Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby BenM » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:19 am

I have been looking into the 8 energies again lately and was hoping someone could help me out. Could some of those of you who speak Chinese give me an idea on the correct way to pronounce these? Also, do you think Pull(down), Split, Elbow, and Shoulder are good/accurate translations?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Audi » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:40 am

Greetings BenM,

Sorry for the delay in approving your post.

Most of the links below will give you a sense of the meanings. They also lead to buttons that will allow you to hear the pronunciation.

"Pull down" is 采 (cǎi). The pronunciation is something like the sequence of the underline letters "tshigh" in the phrase "hits high over the fence."

"Split" is 挒, a character more or less specific to Tai Chi, and is pronounced the same as 裂 (liè or liě). The pronunciation is something like "Lee yeah" with the emphasis on "yeah" and pronounced as one syllable.

"Elbow(ing)" is 肘 (zhǒu). The pronunciation is something like "Joe."

"Shouldering" is 靠 (kào). The pronunciation is something like "cow."

What I can add about the meanings from my current understanding is the following:

The meaning of 采 (cǎi) useful for Tai Chi is "pluck" or "pick." It implies moving something from one place to another after grasping it.

The linguistic meaning of 挒 (liè or liě) is unclear to me, but from what I understand its Tai Chi meaning implies a whirling/snapping energy.

The linguistic meaning of 肘 (zhǒu) is generally "elbow," but the Tai Chi meaning is better understood as "elbowing."

The meaning of 靠 (kào) useful for Tai Chi is to use your body energy to bump or press against something. Although the shoulder is often used for this, the Chinese word does not imply the shoulder in any way. In ordinary Chinese, it could, for instance, be used to apply to what your back does to the back of a chair as you sit down in it. I think the Association is now switching to the wording "body check," which I think of as an ice-hockey term.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Greetings Ben and Audi,

Audi, that's great info on the listed terms. Regarding 挒 lie, I recall a discussion here viewtopic.php?f=2&t=232 some years back in which we speculated about possible meanings and translations of the term, including "twisting" (via Wen Zee's translation of Ma Yueliang's Push Hands book), "force-couple," and "torque." It seems it's still a challenge to find a good rendering for the term.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Audi » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:47 am

Greetings Louis and Tai Chi Friends,

I recently reviewed Master Yang's video on Push Hands: Volume 2 -- Applications and Neutralizations, which, by the way, I again highly recommend for those interested in the martial side of Taijiquan. During Master Yang's discussion of Split on the video, he demonstrates various applications that I think most experience practitioners would recognize as Split; he concludes, however, by showing a simple open hand strike as another possible manifestation of this energy. He explains this by saying that Split means "quick," "short," "twisting" and/or "going in different directions." It is explanations like these that have lead me to introduce the word "snap" in my translations.

I should emphasize, especially for those perhaps not completely comfortable with English, that the word "snap" has two parallel threads of meaning. One thread means to break something long or thin into two pieces in an abrupt manner (e.g., snapping a twig in two). The other thread means to perform some action in a manner that is as abrupt as "snapping" something in two. From this second meaning we get such phrases as "snapping the fingers" or a dog "snapping at someone's hand" (i.e., abruptly executing a biting motion without actually making contact). I am going into detail here because the word "snap" sometimes means to break something and sometimes does not. The core meaning deals more with the abruptness of the movement or the abruptness of the effect than with the exact nature of the effect. I think that 挒 liè is the same. It is a "snapping" energy, but does not require that anything be broken or "split in two." To produce a "snap," you may well, of course, have to move something in opposite directions, just as we do with either of the two methods commonly used to snap the fingers; however, it is not the opposite directions themselves that make it "Split" energy, at least according to my understanding.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby BenM » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:59 am

Thanks very much!

With my current understanding and training I think of "lie" as energy/force in opposite directions and the resulting whirlpool between them. Sometimes the focus is more on the oposite directions( pulling the oponents arm torwards you and sending the other hand out to strike the head/neck for example), sometimes its on the whirlpool ( applying force by putting one hand on the lower back and the other on the face to cause the opponent to go off balance from the "wirlpool effect").

I have always trained to maintain the center. In my experiance this prevents movements that let the momentum get out of control. Lately I have been thinking of "Kao" as a controlled use of momentum/body weight.

Thoughts?
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Audi » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:59 am

Hi Ben,

Lately I have been thinking of "Kao" as a controlled use of momentum/body weight.

Thoughts?

Depending on what you mean by "momentum," your description could apply to what I have been taught. What I would say is that Kao refers to Jin that is primarily manifested by the body, rather than by the limbs.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby DPasek » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:56 pm

Audi wrote:...He explains this by saying that Split means "quick," "short," "twisting" and/or "going in different directions." It is explanations like these that have lead me to introduce the word "snap" in my translations.

Ben, Audi & everyone else,

As I understand it, liejin essentially includes any qinna applications (the ‘push/pull’ which applies torque), whether applied slowly or quickly. [Rending, tearing, snapping, wringing, ripping etc; any action that uses points of application to apply toque]

While qinna applications can be applied quickly (snappily), they can also be applied with the same mechanics and same points of contact in a slower manner for control rather than to damage the opponent. I would guess that Master Yang applies his examples of liejin in a controlled manner on his video; would this no longer be liejin as demonstrated because he is applying it too slowly? If not liejin, then which of the other jin would this slower application of the energy be? Would qinna applied slowly no longer be using one of the eight energies of Taijiquan and thus no longer be an example of Taijiquan??

I don’t want to be critical, but I want to caution against defining the eight energies of Taijiquan too narrowly – we only have combinations of eight energies to use to describe ALL possible Taijiquan applications, so please do not be too limiting on how they are defined.

Dan
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby yslim » Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:21 pm

DPasek wrote:
Audi wrote:...He explains this by saying that Split means "quick," "short," "twisting" and/or "going in different directions." It is explanations like these that have lead me to introduce the word "snap" in my translations.

Ben, Audi & everyone else,

As I understand it, liejin essentially includes any qinna applications (the ‘push/pull’ which applies torque), whether applied slowly or quickly. [Rending, tearing, snapping, wringing, ripping etc; any action that uses points of application to apply toque]

While qinna applications can be applied quickly (snappily), they can also be applied with the same mechanics and same points of contact in a slower manner for control rather than to damage the opponent. I would guess that Master Yang applies his examples of liejin in a controlled manner on his video; would this no longer be liejin as demonstrated because he is applying it too slowly? If not liejin, then which of the other jin would this slower application of the energy be? Would qinna applied slowly no longer be using one of the eight energies of Taijiquan and thus no longer be an example of Taijiquan??

I don’t want to be critical, but I want to caution against defining the eight energies of Taijiquan too narrowly – we only have combinations of eight energies to use to describe ALL possible Taijiquan applications, so please do not be too limiting on how they are defined.

Dan


HI DAN,
AS ALWAYS, YOUR POST IS SO WONDERFUL AND TRANSPARENT TO READ. IT SAVE ME A TRIP TO MY TAIJI PRINCIPLE LAB AND MY LOVEY SAID THANK YOU.

WITH MUCH ADMIRES

CIAO,
yslim
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby DPasek » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:45 pm

Audi wrote:...he concludes, however, by showing a simple open hand strike as another possible manifestation of this energy. He explains this by saying that Split means "quick," "short," "twisting" and/or "going in different directions."

Audi (& others),

I do not have the video that you refer to, so I can only guess at what Master Yang may be referring to with the ‘quick’ ‘short’ ‘simple open hand strike’ as an example of liejin. It is possible to apply torque to an opponent with a snappy one hand strike (e.g. bending the recipient backwards due to his feet remaining stationary) that may not manifest if done slowly (e.g. the recipient being able to step or root without being bent backwards – i.e. while maintaining their ‘central equilibrium’). Could this be what is being demonstrated? Done snappily the strike could perhaps produce liejin whereas the same application done more slowly may perhaps produce anjin instead?

Some people may have a clear understanding of one manifestation of one of the eight Taijiquan energies, and may attempt to extrapolate that as the definition of the energy without realizing that it is only one manifestation of that energy. So, for liejin, the whirlpool or flywheel analogies illustrate two possibilities for this energy, but may not define the energy. Both the whirlpool and the flywheel can produce torque, but so can other applications (e.g. Yang’s simple open hand strike).

A fairly common example of the problem of attempting to generalize a definition from the understanding of one example of that energy is when someone defines pengjin as upward energy. To me this is inaccurate and would be equivalent to someone seeing a ball bouncing along the ground and assuming that balls can only bounce upwards. Of course, we know that balls can bounce in all directions, and someone observing a ball bouncing in a racquetball game would not make that mistake. In TJQ we want to maintain energy in six (all) directions (up/down, left/right, forward/back) like a properly inflated sphere. But a TJQ practitioner is typically standing, and the ‘rooting’ provided by the feet against the ground typically provides the rebounding energy of the practitioner, thus the resulting energy is typically upwards. But to me, pengjin’s rebounding energy is not in itself restricted to upwards, but rather capable of manifesting in any direction. Although typically expressed upwards, pengjin is not restricted to upwards. For example, a TJQ practitioner with their back against a wall could peng outwards if using the contact between their back and the wall as their ‘root’ to rebound the energy from. Since we are not spheres and have articulated joints, we can also redirect the rebounding energy somewhat so that it does not necessarily rebound directly opposite the direction of the incoming force (or directly opposite the ‘root’) like it would for a spherical ball.

Since I have joined this thread’s discussion, I should also provide my understanding for caijin, zhoujin, and kaojin.

The typical contact points for TJQ are the hands/wrists (or feet), so to me, zhoujin is simply energy expressed through the elbow (or knee), and kaojin is simply energy expressed through the torso (shoulder, hip, chest, back). For ylsim this would be what ILC refers to as changes in ‘section’.

Since we are not spheres and have the ability to grasp objects, to me caijin is energy expressed through grabbing. To me this does not imply a specific direction as is often implied (e,g, ‘pull down’), although a downward direction is typical since the ‘root’ of our arms is the shoulder, and since our hands are the ‘tip’ of the arm, energy from the hand tends to start rather high through the shoulder and be manifested typically in a downward direction. If the term ‘pluck’ is used to translate ‘cai’, then it fits this non-directionality better since someone can pluck fruit from a tree in a downward manner, but also pluck a flower from below in an upward direction. To affect a recipient, a grab to merely hold them does not really convey the energy of caijin, so the action of jerking or pulling quickly is often used in describing this energy. But to me, the primary quality is the ability to grab.

Dan
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Audi » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:57 am

Hi Dan,

I think we have similar views on these issues.

I do not have the video that you refer to, so I can only guess at what Master Yang may be referring to with the ‘quick’ ‘short’ ‘simple open hand strike’ as an example of liejin. It is possible to apply torque to an opponent with a snappy one hand strike (e.g. bending the recipient backwards due to his feet remaining stationary) that may not manifest if done slowly (e.g. the recipient being able to step or root without being bent backwards – i.e. while maintaining their ‘central equilibrium’). Could this be what is being demonstrated? Done snappily the strike could perhaps produce liejin whereas the same application done more slowly may perhaps produce anjin instead?

I shy away from focusing on torque, because many of our form postures require it and yet they are not described as instances of Liejin. For instance, our Ward Off Left, Ward Off Right, Roll Back, Wild Horse Parts Mane, and Apparent Closure all require applying energy in opposite directions, and yet we do not focus on Liejin in any of them.

I have been taught the differences in the eight Jins through descriptions of typical usages, typical body shape, applications, and the quality of the energy felt by the opponent. I was taught that the last was an internal matter and was the final determiner. My understanding at this point is that Lie describes both a typical motion and a kind of movement or energy quality. The closest expression I can think of in English that matches the type of motion described to me is "snap"; however, I cannot say that "Lie" means "snap." At best, there is an overlap in the feel of the two. If we think in terms of spheres, perhaps Liejin refers to Jin that emphasize sudden rapid rotation of the sphere to twist the opponent or to twist energy into the opponent.

As I understand it, liejin essentially includes any qinna applications (the ‘push/pull’ which applies torque), whether applied slowly or quickly. [Rending, tearing, snapping, wringing, ripping etc; any action that uses points of application to apply toque]

Master Yang seems to differentiate between Lie 挒, Zhua 抓, and Qin 擒. I think "Zhua" refers to grabbing (and twisting) such as we do with the left hand at the end of Fist Under Elbow. "Qin" seems more to do with seizing control of the persons energy, such as what we usually demonstrate with the right hand in Needle at Sea Bottom. Done abruptly, the energy of Needle at Sea Bottom would, I think, change into Lie.

I don’t want to be critical, but I want to caution against defining the eight energies of Taijiquan too narrowly – we only have combinations of eight energies to use to describe ALL possible Taijiquan applications, so please do not be too limiting on how they are defined.

I agree with the thrust of your point; however, I think that the Eight Energies are merely the basic Tai Chi energies, rather than the only Tai Chi energies that exist. Also, in addition to talking about "energies," we can also classify techniques generally into strikes, kicks, throws, grabs, and Qinna (traps?).

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby martin2 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:23 am

Hello Tai Chi-friends,

big hug to everybody here (as I am new).

I would like to add a little article of mine about zhou. As I am in the tradition of the Shanghai wu-style it is slightly from this point of view, but (I hope) in accordance with the Yang classics and its theory. Please enjoy:

All the best

Martin2

Zhou - the Elbow Power

Tai Chi Chuan has 13 basic movements (shisanshi). One of them is the use of the elbow (zhou). The use of the elbow is explained in the Tai Chi-Classic The Song of the Eight Methods (Bafa miyue):

"How to explain zhou?
Within this method are the Five Elements.
Yin and yang divide into above and below.
Full and empty are clearly distinguished.
The opponent can not resist the interlinked movements.
In the case of a fistfight it becomes even fiercer.
When the six jin-powers have been thoroughly mastered,
applications will be endless."

The use of the elbow is a highly effective and dangerous technique. One can be easily mislead, in order to break the attack, to use zhou against the force of the opponent. But this is wrong. Ma Yueliang’s comment about zhou:

"You press into the empty point of the opponent."
(Ma, Xu, S. 11)

This quote shows for the second time that the yin-yang-pair "full and empty" is of importance for the application of zhou.

The pair "full and empty" has been used since ancient times in the strategic literature of China. E.g. within Sunzi's The Art of War (Sunzi Bingfa) is a full chapter called "Full and empty". Sunzi explains here, that "on the way to victory, one avoids the full points of the opponent and attacks the empty ones." (Ames p. 124) Wu Gongzao, the second son of Wu Jianquan, describes it similarly in his chapter "Full and empty":

"The strategy is called full and empty. … If the opponent is full, I evade. If the opponent is empty, I attack."
(Wu, p 21)

From the viewpoint of Chinese strategy, an attack is never directed against the strength of the opponent. One rather tries to find his empty or weak points. An attack only then happens, and thus is always successful. In Tai Chi Chuan, feeling (tingjin) is highly important, because in this way one can detect the empty points of the opponent. The ability of feeling should not only be in the hands, but has to be developed also in the elbows.

Ames Roger, Sun-tzu: the art of war, Ballantine Books, New York 1993
Bödicker, Martin, Das Tai Chi-Klassiker Lesebuch, Willich, 2013
Ma Yueliang, Xu Wen, Wushi Taijiquan Tuishou, Xianggang Shanghai Shuju Chuban, Hongkong 1986
Wu Gongzao, Taijiquan Jiangyi, Shanghai Shudian, Shanghai 1995
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby martin2 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:26 am

Hello Tai Chi-friends,

big hug to everybody here (as I am new).

I would like to add a little article of mine about zhou. As I am in the tradition of the Shanghai wu-style it is slightly from this point of view, but (I hope) in accordance with the Yang classics and its theory. Please enjoy:

All the best

Martin2

Zhou - the Elbow Power

Tai Chi Chuan has 13 basic movements (shisanshi). One of them is the use of the elbow (zhou). The use of the elbow is explained in the Tai Chi-Classic The Song of the Eight Methods (Bafa miyue):

"How to explain zhou?
Within this method are the Five Elements.
Yin and yang divide into above and below.
Full and empty are clearly distinguished.
The opponent can not resist the interlinked movements.
In the case of a fistfight it becomes even fiercer.
When the six jin-powers have been thoroughly mastered,
applications will be endless."

The use of the elbow is a highly effective and dangerous technique. One can be easily mislead, in order to break the attack, to use zhou against the force of the opponent. But this is wrong. Ma Yueliang’s comment about zhou:

"You press into the empty point of the opponent."
(Ma, Xu, S. 11)

This quote shows for the second time that the yin-yang-pair "full and empty" is of importance for the application of zhou.

The pair "full and empty" has been used since ancient times in the strategic literature of China. E.g. within Sunzi's The Art of War (Sunzi Bingfa) is a full chapter called "Full and empty". Sunzi explains here, that "on the way to victory, one avoids the full points of the opponent and attacks the empty ones." (Ames p. 124) Wu Gongzao, the second son of Wu Jianquan, describes it similarly in his chapter "Full and empty":

"The strategy is called full and empty. … If the opponent is full, I evade. If the opponent is empty, I attack."
(Wu, p 21)

From the viewpoint of Chinese strategy, an attack is never directed against the strength of the opponent. One rather tries to find his empty or weak points. An attack only then happens, and thus is always successful. In Tai Chi Chuan, feeling (tingjin) is highly important, because in this way one can detect the empty points of the opponent. The ability of feeling should not only be in the hands, but has to be developed also in the elbows.

Ames Roger, Sun-tzu: the art of war, Ballantine Books, New York 1993
Bödicker, Martin, Das Tai Chi-Klassiker Lesebuch, Willich, 2013
Ma Yueliang, Xu Wen, Wushi Taijiquan Tuishou, Xianggang Shanghai Shuju Chuban, Hongkong 1986
Wu Gongzao, Taijiquan Jiangyi, Shanghai Shudian, Shanghai 1995
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:41 pm

Greetings Martin,

Nice to see you here in this forum, and this is good work you're doing. I very much agree with your analysis regarding the use of strategy.

I've long found these texts, the bāfǎ mìjué 八法秘訣 of great interest. I've also wondered for a long time about their provenance. They are evidently relatively modern. Note, for example, the appearance of the term for "center of gravity" 重心 in the text explaining lujin. The term as used didn't enter Chinese usage until the mid-nineteenth century. Douglas Wile's T'ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions (p. 28) attributes the bāfǎ mìjué texts to Tán Mèngxián 譚夢賢, as does Doug Woolidge's translation of Wu Gongzao's Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan (p. 127). I've found references on the web to writings by Tan Mengxian, but as yet I've found no biographical information on him. Does anyone know who he was?

A couple of comments on your translation of the explanation of elbow jin:

"Within this method are the Five Elements" It's a minor detail, but I would avoid translating 五行 wǔxíng as "five elements." This is a very commonly found rendering, but it misses the mark. The word "element" implies a substance, but that's not the original meaning. I recall my sifu using "five actions," which is better, and most western scholars these days prefer "five phases," based upon the usage in chemistry, as different states of the same substratum (i.e., ice, water, vapor are phases of H20). See John S. Major's "Substance, Process, Phase: Wuxing 五行 in the Huainanzi," in Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts, Edited by Henry Rosemont, Jr., pp. 67-78) In the Chinese case, the wǔxíng could be said to represent different phases of qi, so the model from chemistry suits it well.

As for the line "In the case of a fistfight it becomes even fiercer," I don't think that 开花捶 kāihuāchuí refers in general to "a fistfight," but is a specific term of art. Yang Jwing-Ming translates it as "flower-blooming strike" (Tai Chi Secrets of the Wu Style, p. 19), for example. I wonder if it may be an alternate term for the technique in dalu sometimes called "flash" or "lightning strike" 闪 shǎn, but I haven't come across 开花捶 except in this document.

肘勁義何解 方法有五行 陰陽分上下 虛實須辨清
連環勢莫當 開花捶更凶 六勁融通後 運用始無窮

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby martin2 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:44 pm

Hey Louis,

thx for the welcome and yes, nice to be here. Of course you are right about the five elements. It is an old text from me.

At the moment I translate it as well as the five phases with the following explanation:

Five phases (wuxing)
Literally: The five travellers. These were known in antiquity as the five planets and the elements associated with them: water, fire, wood, metal and earth. The five phases (wuxing) are assigned traditionally to the most different conditions in the micro- and macrocosm. In Tai Chi Chuan the five phases (wuxing) correspond to the five moves: „advance“, „retreat“, „look left“, „look right“ and „central equilibrium“, as well as to the five jin-powers: „adhere“, „connect“, „stick“, „follow“ and „not lose contact or resist“.

I wanted also to know more about Tan Mengxian, but could not find anything. May be something comes up later.

In Wu Tai Chi Chuan one can find the term lancaihua 爛採花 (may be translated as "randomly picking flowers") for fighting techniques and fighting exercises. May be it is connected to kaihuachui 开花捶.

All the best

Martin
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Re: Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao

Postby martin2 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:21 pm

Hey Louis,

found the term kaihuachui in Praying Mantis - first elbow strike then fist strike:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8em0A7y4tY

What do you think?

All the best

Martin
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