I may have explained myself poorly. I am not advocating any separation of the wubu
from the bamen
. What I meant was that although directional and compass terms are used with respect to the bamen
, these are not their principal elements. Although Press is associated by some with "forward" and the "east," we do not describe as Press every forward movement or every movement to the physical east. Similarly, I am questioning whether every leftward movement should be described in terms of Gaze Left.
Because I am proposing for argument's sake that direction is not the essential component of either the wubu
or the bamen
, I am saying that there is no need to discuss any inclusion or exclusion of "up" or "down." These are arguably already included in the theory in the same way that one can do Press to the west or in a downward direction. I think that left, right, forward, backward, etc. have some relationship to our anatomical structure, but I am suggesting that the theory may not primarily be defined in these terms, but rather in terms of typical interactions with the opponent.
In talking about stepping on or underneath an opponent, I was trying to address the issue of grappling. Although I have heard that such training is an intergral part of Wu2 Style, I have not read anything about this in the general classical theory. I am suggesting that the classical theory presupposes a standing confrontation square-on with an opponent. I have heard various explanation and justifications for this, but that is probably a matter for another thread.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Steve said:Similarly, the shi "Lu" (Rollback) is almost universally done while moving to the rear, turning to one side, and somewhat downward.
I could be wrong, but I thought that Yang Chengfu's form also has instances of Lu in a forward stance, such as in the transition into Separate Foot Left and Right? In learning basic Lu push hand applications, I also learned one going backward and one going forward, depending on whether I was circling over onto the opponent's forward or backward leg. Do I have this wrong?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Steve said: For example, I don't think I want the opponent's energy to circulate "through" me. I want to lead it into emptiness.
I guess for me, the path the energy travels through is a different issue from where it lands. In my view, the issue is more with what method ones uses to lead. For instance, there is an Aikido skill that involves dodging a punch to the face with such exquisite timing that the opponent simply misses and lands the punch on thin air. For me, this fits the definition of "landing/falling on emptiness" (luo4 kong1). Because you have to leave your face as a target up until the last moment, I would also accept that this skill includes "leading." I would, however, argue that this skill is not typical of Taiji skills, because the interplay of empty and full and of zhan-nian-lian-sui ("adhere-stick-continue-follow") is not very evident. I am also doubtful that the concept of being double weighted has much utility in such situations. It seems to me that typical Taiji skills involve touch, physical contact, an exchange of energy, and control over the energy flow. If all one does is lead into emptiness, how can one borrow energy from the opponent?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Steve said:I personally would not put primacy in the wubu or the bamen. I think they work together.
I agree they work together, but if the wubu
are not the foundation of the bamen
, how can one relate these to the adage that the "power is rooted in the feet, generated by the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifested in the hands and fingers"?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Steve said:Ah, looking at the steps as "stages" is interesting. Looking at each "shi" as having five stages is complicated. Please expand.
Perhaps the key is in the Yi Jing/ I Ching? Can anyone elaborate on how the theory of the Five Elements fits in with the trigrams and hexagrams? I do not know much about this. On second thought, perhaps the key is in interpretations given to Zhou Dunyi's Taijitu and how it relates the Five Elements to the trigrams. As I recall, his visual arrangement puts the trigrams on top of the Five Elements, like the arms and hands are over the feet; however, he also seems to imply that the Five Elements are secondary to the trigrams.
I think that Sam Masich is researching or has researched the wubu
and will write a book about it. See this link for more information: http://www.embracethemoon.com/core_principles.htm
. In the seminar I mentioned before, he alluded to psychological phenomena that are hard to describe in words, but which centered on the qualitative differences in the names of each of the steps.
As I have pondered this issue, I think that one is left with a limited amount of choices.
One choice is to see the wubu
as describing power interchanges that are principally characterized by forward, backward, leftward, rightward movement, or central stability over the course of performing a posture. Here the question of up and down is most clearly left begging.
Another choice is to see the wubu
as describing power interchanges at any single instant in time. In this case, the emphasis would be on maintaining good structure, intent, etc. with respect to each of the 360 degrees, at least in two dimensions. Anderzander's comments strike me as a better developed version of this, but I will let him elaborate for himself. Again, "up" and "down" arguably go begging for a clear role in the scheme; but if the real meaning is that one needs to have awareness and maintain the principles in all directions, perhaps this is not serious deficiency in the imagery of the theory.
A third choice is to see the wubu
as describing power interchanges that govern the different stages or steps necessary to complete any one posture. I am not much of an expert on Five Element Theory, but I will try to offer up one possible way of interpreting this.
Rather than dealing principally with cycles of destruction (like Xingyi?) or of creation, I will approach these in terms of the agricultural year. As I recall, winter is Water, the time that energy is quiescent. Spring is Wood, the time that energy grows. Summer is Fire, the time that energy expands. Autumn is Metal, the time that energy is harvested and stored. In some views, earth corresponds to late summer; in others, it is the phase or "element" that "mediates" all the other transitions.
First, let's take the one-hand circling push hands exercise as the simplest case. This is what I think the Association would call horizontal circling. This exercise involves transitions between the Four Square Energies (Wardoff, Rollback, Press, and Push), although Press is not clearly represented.
If we take the moment after our Push energy is exhausted, we arguably have a brief moment of Press. At this moment, we have no active attacking energy and can be seen as entering a recovery phase. We might call this analogous to the Water Phase, where energy is quiescent and stored for future potential. Water corresponds to Retreat Step. In addition, this is the moment when the opponent most likely initiates an intent to advance in attack, which corresponds to Fire. Water is the Phase/Element that overcomes Fire.
As we then transition into Ward Off, we enter a stage where we are facing to the left and our energy potential grows. Attack (in the form of a subsequent Rollback) again becomes possible. This stage would be Wood, where energy grows. Wood corresponds to Look Left or Take Care of the Left (zuo3 gu4). This is also the moment where we try to use Zhan (Adhere) to attack our opponent's equilibrium and uproot him or her. Wood is the element that overcomes Earth, which could represent the Central Equilbrium of the opponent.
As we then go to Roll Back, we turn the waist to the right and neutralize the opponent's Push. We can do this in order to initiate an attack that would consummate with a subsequent push. This stage would be Fire, where energy expands. Fire corresponds to Attack Step. This is the element that overcomes Metal, which might be considered the opponent's attempt at harvesting the results of his or her attack.
We end by attempting to push in the final right quadrant of the circle and look toward our release of energy into the opponent. This stage would be Metal, where energy is harvested and consumed. Metal corresponds to Look Right (really, "Look with expectation to the right"). Metal is the element that overcomes Wood, which might represent the opponent's attempt to recover and gain energy to reach stability.
Depending on one's views, Earth could either be the Central Equilibrium that one needs to control all these transition or the Central Equilbrium that one can achieve after pushing the opponent out.
These are just my musings for discussion, and I am not wedded to this scheme. Off hand, a theory of this nature would seem to have the advantage of focusing the practitioner on finding the circular energy exchange and the five stages of each posture. I have had my Press corrected on these lines, where my movements have lacked half of the energy circle. As I think about it, I think I could profitably analyze each of Yang Chengfu's named postures in this way.
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 01-27-2005).]
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 01-27-2005).]