Turn, Rotate, Revolve, Spin

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:08 pm

Hi Jerry,

By “list,” do you mean cloud, dragon, wind, tiger? That could be, but that doesn’t strike me as a plausible list of discrete images, especially given the linking of cloud with dragon and wind with tiger in the Yijing reference I mentioned. Instead of four, these are two “qilei” or types of qi, according to the Ci Hai. In the Taiji Circle line, these two would be “contending” or interacting. I’m also not sure I would go along with your nominal reading of xiang in that line, at least not in the sense of four “archtypes.” I checked out Shen Shou’s _Taiji Quanpu_ compendium, and in his notes on this text he says that Chen Yanlin’s version had “xiang1” (each other) instead of “xiang4” (image). This would yield a reading of “mutualy contend” for “xiang zhouxuan.” Perhaps Chen was grappling with same interpretive challenges we are. Shen Shou’s notes also mention the alternate “quan” character in YCF’s book.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Audi » Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:21 am

Hi all,

Thanks for the comments to my earlier post and the other interesting commentary.

Here is how I might amend my translation, based on the grammatical input and choosing between the apparent textual variations in the original.

"The Taiji Circle

"Retreating from the circle is easy, advancing into the circle is difficult; so do not neglect the waist, the crown of the head, back, and front. Since the difficulty lies in the central ground and not leaving your position, the ease of retreat and the difficulty of advance is to be meticulously studied. Since this concerns movement training and not standing in a fixed posture, it is a matter of staying close in advance and retreat and keeping even shoulder to shoulder. The skill is like the rush of a water wheel, fast and slow, like clouds with dragons and wind with tigers swirling around each other. If you want to use a "cosmic map," carry out your search from here; with the passage of time, it will naturally emerge."

Here is one possible interpretation in relatively plain and modern words:

"The Fighting Circle in Taijiquan

"Retreating out of the fighting circle or losing your structure in undisciplined movements is easy, but advancing into the fighting circle and keeping your structure is difficult, so do not abandon the principles that govern the waist and the crown of the head, whether going forward or backward. What is hard is holding to a central position and not abandoning it, and so one must study meticulously what is easy about retreating out of the circle and what is hard about advancing into it. Holding to a central position has to do with how one moves, not with how one keeps to a particular fixed posture. It concerns advancing and retreating close in to the body, lined up shoulder to shoulder. This skill is like how a water wheel turns fast or slow according to how the water rushes by or like how Qi endlessly swirls around as the Dragon marshalls it in the clouds and the Tiger sends it forth in the winds. If you want to map out the cosmos, start from here. With time, the skill will naturally emerge."

Here is some explanation for this interpretation. Sections 3 and 4 of the work in question refer to dui4dai4, which apparently is a reference to partner practice in some form or other. Sections 4 and 5 have several references to the waist and crown of the head. The title of Section 4 has a reference to "zhong tu3" ("central ground"). Taken together, these elements seem to be the structure of a discussion on how Taijiquan concerns close-in fighting and what principles are necessary for this.

As for the dragons and tigers, here is my surmise. My understanding is that in fengshui (literally, "wind (and) water"), Qi follows the dragon-like shape of mountain ridges to accumulate in water and then is dispersed through winds. Dragons are associated with water and Yang influences, while tigers are associated with Yin influences. The "Blue-green Dragon" and the "White Tiger" are specifically paired together as guardians of the east and west. I am taking the references to dragons and tigers as references to the endless circulation of Qi through the earth.

My Wenlin software, which is based on the ABC Dictionary, lists "yun2long2 feng1hu3" ("\cloud\dragon wind\tiger") s a "chengyu" ("fixed phrase") meaning "A great leader attracts capable followers." I assume the idea is that the dragons and tigers do not act by themselves, but through the agency of moisture-filled clouds and through the agency of wind. The significance for Taijiquan would be that in using the waist and the crown of the head correctly, one will marshall the forces of the cosmos naturally and withstand any attack.
Audi
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:03 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
My Wenlin software, which is based on the ABC Dictionary, lists "yun2long2 feng1hu3" ("\cloud\dragon wind\tiger") s a "chengyu" ("fixed phrase") meaning "A great leader attracts capable followers." I assume the idea is that the dragons and tigers do not act by themselves, but through the agency of moisture-filled clouds and through the agency of wind. The significance for Taijiquan would be that in using the waist and the crown of the head correctly, one will marshall the forces of the cosmos naturally and withstand any attack.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I would be very wary of using software like that to translate poetry. Imagine what software like that would do to a sonnet by Shakespeare! I'm afraid the chengyu has very little to do with the use in this case. In Yi Jing text cited by Louis, the theory is that like attracts like, birds of a feather flock together. When you pluck a string with a given note, other strings tuned to that note vibrate sympathetically, and so on. It goes on to mention that clouds 'follow' dragons and wind 'follows' tigers. The idea is that these things are in some way of the same category and thus linked. The business about leaders is just one example of what is meant to be a general principle. I think that the poem is talking about coordination between upper and lower, waist and crown, leg and shoulder...cloud and dragon. Zhong tu bu li wei refers to not allowing the center of gravity to extend too far forward or backward.
JerryKarin
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:48 am

Greetings,

Here¡¯s the Hanyu da cidian entry, and my trans.

¡¾ë…ýˆïL»¢¡¿1.Óï±¾¡¶Òס¤Ç¬¡·£º¡°ë…Äýˆ£¬ïLÄ»¢¡£¡±ºóÊÀ¶àÒÔÔÆÁú·ç»¢±ÈÓ÷¾ý³¼¡£2.Ó÷Ö¸Ó¢ÐÛºÀ½Ü¡£3.¹Å´ú±øÕóÃû¡£

Cloud Dragon Wind Tiger 1. Source of the phrase < Book of Changes, Qian Hexagram> : ¡°Clouds follow the dragon; winds follow the tiger.¡± Later generations often used cloud-dragon wind-tiger as a metaphor for [the meeting of minds of] prince and servant. 2. A figure of speech for heroic prowess. 3. A name of an ancient battle formation.

The Ci Hai dictionary¡¯s entry is essentially the same, but preceeds it with the statement that the meaning concerns the mutual resonance of qi types.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:58 am

I think there is a trap you can fall into by paying too much attention to dictionary glosses. The 5th line of the 1st hexagram is: "flying dragon in the sky, beneficial to visit the great man". The commentary is an explanation of the connection between great man and flying dragon, hingeing on the idea of like attracts like, things of a similar essence resonate. Clearly the writer of the poem was thinking about the initial notion, not the later narrowing of the concept in chengyu.
JerryKarin
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:06 am

There is, by the way, quite a good passage in the Lu Shi Chuqiu, which explains and elaborates on this issue. I will look up the citation later. After you read it you will have a new idea about what the Cihai means by 'qilei'. Not a category of qi but qi and category.
JerryKarin
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:11 am

Hi Jerry,

Just so. That's why I mentioned the idea of resonance.

I pasted in the Hanyu Dacidian entry to show that the chengyu is sourced in the Yijing passage. Chengyu can take on a life of their own. But it's pretty clear to me that the author of the taiji text was directly inspired by that original passage.

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 01-17-2005).]
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Anderzander » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:25 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>The only English translation of the Yang Forty besides Wile’s is in Yang Jwing-ming’s _Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Family_.
Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I notice that Wile also translated them in his earlier book 'Taiji touchstones'

He in fact renders quite different translations of the text we are discussing between the two books too ??

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 01-17-2005).]
Anderzander
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:57 pm

Greetings Anderzander,

Re: “I notice that Wile also translated them in his earlier book 'Taiji touchstones'
He in fact renders quite different translations of the text we are discussing between the two books too ?”

He didn’t translate the full Forty in T’ai-chi Touchstones. A portion of that body of texts was published in the 1963 book by Gu Liuxin and Tang Hao, _Taijiquan yanjiu_ (Researches in taijiquan). That’s what he worked from for the earlier Touchstones. You’re right, the “taiji circle” text is one of them. I note two character variants in that version. In the line about the watermill, it has “dong” (movement) instead of “cui” (hasten, press), so it more specifically references the movement of the mill. Secondly, in the line about the cloud-dragon wind-tiger, it has the “xiang4” character with the person radical, which could more possibly be interpreted as “resemble,” but these characters are frequently interchanged.

You are also correct that Wile’s two translations of the Taiji Circle text are different. Now that I look at it, I prefer the Touchstones version! For one thing, he uses “millstone,” instead of “windmill” (which must have just been a typo), and he uses “compass” instead of the vague “heavenly circle” for the term “tianpan.” The more common term for a geomantic compass, by the way, is “luopan,” but tianpan is also used for this, as well as for antecedent cosmological maps and instruments.

Thanks for pointing this out. Clearly, with different versions and their variant characters, these texts are challenging.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Gu Rou Chen » Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:28 pm

The words refer to two distinct types of mill, yet probably related issues: the push (driven) mill is what I have heard people refer to when speaking of this exercise and I hear the Taiji Circle passage quoted in relation to these exercises, yet the push mill image is not present in the passage.

The image for a water (driven) mill in the passage indicates to me that I should make as smooth as possible the operation of the push (driven) mill.

This exercise develops a strong, expansive waist and center around which things revolve; such as spirit and intention which go hand in hand like the dragon and the tiger, wind and clouds.

If two people are operating the same push mill at the same time, one may take control while the other loses control and just rides along or gets bounced around. Entering and exiting the circle has some similarities to this.

Jeff
Gu Rou Chen
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:49 am

Hi Jeff,

I can certainly see a relationship to the push mill. Thank you for bringing up this Taiji Circle text. It has some very provocative imagery. Quite a lot to ponder for just one small text.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:08 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
There is, by the way, quite a good passage in the Lu Shi Chuqiu, which explains and elaborates on this issue. I will look up the citation later. After you read it you will have a new idea about what the Cihai means by 'qilei'. Not a category of qi but qi and category.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greetings Jerry,

I may know the one you mean, but please do post it. Several scholars, including Graham and Ames have written some interesting things about "lei." The whole notion of "resonance" or "response" (ganying), especially prevalent in the Huainanzi, is also a fascinating topic. I look forward to discussing the Lushi Chunqiu passage.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:11 pm

Greetings Audi,

You wrote: “As for the dragons and tigers, here is my surmise. My understanding is that in fengshui (literally, "wind (and) water"), Qi follows the dragon-like shape of mountain ridges to accumulate in water and then is dispersed through winds. Dragons are associated with water and Yang influences, while tigers are associated with Yin influences. The "Blue-green Dragon" and the "White Tiger" are specifically paired together as guardians of the east and west. I am taking the references to dragons and tigers as references to the endless circulation of Qi through the earth.”

I frankly know very little about these things, but in searching around for info on geomantic compasses (luopan), I found the pdf document from Singapore linked below. Check out figure 12 on page 12, of the azure dragon and white tiger in what I can only call a “spiraling embrace.” There is also mention on p. 5 of tianpan as being a *component* of a luopan, but I’ve seen other references that say the term tianpan can refer to the geomantic compass itself.

I don’t intend for this discussion to drift off into trivial minutia, but there do appear to be some interesting connections among the images used in the Taiji Circle document.

http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/gem-projects/hm/0203-1-21-luo_pan.pdf

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:22 pm

Greetings,

In pondering the significance of the reference to a geomantic compass (tianpan) in the “Taiji Circle” text, I did a bit of free form roaming. Feel free to discount, critique, or engage me on these thoughts.

On my morning BART ride under the San Francisco Bay, it suddenly occurred to me that a geomantic compass is in some ways equivalent to a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit—a satellite-based navigation instrument. In an important way, however, there are qualitative differences between these instruments in light of the purpose each is used for. In short, a GPS unit tells you “what” your position is; a geomantic compass tells you “how” to position yourself. This is not an accidental distinction. In the traditional Chinese epistemological approach, “knowing how” is more valued than “knowing what.” A GPS unit identifies your location via spatial coordinates, according to an arbitrary grid. A tianpan, or luopan, is used by a fengshui adept to optimize the position of humans and their structures vis-à-vis the environment. The luopan—a sort of circular slide rule—also references a priori “grids” such as the bagua, wuxing, and various astronomical schema, but the engagement and operation of these “grids” is much more site-specific for a fengshui practitioner. The objective is to understand the whole configuration of a particular location, the landscape, the water, the exposure to drafts, weather, and water. More importantly, the objective is to understand the human interface with this particular location—the focus in the field, if you will. So the luopan is an instrument for gauging correspondences and alignments—how to make one’s disposition (shi) most efficacious with regard to the overall configuration (also shi, or xing, “shape”). Jerry wrote: “I think that the poem is talking about coordination between upper and lower, waist and crown, leg and shoulder...cloud and dragon. Zhong tu bu li wei refers to not allowing the center of gravity to extend too far forward or backward.” So, perhaps this reference to a geomantic compass in the Taiji Circle poem has to do with cultivating an internal sense of how to position oneself, how to get your bearings, and how to navigate the terrain. Everything proceeds from this.

Sleep deprived and coffee crazed,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:52 am

Hi Louis,

Fatigue notwithstanding, I think you’re on to something.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
So the luopan is an instrument for gauging correspondences and alignments—how to make one’s disposition (shi) most efficacious with regard to the overall configuration (also shi, or xing, “shape”). Jerry wrote: “I think that the poem is talking about coordination between upper and lower, waist and crown, leg and shoulder...cloud and dragon. Zhong tu bu li wei refers to not allowing the center of gravity to extend too far forward or backward.” So, perhaps this reference to a geomantic compass in the Taiji Circle poem has to do with cultivating an internal sense of how to position oneself, how to get your bearings, and how to navigate the terrain. Everything proceeds from this.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

When you started talking about geomantic compasses it was an “Ah-ha!” moment for me. When I practice the form in a small garden at work, I’m usually facing the building across the way, but not perfectly square with it. I could turn my body to face parallel with the building but this doesn’t feel right. This bothered me (being rather obsessive about geometric relationships—I have to restrain myself from straightening others’ catty-wampus picture frames) until I figured out that I was lining up with Magnetic North and the building was aligned with True North. And sure enough, as the seasons change, my alignment in “Prepare” changes very slightly.

So I think you’re right—it’s possible to develop a personal internal geomantic compass. I didn’t used to be able to do this. But as my listening skills have developed during tai chi training, this has too. I also pay attention to which parts of the garden feel right to practice in according to mood, season, and feng shui guidelines (which I read about after I was already feeling my way along). This makes sense to me: if the whole world is made of interpenetrating fields of energy, then listening energy can help one tune in to how to (best) interact with the (external) world.

Moreover, it works internally too. During standing meditation I can sometimes “see” Up, Down, Left, Right, Forward, Backward as lines or planes and Central Equilibrium as the intersection and I can tell when I’m “off” and try to adjust accordingly. And every once in a long while, I’ll feel “how” to position myself for long stretches of the form, as though I am going along with a current, instead of tuning in intermittently. I can naturally feel the most comfortable, easy, right way, almost as though I’m being guided through a form sequence that’s different from my usual flawed form.

On a different note, this business about waterwheels reminds me of spinning around faster and faster while holding my book-bag as a kid. It’s easy to “retreat out of the circle” by letting go of the heavy bag of books, and much harder to “advance into the circle” by pulling the books in close (which in turn makes you spin faster). In push hands (if you are the bag of books), it’s so much easier to let go and be pushed out of the circle than it is to maintain the exact circle--much less gain the inside.

What are others’ experiences with this? If you are on the outside, do you have to “speed up” to regain the inside? The outside edge of a water wheel is moving faster than the inside (near the axle), correct? But you never want to speed up suddenly and tip off your opponent that you’re making a try for the center. On the other hand, there’s never a sensation of speed when the timing is right when switching from outside the circle to the inside and the opponent’s center—surprise maybe, in retrospect. Is this because one is moving slower on the inside of the circle? Or is it that one enters into stillness and loses the sensation of speed? I often can’t remember what I’ve done when I do something that works. Does anyone else have this (frustrating) experience?

Signing off yet another tangent,
Kal
Kalamondin
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

PreviousNext

Return to Tai Chi Chuan - Barehand Form

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron