Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Audi » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:50 pm

Louis Swaim wrote:More on Wu Yuxiang's 太極拳解. As you suggest, there is a lot to chew on in that text. I can't recall having seen it rendered into English, so we'll just have to work on that, I think. It's just packed with quotes from other more familiar taiji classics, but also with allusions to the broader classical canon.

I would like to continue more systematically here, with the "chewing" begun on this thread. I am interested in the leaves and individual trees in this forest, but also in how the various groves relate to each other and how the whole forest looks. Sometimes the full meaning of a text becomes apparent only when the relationship of its parts are examined.

Here is the full text Louis quoted (with corrected text per Louis's later post today):

太極拳解, 武禹襄

身雖動,心貴靜;氣須斂,神宜舒。心為令,氣為旗;神為主帥,身為驅使。刻刻留意,方有所得。先在心,後在身。在身,則不知手之舞之,足之蹈之,所謂“一氣呵成”、“舍己從人”、“引進落空”、“四兩撥千斤”也。
須知:一動無有不動,一靜無有不靜。視動猶靜,視靜猶動。內固精神,外顯安逸。須要從人,不要由己。從人則活,由己則滯。尚氣者無力,養氣者純剛。
彼不動,己不動;彼微動,己以動。以己依人,務要知己,乃能隨轉隨接;以己粘人,必須知人,乃能不後不先。
精神能提得起,則無遲重之虞;粘依能跟得靈,方見落空之妙。往復須分陰陽,進退須有轉合。機由己發,力從人借。發勁須上下相隨,乃能一往無敵;立身須中正不偏,方能八面支撐。靜如山嶽,動若江河。邁步如臨淵,運勁如抽絲。蓄勁如張弓,發勁如放箭。
行氣如九曲珠,無微不到;運勁如百煉鋼,何堅不摧?形如搏兔之鶻,神似捕鼠之貓。曲中求直,蓄而後發。收即是放,連而不斷。極柔軟,然後能極堅剛;能黏依,然後能靈活。氣以直養而無害,勁以曲蓄而有餘。漸至物來順應,是亦知止能得矣!


If we begin with the first two sentences, we have:

身雖動,心貴靜;氣須斂,神宜舒。心為令,氣為旗;神為主帥,身為驅使。


So all can play, even without knowledge of Chinese, I will attempt an inexpert translation:

Although the body moves, the mind values stillness; the Qi must be collected, and the spirit should open up.
The mind acts as a senior officer, and the Qi acts as a banner; the spirit is what serves as commander-in-chief, and the the body is what is ordered about.


Those not fluent Chinese can also "copy" individual characters (or occasionally pairs of characters), and "paste" them here or here or here to get various types of information about their possible meanings. Those with some fluency Chinese are invited to comment directly on the inadequacies or appropriateness of my translation. You can also get some insight, or have some linguistic fun, by examining the etymology of individual characters here, where the "picture" behind the character is often explained.

To translate or interpret this type of material well, you really need to learn the vocabulary and grammar of classical Chinese and read a lot of ancient books that are extensively used as references. However, to contribute to an informal discussion on a website such as this, all can play and are welcome. I am certainly no scholar of classical Chinese, even if I have studied more than most Tai Chi players.

The excerpted text about seems to state a complete proposition contained of two thoughts. Each thought has four parts contrasting four things in four states according to one order and to four roles in another order.

The four things are: body, mind, Qi, and spirit. These are repeated in both thoughts.
The four states are: moving, being still, being collected, opening up; and the four roles are: giving orders, acting as a banner (a visible expression of the orders and a vehicle for them), being supreme commander, and being ordered about.

The surface proposition seems to be: if the four things are in their proper states, they will collaborate in the proper hierarchy to wield the power of the army that you, yourself, represent.

Said in another way, I might express the proposition as:

Your body benefits from movement, but your thoughts from stillness. Your energy is most useful once it is collected and concentrated, but your spirit is most useful if at ease and open to all possibilities. In this way, you can make the proper decisions, and your energy can transmit those decisions to promote action. With the right decision and action, your spirit will preside over all with the right attitude and tone, leading your body to react appropriately.

Any thoughts or comments?

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:14 pm

Audi,

Unfortunately, the online version of the 太極拳解 that I cut and pasted in my earlier post had a number of errors in it. I checked it against the print version in Shen Shou’s Taiji quanpu, and corrected it below. To summarize what I corrected, 足雖蹈之 should be 足之蹈之; 不要從己 should be 不要由己; 從己則滯 should be 由己則滯; 以己從人 should be 以己依人; 則無滯重之虞 should be 則無遲重之虞; and 動如江河 should be 動若江河.

太極拳解, 武禹襄

身雖動,心貴靜;氣須斂,神宜舒。心為令,氣為旗;神為主帥,身為驅使。刻刻留意,方有所得。先在心,後在身。在身,則不知手之舞之,足之蹈之,所謂“一氣呵成”、“舍己從人”、“引進落空”、“四兩撥千斤”也。
須知:一動無有不動,一靜無有不靜。視動猶靜,視靜猶動。內固精神,外顯安逸。須要從人,不要由己。從人則活,由己則滯。尚氣者無力,養氣者純剛。
彼不動,己不動;彼微動,己先動。以己依人,務要知己,乃能隨轉隨接;以己粘人,必須知人,乃能不後不先。
精神能提得起,則無遲重之虞;粘依能跟得靈,方見落空之妙。往復須分陰陽,進退須有轉合。機由己發,力從人借。發勁須上下相隨,乃能一往無敵;立身須中正不偏,方能八面支撐。靜如山嶽,動若江河。邁步如臨淵,運勁如抽絲。蓄勁如張弓,發勁如放箭。
行氣如九曲珠,無微不到;運勁如百煉鋼,何堅不摧?形如搏兔之鶻,神似捕鼠之貓。曲中求直,蓄而後發。收即是放,連而不斷。極柔軟,然後能極堅剛;能黏依,然後能靈活。氣以直養而無害,勁以曲蓄而有餘。漸至物來順應,是亦知止能得矣!

Oh, the hazzards of online transcriptions!

Another correction: Corrected "己以動" to 己先動.

--Louis
Last edited by Louis Swaim on Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Audi » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:53 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thanks dor the correction. You managed to forestall several grammar questions I had. 足雖蹈之 was, in particular giving me fits. As UniTaichi suggested, I need to be suspicious of typos when the meaning seems especially obscure or awkward. I have gone ahead and corrected my first post.
Take care,
Audi
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:07 am

Hi Audi,

The incorrect phrase 足雖蹈之 is exactly what alerted me that something was wrong in the online text I copied, because I recognized it as the original wording from the Great Preface to the Book of Songs that I mentioned in the other thread. The correct wording is 不知手之舞之,足之蹈之, and also appears in the Warring States text, Yue Ji, Record of Music. You can see the words in context here: http://ctext.org/pre-qin-and-han?search ... 8%E4%B9%8B

--Louis
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:56 pm

Hello everyone,

I'd hate to see this thread die, so I'll ask some beginner's questions just to keep the conversation going.

1) In the Exposition and Insights, 氣為旗 is usually translated as "the qi is the flag." Since both the Exposition and the Explanation are attributed to Wu Yuxiang and this line in the Explanation is a quotation from the Exposition, shouldn't 旗 rendered as "flag" rather than as "banner"?

2) In my (limited) experience with Classical Chinese, a love of parallelism is striking. Yet, the two sentences under discussion, which could easily be made parallel (or a kind of reverse parallel), are not. So why not? Why aren't they "Although the body moves, the heart/mind values stillness, the qi must be collected, the spirit should be open. The body carries out the order, the heart/mind is the commander, the qi is the flag, the spirit is the commander-in-chief" (or "Although the body moves, the heart/mind values stillness, the qi must be collected, the spirit should be open. The spirit is the commander-in-chief, the qi is the flag, the heart/mind is the commander, the body carries out the order.")?

3) In the Exposition, the military metaphor makes sense in establishing hierarchy and function: "The heart/mind is the commander, the qi is the flag, the waist is the banner." In the Explanation, Wu has dropped the last clause about the waist and added clauses concerning the spirit and the body. But does the military metaphor make sense here? If the spirit is the commander-in-chief, what is the heart/mind? The officer in tactical command? What happened to the banner, which is supposed to lead the troops?

Somehow, the second sentence just doesn't feel right. Any help is appreciated.

Cheers!

Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:50 am

Phocion wrote:Hello everyone,

I'd hate to see this thread die, so I'll ask some beginner's questions just to keep the conversation going.

1) In the Exposition and Insights, 氣為旗 is usually translated as "the qi is the flag." Since both the Exposition and the Explanation are attributed to Wu Yuxiang and this line in the Explanation is a quotation from the Exposition, shouldn't 旗 rendered as "flag" rather than as "banner"?

2) In my (limited) experience with Classical Chinese, a love of parallelism is striking. Yet, the two sentences under discussion, which could easily be made parallel (or a kind of reverse parallel), are not. So why not? Why aren't they "Although the body moves, the heart/mind values stillness, the qi must be collected, the spirit should be open. The body carries out the order, the heart/mind is the commander, the qi is the flag, the spirit is the commander-in-chief" (or "Although the body moves, the heart/mind values stillness, the qi must be collected, the spirit should be open. The spirit is the commander-in-chief, the qi is the flag, the heart/mind is the commander, the body carries out the order.")?

3) In the Exposition, the military metaphor makes sense in establishing hierarchy and function: "The heart/mind is the commander, the qi is the flag, the waist is the banner." In the Explanation, Wu has dropped the last clause about the waist and added clauses concerning the spirit and the body. But does the military metaphor make sense here? If the spirit is the commander-in-chief, what is the heart/mind? The officer in tactical command? What happened to the banner, which is supposed to lead the troops?

Somehow, the second sentence just doesn't feel right. Any help is appreciated.

Cheers!

Dave


Greetings Dave,

Regarding your item 1, 旗 qí, and 纛 dào could both be translated as "flag," or as "banner." Sometimes when they occur together in a document, it's helpful to translate one as flag and the other as banner. As I understand it, a 纛 is larger than a 旗, and they served different functions in troop signaling, but historically, over time, those functions would have varied greatly.

I agree with your point that there is not a clear parallelism where one might expect it in the first two lines, and that there seem to be some inconsistencies with the way the imagery is used compared with Wu Yuxiang's Mental Elucidation text. I can't explain why. This document strikes me as a real grab bag of quotes and allusions. It's not clear to me that there is a rigorous logic in its organization, however interesting it may be.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:46 pm

Thanks for the reply, Louis. I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who finds the text unexpectedly strange.

Do you know anything about the provenance of the text?

The way I heard the story, Wu, when practicing or teaching, would sometimes have insights which he jotted down and pinned to a wall, to remind himself and his students about important points of practice. These were eventually collected in no particular order and published as the Mental Elucidation.

But what about the Explanation? Wu was a scholar and the prose of the Mental Elucidation seems much more polished than that of the Explanation. Was Wu just having a bad brush day? Or is the Explanation an unfinished draft which somehow saw the light of day before it was ready? Or (I lean in this direction) is the Explanation the work of a later editor who riffed on Wu's Mental Elucidation and published the result under Wu's name?

Do you (or anyone else) know?

Cheers!
Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Greetings Dave,

The Explanation of Taijiquan is actually part of another work attributed to Wu Yuxiang, Essentials of Sparring (dǎshǒuyàoyán 打手要言). Douglas Wile’s Lost T’ai-chi Classics attempts to sort out the different theories about different redactions of Wu’s writings, but there seem to be no solid conclusions about what came from where.

You can see the Essentials of Sparring text here: http://www.scxctj.cn/xhwz/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=22

I had forgotten, but years ago Peter Lim published a translation of the Essentials on his excellent Resource site, which has been mirrored and is still accessible. I would quibble with parts of his translation, but he gets the gist of it, and I don’t recall seeing any other English renderings of the document. You can read it if you go to this link and scroll down to “Hitting Hands Essential Sayings”: http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/classic1.htm

Here’s my translation of the entry for Taijiquan Jie in She Gongbao’s Dictionary of Essential Taijiquan Terminology 精选太极拳辞典, p. 164.

~~~
太极拳解: A well-known treatise on taijiquan authored by Wu Yuxiang. The document synthesizes and expounds on a variety of factors in form and push hands practice, touching on body/mind, movement/stillness, moving jin, circulating qi, self-cultivation, and so on. It is one of the representative compositions of Wu Yuxiang.
~~~

She Gongbao’s entry on the Essentials of Sparring states that it’s an amalgam of “The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Dispositions,” “Wu Yuxiang’s Taijiquan Treatise,” and the “Explanation of Taijiquan,” with only slight discrepancies in the wording among them. (p. 36).

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:24 pm

Thanks for the info, Louis.

I'll have a go at the next lines.

刻刻留意,方有所得。先在心,後在身。在身,則不知手之舞之,足之蹈之,所謂“一氣呵成”、“舍己從人”、“引進落空”、“四兩撥千斤”也。
Every moment keep this in mind: There is a method which gets results. First in the mind, afterward in the body. When in the body, then you are not conscious of the hand's movement or the foot's step. This is called “completing something in one breath,” “give up the self to follow others,” “lead him to emptiness,” “four ounces deflects a thousand pounds.”

I couldn't track down 一氣呵成, but the next saying is from the Lun and the last two are found in the Push-hands Song.

If anyone can improve on my translation, please do so. I'm still learning.

Cheers!
Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:04 am

Greetings Dave,

Re: 一氣呵成, you’ve pretty well got it. My only caveat is that I avoid translating qi as “breath.” In this saying, if you translate it as “one breath,” it would only mean so in a metaphorical sense—“as though in one breath.” The meaning here is that the movements are integrated as one, continuous and unimpeded. The saying originally was used to describe poetry or brushwork. By the way, my favorite on-line dictionary is the zdic.net, which is basically an on-line version of the Hanyu Da Cidian, the Chinese equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s very robust. I've saved it to my bookmarks bar for instant access. You can look up characters, compounds, chengyu (generally four-character proverbial phrases). Within a definition, you can highlight single characters or compounds, and a window will come up for what you’ve highlighted with its own definition. It’s a mostly Chinese dictionary, but there are often summarized English definitions in place for more common words and phrases. Here’s the entry for 一氣呵成: http://www.zdic.net/cd/ci/1/ZdicE4ZdicB ... 290647.htm

As for the part about the hands and the feet, it’s important to know that the final 之 in the two phrases 則不知手之舞之,足之蹈之means something, and to understand what its referent is. When you thread back, you’ll see that it’s the same thing that is “first in the mind, then in the body,” that is, the intent (意). So, I would translate it something like, “then, unconsciously, the hands and feet move to it.” The whole phrase is a word-for-word quote from The Great Preface to the Book of Songs which explains what poetry is:

诗者,志之所之也。在心为志,发言为诗。情动于中而形于言。言之不足,故嗟叹之;嗟叹之不足,故永歌之;永歌之不足,不知手之舞之、足之蹈之也。

James Legge translated this: “Poetry is the product of earnest thought. Thought in the mind becomes earnest; exhibited in words, it becomes poetry. 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. Stephen Owen, a more recent scholar, accounting for that 之, translates the last line, “If singing them is inadequate, unconsciously our hands dance them and our feet tap them.”

Something in the Great Preface must have resonated for Wu Yuxiang, so he worked it into this text. In this context, the sense I have of it is that having focused your mind, once the intent suffuses your body, the movements happen automatically, spontaneously.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:41 am

Hi Louis,

I tried to avoid translating qi as "breath," but as the phrase seemed to involve duration, I just couldn't think of a way to get the job done in "one qi." But, if I understand you correctly, the phrase concerns not duration but the quality of the action: it should exhibit one [unbroken] qi.

As for the other line, I thought the final 之 was pronoun, but I couldn't figure out the referent. But I see now it is alluded to in the phrase you mention (isn't Chinese wonderful?), which I should have figured it out by recognizing the phrase as one found in the Mental Elucidation.

And thanks for that delightful passage from the Great Preface to the Book of Songs. I can see why Wu was taken with it.

And lastly, thanks for the link to zdic.net. It looks like a wonderful resource, although I doubt my Chinese is up to the task of allowing me to make reasonable use of it. Maybe someday.

Anyway, many thanks. I'll post the next lines soon, unless someone else wants to have a go.

Cheers!

Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:38 pm

Hi All,

The next two sentences.

須知:一動無有不動,一靜無有不靜。視動猶靜,視靜猶動。

You must know: As soon as there is movement there is no place that doesn't move, as soon as there is stillness there is no place that isn't still. Regard movement as stillness, regard stillness as movement.

The first sentence is from the Mental Elucidation, the second is not in the Classics.

Cheers!

Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:56 pm

Dave,

Keep going. Looks good!

--Louis
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Phocion » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:51 pm

The next lines:

1) 內固精神,外顯安逸。
Inside, the spirit is firm; outside shows a tranquil ease.

2) 須要從人,不要由己。從人則活,由己則滯。
You must follow the other, and must not follow yourself. If you follow the other then you will be lively, if you follow yourself then you will be sluggish.

3) 尚氣者無力,養氣者純剛。
One who values qi will not have strength, one who nurtures qi is genuinely strong.

[Comments]

1) The first sentence is from the Mental Elucidation, with a variant character for "shows."

2) The next two sentences start with a line from the Lun and then juggle some terms found in the Mental Elucidation. In the Lun the line is 本是舍己從人 ("The source is to 'abandon oneself to follow others,'" a reference to a saying in the Mencius). And in the Mental Elucidation, we are told that if the spirit can be raised, then there is no worry about being slow or heavy; if the intention and qi can quickly change, there will be a sense of being round and lively; and if the intention is on the qi and not the spirit, you will be stagnant. Pretty complicated.

But in the Explnation the situation is much more simple: we should follow the other and not the self to be lively and not sluggish. This makes much more sense to me, both as a matter of practice and because I never had figured out what it was to place the intention on the spirit.

3) The last line is also curious. In the Mental Elucidation we are told that "One who has qi is without strength, one without qi is simply hard." (有氣者無力; 無氣者純剛.) The translation of the line, and especially the last clause, is problematical, but I sometimes wonder if its not a reference to a line in ch. 76 of the Daodejing: “Man at birth is soft and weak, when dead he is hard and strong.” But in the Explanation, instead of having or lacking qi, it is a matter a valuing qi. And I suppose if you value qi, you will prefer qi to strength, so the line could be rendered: "One who values qi will not use muscular strength; one who nurtures qi is genuinely strong."

Anyway, I'm finding myself liking the Explanation more and more as I go along. Comments?

Cheers!
Dave
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Re: Explanation of Taijiquan/太極拳解

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:03 am

Hi Dave,

I think those are good renderings. Here are some thoughts. . .

My sense of this document, as a portion of Wu Yuxiang’s larger document, Da shou yao yan, is that it preceded Mental Elucidation, and was a sort of draft for the latter work. I don’t know that for sure, but it strikes me that way.

I long ago came to the realization that a key to understanding Wu Yuxiang’s writing is through the philosopher Mencius (Mengzi). Wu’s essay, Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Dispositions, not only quotes directly from Mengzi (for example, on nourishising qi: 以直養而無害), but his wording reveals the influence of Mengzi’s thinking about the role of the mind vis-à-vis “nourishing qi.” He seems to have been especially influenced by the Gong Sun Chou chapter that records Mengzi’s discussion about how to achieve an unperturbed mind.

http://ctext.org/mengzi/gong-sun-chou-i ... all#result

Wu’s wording such as 先在心, 後在身, (first in the heart/mind, then in the body) strongly reflects the logic of Mengzi’s argument: “Your will is the commander of the qi. Qi is what fills the body. Where your will goes, the qi is subordinate to it.” 夫志,氣之帥也;氣,體之充也。夫志至焉,氣次焉。Van Norden, in keeping with the military imagery, translates the last line, “When your will is fixed somewhere, the qi sets up camp there.” (Bryan Van Norden, trans., Mengzi, Hackett Publishing, 2008, p. 38.) I think, though, that this sense of qi being “subordinate to” the will 氣次焉 is important for understanding the thinking that Wu Yuxiang picked up on.

Now, on the sentence 尚氣者無力,養氣者純剛。, my translation and interpretation differs from yours. For one thing, I believe Wu is suggesting that “no strength” is not a good outcome, and that when qi is nurtured in the proper way, there will be “pure strength” which is a good outcome. But, remembering the context of the priority of the mind, or intention, the proper way to nurture qi means that you place emphasis on your intent, not on the qi itself. So I would translate 尚shàng, as “emphasize,” or maybe “prioritize.” So, “The one who emphasizes qi will have no strength, the one who nurtures qi will have pure strength.”

There is an important distinction between “having strength” and “using strength.” Using strength improperly against the strength of an opponent is proscribed in taijiquan, but having strength is good, and not having it would not be good. In like manner, qi is good, nurturing qi is good, but focusing directly on qi is not good.

I found some helpful commentary on a Chinese website on this Wu Yuxiang sentence here: http://www.hudong.com/wiki/%E3%80%8A%E5 ... 0%E3%80%8B

The part I’m interested in is “尚气者无力”,“尚”违背了孟子“气次焉”的主从关系,所以无力。“养气者纯刚”就是“以直养而无害”“至大至刚”。My translation: “One who emphasizes the qi will have no strength.” [This word] “emphasize” (尚) goes against the relationship of principal and subordinate (主从关系) presented in Mengzi’s idea that “the qi is subordinate to it” (气次焉), therefore there is no strength. “One who nurtures qi will have pure strength.” This is [the meaning of Mengzi’s] “when cultivated in a straightforward manner, there will be no harm.”

In the same vein, I translate the Mental Elucidation lines differently than you have. This is another issue of understanding the referent—here of the pronoun 者—as “one who has it on,” with the “it” being the intent 意. I touched on this in a note to Zheng Manqing’s Forward in my translation of Yang Chengfu’s The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, p. 4. So my translation of the Mental Elucidation lines is: “Throughout the whole body, the intent 意is on the spirit of vitality, not on the qi. If it is on the qi, then there will be stagnation. One who has it on the qi will have no strength. One who does not have it on the qi will attain pure strength.”

Something else in the above mentioned online commentary to Wu Yuxiang is this, regarding Wu’s assimilation of Mengzi’s thinking on not focusing on qi: 这与庄子的至人“不射之射”是相通的. My translation: “This is interlinked with Zhuangzi’s Perfect Man notion of “the archery of a nonarcher.” I have to wonder if this commenter was thinking about the upcoming line in the Explanation of Taijiquan, “Step as though approaching a cliff.” 邁步如臨淵. Here’s Watson’s translation of the passage being referenced:

“Lieh Yu-k’ou was demonstrating his archery to Po-hun Wu-jen. He drew the bow as far as it would go, placed a cup of water on his elbow, and let fly. One arrow had no sooner left his thumb ring than a second was resting in readiness beside his arm guard, and all the while he stood like a statue. Po-hun Wu-jen said, “This is the archery of an archer, not the archery of a nonarcher. (是射之射,非不射之射也) Try climbing up to a high mountain with me, scrambling over the steep rocks to the very brink of an eight-hundred foot chasm (臨百仞之淵)—then we’ll see what kind of shooting you can do!

“Accordingly, they proceeded to climb a high mountain, scrambling over the steep rocks to the brink of an eight-hundred-foot chasm. There Po-hun Wu-jen, turning his back to the chasm, walked backwards until his feet projected half-way off the edge of the cliff, bowed to Lieh Yu-k’ou, and invited him to come forward and join him. But Lieh Yu-k’ou cowered on the ground, sweat pouring down all the way to his heels. Po-hun Wu-jen said, ‘The Perfect Man may stare at the blue heavens above, dive into the Yellow Springs below, ramble to the end of the eight directions, yet his spirit and bearing undergo no change. And here you are in this cringing, eye-batting state of mind—if you tried to take aim now, you would be in certain peril?’” (Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, Columbia Univ. Press, 1968, pp. 230-231)

Here’s a link to the Chinese text of the Zhuangzi chapter, with Legge’s translation: http://ctext.org/zhuangzi/tian-zi-fang

Take care,
Louis
Last edited by Louis Swaim on Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Louis Swaim
 
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