[i]Chansijin[/i] (Silk Reeling Energy)

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:22 am

Well, you may be right. I find all the conflicting explanations very weak and personally don't put much stock in this.
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:56 am

To summarize, Yang Chengfu says:

"In taiji, we use intent rather than force, and from beginning to end, smoothly and ceaselessly, complete a cycle and return to the beginning, circulating endlessly. That is what the taiji classics mean by "Like the Yangtse or Yellow River, endlessly flowing." And again: "Yun jin ru chou si". These both refer to unifying into a single impulse."

(This sounds at least as much about circling as about slowness.)

Wu Tunan talks about keeping the silk taut but not breaking it (ie unreeling from the cocoon).

Yang Zhenduo suggests it's slow and even like the way a silkworm emits the silk.

There is something mutually contradictory about all of these explanations. It strikes me that they are all winging it and that chousi is not a particularly important concept in Yang style. That leaves me with my own personal opinion - that Yang style has what the Chen family calls 'silk reeling' but the Yangs don't employ that metaphor or terminology.


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-12-2006).]
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Postby shugdenla » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:41 am

Much of what we know about Yang style commentary or explanations appears to come from the Wu family. After the breakup with Yang? (so sayeth the oracle) and the end of Qing, Yang was stated to have compiled what the Wus' made clear and adopted to the changing climate.
Wu family were provincial governors, mayors and examination seekers so their skills helped propel Yang to the forefront.

This is not to diminish the popularity of Yang style since that stands on its own merit!
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:11 am

Greetings Jerry,

You wrote: “There is something mutually contradictory about all of these explanations. It strikes me that they are all winging it and that chousi is not a particularly important concept in Yang style.:

While I can agree with your observation that the various explanations of “yun jin ru chousi” are not all alike, I have to respectfully disagree with your conclusion that it is not an important concept in the Yang style. A few days ago you asserted a similar distain for the chousi concept, “Especially since the Yangs never mention it.” Now that we know that Yang Chengfu and Yang Zhenduo both did mention it, we’re advised to discount the concept as unimportant because they apparently didn’t know what they were explaining very well; they were “winging it.”

Metaphors seldom have pat explanations that one can take literally. If they did, people wouldn’t use metaphors; they would just use the pat explanations. People usually use metaphors because they capture a meaning or a nexus of meanings, but do so in a way that can’t be captured in a more straitforward expression. David Nivison wrote, “Students of Chinese philosophy have usually seen their subjects as a succession of people who lived, acted, taught and died, rather than a weaving of strands, any one of which may be a subtle dialectic of question and answer.” Well, he’s got my attention. Apparently there’s a better way to view the subject. I’m sure it doesn’t have to do with weaving, or with strands, but I follow what he’s getting at, and I want to know more. Zhuangzi wrote a story about a guy butchering an ox. It’s not something I imagine I would particularly enjoy watching, but Zhuangzi makes it seem like poetry in motion, and it’s just packed with metaphors on how to “cultivate life” on every level from the mundane to the sublime. Unpacking the metaphors could probably be done in a lot of divergent ways that may or may not help one do one's laundry or go grocery shopping, but none of the unpacking would do the job as well as just reading and pondering the story.

So it may be that the chousi metaphor is not particularly compelling to you, which is fine. But I imagine if it weren’t an important Yang concept, the Yang’s really wouldn’t have mentioned it.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:24 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>

While I can agree with your observation that the various explanations of “yun jin ru chousi” are not all alike, I have to respectfully disagree with your conclusion that it is not an important concept in the Yang style. A few days ago you asserted a similar distain for the chousi concept, “Especially since the Yangs never mention it.” Now that we know that Yang Chengfu and Yang Zhenduo both did mention it, we’re advised to discount the concept as unimportant because they apparently didn’t know what they were explaining very well; they were “winging it.”
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, as a matter of fact, Yang Chengfu mentions it once obliquely, while asserting something else he says "that's what the classics meant by..." So he is hardly extolling it as a major part of his teaching. Yang Zhenduo, to my knowledge, has never mentioned it in a seminar. The only evidence we have of him speaking to it is in reply to an interviewer's question. So how important can it be? It's an image that rarely comes up in the teachings of the Yang family. It only occurs once in the 'primary literature' The secondary literature has turned it into a 'principle' but there is, as I just demonstrated, precious little agreement on what it's supposed to mean. So I stand by what I said above.
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:41 am

By 'winging it' I did not mean "they apparently didn’t know what they were explaining very well". I meant they were making ad hoc explanations of an image which is not particularly central to the style or even very clear-cut in meaning.
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:20 am

If you look carefully at what Yang Zhenduo said in the interview, he does not suggest that we practice any such thing as chou si, only that performing according to the requirements might yield such a 'result'. The word he uses is xiao4guo3, which is the sort of 'effect' one anticipates when taking a medicine. So he is not referring to a cause, but an effect. Knowing him and the linguistic milieu he operates in, I would say that he is too polite to say the interviewer is asking the wrong question, and instead very cleverly turns the whole thing around so that if you do a bunch of other things, which are important and significant in terms of the attention they require in our practice, this 'effect' will be generated.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:04 am

Here's that rainy day. . .

Hi Jerry,

Re: “If you look carefully at what Yang Zhenduo said in the interview, he does not suggest that we practice any such thing as chou si, only that performing according to the requirements might yield such a 'result'.”

I agree, he doesn’t suggest that. I haven’t suggested that either—not as “any such thing.” The metaphor is suggestive of what training “is like,” not a prescription for a particular “thing” that one does. Again, this is part of the objection that Wu Tunan raised about conflating “chansijin” and a non-existent, alleged “chousijin.” A case can be made that in the Chen family art, chansijin is a thing that you do. There are specific drills in which one trains “chansijin.” There are things that you can see, and identify as chansijin. None of this can be said of what is referred to as “Move jin as though drawing silk.” That’s because it isn’t a thing that you do; it’s a metaphor for how it’s done.

OK. I’ll stop beating my head against the wall now.

Notice: No heads or walls were harmed in the writing of this message.

Take care,
Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-13-2006).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:13 am

Image
Image
Image

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-13-2006).]
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Postby Richard Man » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:33 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
If you look carefully at what Yang Zhenduo said in the interview, he does not suggest that we practice any such thing as chou si, only that performing according to the requirements might yield such a 'result'. The word he uses is xiao4guo3, which is the sort of 'effect' one anticipates when taking a medicine. So he is not referring to a cause, but an effect. Knowing him and the linguistic milieu he operates in, I would say that he is too polite to say the interviewer is asking the wrong question, and instead very cleverly turns the whole thing around so that if you do a bunch of other things, which are important and significant in terms of the attention they require in our practice, this 'effect' will be generated.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is pretty much what I try to said. The fact that it took another dozen posts before it comes about again means that I wasn't clear. Sorry.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:54 pm

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Postby Pamela » Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:11 pm

I wonder if dragon candy was designed with this silkworm and its cocoon in mind... Image

Sorry, I don't know the Chinese name for this dessert...



[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 03-20-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:32 pm

Greetings Jeff,

Thanks for the link. There is not much there that looks like taijiquan to me, but one of the remarks on the “more efficient” linked page resonated for me: “A lot of this process is done by feel.” That’s what I’ve been trying to convey about the metaphor, “Move jin as though drawing silk.” It is a metaphor. It is a special category of metaphor—a tactile metaphor. It has to do with the ganjue.

I also liked the “One True Thread.” Hmmm.

Some folks have some strange hobbies, don’t they?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:06 pm

Here's a page about the art of playing the Chinese musical instrument, the Qin: http://www.china-qin.com/english/fe/e01/1e003.htm

There's a quote on the page from a Ming dynasty writer that uses the drawing silk metaphor:

"The wonder (of playing the Qin) lies in the most subtle detail and its secret lies in the musical intention. While the fingering is minute, the tone will emit like the pulling of silk, enabling the audience to appreciate (the music) without using his mechanism [?]."

Take care,
Louis

* I've searched in vain for the orignal Chinese for this quote, in hopes of clarifying the last phrase about "using his mechanism." That's just weird.

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-22-2006).]
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Postby Rich » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:13 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Gu Rou Chen:
<B>http://www.wormspit.com/silkreeling.htm

jeff</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Excellent post!

I wonder if anyone noticed the machine used to reel the silk, and how it is operated by cranking a handle in a vertical plane in front of the body? The machine pictured had a fairly small crank but if we imagine a larger machine with a crank diameter of about 2 feet, we can see that the skillful operating of this crank in a smooth way would involve a whole body motion just like the Chen silk reeling excercises.

Rich

PS>Louis and Jerry, I agree that the usage of silk imagery used by Yang Chengfu is more to do with smoothness of motion than a particular excercise. It seems to me that the Chens are using 'reeling' as in the operating of a machine like the one in the article (a whole body circular motion, and the Yangs are using 'pulling' as in the smoothness required to do the job. But the two terms link up in meaning since the reeling job of the machine is contingent on the smooth pulling, and so both are dependant on the cranking of the handle being done smoothly - so to reel is to pull, and to pull is to reel!
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