Thoughts on the Wubu & Bamen

Thoughts on the Wubu & Bamen

Postby tai1chi » Sun Jan 30, 2005 6:10 pm

Hi,
I've moved Audi's comments to a new thread to make them easier to discuss.

[Audi]
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
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Postby Audi » Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:53 am

Hi Yuri, Steve, and others,

I realize that I may have left a few things unclear in my last post. First, I was analyzing the Wubu in the terms of one circuit and one “technique” that had the component energies of Wardoff, Rollback, Press, and Push. I was not trying to draw any necessary correlation between any of these Shi and the Wubu except in this one very particular instance. My premise was that any named posture in the form could be analized in the same way.

This disregard for physical directions might seem absurd to some and indeed may be completely off base. I have posted this to provoke thought rather than to advance a theory that I have worked out extensively or that I have been taught by anyone in particular.

In defense of this sort of abstraction, let me bring up the English phrase “look both ways before crossing the street.” What exactly is the core meaning of this phrase that we could explain to an alien? Does it simply mean to look left and right when crossing a street? What do you do when crossing an intersection, where danger can come from eight directions? Does the phrase mean to look everywhere (i.e., including behind)? Perhaps, the phrase really means to draw attention to the fact that the act of focusing on an immediate source of danger may blind us to a secondary, but equally deadly source of danger. Our gaze can take in only half of the world at a time.

From what I understand the phrase “Gaze left and look right” (“zuo3 gu4 you4 pan4”) is an ordinary Chinese phrase used in everyday language with no connection to Taijiquan. I am not sure what the core meaning of it is, but one of the meanings is basically “to look left and right warily.” Again, I think the meaning is couched in directional terms, but really pertains to the purpose or thoroughness of the “looking.”

For quite a different take on the Wubu, see the following link, which I have posted before on other threads:

http://www.geocities.com/ycgf/arti_TJ13.htm .

I believe the author of this article is Zhang Yun, who seems to be a noted representative of Northern Wu2 Style Taijiquan.

Yuri,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Yuri

<B> 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).</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rather than give a short conclusive answer, let me give a more complete background so that you can analyze my reasoning. I can claim only a little understanding of this stuff, and certainly no physical master of it. I am quite curious to hear your further elaboration of your views or of what you have learned. I too believe there is no right answer, but I do believe that different views of these matters can drive one’s understanding of the theory and therefore one’s practice in different directions.

If I recall correctly, there are notable practitioners that seem to define a forward push as Ji. Perhaps, someone can come up with some specific citations that might clarify matters. I would also be curious to know how many other forum posters understand or have been taught Ji in this way.

I myself have not been taught much theory directly, but what I have been shown seems to define Ji differently. Below is one way of thinking about Ward Off, Rollback, Press (Ji), and Push. I am basing my presentation of the material on something Sam Masich showed in his seminar, but mixing in things from other folks and other readings.

Based on what he said and what I myself believe, I do not believe this scheme fits particularly well with all styles of Taijiquan. In other words, I am describing something particular to one vision of Yang Style that other visions and other styles may or may not share to a certain degree.

Imagine that Taijiquan is concerned with controlling the interaction of energy between you and the opponent. You exert this control principally through touching your opponent’s arms, particularly the wrist and elbow. Imagine that your opponent is projecting a stream of energy at you. This stream can be expressed through his or her arms, hands, feet, shoulders, or even head, but the details do not matter to the basic theory. Controlling this stream involves, at its core, fighting up close and personal and more or less squarely facing the opponent.

Your first concern is to “connect” (“da1”?) with the opponent to create this interaction and establish a Taiji relationship. If you do not establish such a relationship, you remain a mere target and must rely on speed and strength to withstand, evade, or forestall the stream of energy.

Your next concern is to protect your key point so that your opponent cannot control you and your energy. This key point is your center. The natural way to protect this center is to project an expanding sphere around it to keep your opponent “away” from it. Your “straight” spine can act as an internal strut and your loosely extended arms can establish the outlines of the surface of the sphere. Your arms naturally assume a double Ward Off shape. One possible origin of the word Peng2 is a written variation of a word that means “shelter, shed, etc.” with the tree radical and “barrier between archer shooting lanes” with the earth radical. I conclude from this that Peng refers to sheltering the body from harm and erecting a barrier to the opponent’s attack.

Because of the way gravity operates and the way your arm joints work, the most effective soft way to use your body in this shape is through the soft inner part of your forearms, usually to interpose your expansive center between the opponent’s “center” and his or her root. You tend to lift the stream of energy out of the control of your opponent. This will tend to happen on the inside of the line marking your maximum periphery, since you cannot rely on intercepting the stream of energy at the tip of your outstretched arms.

If you now seat your palms downward, you exhibit Push/Press energy (“An” means “to push or press” as in what one does to a button). You use this to press on the stream of energy to control it. The most effective soft way to do this is to use your palms. There is a downward aspect to this, because of the way your arm joints operate, but this energy can also be projected quite easily forward.

If you merely press forward onto an unaltered stream of energy, you are only offering resistance and not exerting any control. If, instead, you are pressing forward onto a kink in the energy, you can exert control through the kink.

While Ward Off tends to roll your sphere of energy upward and backward, Push/Press tends to roll your sphere downward and forward. Ward Off controls your opponent’s energy stream by tending to roll it upward and into you. Push/Press controls it by tending to roll it forward and downward away from you.

Since Push tends to project away from your center, it is somewhat hollow compared with Ward Off. You have to “empty” your chest.

If you return to the double Ward Off position, but now seat only one palm, you display Roll Back. This rotates the opponent’s stream out of “square” or “straight.” If you seat the right palm, the rotation will primarily be counter-clockwise, in terms of a vertical clock face.

The rotation may not be apparent in the scenario I am describing, but it is there. Remember that Push/Press tends to go forward and down and that Ward Off tends to go backward and up. In actuality, both arms exhibit the same rotation individually and together. They will tend to separate slightly to increase the size of the circle they describe together. The Jin is expressed in the “sticky” rotation. In the bottom part of this circle, it tends to be in the direction from forearm to palm; and in the upper part, it tends to be in the direction from palm to forearm. The vertical rotation also tends to match with a horizontal counter-clockwise rotation.

Some people do Roll Back in the form with a very evident circular motion of the arms as the waist first rotates to the right. In Yang Zhenduo’s form and in similar forms, however, this rotation is so small and tight that the combined rotation of the joints is not really visible beyond the fact that there is coordination between the two forearms. The rotation is somewhat more apparent in the standard four hands exercise that the Yangs teach. In forms, where practitioners interpret the Roll Back posture as a Roll Back to the right and then another to the left, I think that Roll Back must be interpreted differently than what I am proposing.

While Ward Off and Push/Press attack forward and backward along the stream, Roll Back attacks away from it. It is thus a way of throwing the opponent out of the “groove” that the “square” approach strives for.

If we return to the double Ward Off position, but imagine that the opponent’s energy stream comes slightly from the side, we are threatened by an inferior structural position. The opponent is straight/square/regular, but we are being forced out of straight/square/regular into a diagonal/corner (yu2) position outside of the “groove.” We cannot as easily bring our entire body and all of our limbs to bear on the situation. This may be either because we have been attacked at an angle or because we have been unwillingly rotated out of the “square” position.

To prevent being “cornered”, we can seat the outside palm in the double Ward Off position and use Press/Squeeze to squeeze the energy stream back forward into straight/square/regular. Our arms tend to combine their strength. The squeeze tends to be expressed in the outside of the forearm of the inner arm and in the palm of the outer arm.

I think that the circular aspect of Press/Squeeze is more horizontal than Roll Back. While Roll Back seems to have more upward and downward in it, Press/Squeeze seems to have more backward and forward. You yield and “empty” along the opponent’s energy stream to squeeze back into it at the “full” end of your circle.

This horizontal circle is present, but understated in the form. If I can stick with the <I>Wubu[\i] imagery I proposed in my previous post, I would say that the end of Roll Back in the form hides the Water phase of the upcoming Press Posture. Although one does not do Press while doing Roll Back, the end of the Roll Back Posture allows for the start of the circle and the cycle that forms the Press Posture. After the Roll Back Posture, we carefully begin our Press attack by using Zhan to grow our energy and circle the arm more to the left and rear. This is an attempt to draw the opponent out of his or her root. We then expand the attack in the Fire Phase as we rotate to the right and do Nian (“Sticking”) for the Press/Squeeze. Lastly, we shift our weight directly forward during what I am calling the Metal phase.

Ward Off and Push/Press are symmetrical in the scheme I am describing here (although, in the form, Ward Off is not shown symmetrically). The symmetry means that there is no mystery about the primary Jin points in Ward Off and Push/Press. Each arm is the same.

In Roll Back and Press/Squeeze, there is no bilateral symmetry, and the question of Jin points is therefore more complicated. Which arm is the key to the energy? If the energy is done with only one arm, where should the energy be focused? In the case of Roll Back, I think that the rotation of either arm is sufficient, under the right conditions, to initiate the energy.

In the case of Press/Squeeze, it appears that some authorities put the emphasis on the pushing palm of one hand and conclude that this exemplifies the energy. Others put the emphasis on the forearm of the other arm, particular the outer side of it. This latter interpretation is more consistent with the applications and drills I have been shown.

Yuri, ass I understand it, the left palm at the end of Single Whip and Fan through the Back is An </I>(Push/Press) and not [i]Ji (Press/Squeeze). I understand Brush Knee and Chop with Fist similarly. Do you understand these as Ji (“Press/Squeeze”)?

Using my proposed scheme, the one-hand horizontal circling (dan shou ping yuan?) in a counter-clockwise direction contains the four straight energies as follows: going from the midline to the left with the weight forward is Press/Squeeze, pulling the circle back is Ward Off, going from the midline to the right with the weight back is Roll Back, and pushing the circle back forward is Push/Press.

Again, under this scheme, the one-hand exercise can be evaluated as follows. Push/Press energy is expressed in a clear and effective way. Press/Squeeze energy is not very clear and not very useful for attack, since the waist rotation is out of synch. Roll Back has some effectiveness for attack, but often needs support from Pluck. Pluck, however, is really outside the scope of the exercise. Ward Off is clearly expressed, but ineffective for attack.

Steve,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> 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.</font>


As far as I understand, “An4” means just “press,” as in what one does to press a doorbell. I think that in both English and Chinese there is a light suggestion of downward pressure, but this suggestion can easily be overcome if circumstances dictate. “Press” often implies putting weight on something, but one can press in any direction, even upward.

I can see where one can find downward pressure in the An or Push Posture that is part of Grasp Sparrows Tail, but how about in the last strike of Single Whip? I have difficulty thinking of “downward” as an essential part of what makes An An.

One interesting thing that Sam Masich described at the seminar was a Chen Style exercise that was termed something like the Three Olds. If I recall correctly, it included Lu, An, and Ji, but no Peng. The circumstances of this exercise clearly required a downward An that might account for why some teachers insist on this aspect of it. He suggested that this aspect might not be so essential for how An has developed in Yang Style.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> 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.</font>


This is certainly a sensible and logical view, but then I would indeed question how up and down fit in. I would also ask why such definitions are particularly defining of Taijiquan in opposition to other martial arts. Also, why is there no distinction between “gazing” and “looking”? Are these distinctions mere word play to avoid boring repitition?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> .[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. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My point was not to exclude grappling from TCC, but to say that it does not seem to be essential to the basic theory. I would think that anything in the basic theory would at least be suggested in the form, and I cannot think of anything in the forms that I associate with grappling. This is actually why I might speculate that most versions of Yang Style have moved away from lots of splits and leaps. They appear to be peripheral to the core theory and may thus be less worthy of deep study within Taijiquan.

By the way, I do not understand “Na” to mean grappling. I understand “Na” to mean things like joint locks, whereas I think of grappling as how one fights on the ground.

Steve, thanks for the quote from the Yang Forty. This was actually one of the passages I had in mind in formulating my provisional theory.

What I could not figure out from the passage was how exactly the Bamen relate to the Wubu. I referred to Zhou Dunyi because it is probable that the Taiji in Taijiquan is a reference to the Taiji Diagram that Zhou Dunyi devised and which was a major element in the foundation of Neo-Confucian thinking. Neo-Confucian thinking is the type of Confucianism that dominated thinking in Chinese-influenced Asia for about 800 years. See the following link for more details, especially further down the webpage:

http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Reln471/CHOU.htm

Zhou’s diagram contains references to Yin, Yang, Qian, and Kun on the same diagram. Having now re-read his explanation, he seems to state that the Five Elements together are the same as Yin and Yang, but he is not clear about the status of the Trigrams. I was hoping that his diagram would make clear how a master of Taijiquan writing in the 1800’s would expect the two different systems to interrelate or at least how he would expect his audience to understand them.

My post is already several times overly long, so I will end here and await further comments, questions, speculations, explanations, etc.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:15 pm

Greetings All

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>Hi Yuri, Steve, and others,
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Audi Image
Sorry, in order to not do many mistakes I'll answer/talk laconic.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Yuri,
I can claim only a little understanding of this stuff, and certainly no physical master of it.
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

So am I

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I am quite curious to hear your further elaboration of your views or of what you have learned.
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As I once mentioned at this forum I started to learn 37 yang-based taiji form aprx 17 years ago. My teacher learnt it from Chinese master whose name, sorry, I didn't remember. The Chinese teacher named his style "Taiji Kai Men". Its feature wasn't softness like air but rather hardness inside softness like a needle in cotton. As I said once before, sometimes I weren't able to displace my teacher hand for couples of inches when he was holding certain taiji posture (I could do it, but only if I would rush at him). He did it without any tension in his body.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Your first concern is to ¡°connect¡± (¡°da1¡±?) with the opponent to create this interaction and establish a Taiji relationship. If you do not establish such a relationship, you remain a mere target and must rely on speed and strength to withstand, evade, or forestall the stream of energy.
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My first consern is direction of his strength, then the possible way of connection.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Your next concern is to protect your key point so that your opponent cannot control you and your energy.
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I would describe my next 'concern' as a 'game'. I let him attack my center if I know his speed and intention.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Peng refers to sheltering the body
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Exactly. This is underlying concept, therefore it's not easy to understend in the beginning.

"8 character low" ¡¶°Ë×Ö·¨¾÷¡· states about it:

´îÊÖÓö’òĪÈÃÏÈ

(just my assumption)

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I can see where one can find downward pressure in the An or Push Posture that is part of Grasp Sparrows Tail, but how about in the last strike of Single Whip?
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am not sure but here is probably AN but not AN-JIN.

Take care,

Yuri




[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 01-31-2005).]
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Postby tai1chi » Mon Jan 31, 2005 5:24 pm

Hi Audi,

I have to approach your arguments one by one. I'm snipping, but hopefully not distorting.

>[Audi] This disregard for physical directions might seem absurd to some and indeed may be >completely off base. I have posted this to provoke thought rather than to advance a theory that I have worked out extensively or that I have been taught by anyone in particular.

[Steve] OK, fair enough.

>[Audi]In defense of this sort of abstraction, let me bring up the English phrase “look both ways before crossing the street.” What exactly is the core meaning of this phrase that we could explain to an alien? Does it simply mean to look left and right when crossing a street? What do you do when crossing an intersection, where danger can come from eight directions?

[Steve]
Well, does the saying "a stitch in time saves nine" mean that two stitches will save eighteen to an alien?? Let's not be too abstract, iow. One teaches a child to look both ways because that is the only way he or she can visually scan what is before him. We don't tell him to look "up" any higher than to see the stop or walk signals. The phrase you bring up *must* be taken literally, even if it has an underlying suggestion of "be careful" in general. Perhaps a less literal example would be "look before you leap."

[Audi] Our gaze can take in only half of the world at a time.

[Steve] I do not believe the above is true. But, turning to the left and right will always allow us to take in more of the world than if we just gaze forward. More to the point, in general terms, the idea of turning the waist seems linked to "look right" and "gaze left." I can't say that I am sure of author's meaning. However, like the crossing the street example, I am pretty certain that the waist literally turns left and right. The Classics say;

"The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can sung the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the turning of the waist. It is said "the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist."

"The Thirteen Postures should not be taken lightly;
the source of the postures is in the waist."

Do you think it is meant that the waist is the source of the bamen and the wubu? In either case, what is it exactly that the waist can do. Certainly, imo, at least one important thing is the ability to create "gaze left" and "look right". Yes, it can also bend back and bend forward or tilt side to side. Those positions are not very common, however.


[Audi] From what I understand the phrase “Gaze left and look right” (“zuo3 gu4 you4 pan4”) is an ordinary Chinese phrase used in everyday language with no connection to Taijiquan. I am not sure what the core meaning of it is, but one of the meanings is basically “to look left and right warily.” Again, I think the meaning is couched in directional terms, but really pertains to the purpose or thoroughness of the “looking.”

[Steve} I agree. I just think it requires a physical turning of the body to be thorough. Although, I don't think the phrase has a lot to do with "scanning the horizon." I think there is a physical purpose; or, at least it serves a physical function. Well, without the turning, there will be linearity, which will be a defect going forward or backward. (Like trying to back out of the way of a freight train.)

regards,
Steve James
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Postby laopei » Mon Jan 31, 2005 9:55 pm

Dear Audi:
This is Horacio. It has been a long time. I always enjoy your inquiring into tcc practice and this time you brought me out of retirement. I apologize for coming late into this conversation. I would address a small part of your question:

Audi said:
If I recall correctly, there are notable practitioners that seem to define a forward push as xxJiyy. Perhaps, someone can come up with some specific citations that might clarify matters. I would also be curious to know how many other forum posters understand or have been taught xxJiyy in this way.

I myself have not been taught much theory directly, but what I have been shown seems to define xxJiyy differently. Below is one way of thinking about Ward Off, Rollback, Press (xxJiyy), and Push. I am basing my presentation of the material on something Sam Masich showed in his seminar, but mixing in things from other folks and other readings.

Based on what he said and what I myself believe, I do not believe this scheme fits particularly well with all styles of Taijiquan. In other words, I am describing something particular to one vision of Yang Style that other visions and other styles may or may not share to a certain degree.
================================================
Before yang Zhenduo’s teachings I was a practitioner of Wu Style. In the form I learned there was a process in the opening movement where the fourth energies of “Peng jin”, “lu jin”, “chi jin” and “an jin” could be manifested and expressed. These did not refer to the postures (peng, lu, ji, an) but to the 4 (main) possible ways of energy being created and manifested. (there are 8 directions. I am referring to just 4 of them: N, S, E,&W)

Basically this opening movement has 4 parts:
1) lifting the arms with the joints close -w/ wrist leading upward and outward and with fingers and elbows pointing to the floor- was done to experience/manifest
the energy of peng.
2) when wrist reached shoulder level: opening the joints and extending the fingers forward and out was done to experience/manifest the energy of ji.
3) withdrawing the hands towards the elbows and the elbows towards the torso by closing the joints was done to experience/manifest the energy of lu
and 4) sinking the wrist towards the floor and then extending the fingers by opening the joints was done to experience/manifest the energy of “an”.

In this way of doing the opening movement one got to experience 4 directions for the “energy movement”: upward, outwards, backwards and downwards.
Combining this four energies with each other gave the other 4 (corner) directions:
for example- combining lu and an created tsai (pluck). The form was learned as a manifestation and combination of this 8 energies (plus the wu bu)

The opening and closing of the joints involved not just the joints in arms but also the joints of the legs (six harmonies between feet, knees, kua and hans, elbows, shoulder) and each vertebrae of the spine opening and closing coordinating the upper and lower body.

These four energies were learned as two pairs of opposites:
Peng (up) and an (down) are opposites; and Ji (out) and lu (in) are opposites.

Now some citation ( I apologize if it looks repetitious)

quoted from Kumar Frantzis:
THE EIGHT BASIC MARTIAL PRINCIPLES OF TAI CHI

Tai chi i based on using the one unified chi energy of the body, called Jeng chi in Chinese. However; depending on the function it fulfills, this one chi is chi is called by different names -the chi of this, or the chi of that. There are eight primary body energies used in tai chi. These eight are the foundation of every tai chi form movement and fighting application and are present in single or multiple combinations of every move.
The martial art of tai chi is based on thirteen principles. Five of these relate to the footwork methodology of. tai chi, which is responsible for moving the feet and body's center smoothly and with stability. These five are called step forward, etc., .....(snip for brevity). The remaining eight principles refer to how energy manifests in the body.
These eight principles regarding internal energy are at the center of what makes tai chi a unique fighting art based on certain tenets of Taoist philosophy (the four sides and four corners). The eight principles concern how energy manifests in tai chi throughout every body part in all the postures and movements of the form, as well as the fighting applications of whatever kind, including Push hands and sparring. In application, it is assumed that these powers are used first at touch, and later done to the energy of the opponent before you both touch, or when you disengage after touching and before resuming contact.
These eight refer to the nonphysical energies the body can emit. They do not refer to physical movements . They are identified by standard Chinese terms and are translated into English as:

1. Peng or Ward Off (upward, expansive internal power)
2. Lu or Roll Back (backward or absorbing, yielding power)
3. Ji or Press Forward (straight ahead, forward power)
4. An or Push Downward (downward-moving power)
5. Tsai or Pull Down (simultaneously combines the yin energies of lu and an, moving in the same direction)
6. Lieh or Split (combines the yang energies of peng and li moving in opposite directions from an originating point)
7. Jou or Elbow Stroke (focuses energy in the elbow)
8. Kao or Shoulder Stroke (focuses energy in the shoulder)

The first four refer to the direction energy is moving: up with Ward Oft, back with Roll Back, straight forward with Press Forward, and down with Push Downward. The next two refer to combining energies: Pull Down simultaneously combines the two yin energies of Roll Back and Push Downward moving in the same direction, and Split combines the two yang energies of Ward Off and Press Forward moving in opposite direction. Each of these first four had a posture named after it in the Yang style of tai chi. However; their real meaning lies in the kind of internal power (called jin) that they represent.
All movements in tai chi are composed of permutations of these eight building blocks, as they continuously combine, separate, and recombine during each individual posture and transitional move.
Kumar Frantzis: “The Power of Internal Martial Arts”, pages123-24. North Atlantic Books
================================

There is a lot more of information about these matters in his book. I don’t feel it is right for me to give away much more of what is in his book (since I did not write it) but I hope my good friend Kumar would not mind a small quote (and may be selling a few more books).

Also, i remember Chris Pei translating Ji as "squeeze" and "an" as press "as when you are ironing a shirt". I don't know Chinese - Jerry or Louis can comment in the correctness of that interpretation. (hi Louis and jerry)
Working out of my faulty memory -I don't have the exact quote here- I seem to recall Master Ma yuehliang refering to "An" as "the downward flow of water permeating all vulnerable space"

Take care
Horacio
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Postby Audi » Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:32 pm

Hi all,

I do not have time to respond at the moment, but I notice that I inadvertently posted more or less the same thing twice above. The second post was meant to be a correction of the first, which contained some draft formatting.

If Jerry would be so kind as to delete the first post, I would appreciate it. When I get an opportunity, I will pick this thread back up.

Thanks,
Audi
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Postby Audi » Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:25 am

Greetings all,

Yuri,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> My first consern is direction of his strength, then the possible way of connection.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your next concern is to protect your key point so that your opponent cannot control you and your energy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would describe my next 'concern' as a 'game'. I let him attack my center if I know his speed and intention.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I should have clarified that I was not really trying to describe tactics or even describe what should go through a practitioners mind, but rather to show one possible logical connection between different aspects of Taijiquan¡¯s theories.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> "8 character low" ¡¶°Ë×Ö·¨¾÷¡· states about it:

´îÊÖÓö’òĪÈÃÏÈ</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have several questions about this. My first is about the Chinese, which you seem to be translating as ¡°Eight-Character L[a]w.¡± I understand ¡¶°Ë×Ö·¨¾÷¡· (ba1 zi4 fa3 jue2) to mean something like ¡°Eight-character mnemonic on method,¡± since ¡°fa3¡± can mean either ¡°law¡± or ¡°method.¡± If this is correct, why does the following quote have only seven characters?

I also want to make sure I am interpreting ´îÊÖÓö’òĪÈÃÏÈ correctly. I might translate it as ¡°When hands are joined and Peng is encountered, nothing yields to it.¡± Is this how you understand it? Does this mean something like: ¡°When the opponent stretches forth his hand and meets Peng energy, he cannot make any headway?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I am not sure but here is probably AN but not AN-JIN.</font>
.

I think this may be another difference between teachers. I do not at present think that Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun make such distinctions. I do think, however, they distinguish between ¡°An¡± as the name of an energy and ¡°An¡± as the name of a particular posture made up of several energies, but emphasizing An energy.

I should also clarify that usages in English such as ¡°An energy¡± may put unnecessary emphasis on classifying ¡°energies¡± into different types. It may be better to think of only one kind of energy that can be manipulated in various ways, such as by ¡°pressing on it¡± (¡°An¡±), ¡°packing or squeezing it in¡± (¡°Ji¡±), ¡°putting up a shelter against it?¡± (¡°Peng¡±), ¡°treading along it like the rolling treads of a tank?¡± (¡°Lu¡±), ¡°plucking it¡± (¡°cai¡±), ¡°cracking it open?¡± (¡°Lie¡±), ¡°elbowing it¡± (¡°zhou¡±), and ¡°abutting it or bumping (?) into it¡± (¡°Kao¡±). (I have put question marks where my translations involve certain leaps of faith that go beyond what one would find in a dictionary.)

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> "The Thirteen Postures should not be taken lightly;
the source of the postures is in the waist."

Do you think it is meant that the waist is the source of the bamen and the wubu? In either case, what is it exactly that the waist can do. Certainly, imo, at least one important thing is the ability to create "gaze left" and "look right". Yes, it can also bend back and bend forward or tilt side to side. Those positions are not very common, however. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

From what I recall of either Barbara Davis¡¯ or Douglas Wile¡¯s recent translations of the classics, this reference to the ¡°Thirteen Postures¡± is ambiguous and could imply many things. For instance, It could simply be a reference to an old name for Taijiquan. In this case, the quote would imply: ¡°Taijiquan should not be underestimated, and the key to the art lies in the waist.¡±

The quote could also be a reference to thirteen distinct techniques, in which case it would imply: ¡°Study of the thirteen techniques one by one should not be neglected, and remember that the key to each of them is in the waist.¡±

Lastly, the quote could be a direct reference to a theoretical framework, implying: ¡°Taijiquan is based on a theoretical framework containing thirteen parts, and study and comprehension of this framework and how it fits together should not be neglected. The key to this framework is understanding the waist.¡±

I lean toward the latter view and see the waist as what links the Wubu to the Bamen. Each without the other is of little use. I do not see the waist as ¡°generating¡± all of the Wubu or the Bamen, since there are many parts of the form that do not appear to involve waist rotation, but still involve one or more of the Thirteen ¡°Postures.¡±

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> More to the point, in general terms, the idea of turning the waist seems linked to "look right" and "gaze left." I can't say that I am sure of author's meaning. However, like the crossing the street example, I am pretty certain that the waist literally turns left and right. The Classics say</font>


This idea has inspired me to remember that "looking right and left before crossing the street" implies swiveling the head. The idea of swiveling may indeed imply a focus on rotation, presumably of the waist.

If I recall correctly, both Zhang Yun and Sam Masich discuss Look Right and Gaze Left in terms of rotation. Perhaps the idea is to contrast the linearity of Advance and Retreat with the circularity of Look Right and Gaze Left. Central Equilibrium might then imply a contrast of stillness with the movement of the other energy configurations.

The only issue left is what explicit directionality should be understood by how these configurations are named. To me this depends on the reason the framework was created. If it was created to catalog the configurations, then splitting them according to direction seems very natural. This is what Yang Zhenduo seems to have done in partially cataloging the hand configurations. Such cataloging stabilizes terminology and helps practitioner understand what distinctions are important for this type of Taijiquan.

The flavor of the beginning of the Yang Forty strikes me as having some of the aspects of a scientific justification of Taijiquan, rather than a discussion of the art itself. If this is so, ¡°cataloging¡± would seem a natural interpretation of the explanation of the Thirteen Postures.

If the framework was created not to catalog movement, but to describe a tactical approach, then I think that directionality alone is insufficient to explain the distinctions. Pure directionality does not even take into account a relationship with the opponent, which seems quite unlike Taiji theory. For instance, if an opponent is to the rear, what does ¡°Advance¡± mean?

How should we understand the right-foot step prior to White Crane Spreads wings? Is it ¡°Advance Step,¡± because we step ¡°forward¡±? Is it Look Right, because it sets up the rightward limits of our future stance? Is it Gaze Left, because it involves a leftward waist rotation?

Zhang Yun seems to distinguish between rotations where offense is dominant and rotations where defense is dominant. Sam Masich seemed to be referring to the psycho-physical differences between rotating into an opponent¡¯s center and rotating away from it. Another possibility would be something along the lines of Western Boxing, which distinguishes between a left-hand jab and a right-hand knockout punch, since the energy of our bodies is generally not symmetrically allocated.

To further add to the confusion, the Saber Formula has an explicit reference to Zuo Gu and You Pan at a point in the form where there is a clear change in attention from left to right, but more or less no waist rotation and no rotation of any other joint or limb. This would imply that the distinction has more to do with the physical direction a technique is aimed toward or perhaps the direction one¡¯s ¡°spirit¡± is directed toward.

One last thing to consider is that the ¡°Thirteen Postures¡± are not the same in the weapons forms as they are in the hand form. If direction is a paramount consideration, I wonder why this would be so. If on the other hand, the difference involves how the tactical framework must change, it would seem to make more sense.

Horacio,

It¡¯s great to hear back from you. I hope all is well with you.

Thanks for your description of what you learned in Wu Style. That is precisely the type of distinction I was reaching for, a nice logical framework that is nonetheless different from what is emphasized within the Association.

By coincidence, you also seem to be describing the precise way I was originally taught to do the Commencement Posture, although the sequence was explained to me solely in terms of martial applications with no explanation or suggestion of a greater theoretical framework.

I was taught this sequence as part of martial arts style that incorporated ¡°Yang Style¡± Taijiquan at a certain level; however, what I learned seems quite different on many levels from what Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun teach. The difference in the Commencement Posture is just one of many instances.

Thanks also for the snippet from Kumar Frantzis. His book is definitely one of the widely read ones I was thinking of. Although there are many things in his book that I might not agree with, I would definitely recommend it.

I once attended a one- or two-hour seminar Frantzis gave at a Tai Chi Festival in New York State. He gave the strong impression that despite, his varied experience, he saw Taijiquan through the prism of Chen Style. Because of this, I am hesitant to apply many of his ideas specifically to Yang Style.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> These eight principles regarding internal energy are at the center of what makes tai chi a unique fighting art based on certain tenets of Taoist philosophy (the four sides and four corners).</font>


I am puzzled by this reference to ¡°Taoist philosophy¡± and wonder whether he is suggesting something quite different from what I have been taught.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> These eight refer to the nonphysical energies the body can emit. They do not refer to physical movements .</font>


Words are tricky, and so I may not understand the intended meaning here. I personally do not view the Eight Gates in terms of some sort of non-physical energy emissions; however, I also do not think of them as mere configurations of limbs.

Frantzis goes on to define them in ways that have much elegance, but which do not quite match physical applications I have been taught.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Each of these first four had a posture named after it in the Yang style of tai chi.</font>


Some suggest that this was done expressly to highlight the importance of these energies to the characteristics of Yang Style. As I understand it, Chen Style expresses the postures that correspond to Yang Chengfu's Grasp Sparrows Tail differently. For instance, the ¡°push¡± (Four Sealing and Six Closing?) is a definite downward movement with a more obvious martial application than the push of Yang Style.

The idea of defining Cai/Ts¡¯ai and Lie/Lieh in terms of combinations of Peng, Lu, Ji, and An is interesting, but also is at variance with what I have understood of Yang Zhenduo¡¯s and Yang Jun¡¯s teaching. I am also bothered by the lack of symmetry, since Zhou/Jou and Kao are not accounted for in the same way as the others. I understand the Eight Gates within the Yangs¡¯ teaching to be primary configurations that cannot be further broken down.

Sam Masich made a point of positing a relative primacy to the Eight Gates and that certain ones ¡°gave birth¡± to others. This was in the context of deriving them from natural movements and natural tendencies. I have to give this more thought, but one aspect that has left a deep impression was that they seem to deal with different situations.

Masich suggested that the Four Straight/Square/Regular Energies were the core of the tactics, as is suggested by the classics, and that the Four Corner/ ¡°Diagonal¡± Energies are designed to deal with more extreme situations. As the action threatens to force us out of ¡°square¡± and draw us out too far, we resort to our elbows (Zhou) and shoulders (Kao). As the action threatens to force us out of ¡°square¡± and press in too close, we resort to yanking (Cai) and rending/snapping (Lie). If things get too extreme, we naturally resort to biting, clawing, wrestling on the ground, or throwing debris; but these are outside the core study of classical Yang Style Taijiquan.

If I am describing or extrapolating from Masich¡¯s scheme correctly, the result seems much more symmetrical to me and to match more the flavor of the form and the applications I have been shown within the Yangs¡¯ version of Yang Style. The Eight Gates then seem to address how to control the interchange with the opponent and specifically how to receive and deal with the opponent¡¯s energy.

The best place to control the energy is from the ¡°center¡± of the square or circle. The Four Straight/Square/Regular Energies address expressing energy in line with the center (Peng and An), returning to the center (Ji), or expelling the opponent from the center (Lu). As we become more desperate to remain in the center, we progressively resort to Zhou and Kao to adjust our position. Zhou and Kao are thus progressively extreme forms of Press/Squeeze, with the arms more compressed. As we become more desperate to move our opponent¡¯s energy out of center, we resort to Cai and Lie, which would be extreme forms of Lu, with the arms more separated.

[quote]Also, i remember Chris Pei translating Ji as "squeeze" and "an" as press "as when you are ironing a shirt". I don't know Chinese - Jerry or Louis can comment in the correctness of that interpretation./quote]

¡°Ji¡± is what you do to get toothpaste out of a tube or to get yourself into a crowded bus. ¡°Squeeze¡± is a definite possibility as a translation; however, I am not sure if ¡°Ji¡± can also apply to merely ¡°squeezing¡± things together, like the hands. ¡°An¡± could definitely apply to what one does to iron a shirt, but it could also apply to a vertical surface. To me, the core meanings of ¡°An¡± and ¡°Press¡± equate rather well.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:19 am

Greetings All,

Audi, as always you have summed up our opinions on bamen wubu and presented ideas in clear structured way.

My approach slightly differs from yours. I always tried to look at taiji in more general way, not from perspective of one style (substyle). To me, Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Le, Zhou, Kao are the same in all styles of taiji. I agree with Mr. Frantzis that what were originally overt in Chen style became covert in Yang style later, but the principles of jins (their core) remain the same. It would be very interesting if you could ask your Teacher where is an-jin presented more clearly - in the movement of the hands downwards in the QI SHI posture (Beginning form) or in the standard push forward in AN posture. The answer, I believe, would make the nature of AN-JIN more clear, which I try to figure out for myself too.


Concerning "8 character law/method" - sorry, sometimes I translate Chinese in very simplified way, just to point out the main idea.

This is an old text that afaik is in the list of Yang tradition texts.

°Ë×Ö·¨ÔE

Èý“Q¶þÞÛÒ»”D°´£¬´îÊÖÓöÅïĪ׌ÏÈ¡£
ÈáÑYÓЄ‚¹¥²»ÆÆ£¬„‚ÖПoÈá²» ‘ˆÔ¡£
±ÜÈ˹¥ÊØÒª²É’ž£¬Á¦ÔÚó@—×ßÂÝÐý¡£
³Ñ„ÝßM¹¥ÙNÉíÖ⣬¼ç¿èÏ¥´ò¿¿ ‘ÏÈ¡£


The first sentence IMHO says about special tuishou technique. In this technique I apply the sequence - LU, then LU again, then finally JI and/or AN. The purpose of the sequence IMHO is to destroy his PENG. The second sentence is talking about this purpose. "[As soon as] hands are joined and PENG is encountered, don't allow [his PENG to operate] first".


Take care,

Yuri


[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 02-15-2005).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:22 am

In the last post I made some mistakes because of haste.

Mr. Wile gives good translation of the above text.

"During push hands, there are three exhanges, including two LU and one JI and AN.

When hands are joind and we encounter PENG, do not let the opponent get the upper hand."

[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 02-15-2005).]
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