Turn, Rotate, Revolve, Spin

Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:25 pm

Greetings Kal,

Thank you for your thoughts. Personally, I may interpret this notion of an “internal compass” in a much more metaphorical way. This is just my view, but I tend to think that one’s orientation to actual points of the compass is irrelevant to form practice. It is a convention in some lineages to begin facing south, but other lineages face another direction. In my opinion, it’s just a convention, with no particular significance other than to establish a “set point” in order to train sensitivity to the cardinal and interval directions relative to each other within the form. I’m not at all knowledgeable about fengshui, but my sense of it is that at best it is proto-science; at worst it is superstition. As a proto-science it is rooted in substantial empirical observations of life. As a superstition, it can be a waste of time and effort. (There’s ample evidence that bogus interior designers are wasting plenty of consumers’ money pushing fengshui canards!) The ideal objectives of the practice, however, are legitimate and worthwhile—to understand and optimize one’s position and interaction with the environment. My sense of the Taiji Circle reference is that one is cultivating one’s posture/disposition (shi). This sensitivity is analogous to a geomantic compass with regard to the objective and the cosmological underpinnings. Whether it will enable you to point toward magnetic north is something I can’t comment on.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:58 pm

Hi Louis,

"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."

I think it also meshes with the fundamental dictum that is critical to "know where you are" contained in the Suntzi. In the case of the Taiji Circle song/poem, I think the issue is how the writer's vocabulary suggests a "method" or illustrates a principle.

The idea that it is about "disposition" is useful, but the writer says that the skill is in movement. Not that long ago, I believe there was almost agreement on the idea that all tcc movement contained the "wubu" (bamen). The "animal system" --as another component-- makes the issue even more complex.

Well, ultimately, there's "advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, central equilibrium", whether we consider the geomantic orientation from an internal or external perspective. There's also "up and down", which are not explicitly part of the wubu. Perhaps, using the animals as metaphors allows the incorporation of vertical movement (of the center).

Perhaps you'll recall Paul Iannone, who used to do a lot of research on the meaning of the animals in tcc (and Daoism in general). It's a fascinating topic.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jan 21, 2005 7:50 pm

Greetings Steve,

Re: ‘The idea that it is about "disposition" is useful, but the writer says that the skill is in movement.’

I use “disposition,” which includes movement, to translate “shi.” We discussed this some time ago in the Eight Gates thread. Francois Jullien, _The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China_ writes:

"When translators do gloss shi, they render it indiscriminately as 'postures' ('positions') or 'movements.' But actually both 'postures' and 'movements' are simultaneously involved. On its own, 'posture' seems inadequate because it implies immobility, however temporary: our notion of reason seems incapable of analyzing a disposition without petrifying it. But given that, in reality, one gesture follows into another, it is not possible to arbitrarily distinguish between one individual 'position' and the movement that both stems from it and leads into it." (1995, Zone Books, p. 113)

Re: ‘Perhaps you'll recall Paul Iannone, who used to do a lot of research on the meaning of the animals in tcc. . . .’

Who is that, and where is that research?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:09 pm

Hi Louis,

yes, I recall the discussions re: "position" versus "disposition." I agree with the idea of "shi" as incorporating, let's say, the movement and stasis of any act. My point in the last concerned its use in interpreting the "water wheel" analogy. I think we're still searching for an adequate explanation of what is subject and what is object in the analogy, in addition to its direction.

Paul Iannone is a difficult person to describe. He has/had a theory about the 12 Animals in TCM and philosophy and how the ideas behind them lay beneath the "13 postures" and tcc. I tried to find some of his stuff on the web, but didn't have any luck --when it comes to the animal materials. Here's something very general, but I'm sure that someone may find or has more.
http://www.geocities.com/dao_house/practical.html

anyway, it's worth repeating that I find "disposition" to be the most appropriate rendering of shi.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Audi » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:32 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Steve said:
Well, ultimately, there's "advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, central equilibrium", whether we consider the geomantic orientation from an internal or external perspective. There's also "up and down", which are not explicitly part of the wubu. Perhaps, using the animals as metaphors allows the incorporation of vertical movement (of the center).</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Steve, I think I understand your point, but would like to reiterate something that draws on statements Sam Masich said in a seminar of his. I am also mixing in and perhaps abusing things I have heard from Yang Jun and have read from Zhang Yun and/or Yang Jwingming.

"Advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, central equilibrium" are each represented by two-word phrases in Chinese. Although we tend to focus on the directional component, it is possible that the qualitative component is actually the more descriptive and the more important element. In addition, these "steps" may also refer to the "steps" or "stages" involved in completing any single valid posture from beginning to end, rather than referring to single postures themselves.

In "Advance" and "Retreat," direction is only implied, but not explicit. Falling forward on my knees before an enemy is not an "advance," and drawing my fist backward to prepare a punch is not a "retreat."

In "Look Left," the Chinese word for "look" (gu4) can imply "taking into consideration," "looking back over one's shoulder," or "taking care of something." I think that Zhang Yun or Yang Jwingming talks about using defensive techniques that incorporate some offense.

In "Gaze Right," the Chinese word for "gaze" ("pan4") seems to have a sense of "looking forward to" or "expecting" something. It might refer to an offensive move or the offensive part of a move that incorporates some defense.

"Central equilibrium" is "zhong1 ding4," which could be interpreted as "central settling." Again, this could refer to a type of move or to a particular part of a move that involves settling the self.

With these interpretations, direction per se may be no more important than the compass directions that are attributed to the Bamen (Eight Gates). The question of up and down would not arise, since Taiji stance work does not involve a study of stepping on top of or underneath the opponent.

I am particularly intrigued with this interpretation because I understand Five Element theory to be principally involved with the understanding of cycles and the stages of which they are comprised. Such cycles are quintessentially two-dimensional, if not always horizontal.

In Taijiquan, we look for ways to circulate the opponent's energy through or bodies back into the opponent. The footwork or "Bu4"/"Steps" is the primary workhorse for this, even though the effects are manifested in the arms and hands. Looking for the 5 stages or steps within each such cycle has appeal for me and would seem to give additional direction in understanding what to look for in each of the form postures.

What say you, my fellow cyclists?

Take care,
Audi

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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:35 am

Greetings to All

Louis, I read your post yesterday and have been thinking about it for some time. The inner sense of 'navigation' is a quite deep concept. When we have detected the direction to move, our position becomes 'SHI' or at least starts getting 'SHI' (i.e. a position that incorporates some quality of motion).

BTW, I sometimes meet rendering of '13 shi" to Russian as somewhat like 'The 13 positional elements' in sense that they are 'the 13 potentials'. But I would agree that in more general case 'shi' is what was described above in the previous posts.

And one more thing about Tianpan. To me, 'Everything proceeds from this' is a part that combines with 'something has been prepared earlier'. Maybe it happened that the tiger and the dragon have been operating together … Image for example.


Audi wrote:
"In Taijiquan, we look for ways to circulate the opponent's energy through or bodies back into the opponent."
Yes, here 5 steps come in play. And the elaboration you made about them is very interesting. IMHO without some amount of such an elaboration the theory of wubu may sometimes face difficulties. For example, in the case when a taiji player encounters with a bagua guy. In bagua zhang at an advanced level they have two [opposite] circular movements/ directions of force (almost simultaneously) in the attacks. So, the returning of opponent's energy back to him becomes a not easy task… Image


Take care,

Yuri


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Postby tai1chi » Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:35 pm

Hi Audi,

you wrote:

"With these interpretations, direction per se may be no more important than the compass directions that are attributed to the Bamen (Eight Gates)."

[Steve]
I'm not sure that I would separate the wubu from the bamen on the basis of direction. I don't think they are theoretically different: that is, I think "direction" (in terms of tcc) is always a result of the combination of the bamen and wubu. "Peng" or any of the other bamen can be done while advancing, retreating, etc. One can argue that the "shi", individually, are always composed of some aspect/s of the bamen and the wubu.

" [Audi] The question of up and down would not arise, since Taiji stance work does not involve a study of stepping on top of or underneath the opponent."

Well, I don't think this conclusion follows from the logic of the bamen or wubu that you presented above. I'm not sure I know the limits of what tcc stance work might comprise; but I understand your point. However, there are "shi" that go up and those that go down. The bamenwubu might not necessarily imply how this is done in terms of "stance", but that does not mean that up and down are not included. For example, describing the "shi" Peng as "ward off slantingly upward" also includes the concept of "advance" --though it is not stated. Similarly, the shi "Lu" (Rollback) is almost universally done while moving to the rear, turning to one side, and somewhat downward.

In addition, in many traditions, the forms have high, mid, and low "levels" of practice (crane, tiger, snake). The bamenwubu apply, or are applied, in those tcc styles as they are in styles that emphasize staying on one horizontal plane. Needless to say, the empty hand form does not contain as much vertical movement as the weapon forms. There used to more jumps and low postures than are practiced in Yang style now.

I think some of the shi do involve getting above or below the opponent. I don't think it has to mean stepping on or stepping under him, necessarily.

[Audi]
I am particularly intrigued with this interpretation because I understand Five Element theory to be principally involved with the understanding of cycles and the stages of which they are comprised. Such cycles are quintessentially two-dimensional, if not always horizontal.

[Steve]
Well, I agree that five-element theory deals with cycles (of creation and destruction); but I think that the bagua (on which the bamen are probably conceptually based) are also tacitly involved with "cycles". I'm not sure I understand your last sentence.

My point was that, if there is an up, there must be a down. This isn't my invention, and I don't think it's foreign to tcc theory. My suggestion was that "animals" could be used to illustrate or imply certain qualities of "shi" that were not explicit in the bamenwubu. For instance, relating a shi to the crane implied or indicated a "high" movement; relating it to the tiger, another level; and relating it to the snake, still another.

I'm not saying that this is what the writer of the "Taiji Circle" song had in mind. I'm saying that the animals and their (culturally-defined) movements may be significant when used in conjuction with the bamenwubu.

[Audi]
In Taijiquan, we look for ways to circulate the opponent's energy through or bodies back into the opponent.

[Steve]
Forgive me for saying that this is a rather large statement. I agree with it, in principle; but, I hope it's not meant to be a definition of tcc skill. And, there are senses in which I disagree. For example, I don't think I want the opponent's energy to circulate "through" me. I want to lead it into emptiness.

[Audi]
The footwork or "Bu4"/"Steps" is the primary workhorse for this, even though the effects are manifested in the arms and hands.

[Steve]
I personally would not put primacy in the wubu or the bamen. I think they work together.

[Audi]
Looking for the 5 stages or steps within each such cycle has appeal for me and would seem to give additional direction in understanding what to look for in each of the form postures.

[Steve]
Ah, looking at the steps as "stages" is interesting. Looking at each "shi" as having five stages is complicated. Please expand.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Anderzander » Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:43 pm

I don't have any firm interpretation of the image of a compass in this song.

I've not really considered it enough. On a simple consideration though - 'begin your search with the aid of a compass' could merely refer to the learning experince?

In the way that one navigates through a field of study. Or one orientates oneself within a field's concepts / precepts.

The classics have been a compass for me in my study. Comparing the classics is like cross referencing different maps - each correlations reveals more acurately the 'structure' they describe.

So, the Author having just described his topic and cited that it is not easy could be simply advocating study and consideration for it's attainment.

That being said - the circular compass does also hold many of the physical characteristics that Taiji holds...

such as the circle and its centre, the circle and the straight line, being centred and sensing an external force etc etc.

Perhaps both aspects are intended?


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Postby Anderzander » Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:13 am

With regard to the Wu Bu discussion - I would describe my experience as being:

If you imagine the body as a circle (viewed from above). Your centre is within the circle.

Equilibrium is when all sides are considered and your centre is within the centre of the circle. (this coming about through deeply sinking down)

Then when there is a front there is a back etc. This is also (to play on Audi's translation)'consider' left, 'consider' right etc.

When the centre is moved, and equilibrium maintained, then the whole 'dynamic' advances or retreats etc.

So in essense central equilibrium creates the other Si Bu. They are all contained within it.

You could go on to build the model further such as saying - all of this is done with the mind, describe the significance of the size of your centre within the circle etc etc

Hopefully though there is enough there for the experience / model to come through the description.

If you are interested and anything isn't clear - please ask!



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Postby Audi » Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:43 am

Hi Everyone,

Steve,

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.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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.

Any thoughts?

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 01-27-2005).]

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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:48 am

Greetings All,

Audi,
Your post brought on too many ideas in my mind to speak them out at one time. So I'll start with the most interesting for me. It's mentioned by you one-hand circling push hands exercise.

Here we have a good 'test' of our understanding of jins. Image

Of course my understanding is not the only truth, but rather just a speculation.

In one-hand even circle (dan shou ping yuan) the two main jins are -- JI and PENG, the two attending jins are LU and AN.

To me, AN is a downward strength in its core. The following after it push is just its elaboration. I.e. AN is not just movement of hand(s) forward.

In our case of ping yuan JI is a forward push by one hand. Usually, as I know, JI associates with a movement forward (i.e. it gets sort of imaginary 'squeeze ' from the two sides).

PENG here is a ward of when we are shifting back (though, this is a bit academic approach and at more advanced levels usually LU are used instead of PENG at that phase).

Here is what I think about jins in PING YUAN DAN SHOU (one-hand even circle push hands exercise).

Take care,

Yuri



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Postby tai1chi » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:55 pm

Hi Audi,

Hope you can excuse the delays in my replies. Class has begun, and I’m swamped. Anyway, you wrote

>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.

I’m not sure that anyone suggests that the bamenwubu is/are simply directions. I hope I was saying that, taken together, the “eight gates” and “five steps” will produce the “Thirteen shi” which, both in physical terms, historical tradition, and TC philosophy do have an “up” and “down” component. There could not be sayings that admonish the practitioner to follow the opponent up and down if this were not so.

>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.

Personally, I have never associated “Ji” (I assume you mean) with the “East”, though it always had a forward component. I think Yuri brought up the translation of An as “Press Down”. That is quite “directional”, but has little to do with the compass points. Another example is the translation of Ji as “Squeeze”, which certainly does not imply either a forward or sideward motion. And, you’re right, there’s nothing inherently East-ern about that translation. However, the same is true for “kao”, “tsou”, “chai”; none are inherently directional, but in application they ultimately have a direction.

>Similarly, I am questioning whether every leftward movement should be described in terms of Gaze Left.

Well, your statement “every leftward movement” is not specific. No, every leftward movement can not be described as “gaze left.” However, I would argue that “turning the waist to the left” is always “gaze left.” And, any of the shi that require a waist turn to the left could be described in terms of Gaze Left. As a corollary; every movement where the waist turns to the right can be described in terms of Look Right. And, of course, some of the shi will require one to move forward while looking right or gazing left and the same is true for backward and right.

>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."

Maybe we should discuss what “is” the essential component of the bamenwubu. Up and down are essential components of physical action; and I believe that the bamenwubu do incorporate up and down, as directions, but not necessarily as directions on the compass.

.[Audi] [snip]… 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.

[SJ] Well, the last part is saying a lot. Another thread would be nice, but I do believe that wrestling/grappling (Na, etc) has always been part of every CMA. I do agree that there is no preference in the classical literature, afai am familiar with, for grappling –as in the “mat work” of judo, bjj. Then again, there’s nothing in the literature to suggest anything like pro-boxing or muay thai, either. Therefore, I’m not sure I can agree on your logic as to what the classical theory presupposes. I would suggest that, for both theoretical and practical reasons, any martial art that was created after Suntzi would incorporate those theories –and Sun’s ideas about good generalship. I believe that, by distinguishing between grappling and “tcc”, one is making a tactical decision that wouldn’t appear in a theoretical (strategic) text.
Sorry, I’ll have to get to the rest of your message later.

Regards,
Steve James
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Jan 29, 2005 5:17 am

Picking back up.

quote:Steve said:
Similarly, the shi "Lu" (Rollback) is almost universally done while moving to the rear, turning to one side, and somewhat downward.

[Audi] 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?


[Steve]
I’m certainly no one to want to claim to speak for YCF’s form. I wouldn’t say that you are wrong, at all. However, I would argue that what I described as Lu is most similar to the one in most “Grasp Bird’s Tail.” I think, fwiw, that the best translation of Lu would be “diversion” –not ‘Pull” as is sometimes, often, done. Anyway, yes, translated as “diversion”, there are many instances of “Lu” while moving forward. For example, in “Step Forward, Deflect downward, Parry, Punch”, there are several diversions upward and downward that could be described as Lu. But, that is a conceptual application. The same can be said of Peng, An, Ji, Chai, etc. I.e., that they are possible in several directions. However, by that I mean that none of the bamenwubu are limited to a particular direction, in application. At the same time, if An can be translated as “Press Down”, then there has to be a “Press Up” that exists (at least conceptually) as the complementary opposite of An. It is conceptual because it depends on, as you say, the relative dis-positions of the opponents. From the perspective of either, though, there is –imo—necessarily a directional component. Another example might be “Chai”/“Tsai”, which many translate as “Pluck.” One can “pluck” a flower (up) or “pluck” an apple (down). The idea of “pluck” remains.

quote: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.

[Audi] 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?

[Steve] Well, as you know, I didn’t invent the idea of “leading into emptiness.” Comparing it to an Aikido skill or even “bobbing and weaving” in boxing wasn’t my intention, and I’m not sure it was the intention of the idea. I continue to believe that the Lu I described is an acceptable example of “leading into emptiness”, and I certainly agree that correct Lu requires “zhan, nian. lian, sui.” However, I don’t believe that their necessity has any affect on directionality. I cut out some of the first chapter of the “Yang Forty Chapters.”
Translation of the Yang Forty Chapters

1. The Eight Gates and. Five Steps

Ward-off (south) / K’an, Roll-back (west)/Li, Press (east)/Tui, Push (north)/ Chen, Pull-down (northwest) Hsün, Split (southeast)/ Ch'ien,, Elbow-stroke (northeast)K'un, Shoulder-stroke (southwest)Ken. These are the compass points and "eight gates."

The compass points and "eight gates" demonstrate the principle of the cyclical exchange of yin and yang that operates unendingly in its course. Thus it is indispensable to understand the "four sides" and "four corners." The "four sides" techniques are ward-off, roll-back, press, and push; the "four corners" techniques are pull-down, split, elbow-stroke, and shoulder stroke. Combining the corner and side techniques, we derive the trigrams of the gate positions. The division of the steps contains the concept of the Five Phases and allows us to control the eight directions. The Five Phases correspond to advance (fire), retreat (water), gaze-left (wood), look-right (metal), and central equilibrium, or earth. Advance and retreat are the steps that correspond to water and fire; gaze-left and look-right correspond to metal and wood; and earth at the center is the axis around which everything turns. Our body contains the eight trigrams, and our feet step out the five phases. Hand techniques and steps; eight plus five; together they make up the sum of thirteen. Thus the thirteen postures derive from nature, and we call them the “eight gates and five steps.”

quote:Steve said:
I personally would not put primacy in the wubu or the bamen. I think they work together.

[Audi] 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"?

quote: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.

[Steve]
Hopefully, the quote will help some.

Regards,

Steve James
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Jan 30, 2005 6:00 pm

Hi Audi,

I have looked at Mr. Masich's page, and I think what he is writes is true, if not exactly new. Imho, it's certainly true that the bu are always at the core of CMA. I think he's also right that "footwork" (a word he may not use) is the most neglected part of contemporary training. This might be especially true of tcc, which almost has a reputation of being stationary --or being able to "defeat motion with stillness." That subject, a la the statements about what has been take out of the forms in terms of footward, probably deserves an entire thread. I'm not as sure that it is connected to the theory of the bamenwubu.

I.e., in any martial art --or human activity-- it is necessary to move; and when that movement is done, the body and its parts will describe lines/circles in space. The difference between tcc and another martial art, or among practitioners of tcc, lies in "how" the movement in done. The process of any movement will have stages or phases (steps). As I said in my last, desribing the stages of individual movements is complicated. I'd love to hear the explanations. Btw, the Wu/Hao stylists --who sometimes claim that the Classic theory was meant to accord specifically with their style-- actually do divide each movement into phases ("start, connect, open, close"). But, iinm, they conceive as a combination of the steps and hand/body movement.

[Audi]
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.


[Steve] Well, I agree that they are not stated explicitly. Again, I'd argue that they are only absent if one isolates the wubu from the bamen. I think that there are obviously shi that go up and go down in almost anyone's form; and I think the amount and number of vertical changes in the form have decreased from the time in which the Classics were written. I.e., there was much more "up and down" in the forms of yesteryear than there are now. Consequently, I don't believe it possible that they weren't conceptually included in the 13 shi.


[Audi]
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.

[Steve] I don't think the concept is absent; nor would I consider the theory deficient, even if it (up and down concept) were. Well, fwiw, one can conceive "central equalibrium" as a "pole" and not a point. Poles do have upper and lower points. The Classics do speak at times of "distinguishing upper from lower"; so I'm not really worried about any deficiency in the theory.


Audi, I hope you don't mind if I take your comments on the relation of power interchanges, the agricultural seasons, and the wubu to a thread. They deserve to be considered on their own, and I'd like the time to think them through.

regards,
Steve James
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