nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:15 pm

Greetings,

A few months ago, I happened upon an online translation of Yang Chengfu’s first book, Taijiquan Shiyongfa (Application Methods of Taijiquan). This is the book co-written by Dong Yingjie, based upon Yang Chengfu’s demonstration narratives and other family teachings. It includes 2-person application scenarios, staff/spear instructions, and all of the original photos. The translation is by Paul Brennan, and is very good. His blog also has translations of the 2-person sanshou set presented in Chen Yanlin’s book, Chen Weiming’s The Art of Taijiquan, and other valuable materials. All of the translations include the original Chinese, and are searchable in English or Chinese. Great stuff!

http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/methods-of-applying-taiji-boxing-taiji-quan-shiyong-fa/

There’s a lot to study in the Yang Chengfu book, and it would be a great launching point for discussion.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby T » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:09 pm

That is great, thank you

My Shigong is Tung Ying Chieh and as soon as I can print the pages out I shall definitly read them.

Sadly I have discovered as I get older my eyes no longer can handle reading large amounts of text on a webpage so I have to print this out to read it
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:06 pm

Greetings T,

I know what you mean about reading online. I sometimes use the zoom feature on my browser (I use Google Chrome) to help my aging eyes.

Speaking of your Shigong, I just recently acquired a PDF download of Dong Yingjie's 太極拳釋義. It has some very interesting material in it that I'm looking forward to digging into.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby T » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:50 pm

If you have not already, you should take a look at his Red Book and the Chinese versions much better than the English version. The translated version, from the Dong family, is full of translation errors some that make it rather hard to follow. I should also say I figured this out by talking to my sifu about the English version I have and comparing it to a very old copy he has. And he found the errors, I didn't. My reading of Chinese is somewhere between Pre-K and Kindergarten level :)

And magnification of text just seems to make it worse, I have so many floaters these days I have named them :)
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:28 pm

Hi T,

Yes, the Red Book is the one I obtained as a PDF, the Chinese version: 太極拳釋義. The title taijiquan shi yi would be something like "The Explained Meaning of Taijiquan."

--Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby UniTaichi » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:56 am

Thks for posting. Very neat to have both English and Chinese together. :D

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Audi » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:03 pm

Greetings all,

Louis, this is really a tremendous find. Paul Brennan really has some excellent and intriguing translations of Yang Chengfu’s Taijiquan Shiyongfa (Application Methods of Taijiquan). Right or wrong, I was sold when i saw his translation of High Pat on Horse as Testing the Height of a Horse.

Two passages that caught my eye as I skimmed the test and did not know where else to post were the following:

意氣即骨外肉內流動物也,至於練拳打手,想得言不出着一種的興趣來,必使流動物滿身能跑,意左即左,意右則右,就是太極有虛有實的一種的變化,意氣的換法,猶如半瓶水,左側則左蕩,右側則右蕩,能如是,不但得圓活之趣,更有手舞足蹈之樂,至此境地,若人阻我練拳,恐欲罷不能也,因知身體受無限之幸福矣。
The mind is something that moves between the bones and muscles. When practicing the solo set or playing hands, the experience feels captivating in a way that words are not quite adequate to explain. You must get the mind to course through the whole body. When the mind goes to the left, the body goes to the left, and when the mind goes to the right, the body goes to the right. These are the transformations of empty and full in Taiji. The alternations of the mind are like a flask half full of water: tip it to the left and it floods the left half, or tip it to the right and it floods the right half. If it can be like this, not only will you have obtained the qualities of roundness and liveliness, there will also be pleasure in the movements of your hands and feet. Once in such a condition, if someone were to try to prevent me from practicing, I doubt they would be able to, because I would be aware that my body is having so much fun.

I guess I no longer need to feel even slightly guilty about simply describing Tai Chi as "fun" if so august a person as Yang Chengfu was willing to have this view expressed. I think I will lead with this explanation the next time someone asks me why I do Tai Chi. I'll just say: "because it's just so much fun if I get it even half right."

I found the following passage surprising in its discussion of whether to practice the form postures in a small fashion:

開展大也,鬆其筋肉,初學練拳先求姿勢開大,謂能舒筋活血,容易轉弱為强,强而後,研究外能筋骨肉合一,內有精氣神相聚,謂之緊凑,內外兼修,加以動靜變化,自開展而及緊凑,身體强而使用全,可至臻密境矣,如說拳大練小練則誤矣。
The meaning of “gross movement” is to make the posture big and to loosen the muscles. When beginning to learn the solo set, first of all strive for the postures to be opened up quite big, which will loosen the sinews and enliven the blood, making it easier to transform weakness into strength.
     Once you have become strengthened, examine your outward ability to integrate sinew, bone, and muscle, while inwardly gathering together essence, energy, and spirit. This phase of the process is the “finer details”. Cultivate the inside and outside simultaneously, adding also the alternations between movement and stillness. Going from gross movement to finer details, strengthening the body and perfecting the applications, you will be able to attain a refined level. If it is suggested the idea of this passage is that the postures of the solo set are to practiced big and then small, that is incorrect.

This is, of course, just one view, but I think it illustrates how the same text can be understood by different people with a lot of experience and skill. Some say you have to practice the form big and small; others apparently have said the opposite. Each has it's own logic and perhaps its own setting where it may apply best.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:47 pm

Hi Audi,

For 因知身體受無限之幸福, I would probably cleave to a tighter, "because I know my body is receiving limitless happiness (or delight)," but I have to agree that "because I would be aware that my body is having so much fun" is a great rendering. There's really a lot to admire in Brennan's work, and a lot to learn from the original text.

--Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby UniTaichi » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:50 pm

Louis Swaim wrote:Hi Audi,

For 因知身體受無限之幸福, I would probably cleave to a tighter, "because I know my body is receiving limitless happiness (or delight)," but I have to agree that "because I would be aware that my body is having so much fun" is a great rendering. There's really a lot to admire in Brennan's work, and a lot to learn from the original text.

--Louis


Hi All,

What so you think of '' because I realized my physical body is receiving endless satisfaction ''

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:55 pm

Hi UniTaichi,

Re: What so you think of '' because I realized my physical body is receiving endless satisfaction ''

Yes, that works too. 幸福 is like a general sense of well-being and happiness. That's a good reason to do taijiquan!

Take care,
Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:15 pm

Greetings All,

Some notes:

It's not crystal clear who is responsible for the commentary in Taijiquan Shiyongfa. It could be Yang Chengfu's own, or it could be Dong Yingjie's, or a combination.

What Brennan renders as "This book is Yang Chengfu’s transmission of boxing theory" is: 此書是楊老師所述拳理. I would point out that 述 shù means "to narrate," or "to relate." This accords with my view that both Yang Chengfu's books were in large part based upon his personal demonstration narratives.

The text recorded as 王宗岳原序解明 EXPLANATIONS TO WANG’S TEXT is now more generally ascribed to Wu Yuxiang as 十三勢行功心解 (mental elucidation of the thirteen dispositions).

Brennan made a great observation, and makes a point of noting that some of the push hands and dalu material were copied into Taijiquan Shiyongfa from Xu Yusheng's earlier 1921 taijiquan manual. Good catch!

--Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:12 pm

Another note on the commentary Audi quoted from Shiyongfa -- it contains a direct reference to the Confucian Analects. The phrase 欲罷不能 "Even if I wanted to quit, I could not" is a direct quote of Kongzi's disciple, Yan Hui, speaking admirably of his teacher's guidance.

http://ctext.org/analects?searchu=%E6%AC%B2%E7%BD%B7%E4%B8%8D%E8%83%BD

So, Audi, in New Jersey I suppose you might say, "Just try and stop me."

--Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:37 pm

There’s another neat allusion in the first passage Audi posted above:

手舞足蹈 shǒu wǔ zú dǎo means something like “to dance for joy.” It’s a chengyu that is rooted in something from The Great Preface 大序 to the Book of Poetry, in a passage I’ve always loved. The original wording is; 永歌之不足,不知手之舞之,足之蹈之也.

James Legge’s translation of the relevant passage:

“The feelings move inwardly, and are embodied in words. When words are insufficient for them, recourse is had to sighs and exclamations. When sighs and exclamations are insufficient for them, recourse is had to the prolonged utterances of song. When those prolonged utterances of song are insufficient for them, unconsciously the hands begin to move and the feet to dance.” —The Chinese Classics, Vol. IV, The She King [shi jing 詩經] or Book of Poetry, p. 34.

Sorry, I just can’t help myself when it comes to calling out classical allusions. It’s great fun!

Take care,
Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:33 pm

Greetings,

I like the way Brennan translates deng jiao 蹬脚 as "pressing kick." In my translation of Taijiquan tiyong quanshu, I noted that "the verb deng, 蹬 is not necessarily well-served by the translation 'kick.' The word deng really means 'to tread' with the sole of the foot." I also noted, "The raised leg movements in taijiquan are not necessarily kicks in the conventional sense of a power kick. They certainly can be applied in that manner, but they can also simply make contact with an opponent's unbalanced body, adding just enough force to send him or her soaring back." (p. 59)

Brennon's translation of the Shiyongfa instructions for the following depiction of 蹬脚 support this idea:

24. Application of TURN TO THE RIGHT, PRESSING KICK

如甲坐伏式乙猛撲來,甲亦用雙手左右分開乙手,起右脚直踢乙腹上,如蹬人不可用勁,如圖是也。
If B feircely attacks while A is in a crouching posture, A spreads both hands to counter B’s hand, lifting his right foot to do a straight kick to B’s belly. When you do a pressing kick to someone, you must not use force.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: nice online translation of Yang Chengfu's first book

Postby Audi » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:01 am

Greetings Louis,

I noticed this word choice as well. I have tended to favor "thrust kick" rather than "pressing kick," but this translation made me think.

By the way, what do you think 用劲 (yong4 jin4) actually means in ordinary settings and also in the mouth of a Tai Chi scholar like Yang Chengfu? Do you think he means it in the everyday sense, or is he using "Jin" as a term of art? The phrase "using force" has so much baggage among English speaking Tai Chi enthusiasts that I do not want to evoke that sense unnecessarily.

Also, I must confess, that I have never been sure how strong the expression 用劲 is, since I have encountered it only in emphatic circumstances. I think I usually gloss it in my mind as "vigorously" or "energetically," which is stronger than "actively," but weaker than "going all out." The kicks I have been taught to do in the form are as slow and gentle as the hand movements; but I would find it hard to say that, when I practice Fajin, I do them lightly or effortlessly, any more than I thrust lightly or effortlessly when I practice with the staff. Could whipping the tip of the staff around or making it quiver not be described as not 用劲? Surely you don't want to the exercises with crude, stiff, local force, but I would still describe then as quite vigorous.

None of this, of course, contradicts your point that Tai Chi is quite often not about using maximum power, even when this is possible. There are many ways to use the legs to transmit energy without doing power kicks.

Take care,
Audi
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