Form Names in Chinese

Postby Audi » Sat Mar 20, 2004 11:04 pm

Greetings all,

I have long been puzzled by this posture name and appreciate both the question and the proposed answers.

I have no sources to cite, but in looking at all the definitions of "pie1," I have wondered whether the unlerlying meaning is something like "falling away." This could fill out any of the solutions Louis and Jerry have already proposed.

The meaning "to cast" would come from focusing attention on the arc of the throw. The meaning "abandon" would come both from the idea of dropping out of action and moving away from the point of interest. The calligraphic stroke would result from the sense of a stroke that falls away from the center of the character in the direction of the general flow of writing. "Skim" would result from the intended arc of movement and the idea of separating something from its current location.

I wonder whether "pie shen" could also refer either to the fact that the right fist "falls away" from one's own body" or that it "rakes the opponent's body in a skimming action."

On second thought, "pie shen" might also refer to the "stationary" position of the arm and fist before the strike. "Pie shen" can be understood as specifying the type of "chui" ("fist action/punch") one is to perform; however, it could also be understood as a separate action that happens before the "chui." For the latter, "pie shen chui" could mean "form a 'pie stroke' across your body, and then punch." "Pie" signifies a downward curving stroke in the general direction of writing, which does recall the curve of the arm from the shoulder to the fist.

I personally do not like the idea of the upward movement of the fist as conjuring up the idea of the "pie stroke," since I believe such strokes always go diagonally downward, at least in Square and Running scripts. It could, however, probably fit the downward action as it drops to the right hip.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 03-20-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 6:13 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>I personally do not like the idea of the upward movement of the fist as conjuring up the idea of the "pie stroke," since I believe such strokes always go diagonally downward, at least in Square and Running scripts. It could, however, probably fit the downward action as it drops to the right hip.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't know the answer yet but I suspect your reasoning here won't hold. Almost all strokes in Chinese calligraphy go from top to bottom, so if someone wants to use a brush stroke as illustrative of a diagonal line, there isn't much besides pie to use. This shape is generally thought of as a pie3: / . My little xinhua zidian from the seventies says of pie3: "pingzhe xiang qian reng" (throw forward in a flat trajectory). So the 'throw' or 'cast' meaning has to do with a flat throw, not an arc.

It's interesting that Chen syle has a Pi1 shen1 chui2 (ÅûÉí´·). Pi1 means 1.'hold on the shoulders' or 2.'open up'

Taijiquan Cidian mentions of the Yang style move: "This move uses the fist to attack forward after pie-ing the body, hence the name." ´ËʽÔÚƲÉíÖ®ºóÒÔÈ­½ø“ô,¹ÊÃû.

There is also considerable explanation on page 196 of Taijiquan Yanjiu - Yangshi Taijiquan Pian. Generally these explanations seem to relate to using the rotational energy of the body to power the move, possibly by transforming the rotational energy into a bending forward of the waist at the end, the waist's forward bend then carrying along the arm...
The explanations are quite obscure and I am not satisfied with what I have seen. I will ask Yang Jun to supply the Yang family's understanding of the meaning of this name.



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-21-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 7:34 pm

Yang Zhenji, in his book (p.73-3), does not explain the meaning of the name but uses phrases like 'When the right fist is thrown (pie) toward the right don't raise the elbow'
ÓÒÈ­ÏòÓÒƲ³öʱ²»Ì§Öâ which seem to indicate he understands pie as 'throw', ie throw a punch.

This still leaves the meaning of zhuan shen pie shen chui somewhat murky...

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-21-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 21, 2004 7:38 pm

Greetings Jerry,

Re: “Almost all strokes in Chinese calligraphy go from top to bottom, so if someone wants to use a brush stroke as illustrative of a diagonal line, there isn't much besides pie to use.”

Well, tiao3 comes to mind, which ramps upwardly, left to right. Also, as far as representing a diagonal line, the na4 stroke is a right-downward diagonal.

As far as throwing in a “flat trajectory,” I’m not sure that’s stricktly possible (a throw necessarily follows an arc), and I might translate that Xinhua Zidian entry as “throw forward smoothly.”

I read the same entry in the Jingxuan Taijiquan Cidian, and as you point out, it clearly implies that the pie-ing of the body preceeds the deployment of the fist. Rethinking this, another plausible explanation deserves consideration. Pie in the third tone, in the compound pie3zui3, means to purse one’s lips, curl the lips, or to scrunch up the mouth to express contempt or doubt, etc. So by this interpretation, pie could refer to the gathering up of the body—arms folding and closing toward one’s center—prior to the back-fist strike. It would fit the grammatical construction of the name Pie Shen Chui. But then again, Yang Chengfu’s form description clearly used pie as a verb for the action of the fist.

There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to this!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 8:02 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>Greetings Jerry,
As far as throwing in a “flat trajectory,” I’m not sure that’s stricktly possible (a throw necessarily follows an arc), and I might translate that Xinhua Zidian entry as “throw forward smoothly.”

</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very doubtful that pingzhe would mean 'smoothly' here. Probably impossible.



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-21-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 8:18 pm

As far as tiao and na strokes, yes those exist but are not often used in everyday parlance.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 8:24 pm

One other possibility is that pie shen chui, rather than the chui that pie's the shen, is pie shen and pie chui. Unfortunately none of this is very satisfying and one is left with the feeling that the name is highly idiomatic, and that there are a good many variant interpretations of the meaning. Chen style also has two or three variants of the pie syllable, different from what the Yangs use.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:25 pm

Greetings Jerry,

I’m guilty of engaging in some semantic trivia regarding the “flat trajectory” versus “smoothly” for “pingzhe xiang qian reng.” It may very well mean what you say it means. My greater point is that I find it difficult to envision throwing something in what can be described as a flat trajectory in anything but a relative sense. Given the fact that the verb pie3 is the one used for tossing hand grenades, which I think is generally done in a sort of overhand arcing lob, I’m inclined to think “pingzhe” could mean “smoothly” or “evenly.” Ping can have these meanings, and even “flat” woks (pingguo) are not strictly flat, but convex. If the verb pie in Pie Shen Chui refers to the action of the right fist, it would indeed be an arc-like move.

Getting very trivial, I know, and hungry for some Taipei street-vendor guotie.

Just having fun,
Louis
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Postby LarryC » Tue Mar 23, 2004 3:00 am

Louis, Jerry, Audi --

Perhaps trivial..., but very interesting if one wants to learn something about Chinese! Thanks for the discussion.

My own uninformed take on this [the meaning of pie shen chui] is that the expression has something to do with casting, flinging, flicking away something. Perhaps this was first carried into the meaning of the downward caligraphy stroke, and THEN applied to the taiji movement with the caligraphy stroke in mind.

Jerry, may I gently remind you of your intention to ask YJ about pie shen chui? I would be very interested to know his translation.

LarryC
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 23, 2004 4:53 am

OK, here is what I wrote to Yang Jun. We'll see what he says.

Ñî¾ü£¬

×î½üÎÒÃÇÔÚ¡¡bulletin board ÌÖÂÛ "תÉíƲÉí´·" Õâ¸ö "ƲÉí´·" Ó¦¸ÃÔõô½âÊÍ, ·­Òë. ÓÐÈËÈÏΪƲÕâ¸ö×ÖÊÇÈÓµÄÒâ˼, ÓеÄÒÔΪƲ¸úë±ÊµÄƲ»­ÓйØϵ, µÈµÈ˵·¨. ×îºó»¹ÊÇûÓнáÂÛ, ¶¼¸Ð¾õµ½»¹ÊDz»Äܹ»ºÜÈ·¶¨µÄ½âÊÍÕâ¸ö "ƲÉí´·" µÄÒâÒå. Ò²ÓÐһЩ±ðµÄд·¨, ÏñÏÂÃæÓй­²¿µÄ pie ×Ö»ò³ÂÊÏÌ«¼«È­µÄÅúÉí´·, ÓÖʹÈ˸ü²»Ã÷È·. ÇëÎÊ, Ñî¼Ò¶ÔÓÚÕâ¸öÃû³ÆÓÐʲô˵·¨?

Jerry
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 23, 2004 12:18 pm

Here is Yang Jun's reply:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Hi Jerry£¬

¹ØÓÚƲÉí´·µÄƲÓÐбÉíƲ»÷µÄÒâ˼£¬¹ýÈ¥Ò²½Ð·­ÉíƲÉí´·¡£´Ó×ÖÒâÉÏÀí½âÓеãÏóë±ÊµÄƲ»­£¬È¡Ð±Ö®Òâ¡£ÔÚÈ­µÄÓÃÒâÉÏ£¬Æ²ÓÐÏòÍâ·­±Û»÷´·Ö®Òâ¡£



Ñî¾ü

</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rough translation:
"As to the pie of pie shen chui, it has the meaning of striking out in a diagonal to the body. In the past this was also called fan shen pie shen chui. From the point of view of the actual words of the phrase, it's rather like the pie stroke in Chinese brush calligraphy, taking the meaning of 'diagonal'. As to the application, pie has the meaning of punching outward with the arm turned over."



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-23-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Mar 23, 2004 7:58 pm

Greetings Jerry,

Thanks for going to the trouble of getting this answer, and thanks to Yang Jun for providing it. So it seems that for the Yang family, the verb pie refers specifically to the action of the fist, as well as to the manner in which the fist moves in relation to the torso.

This brings a lot of clarity to the name of the form.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:24 pm

They seem to use the syllable in two senses, one for the flipping out of the backfist, and the other for the diagonal notion. Confusing, isn't it?
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:45 pm

Hi Jerry,

Confusing? Not if one accepts the polysemy we frequently encounter in such contexts. It works comfortably for me!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Sun Mar 28, 2004 2:48 pm

Hi Jerry,

I would also like to thank you for taking the time to get an answer to this question. I am still puzzling, however, over whether "fan shen" means "turning over the arm" or something else. I had not realized that "shen" could be used to refer to just the arm in this grammatical context.

By the way, I realize that I made a mistake in my description above of the calligraphy stroke. I was actually thinking of the right-falling "na" stroke, rather than the left-falling "pie" stroke. A left-falling stroke does, indeed, seem to match the position of the arm as it is held in front of the stomach; however, Yang Jun's words do seem better to describe the upward diagonal used for the strike than the lower diagonal used to deflect the opponent's incoming strike.

Take care,
Audi
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