What did you pick up at the seminar?

What did you pick up at the seminar?

Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jul 22, 2001 9:19 am

Bill Walsh, Dave Barrett, and I used to play a game at the seminars: each day we would relate to each other the changes that we had made to our forms or other discoveries resulting from the classes that day. This way we were able to pool some of our emerging understanding of Yang Style Tai Chi.

I thought we might use the bulletin board to enlarge the circle of participants in this discussion.

I just came back from the Portland Seminar so I'll start off with some things I picked up there.

Fair lady weaves shuttles:
On the first corner, for example, the separation of right and left hands (right pulling back and left warding off upward) occurs at the same time the left foot steps out, so there is one turn of the waist which simultaneously pulls back the right arm and extends the left leg. You probably knew this; maybe some like me were not getting it coordinated right. A similar thing occurs in moves like Punch Downward: the same waist turn that circles the left hand across the front and to the right of the body also extends the left leg for its step.

Also on the transition from single whip to the first corner of fair lady weaves shuttles, the left hand curves around to the right in a ward-off shape as you shift weight to the right and turn in the left toe. Then as you shift weight back to the left and pick up the right and reposition it to point to the cardinal point, the left arm scoops back toward the left. I had forgotten this last movement.

White Crane
After Lift Hands and Step Up, after you shift the weight to the right foot and before placing the left out in front, first bring the left foot in fairly close to the right and then extend forward. This really improved the move for me, eliminating some awkwardness in my balance. There were a couple of other places where the same pattern applies which I will try to remember.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 07-22-2001).]
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Postby LarryC » Mon Jul 23, 2001 5:39 am

Hi Jerry,

Actually, the second and fourth corners of FLWS are where I learned the most. I'm referring to Yang Jun's admonition [re: the second corner] to delay the bending of the right leg after you step back and extend it, and to wait until you have extended your right arm in a rounded ward-off action, before the final turning of the waist and left hand push. I had been bending my right knee much to early in this process.

As for your comment on White Crane: I agree that bringing in the left foot before extending it looks much better. I had been almost swinging it over. Bringing it in first looks more elegant, and also gives you more time to execute the required arm/hand movements gracefully before needing to place the left foot on the ground.

Larry
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Postby Charla Quinn » Fri Aug 03, 2001 6:35 am

Jerry, it was great to see you and your family in Portland as well as other TC friends again! What a wonderful seminar it was indeed! Thanks for your part in making it that way.
And thanks for this thread! I'm just getting into my notes and ALL the new stuff I learned at the Portland seminar. It always amazes me how much I learn that seems new, but probably isn't, rather, I was just ready to "hear" it.
Something that kind of corresponds with your White Crane comment is Yang Zhen Duo's explanation of the transition between empty steps and bow steps and vice versa. His explanation was so clear and simple this year, yet profound for me in carrying out the transitions. I don't remember him explaining this aspect quite this way at other seminars. My understanding of the "half step in" was more fully realized.
Working on my stance was sort of a personal theme for me this past year and at this seminar, as last year in San Antonio one of Horacio's senior students didn't mince words about my incorrect stance. Pat Rice, Center Director from Virginia, attending Portland this year, helped me a great deal in a private with her. I not only have a tendency to go too wide, she pointed out I'm dropping my head forward (too much thinking, not enough "spirit"), and she gave me some great tips on how not to do that!
All in all I have a lot to work on this year--really basic stuff, which is so humbling on the one hand, but on the other, once again is only proof of how the learning continues on and on in this art. What a joy!
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Postby Audi » Sun Aug 05, 2001 8:05 pm

Hi Jerry, Larry, and Charla,

Great posts and great thread. I have just returned from the Long Island Seminar and had an absolutely fantastic time. I renewed old friendships, made some new ones, tried to work very hard, and learned more than I could possible express.

I can echo each of the comments you all have made above about the particular postures, waist turns, and posture problems. The more I learn, the more I see how many of the simple posture fundamentals I have seriously neglected or misunderstood. All in all I have a much better appreciation for how true conformity to movement principles will show up in a miriad details.

Jerry and Larry, I had similar epiphanies to yours about Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. Over the course of the seminar, I realized I also had premature waist turns (and also sometimes premature rotation of the arms) in the backward weight shifts prior to the 3rd and 4th Brush Knees, in the transitions from Deflect Downward Parry and Punch into Grasp Sparrows Tail, in the Repulse Monkeys, in Step Back to Ride the Tiger, and in the final Deflect Downward Parry and Punch in the Second Paragraph.

Because of all these problems, one of my main takeaways from the seminar is that movements ending in a bow stance appear to have at least four very distinct components: a complete or partial weight shift that allows a foot to be picked up, an unweighted placement of the heel or the toes of that foot, a slight shift of weight onto the foot without a knee bend that flattens the foot and permits one to begin active rooting into the foot by using it for support against the back foot (cheng2), and a further weight shift that is accomplished by pushing with the back leg (deng1) to bend the front knee. While waist and arm rotations can occur during these movements, they often do not seem to span more than one of the four phases or often change directions from one phase to the next.

For instance, between the 3rd and 4th Fair Lady Works the Shuttles, I think there are four distinct waist (and often arm) rotations: one pair to the left as the weight is shifted backward, a further one to the left as the right arm is rotated and pointed to the next corner and the left hand threads (chuan) under the right arm, another one to the right as the left arm is extended in ward off and the left foot is flattened without a left knee bend, and another to the left as the right hand extends to strike/push and the left knee is bent. By way of contrast, in the Repulse Monkeys and in Step Back to Ride the Tiger, there seems to be only one waist rotation that occurs only after the back foot has flattened and has begun actively to root.

A related point I got from all of this is the absolute importance of moving some weight to the forward leg in the Empy Solid Stances (xu shi bu or cat stances). It was very clear to me that this small weight shift was coordinated with the final striking motion of the arms and provided the power, e.g. in Step up and Lift Hands, Play the Guitar/Pipa, and Step up to the Seven Stars. This was also clear in the empty solid stances formed at the end of the jumps in the Saber form, where mere rotation of the waist would seem very weak without the front foot to push against.

Happy practicing,
Audi
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 17, 2001 7:39 am

I just returned from Michigan and I also had my questions answered concerning weighting of the front foot in the empty/solid stances. The slight modifications by Yang Jun has made in the paths of the hands has made a world of difference as far as my understanding goes in Play the Pipa and Lift Hands...how the "energy" is delivered and the technique (play the pipa explained as an arm break).

Audi, also, the transition into the the third ...shuttle..the small step (or repositioning) Yang Jun explained as a representation of any step you may need to take to follow the change of position that an opponent may make.

I also was surprised that the so called Brush knee in "Carry Tiger to Mountain" is actually bringing the inside of your forearm in contact with the opponents waist, stepping behind him, turning the waist and sending him flying over your leg...a technique found in Single Whip...but in a different direction. It gives me a whole new intent to work with.

In White Crane did you also notice the right toe rising as the arms swing down and across? I don't know if it was new, but it was to me. To me this implied a hooking of the opponents foot as you roll back. I did not have the opportunity to ask Yang Jun about it.

I will try not to write about everything I learned at this time or this will go on and on. I just have to comment that there are a number of changes that I saw that were impressive. Some of you may have been aware of them earlier than most of us (esp. those of you in Seattle) like the weighted left leg in single Whip (which I referred to as the "old method" elsewhere) now being standard, and the weighted right leg in Turn and Chop with Fist along with the "pushing down"(right) arm now held higher.

I have to stop here for now. Anyone else see changes?



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-17-2001).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Aug 19, 2001 7:34 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>...(snip)....movements ending in a bow stance appear to have at least four very distinct components: a complete or partial weight shift that allows a foot to be picked up, an unweighted placement of the heel or the toes of that foot, a slight shift of weight onto the foot without a knee bend that flattens the foot and permits one to begin active rooting into the foot by using it for support against the back foot (cheng2), and a further weight shift that is accomplished by pushing with the back leg (deng1) to bend the front knee.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think you are basically correct about this Audi. However, I think that the heel of the forward foot resists as soon as it hits the ground and as the body shifts forward the toe is shoved down by the whole body's force pivoting through the heel.

'...a further weight shift that is accomplished by pushing with the back leg (deng1) to bend the front knee'

I think this is right up to a point. At a deeper level the move is not accomplished by pushing with the back leg. The movement is done by the entire body. For example try holding the two ends of a plastic soda straw with your two hands, with the straw bent in the middle at around 90 or 100 degree angle. By moving each end of the straw, you can make the vertex of the angle shift position, becoming closer to one end of the straw or the other. The striking arm or fist or whatever, is like the vertex of the angle in the straw moving forward. The movement of the vertex is accomplished by a movement involving the entire straw, not just one end. The vertex could be made to move using only one hand (one side of the straw), but that would be local force, as opposed to global strength. Hope this makes sense.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 08-20-2001).]
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Postby Audi » Wed Aug 22, 2001 4:43 am

Hi Michael and Jerry,

Jerry, thank you for the further comments. I was a little loose in my descriptions, because I was trying to stress aspects of stepping that were either new to me or else that I had been very sloppy about. The concept of opposition between the feet is also something I have been slow to really embrace because of interference from other styles or other teachers that seem to abhor any physical manifestation of power.

Michael, could you elaborate on the applications you described for Single Whip and Carry Tiger to the Mountain? I am unfamiliar with what you describe and could not quite follow your description.

At the Long Island Seminar, I do not recall Yang Jun giving details of an application for Carry Tiger to the Mountain; however, he did explain that embracing was not a good translation for "bao," because in this posture the "bao" referred to the vertically clockwise wrapping motion of the right arm. The last part of the movement he mimicked was almost like what one would do to scoop up a puppy or kitten under the right armpit.

Michael, I also noticed the right toe rising in the transition before White Crane. For the first time I also drew parallels between this bending of the right ankle and the bending of the left ankle before the plunge of Needle at Sea Bottom and during the retreat of Step Back to Ride The Tiger. It is almost as if one's body is rocking downward prior to rising up onto the toe or into a step.

I noticed a contrasting movement midway through Play the Pipa and Lifting Hands, where one pushes off the balls of the left and right feet, respectively. All of this has led me to seriously rethink how important even small weight shifts are to the movement of the limbs.

Going back to Single Whip, at what point should one lift the left foot to step into the bow stance and what, if anything, should one be simulaneously doing with the hands?

Another thing I encountered for the first time at the Long Island seminar was the directional relationship between the Tiger's mouth or fingers of the yin hand in Ward Off Right, Ward Off Left, Roll Back, Press, Flying Diagonal, and Parting Wild Horse's Mane to the energy point in the yang forearm.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Jaime Marx » Thu Aug 23, 2001 9:01 pm

Hello everyone,
I also learned a great deal at this year’s seminar (Hi to everybody who was at Portland!). Yang Jun has a way of being very precise in his instruction and he made clear several basic things that had never been clear to me before. I understood how the angle of the spine and upper body (slightly bent forward throughout almost the entire form) sinks the chi to the dantien and keeps one’s center of balance low. Also, when he demonstrated how the empty and full leg should each push opposing each other, I finally understood how they should both work together to achieve a stable and dynamic stance that is full of energy, vital for both the hand and sword form. (I think Audi had a similar revelation that she described as having some weight transferred to the forward foot in empty stances.) Besides working on these things, I will be working on cleaning up my footwork (I had gotten into the bad habit of dragging my feet from one position to the next instead of picking them up cleanly, bringing them in and then placing them down). Being reminded that one should place the whole sole of the foot down before transferring weight onto that side was very useful. I will also be working on slowing my execution of the form down until it takes a full 30 minutes, which Lance reminded me was the correct length. A truly slow form offers many more benefits than one hastily performed. There is enough time to remember to open the kua, be correct in one’s footwork, drop the elbows and stand the palms, and it is much easier to have the tranquility and continuity that a good form should have.

[This message has been edited by Jaime Marx (edited 08-23-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Jaime Marx (edited 08-23-2001).]
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 24, 2001 5:36 pm

Audi,

The step in Single Whip. When the left palm is tuning over to face inside (and the right arm is going out to form the hook)you should be stepping. So that when the palm IS facing "in" your foot (or heel) should be on the ground allowing for the continuation of the motion. If the left hand completes the inward motion (with the sinking of the elbow) before the step is taken there is no coordination with the whole body. It is the same as you will find in Brush knee or Repluse Monkey etc. I hope that helps. The timing of WHEN to lift the left leg to begin the step is something you will have to play with, I cannot describe it.

As for the applications you ask about. In Single Whip. When turning the waist back to the right and shifting into your right leg the implication is that you have taken hold of the opponents right wrist or arm with the hook hand. The turn over of the hand forming the hook implies turning the opponents arm. While this occurs you step out and behind his front leg ( his right, or his left with some modification), the left forearm makes contact with his chest. The waist turn , the turning of the forearm palm out, and shifting of weight further compromises his root and you send him backwards over your left leg. If he is able to retreat, the shift forward allows you to follow him and push or strike him. This application Yang Jun did speak about. I got this from another teacher and from my own experimentation.

Yang Jun did however describe this application in Carry Tiger. When your right arm is turning downward in front of you and just before it arrives at it's final position, your right heel should have made contact with the ground as you stepped out and back similiar timing to the above. Now imagine that the palm continues to turn outward. Having already stepped behind the opponents forward leg, the weight shift and the turn of the waist (the palm and forearm having made contact with the opponents torso (just as in Single whip) ends with the same result. In this case if the opponent retreats you can finish with a brush Knee "type" of application.

I hope this more clear, but we all know the difficulty involved in describing things here, Play with it and I am sure you will figure it out.

These two examples have the same technique but to other sides and angles. Not to confuse matters but Diagonal Flying can be used in the same matter as well as can Part Wild Horse's Mane. WHEN this technique is applicable in these different forms depends on the opponent.



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-24-2001).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Aug 24, 2001 9:21 pm

Great post Michael.
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Postby Audi » Fri Aug 24, 2001 10:22 pm

Hi Michael,

I echo what Jerry said. Your explanation was very clear on all points.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Michael » Thu Sep 06, 2001 10:30 pm

I was really impressed by by what Yang Jun has done with the transitions between the seperate feet, and then the transition into turn and kick with heel, and between the Strike Tigers. In all cases the arms now move into very similiar positions in transition. You find this structure thoughout the form over and over. It is similiar to the arms/hands in Lift Hands Step up Play the Lute and even now in Brush Knee---'tho the hands may be in a slightly different angle or at a different angle to the body.

I always had a little problem with the arms (or hands) not moving when the foot or leg was moving or during some weight shifts. He has taken care of most of my questions. It has also created a useful structure for application in the transition.
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Postby Michael Coulon » Thu Sep 20, 2001 2:51 am

Michael,
Great posts! I am finally coming around to reading some of these. Your explanation of the application of the Single Whip is one that I have heard before (hooking the opponents punch with the right and striking with the left). I do recall that the application as explained by Yang Jun (at one of the mini seminars this spring) is that the Hook is striking an opponent that was attacking from the position you assumed from the Push position. From this perspective, the opponent's attach is deflected to the left with your arms as your waist rotates everything counterclockwise. Once the opponent's energy/attack is neutralized you strike back with the 'hooked' hand. You are striking with your wrist, possibly first into the chest/heart area, then up into the opponent's chin/throat area. The subsequent left ward off is deflecting an attack from a new opponent. I also remember that this was shown in the Association newsletter.

Michael, the application you describe for Carry the Tiger to the Mountain is also what Yang Jun showed at the New York seminar. Who would have thought of that as being a throw? Again, the footwork is very important. You would need to step around/to the side of your opponent, similarly as you would do in the application for Diagonal Flying.

I also picked up some pointers on Fair Lady Works Shuttles. I first commend all that has been written and agree with Jerry, Audi, Michael, etal. FLWS has so many intricacies. In the transition to the third corner, I noted that the right foot sets pointed to the cardinal point (traditionally East) and then the waist turns to the new corner direction as you shift your weight onto the right leg; you are facing the corner. Then the waist turns to the right to allow the left foot to step out to a proper bow step.

As Audi pointed out, such small details in the weight shift can make alll the difference. In Step Back and Repulse Monkey I realized that as the retreating foot is flattened to the floor, the armed circled to the back is then bent inward toward the shoulder as if chambering it to ready for the push.

Another point of interst that I learned at the New York seminar came during the sabre seminar. The two kicks performed in the sabre form are not the same. The first kick is a toe kick with the energy moving upward. The second kick is a heel kick with the energy going more outward.
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Postby Audi » Sun Sep 23, 2001 1:15 pm

Hi Michael (and everyone),

Two tidbits I can add about the saber kicks is that on the first one ("er qi jiao"), one slaps the top of the right foot with the right hand, and on the second one ("yuan yang jiao"), one merely touches the right toes and does not slap (I believe "bu pai" was the Chinese term used).

Another new bit of information I received from the New York seminar was about the usage of the right arm at the beginning of the transitions after Carry the Tiger Return to the Mountain, Turn the Body and Chop with Fist, and White Snake Spits out Poison/Tongue. In each of these positions, one assumes a back-weighted bow stance with the arms in Roll Back position, in two cases with the right hand in a seated palm and in one case with the right hand in a fist.

I had thought that the forward movement of the right forearm was a strike (da3), but Yang Jun clarified that it was merely a movement to connect with/reach for/land on (da2) the opponent's arm. He further explained that some people had been confused because of the similarity in the sound of the Chinese terms (da2 and da3).

Take care,
Audi
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Postby LarryC » Wed Sep 26, 2001 3:27 am

Audi,

You wrote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I had thought that the forward movement of the right forearm was a strike (da3), but Yang Jun clarified that it was merely a movement to connect with/reach for/land on (da2) the opponent's arm.</font>


In regard to Turn Body and Chop with Fist, is the above relevant to Yang Jun's slight and purposeful hesitation of the right forearm/fist at its maximum extention?

Larry
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