Turn, Rotate, Revolve, Spin

Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Jan 13, 2005 6:14 am

jìn and tuì also occur in the context of ‘enter’ and ‘exit’ -the circle-

“Exiting the circle is easy, entering the circle is difficult.”

See them in the context of item no. 6 at:

http://www.chh.org.tw/ancient%20books/warpdiscuss/awj.htm


Jeff
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 13, 2005 7:46 am

Greetings Jeff,

That’s one of the “Yang Forty.” Douglas Wile translates it (“The T’ai-chi Circle”) on p. 68 of _Lost T’ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty_. That’s kind of a tough and cryptic piece. Wile has, “Imitate the windmill, grinding fast and slow” for one of the lines, but shuimo should really be a waterwheel, or a watermill. That’s a provokative image. Then there’s the line about the “cloud dragon and the wind tiger.” I think that may be an allusion to a commentary to the fifth line in the Yijing on the hexagram Qian: “Water flows to where it is wet; fire goes toward where it is dry. Clouds follow the dragon; wind follows the tiger (yun cong long; feng cong hu).” Don’t advancing and retreating correlate with fire and water according to some of the old taiji texts?

What’s your take on this text?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:03 pm

Gu Rou Chen,
Thanks for the link. I've seen the text for the first time today. Did YCF really write it? If so, then IMHO he was acquainted with wudang quanpu texts. The n. 7 proves that. Thereby we have another layer for the interpretation of "the taiji circle". And that's the reason why I'd prefer the "waterwheel" variant for shuimo.

Yuri



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 01-13-2005).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 13, 2005 4:40 pm

Greetings Yuri,

It’s not really clear who wrote these texts, but they probably pre-dated Yang Chengfu. The group on the page that Jeff linked were first published in Yang Chengfu’s 1931 book, Taijiquan Shiyongfa (reprinted in Taiwan under the title, Taijiquan yongfa tujie). These are part of a larger grouping of about 40 texts associated with the Yang family. One recension of the Yang Forty was transmitted to the Wu family by Yang Banhou.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:24 pm

Hi Jeff,

"jìn and tuì also occur in the context of ‘enter’ and ‘exit’ -the circle"

I think the idea of "entering" and "exiting" can be useful. "jin bu" works as "entering step." All advances could be seen as entering, but that is always relative: i.e., dependent on what one considers "the circle" and specifically its center/s.

For example, the initial step of "Snake Creeps Down" (or "Squatting Single Whip", etc) usually differs from the stepping back in Repulse Monkey. Then again, how many deliberate step backs are there in anyone's form? Only in Sun and Wu/Hao styles make it a characteristic. In most Yang variants, specifically their short and long hand forms, there are shift backs, but few step backs.

So, how does this "square" in relation to the idea of entering and exiting the circle? To which (or whose) circle does it refer? But, these might just be questions of interpretation.

regards,

Steve James
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:29 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thank you for the reference. I've heard about Yang Forty but didn’t investigate them yet. Now I think I should do it.

Take care,

Yuri
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 13, 2005 6:26 pm

Hi Yuri,

The best source in English on the Yang Forty is Wile’s _Lost T’ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty_. Wile casts considerable attention of the textual history of these and other taiji documents, and his book includes his translations as well as the Chinese texts. The first publication of the full Yang Forty was in the 1985 Hong Kong reprint edition of Wu Gongzao’s 1935 book, _Taijiquan jiangyi_. (Well, technically it can’t be called a reprint, as there seems to be a good deal of variance in the material between the earlier and later books.) In any case, the 1985 version has a color photo-reproduction of a handwritten manuscript from Wu Jianquan’s brush of the Yang Forty. There’s a little handwritten preface saying that the contents were transmitted to Quanyu by Yang Banhou. I believe this book, sometimes called The Gold Book, is available through the website of the Canadian branch of the Wu family. I obtain a copy from them several years ago. There has long been an English translation of Wu Gongzao’s Gold Book in the works, but I don’t know if or when it will be published.

Yang Zhenji’s book, _Yang Chengfu shi taijiquan_, also has a photo reproduction of a different handwritten manuscript of the Yang Forty. Yang remarks that the manuscript to given to him by his mother. Unfortunately, I think Zhenji’s book has gone out of print. Yang Zhenduo’s book in Chinese, available through this site, has typeset versions of the Yang Forty and some other early documents.

The only English translation of the Yang Forty besides Wile’s is in Yang Jwing-ming’s _Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Family_. The quality of those translations is variable, but Yang Jwing-ming’s commentaries are sometimes interesting.

Happy hunting!

Louis
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Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Jan 13, 2005 6:50 pm

Louis,
I have read both Wile and YJM's translations of the Yang 40.
There are quite a few differences of opinion between them regarding translastion and meaning.
Not looking for a "one is better than the other" answer, simply asking which you feel is more closely translated in meaning to what the current lineage holders as represented on this website teach.
A slippery slope, I know, but I am interested in your opinion only in that regard, and not trying to begin a battle royal. I know they are both "correct" for their respective transmissions, and am not trying to suggest either of them are superior, nor would I try to get you to.
Just asking which you, in your own opinion, feel is closer to THIS transmissions teachings.

If I belabored that point, I think you know why. The war that would start if I tried to simply ask "Which is better?" could get very ugly, and I certainly don't want to be the start of that.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 13, 2005 8:03 pm

Greetings Bob,

Many of the texts in the Yang Forty are difficult to interpret, and although I’ve read some of them fairly closely, I haven’t read all of them closely enough to judge how well one translation does interpretively compared to the other. Just out of interest, I’ve translated a few of them myself, and my translations differ from both versions on some points. Just from the standpoint of translation, I would say that Wile’s version has the advantage because of his greater command of the target language; his English is better. I’ve also observed that Wile evidently has a better understanding of classical Chinese structure, and catches more of the literary references. Just being a native Chinese speaker does not make one an expert in classical or literary Chinese; it requires specific training. That being said, I often find Yang Jwing-ming’s translations and commentaries useful, if occasionally awkward.

This is just raw opinion on my part, with no claim to authoritative qualifications. Like you, I read them both, and I do my best to relate them to my personal daily practice.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:27 am

Re: The Circle:
There are exercises where one does horizontal circles waist level with fist palms up/palms down clockwise/counterclockwise in left and right stances that train what some call, “yánmójìn”, ‘grinding, polishing’ strength as if one were turning a stone mill with ones hands. This trains getting in the circle; the circle being vis-à-vis your partner. Two people pushing hands create a circle and one person can take control of the center; the other person is outside. If your partner is outside your circle than he can be bounced with centrifugal force. If you are outside you can try to use centripetal force in an attempt to get your partner to reveal their center and then you may be able to get inside.

The other lines seem to refer to training to expand and hide the waist and center so others cannot find it. If they can never find your waist they will always be outside even though they may think they are inside. Some people train without arms, just shoulders, body and upper arms touching; this may be what the next line refers to.


I think your comment below is well worth investigating as they relate at both the level of jìn and the level of qì:

I think that may be an allusion to a commentary to the fifth line in the Yijing on the hexagram Qian: “Water flows to where it is wet; fire goes toward where it is dry. Clouds follow the dragon; wind follows the tiger (yun cong long; feng cong hu).” Don’t advancing and retreating correlate with fire and water according to some of the old taiji texts?

Jeff
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:11 pm

Louis,
Thanks for your opinion. I think I like Wile's translations better myself, but my viewpoint is sometimes tainted by a different transmission, and so getting someone elses opinion on something like that helps keep me clear.
I also like some of Dr. YJM's stuff, I have a good many of his books because my wife got them for me. I had read some of his Qigong Massage book in a borders one day while she was looking for cookbooks, as I practice Qigong Massage myself, and she said my massage techniques improved about tenfold after reading the short bit that I had. She decided that I really needed to read the whole book and see where that took me.
Not too surprising, since she is the one who gets those massages!
After she got me that book, and I expressed that I liked how his book was written, she then proceeded to buy me every YJM book she could find that related to TCC or massage. So I have quite a few of them in my library.
I like his books for the most part, but sometimes the series of photographs he uses to illustrate the text confuse the heck out of me. He puts a lot of little arrows and squiggly lines that are supposed to denote the movements he is making, but those arrows and squiggly lines are sometimes downright contradictory, and some of the photos don't even seem to be of the movements described in the texts despite correlating with the numbers used to match them up.
All in all, however, I find that often times his explanations lead me to a better understanding of my forms, especially in the area of applications.
His idea of "sense of opponent" in form training has always been one I liked very much. Keeping a "sense of opponent" in my forms helps me quite a lot when doing them, it keeps me focused on what I'm trying to do.

But, that's enough about that here in this thread. It's off topic.
Thanks again.
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 14, 2005 4:07 pm

Hi Jeff,

Well, I agree that two circles are implied, since tcc is a martial art. However, I'm not sure that the wubu (as found in our bamenwubu) relates to two circles. I agree that they are there implicitly, but I think they relate primarily to the individual and center. So, I don't think he can ever advance before it or leave, withdraw, or exit it --and remain correct in principle. Maybe we want to upset, off-set or de-center the opponent, but --if he's a tcc guy-- his idea is to not let that happen. Here I'm just arguing that the idea/metaphor of entering and exiting the circle isn't related specifically to the wubu.

I agree that fire and water are associated with upward and downward movement, respectively. My problem with analyzing it from that pov is that, well, I would have to be consistent. For example, traditionally, metal represents inward movement and wood represents outward movement (i.e., expansion). Earth usually represents movement (horizontal, generally) around an axis. If we use the 5-element theory to explain the wubu, then we should be consistent. Fire rises, it doesn't go forward. Water descends, but doesn't naturally go backward.

(Yes, I know it's just wordplay. I'm just arguing that the relations are not automatically mappable, though they are clearly closely related metaphors).

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jan 14, 2005 6:11 pm

Greetings Jeff,

I think your interpretation is very helpful. That’s very interesting about yanmojin as polishing one’s strength. Regarding the water mill imagery, as you know shui3mo4 refers nominally to a water mill, typically used to mill wheat or rice flour. But used verbally, and pronounced shui3mo2, it refers to polishing something (like jade, for example) with a waterstone. There is also a four-character phrase: shui3mo2gongfu, which refers to the process of fine craftsmanship or refinement of skill in general.

I’ve tried to find a picture or drawing of a Chinese water mill (I’ve only seen written descriptions), as I’m very curious what one would be modeling, if that were the intent. My thinking was that the line has to do with closely according and responding to the movements of the opponent, “fast or slow,” as the pace of a water mill would accord with the current of a stream. I’m intrigued by your take on it, though.

Both the Hanyu Dacidian and the Cihai dictionaries confirm that “yun long feng hu” (cloud-dragon wind-tiger) is sourced in the Qian hexagram, line 5 commentary of the Yijing. You can see translations of the whole line commentary in Richard John Lynn’s Book of Changes, p. 136, or on p. 9 of the Wilhelm/Baynes version. It has to do with the mutual resonance (xiang gan) of qi categories (qi lei).

The Hanyu Dacidian also states that “yun long feng hu” was later used as a metaphor for the prince-servant relationship. That would imply an interesting dovetail with the “Taiji Circle” document, since the waist is considered to play a sovereign role in taiji theory. It was also the name of “an ancient troop formation,” but I haven’t found a source for that usage. Given the abundance of Book of Changes references in the Yang Forty, I think it’s a good bet that the Qian/line 5 commentary was the inspiration for the line in the Taiji Circle text.

What I’m not clear on in the text is what makes retreat easy and advance difficult, and why this is so. What can we generalize from this about retreat (tui) and advance (jin) in taiji form or partner practice?

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 01-14-2005).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jan 14, 2005 7:21 pm

Greetings Steve,

Re: ‘If we use the 5-element theory to explain the wubu, then we should be consistent. Fire rises, it doesn't go forward. Water descends, but doesn't naturally go backward.’

I know what you’re saying, but conceptual metaphors are often coherent in ways that are not immediately obvious. In English, for example, we relate to time in spatial terms. The future is ahead of us; the past is behind us. Yet, we sometimes use spatial references for time that appear inconsistent with that orientation, as when we say, “the week following next week.” The word “following,” in most contexts means “behind,” or “in back of,” so one would think it would be incoherent with spatial references to future time as being in front of us. George Lakoff analyses this in his book, _Metaphors We Live By_, and demonstrates that in fact there is coherence in these divergent images that make them work. It would be best for me not to attempt to repeat his argument, as I would probably mangle it.

Conceptual metaphors are also culturally bound, so that while we would say that a Frisbee that has landed between “me” and a large rock is “in front of the rock.” In some cultures, in the same situation, the Frisbee would be said to be “behind the rock.” In neither case does the rock in question have a native front-back orientation, but culturally it is assigned its orientation with respect to the observer.

I think we need to view the wubu in light of much earlier metaphorical vehicle of the five phases, and understand that the metaphors are very open ended. That is, the metaphors are consistently metaphors, so that any references to directionality, cardinal compass points, etc., are not to be taken literally, but to suggest a network of relationships. You’re right, in wuxing theory fire rises and water descends. But these actions can refer to operations that don’t physically rise or descend. Also, culturally, retreating may dovetail with descending (or receding) in Chinese thinking, and advancing with rising. In any case, in the first document of the Yang Forty (see Wile, pp. 65, 135), retreating is specifically correlated with water, and advancing is correlated with fire.

I think this sort of investigation into the conceptual metaphors working in taiji is worth pursuing.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 14, 2005 10:03 pm

Hi Louis,

I really have no problem with the metaphors pre se, and agree that the ideas of rising and falling can be linked culturally and semantically to going forward and backward.

My argument, essentially, is not that these allusions should not be pursued or analyzed, nor that earlier tcc writers have not made allusions to these metaphors. I also agree that cultural interpretations are necessary, and that is why I brought up the conventions of wuxing theory.

I meant only to suggest that metal and wood can be as (Chinese) culturally associated with going forward and backward as fire and water. I would, of course, defer to your expertise; but, ime, water has never been associated with the act of going backward. So, I tend to avoid associating it with the wubu --in that sense.

That shouldn't imply that I disagree with the interpretation or the allusions. My point has more to do with translating the interpretations into the form/practice. There's also, imo, the issue of what to do with wood and metal (or right and left) and actual "up and down" --as opposed to the metaphorical equivalent of "forward and back." I.e., it "means" that here, speciafically, but that doesn't mean that the usage can be generalized.
regards,
Steve James
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