Toes, do you lift them?

Toes, do you lift them?

Postby Wushuer » Wed Aug 18, 2004 5:29 pm

There is a question I've been meaning to ask everyone here for a while, so why not now.
When I do my forms I sometimes bring over a habit I learned from the Wu forms, that is I lift my toe of my non-wieghted foot off the ground and leave only my heel in contact with the ground.
I do this without even thinking about it.
At the Master Yang Jun form seminar I attended I sort of lost that habit, but now I find myself doing it again without conscious thought.
The place I most egregiously lift the toe is during Grasp The Birds Tail, during the Roll Back, Press and Push portions I lift the front toe of my right foot as I move my weight back.
I feel some very minor energy differences between these two differing toe placements, though I can't really say what exactly that differnce is, furthermore I have applied against my training partner both with the toe down and the toe up, and I find no practical differences between them during application training.
I also still lift my front toe during push hands training, as I was taught by the Wu family. Again, I feel no differnences worth mentioning either way.
The funny part to this is that my practice partner, who studied Kuang Ping for quite some time, also lifts his toes in nearly the identical places as I do, so he's of the opinion, along with me, that there is really very little difference between these two positionings.
Also, the first Yang style I trained in, long long ago, also lifted the toes in almost the exact same places.
Does anyone else have any thoughts, ideas, concrete facts, about this difference?
I'd love to hear them.
This is an integral part of the Wu forms as I learned them, though it never once crossed my mind to ask anyone why you did it that way.
My own personal theory is that it helps, immensly, in getting your body weight out of that front, non-weighted, leg and allows you to lift it up slightly faster, but only very slightly. Leaving my toe down doesn't give me any more feeling of "rooted" so I'm not sure what that gets me if I leave it down, and there are plenty of places in the Yang style form where you land on the heel of the non-weighted foot with your toes up (Lift Hands, Step Up for one). But I do know what I lose when I leave it down, and that's the very minor time it takes to get that foot off the ground fully.
While I know this works to help your speed, through practical application and experimentation, I don't know that's the exact reason for lifting the toes in the other forms, or why you don't in this one.
I just keep hearing Eddie's form instructions, "palm down, toe down, move your weight forward", and the like. So I know it's something they believe in firmly.
Anyone know the Yangs stance on this?
There are other places in the forms I do this, in fact just about anyplace you're going to an empty stance in the forms, I'm only using GTBT as the best example that everyone will be able to relate to quickly.




[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 08-18-2004).]
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Aug 18, 2004 6:01 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

Interesting post.

I would be really interested in hearing the pro's and con's of the lifted toe as well.

In Yang style I am taught to stick the toes to the floor and I never had a problem with that before. Lately, however, I have been lifting my toes often, where I never used to...I am having difficulty not relying on my heel(all of a sudden) @@ ...I too wonder if it is a matter of rooting, but you say Wu style uses this method effectively...
I have no idea where this new habit is coming from or whether or not it is detrimental to my form.

I too would be curious to know more about this difference in the form.

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:47 pm

Psal,
I find it intersting that you have begun to do this, all on your own. It seems there must be some good reason for it, beyond the one I have given I feel sure, if the Wu's and some Yang transmissions teach it this way and you have begun to do this without any training along those lines.
I would like to hear from others also, even if you don't have any insights as to why, on whether or not you lift your front toe during Grasp the Birds Tail, or other places in the forms that are front leg empty stance.

Let's look at this from another perspective as well.
I've mentioned Lift Hands, Step Up as one good example of this. There are many, many others in the Yang form.
Repulse Monkey is another one.
Where else?
Also, what would the martial differences be for doing one rather than the other. As both are clearly trained in the Yang form, there must be a reason why you do it one way sometimes, the other way other times.
A correlation would be that of "Turn Body, Flip Fist Past Body" and "Turn Body, White Snake Spits Tounge". "The moves are kind of the same, but just a little bit different" is the way I remember Master Yang Jun describing them. They have different martial intentions and applications.
It seems to me that it would follow logically that this would as well. So what I guess I'm asking for is...
What are they?
Does anyone know?

Oh, I almost forgot...
It's not just Wu style that relies on the heel for rooting, it's clearly in the Yang forms as well.
As mentioned above, it happens in several places, just not all of them.



[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 08-18-2004).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Aug 19, 2004 12:29 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Wushuer:
<B>
My own personal theory is that it helps, immensly, in getting your body weight out of that front, non-weighted, leg and allows you to lift it up slightly faster, but only very slightly. Leaving my toe down doesn't give me any more feeling of "rooted" so I'm not sure what that gets me if I leave it down, and there are plenty of places in the Yang style form where you land on the heel of the non-weighted foot with your toes up (Lift Hands, Step Up for one). But I do know what I lose when I leave it down, and that's the very minor time it takes to get that foot off the ground fully.
While I know this works to help your speed, through practical application and experimentation, I don't know that's the exact reason for lifting the toes in the other forms, or why you don't in this one.
I just keep hearing Eddie's form instructions, "palm down, toe down, move your weight forward", and the like. So I know it's something they believe in firmly.
Anyone know the Yangs stance on this?
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Wushuer,

I don’t have any hard and fast answers, but I’ll happily speculate. My Yang style teacher teaches toes down on Grasp the Bird’s Tail. I’d never thought about why, but after reading your post I stood up and tried it your way. The only way I get my front foot to come up off the ground faster with my toes up was if I had my weight nearly 100% on my back leg. From what I’ve seen, this is not the standard position for weight in the back in a bow step. Take a look at the picture of Master Yang doing roll back on the Yang Association home page (there’s a link at the bottom of the page you’re on). His weight is isn’t fully on the back leg. That may not be what you’re doing, but that’s the only way I could get my front toes off the ground and remain relaxed.

The other way I discovered to get my front toes off the ground in GTBT was to put some tension into my waist and lower back—in other words, failing to relax the waist and hips. So that’s worth checking, but you sound pretty relaxed Image

As for the toe-lifting requirement on those, the height of the toes off the ground depends on your stance. The main requirement is to maintain the relaxation in your foot that you maintain in the rest of your body. So if your empty stance is very deep, your toe could be a ways off the ground. A person with a higher empty stance might have only the internal feeling of their toes off the ground but their entire shoe would still be touching the ground.

As for martial reasons, well, in lift hands and step up you’re using split energy, and it feels really solid and rooted to me to drive my front heel into the ground when doing that. Same with Repulse Monkey. Yes, you have pulling energy and a forward strike, but they are going in opposite directions, like split. So perhaps that’s why.

In GTBT it’s a different story. When I use those energies in push hands I like to maintain the flat of my foot on the ground because it gives me a much larger and stable platform to launch from or retreat into. It’s not that I feel more rooted, it’s that I feel like I can change my root at will. Having my whole foot on the ground allows me to transfer my root from toes to heel to bubbling well as well as each side of my foot very quickly in response to my opponent. It also lets me “feel out” the terrain under foot and helps if I’m pushing on scree.

I actually feel that having my whole foot on the ground helps me get my foot off the ground for stepping faster than if I were on my heel. Why? Let’s say that I do have some weight in the heel of the forward foot. If I’m going to lift it, I have to shift my weight backward first in order to empty the front foot. If I’m pushing off the heel alone, I’m more vulnerable to an attack from the side while I’m moving my weight back than if I had my whole foot down. If I were attacked from the side with my whole foot down, I could more easily change the angle of my weight shift. I could move my root from the heel to the right edge (or wherever) and still push off backwards from that point or use the foot placement to brace the rest of the body for yielding forward instead.

If I were attacked from the side while on my heel I have a very small platform to root from and work off of. I’d have to move my hips in a much larger circle to deflect incoming forces than if I had my whole foot on the ground and could use that too.

Well, I hope some of this has been useful. The part I’m wondering about is the difference in martial application between the heel rooting empty step and the one where you root through the ball of the foot. Does anyone know that one?

Best wishes,
Kalamondin



[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 08-18-2004).]
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Postby racerexx » Thu Aug 19, 2004 5:48 am

Hi all, This is my first post and an interesting question to me. In my form I was taught to raise my toes during AN(Push) of GTBT. From hands up as I pull back toward my head my toes start to rise, by time my hands are at my hips my toes are fully raised as they are going to be, then I begin to push up and out and lower toes down. Lift Arms, Play the Guitar and alot of transistions from one movement to another, like Brush knee and push and Parting horses Mane, almost every time Im moving forward I land on my heel rolling to my toes, slight shift back, toe lift, waist twist, next foot down..etc..etc.. It is interesting to know that there are variations that are different as far as the basic stepping pattern goes. Do you raise your toes up during transitions and forward stepping?
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Aug 19, 2004 1:09 pm

Kal,
Hmmm.........
I am still assimilating your post and will need to try some of what you say before I could make any kind of intelligent reply.
I will only take exception to one of your statements at this time, then later on either today or tommorow after I have time to play with your suggestions I will comment on those as well.
Near the end of your post you say:
"If I were attacked from the side while on my heel I have a very small platform to root from and work off of. I’d have to move my hips in a much larger circle to deflect incoming forces than if I had my whole foot on the ground and could use that too."
I don't see that this way at all. In fact, I'd say to move your hips in a much, much smaller circle to deflect the incoming force and you'll get a much better result if you leave your toes up at that time.
Really. Give it a try and I think you'll like what you find there. You will need to be very, very relaxed and loose in your waist and your hips are going to have to be open and relaxed as well, but if so your circle can be smaller and you will save a lot of energy and time.
I learned that from the Wu's, and it works beautifully.
From that perspective, it would actually be better for you to raise your toes a bit and allow your waist the opportunity to turn in a smaller circle. With your toes flat you would need a larger circle, in my opinion, but with them up it de-clutches your hips and waist and gives you a "magic inch" further back into your stance, as I have heard it described, which allows that smaller turn for a greater result.
I have tried this both ways, as you describe and as I've been doing it, though only very quickly this morning so I will need more tests with a partner to be sure, but it seems to work exactly the opposite of what you describe for me.
To be sure, I can make the bigger circle and it works fine, but I feel it puts me in a disadvantageous position afterward because I'm overextended through my waist.
Again, I will need to make some practical tests with a partner before I could be certain, but just trying these things on my own and moving in the manner I feel would happen if I were working with a partner I'm more agile with the toes up in this scenario.
Good post with a lot of very good points.
I'll give it a whirl and see what comes up.
I'm quite certain it's all very valid, as different Masters do it different ways there would almost have to be reasons for both. What I'm trying to find out is what they are and then add them to my TCC tool kit for use as needed.
Any time I can find another tool for my kit I consider that a big, big bonus.
More after I can give your suggestions a try and I hope you try my suggestion and let me know how it works for you.
It may be, once again, a question of what works best for each person.
I love this stuff, what can I say?
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Aug 19, 2004 1:21 pm

Racerxx,
Welcome to the forum. Glad to have you with us.
What style do you practice? Just curious.
Just to let you know, in the Wu style segmented square form of Wu Kwong Yu there is no "shifting back weight" before stepping to adjust the toes in the Brush Knee series. Or anywhere else for that matter. You step directly from one form to the next with no going backwards at all except to "lean back just a touch" just before you move forward to the push. You step to your heel, then toe goes down as you lean back and then you apply forward. You don't need to shift the weight back, because your toes are parrelel, not at 45 degrees.
As for your question about transitions and forward stepping, in transitions, sometimes, in forward stepping, no, you lift your heel first on your back foot, to the toe, then step.
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Postby racerexx » Thu Aug 19, 2004 5:19 pm

Wushuer,
Thanks for the friendly greet. I practice the Yang long form as taught under the Tien Shan Pai tradition. Apparently the Yang form was incorporated into the schools curriculum some time ago. A complete shift backwards was perhaps the wrong term, but there is deffinately a slight shift and a pronounced toe lift and turning of the foot and waist almost simultaneously. Our feet are almost always at a 45', it's the rule for us and not the exception. However there are a few exceptions when they are not. I am experimenting with keeping my feet flat as based on the post..but to me it seems awkward..But I too am always looking for a new tool for my TCC tool-kit
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Aug 19, 2004 7:25 pm

Rx,
The shift back of weight, or not, or only some, is a slippery slope discussion that we've had on here before, many times.
To see these talks you can go to the top of any of the forum front pages and choose "show all" from the drop down menu instead of "show topics from last twenty days" and you can see all the discussions held under that forum from the beginning.
I have not heard of the "Tien Shan Pai" tradition, but I'll give it a google and see what comes up.
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Aug 19, 2004 7:30 pm

Wushu Er,

You have answered your own question quite clearly. Your description of how lifting up the foot “de-clutches your hips and waist and gives you a "magic inch" further back into your stance” is close to my understanding of what should happen. This is a fascinating topic and could, like most things in Taiji take up a very long chapter in the book. I work with Northern Wu ‘style’ practitioners and would add that in my experience one should strive for not a “magic inch,” but a “magic mile” when working this joint. Also, it is useful if we distinguish “lifting the toes” from “lifting the front of the foot by bending the ankle.” If hands are well ‘connected’ to the feet as they should be according to the classics, then the lifting of the toes or bending the ankle can directly be reflected in the hands. It is possible to do this without bending the ankle, but bending the ankle makes it easier to find the connection. I think this is the case with the ‘lean’ of Southern Wu as well (imo). I like your term “de-clutch”! (de-plane? debark?)

One trick you may have tried with the ankle is to focus on the front of the ankle just above the instep; pull down inside from this area (cavity) towards the heel; done correctly this can give you the “magic inch” from below. Note that no change in joint angle accompanies this. It is perhaps easiest to grasp this when you have a large, strong person pushing on you with all their might; then you have to pull hard inside that joint.

Gao Zhuangfei, a Northern Wu stylist who has the best Taiji videos (IMO) on the market I have seen (no relation), talks about this somewhat and also the other issue of raising of the big toe and how there is one of the longest connections in the body from the big toe all the way up the body. I will check on his exact wording.


Interested to hear how you trained the ankle bending in your school.

Jeff
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Aug 19, 2004 10:21 pm

GRC,
I am aware I have answers to the question of why the Wu style does this, for all the reasons you have mentioned and many, many more, and I'm beginning to slowly list them in the hopes of drawing out the answers I'm seeking.
I have been studying Wu style for going on nineteen years, I know a good deal of the answers from that side.
What I'm looking for with my query is why the Yang style doesn't lift the front of their foot in GTBT.
To answer your very well put question, I say "toe up" to mean lifting the entire front of the foot by the ankle. I have been saying "toe up" for nineteen years, so to me it makes perfect sense to use that expression to describe my meaning, but to others it could convey many different meanings and I've been guilty of not being clear, yet again.
Thanks for pointing out my lapse and correcting me. I was unclear and apologize for that.
There is a significant difference between raising the entire front of your foot from the ankle, the classic "toe up" from Eddie Wu Kwong Yu's training tapes, and simply lifting the toes only but leaving the rest of your foot on the ground, which is also a very valid martial expression just as you describe. I have also heard of the correlation between the raising of portions of the feet or just the toes and the differing expressions of energy that will bring to your hands; through your legs, your hips, your waist, your back, your shoulders, down your arms and is expressed in the palms, mostly.
That, I have heard, is why Eddie Wu almost invariably says "right palm down, right toe down", "left palm up, left toe up" on his tapes and in his seminars. The two are oft repeated together, because there is a big correlation between their placement in conjuction and your use of internal energy.
This could be a forum subject all unto itself, I would believe, given the amazing amount of theory and conjecture that goes along with it.
I would have absolutely no objection, however, to discussing it here on this one. In fact, I'd welcome it.
So please, check the wording from your source and let us know what he says. It's a fascinating topic I would love to look further into and will do my best to find literature about it and share what I can.
However, I still am searching for the answer as to why the Yang Cheng Fu forms do not do this during GTBT. I feel certain there has to be a reason, or battery of reasons, why this is done differently in different forms, and I'm equally certain it has to do with the expression of the energy. What I don't know is what leaving my foot down gets me in this style, as I can find very little information on what happens to the energy if you just leave the feet flat. Most charts I have show what happens if you flex your toes and feet in different positions, but what happens when you just leave them flat to the ground? They don't say, not that I can find.
Since I know YCF and his forefathers before him and his ancestors since are simply some of the greatest TCC Masters ever...
There has GOT to be a reason for it.
They simply would not have done it this way, especially as the lifting of the front of the foot is clearly in their transmission (as is paralel footwork, in several places, but I digress) if they didn't have their reasons.
I'm mightily curious.
I'll go one step further...
At the hand form seminar I recently attended, Master Yang Jun made a point of showing us the proper placement for the front, non-weighted, foot during Repulse Monkey. He was very clear on the point that while the front of the foot was raised by the ankle, the angle was very slight. He demonstrated this several times and watched the group to be sure we were holding our feet at the proper angle.
Ever since then, my fascination with toe placement, lifted, not lifted and how high if you do, has grown.
I've noticed, over and over again, that I find it nearly impossible to leave my toes down during GTBT. I can, if I think about that to the exclusion of all else. But then I'm concentrating entirely too much on my feet and the rest of my form is shoddy in consequence.
When I take my mind off my feet and let them do what comes naturally, I lift the toe of my front foot. Every single time.
So for me, this is just not a "natural" feel for the form. It is most likely because of my former training, where the toe is clearly lifted every time.
But I have gotten over many, many of the habits I had learned in the Wu forms. I still do them in Wu forms, but in Yang forms I do not. So I don't believe it is simply because of my former training.
I have begun to sense the energies of the forms, the differences as well as the similarities. I can now feel the "sameness" of the energies, the internal jing, between the forms and have been having a great deal of success keeping the external expressions of each form seperate lately. Except for this one, I seem to be able to switch back and forth without much problem. I can also (though this may make the "purists" nuts, I'm afraid) do the Yang forms in a very small frame, and the Wu forms in a very large one, and still maintian the internal energy of each, though each is, of course, flavored differently when done like that.
The Wu forms have small, contained, explosive jing and it's expressions feel like a tidal wave of power. They are not so difficult to learn (on the surface) and have a very direct relationship back to the martial aspects that you can instantly feel. I'm not saying Wu style is easier, or more martial, because that is only a surface look at their art, like looking at it's reflection through a slightly opaque mirror. I'm just saying it seems to emphasize a more direct path to the martial aspects, with less emphasys, at least on the surface, to the health aspects. Students seem to reach the martial first, then the health, when following this program.
The Yang forms have wide, expansive, deep jing and expressions that feel soft but have steel wrapped inside. It is very difficult to learn this well, and even more difficult to do it well, I have found, even for those who have practiced a long time and the form seems to have as much of the health in it as the martial. The students seem to reap the health benefits, then learn the martial, in this program. Again, I'm not saying it's harder to learn or less martial, that's just the path the students of each seem to take in my opinion.
As to "magic inch", that's the expression I heard used at the Wu school, and have used myself for quite some time. I was trained that while you can quite easily take a mile, if you only need to use an inch then using more is a waste of energy. An inch is almost always all you need to make that particular magic.
"De-clutching" was also explained to me at that Academy, and I've seen Polaris use it frequently on this board as well. It's one of my favorite expressions, and I've caught my Yang style instructor using it since I explained it to him.
It is extremely descriptive of the process.
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Postby Michael » Thu Aug 19, 2004 10:49 pm

Wushuer,

Interesting question, and I appreciate Jeffs comments. I have much to think about.

First, my Kuang Ping instrutor also lifted the front toes in puch hands. I never got to ask him about it.

As to the lifting toes and the Yang form and GST, I need to experiment with this some. I read with great interest about its use in Wu Style, again I will have to play with this. Maybe then I could add an "intelligent" comment...which is not easy for me to do.

These are only guesses so don't come down on me too hard. First, I can see using it in completing Rollback used to intercept the opponent's foot if he tries to step around to my left. As for the toes going down again in a forward intent..could this be used to add extra power...like in B. Lee's "one inch punch"? Usually they use a heel lowering to add extra power. I mention this but doubt it. I like my front foot to be able begin pushing back as I push or whatever. If the timing was real good, I can see that this may not be a problem with some practice. This is just all conjecture and may serve to encourage another way of thinking about it...that is all.

Toes coming up always make me think of the application I mentioned (rollback) above which is the same in the transition from Lift Hands and White Crane. There are other transitions as well where this may be applicable.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-19-2004).]
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Aug 19, 2004 11:33 pm

Greetings all,

Interesting discussion.

When you have three or more points on the ground at the base of a structure it is more stable than having only one or two points. One point by itself is so poor at this that it needs something else to hold it up. Think in terms of a spinning top. Without the spin the top cannot stand on the single point.

When the foot is flat on the ground all of the internal arches come into play, even when there is little weight on the foot. This gives the leg great stability.

Lifting the ball of the foot from the ground and relying only on the heel of the foot reduces the stability of that leg and increases the work needed, and this is done by the other leg.

There are places where the inherent instability can be useful, but I think that generally it is more important to be firmly rooted.

In the Tung school the ball of the foot isn't lifted in this manner.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 08-19-2004).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:07 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Wushuer:
<B>I don't see that this way at all. In fact, I'd say to move your hips in a much, much smaller circle to deflect the incoming force and you'll get a much better result if you leave your toes up at that time.
From that perspective, it would actually be better for you to raise your toes a bit and allow your waist the opportunity to turn in a smaller circle. With your toes flat you would need a larger circle, in my opinion, but with them up it de-clutches your hips and waist and gives you a "magic inch" further back into your stance, as I have heard it described, which allows that smaller turn for a greater result.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Wusher,

I gave your suggestions a go and I have to say you are absolutely right. The part about de-clutching the hips was spot-on. It really did make it easier to turn in small circles. The heel felt like a very solid, rooted point to push back from and it felt like with the toes up the posture was more supported and left my hips more empty for ease of turning.

So where was I coming from initially and how could I be completely convinced of one thing yesterday and another thing today? I think it has to do with skill levels and circling sizes. Yesterday I was thinking about stiffness in the hips and waist lending to a toes-up position when I was experimenting, so I’m pretty sure that influenced my circles (which are not as small as I’d like anyway). Someone whose hips are not very relaxed and who is still unable to make very small circles might find the toes down posture more stable for attacks from the side during push hands because it would allow them more leeway to make big circles with their hips and larger weight shifts onto the forward foot. If someone with stiff hips were to try the same thing while rooted through the heel with their toes up, they might not be able to manage the small circle necessary to neutralize an attack from the side. That is, if they tried a larger circle (that would normally entail the root moving from the heel to the bubbling well point) on their heel alone, I think they would get locked up or overextended. I think you said it well yourself here:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To be sure, I can make the bigger circle and it works fine, but I feel it puts me in a disadvantageous position afterward because I'm overextended through my waist. </font>


But even though I agree now that having the toes up can free up the hips for smaller circles, I still favor having the foot full on the ground in general. I think you can always bring the toe up when the situation warrants it. Toes-up probably does give you marginally faster speed at bringing the foot up off the ground, but does this advantage outweigh the disadvantage of how long it takes to put the toes back on the ground if that’s what’s called for? I still think that having the full foot on the ground gives you more options than always bringing the toe up when the weight is in the back, but I could be wrong on this point too. Was that how you and the Wu’s do it? Is it a general rule when shifting the weight back or is it only “as needed” in push hands?

I’ll have to try the toes-up suggestion the next time I practice push hands. I’m pretty sure I see what you’re getting at, just trying it out on my own, but I’m looking forward to trying it with a practice partner. Thanks for making me think about that one some more!

Kal
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Aug 20, 2004 1:17 pm

Kal,
Glad I could help.
I don't know if it's a "rule" to keep your toe up in Wu style push hands, but it's the only way I've ever seen it done. Master Ma in his Tui Shou book shows it this way, so I guess it's a "standard" if nothing else.
We have been hanging around the fringes of one good reason, and I think Kal may be on to something when he suggest that it may have to do with circle sizes.
OK. Yes, I know. I think EVERYTHING has to do with circle sizes. However, I may not be that far off of wrong.
I have been playing with this, quite a bit, for the last few weeks. I was lead to ask because I simply can't find an advantage, for me, in keeping my toe down.
Just can't.
I do know that being able to lift that front foot isn't the ONLY reason to lift the toe, there are many, many more. We have mentiond de-clutching the hips, and how that helps to allow you to make much smaller circles.
I will let you in on another good thing to de-clutch, your elbows. Think about that and I'm sure you'll see why.
But I digress.
Leaving the toe down, in my experience and with my body only, does not confer me any greater stability. None at all. I am rooted like a spike through my back leg, something the Wu's taught me, and I feel no instability when I'm on it alone, when I have my front foot down I am, of course, much more stable but being on either the heel or the toe or the entire foot makes no difference in how I am able to root. What it does is change the size of the circle I can make.
This is what Kal seems to be saying as well. Toes up on front foot, back foot rooted, knees slightly bent, hips de-clutched, back straight and open, chest sunk just a bit, neck empty, headtop raised, mouth relaxed, tounge on the roof of my mouth, I can take incoming energy from just about anywhere and turn my waist in a small circle and it goes right by me.
Toe down, I must use a bigger circle, and turn my waist much farther, and this seems, at least on my body, to make whichever hip I'm turning the force with go much further, which feels like it overextends my entire back.
Now, this may just be me, and it may just be because lifting the toe is what I'm used to. I have had a slight more success with this if I open my stance quite a bit wider than I usually do, but this gives it own level of discomfort.
Still hoping to hear what leaving the toe down on my front leg gives me, other than the stability issue. I concede on that one, most people do seem to feel more stable with the front foot toes down flat, even though I don't.
That alone certainly could be a good enough reason. If you feel more stable, you just might be.
However, since I can show that I can be just as stable with them up, at least to myself and my push hands partner, I'm still left to wonder what else leaving them down delivers.
I'm going to keep playing with it, and hope maybe someone else knows.
Is there anyone with a line to Master Yang Jun who could ask him? Or maybe one of his disciples?

Polaris,
Could you maybe give us some help with this from a Wu style perspective? My knowledge of the exact reasons for the toes up is limited to what I was told over the years by my Sifu. I feel certain you would know more.
I really am very curious about this.

Also still curious at to why the toes of the front foot are so much closer to the ground for Repulse Monkey than in other forms that have a similar stance.
Any ideas greatfully accepted.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 08-20-2004).]
Wushuer
 
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