your left hand alone, then consider what you can do with your right hand alone. OK? Now consider what you can do with both hands together. The difference between what you can do with two hands as compared to one is enormous.

Extend this a little bit and maybe you can imagine that using your whole body to move is *qualitatively* different from using its parts in isolation. It isnt that you don't use those parts, it is that you use them with the rest in a coordinated fashion.

I hope this is useful to people.


David J
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Oct 10, 2003 1:37 pm

If I misconstrued your intent, I was wrong and apologize.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 10, 2003 4:57 pm

Greetings all,

Thanks for all the intellectual contributions. A considerable amount to be reviewed...gladly. Image

One aspect of these discussions I am particularly intrigued and baffled by, I cannot even identify in words yet...so allow me to dump all the pieces of the puzzle, which I find may perhaps be pertinent, onto the table and maybe others can assist me in interlocking the relevant ones and discarding the insubstantial ones.
I am really not sure where I am going with this, maybe someone else does... Image

You asked a (rhetorical?) question...
<Why does a hummingbird fly. According to aerodynamic principles it shouldn't but it does!!! > Wushuer

I was unaware of that fact, and although very interesting, I was unsure of the connotations you were implying towards Taijiquan.
In essence...How are the flying methods of the hummingbird relevant to Taijiquan, or more generally to movement?

Thank-you for providing that link presenting the 'phenomena' that bumblebees should not be flying around actually-really, to corroborate Wushuers statement.
It lends tangible substance to the large question mark I was facing. Very helpful indeed. Image

To quote some of the contents contained within that reference...
< [University of Gottenburg in 1930] It is aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly...The bumblebee paradox continued for nearly a century until 1996 when researchers at the university of Cambridge dept. of Zoology built scaled up robotic models of insects to study in detail the airflow around their flapping wings...They discovered that extra aerodynamic lift was generated by a vortex travelling along the leading edge of the insects' wings during the downstroke....But...[concluded by the University of California at Berkeley] This hypothesis ( from Cambridge) cannot explain the attachment of the vortex throughout the stroke.>
So, we still dont know how a bumblebee flies...

Reading more in depth the article leads to the results that 'turbulence' plays a major role within the concept.

Is this in any way comparible to your example of a 'revolving' tunnel which you provided on another thread?

I found the imagery painted by your words from a previous posting poetic,
< An island surrounded by turbulent waters> Audi.

But now find they are perhaps allusive to more pertinent and profound insight into movement.
I am ,however, as of yet unable to make the mental leap.
I have heard many expressions, dissimilar in words, but identical in content repeated from different culture and different medias throughout the ages upon this subject.

Can you recall if your source was Taiji derived material?

Have you encountered any Taijiquan references with similar context or which perhaps contain the terms 'turbulence' or 'vortex' or similar meaning?

Perhaps you could provide the chinese translations for these words?

I guess, I am basically wondering why you have provided this question.
What is the connection you make from that information as applied to movement in Taijiquan?

Any assistance in correlating pertinent information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks all,
Best regards,
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 10, 2003 7:26 pm

Greetings Audi,

The first thing you mentioned in your posting was concerning teaching 'yi'.

You requested,
<I would be curious if any of the teachers or would be teachers could comment on when they think it is appropriate to stress this side of Taijiquan with students. > Audi

I really have no idea what methods teachers of Taijiquan in general use for their particular curriculums, and have no basis for my deductions ,more than my own logic and limited knowledge of the art.

But a thought had occurred to me that perhaps a teachers agenda , could be seated within the nine ranks or levels of the Yang family system.

---- ----- --------
1.green eagle jing-jing body-body
2.silver eagle jing-chi body-mind
3.gold eagle jing-shen body-spirit

4.green tiger chi-jing mind-body
5.silver tiger chi-chi mind-mind
6.gold tiger chi-shen mind-spirit

7.green dragon shen-jing spirit-body
8.silver dragon shen-chi spirit-mind
9.gold dragon shen-shen spirt-spirt

Based upon such a system, I would guess that the 'yi'/ mind intent would be initiated at the second level, to incorporate with the body. Then the other levels containing the mind aspects #4, #5, #6, and #8 would each introduce a deeper aspect of 'intention.

Pure theory, from a students perspective, just an idea.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-10-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Fri Oct 10, 2003 7:28 pm


No problem.
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Postby dorshugla » Fri Oct 10, 2003 8:32 pm


I love tradition but there is a point where (for me) a thing doesn't sound right and I do tend to pay lip service (while doing the exact opposite in personal time).

Many teachers state that benefits can be achieved in more time than allocated, and this stymies the one(s) who may grasp a concept earlier than the rest. Iposted an example of a recent study with taijquan (Health Forum) where benefit can be gotten earlier while still reinforcing essential concepts of health and longevity.

The "nine" levels rarely happen in that order (if indeed they do in the first place). If you do not practice, then there is less of chance of obtaining them but this has to do with, I guess, tiem spent practicing away from class. In this scenario one can exceed that goal/level.

With that in mind, I have seen very few achieve any better "mechanical" techincal background in other than form, despite those nine levels. I just have rarely (as opposed to never) that kind of skill or scholarship. Th eonly way is to "kowtow" to be "inside the door" in order to "excel", which is anathema to me even when studying with a known famous teacher.

All I am saying is one must think for oneself, while knowlingly following the crowd, albeit a not so wise example. FOllow but lead, and know when to do so. SImilar to push hands training. Never show ones hand. 1. Hold it in reserve.
2. Be respectful
3. Keep disagreements to oneself as the fault is with me/you
4. Learn
5. Prosper

Just a few thoughts roaming my empty head?!!
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