Greetings bamboo leaf,
Re: “in each case the translation is through the experience and mind of the translator. I agree with Wile, and Jwing ideas, its what I do. I would not agree with the idea of employing strength.”
I think you and I may be talking in different corners of the teahouse. I understand what you’re getting at, and I fully agree with the rhetorical meaning that you’re suggesting. I am really trying to find the most faithful rendering of a few choice words. I think Wile’s “make contact” is probably closest to the sense of Wu Ruqing’s words. Yang Jwing-ming’s “feel the force” is kind of an extrapolation, and not as true to the source as Wile’s, in my opinion.
I think that there is a bugaboo among some taiji experts regarding any suggestion of using strength. Traditionally, there are admonitions not to use “the slightest bit of strength,” and to relax “completely.” In my experience these are rhetorical statements, and not meant to be understood in strictly literal terms. When muscles act, even if only to “balance the body” in an upright position, the action is still in fact action. Without a condition of muscular tonus, the body would just collapse into a heap. We’re told in taiji to “use intent, not strength” (yong yi, bu yong li), but in reality, the yi and the li are interdependent.
That being said, the meaning of li in the Wu Ruqing passage could be largely figurative, meaning not so much exertion of strength, but effort or action. Have a look, for example, at the line in Wang Zongyue’s Taijiquan Treatise: “Nevertheless, without an exertion of effort over time (yong li zhi jiu), one will not be able to suddenly have a thorough understanding of it.” This line is a direct quotation from the Song philosopher Zhu Xi’s commentary to the Da Xue (The Greater Learning). Yong li literally means to “use strength,” but he meant it to apply to psychological or moral effort.
As a matter of fact, Zhu Xi also used the phrase we are discussing, zhuoli, in a similar fashion. He wrote that if one is unable to first establish one’s goal, “then there is no way to exert oneself” (wu zhuoli chu—lit., no place or spot to exert strength). Zhu Xi used some very interesting terminology for subtle psychological processes, several of them employing this zhuo verb with a sort of tactile, hands-on sort of connotation. One example is the phrase “zhuo shou chu,” which he used with the meaning of “a place where one can get a grip, or purchase.” He expressed a related idea with the phrase, “xia shou jiao chu” (a place where one can find a grip and get some footing).”
These are just a few findings in my exertion of effort to clarify terms of some early taiji masters.
[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-13-2006).]