Taijiquan Lun

Postby JerryKarin » Sat Sep 13, 2008 12:25 am

I dislike judging other people's supposed taiji practice level or generalizing about different groups of taiji practitioners. It's a disguised form of boasting, usually. Us and Them. No need to divide like that. Many who post here, though quiet about it, have paid some dues practicing and have put in time, money and effort to work with great teachers, both famous and not so famous. Don't concern yourself about who is better or worse. Study, ponder, practice. Enjoy your taijiquan. Now back to taijiquan lun!
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:58 pm

Greetings All,

Any thought on line 8?

--Louis
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Postby Phocion » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:44 pm

Well, I ought to be quiet and listen in the presence of my betters, but rather than let the thread die, I'll offer my (no doubt, inaccurate) rendering.

What to make of the first half of the line? Xu ling probably isn't "empty spirit," as that doesn't make any sense to me. And does ding jing mean "raising the energy to the top," or "energy rising the top"? Beats me.

But since the second half of the line is pretty clear, I'll assume the first half is supposed to be somewhat parallel. So, ...

The clear, swift energy rises to the headtop,
The breath sinks to the dan tian.

Dave
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:10 am

Greetings Dave,

Thank you for keeping the thread alive.

You wrote: ‘I'll assume the first half is supposed to be somewhat parallel. So, ...
The clear, swift energy rises to the headtop,
The breath sinks to the dan tian.’

You are right that the first and second parts are parallel. The rising and sinking are corresponding and inter-related actions.

I’m fairly certain, though, that qi does not mean breath here. The sinking of the qi to the dantian definitely affects the manner in which you breathe, and vis-versa, but the sinking of the qi is a more inclusive prescription, having to do with more than breath itself. Most taiji writings use other terminology when the object is breath or breathing. For example, in Yang Chengfu’s tenth essential, he states, “When practicing slowly, the breathing (huxi) deepens and lengthens; the qi sinks to the dantian.” He pointedly refers to breathing (huxi) and the sinking of the qi as distinct but related actions.

I have a lot of thoughts regarding the meaning of xu ling ding jin, but I’m interested in seeing input from others.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:25 am

Xie Bingcan uses the term dingjing in a somewhat different context, where he is talking about a sort of strong, fixed oppositional force. I am not certain if that is the same ding3, but I think it is. So the flavor I get out of this is dingjing as an active upward lifting jing or force. ding shang qu 顶上去. Now following that we would take xuling as sort of modifying or adverbial clause, a sort of ever-so-lightly rising idea.

I once tried to pin down Yang Zhenduo on how to parse this phrase but he did not seem familiar with the grammatical terms I was using and I had to let it go, with regret.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:36 am

I agree with Dave about the xuling part being Up versus qi chen sinking or going down. When Yang Zhenduo explains this I don't think I have ever heard him say anything about qi. He always talks about the head rising and the lower spine pulling downward, stretching and lengthening the spine.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:13 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
I agree with Dave about the xuling part being Up versus qi chen sinking or going down. When Yang Zhenduo explains this I don't think I have ever heard him say anything about qi. He always talks about the head rising and the lower spine pulling downward, stretching and lengthening the spine.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Jerry,

I could feel comfortable not talking about qi when explaining this. It involves certain sensations and actions that focus in the tantian region. I just think that it's important to understand that qi does not mean "breath" in this phrase or in this context.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:46 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
<B>Xie Bingcan uses the term dingjing in a somewhat different context, where he is talking about a sort of strong, fixed oppositional force. I am not certain if that is the same ding3, but I think it is. So the flavor I get out of this is dingjing as an active upward lifting jing or force. ding shang qu ¶¥ÉÏÈ¥. Now following that we would take xuling as sort of modifying or adverbial clause, a sort of ever-so-lightly rising idea.

I once tried to pin down Yang Zhenduo on how to parse this phrase but he did not seem familiar with the grammatical terms I was using and I had to let it go, with regret.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greetings Jerry,

The taiji term dingjin uses the same character, but I don’t think it’s the same usage in the ‘xu ling ding jin phrase’. The dingjin term is considered an error of force-against-force in taiji tactics, and is often translated “butting”—likely because it evokes the butting of rams or other four-legged animals. Ding is also a verb for “to gore.” In ‘xu ling ding jin’, I think ding simply means the crown of the head. Its usage is similar to the phase that appears in other taiji documents: ding tou xuan—suspending the crown of the head.

It is a challenging phrase to translate, that’s a fact!

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 09-23-2008).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:34 pm

Yes, I think you have a good point about Yang Chengfu distinguishing breathing and qi. Oddly, in practice, 'sinking qi to the dantian' seems to have the force of the mythical animals and so on in so many of the form names: more of an image to suggest the overall picture than some steps to be literally carried out.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:38 pm

So in a sense 虚灵顶劲,气沉丹田。 is a kind of 'coded' expression, which is really talking about stretching one end of the spine upward and the other downward.
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Postby Phocion » Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:17 pm

This very interesting discussion about line eight raises a couple of questions I hope someone can answer for me.

First, I chose to render "qi" as "breath" because "jing" is clearly "energy," and I don't understand the difference between qi energy and jing energy. "Energy1 raises the headtop, energy2 sinks the dan tian" didn't seem very illuminating, but "breath sinks to the dan tian" I could make sense of, at least in a tactile way. So, how are they related (or are they distinct)? Are they different types of energy or is one a sub-type of the other?

Second, what about voice? "Raise the energy to the headtop, sink the qi to the dan tian" or "Energy raises the headtop, qi sinks the dan tian"? Does the lack of a passive marker rule out the use of the passive voice?

Dave
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:48 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
So in a sense ÐéÁ鶥¾¢£¬Æø³Áµ¤Ìï¡£ is a kind of 'coded' expression, which is really talking about stretching one end of the spine upward and the other downward. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

And: "Oddly, in practice, 'sinking qi to the dantian' seems to have the force of the mythical animals and so on in so many of the form names: more of an image to suggest the overall picture than some steps to be literally carried out."

Jerry,

I think you¡¯re right on both counts. This line is highly impressionistic, if you will, and more image-based than it is an explicit instruction. It uses identifiable imagery and language associated with daoist and neo-Confucian self-cultivation traditions.

--Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:56 am

Greetings Dave,

I don’t know if this will help or not, but you might think of qi as energy in a sort of collective sense—a field of energy. It’s not some vague force; it’s tangible in your tissues, muscles, circulation, and breathing. Jin in taijiquan is more focused; through training you develop movement skills that integrate and focus your strength and awareness in specific techniques and configurations. I’m proposing a field/focus model to attempt to explain my understanding of how these concepts differ in taiji usage.

Your question about voice is a good one! I think the second part—“the qi sinks to the dantian”—reads as a passive construction, but if we’re right that the two parts go together, with the “rising” and the “sinking” being concurrent and interactive—a sort of charged polarity of your vertical axis—then we may need to render all of line six to read as a whole. The problem is that the first part, “xu ling ding jin” is kind of a word jumble. It could almost be a noun phrase with none of the four characters working as a verb. If that’s the case, to render it into English we would need to add a function word like "with" to have it work, something like: ‘With the clear lively energy at the crown of the head, the qi sinks to the dantian.’ So xu ling ding jin is sort of a stated precondition, or co-condition of the qi sinking.

It's late, and I'm kind of thinking out loud. I'll post more on "xu ling" soon.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Phocion » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:26 pm

Louis wrote: "I don’t know if this will help or not, but you might think of qi as energy in a sort of collective sense—a field of energy. .. I’m proposing a field/focus model to attempt to explain my understanding of how these concepts differ in taiji usage."

Well, it's an hypothesis. Not one that seems persuasive at first glance (when I sink the qi to the dan tian, do I focus my field?--Don't answer that question!) But this is not the place to go into the issue. If you think it would be useful, please start another thread on the relationship between qi and jing, or please email me.

"I'll post more on "xu ling" soon."

I look forward to it.

Cheers!

Dave
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:57 am

It is tempting to talk about jing as a kind of kinetic energy vs. qi as biochemical or some such. However I don't think we can get off that easy!
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