"When one part moves..."

"When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:01 pm

Greetings everyone,

I am a Wu Style practitioner. .
Thanks,
Jim R
Last edited by Jim R on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby yslim » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:55 pm

[quote="Jim R"]Greetings everyone,

I am a Wu Style practitioner. I have a question that I hope will lead to some discussion about a statement in Louis Swaim's book: "The Essence and Applications of Yang Style Taijiquan, p. 117. The specific statement is as follows: "Carve this, each moment into your mind/heart; remember closely: when one part moves, there is no part that does not move. When one part is still, there is no part that is not still."

How is this possible in light of the fact that martial movements depend on rooting? There will be a nonmoving part of the body attached to the ground to provide the rooting. It would seem that only an external martial art which pushes off from the ground to generate sustained momentum to attack can qualify as "there is no part that does not move".

I have found this statement in numerous other translations and commentary on the Tai Chi Classics. I do hope that Louis Swaim could answer this and I am very appreciative of your time.

Thanks,
Jim R[/quote

Hi Jim
Sorry I'm not him. Would you like a little bit of appetizer while you wait?

Taiji principle talking about the roundness, as such, it is always "pivoting" of the yin yang as oneness. Even if one rooting like a tree it will still moving because the Earth always pivoting. As for the taijiquan movement you might want to look into the thing like the "looping". If that is not work for you then please wait for Mr.L.S.

Ciao and have a good day
yslim
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:52 am

Greetings Jim,

You needn't take this aphorism too literally. It's merely a way of stating the need for the body-mind to act in an integrated manner. When moving, the entire body is engaged. The same total-body integration applies to stillness. The movement and stillness refer to the action of the mind as well as of the body. Integration is the objective -- integrative movement; integration of body and mind.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:06 pm

Greetings, Thanks to both for your replies.



Jim R
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:45 am

Greetings Jim,

A living thing that is absolutely still is not in the realm of possibility. That's why I say the aphorism is not to be taken literally. Rather, it's a rhetorical way of describing integrative movement. The words "when one part moves, there is no part that does not move. When one part is still, there is no part that is not still" are also best not read in isolation, but within the context of the whole document. I don't find the concept at odds with the Wu Jianquan statement you quote (although I wish I could read his original remarks in Chinese), because there are different levels on which one can talk about action, movement, relative movement, and whether we're including mental intent in the category of movement. For example, in the same document, The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures, there is a remark, "The energy (jin) breaks off, yet the intent (yi) does not."

Taiji theory always recognizes the interconnection between yin and yang -- that within movment there is stillness, and within stillness there is movement. As the Taijiquan Classic states, "Each point has its point of empty/full. Everywhere there is always this one empty/full." But with regard to the aphorism you're asking about, it's a rhetorical way of discussing integrative motion, or whole-body/mind engagement in any given movement. It's what The Taijiquan Classic is prescribing when it says, "It is rooted in the feet, issued by the legs, governed by the waist, and expressed in the fingers. From the feet, to the legs, then to the waist, always there must be complete integration into one qi."

Take care,
Louis
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:43 am

Greetings Louis,


Jim R.
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:32 pm

Greetings Jim,

I applaud your skepticism. The classics should be pondered, questioned, and tested in your own practice. I like to call the taijiquan classic writings “experiential documents.” They are best read as recording and reflecting the experience of the early masters. They were written well before scientifically-informed body-mechanical analysis had come into being—in China or anywhere else. And yet I am struck by how empirical these texts are, filled with kinesiological insights rarely found elsewhere.

What is the context? The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures was most likely written by Wu Yuxiang, who lived approximately from 1812-1880. Many of the phrases and formulations in that document are present in some of his other writings, as well as those of his nephew, Li Yiyu (1832-1892). Li Yiyu’s document, Five Key Words is particularly worth studying. Was the phrase “When one part moves. . .” a creation of Wu Yuxiang, or was he recording an existing oral teaching? I don’t know, but the phrase appears in other taiji documents, including some in the Wu Jianquan tradition. For example, it appears in a document by Wu Gongzao (1902-1983) titled The Total Thesis of Taijiquan. You may like to investigate Wu Gongzao’s writings in translation in the book by Yang Jwing-ming, Tai Chi Secrets of the Wu Style (YMAA, 2002). Wu Gongzao’s writings are steeped in traditional taijiquan terminology and theory, and yet he had a command of more modern, scientific concepts of leverage, and center of gravity.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:08 am

Hi Louis,

Thanks for your time in discussion.
Take care,

Jim R
Last edited by Jim R on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:41 pm

Hi Jim,

Just to keep the discussion going. . .

Going back to your original post, you wrote: “How is this possible in light of the fact that martial movements depend on rooting? There will be a nonmoving part of the body attached to the ground to provide the rooting.”

Let’s take a sequence like Left Brush Knee Twist Step. Even granting that the position of the sole of the right foot does not move, can you honestly say that the muscles and joints in the foot do not move as you straighten the rear leg and advance into a forward bow stance? They should be moving, or rooting would not be rooting.

Note: the human foot and ankle contains 26 bones and 33 joints and more than 100 muscles.

Try it, and report back with your findings.

--Louis
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Audi » Tue Nov 22, 2011 3:39 am

Greeting Jim, yslim, and Louis,

I think I have views that are similar to Louis's, but may express myself differently. I find that some of the classics speak quite vividly to me, and some do not. Often there is a close correlation to what and how I have been taught. Those things I have not seen my teachers demonstrate are sometimes hard to grasp or hard to apply; whereas, those I have seen I can usually reproduce and verify in my own body. Where teachers stress different passages in the Classics or even different Classics, this may will affect the outcome. Also, since most of the Tai Chi Classics have a fairly transparent relationship to various aspects of traditional Chinese philosophy, practitioners are free to go "over the heads" of even known authors and reinterpret their insights in light of that philosophy.

There will be a nonmoving part of the body attached to the ground to provide the rooting. It would seem that only an external martial art which pushes off from the ground to generate sustained momentum to attack can qualify as "there is no part that does not move".


I don't find the concept at odds with the Wu Jianquan statement you quote (although I wish I could read his original remarks in Chinese), because there are different levels on which one can talk about action, movement, relative movement, and whether we're including mental intent in the category of movement.


I think I agree with Louis's statement. At the Association seminar in Buffalo this year, Yang Jun talked about the fact that we cannot fully talk about Yin-Yang terms without declaring first what the standard of comparison is. He talked mostly about empty and full, but I think this applies equally to movement and stillness. Empty and full of what? Movement and stillness with respect to what?

We know from Einstein that movement is a relative term. While this idea applies, of course, to special relativity, it also applies to describing the movements of the form. When we say that the hand "moves" in a particular way, do we mean that it moves relative to the forearm, a point on the floor, relative to the torso, or relative to the gaze? I find that there is often confusion about the differences, since we seem to use all of these references at one time or other.

In my view, when we talk about movement and stillness, we are actually talking about feelings that match certain bodily sensations and not something that a physicist would normally discuss. However, I do not like discussing things so subjective and often so vaguely understood as feelings, and so this is not how I translate the theory when thinking to myself. For me what it means is that "integrated movement/stillness" has an implication: the part partakes of the whole and vice versa. If you are trying to move, but one part does not, that means that in one sense the integrated whole does not move. On the other hand, if you are trying to be still, but one part is not still, that means that in one sense the whole and all its integral parts are not still.

One test exercise I like to do is to pick the Rollback Posture from our form and ask a student to move me laterally by simply "pushing" his or her arm against my side. I find that many people have difficulty with this. The reason is often that although they "move" their arm, they do not really "move" their elbow, since they feel it is not in contact with my body and does not participate in the movement. It remains "still." With the elbow still and empty, the hand becomes full and the energy leaks out to where the leverage is either non-existent or highly unfavorable. If one allows the elbow to "move," the proper Jin point on the forearm is engaged and it is not hard to move someone in this way.

Another interesting posture is Single Whip. By some measures, once we form our right hook hand, it remains still while the rest of the movement unfolds, thus apparently violating the stricture that all parts should be in movement. According to my understanding, however, our Single Whip does not violate this principle even so. Once I form the hook hand, my muscles remain actively engaged in lengthening and balancing the movement in my left arm and hand. To do otherwise would be like trying to hold a rubber band between your hands and trying to stretch it out while gripping with only one hand.

In our Opening movement, we do not move either the legs or the torso much and do not change height, and yet better players should still feel the energy come from the feet and be directed by the waist. This is almost entirely an "inside" movement, but if you look very closely at very good players, you may still see a slight change as they engage muscles and tendons.

As for "stillness," as we get better, we want to demonstrate a "settling" or sinking feeling ( "central equilbrium" = 中定) at the culmination of each posture. All parts must stop (but not stop). If some part is still moving by itself, you cannot get this feeling, and the change from Yang to Yin will not be crisp. And yet, if you look at some good players, their bodies are actually not completely still at this culmination, since there may be some "rebound." The required stillness and physical stillness are not quite the same.

Lastly, think of the movement of a slinky. For any part to move along the ground, all parts must eventually move. For any part to move, some other part must also be still. For any part to be still, the movement must go on in some other part. At the end of all movement, for any part to be still, all parts must be still. These statements on the surface are contradictory, but anyone who has played with a slinky can see the truth in all of them.

In these senses, at least for me, my rooting foot is very much "moving," even though it does not leave its position. In fact, to be still, my foot cannot be actively rooting. For me, the aphorism is very helpful and very descriptive.

I have heard this from the classical writing for some time I think this is another big error as well as "when one part moves..." , when it describes such a sequence and I see a different sequence for the generation of jin. One can think of reasoning for the following statement, but I also find my own experience of fa jin bears it out as well:

I see it rooted in the feet, generated by the waist, controlled by the legs and manifested through the fingers.


Could you elaborate on your reasoning for this particular sequence, for I think we may be giving a different meaning to these words? Your statement does not appear to match what I see in my teacher, what I feel in my own body, or what my students see in me. Also, some masters say that the waist governs the changes of empty and full. How could this be so if it is the primary engine of Fajin? Do you feel that Fajin can be "empty" in some way? How do you generate power in the kicks with your waist?

Take care,
Audi
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:44 pm

Greetings Louis, Audi and Yslim,

“Can you honestly say that the muscles and joints in the foot do not move as you straighten the rear leg and advance….they should be moving”.


Best regards,
Jim R
Last edited by Jim R on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:35 pm

Jim,

I think it's my turn now to feel skeptical resignation.

Louis
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:00 pm

Well, we have seemingly agreed to disagree without being disagreeable, that is something is it not?

Have a happy holiday if you are partaking and good luck.

Thanks again and with that I'll say so long.

Jim R
Jim R
 

Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Audi » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:30 pm

Greetings to all,

Still for one to achieve internal movement, when one part of the body moves (yang) the rest of the body is completely still (yin).

Jim, I do not think I am familiar with this theory, do you have a written reference? Or did you receive it as part of oral teaching or learn it through your experience?

If we are talking about movement connected with power generation, I can say that I have been taught to consider two sources of power. The external one is represented by "Rooting the Jin in the feet, developing it in the legs, directing it with the waist, and letting it show in the hands and fingers." The internal one is represented by the concept of sinking Qi to the reservoir in the Dantian so that ample Qi can be available in all the subsidiary channels out to the "tips" or "ends" of the body. There is Yin in Yang and Yang in Yin, of course, so that we can also talk about internal aspects of the external path and external aspects of the internal path; however, I usually do not find that necessary to think about too deeply. One of our Ten Essential simply says: "Inside and outside join together" (内外相合).

I see the standard of comparison here as being between large frame and compact or even tight compact frames . I practice both a compact and tight compact frame as passed on from Wu Jianquan to his disciple Young Wabu. In writing this I recall coming across a statement by Yang Jun that he did not practice a small frame.

I have had only a little exposure to small-frame practice; however, what I have experienced seemed to use weight shifts and leg pushing in the same way I was used to. This is the first I have heard that there is a difference in the theory. I also thought that Wu and Wu/Hao stylists especially practiced small frame, but still adhered to almost the same Tai Chi classics I have studied. Do you feel that Young Wabu follows different theories from what Wu Jianquan followed, or merely that Wu Jianquan theories had varying prescriptions depending on the size of the frame? I am aware that the Wu Family Tai Chi form has continued to evolve, but I thought that the basic theory was the same.

As far as elaborating on reasoning for “rooted in the feet, generated by the waist, controlled by the legs and manifested through the fingers”, it is important to remember not only the difference in frame size that I speak of here but how equal and opposite force will be sent from the waist downward through the pelvis to the leg, finally absorbed by the ground through the foot. During that instant, the buttock and leg will naturally energize to transmit the force to feet, thus firming the lower body structure to support the fa jin.

I think I understand what you are proposing; however, I still find the emphasis surprising.
I should say that although we talk about the legs generating the Jin, it is true that the waist, arms, and hands also do something. They cannot be limp and may even provide a substantial amount of energy. One of the ways in which I teach as I try to translate my understanding of the classics in everyday terms is to say that we should always generate power with the biggest and strongest muscles available and let smaller muscled do supporting work. According to at least some definitions, the muscles controlling the thighs and pelvis are the strongest. They certainly have more range of motion than the muscles controlling the lumbar spine. I would say that the waist can add power to the legs, but not the other way around. I would say that the legs are the heavy springs and the waist has the medium springs. Once the heavy springs have stored the maximum energy they can, they can share some with the medium springs without loss of collective power; however, if you try to maximize the storage in the medium springs before the heavy ones, you will steal energy from them and limit them.

In talking about the waist, there are a number of reasons we talk about it guiding or directing, rather than other parts of the body. Many people seem to prefer to talk about the waist only rotating right and left; however, we might say that it can rotate in three planes: like a carousel (merry-go-round), like a Ferris wheel, and like a propeller. In addition to rotating, it can move in circles or loops without rotation . (Maybe this is what yslim was referring to.) It can also combine these types of movement in great variety to change what energy will be manifested in the upper body.

The other reason why we want the waist to be the guide is that we consider it the link between upper and lower. One of our Ten Essentials says: "Upper and lower follow each other (上下相随 ). The waist will often act like the handle of a whip, which translates the strength generated in the hand into the length of the whip. The link in the energy flow has to be a part of the body that can connect upper and lower, which is the waist. I suppose the pelvis or hips could also have this function; however, we have another saying: "Lower body heavy, upper body light, and middle body flexible." If I prioritize flexibility in my pelvis or hips and turn from there, I feel that I compromise the "heaviness" and stability of my lower body and have conducted experiments to confirm this.

What I fail to understand is how external leg power used to stimulate forward and lateral fa jin can be effective? I watch sprinters for instance who use a crouch position on starter blocks, rather than starting from an upright position. They want tremendous acceleration but they have to almost hobble themselves to do it. Reason being is the movement from the ground through the leg is strongest in the upward direction. To use leg power in Tai Chi at an upright position to effect a push forward move, the move will have a low acceleration from rest in contrast to fa jin from the waist which can be made to have a sudden burst motion.

For me, I consider this use of the legs generally similar to what happens in most sports I have played. It is how I hit a baseball, a tennis ball, a volleyball, lift a heavy weight, push a car, thrust with the staff, or drive my rising leg in Golden Rooster. All involve weight shifting and thrusting with the back leg. I also feel this movement very strongly during moving step applications, to the point that I find it good to warn those new to it not to use the same force they might use in fixed step to avoid injuring their partners. During some of these applications, you can even lift the thrusting foot off the ground as the waist continues to transform the energy. We do not use the thrusting foot to accept energy from the waist and transmit it to the ground, since this would involving making it empty with respect to the energy when we want it to be full.

If you practice the Shaking Staff (Dou Gan), don't you do this with a strong initial push with the back leg? How can you generate kicking power using only the energy in the waist?
As for sudden motion, I do this also with the leg, but with little lateral displacement. The stronger and the shorter the energy, the less the weight will transfer; however, we still transfer some. There is also a special technique you can use to change the Fajin that involve things you do with your leg, rather than the waist.

It sounds that you have a different way of looking at these things, which is, of course, fine. There are many approaches to Tai Chi. It also sounds that many of the classic writings do not match your understanding or what you have been taught, which is also fine. For me, as well, there are certain classics and certain approaches that do not match my current understanding and experience, mostly because my teachers have not chosen to teach me from those classics or because these classics are studied by other lineages. I can say that the classic sayings under discussion to match my understanding, physical sensations, and abilities quite well.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: "When one part moves..."

Postby Jim R » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:39 pm

Greetings,


Regards,
Jim R
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