Taijiquan Lun

Postby Phocion » Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:20 pm

Hi all,

Line 22: "Stand like a ping2 zhun3, move like a cart wheel."

Ping2 zhun3 has been translated as "balance," "even level," and "balance scale," and although they are all, in some way, adequate, I'm not satisfied. "Balance" is not concrete enough for my taste and "even level" (referring to a carpenter's level) misses the notion of balancing implicit in the terms. Additionally, reading text 24 of the Yang 40 makes it clear that at least that author understood that the balance was suspended.

In the course of the discussion I, like yslim, have come to appreciate the image of the steelyard, asymmetrical arms delicately balanced while it is free to turn from its suspending thread. Now, this is a concrete image. It is pretty clearly the image the author of text 24 was talking about. It can be looked up in a dictionary or Googled for a picture.

For all of these reasons I think line 22 should be rendered: "Erect like a suspended steelyard, lively like a cart's wheel."

Comments?

Dave
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:32 pm

Another useful image of balance seen daily in China is the shoulder pole. Probably is a useful exercise for Taiji training as well.

Jeff
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Postby Yin Peixiong » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:12 pm

The Authentic Principles of Taijiquan by Chang Yijin (student of Li Yaxuan) includes Wang Zongyue's Taijiquan Lun with very extensive comments by Wu Yuxiang. I have not seen these comments anywhere else, and the posts here do not seem to reflect an awareness of their existence. Does anyone know about these comments?

The comments divide the work into eight segments with very succinct and powerful summaries followed by elaborate explanations.

Using the line numbers in yslim's post, the following are Wu's segments and their summaries (my translation):

segment 1 - line 1. Clarifies the significance of the name in order to summarize its application.

segment 2 - lines 2 through 5. Discusses directive of taijiquan movements.

segment 3 - lines 6 through 7. Discusses stages of taijiquan skill.

segment 4 - lines 8 through 15. Discusses practice methods and their result.

segment 5 - lines 16 through 21. Clarifies advantages of taijiquan.

segment 6 - lines 22 through 25. Discusses gain and loss of taijiquan.

segment 7 - lines 26 through 30. Discusses taking a high path to rid of ills and improve skills daily.

segment 8 - lines 31 through 34. Claifies the ultimate source of taijiquan skill.

[This message has been edited by Yin Peixiong (edited 12-08-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:56 am

Greetings Arthur,

Re: The Authentic Principles of Taijiquan by Chang Yijin (student of Li Yaxuan) includes Wang Zongyue's Taijiquan Lun with very extensive comments by Wu Yuxiang. I have not seen these comments anywhere else, and the posts here do not seem to reflect an awareness of their existence. Does anyone know about these comments?


Do you have any further information regarding the provenance of these comments by Wu Yuxiang? Does the document have a title? I’m not able to find a version of the Taijiquan Lun that we’re discussing here that includes commentary by Wu Yuxiang. One would expect that such a document would be included in Shen Shou’s collection, _Taiji Quanpu_. That book has eight Wu Yuxiang texts, but none that would be described as comments on the Taijiquan Lun.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 12-09-2008).]
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Postby Yin Peixiong » Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:00 pm

Hi Louis,

I have Shen Shou's collection, and this is not in it.

Chang's book's first section Taijiquan Classics starts with Taijiquan Lun with the leading phrase "When one moves...". This is followed by some statement on Wang's Taijiquan Lun, then the annotated Taijiquan Lun. This is followed by four essays that are in Fu's book: Mental Elucidation, the two Songs, and Yang Chengfu's On Practice.

The statement on Wang's work delves into the annotation's provenance - that Wu added the comments after finding Wang's essay in the salt shop (it's hard to imagine his adding the comments prior to his find?), and Yang Luchan used his annotated version.

The comments are very impressive. The fourth segment on practice methods and their result, for example, explains that the first three phrases deal with practicing the frame. The "sometimes hidden, sometimes appears" phrase deals with both the frame and push hands. The following phrases until "hero..." deal with push hands, and "hero..." refers to the result of the practice methods that develop ultimate lightness and sensitivity.

The sixth segment on Taijiquan's gain and loss explains the first two phrases as the foundations of the frame while the next two phrases explain the sources of gain and loss.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:46 am

Greetings Dave,

Re: 'Additionally, reading text 24 of the Yang 40 makes it clear that at least that author understood that the balance was suspended.'

Functionally, aren't both kinds of scale suspended? That is, the fulcrum or balance point of each is suspended. Whether from above or from below, it does not matter from the standpoint of the fulcrum's operation. Also, if we are to use text 24 to corroborate the meaning of pingzhun, doesn't it refer to the two weighing trays of a scale? A steelyard has only one. I agree that the steelyard is a powerful image with regard to taijiquan, especially in light of the "four ounces deflect one thousand pounds" aphorism, but the two-tray scale (tianping) is a useful image as well. I wonder if the author of the lun intentially used pingzhun as a provocative term, avoiding a specific mechanical reference?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:47 pm

Greetings Jerry and All,

I didn't mean to stall progress on this thread in bringing up the ponderables and imponderables of "pingzhun" in line 22. Shall we procede with the next line?

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 12-12-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:03 pm

Greetings Arthur,

Re: "The comments divide the work into eight segments with very succinct and powerful summaries followed by elaborate explanations."

The eight-fold breakdown and comments seem very logical. I still am very curious why this commentary from Wu Yuxiang has not previously come to light. Are they interlinear or marginal notes, or a separate document? Did someone acquire them in manuscript form written in Wu's own brush? I'm wondering if there's any evidence of Tang Hao or Gu Liuxin having been aware of this commentary? Is there any chance you might provide a translation of the "elaborate explanations?"

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yin Peixiong » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:36 pm

The commentaries are not by Wu. It appears that these notes are from Xu Zhen's Taijiquan Fawei (Detailed or Intricate Expositions of Taijiquan).

I sent copies to Louis and Jerry. Hopefully they'll help with the translation.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:13 am

Hi Arthur,

As I mentioned in my email to you over the weekend, I had already surmised that the commentary could not have been Wu Yuxiang’s. Among other reasons, some of the terminology and language style was too modern to have been Wu’s. I’m not sure what to think of Zhang Yijun’s use of the commentary. Did he knowingly crib Xu Zhen without crediting him in any way? Or, did he actually mistakenly believe that it was Wu Yuxiang’s commentary? His remarks about Wu Yuxiang having added to the original salt shop manuscript are ambiguous, for Wu did in fact add some of his own material that survived in later versions, but he didn’t specifically add commentary to the Taijiquan Lun.

Here’s a link to a page that includes Xu Zhen’s commentary. Scroll down a bit. http://www.5-gold.com/tradition/trataichi07.htm

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 12-15-2008).]
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Postby Yin Peixiong » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:46 pm

Wang Zhuang Hong, founder of the Wang Style Taijiquan (named after Wang Zhong Yue), who passed away last December, wrote a very thoughtful and impactful essay, including his summary of Taijiquan Lun: http://bbs.stnn.cc/dispbbs.asp?boardid=62&Id=75075&page=2

by the way, this link does not show the complete essay.


[This message has been edited by Yin Peixiong (edited August 27, 2009).]
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Postby taiji-jim » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:39 pm

I know I'm just the village idiot here (I don't read or speak Chinese), and I should probably keep reading, keep my trap shut, and you've probably already solved this; but how about instead of "running away" you think of it as staying just out of reach? That's how I think of "yielding" in pushing hands.

I'll shut up now and go back to observing the debate.

Sorry!


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

Yes, but of course running away can have negative connotations as well that are not in keeping with the art of taiji. I agree though about running away being one meaning of zou, if not necessarily the core meaning. In the "Terrain" chapter (ch. 10) of the Art of Warfare, Sunzi enumerated 6 command faults. The first of these is "zou." This is most often translated "flight."

"Where the strategic advantages of both sides are about the same, for an army to attack an enemy ten times its size will result in flight (zou)." --Ames, Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare, p. 149.

On the other hand, zou can just mean movement -- towards as well as away from.

"If he moves [zou] rapidly with his troops in formation, he is setting the time of battle." --Ames, ibid. "Deploying the Army (ch. 9) p. 142

</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Re: Taijiquan Lun

Postby bailewen » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:36 am

Hi all.

Sorry to just jump in without and introduction. I see if there's an appropriate sub-forum somewhere and add that in. I couldn't help myself because I am just so fascinated by translations. Two things drew me in here:
taiji-jim wrote:I know I'm just the village idiot here (I don't read or speak Chinese), and I should probably keep reading, keep my trap shut, and you've probably already solved this; but how about instead of "running away" you think of it as staying just out of reach? That's how I think of "yielding" in pushing hands.


Absolutely. I didn't catch who called it "running away" but "running away" is, IMO, a specific fault. That would be "diu/丢 as in 不丢不顶. The classics specifically say to "not lose contact; not oppose". "Zou"/走 can certainly mean "run away" in certain contexts as in the oft humorously quoted "Of the 36 strategies, running away is best"/三十六计:走为上策走为上策 but it more generally refers to walking or simply moving. In push hands, my Shifu generally uses "zou" the way an American teacher would say "go head...keep going" etc. So I guess I agree with taiji-jim there.

I am curious how you guys work out translating line 27 (粘即是走,走即是粘)

sticking is moving; moving is sticking
:?:

p.s.
I apologize for bringing the balance thing up again but the text presented on page 1 does not say a "ping jun". Maybe in classical Chinese it's read differently but what I am seeing there is "cheng-jun" which really simplifies the matter because that would mean it's not a noun at all but rather a (transitive verb)+(object) combination. "cheng": to weigh "jun" accurately".

Later.
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Re: Taijiquan Lun

Postby Audi » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:12 am

HI Bailewen,

Welcome to the forum. No introduction is necessary.

taiji-jim wrote:I know I'm just the village idiot here (I don't read or speak Chinese), and I should probably keep reading, keep my trap shut, and you've probably already solved this; but how about instead of "running away" you think of it as staying just out of reach? That's how I think of "yielding" in pushing hands.


Absolutely. I didn't catch who called it "running away" but "running away" is, IMO, a specific fault. That would be "diu/丢 as in 不丢不顶. The classics specifically say to "not lose contact; not oppose". "Zou"/走 can certainly mean "run away" in certain contexts as in the oft humorously quoted "Of the 36 strategies, running away is best"/三十六计:走为上策走为上策 but it more generally refers to walking or simply moving. In push hands, my Shifu generally uses "zou" the way an American teacher would say "go head...keep going" etc. So I guess I agree with taiji-jim there.


I think that the discussion of "zou" as "running away" began on pages 3 and 4.

I am curious how you guys work out translating line 27 (粘即是走,走即是粘)

sticking is moving; moving is sticking
:?:


I think I like your translation, but might prefer something like "sticking is simply yielding; yielding is simply sticking". If you do not yield, but do 顶 (butting against), you cannot do 粘 (sticking). On the other hand, you should not yield without also sticking; otherwise you lose contact (diu/丢) and can no longer control the opponent. Thus, "sticking" and "yielding" need to be the same thing.

I apologize for bringing the balance thing up again but the text presented on page 1 does not say a "ping jun". Maybe in classical Chinese it's read differently but what I am seeing there is "cheng-jun" which really simplifies the matter because that would mean it's not a noun at all but rather a (transitive verb)+(object) combination. "cheng": to weigh "jun" accurately".


This issue was discussed beginning on page 10. Apparently there is disagreement on how the text originally read.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Taijiquan Lun

Postby bailewen » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:40 am

Interesting. I wish I had dropped in earlier. Well since the topic has been quiet for about a month now I guess there's no harm in revisiting some of it.

I guess I really have to disagree with Mr. Swain's take on it. I can't find any connotation for "zou" that implies running away. In common parlance, it just as often means to advance. All that wonderful polysemy that he alluded to earlier. (great word btw) In particular I take issue with the issue of "running away" because of the context: 粘即是走,走即是粘.

The song specifically says that 'zou' and 'zhan' are the same thing. It's says that 'adhering' is actually 'zou' and vice versa. In my understanding it is telling you that you need to move to stick. Just recently one of my brothers was a little vexed by the fact that he can't apply 'adhering' to someone who moves in and out, someone who does not engage you in a push hands type fashion. Shifu explained that that's where the flip side of 'zhan' comes in: 'nian'. 'zhan' means you adhere to them lightly, like the way static cling makes a piece of cellophane stick to your hand. 'nian' means you get all entagled in it so you can't disengage.

In that context, 'zou' is clearly an act of engagement, not retreat.

By way of introduction, here's a video of my and Shifu pushing for the cameras:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrXz6mZJQes

The very first word you here is his telling me to 'zou'

p.s.
I think I like your translation, but might prefer something like "sticking is simply yielding; yielding is simply sticking". If you do not yield, but do 顶 (butting against), you cannot do 粘 (sticking). On the other hand, you should not yield without also sticking; otherwise you lose contact (diu/丢) and can no longer control the opponent. Thus, "sticking" and "yielding" need to be the same thing.

I have two issues with this. One is that there is already a perfectly good term for yielding: 'rang'/让 Why not use that one? Second, zhan, as I alluded to earlier, often requires advancing as well. It's not always yielding. When a person withdraws their hand and you adhere to it, that is not yielding. Heck, you could be using 'zhan' in order to apply 'an'(press).
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