Tai Chi on a beam

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby yslim » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:36 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:Ah, Cheng and Deng.

However, the "test" that I like to use is to have students line up in front of a wall (as flat as possible from the point of contact with their hands to the floor) in bow stance and ask them to push against the wall.
Then I have them tell me where, in their feet, they feel the "weight".

Now, if you're game start pushing walls and tell me what you feel....

Bob



HI BOB
I'M NEW TO THIS THING...LET ME TRY TO GET THIS STRAIGHT IN MY HEAD FIRST.."line up in front of a wall(as flat as possible from the point of contact with their hand to the floor) in bow stance and ask them to push against the wall."

ARE YOU SURE? IT SOUND LIKE A KINKY POSITION TO ME. SO SAID MY LOVEY AND SHE IS NOT "game" AS YOU REQUESTED . I AM IN THE DOG HOUSE NOW SO I REST MY CASE AND LET YOU EXPLAIN...PLEASE.

CIAO,
yslim
Last edited by yslim on Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
yslim
 
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Monterey,Ca. USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:40 pm

Yslim,
I see the problem in my explanation. Sorry to have caused you such distress!! :oops:

Stand in front of a flat wall, position yourself close enough to said wall to comfortably do a bow stance and then execute the Yang style, or Wu style, version of the form named Push.
Sense for where the "weighted" feeling is in your feet while doing so.

Again, there is no trick to this. It's pretty straightforward and has taught me quite a bit, so I use it now with my students.
I had them try this again last night (we've been working on it for several weeks) and I saw some amazing improvement in their postures.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Audi » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:19 pm

Greetings all,

Bob, interesting challenge! I know what my answer would be; and for what its worth, where I begin to push is not where the weight ends up.

BBTrip,

Another "toy" I use to demonstrate is a an http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_ballexercise ball. I use it for several purposes.

Sometimes when doing push hands circles I can feel students using their arms to lift mine in Peng. At one level, this is what Peng calls for; however, students often use a method that reveals their energy and encourages me to resist. What I sometimes say is that we must lift without "lifting" and use the exercise ball to show one way in which this can be done. I leave the ball on the floor and push horizontally at it, but a little off center. The ball then rolls and lifts my hands to the top. In other words, the ball, with no training, skill, timing, or consciousness can "lift" my hands. This is the feel I like for Peng in our vertical circle and in several similar places in our form, e.g., White Crane Spreads Wings and Fair Lady Works the Shuttles.

With a little bit of skill, I can also show how the ball can actually "pull" me out of my root. I do this to try to explain an instance of Zhan ("adhering") that I use during our standard Ward Off application. I find that many students do not understand the energy and tend to engage in "butting" (ding3) so that the opponent is not pulled out of his root. If this type of "pulling" without pulling is understood, it becomes much easier to pull the opponent out of her root and execute the application.

You can also use the ball to demonstrate how to use sticking energy for Nian ("being sticky") and move the opponent's energy to the side. I do this for our single-hand horizontal circle and for several places in our Form, eg., the left-arm ward off in the middle of Ward Off Right, the left-arm ward off in Single Whip and Fist Under Elbow, Cloud Hands, etc.

Another "toy" I use is a tissue. Often, I feel students use their hands and arms in the circling to push, pull, or deflect mine in a way that is too transparent and loses control of my energy. To avoid speculation about what I mean by "energy" or "control." I show how you can use your palm to gentle "rub" a tissue up, down, and sideways against a plaster wall. If you actually try to put your palm entirely above or below the tissue to push it up or down, the movement becomes quite difficult as the tissue begins to float too and fro. On the other hand, if you squeeze the tissue too tightly against the wall, the tissue cannot slide freely. You cannot go too far, but still must go far enough. This is the method I understand to use, expecially during our wrist circles and find it applicable in several places in our form, e.g., the right circling arm in Deflect Downward Parry and Punch and Cross Hands, and the lower An hand in Strike the Tiger and Chop with Fist.

Again, what I try to stress is not so much that we must mimic the movement of the toys, but rather use our minds to create the same set of physical properties. It is easier to generate the activity of a curve if we curve the wrist and the fingers; however, the curving movement is actually generated by the pivot, not the shape of the perifery. The shape of the arm and fingers is important to have external and internal match and also to avoid adopting a shape that makes curving activity impossible.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1130
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby BBTrip » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:11 am

Hi Audi!

Thank you for sharing your toys. On a quick first read, the ball and tissue toys seem to be great examples that can show and produce tangible expressions of the energies and theories you’re teaching. It is very cool of you to take the time share with simple detailed explanations. The one that really stood out for me so far was how a ball can be an ancillary tool to express uprooting. Something the student can explore at home when there is no one to play with. Great idea; I think I’m not giving that toy back.
I attempt similar things using a water bottle.
My time is limited these days so I’ll have to get back to you after I get to play with all your toys.

Hey Bob, Thanks for the puzzler. My first guess was the rear foot.

BBTrip
BBTrip
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:28 pm

Audi,
Bravo! And thanks for not giving it away.
I absolutely LOVE the ball exercises!!! I could immediately see them in my head and even feel them in my body.
I'm going to Wal-Mart this weekend to get myself a beach ball!
I'm going to have to work on the tissue against the wall though. I think I see where you're going with it...
But I'm not feeling it yet.


BB,
That is the answer that 99.5% of the folks I've seen do this come up with and for how most people do it that answer is inevitable. However, it's not the correct way to do the exercise as I was taught it.
And that is due to how most people approach the exercise.
Which is that they stand with their front foot some distance away from the wall, lean forward to place their hands against it, then push using their arms, chest, shoulders and back, with a little back leg thrown in.
This puts the "body weight" directly on the back leg. I've even had students tell me that their front leg feels "light" or like "it's floating".
If you were to stand freely (no wall to push against) and do this same thing, you would immediately feel how incorrect this position is.
Hopefully you will start to see the flaw in the above related way of pushing that darned wall if you puzzle over these two statements which we've all heard before:
Energy is rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, directed by the waist and expressed in the hands and fingers.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby yslim » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:05 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:Audi,



BB,
That is the answer that 99.5% of the folks I've seen do this come up with and for how most people do it that answer is inevitable. However, it's not the correct way to do the exercise as I was taught it.
And that is due to how most people approach the exercise.
Which is that they stand with their front foot some distance away from the wall, lean forward to place their hands against it, then push using their arms, chest, shoulders and back, with a little back leg thrown in.
This puts the "body weight" directly on the back leg. I've even had students tell me that their front leg feels "light" or like "it's floating".
If you were to stand freely (no wall to push against) and do this same thing, you would immediately feel how incorrect this position is.
Hopefully you will start to see the flaw in the above related way of pushing that darned wall if you puzzle over these two statements which we've all heard before:
Energy is rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, directed by the waist and expressed in the hands and fingers.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.

Bob


HI BOB.

THANK YOU FOR THE PLEASURE TO EXERCISE WEIGH TWICE BEFORE I SPEAK. I AGREE WITH AUDI BUT COULDN'T THINK UP A PROPER WAY TO ANSWER IT WITHOUT LETTING THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. AUDI'S ANSWER WAS A CLAASY ONE. IT WAS SHORT AND TO THE POINT. I BOW TO THEE.

SINCE YOUR QUIZ FOR WHERE THE WEIGHT ARE IS KNOWN. NOW LET ME "BORROW-AND-RETURN" YOUR QUIZ AND BOB IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL TO SEE THE "BLUE PRINT/TAIJI PRINCIPLE" OF HOW IT GOT THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. JUST IN CASE THOSE MOMENTS COME AND OFTEN, THE BODY MISTRUST THE MIND.

CIAO,
yslim
yslim
 
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Monterey,Ca. USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby BBTrip » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:19 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:BB,
That is the answer that 99.5% of the folks I've seen do this come up with and for how most people do it that answer is inevitable. However, it's not the correct way to do the exercise as I was taught it.
And that is due to how most people approach the exercise.
Which is that they stand with their front foot some distance away from the wall, lean forward to place their hands against it, then push using their arms, chest, shoulders and back, with a little back leg thrown in.
This puts the "body weight" directly on the back leg. I've even had students tell me that their front leg feels "light" or like "it's floating".
If you were to stand freely (no wall to push against) and do this same thing, you would immediately feel how incorrect this position is.
Hopefully you will start to see the flaw in the above related way of pushing that darned wall if you puzzle over these two statements which we've all heard before:
Energy is rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, directed by the waist and expressed in the hands and fingers.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.


Hi Bob,

I see your point about someone leaning while pushing the wall in the manner described above. I agree it could cause the problems you point out.

The heading BB plus the mixed use of pronouns could be seen as corrective instructions for me.

I never said I leaned or stood with my front foot far from the wall.

Peace,
BBTrip
BBTrip
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Audi » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:54 pm

Greetings all,

Audi,
Bravo! And thanks for not giving it away.
I absolutely LOVE the ball exercises!!! I could immediately see them in my head and even feel them in my body.
I'm going to Wal-Mart this weekend to get myself a beach ball!

I forgot to mention that you can also use the ball to demonstrate the receiving energy in our one-handed horizontal push-hands circle. If you can accomplish the yielding holding the ball in front of you against the opponent's push, you can note (1) the ball can divert the opponent's energy while being incapable of hooking or prying the opponent's arm across your body, (2) if you rely only on rotation and do not retreat appropriately, your opponent feels too much counter-pressure and resistence (i.e., you reveal your full and empty and give the opponent a clear target to push against, (3) if the ball were not round, the energy would have to change into some sort of prying or levering the opponent's energy around, (4) if the ball were not both a little sticky and a little soft, it would provide no friction and not "pull" the opponent's energy around. When we do this using our ward off arm, we need to use a similar shape to provide the same type of energy.

I'm going to have to work on the tissue against the wall though. I think I see where you're going with it...
But I'm not feeling it yet.

I find this exercise most helpful when practicing our open wrist circles (i.e., double Cloud Hands or double Brush Knee). I find that in rotating into the push phase of the circle, most students tend to assume a curve in their arms and wrists that is the opposite of what is necessary. For instance, in beginning the push part of the Cloud Hands circle, they tend to hook the opponent's arms apart, which opens up their ribs to attack. In doing the push part of the Brush Knee circle, they tend to hug the opponent's arms together, which opens up their ears to attack. The problem is that the students overemphasize contacting the opponent's wrist and do not roll into position. They feel as if it is a question of separating and pushing doing the opponent's arms in the Cloud Hands circle or of lifting and joining the opponent's arms in the Brush Knee circle. In actuallity, you have to separate/join and push down/lift without actually doing these things directly. You have to use a sticking energy to do it.

If you try to push a tissue up or down a wall, you will find it very hard to maintain control as the tissue floats out of the way; however, if you rub it up and down, you can put it anywhere on the wall you want.

Another exercise to get the feel is to use a small ball on a low table. Try to keep it contact with the ball and control it, while rotating from the inside of the wrist to the side of the wrist, to the back of the wrist, to the other side of the wrist, and back to the inside. Your fingers must move in a smooth 360 degree circle without touching the top of the table. Do it in both directions. You will feel your wrist acting like a ball rotating the real ball. As I understand it, this is the feeling you want to have during our open wrist circles and the equivalent places in our form.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1130
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:00 pm

BB,
I did not say you, in particular, did that.
I said that's how most people do it.
I've seen this same exercise done a few hundred times, at least, over the course of a couple of decades and that is how it is usually done.
Not always, there have been exceptions, but mostly.

I am a little short on time but I'll do what I can to clear this up as best as I can.
I will be typing this fast and furious so I probably won't get everything down and I'll clear those things up later.

From this line hopefully you will see the correct progression:
"Energy is rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, directed by the waist and expressed in the hands and fingers"
We've all heard this line I believe.
So why would you begin to push the wall with your hands, then your arms, then your shoulders, then your back, then your waist, then your legs and finally your feet? (Again, if you did not do this, BRAVO!)
It is this incorrect sequence of pushing that puts the "body weight" firmly on your back leg as you push, making the front leg insubstantial.
Now, I think we all know that when doing a forwarded weighted bow step, the front leg is the one that should be holding your body weight up off the floor.
Right?
When not pushing against anything, just doing your form work, and you reach the "end" position of the named form "Push", is your weight on your back leg or your front leg?
That's what I thought.
So to do this correctly, as I was taught it, you should...

Root with your feet:
Don't start pushing with your hands or your arms or any other part of your body, you start the act of pushing by first rooting with your feet.
You don't push with your feet, they're only there for rooting.
If you don't know how to root, you will need to learn that first.
Rooting with your feet allows you to begin your movement from a solid platform.
If you're not rooting with your feet, what are you pushing/pulling against?
Think of it this way; if you are standing on wet ice can how much pushing against something can you do?
Exactly.
You have to have a root in your feet or your push will be insubstantial, like you are standing on wet ice, right from the start.

Generate with your legs:
Your legs "generate" the power by pushing and pulling against your stable platform, your root.
So you use your legs to generate all the energy that you are going to use.
Not your arms, not your back, not your shoulders either; only your legs.
You start out sitting on your back leg, that leg should now be holding all of your "body weight". You should be sunk deeply but comfortably into this legs kua. This leg is "substantial", your other leg is "insubstantial". Your front leg should not be holding any of your body weight, it should be lightly, insubstantially, pushing back against your substantial leg. By rotating the substantial legs kua, you should be able to lift the insubstantial leg off the ground effortlessly.
You must then form the intent to Push in your mind. Once you have formed the intent, your mind should lead the chi, which will lead the body.
Your back kua will begin to push down and back into its foots root, while at the same time the front kua begins to pull up and forward onto its root. As your body weight shifts over to your front leg you sit your body weight down on to its kua.
This is Cheng and Deng. One leg pushes, one leg pulls. One leg sends, one leg receives. One is Yin, one is Yang. Etc, etc.
In this way your power, your energy, is generated by your legs.
Both legs have a job: One is pushing/one is pulling, in equal measure.
At the end of the Push, you will have changed substantial and insubstantial in your legs. The front leg is now substantial and holding up your body weight while the back leg is insubstantial and only holding it's own weight while still maintaining a light pushing against your substantial leg to help your root.
The key here is in the word "sitting".
You have to "sit", or sink, your body weight down fully and firmly onto your substantial leg and there should be no body weight in the back leg.
I think we've all heard that before too.
There is a LOT going on with the hips/kua/legs during this. However I will not go into that today.
I have been working with a instructor from a Wu/Hao Tai Chi Chuan school on a system to describe hip/kua rotations, using the feelings generated by the rotation of the greater trachonter as a guide, but it's not ready to be trotted out into public just yet. We're still experimenting with this to see how it works with our students. So far we've had incredibly good results and we're very hopeful, but there are still some bugs to work out.
Onward...

Direct with your waist:
I have read some postings where it seems that people are suggesting that your waist should be where you generate power, or that it should be used to "command" the rest of your body.
But that flies in the face of how I was taught to view the progression of energy in Tai Chi Chuan, which is that the legs/hips/kuas generate power and the mind is commander. I'm going to work from that premise.
So you've rooted and have a stable platform to push against.
You've used Cheng and Deng and have generated power from your legs/hips/kuas.
Now what?
Now, according to the Classics, you "direct" that power with your waist.
What does that mean?
I've seen and used the "steering wheel" analogy often enough to stick with it. It's pretty good.
Does your steering wheel root your car? No.
Does it generate the power that makes your car move? No.
What it does is direct these two things. The root of your tires pushes against the road, the rotation of the tires generates movement, turning the steering wheel then directs that energy where you want it to go.
See where I'm going? I hope so, because again I'm short on time today.
So think of your waist as the steering wheel for your body. You send energy right, left, or straight because of where you turn your waist. Further, how far and how fast you turn your waist will determine the degree of the turn and how intense it is.
Short and sweet, but fairly concise.

Express in your hands (and fingers):
Just so. The energy that was rooted in your feet, generated by your legs and directed by your waist comes out of your hands and fingers.
Notice what isn't in this expression?
Where did your chest and back go? Where are your shoulders and arms?
Well, if you're doing this correctly they are merely supporting players, not actively engaged but not passive either.
I had a student "get it" on this point last week. He summed it up very nicely, I thought:
"I have to think of them as being part of the body of the car, like the fenders or bumper. They pack a huge punch but only because they're being pushed along already by my legs, not because they contribute to it."
Not an exact covering of things, but certainly quite close.

Well, I hope I got most of it here, because I am off for a while.
I'll check back as I can.
I'm sure I missed something, due to my hurried state of mind.
If so, it will have to wait 'til next time.

Cheers,
Bob
Last edited by Bob Ashmore on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:14 pm

I just thought of it, but I don't have time to do it right now.
"Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend"

I'll have to cover that one later but figured I should post this so I would remember to do so.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby BBTrip » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:00 am

Bob Ashmore wrote:Stand in front of a flat wall, position yourself close enough to said wall to comfortably do a bow stance and then execute the Yang style, or Wu style, version of the form named Push.


My interpretation of your instructions caused me to “toe” the wall with my front foot. Meaning my toe was right up against the wall and I could not lean forward. This is one of the reasons I didn’t fully understand your following response.

…it's not the correct way to do the exercise as I was taught it. And that is due to how most people approach the exercise. Which is that they stand with their front foot some distance away from the wall, lean forward to place their hands against it, then push using their arms, chest, shoulders and back, with a little back leg thrown in.


(Not to mention pushing with the arms, lean and such is not very Tai Chi like in my biased opinion.)

If you were to stand freely (no wall to push against) and do this same thing, you would immediately feel how incorrect this position is.


Hopefully you will start to see the flaw in the above related way of pushing that darned wall if you puzzle over these two statements which we've all heard before:


The Heading BB plus the above quotes seemed (to me at the time) that you were talking specifically to me and making a giant assumption on what I did and what happened to me as a result. There was a possibility you were being passive aggressive.

You said you weren’t talking to me I accept that.

At the end of the day, if you were giving me corrective instruction I should have just said Thank you Bob.
Last edited by BBTrip on Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
BBTrip
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby BBTrip » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:20 am

Bob Ashmore wrote:Sense for where the "weighted" feeling is in your feet while doing so.


Your quote above requires a wordy answer so bear with me a little.

For me and probably most who practice Taiji, that when in a bow stance it’s obvious that the weight is in the front foot. But, my answer to this question focused on “feeling” while pushing the wall. For me that “feeling” was in the rear foot.

Now, I think we all know that when doing a forwarded weighted bow step, the front leg is the one that should be holding your body weight up off the floor.

You have to "sit" your body weight down fully and firmly onto your substantial leg and there should be no body weight in the back leg.


Your quotes above help me to understand why you and I get different results from your test.

For me the substantial leg is a relative statement. I do a 70/30 bow stance. Meaning approximately 70 percent of body weight is on the front leg with 30 on the rear. But, if you were to ask, for simplicity sake, I’d say my front leg carries my weight.

However, part of my awareness is for my rear foot connection to the ground. I do this because it easy for me to lose this rear ground connection.

This 30 percent rear-leg grounding gives an extra option in self-defense. It also gives stability to forward back as well as stability to the left and right.

If an opponent pushes me, I could root so that the opponents force is acting straight against the ground. Kind of like a kickstand on a motorcycle or beam stuck into the ground at 45-degree angle to stop something from falling down.
When I use this option, the more someone pushes against me the more their force goes into my rear leg and into the ground, the more it reduces the weight my front leg.

So, when I push the wall using this grounding, the wall is not going to move. Because it’s not going to yield, it sends the force back to me, which is then transferring into my back leg and into the ground.

Therefore, I “feel” it in my rear foot.

And, when I release the push into the wall, I don’t lean forward. I sink into my front leg. When I stop the push I do not lunge forward, I sink down into my front qua.

Peace
BBTrip
BBTrip
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:30 pm

BB,
Ah, I do see where you are going now.
I started out replying directly to you, then went on to a more general kind of posting without making a clear break.
My apologies for that.
I was not trying to be passive aggressive or anything like it.
I'm just a horrible author.
I will do my best not to do that in future.

All,
You do toe the wall. You have to as I understand this (I'm quite sure there are other techniques that would not require this but I do not know them).
During this particular "test", which is only one of several I use, you will be fairly close to the wall, almost face first into it in fact.
This is where I bring in:
Neither too much nor not enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.
As I see it...
Let me repeat that...
AS I SEE IT, the hands should not go beyond the front toe in a forward leaning bow stance at the "end" of the formal posture "Push" (or any of them, but Push is particularly difficult to do).
That is how I teach this exercise, don't let your hands get beyond your front toe.
Which is easy to do against a wall, but not so much when in contact with another person. It takes a LOT of practice.
Whether or not you use that technique in your TCC is entirely up to you.
For me, extending my hands past my front toe in this position feels like I am doing "too much".
Not to go as far as my front toe feels like "not enough".
I made a note of what my student said about the arms, shoulders, chest and back. I believe he has grasped the beginning of the concept but it goes farther than that.
I do add the energy from those body parts to the final mix, mostly when I fajin. When I'm practicing I simply relax them as much as possible and extend the joints as much as possible, but I do not actively "push" them out there.
When doing fajin the movements of my arms, chest, shoulders, back are very small, relaxed and explosive, so I do not have to extend them beyond my front foot to do that.
"Engage" is when I touch the wall with my fingers, in this exercise. I use that as a guide for when to begin to "extend".
The "comply" part doesn't really count for this exercise, as the wall is not doing anything.

As for 70/30 weight splits...
I do those in TYFTCC myself. But I believe we're thinking of them differently.
When I talk about "weight" I talk in terms of "body weight". I tried to make that clear, but was in a bit of rush yesterday so maybe I did not.
I said, right up front, that I was moving at speed and would likely leave some things out.
I have more time today so, onward...
To me, and as I was taught to consider it, "body weight" doesn't include the weight of your legs [i]unless[i] you are holding one leg off the floor, as in a kick or in Golden Rooster.
So I do not hold my "total weight" off the ground with the front leg in a forward weighted bow stance, only the weight of my upper body, my "body weight".
My back leg is resting on the ground and applying a slight downward and backward pushing energy, so I have the feeling of about 30% of my total weight on it but none of that is supporting "body weight". The front leg supports me, the back leg pushes me forward by pushing down and backwards against my root.
Think about how much your back leg weighs and that should make better sense, I hope. The weight of the leg is still there of course, it's resting on the ground, it's actively but insubstantially rooting.
Again, this is as I understand it. It works for me, but doesn't have to work for anyone else.
To step lightly, nimbly, I always us my "insubstantial" leg in this way, ie; it should not be holding any of the weight from my upper body but it should be actively "rooting".
This gives me the ability to step very quickly in any direction, without having to do any shifting around to be able to do so, yet still maintains my root and my ground path.
This is how I was taught to use my legs. Others will have other techniques, I do not know them and so will leave those explanations to those who do.
I'm not saying other methods are bad, unusable, or illegitimate. I've seen them work so I don't have any doubts about them. I'm just saying I do not know how they work and don't seem to be able to do them, so it would be foolish for me to attempt to explain them.
This is how this works for me.
Give it a shot. If you like it it's all yours.
If not, discard it and move on.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:23 pm

I knew I was forgetting something.

When energy is coming into me and I'm forward weighted in bow stance, my back leg feeling "heavy", my front leg feeling "light".
To me, this is incorrect.
Again, I point to the form.
Is your front leg light and your back leg heavy at the "end point" of Push during form work? If not, then how can this be correct when engaged with an opponent?
I believe, because I was taught so, that it is not.
To relieve this, I channel the "energy" to my back leg, my ground path, but channel the "weight" to my front leg.
How?
I cannot possibly come up with the words to explain that. I just wasted about ten minutes trying to do so with absolutely no success.
My students didn't believe it was possible any more than I did when I first heard of it but they've seen me do it so they at least know it can be done now.
It's something I had to learn hands on. It took me a bloody long time and I'm not entirely successful at it every time to this day.
I'm not good yet, I need more practice.
To start...
It involves sinking and rooting and how they are each a separate, though related, thing.
That's about all I can say on that since I am not an expert at the concept by any definition.
I'm peeking through a window at it and trying to figure it out.
I can do it most of the time as long as the incoming energy is not too short, sharp or fast. But sudden, sharp, short jolts of energy still confuse my center and I can be uprooted in that way sometimes. Not always, but more often than I'd like.

Maybe this will help, it did for me.
Find a heavy door. I use the metal fire doors at my work place to play with this.
Stand on the side where the door swings towards you to open, it doesn't matter which side the knob is on as long as you use the hand closest to the knob.
Now stand in a forward weighted bow stance where the door can open past the toe of your front foot without hitting it, but just barely (you will have to play with this a few times to find the sweet spot). You need to have your back foot on the side that is grabbing the knob, your front foot just outside the doors vector.
Think "Brush Knee and Push" just before you begin Twist Step, with your forward hand on the same side as your back foot.
(For clarity, if the door opens towards you and the hinges are on your right, you would put your right hand forward, left foot forward)
Now, use the backward moving portion of Brush Knee and Push ( think from the end of Hands Strum the Lute to the point where you have your arms extended out behind and beside you) to move backwards, turn your waist and open the door.
You can even "touch" the door with your other hand to assist at the end.
Shift your "substantial", weight bearing, leg from front to back as you go.
Keep holding the knob once you have gone through your full range of motion.
Are you still feeling "heavy" on your front foot?
If not, then why would you do this when pushing forward?
The concept is the same.
If so, then in my opinion you might want to revisit the idea of "substantial and insubstantial".
But that's just my opinion.

As always, take what is good and let the rest drop away.
If any of this helps you, please make it your own.
If not, discard it and move on.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Tai Chi on a beam

Postby DPasek » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:45 pm

Bob,

I realize that you are talking about personal experience and not what you think should be correct for others, but when you say:

Bob Ashmore wrote:As I see it...
Let me repeat that...
AS I SEE IT, the hands should not go beyond the front toe in a forward leaning bow stance at the "end" of the formal posture "Push" (or any of them, but Push is particularly difficult to do).
That is how I teach this exercise, don't let your hands get beyond your front toe.

I think that you may be carrying too far something that for you personally corrected some fault that you felt in your own practice. Look at the pictures of Yang Chengfu in his forms and applications (or, as an example, look at the Brush Knee picture shown in the banner at the top of this forum page) and you will see that the hands typically extend well beyond the front toes in the forward bow stances.

Now, many practitioners seem to have the fault of overextending their energy, and perhaps nobody has the ability to consistently have neither excess nor deficiency in all of their movements, but I personally think that you are perhaps unintentionally advocating compensating for overextending (excess) by under-extending (deficiency). But perhaps I am just misinterpreting what you are trying to convey.

While I am not an Association member (and have had only casual workshop exposure to the Yang family teaching), it is my understanding that the Yang family is very good at teaching the limit of how far the forward knee is able to advance in the forward bow stance. Both legs should contribute to the energy transmitted to the hips-kwa-waist-torso and not just the back leg when in the forward bow stance (or any other non-one-leg stance).

To my understanding, when both legs are supporting the body (e.g. as in 70/30 stances, or anything other than 100/0 or 0/100 one-leg stances) both legs should be able to root, and receiving energy should be able to be routed (rooted) through either (or both) legs as desired for the situation, and likewise for issuing energy being routed through either leg (or both legs), without the need to shift the weight from one leg to the other (although shifting the weight is also fine, and is desirable for many situations).

For Bob’s wall pushing experiment, this would mean that we should be able to feel the force to/from the wall in either or both of our legs. If it is felt almost exclusively in the rear leg (probably common for many who try the experiment), then it is probably reflecting ‘bracing’ with the rear leg (excess with the rear leg and deficiency in the front leg). If one can also feel like they can push the wall with the energy produced through the front leg then, to me, this would be much better balanced and aligned.

Does the above make sense the way that I have stated it?

While it may be possible to remain correct, without excess or deficiency, in the way that Bob has described the push without extending the hands beyond the forward toes, I suspect that many who try to follow his example may end up with deficiencies. It is quite possible that someone may attempt to keep the arms from extending beyond the forward toes by 1) keeping the elbows too bent to support the energy transmission from the shoulders to the hands (without excessively tensing muscles to stabilize the angle formed at the elbow), or 2) having their elbows too far behind the body to support the transmission of force from the torso into the upper arm (again, without excessively tensing muscles to stabilize the angle formed at the shoulder), or 3) collapsing the armpits, or 4) pulling the shoulders behind the hips, or 5) etc.

While Bob may have been able to achieve not having excess in the energy of the hands in the Yang style Push form posture by not extending his hands beyond the toes of the forward foot, I just want to induce a sense of caution for others who may not otherwise be careful of not inducing compensatory deficiencies when experimenting with Bob’s approach. I hope that it does not sound like I am being critical of Bob; he has provided a valuable perspective and could be perfectly fine in his approach (he may successfully have balance avoiding having excess while also not inducing deficiencies).

DP
DPasek
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

PreviousNext

Return to Push Hands

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

cron