Second Yang Zhenduo clip

Second Yang Zhenduo clip

Postby Marc Heyvaert » Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:09 am

Hello,

I posted a second clip from the Zuhai masterclasses.

In this clip Yang Zhenduo shows how you can turn from 'an' into 'dan bian'.

In modern wushu taijiquan, you learn to push the heel out every time you sink into a position. I think that traditional style is to bring the toes in and leave the heel firmly on the ground. I have also a clip from Zheng Manqing where you can clearly see that he brings in the toes. I learned modern taijiquan, but from someone who also stressed the fact that you had to learn to bring the toes in, rather than push the heel out... Image

Now I think the position of YZD is that you should put the foot immediately in the right position, so no adjusting is necessary. But I think that sometimes you will be in a position where you need to make the adjustment.

The clip can be found here. It's nearly 16MB. All comments, are welcome.

http://users.pandora.be/taiji/Videoclips.htm

Regards

Marc
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Postby Jamie » Wed Sep 15, 2004 11:08 am

Hi,


The toe vs heel adjustment is a debate people have alot. It is best if you can place your foot in the right position first, but even the Masters have to adjust for various reasons. The important thing is to do so naturally and get it in place at the right time (application). In this sense I don't think it matters which foot part pivots.


Best,


Jamie
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Sep 15, 2004 1:41 pm

Master Yang Jun gave nearly this same demonstration at the Louisville seminar. It has helped me quite a bit, though as Bill can tell you (go ahead Bill, tell 'em), it didn't help me enough.
I still have trouble with this adjustment, though not as much as I used to.
You can bet this will be a topic we cover at our "Saturday morning at Yuko-En on the Elkhorn" practice this weekend.
One quick question, as I have NO idea what the Grand Master is saying here, when he is demoing the left arm movements at the end for the young lady...
Which way is he saying is correct? He shows two different ways (at least) of completing the strike with the left palm, but since I have no clue about chinese, I can't tell which one he is saying is right.
I see him doing a bunch of differing palm positions at the end of the demonstration and he is making comments about the differing ways to do this. One way even appears to be a nearly exact replication of how the palm is moved for the Wu style Single Whip from the segmented form of Wu Kung Yi, by bringing it across your body and then turning and seating the palm at the very end of the movement.
But as I can't understand a word he is saying, I can't tell which way he is saying is correct for his forms.
If I had a head for languages I'd learn chinese, but...
As I've oft stated, I can't speak english.
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Sep 15, 2004 2:44 pm

Addendum to my last post:
Bill was kind enough to contact me off the boards and straighten me out on which palm placement the Grand Master is saying is correct.
Thanks Bill!
See you Saturday, since you can't make it tonight.
I had to ask, though. Like I said, one of the ways he shows is very much like the Wu style Single Whip from the segmented form.
I was confused.
But...
That's not an infrequent occurence, is it?
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Postby Audi » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:08 pm

Greetings Marc and Wushuer,

Marc, thanks for posting the link.

I actually think there are two issues. One is whether you "bring in the toes" or "kick out the heel. The other is whether you reposition the foot at the beginning or at the end of the posture.

Offhand, I cannot remember anywhere where the Yangs teach kicking the heel out; however, that is what I once learned elsewhere with respect to the first part of the Da Lu. In contrast, there are several places where the heel pivot must take place at the end of the postures, e.g., Diagonal Flying and Fair Lady Works the Shuttle.

All in all, the Yangs seem to have a strong preference for having both feet and the striking hand set before a final thrust. The striking wrist of the right hand in Single Whip might be an understandable exception to this rule. Maybe there are others, but I cannot think of any at the moment.

Wushuer, during the initial part of the clip, I think the student is asking about the difficulty of getting the right foot all the way to the correct angle and whether it is okay to pivot on the ball of the right foot and kick out with the heel. I think Master Yang's response is that with practice, one should become accustomed to how to accomplish the movement and that pivoting in the way the student demonstrates is not desired.

I can only make out about 20% of what Master Yang is saying and can read only about 70% of the tiny subtitles; nevertheless, I think one of the things he is stressing is actually the coordination of the left leg with the arm movement.

At one point, Master Yang demonstrates what he is warning against, which is blurring together the opening of the left arm to the left and the thrust with the palm. At another point he shows how one can incorrectly end the weight shift before the left hand has finished the movement, leaving a weak-looking local wrist movement.

Master Yang also shows the correct movement, where one does not bend the left knee and transfer the remainder of the weight until the left palm is in position for the palm strike. This again is one of those things I was trying to describe a long time ago when you were first asking about Yang Style stepping, "distinguishing full and empty," etc. In other words, it is not only a question of whether or not to shift weight, but also sometimes about increments of weight connected to bending the ankle, flattening the foot, or bending the knee.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Sep 17, 2004 6:55 am

Audi, thank you for the very comprehensive comment on the clip. It cleared some points up for me.
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Postby Marc Heyvaert » Fri Sep 17, 2004 8:44 am

Thanks Audi for making some of these things clear. I'm sorry about the bad quality of the subtitles, I have the full quality here, but I can't read chinese (yet) and to publish on the internet I had to compress the clip.

I would like to add some of my points of view regarding the repositioning of the foot.

Basically there are three ways to do it. (1) bringing the toes in; (2) pushing the heel out, using the front part of the foot as a pivot and (3) pushing the heel out using the middle part of the foot as a pivot. With the last method the toes will come in as well.

My first experience with CMA was with external styles and there we learned to bring the toes, keeping the heel firmly on the ground. The reason given for this method was that this kept your root intact. If you have to resist to a push it's important to keep the heel in contact with the ground, because then your entire structure will help you to resist and ground the force that is applied to you. Compare it with a chair that you push against a door, under the door knob.

If you consider a position where the foot rests mainly on the front part of the foot, or the inner side or the toes alone (you see these mistakes often, especially in the typical deep stances of modern wushu, taijiquan or changquan or other external styles), stability and resistance draws mainly on the leg muscles, especially the calves. This has IMO nothing to do with the peng-structure that we aim for in taijiquan.

So from the point of view of structure (2) is clearly problematic and (1) is to be preferred. (3) is still a possibility and from having studied video material and performances of a lot of modern stylists I believe that it is a possible alternative. The problem is that (3) is hard to distinguish from (2), and if you start teaching people that they can push the heel out, very few will do this keeping the heel in contact with the ground, using the centre of the foot as pivot and it will very rapidly deteriorate to (2). So when I teach I'm sort of dogmatic about this and I only offer (1), the heel pivot as the correct option.

There is also a second problem with pushing the heel out..

When you step into a bow stance, I feel that you have to learn to take a comfortable step, learning to find the distance that will allow you to sink effectively into this position when applying your technique. Wen you consider 'single whip' as demonstrated on the clip, it is clearly a turn (getting something out of the way) followed by a push. The idea of the push is to hit something, so the entire focus of the movement is forward. When you sink into the position, the moment where you would apply jin (jing?) the movement is still forward. At that precise instant a lot of modern stylists let go the heel (turning out) and they sink into their position, because their stance becomes wider! But the forward momentum is broken, so there can not be applied force I think.

Therefore IMO method (2) is certainly not a valid option.

Regards

Marc
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Sep 17, 2004 10:57 am

Marc, since we bring this topic up again, and you've presented it so structural, let's try to make it perfectly clear by collective endeavor.

This is only my humble opinion:

Method (1) can sometimes be cause of tension and breaking of the integrated jin – this happens when practitioner tries to bring the toes in separately from motion of the body. It's harder to relax lower part of the leg when heel is used as a pivot. This is why most beginners do it only by muscles of the foot and raise up the toe somewhat tensely. Besides I don't understand how you can get in low extend position (gong bu) without pushing heel out a bit – I can't step so far without tension.

Concerning method (2) – the problem here, as you mentioned, is losing some quality of peng and connection with the ground. I see the solution in maintaining that connection. The foot should be pivotd somewhat like as it's on mud surface. BTW as far as I remember Fu Qianquan uses just this method when getting in low gong bu.

IMHO the method (3) is the best in sense that you don't need to think about how to pivot. But this makes some confusion. That’s why usually (1) or (2) becomes determined.

Take care

Yuri


[This message has been edited by Yury Snisarenko (edited 09-17-2004).]
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Postby Marc Heyvaert » Fri Sep 17, 2004 12:02 pm

Hello Yuri,

Just a few things to add:

- turning in the foot shouldn' require any effort from the legs, its all a consequence of turning in the kua/waist/pelvis, as you move your intention forward and sink into the stance, but I know that in the beginning people tend to experience this movement as not natural, IMO because there is still a lack of connection/integration of their body force(s)

- bringing in the toes, even in a really low stance,is no problem once you get the knack of it Image

- I have nothing against method (3) as long as the energystream is not broken and that is something one has to experience for oneself and that can be tested, e.g. with a method like YZD uses in the first clip to test the pushing force of that guy in the black t-shirt.

Marc
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:31 pm

I hesitate to ask any questions here, because I don't want to make Bill's head explode or anything, but I will just for giggles. If his head explodes, I'll let you all know (Hi, Bill).
The GM seems to be stepping to somewhat less of a seperation between his legs than I have seen others use in bow stance for Single Whip. In other words, and for the sake of clarity, it appears that instead of stepping to a shoulder width bow stance, the GM is stepping a bit shorter than that to the left.
I asked my push/pull/shove/try to learn to listen/not getting there yet hands partner if this is what he saw in that clip as well, and he agreed that it certainly looks that way to him too, but he wasn't sure either.
Maybe it's a camera angle thing, it's hard to tell, but it sure looks that way and he does it every time.
If this is what he's doing, is this how it's supposed to be done?
I will also ask Bill off the board and when and if he replies to my question (most likely he'll beat me about the head and shoulders with it at class all morning tommorow) I'll post his response here as well for all of our edifications.

Hi, Audi.
Thanks for your clarifications on the clip. It makes much more sense to me now.
I feel certain, as I mentioned above, that Bill will explain these things to me in the morning. Most likely twisting me up like a pretzel in front of the rest of the class to demonstrate on my body how this really works.
I'll let you know what I discover from that. Probably mostly pain, but I'm sure some semblance of how this actually works will come through to me at the time.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Sep 17, 2004 3:47 pm

Oh, I nearly forgot.
I'm sneaking on at work and am a bit pressed for time right this minute, but someone above mentioned the timing of the right foot pivot.
I have found, and this is purely my observations and those of my push/pull/shove/yank/fall down/laugh at each other cause we're not doing this right hands partner, that it is much, much easier to do this if you bring the toes along with you AS you turn your waist. If you wait until after you begin the turning, then you have to force the toes to make that turn. We found that works much better if you don't wait, but begin to bring the toes with you as soon as you begin the turn.
We planned on finding out if we're right by asking Bill in the morning. I'll let you know what he says.
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Postby Jamie » Sat Sep 18, 2004 2:12 pm

Wushuer,


Good point about bringing the toes along as you turn. I notice this especially in Sword Form.


Take care
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Postby Audi » Sat Sep 18, 2004 8:52 pm

Greetings all,

One thing I forgot to mention about the clip is that at the beginning, Master Yang seems to be stressing the importance of getting the right foot into position in order to have forward power and not slip in the Bow Stance. One of the ways I think he has occasionally used to demonstrate the proper potential for energy flow between the legs is by rocking back and forth. He does this on the clip, first only a little bit and then quite dramatically. My own belief is not that he is advocating this rocking movement itself, but that he wants to show a certain subtle feel in the legs that is hard to show without some physical “exaggeration” of this nature. This feeling is the “deng1/4” (thrusting) and “cheng1” (“propping up”) that we have discussed in the past on this board.

By the way, one thing that surprises me is that at the very beginning of the video, Master Yang seems to talk about turning the left foot 130 degrees, rather than 135 degrees. If anyone can confirm this and/or explain it, I would appreciate it. I am wondering if this is one of those places in the form where they are willing to be lenient and allow things to be slightly more comfortable, such as in Embrace Tiger Return to the Mountain.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Marc(3) pushing the heel out using the middle part of the foot as a pivot. With the last method the toes will come in as well.</font>


Marc and Yuri, if you do this type of pivot, will you not change the length of your stance by changing the distance between your heels? If you are already at your maximum length in the Push Posture, will you not be overextended in Single Whip and unable to step lightly “like a cat”?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Yuri Besides I don't understand how you can get in low extend position (gong bu) without pushing heel out a bit – I can't step so far without tension.</font>


The Yangs teach that the length of stance is controlled solely by how much you bend your supporting knee. Their method is independent of the type of pivot used. If you want a low stance in Single Whip, you must bend your right knee to the maximum when you shift weight to it and then step out with the left heel until it touches the ground without any transfer of weight to it. This fixes the length and depth of your stance. In the weapons forms, you can and probably should use a little body momentum to get longer and lower stances, but this method sacrifices some of the clarity of the weight shifts and is not permitted in the hand form. In general, the Yangs do not seem to be concerned about the depth and length of stances.

Wushuer, I agree with Jamie that you make a very good point about the timing of the toe movement. The Yangs stress that this must not be a local movement, but rather that the “waist” (“yao1”) must “carry”/ “lead” (“dai4”) the toes along. This is one of the things they mean by “whole-body” (“quan2 shen1”) power. I am pretty sure that Master Yang refers to this on the video, but I cannot quite make out the full sentence or the subtitles. This method is used generally throughout the form. The toes are not supposed to be moved independently of the waist.

There are also a few other points about getting the right foot all the way through the pivot. For instance, one has to be careful to keep most of the weight in the left leg until the right leg has finished pivoting. Many people do not properly “distinguish full and empty” and drift into a 50-50 stance that makes it hard to finish the twist on the right heel. Also, one can use the left side of one’s bottom to help the body twist. This is truly a whole-body movement. Lastly, it can help to give up a little of the pressure on the inside edge of the left foot to help increase the twisting power.

As for the distance between the legs, I do not recall ever seeing Master Yang use anything less than a normal shoulder’s width in his bow stances. I think I see the same issue that you mention and suspect that what appears is just merely an issue of camera angles. To my eye, the stances to the left and toward the camera look narrower than the stances to the right and away from the camera. The students seem to exhibit the same phenomenon. It is true, however, that there can be some variation in the width between the legs. The measure is the width of the shoulders, but some people can still adopt a relatively narrow width, while others can adopt a relatively wide width. A “shoulder’s width” is not a precise or rigid measurement, as I understand it.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Marc Heyvaert » Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:05 pm

Hello Audi,

Just a few things.

When I have to adjust the foot, I pivot on the heel,bringing the toes in, and I do it as I sink into the bow stance and close the kua. I fnd that every other method breaks my forward push or resistance.

You said:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The Yangs teach that the length of stance is controlled solely by how much you bend your supporting knee. Their method is independent of the type of pivot used. If you want a low stance in Single Whip, you must bend your right knee to the maximum when you shift weight to it and then step out with the left heel until it touches the ground without any transfer of weight to it. This fixes the length and depth of your stance.</font>


Very true. You form a right angled triangle. If you want to extend the baseline, as the length of your extending leg (the oblique) is fixed, you have to shorten the upright side, so you have to really sink into that leg. That's pure mathematics, Pythagoras' law Image my teacher called it.

Marc
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Sun Sep 19, 2004 1:29 pm

Greetings All,

Audi, thank you for revealing some subtle points about energy flow in the legs.

First of all I would like to concur with all the sentiments about propriety of the method (1). If YZD and YJ teach this method then it's more suitable for this style. But there are some 'variations' of traditional Yang style in the world. In Fu family for example they teach both the method (1) and the method (2) for the rear foot pivoting in gong bu (kou jiao and pie jiao accordingly). Personally I use the both methods too and occasionally method (3) and don't get overextended as I use low stances very rare. I use different methods of foot adjustment because only then I don't need to concentrate on my foot during the form ?the body finds the way of foot pivoting. As I mentioned above the foot doesn’t skim over in methods (2) and (3) but rather slightly gets bogged down as if on the mud surface. This helps to keep the peng and the rooting. Besides this movement has quite small range of pushing out.

Why do these all variations in Yang Chengfu style exist? Of course these are Masters' personalizations of the form.

Take care,

Yuri


[This message has been edited by Yury Snisarenko (edited 09-19-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Yury Snisarenko (edited 09-19-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Yury Snisarenko (edited 09-19-2004).]
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