Mind Intention in Taijiquan

Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 2:21 pm

Psalchemist:
Sifu Eddie has a tape, available at the Wu family website, that gives a much better description, plus it has video of Eddie doing the form to the description.
I try to remember, word for word, the verbal descriptions of the forms, but it escapes me sometimes. I used to know them all by heart, but that was six years ago, when I taught beginners regularly.
Now I've had six years to forget the exact descriptions, but I still came fairly close.
Wu style feet are almost always paralell (wish I knew how to spell that) to each other through their form, this is one of the exceptions.
No bobbing necessary, or, as you noticed, even possible in that form.
It is known as "the square form" for a good reason.
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Postby dorshugla » Thu Nov 13, 2003 6:12 pm

psalchemist,

Steve's point is well taken if you really believe yi is that important to you.

Since there are levels of yi, I may say that a version would be in a dream when you are in an untenable situation, realize it and use yi to control the outcome. It is difficult. Dream is illusion appaering real with sensation(s) to boot so apply yi there.
WIthout being repulsed or attached to the intent of the dream....

I thought that since your use of the metaphor name "alchemist" you will know what I mean in relation to the dream state.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Nov 13, 2003 6:57 pm

Hi psalchemist,

Your intent, where and how you focus, is very important and should be there from the very beginning. When you learn a movement you should be learning how the movement works martially, and where your awareness is focused. This is standard fare in the best schools.

The mind is first in Tai Chi Chuan.

Regards,

David J
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 7:57 pm

Greetings Steve,

Thanks for the instruction.

You said about "adjusting from the base" and "return force":
<As we know, the Classics state that all movement starts at the feet, gets magnified in the legs and ripples through the body into the arms before being expressed to the fingertips> Steve

That's an original and pleasantly poetic rendering of the classics.

<This means upward and downward movements> Steve

I have been considering this duo for quite a while now, and am grateful for the detailled explanation...

<So by releasing, sinking is created, sinking creates emptiness in the body and rooting in the base. When the body is thus empty and the sinking continues then the body adjusts from the base up. The rooting causes a wave of force to rise up from the feet> Steve

Clear, methodically approached description, highly comprehensive. Image
So, in essence one must focus on the "downward" before one can rise "upward"...
This brings a whole new meaning to the expression "What goes up must come down" Image
Understood and well taken.
Thank-you very much.

<The emphasis remains on releasing however-to bring about sinking etc. etc. > Steve
<So when Dorshugla says: "I relax, sink(try to), clear mind and be even tempered". Then to me that says that the Yi(intent) is to relax, to in turn bring about sinking etc. (as I wrote above) > Steve

Thanks for clarifying.

<It is worth separating intent from awareness...if you decide to walk to someone-you have used intent(yi)- then whilst you are walking there, you will be aware of the changes taking place in your body> Steve

May I extend this concept to Push Hands?
In Push Hands I have heard that one should have no 'intent', meaning that one should react to the opponents thoughts, prior to his action. For me, this thought implies an awareness (in waiting to react) rather than intent of action. (I know I deviate).
Would you care to go into greater lengths on the distinctions of 'intent' and 'awareness' between solo form practice and Push Hands theories?

<So Psalchemist-that is what I would suggest you do with your Yi. Put it into the ground below your substantial foot and use your awareness to help release the body and keep it constantly adjusting>

That sounds like very good advice...actually that is what I am working towards presently...the general concept of "threaded" movement and the "structure of the stance" from the "Ten Essentials". I do not expect, however to be capable of actually impementing this in a constant and consistent manner without many, many.......many, hours of practice.

Do you think that "releasing" will accompany the achievement of the proper structure described in the "Ten Essentials".

<Note that whilst yi may not yet be synchronised with either energy or the body- I consider this to be a separate issue> Steve

Now THERE is an excellent distinction!

YI focussed on releasing: to sink, root and ultimately return the force.( Step1:Beginner level for YI study)
YI focussed on the body: ???
YI focussed on the energy: ???

AHA!!!!!!!!
Are these different levels of instruction in Taijiquan?
O.K....!!!!
Could you please describe (at least a little....PLEASE!!!!!) what the YI in relation to body and energy imply?


<To concentrate on the return force is to be sucked into the result of the process rather than the process itself> Steve

Right,full focus on the ch'i will bring stagnancy. This is a clearer concept for me to grasp now.

Thanks for everything,

Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:58 pm

Greetings,

David remarked, “Your intent, where and how you focus, is very important and should be there from the very beginning. When you learn a movement you should be learning how the movement works martially, and where your awareness is focused.”

I’m completely in agreement. It appears to me that dorshugla may have an overly mystified notion of what “yi” (mind-intent) means. It has nothing to do with belief, talking, or deliberation. It simply means mental focus. Practicing without mental focus would just be facile gesturing. All of the classical requirements, all of the postural principles, of taijiquan have to do with how one engages the mind-intent.

Even a simple matter such as picking up a cup of coffee involves yi. That doesn’t mean you think to yourself, “I am picking up this cup.” Moreover, it doesn’t mean that yi alone picks up the cup! Muscles move in physical space to accomplish the task. To assert as dorshugla has that “Mind intent is not objective reality!” misses the mark, in my opinion. It is indeed “objective reality”; yi takes place in the body’s neurological system, and physical movement is impossible without it.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:00 pm

Psalchemist:
I have found it better to think in terms of "respond", not "react". It's a battle of semantics, but I have found that if I keep "respond" instead of "react" in my mind while pushing hands I don't try to anticipate my opponent, my response just comes when he moves.
When my opponent moves, I move first.
I find this much easier to do if I am in "respond" mode instead of "react" mode in my own mind.
It's one of the gems I learned on this forum. Wish I could recall who first told me that, I'd like to thank them again.

Ask your instructor about "rooting", I think you will get a clearer response. Rooting is one of those things that you really need to have demonstrated to understand.
"Rooting", as a term, like all other TCC terms, means different things to different branches of the TCC family. I found my Wu style derived definition of rooting to be enough different from YCF style that I won't pollute anyone here by repeating it. Let's just say that it was a slightly different concept than what I have come to call "rooting" in YCF style.
I feel that the explanations given to you, while completely accurate in their own right, may not be what you are looking for in YCF style practice.
My best advice to you would be to get to your YCF instructor and just ask the question. It would probably be best to have them demonstrate it to you, explain the concepts so you can understand them, then test whether or not you can actually perform "rooting" as this system views it.
Hey, "waist" means different things to different people. "Centered" means different things. "Single Weighted" has entirely different meanings between family branches of TCC.
"Rooting" is no different.
You've been comparing apples to oranges. They're both fruit, they're both round, they both grew on trees and they both taste good to most people... but they're still not the same thing.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:14 pm

Psalchemist:
I would recommend the same thing about "mind intent". Ask your instructor.
Dorshugla has given one definition of mind intent, for his style I'm sure it's accurate. Again though, it's not exactly how I have understood it.
"Yi" is one of the few things I have yet to find the big difference on between YCF and Wu style. They're very close in how the meaning has been defined to me by both branches.
As I understand it, the simple meaning of "yi" is that you keep your mind on what you are doing.
Of course, it's not that simple, but it's the easiest way I have ever found, for myself, to explain "mind intent".
Focus, is another word for it.
Think about what you're doing. If you're performing a move, then what is the "intent" of that move? Why are you doing this move? What do you "intend" to accomplish by moving in this way?
You figure that out, then you keep your mind focused on the "intent" of the move all throughout that form.
Since TCC is a martial art, your "intent" should be martial. You are moving your body in this way to accomplish something, that is your "intent", so focus your mind on it and then do it.
I have often been told that "Chi follows mind intent". I have found this to be true, but only if your mind is intent on what you are truly supposed to do does this matter.
If your mind is on what you're going to have for dinner, then that's where your chi is going. If you're 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.
However, if I managed to get my students to the point where they could keep their minds on the martial aspects they were practicing, I considered my job most of the way done.
I gave them three corners, it was up to them to find the fourth.

Hope this helps.
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:23 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

Thanks for the further reference.

Your description, however, was sufficient and clear enough for purposes of general understanding and experimenting.

I am, after all, focussed on the Yang style system, so will not delve too deeply into other styles methods, for now at least-lest I become more confused than I am already. Image


I think, possibly the Yang style system poses larger gestures , more 'open' movement for the health benefit aspects. Whereas Wu style 'closes up' for purely martial reasons.


As I understand it, Yang style movements are geared 'primarily' towards health and longevity purposes, for keeping the body healthy, stretched, all the joints lubricated etc. Basically avoidance of corporal 'rusting'- Maintaining well being. The movements have been redesigned for this purpose...so I have heard.

The emphasis of the opening of the 'Kua bu' in Yang style 'Yun Shou' may be an example of a means to this end.

Wu style,being more combat oriented, as you have mentionned, does not necessarily require this 'stretching' for health purpose, dwelling 'primarily' on the martial aspects. Therefore in the 'Yun Shou' of Wu style the main emphasis is placed on protection of oneself against attack.

Two systems, same purposes, but each has placed 'priority' for establishing their form on differing elements.

Please correct me if I've erred. Image

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:26 pm

Louis,
Very good.
I like the coffee cup correlation.
You are correct, you should get yourself to the point where you're NOT thinking, "I'm moving my arm down and to the back, turning it as I go".
At first you will, of course, of necessity think these things. This is beginning. Later you train to the point where you should be "in" the move. Your mind and body should allready know to move the arm down and rotate it slightly, so you will instead concentrate on the "why" of the movement.
What does moving your arm down and rotating it slightly as you go do? Once you know what that motion is for, then you can concentrate on the meaning behind the movement instead of the mechanics of the movement.
Once you have reached the point of concnetrating on the "intent" of the form rather than on it's physical movement, then you have progressed to doing TCC instead of just going through the motions.

Think I'll go do some motions.
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Postby dorshugla » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:28 pm

Louis,

Just to pick up on your note(s(.

Muscle, their mechanical properties and the concurrent entrainment process MUST be worked through their periodization phase (learning the actual concepts throught doing) before "yi", its manifestaion or concept be utilized. That is the only way.

At the base level, yi is always in process and always has been and always will be. Reagrding taijiqaun and yi guiding is a nother matter. It is eay in health to guide yi, in sickeness or ill health alot harder/difficult. WHy? WHLE sick, people prefer to take external preparations instead of working with "refining qi" (yes, another thought provoking concept-sorry!?). That is the actual reality. The path of least resistance can be seen in a population with 60-70% obesity (high body mass index (BMI) and waist/hip ratio (WHR)! So much for yi as I feel that reality cannot be deceived!!!!

In martial taijiquan, yi is almost dificult to put into action because the muscle entrainment (gong/training) periodization phase has not been reached. Refusal to spend enough time in training or unwilling to do so.
just a thought!!!
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:39 pm

Dear d,

I must confess that I simply don’t understand your post. To the degree I can understand it, I don’t agree with it, but this may just be a communication problem. I’ve had similar difficulty understanding a number of your other postings.

Maybe I need to work harder on my tingjin.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:07 pm

Greetings DavidJ,

Thank you for posting.

You said:
<Your intent, where and how you focus, is very important and should be there from the very beginning. When you learn a movement you should be learning how the movement works martially, and where your awareness is focused. This is standard fare in the best schools.> DavidJ

I HAVE been taught the martial aspects of all the movements instructed...I am STILL learning these multitudes of applications ( of which there are several for each posture).


I attend an excellent school, and have no fear or doubt as to it's quality.

I practice what I am taught in class.

I have faith that my instructor will eventually speak of ALL things pertinent to my education at the appropriate time.

But I must admit I am going beyond what I am being instructed.
Bad, bad, bad, I should be shot! Image

I think all these discussions however will allow me greater understanding and insight into the instructions I will receive in formal setting in future.

There are so many different aspects to Taijiquan to study.............!!!!!!!

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:30 pm

Hello Wushuer,

That's an interesting point you make about 'rooting'......I would have thought it were the same for all styles.

Why would I assume this?

Well, because I define 'rooting' as that 'rooting' feeling into the ground, and I didn't really think there were two ways of doing it!

Isn't 'rooting' that distinct 'bond' one's foot makes with the earth, it actually feels as though you've grown roots and the foot sticks...into?.... the floor?

For clarity, if you could, in your opinion,
What is 'rooting' in Wu style, and how is it different from Yang style?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:31 pm

Psalchemist:
Well....
Yes....
No...
Kind of.

Let me find an article I have, sent to me by one of my Wu family contacts, that gives an account of a speech by a student of both Masters Wu Chien Chuan and Wu Kung Yi.
He trained with Wu Chien Chuan when he was young, along with his father who was a disciple of WCC. Later he became a disciple of Wu Kung Yi. He had some amazing insights, for me, into the differences between large frame and small frame in TCC.
For someone who has "crossed over" to YCF style, a very large frame, after studying Wu style, the smallest frame, for fifteen years... It was a liberating article to read.
His words will be able to explain to you with a clarity that I never could the differences between these frames.
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Nov 13, 2003 10:51 pm

Psalchemist:
I'm not sure another definition of rooting would do you any good. In fact, it would probably do you harm.
The differences are minimal, and more in how it's applied to martial aspects than in the wording of the definitions.
For instance..
When I started training YCF style, I initally continued my practice of "bringing my toe with me" as I made turns. This is the Wu style practice of turning your back toe while keeping your ankle in the same spot until your toe faces your new forward direction during a turn. My YCF instructor quickly pointed out that I was "breaking my root" for YCF style when I did this. I was confused, to say the least, as this is how my Sifu and Sifa trained me to KEEP my root when making a turn. Now, after two and a half years, I'm finally starting to see what he means.
If I turn my toe forward in this fashion during YCF forms, I'm shortening my stance which breaks my root in large frame TCC. In small frame, the body mechanics are entirely different. Your body moves in different ways, you maintain your root in a different way.
So, the idea is the same, it's in the execution that you find the major break in idealogy between the two styles.
Please, do not concentrate on Wu style "rooting" mechanics. If you are studying YCF style, then study that frame of body mechanics in order to maximize the effectiveness of your art.
My entire point was to help you see that you were discussing apples and oranges. These things are the same, but different at the same time. Undertanding an apple will help you gain insight into an orange, but you will not understand oranges completely until you study them by themselves.
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