Thanks for reminding me of the previous discussion, which I had forgotten. I re-read it again and was surprised how many issues have lingered, but even more so how much my viewpoints and priorities have shifted.
Thanks also for your reference to the explanation of qichengzhuanhe; however, what most caught my eye was the fact that it was a chengyu denoting ŒÅ’è•ð”Â“IŒ`Ž® ("fixed, dull, and inflexible form"). I think I understand the historical reasons for this, but what a shame that such a connotation has become attached to the tenets of one of the more "formless" styles of Taijiquan.
As for the Eight-Legged Essays, I also made this possible connection, but was puzzled by the difference in the terms for the sections and even the difference in some of the ordering. I have tried to wade through the Chinese Wikipedia's explanation of the different sections, but get lost in unfamiliar literary forms that have little or no flavor for me.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Re: 'One other surprising tidbit I ran across in a recent edition of Tai Chi Magazine was that Wu/Hao Style originally talked about "opening" ("kai") in a different way.'</font>
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Do you recall offhand which issue this was in?</font>
It is Vol. 31, No. 6, page 20, top of the third column. Here is the relevant quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">For giving prominence to the emptiness and solidness, open and close and the changes of storing and releasing force in the boxing forms, Hao Weizhen, the third generation of Wu's Style Taijiquan, changed "Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He" into "Qi, Cheng, Kai (open) and He (close)." So Wu's Style Taijiquan is also called "Kai He Taijiquan."</font>
This article is also the source of Bob's recent comments about the origin of certain posture names. Wu Wenhan asserts that Wu Yuxiang changed 20 names of the forms and gives some examples, most of which also describe postures in Yang Chengfu's form.
What I found most surprising was the substition of "zhuan" ("turn") with "kai" ("open"). To me the affinity between the two is not obvious and implies something different about the Wuu conception of "kai" than I had before thought. I am not very familiar with the distinct flavor and doctrines of Wuu Style, but could imagine how the original sequence might apply to an essay or to a posture sequence. I have much greater difficulty fitting in "opening" and "closing" into a sequence of four phases, rather than two poles of a unity, especially if they are thought of as adjacent in the sequence.
As for the larger issue of the pivot, I have a few further speculations based on a recent Association seminar I attended. At the seminar, it was made clear that opening and closing are parts of the Yin/Yang change you should feel during the form, like the exchanges of empty/full and storing/releasing. The explanation and my practice have led me to the following level of understanding and belief. Rather than explain it directly, let me narrate some of my thoughts/feelings near the beginning of the form. For "opening" and "closing," my reference point is the feeling with respect to my lumbar region, both horizontally and vertically. Sometimes, the feeling is clearer with respect to the centerline of my stance and my connection to the opponent. Sometimes the feeling is also subdivided. Similarly, one feeling often contains some aspect of the other at another level.
In the Opening Posture, I feel my back open horizontally with the initial arm rotation to allow my arms to close slightly horizontally. I then feel by back close vertically to allow my arms to open vertically. To lower my arms with the requisite continuity and "wave" feeling, I have to open my back vertically to help my arms close vertically.
In Wardoff Left, my feet then open to allow my hands to open slightly. As I step, my legs open to allow my arms to circle closed. As my stance finishes in a closed position, this allows my arms to open in the final position.
In Rollback, by waist initially comes square to allow my arms to open up more, then my waist closes to allow my arms to close. In Press, I feel my opponent wants to stay close, and so first I close my right arm further to allow it to end up open. In Push, I feel my opponent wants to be open and so I first open to separate his arms and retreat to allow him to open further, I then push down, forward, and up through a vertical ellipse to close him.
In Single Whip, I feel the posture ends up very open, except that the right hand is closed in a hook and the left hand is slightly closed in a seated position. To move into Lifting Hands, you must close the back slightly in order to open the hands further; then, after the front foot touches, the back opens to allow the arms to close.
In High Pat on Horse, the arms begin again very open in Single Whip, but then the body is subdivided right and left. The left arm opens more as the hand rotates palm up. The right arm closes as the hand seats and the arm folds in at the elbow. At the end of the posture, the arms reverse, as the left arm closes and the right arm opens.
This is all I have for now.
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 02-23-2008).]