## flowing like a river?

Greetings W,

You wrote: 'Makes me wonder what kind of fun you guys would have with:
"Seek the curve in the straight and the straight in the curve"?'

You bet. Well, among other things, it could have something to do with how a dog catches a flying Frisbee, or an outfielder a fly ball. I just read an article in today’s science section of the New York Times about experiments done with dogs catching Fribsees, and the subconscious “intuitive arithmetic” that evidently is involved with the successful accomplishment of this task. Although the Frisbee or ball travels in a curved trajectory, the dog or outfielder tracks it visually and mentally as a straight trajectory, even adjusting their approach by themselves running in a curved arch rather than straight toward the target so as to maintain optical tracking of a straight trajectory. “The roundabout path enables fielders to keep the ball's image rising in a straight line.” (NYT, 1/7/03)

An excerpt: “Their brains take in the image of the moving target, perform split-second computations to estimate their required speed and direction at any instant, and make them act accordingly. These computations are what lie beneath the outfielder's grace and reflexive magic.

In a paper in the journal Science in 1995, the researchers proposed that their straight-line model (they called it LOT, for linear optical trajectory), offered a more accurate description of ball-catching mechanics than an earlier model that said fielders navigated by keeping the ball's image moving at a constant speed in their fields of vision.” (NYT, 1/7/03)

So, the taijiquan requirement to “seek the straight in the curved” could well be grounded in the “intuitive arithmetic” required for interactive movement.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

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Location: Oakland, CA

That's really wild. I had no idea.
I wonder if that's really how it works when a practicioner perceives an incoming force that is curved?
By that I mean, if an opponent is making a punch towards you, kind of like the curving punch in Fist Under Elbow, if a practicioner would see that mentally as coming in straight and adjust his thinking to track it that way for acceptance and redirection?
Hmmmm....
Does that mean however that your response, while necessarily curved to match the curve coming in, is perceived by your mind as a straight line for reasons of mentally assessing it?
I wonder how you would research something like that?
That's very interesting.
A whole new twist to "seek the curve in the straight" for me.
Wushuer

Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 7:01 am

Back to the start of this very interesting thread about the ¡®momentary pause between the completion of one posture and the beginning of the next.¡¯

Wang Yongquan¡¯s (studied with Yangs in Beijing from the age of seven up to his mid twenties) materials state that all ¡®moves¡¯ should clearly have four stages:

1) starting point (qi3dian3 or yu4bei4; ¡®preparation¡¯)
2) progression (yun4xing2)
3) end point (zhong1dian3)
4) transition (bian4huan4)

He says that the transition is the most important as this is what connects all the movements together.

My experience is that without a transition you cannot find the starting point of the next move. In other words, the end point of one move cannot be the starting point of the next. Although they are distinct stages, activity all flows together so that others look at you and do -not- see any real stopping even when you seem to have ¡®stopped¡¯. Since there is always movement inside (after wuji becomes taiji), even though your limbs are not moving there is never any stopping or ¡®pausing¡¯. The difficult thing is to find someone who can show you how to create movement inside.

Just to throw out another interesting topic:
Dian3 is one of those terms that has different meanings.
The use of ¡®point¡¯ (dian3) above is different from the other concept of dian3 (vs. planes) used in the words: ¡®jie1chu4dian3¡¯ point of contact, and others like li4dian3, zhi4dian3, ting2dian3, hua2dian3, qing1dian3, kong1dian3, na2dian3, fa1dian3, etc.

There is a phrase: yao4 dian3 bu yao4 mian4; ¡®want point not want plane¡¯: in push hands create a connection of points not of planes-between you and your partner. (I like the analogy of making your partner step on a floor covered with marbles.)

Wang is the only one I have seen who elaborates in any detail on this very important and fundamental concept in Yang Taiji of dian3 ¡®points¡¯ (vs. planes).

Wang Yongquan. 1990. Yangshi Taijiquan Shuzhen. (Authentic Yang Style Taijiquan) Beijing: Renmin tiyu chubanshe. (People¡¯s Sports Press)
Originally published in 60¡¯s under same title.

Jeff
Gu Rou Chen

Posts: 105
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Great post Jeff! (and all the others too). Now I have to try to get that book.
JerryKarin

Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Greetings Jeff,

This is thought provoking information. Wang Yongquan’s breakdown of taiji movement into starting point, progression, end point, and transition in some ways challenges my way of thinking about this. The ‘beginning point’ I understand, and the term zhongdian as ‘point of stopping’ makes sense, although this was not a term I was familiar with before. For ‘transition,’ the term ‘bianhuan’ implies not only a change, but also a reversal or inversion, right? That would certainly describe the energy change that takes place at the terminal point of a pendulum’s swing, or, by analogy, the shifting directionality and momentum at the end point between one taijiquan posture and the next. I’m a little confused, however, about what we may refer to as “transitions” and “progressions” in the taijiquan form. To me, Wang’s definition of transition refers to a very small instant of time and space between the endpoint of one movement and the beginning point of the next. It occurs to me, though, that there may be some gray area in what we sometimes call “transitions.” For example, sometimes the whole section of movement between the first An (‘push’ in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail), and Single Whip is referred to as a transition. Is this only because it is not a “named posture?” Some refer to that section as “bagua yu” (eight trigrams fish), perhaps reflecting some oral tradition, but this is just one example of an issue that I find of ongoing interest—that what we call postures in taijiquan often seems to be rather arbitrarily determined, and that being the case, understanding what an endpoint is may not always be a simple matter.

It would be good if you could elaborate some on the ‘point/plane’ distinction. Intuitively, this notion appeals to me, but I want to make sure I understand it properly. Does the distinction refer merely to surface area, or is there more to it? Does it rather have more to do with specific focus within a given area of contact, whatever the surface area may be? In push hands, whatever surface you make available to your partner is potentially a ‘landing area’ for their advance, so on one level you would want to minimize the surface area you’re making available. Conversely, the greater the surface area, perhaps the greater will be the amount and quality of information you may be able to gather about the opponent’s intention, stability, directionality, and strength. So, it seems to me that there is a rationale for maximizing surface area, but that there must be a refined sense of focus (dian) within a given “plane” (mian). That is, if the shared surface area is the palm of my hand in contact with the other’s forearm, I will want to maintain maximum surface area, but the actual point of focus for me may be a specific point at the end of my ulna (which may or may not be apparent to my partner). To shift the perspective, if the point of contact from my point of view is my wrist in contact with the opponent’s palm, I may want to endeavor to keep the surface area at its maximum, while shifting the focal point of contact as I turn my waist and rotate my forearm, hopefully providing a rolling trajectory for my opponent’s advance away from my centerline.

So in my interpretation of the point/plane distinction, the point would refer as much to a point of focus as to a physical point of contact within a plane of wider contact. This has some resonance to me with the classical notion of “yi chu you yi chu xu shi” “each place has its place of empy and full.” Even a point (dian) can be broken down into empty and full aspects, theoretically without limit. Does this align with Wang’s presentation at all, as you understand it?

I also noticed a possible pun in the phrase, “yao dian, buyao mian.” This may be wild conjecture on my part, but taking ‘yaodian’ as ‘the important point,’ and ‘buyao mian’ in the sense of ‘mianzi’ (face), you could read this as “The important thing is not to be anxious about saving face.” Or, “[try to] want [only] a bit, and don’t [try to] want face.” That is, “don’t be greedy, and don’t worry about gaining or losing face.” Seems like a good attitude to maintain in push hands. But maybe I’m being silly. Sometimes my appreciation for puns gets the better of me.

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 01-10-2003).]
Louis Swaim

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Location: Oakland, CA

Very, very, interesting Jeff. I'd be very curious to hear more myself.
Michael

Posts: 278
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Location: Wi. USA

Greetings Louis,

Thanks for the response; great food for thought. Here are some ideas on the breakdown of movements. (I will post something on point vs. plane later.)
A transition as you say can be a ¡°very small instant of time and space between the endpoint of one movement and the beginning point of the next.¡± Yet, when doing Taiji we control the speed of the movement and when practicing we must extend the duration of this transition-slow it way down and find out what is going on there. The slower the better. The more content you have to your practice, you naturally will want to go slower because you know that if you go fast you will lose it. And conversely, the slower you go the more content you will develop. This content is internal motion of the feelings that are referred to in Chinese as ¡®shen2, yi4, qi4.¡¯

Zhong1dian3 is best thought of as an end point, not a stopping point. It is a point after which the non-stop movement prepares to change direction. Perhaps somewhat like the folding in the Taiji sphere symbol. The pendulum analogy is insightful. In fact, in his book Wang Yongquan recalls as a youth often hearing Yang Jianhou use the analogy of the body being a large bell and being able to adjust at will the length of the pendulum high or low and its position along the path of its swing.

Perhaps we can think of the weightlessness at the height of the pendulum swing being a state and it is this state and what happens there that we wish to understand. Potential energy is stored there and this is what we need to discover and nurture. I have heard several people speak about all of the profound aspects of Taiji being embodied in this change/transition state.

I have been taught and have verified in my practice that, ¡°moves¡± in the form that are labeled with distinct names can be broken down an infinite number of times into the four stages. You can find your starting point anywhere along the exterior motion labeled ¡°high pat on horse,¡± ¡°part the horse¡¯s mane,¡± ¡°needle at sea bottom,¡± etc., progress through to an end point, which is not necessarily the ¡°cardinal end point¡± (or ding4shi4), and then transition to find another starting point.

Wang describes it in terms of internal activity and not external motions.

Here is part of what Wang says about the end point (zhong1dian3) and transition (bian4huan4):

When you reach the end point, your ¡®shen2, yi4, and qi4¡¯ (spirit, intent, Qi) must have focus. Your internal ¡®jin4¡¯ emerges from your hands and is directed towards a focal point. The end point is not an extreme end; one must maintain a buffer within which one can both advance and retreat. The goal is to arrive at a limit that is satisfactory to oneself (where one feels this buffer comfort zone: translator note). One has to have stored up internal ¡®jin4¡¯ before one can use it nimbly in all sorts of movements. During the transition, one has to connect with the end point of the previous movement. Use the round, robust Qi circles/rings to bring back in the ¡®shen2, yi4, qi4¡¯ that was emitted and transform it into the next movement. Internal ¡®jin4¡¯ must go through this transition to bring in to play its effect. . . . (p. 16-17)

My current understanding is that you (1) muster up your total body relaxation/connectedness and find a focal point outside your body. Once you have found this focal point it is in opposition to points on your body/posture which are the starting points. Having the focal point/goal you then (2) move towards it. You never actually get to the focal point because normally you set it farther than your limbs can reach. Anywhere along the line (straight or curved) between the origin and goal you (3) find a quiet place to cease external movement towards the focal point/goal, while your total body relaxation/connectedness continues towards that focal point/goal. Your focus reaches that goal and then (4) you reel it back in, gather it together again and then find another focal point/goal towards which to move.
When you reel it back in, the ¡°move¡± is over.

At the higher levels when one is able to hide any physical traces of the true direction of one¡¯s intent it becomes a game of finding, chasing and controlling each other¡¯s focal points.
Interesting you mentioned the name ¡®eight trigrams fish¡¯ for the motion before the final posture of single whip. Although I have not heard them use that name, the form as passed down by Wang Yongquan¡¯s students has a figure eight motion before the elbow and hook hand. (There are also several distinct movements between an4 and this.) It is quite different from the big round arc I learned in the form passed down through Fu Zhongwen¡¯s students.

Òªµã²»ÒªÃæ¡¢ÒªÃæÁ½²»±ã

Jeff
Gu Rou Chen

Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 7:01 am

Greetings Louis,

Thank you for the post about composure. That makes a great deal of sense to me.

I don't know the extent that you've dealt with emergencies, but being clear headed is very important, especially when adrenaline is pumping. I think that this composure is part and parcel of what is really meant by being centered. Being physically centered is included, but the psychological part is more important. I think that this also has bearing on the concept of "central equilibrium." Does your information on translation bear this out?

You wrote, > As I understand it, the most common definition for ?energy? in physics is ?the capacity for doing work.? (This has puzzled me, as I don?t know what exactly to make of ?work?; it seems to be a loaded word for what is supposedly a scientific concept.) <

In physics work is defined, with parameters for measurement, as the transfer of energy from one system to another. I think that this is an excellent way to look at jin.

Regards,

David J
DavidJ

Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Greetings Jeff,

Very thoughtful post.

You wrote:
“. . . in his book Wang Yongquan recalls as a youth often hearing Yang Jianhou use the analogy of the body being a large bell and being able to adjust at will the length of the pendulum high or low and its position along the path of its swing.”

I'm absolutely fascinated by this reference to Yang Jianhou using this analogy. Does he actually make reference to a pendulum, or would it be to a bell clapper? I’d like to know more about the terminology, and the situation to which he applied this analogy.

I look forward to more discussion of this, and of the point/plane construct.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

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Location: Oakland, CA

Greetings David,

You wrote:
‘I think that this composure is part and parcel of what is really meant by being centered. Being physically centered is included, but the psychological part is more important. I think that this also has bearing on the concept of "central equilibrium."’

Personally, from the very beginning, my taijiquan training has been training in integration, training of the whole person. In this light, equilibrium that would only seek physical balance would not be equilibrium at all. I would even hesitate to say that the psychological aspect is more important, because then we begin to subscribe to the myth of the “ghost in the machine.” The brain is physiological too, after all.

My first sifu used to quote from the early Confucian text, the Zhongyong, sometimes translated the Doctrine of the Mean, or the State of Equilibrium and Harmony, to teach the importance of emotional balance and focused composure of mind. But then to illustrate the points he was making about the Zhongyong, he would would employ examples of martial movements made from a balanced posture contrasted with those made from an unstable base. He always operated under the assumption that the emotional and physical went together, and so training encompassed the whole deal.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Hi Louis,
Excerpt from Wang Yongquan on DIAN3/POINTS

¡°. . . solid points (shi2dian3) are concentrated points at which the opponent can fully utilize his brute strength. One should not push back directly on this point with brute strength. One must find a way to connect with the area immediately around the opponent¡¯s solid point (¡®catch the side¡¯; jie1ce4) and then emit one¡¯s internal ¡®jin4¡¯ via this side of the solid point. If one momentarily cannot locate the side of the opponent¡¯s solid point then one can use the technique of ¡®yin3jin4luo4kong1¡¯ (luring into a vacuum) and then start over again to try to find the side. ¡° (p.246)

Jeff

An analogy that I have found useful is that your partner is using a pole to push you and you use a small ball to meet the end of the pole. You rotate the ball all the while never losing contact with the end of the partner¡¯s pole. The pole is the line from the point of contact to his feet. When you meet the pole with a rotating ball you can affect the pole along its length by giving varying degrees of resistance and angles on the sides of the pole end. When you make the ball very small it becomes a point. Minor rotations of this small point create major changes in your connection with your partner. You only have to rotate it slightly to take away the pressure of the partner¡¯s pushing pole.

Try to take half of this pressure onto the point, the other half of his push cannot find a target and is empty. Through this point fill his body with your internal ¡®jin4¡¯ (spill your relaxed strength all the way to his feet) then pull it back and wait. He will think he has a 50/50 balance, when really half is already yours to manipulate. You are propping him up without him knowing it. When he reveals himself with a push, either continue to pull him out (na2) or pull out and then give it back (na2 er2 hou4 fa1).

If you cannot create points then your connection will not be round, but will be a flat plane.

The creation of points takes a really intense type of focus that I have not experienced outside of Taiji practice, so it is difficult to think of an analogy. The focus is both mental and physical; it is impossible to separate them. The better you get at it the more closely tied together they are. This ¨Cvery- direct connection between the mind and activity in the body is the aspect of Taiji I find most intriguing.

There is the phrase ¡°yi1 jie1 dian3zhong1 qiu2¡±; ¡°As soon as you connect, seek within points.¡±

Also:
¡°yao4dian3 bu4 yao4 mian4, yao4 mian4 liang3 bu4 bian4. Ou3 yu4 mian4 peng4 mian4, ji2shi2 song1kai1 bian4.¡±

Òªµã²»ÒªÃæ ÒªÃæÁ½²»±ã Å¼ÓöÃæÅöÃæ ¼´Ê±ËÉ¿ª±ä

¡°What we want are points not planes. If you want planes then neither partner will have an easy game. Occasionally planes meet planes; immediately relax, open then change.¡±

BELL ANALOGY

He uses the term, ¡°zhong1chui2¡± : bell + hammer. I guess this would be the bell ¡°clapper.¡± Isn¡¯t this the same as a spherical pendulum?

He writes:
¡°In the center of the bell there is a perpendicular string from which hangs a ¡°zhong1chui2¡±. (p.247)

He then goes on to write about five positions along this line from the throat to the space between the hip joints and the different properties of each in push hands.

In another section he uses the bell analogy to describe horizontal Qi circles at the shoulders, waist, and hip joints (top of bell, 4/5 down the bell, opening of bell). (p.24)

Jeff
Gu Rou Chen

Posts: 105
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Greetings Jeff,

This information is great. Like Jerry, I would sure like to find a copy of Wang Yongquan's book. We have such little information about Yang Jianhou's methodology, and Wang evidently had first-hand experience to pass along. Thank you for elaborating on the point/plane idea; it's fascinating! Nice translation of the 'yao dian buyao mian. . .' koujue. Was this Wang's formula, or was he passing on an oral formula from someone else?

On the bell-clapper/pendulum analogy, it's apparent that there are numerous Chinese terms for "pendulum," ranging from colloquial to more technical modern terms. Many of them incorporate "bai3" (swing, oscillation) but there are plenty of other terms. I've seen zhong1bai3, for example, but zhong1chui2, I suspect, is a relatively rare, if perfectly descriptive term. In any case, what captures my attention is the reference to the operation or behavior of a pendulum. I have a particular historical curiosity about certain language changes introduced into China via the interface with Western science and technology. So I get intrigued when I see something like this, which may be evidence of a sort of appropriation of Western mechanical/physics concepts into taiji theory.

On a completely different note regarding bell-clappers, I’ve long wondered if Master Yang Zhenduo’s name (shake the bell-clapper) was inspired by the passage in the Analects (3:24) in which Confucius is said to be a “wooden bell-clapper” (mu duo) for the Dao. So zhen4 duo2, carries a meaning of “to announce,” or “to herald,” or the like. Interestingly, an early modern term for pendulum, “zhenzi” (a borrowing from Japanese), incorporates this same zhen4 character. As is common convention with siblings or same-generation family members, all of Yang Chengfu’s sons’ given names incorporated the zhen character. Yang Zhenming later took the sobriquet, Shouzhong, (protect the center), which is a phrase from the Daodejing.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim

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Location: Oakland, CA

Greetings Louis,

> > [DJ] ?I think that this composure is part and parcel of what is really meant by being centered. Being physically centered is included, but the psychological part is more important. I think that this also has bearing on the concept of "central equilibrium."? < <

> [LS] Personally, from the very beginning, my taijiquan training has been training in integration, training of the whole person. [snip] <

The same here. I was in pursuit of this idea for quite a while before I found Tai Chi Chuan.

> [unsnip] In this light, equilibrium that would only seek physical balance would not be equilibrium at all. [snip] <

Here we are close agreement.

I have seen people who have excellent balance physically, but are unbalanced emotionally, as well as some who are emotionally balanced who physically can't get out of their own way. Of course we wish the two to be integrated, I would still give the psychological the edge in importance.

> [ unsnip] I would even hesitate to say that the psychological aspect is more important, because then we begin to subscribe to the myth of the ?ghost in the machine.? The brain is physiological too, after all. <

The I Ching makes a point of deciding what is important, does it not?

The "ghost in the machine" model is not necessarily at odds with the brain being physiological too. There is a paradigm within which both models make sense.

> [LS] My first sifu used to quote from the early Confucian text, the Zhongyong, sometimes translated the Doctrine of the Mean, or the State of Equilibrium and Harmony, to teach the importance of emotional balance and focused composure of mind. But then to illustrate the points he was making about the Zhongyong, he would would employ examples of martial movements made from a balanced posture contrasted with those made from an unstable base. He always operated under the assumption that the emotional and physical went together, and so training encompassed the whole deal. <

Several years back I was told that while American culture consideres the mind to reside in the brain, Chinese culture considers the mind to be throught the body. This latter is in line with the *whole* neural network that is known in the west.

Being human includes thinking, feeling, perceiving etc. Differentiating between parts doesn't lessen the whole, nor necessarily divorce a part from the whole.

Regards,

David J
DavidJ

Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Hi all,

Thanks for the fantastic posts. I am still pondering all of the implications.

Louis and David, thanks for the information on “energy.” I need to look up some of those sources when I have time.

Jeff you raised two points that I would appreciate even greater clarification on. First, you talked about breaking up any sequence in the form into the four stages of movement. I am unclear whether you are saying that these four phases can potentially occur anywhere in the form (but normally do not) or whether, in normal performance of the form, one has free choice where to stop and start the phases without altering the nature of the training.

If I follow you correctly, let me try to illustrate my confusion by describing a fairly simple posture and transition from Yang Chengfu’s form, at least as performed with an attempt to emulate Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun.

In High Pat on Horse, I think I have two stages in the way I normally perform the movements between the last moment of Single Whip and the last moment of High Pat on Horse. For me, each of the two stages of this posture has different “focal points." The second set of points are somewhat implied by the first, but are distinct. Within each of the two stages of the posture, I do not change my mental focus at all, although I recognize that the possibility to do so exists. Are you saying that in the normal performance of the form, each of these two stages would have four phases, making eight in total?

Another possible way of looking at what you have said is that the four stages are actually manifested or should be manifested in every “moment” of every posture. This is the view I hold of the thirteen energy “dispositions/techniques,” but I am unsure about what you are saying about the four movement phases.

I understand the Taiji energies to be analogous to the geometric formulas for straight lines, parabolas, hyperbolas, etc. Although these distinctions are meaningless at a single point of movement (i.e., Wuji), the instant there is any contrast or movement (i.e., Taiji), the nature of the curve is manifest in its entirety (at least according to the little of high school calculus I remember).

Our limited perceptions and skill may require us to experience a substantial portion of a force curve to understand its nature; but in theory, all we need to do is experience a portion infinitesimally “longer” than a point to understand the curve in its entirety or to make full use of its nature. (Again, I am trying to dredge this up from what I recall of calculus.) Seen this way, the energy of a technique such as Roll Back is not produced by going from point A to point B, but as one goes from point A to point B. One moves along from point A to point B, not to accomplish a single intent or execute a single reaction by doing so, but because the opponent is continuing to manifest a particular type of energy that requires a continued response over time and distance. Is this similar to what you mean by seeing an unlimited number of repetitions of the four phases within a named posture? Or was I closer with my description of the first view?

Is there a third possibility (or perhaps more) I have not thought of?

My second point of confusion concerns your use of the term “Na” and your translation of it as “pulling back/out.” I know a fair amount of disconnected Chinese, but this knowledge does not amount to a useful command of the language in any normal respect. Your knowledge appears to far exceed mine. I am curious about your choice of words both from the linguistic aspect and from the practice aspect.

As I understand it, the root meaning of “na” is “to physically possess something with the hands.” The two English vocabulary “tags” I have associated with “na” are “take” and “hold.” For me, “take” evokes an inchoative aspect of “na,” as in “naqilai” (“pick up” or “take up into the hands”); and “hold” evokes a durative aspect, as in “nazhu” (“hold on to”).

Jeff, when you talk “about spilling ‘Jin’ into the opponent’s feet,” I think I can relate this phrasing to things I am trying to work through in my own practice; however, when you talk about “pulling the Jin back,” I am not so sure. I am, of course, trying to use vaguely defined words to describe a process that is largely mental, but I know of no other way to proceed. I can see how after one “sends” Jin into the opponent’s feet, one listens for the “sonar echo” to figure out what is going on, but “na” is not the term I would associate with perceiving this echo.

On the other hand, I see the process of “sending” Jin into the opponent’s feet as “backfilling” with Jin the energy “vacuum” the opponent as unconsciously created by his or her attack focus. Once the vacuum is filled, one then “holds” (“na”?) the pivot point that defines this energy relationship or takes (“na”?) control of it to make the opponent “trip” over him or herself or to tip his or her hand. At this point, one can either let the opponent’s energy lead him or her to destruction without one’s further aid, or one can assist by sending forth (“fa”?) or feeding even more energy into his or her difficulty.

If you can follow my tortured analogies, can you say whether I am describing a view similar to what you are saying or something completely different?

Take care,
Audi
Audi

Posts: 1205
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Hi Wushuer (and everyone else),

Your joking question about “seeking the straight in the curved” (and vice versa) has provoked me to a few thoughts. Beside the obvious analogies to bows and arrows, I recently had a thought that parallels something that was in one of the Association newsletters a few issues back.

Basically, what I related to in the article was the advantage of perceiving which movements are better seen as being relative to the body and which are better seen as being relative to the floor. I have generally liked to expand upon this by exploring which parts of the body are best used as guideposts to movement.

Although I do not think most of the active participants on this Board take this view, I know that some people find such statements strange or annoying, because they perceive them as fuzzy touchy-feely things that do not change physical facts. They express opinions like: "Why does a fist to the face need a theory or a viewpoint?"

As an example of why such things can matter, I can contrast Ptolemy’s earth-centered view of the solar system and Galileo’s sun-centered view. As I understand it, both views were equally accurate in predicting the movements of celestial objects. The difference was not in the “facts,” but rather in the simplicity of their theories. Once Galileo accepted the hard leap that the earth was not the center of the universe, he could work with a much simpler model of celestial movement that could easily incorporate such things as the existence and motion of Jupiter’s moons, which seemed inconceivable to Ptolemy’s model.

As I have worked on the Saber Form and hopefully have improved, I have begun to realize that many of the movements that are manifested as arcs, I actually have begun to perceive as straight lines. For instance, there are two jumps in the form that end with circular slashes. Rather than consciously trying to describe curves, the movements come out much more smoothly and powerfully if I try to describe a straight line and let the pivot points of the shoulder and waist convert the straight lines into curves.

On the other hand, there are curves in the form that I think I perform much more smoothly when I see them as the intersection of straight-line forces. At this point in my practice, I find it much harder to describe this in writing, so I will not attempt it unless someone is particularly interested.

As a clarification, let me analogize my thought to the roughly circular orbit of the earth around the sun. As I understand it, the earth is attempting to fly through the air in a straight line and the sun is attempting to pull it along a different straight line into the center of its gravity well. The two forces interact to produce a nearly circular orbit that has no straight lines at all.

For me, all of this also relates to what Jeff has been sharing about focal points and gives meaning to why “seeking the straight in the curved” should not be mere mental gymnastics.

Take care,
Audi
Audi

Posts: 1205
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

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