New Chen Yanlin translation from Paul Brennan

Re: New Chen Yanlin translation from Paul Brennan

Postby DPasek » Thu May 30, 2013 8:18 pm

Audi wrote:
Dan wrote:While not included in the “10 essentials” (Yang Chengfu), the concept of slightly and gently tucking the chin, which in my experiences is commonly taught, does address the position of the head in conjunction with “xuling dingjin” and the crown.

I think this is a good example of two things: the difficulty of capturing subtle physical things in words and the variation in teaching principles.

Master Yang Jun has primarily been addressing neck position by advising us to have a sense of pushing the top of the head up, as long as we are clear on where the top is. I have also read, if I am recalling it correctly, that Yang Shaohou advised his students always to feel the back of the neck pushing against their collars. I have heard of the idea of "tucking in the chin," but have not been sure whether that refers to slightly tilting the head forward or slightly retracting the entire head backward, so that the chin feels like it is sinking slightly into the throat. I do not do the former, but do try to do a little of the latter; however, I come at from the viewpoint of trying to find the center in a world where my daily routine tends to encourage bending my head forward over books or to look at computer screens.

As for the bobbling heads, I think that the explanation for me lies in the tendency to conceive of the entire spine as one simple system, whereas the Ten Essentials do not actually teach this. If we organize it as one system, then the pulse of Jin that travels up the spine will go up into the neck and make the head bobble. If, however, we know how to transfer the vertical and upward oscillation of the Jin coming from the forward movement of the lumbar spine into the horizontal oscillation governed by Containing the Chest and Plucking up the Back, the Qi will go into the arms and hands rather than into the neck.

Hi Audi,

The positioning of the head involves all of these things. I have also heard related things like having the head pivot slightly with the ear holes as the axis (lengthening the cervical spine while slightly tucking the chin, with the crown of the head lifting up), gazing towards the horizon (to attain a slightly downward angle to the head...), imagining that you are pushing against something with your ‘third eye’ (between the eyebrows, while maintaining the suspended crown), etc. All are probably more instructive when someone’s head position is being adjusted in person, but the sayings all can help (some resonating with certain practitioners better than others, but all seem to essentially striving for the same thing – possibly the ‘monkey head’? or ‘xuling dingjin’?).

Dan
DPasek
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

Re: New Chen Yanlin translation from Paul Brennan

Postby DPasek » Fri May 31, 2013 2:53 pm

Audi wrote:
DPasek wrote:To ‘puff out’ the chest would be to produce yang energy where there should be yin (and vice versa for the back with yin being produced where yang should be).

I think I still do not understand how to apply this thinking. If the chest should never produce yang energy, how could you ever do Fajin with it? Even if the back is to do Fajin, don't you first have to store energy in the chest (and puff it out slightly) in order to do it? I would agree that the chest should tend to by yin and that the back should tend to by yang, but I have difficulty understanding how there can be change and circulation unless yin and yang can alternate.

Audi,

Since the musculature of the torso (chest and back, etc.) is quite complex, it is somewhat difficult to discuss this clearly (especially for me since I have only limited training in anatomy and physiology). It is certainly more difficult than if we were discussing an arm where the bicep only flexes the arm (acts as yin) and the tricep only extends the arm (acts as yang) and the actual angle of the arm is achieved by the relationship between the actions of these muscles. But despite my limitations, let me attempt to clarify the point that was made.

As I understand it, the cycle of energy in the torso follows what is practiced in many qigong and meditation traditions, with the energy going up the back (Du channel) and down the front (Ren channel). These are reflected in Taijiquan with the idea of the energy sinking down to the elixir field and then gathering into the spine [Brennan translation of Li Yiyu, 1881: “You must get the energy to sink. It is then able to gather into your spine. The Song says: ‘You must pay attention to the alternation of empty and full.’” and “Energy is issued from your spine. How can energy issue from your spine? It sinks downward, going from your shoulders, gathering in your spine and concentrates in your waist. This energy going from above to below is called ‘contracting’. Then it goes from your waist to your spine, spreading to your arms to be applied at your fingers. This energy going from below to above is called ‘expanding’. Contracting is gathering. Expanding is releasing.”]. This cycle is also addressed by one of the ‘10 essentials’ stating “hold in the chest and pull up the back.”

The alternation of yin to yang and yang to yin as manifested in the torso, to my understanding, is not that the chest puffs out (yang) with the shoulder blades coming together in the back (yin) then releasing energy by reversing these (chest becoming yin and the back becoming yang), but is rather an alternation of emphasis between ‘contracting’ from the yin surfaces in the front of the torso, to ‘expanding’ from the yang surfaces in the back. The chest always maintains yin (sink energy to the dantien & ‘hold in the chest’) and the back always maintains yang (“command coming from the lower back,’ energy gathered and issued from the spine, ‘pull up the back’).

There are examples of effective techniques where this principle is not maintained in the dynamics of releasing energy. A clear example of an exception would be the pitching motion of a baseball pitcher. Here the chest puffs out and the arm swings way behind the body before using the momentum of the arm swing is used to release the ball (with the torso returning to ‘normal’ with the chest contracted and the back rounded). This pitching motion could be used in martial arts to strike an opponent, but it is not what we practice in Taijiquan (while I have not studied other martial styles, I have an impression in my mind that this may be what Long Fist may sometimes do). A difference here with the baseball pitcher (and Long Fist practitioner?) is that they are operating ‘not from contact’ whereas Taijiquan practices ‘from contact’ interactions. A baseball pitcher would find it very difficult to generate energy for the pitch if someone used ‘four ounces’ of energy against the pitching arm when it was in the windup (especially if behind or even with the ‘frontal plane’ of the body, or actually even up to about a 45 degree angle towards the front of the body). The dynamics of power generation can be different if we are not in contact than it may be when we are in contact with an opponent.

Fajin with the chest remaining yin and the back remaining yang is the way that I practice. The ‘change and circulation’ and alternation of yin and yang is from the vertical cycle of energy in the torso (‘contracting’ and gathering the energy to the dantien through the front of the body to generate the cycle to the lower back, the mingmen, up the back through the spine, and out to the point of contact) rather than the ‘hinge’ of the torso (the movement of the shoulders backwards and forwards). In my experience you do not need for the chest to puff out even slightly because the energy is sinking down to the dantien in order to generate the cycle that continues up the back to produce the yang for fajin.

I hope that this post clarifies what I was trying to express earlier.

Dan
DPasek
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

Previous

Return to Book and Video Recommendations

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 1 guest