Mind Intention in Taijiquan

Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:55 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

On mind intent in Taijiquan you said:

<The simple meaning of YI is that you keep your mind on what you are doing...If your mind is on what your going to have for dinner, then that's where your ch'i is going. If your thinking about that hot blonde in the back of the class, then your chi is not involved in the martial move you're trying to perform, is it? It's going someplace, but not where you need it...this of course is overly simplified There are other considerations for YI that go beyond this, as in all other things> Wushuer


This was explained to me almost from day one of my instruction. I am familiar with this idea...concentrate on the actions one is performing, of course, I agree.

<Since Taijiquan is a martial art, your intent should be martial>

Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty....The only thing stopping me from accepting that concept fully is the comparison between Taijiquan and Kung-fu, Tae Kwon Do, Karate.

External martial arts concentrates(simple YI), and also focuses on the martial movement.

Maybe I'm missing something, it's very possible....

But this seems to return me to the question of "What is the difference between INTERNAL and EXTERNAL martial arts.

I thought it was YI, since the movements themselves seem almost identical to external arts, I thought it would be the YI, the internal, which made the difference.

Could you elaborate on the differences please?

Thanks you
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:58 pm

I have studied both. Have you?
If you have, then the differences are immediately self evident.
Hard styles, External styles, emphasize body strength, pure muscle power. Yes, they concentrate on what they are doing, but the strength comes from their body.
Soft styles, Internal styles, emphasize mind strength and using the joints and muscles together in harmony to attain a greater strength than your body alone can produce.
When practicing Tae Kwon Do, I used to break boards and bricks to show how much strength I had. This confused me, as I've never once been attacked by either a board or brick and never did know what those poor inanimate objects did to piss off the black belts so much...
In TCC training I found true strength. The strength of my mind to overcome the strength of others bodies.
In hard style, you meet force with force. You use your bodies muscles to meet that force and hope your strength is greater than your opponents, or you are faster, or more agile. Whatever edge you can find is what you use.
In TCC you meet force with the absence of force, redirecting it by yeilding to it and allowing it to dissapate into the ether, or by redirecting it back into your opponent to wreak it's havoc there.
Totally different mind and body set.
This, of course, is only my unlettered opinion of these things. Others will be more elegant and more explanatory.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 11-13-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 11:12 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

I accept your decline...Thanks for all the information you've provided on all the other issues I requested...much obliged. Image

Greetings Louis,

From the dealings I have had with you on the board, I can say with much certainty that your TINGJIN skill is quite refined and in need of no work as far as I have witnessed.

I find your interpretations always very accurate and your postings very understandable. Image

Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-13-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 11:54 pm

Hello Wushuer,

I seem to have missed your last post...

You asked:
< I have studied both. Have you? >

Yes, I have.


You said:
<In Taijiquan you meet force with the absence of force, redirecting it by yielding to it and allowing it to dissipate into ether, or by redirecting it back into your opponent to wreak its havoc there.>

Yes, I understand the view you are adopting, however, I am wondering if this is the extent of the "internal" concept.

Again, I have difficulty understanding how efficiently manipulating an external source, an opponent for example, is attached to the idea of internal working.

You employed the term "strength of mind".
" I use strength of mind to overcome the strength of others bodies" -Wushuer.


I believe I am now full circle, back to YI and how it is different in Taijiquan compared to external arts, or arts with no YI(strength of mind?).

Nice talking with you Wushuer.
Thanks for you efforts and explanations. Image

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Nov 14, 2003 2:18 pm

Well, if you've come full circle, then you must be there.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Nov 14, 2003 3:12 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

Hmmmm????
Sorry, I don't understand your meaning.

Maybe I should clarify MY meaning...

By "full circle" I am implying in my questioning of the issue.
I seem to be following the same logic and it continues to bring me full cirle back to where I started from...my original question.
I am obviously missing some fork which would lead me out of this monotonous "viscious circle" of questionning I am pursuing.

Psalchemist.




[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-14-2003).]
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Postby dorshugla » Fri Nov 14, 2003 4:35 pm

Louis,

Though I am familiar with the key words like yi, shen, kwa, etc. the modern expression defies reality, meaning there are so many variation of meaning(s), that despite thir explanation, misunderstanding is rampant.

What I have attempted to do is :translate" into a workeable reality after the basics have been learnt. As a teacher, I do not burden my few students with "archaic" concepts (lacking in physical/objective reality) as it becomes muddy, Or I answer only whe they ask specific questions.

Being useless has many advantages but it seems people are learning (at least arsking questions) so your point is well taken.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Nov 14, 2003 8:09 pm

Greetings d,

I’ll just have to respectfully disagree with your position, so far as I can comprehend what it is.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Sat Nov 15, 2003 9:29 pm

Greetings all,

Psalchemist, in my first November 8 post, I probably should not have used the phrase “thought exercise.” What I really was trying to do was open up a dialog with you based on your answers to my questions. If you were able to answer them with respect to your own form, I think I could walk you through what my meaning was.

In my opinion, small details of the Yangs’ form postures are based on natural movements. The naturalness of these movements is only apparent, however, if one understands the meaning of the posture to a fairly exacting degree. Without this, the form retains a level of artifice that makes being “loose” impossible.

Psalchemist, you also asked about the orientation of the Tiger’s Mouth. Where the Tiger’s Mouth is relevant to the application, its angle is usually directed toward the Jin point. As for “Angle of Generosity,” I must confess that I know nothing further about the expression Tiger’s Mouth. I have always assumed it was a reference to a tiger’s jaws snapping shut on the opponent’s arm.

In a later post, you asked the following:

<< I believe I am still suffereing from terminology deficiency...

JING=XING?=CHING

CH'I=QI

SHEN=XIN?=JIN?

Firstly,
Are these equivalent expressions...could you please clarify the question marks?>>

“Jing” usually refers to the same character/word that is also sometimes pronounced as “Jin.” It means “strength,” “power,” etc. In some systems, it is transliterated as “Ching,” but never as “Xing.” The only use in Taijiquan of the word “Xing” that occurs to me off-hand is as a pseudo-equivalent of the word “element,” as in the “Wu Xing” or “Wuxing” (“Five Elements”). By the way, the translation of this word in this context is actually quite controversial for a number of substantive and textual reasons.

“Qi” and “Ch’i would indeed indicate alternate spellings, based on different systems.

“Shen” means “spirit,” “god,” perhaps “expression” and is different from “Xin,” which refers to the heart or the mind as the seat of thoughts. In the texts you have been examining of late, either word might be used in the metaphor about commanders, signal flags, or banners, but they would never mean precisely the same thing. Neither word is an equivalent of the “Jin” I have described above.

Psalchemist, you also asked about the following:

<<Secondly,
from what I understand, we are speaking of three levels of refinement of the 'same' substance...Is this correct?>>

I think what you are referring to comes from the following words and theory.

The word “Jing” can also refer to a completely different character than the one described above. The one above is pronounced in the fourth tone, and the one I am about to describe is in the first tone. “Jing1” in the Taijiquan literature usually refers to a character than can be translated as “essence.”

I do not recall the relevant passages exactly, but I seem to recall that they usually describe how “essence” can be refined into “Qi” and then further refined into “Shen.” I, personally, do not find this relevant to the Yangs’ Taijiquan, at least on the surface. It represents a view of reality that is rooted in pre-industrial proto-scientific theories that I find hard to interpret from a modern viewpoint.

You also asked the following:

<<Thirdly and lastly,
Do "JIN points" share equivalent meaning with "Meridian points" ?>>

I would say no. Some meridian points have relevance in the Yangs’ Taijiquan (e.g., Dantian), but that the system as a whole is not something that is consciously used or manipulated. I believe it would be detrimental to approach Jin points in the way that meridians are discussed.

Wushuer, I noted your question about YCF Cloud Hands. I have to say that I do not recall Wu Style Cloud Hands well enough to compare the two. I also have to say that I remain a little puzzled by your inquiry.

When I do applications from Cloud Hands I use the rising arm to do Ward Off, Roll Back, and Pluck on the opponent’s opposite arm. I.e., right arm to right arm and left to left. During these movements, the opponent’s energy needs to be somewhat under control or else they lose their function. While the energy is controlled, the opponent does not seem to be position to attack my side until the end of an unsuccessful Pluck, but at that point, my other arm would begin to rise and cover the same territory. This sounds like what your instructor has already covered with you.

Does this address your point?

By the way, I am not sure I would concede that big frame means health and that small frame means combat. I have seen the Yangs show how the bigness of certain moves makes it easier to generate power from the whole body. On the other hand, I have learned at least one push hands exercise where Ward Off, Roll Back, and Push can go from maximize size to minimal size, depending on skill and purpose.

You also asked about “bobbing.” In the YCF form, you are supposed to maintain the same vertical level, except during a handful of postures, such a one-leg postures, the Preparation Posture, Needle at Sea Bottom, etc. Outside of form and fixed exercises, all bets are off.

You also made some statements about “bringing your toe with you” on turns. Could you amplify with respect to how this would work in a particular YCF posture? I have difficulty following your description. What part of your foot maintains contact with the ground?

Psalchemist, you stated the following:

<<External martial arts concentrates(simple YI), and also focuses on the martial movement.>>

This is why I wanted to talk you through my understanding of Jin points. I agree with what Wushuer said, but I would state it even more strongly.

When I punch Karate-style and when I punch Taiji-style, my mind is concentrated on completely different things. When I do the Karate punch, my focus on the precise spot in space where I will deliver the maximum amount of power with my muscles and momentum from my body. To the extent possible, I will be using a predetermined sequence of muscles movements. I need speed, distance, and momentum.

When I punch Taiji-style, my mind feels for where Jin is stored in my body and traces a path to the target and then orders all this to release, like flicking a rubber band. Speed and distance are secondary considerations. There is no predetermined sequence of muscle movements.

More importantly, the Taiji-style punch is an incomplete crippled thing without knowledge of how my energy is interacting with the opponent’s at the moment of the punch. What allows me to punch without having my power reflected back at me or without exposing myself to my opponent’s speed and power? How is my opponent double weighted?

My view of Taiji techniques can be viewed something as follows. All techniques have three parts. The first part is the most important and is supplied by the opponent, not by you. You provide the second part. You and the opponent combine to provide the third part only if the second part succeeds and is not transformed into something else by the opponent. You cannot perform the Taiji techniques without understanding how the opponent is manifesting energy because you have no control over the first part of your technique. You need the opponent’s energy and mind intent in order to accomplish your techniques.

My view of Karate is radically different. The opponent is essentially a moving punching bag that occasionally punches or kicks back. You care nothing about your opponent’s mind intent or energy potential as long as you can predict where his or her limbs will be in space. Your object is to inflict damage or exercise control as rapidly and powerfully as possible using a predetermined set of techniques that you have drilled to perfection.

Dorshugla,

I think I may know what you are getting at, but I think most of the other posters are dealing with a different level of theory. I think Louis and others have stated things quite clearly. The issue is not whether to practice more, but what to practice more.

I also should say that my own teaching and learning has been going in quite the opposite direction from the face value of your words. When I now teach friends, I take pains to show how various details of the form are not only natural, but practically impossible to do incorrectly, as long as one exercises the correct Yi. Given sufficient specificity of purpose, all humans use their anatomy in similar ways.

Usually when I make corrections and have sufficient time and interest, I try to correct not only the external positioning of the person, but what I perceive to be imprecision in their intent. I ask why the person feels that particular position is necessary and what the purpose is behind the particular orientation and rhythm of their limbs. I find this to be more productive than simple external correction. These are also the types of corrections I have found most valuable when I have received them from teachers. I want to know not only what I am doing wrong, but what I am trying to do wrong.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Nov 17, 2003 1:54 am

Greetings Audi,

Opening your last post you stated:
<Psalchemist, in my first November 8 post, I probably should not have used the phrase "thought exercise". What I really was trying to do was open up a dialog with you based on your answers to my questions. If you were able to answer them with respect to your own form, I think I could walk you through what my meaning was.> Audi

NOV 8 POST:
<Could you explain please, what precisely one should know about jin points and how one would use this knowledge to accomplish the extension of the joints correctly?> Ps

<First I would recommend that you attend some Yang seminars and listen very carefully> Audi

I have been to one Yang seminar and noted that "listening very carefully" is a prerequisite skill Image . I retained bits and pieces and might be more successful next time, however it may be a while before I have opportunity to attend another.

So, failing that...

<I would recommend that you buy FuZhongwen's "Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan". Fu Zhongwen has an excellent discussion of the jin points in the few postures at the beginning of the form.> Audi

Maybe one day I'll be blessed with that text, but unfortunately for now it is lacking in my library.

So, failing that...

<Let me ask you a series of questions as a thought exercise> Audi

My first reaction to that phrasing was that it was indeed an invitation to answer them literally.....but then doubt set in, combined with failing, failing, failing and so I figured you were just plumb fed-up answering my incessant questions, and so opted for the "rhetorical" assumption. Image

Thanks for clarifying.

You posed four "THOUGHT EXERCISING" questions:

In Single Whip:

1)Can you tell me the precise point or points(make it an area of three inches square, or less) on your body that represent the limit of your forward extension?

- LEFT HAND :Outer palm...let's say the point which joins the base of the outer palm to the outer wrist.(the 'opening')
-LEFT TOES : (note, if extend knee too far forward this closes ankle)
[-LEFT KNEE : (over or behind toes)]



2)What point or points represent the extent of your extension to the rear?

If by "rear" you include the diagonal, then I would say:
-RIGHT HAND:Knuckles and back of wrist(3" square?)...let's be more general then, back of hand and back of wrist joint(the opening)
-RIGHT FOOT:REAR HEEL(also opening)


3)What if anything are you extending from side to side?

I am not sure I understand that question correctly...first guess, nothing. If I had to provide an example? I suppose maybe the left elbow?

Perhaps you could rephrase that for me, to carify.

4)If there are any deliberate "bends" in your body, please explain why you have them and why you do not extend them into non-existance?

If you are referring to a "bend" in the waist or torso, an inclining bend, then I don't think so.
If I consider my answer to question number one above...My knee is "bent" almost to the toes(sometimes)...if this were done at "top speed and with maximum power" I might very well overextend my knee with this inclination.
At the Yang seminar I attended I did note that Master Yang Jun always maintained a very precise 90 degree angle in this relation.
I'm trying, but sometimes failing that Image

Your questionning led to the added commentary of (open and closed) at the joints...I see what you mean about asking good questions!

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.




[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-16-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Nov 17, 2003 1:57 pm

Greetings Audi,

Thanks for all the terminology clarifications and explanation, I really needed that. Image


NEW LIST

JIN=JING4=CHING.(Power, strength etc.)

XIN............(heart,mind, seat of thoughts)

JING1..........[primary/raw essence?]

QI=CHI=CH'I....[essence or energy?]

SHEN...........(Spirit,God,expression,seat of thoughts)...[refined essence]

Any comments?

XING:
You said,
<By the way, the translation of this word in this context is actually quite controversial for a number of substantive and textural reasons.> Audi

O.K... You've twisted my arm. What is the controversy behind the expression XING, I AM curious to know. Image

JING1:
You said,
<It represents a view of reality that is rooted in pre-industrial proto-scientific theories that I find hard to interpret from a modern viewpoint> Audi

Although I believe I understand the words and phrasing you employ, I do not quite understand the gesture...Could you elaborate please?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Nov 18, 2003 10:42 pm

Audi,
I was not referring to "dragging your toe with you" in YCF style. I was talking about it in Wu style.
When making a turn in Wu style you leave your heel rooted on the floor and turn on your heel to "drag your toe with you" when you turn.
Again, this is terminology used, probably exclusively, in the school I trained Wu style in and there is no correlary I've found in YCF style.
Though if you want to know where you do that in YCF style, because you do, only not in exactly the same way, in Diagonal Flying. Picture your back foot as you make the turn and how you pivot on that heel turning your toe "with you".
It's as close as I've seen in YCF style to how the Wu's "drag their toe" in many forms.
I have been comparing and contrasting Wu family Wave Hands Like Clouds with YCF style Cloud Hands.
While the moves are very similar, the martial intent emphasized in the forms is different enough to bring me to say that the forms are used for similar, but entirely different, martial intents.
On this YCF board, I guess you could say I was asking a rhetorical question. I can't expect a response, really, that would address the issue.
I am comparing apples to oranges again. Sorry.
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Nov 19, 2003 9:46 pm

Greetings Audi,

I seem to be disagreeing a lot lately.

You wrote, > You also asked about ?bobbing.? In the YCF form, you are supposed to maintain the same vertical level, except during a handful of postures, such a one-leg postures, the Preparation Posture, Needle at Sea Bottom, etc. Outside of form and fixed exercises, all bets are off. <

Please forgive me by being blunt. This is an error.

The rule is "one hip should always be the same height from the floor as the other." There is no exception anywhere.

This is sometimes misinterpreted as "both hips should keep the same height from the floor." And thus 'The Arising' 'Needle to the Bottom of the Sea' assorted Kicks, 'Golden Cock stands on One Leg' etc, are given as exceptions.

Any prohibition against "bobbing up and down" that follows this misinterpretation is dangerous.

If you try to keep both hips the same distance from the floor you violate another rule and risk knee damage.

There is a rule, "don't let the front knee go past the toes."

If your front knee is over your toes and you leave it there when you shift all of your weight to that foot it is physically impossible to not have the hip rise. If you don't believe me, measure yourself.

No matter how high your hips are from the floor they should be kept level.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:16 pm

Audi:
In an earlier post you remarked:
"By the way, I am not sure I would concede that big frame means health and that small frame means combat. I have seen the Yangs show how the bigness of certain moves makes it easier to generate power from the whole body. On the other hand, I have learned at least one push hands exercise where Ward Off, Roll Back, and Push can go from maximize size to minimal size, depending on skill and purpose."

I don't recall every saying that small frame means combat and large frame means health. I have heard that said, but have not, to the best of my recollection, said it.
I have said that small frame was specifically designed to be more immediately applied martially. Wu Chien Chuan, Wu Kung Yi, the entire Wu family since, and their disciples, have all worked towards making the form as martially oriented as possible, while striving to maintain the health benefit in it's entirety. I have firmly believed in the past and still believe now after over two years of YCF style study that neither is more or less "healthy" AND that neither is more or less "martial".
I have heard that YCF altered his forms later in life to include more emphasys on "health" aspects, and I have heard that he "diluted" his forms to remove some of the more martial aspects. I do not know the validity of these claims and have not made them personally.
I, personally, me, myself and I, believe that is not true. I have learned way too many martial applications from the YCF style to believe this.
Do I feel one to be better than the other martially? No, I do not.
Do I believe one is easier to learn the martial applications for? Yes. I believe it is easier to learn the martial applications for Wu style TCC. Why? Because it was designed specifically with the purpose of taking the practitioner to the martial aspects more quickly. The forms are more obviously martial in their presentation, there is less guess work about what the martial applications for a form may be.

You also stated:
"You also asked about “bobbing.” In the YCF form, you are supposed to maintain the same vertical level, except during a handful of postures, such a one-leg postures, the Preparation Posture, Needle at Sea Bottom, etc. Outside of form and fixed exercises, all bets are off."

I may have asked if that was correct, I don't recall exactly. I have never practiced "bobbing" in either form. Both forms have places where you are required to be slightly higher or lower in your stance, but I have never considered this "bobbing". These are necessary adjustements for proper body mechanics in the form. You must raise and lower your stance to accomodate your body, specifically related to width of stance, angle of knee, a lot of things.

Next came:
"You also made some statements about “bringing your toe with you” on turns. Could you amplify with respect to how this would work in a particular YCF posture? I have difficulty following your description. What part of your foot maintains contact with the ground?"

I think I answered that one in my last post? Not sure. If I didn't then the answer is that the easiest form to find a similar, though not exact by a long shot, move would be in Diagonal Flying. Think about your left foot on that form and how you leave your heel on the ground and adjust your toe as you turn.
Also in Fair Lady.

I know it's been a while since you posted these things, but I was rushed the last few times I've been here and did not fully respond to your inquiries.
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Postby dorshugla » Thu Nov 20, 2003 12:31 am

Many postures, in application, implied positioning is usually "high(er)" or "low(er" without bobbing (moving up and down) without proper "yi" (sorry for the use of this dubious word)-meaning no knowl;edge or awareness of the actual application.

As an example, "diagonal flying" one may shift (subtly!) from low to high to low for thwarting and at end posture, "down the oppopnent" not through the obvious upper body movement application but also foot/leg positioning (must be in place prior to application of downing with actual diagonal fly posture). If not, the technique is usless, or the other is not a tried practitioner.
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