Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby mls_72 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:40 pm

Saw this online thought I'd share it. One of my instructors mentioned 'grabbing the ground with toes', which for me creates a yin yang approach to the legs. Rather than have the rear leg push, the lead/front leg assists and guides the knee in proper placement so both feet and legs are working together.

Tai Chi: "Jin is expressed in many ways. Take stepping for example,
it is important to settle the stepping foot on the ground and grab the ground with the toes.
If the knee is shifted forward too fast without grabbing the floor with the toes and settling the foot,
then the foot is empty and no jin is there.
You have to settle your weight in the feet and grab the floor and then move the body forward with the feet rooted.
When you have your root in your feet, the the legs, your fundamental roots and foundation, are
in your feet.
Once this is developed, the jin comes up through the legs, to the waist, and the rest of body. If you have an empty foot as you move,
then upper and lower body will be without coordination and not have a unified force." -Yang zhen Dou
Tai Chi magazine Vol. 22 No. 1
www.taichifighter.com
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Audi » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:39 pm

Hi mls,

The method you have quoted was one of the methods that took me a long time to warm up to. A phrase like "grabbing the ground with the toes" seemed so different from the "relax, relax" method I had first read about that I was reluctant to give it serious consideration. I actually decided to "leave it on the shelf" for many years and hope that experience and further teaching would lead me in the right direction.

I think I only began to feel completely comfortable with the idea of grabbing with the toes because of two things. First, I learned and felt the importance of not fulling bending the front knee until that foot was fully rooted. Second, I was at a seminar where Master Yang talked about shifting the weight off the front foot and releasing the toes to unlock the foot from the ground to prepare to step with it. This instruction about what to do in reverse fully solidified for me what feelings to look for.

On a similar note, one of the warm ups I do is a squat with the feet and knees together. If I do this without engaging the toes, I don't like the feeling it gives in my knees and makes me feel I am on the edge of damaging them. When I do engage the toes, I have no such feeling and have no problems with my knees.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:37 pm

"Keep your knee in line with your toes", is an oft quoted expression in TCC.
If you do not grab the ground firmly but gently with your toes, then you cannot keep your knees from oscillating.
If your knees are oscillating even a tiny amount then there is no way to keep them in line with the toes and your lower body structure becomes weak.
Even in Empty Stance you must still "grip the ground" with the empty foot.
It is more through intent than physical, but it still has to be done.
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby fchai » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:43 am

Greetings,
Sorry but I can't grab the ground with my toes 'cos I have on my shoes. So I suspect that you are not being literal. It is a most peculiar bit of phrasing. I understand rooting but grabbing with toes is quite perplexing. Lol. Sorry. Perhaps gripping with the foot might be a slight better description? The reason being that this also includes the sole and the yongquan (bubbling well) being engaged.
Take care.
Frank
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:28 pm

fchai wrote:Greetings,
Sorry but I can't grab the ground with my toes 'cos I have on my shoes. So I suspect that you are not being literal. It is a most peculiar bit of phrasing. I understand rooting but grabbing with toes is quite perplexing. Lol. Sorry. Perhaps gripping with the foot might be a slight better description? The reason being that this also includes the sole and the yongquan (bubbling well) being engaged.
Take care.
Frank

Greetings! Frank

I don't want to pretend that I knew everything and be a smart you know what. :oops:

IMMHO Grabbing the floor with the toes while wearing Kung Fu shoes is much more effective than barefooted. It is because that there is more cushion between the floor and the feet. The trick is to sink the weight into the floor through the sole of the shoe by the powerful jin in the legs. That is called good rooting if you know what I meant? :)
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Audi » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:25 pm

Greetings all,

Sorry but I can't grab the ground with my toes 'cos I have on my shoes. So I suspect that you are not being literal. It is a most peculiar bit of phrasing. I understand rooting but grabbing with toes is quite perplexing. Lol. Sorry. Perhaps gripping with the foot might be a slight better description? The reason being that this also includes the sole and the yongquan (bubbling well) being engaged.


I can't literally grab the ground with my toes even whole barefoot :)

Here is how I experience it in plainer language.

As I step out with my leg, I extend my heel for distance. This causes jin, muscular tension, or whatever to extend into the top of my foot and slightly elevate my toes. I send no mental command at all to my toes, so the elevation of the toes is only slight and results purely from the connection between their tendons or muscles with the those in the top of my foot.

Right after my heel lands, I begin to use the thrusting energy from my back leg (and not gravity!) to extend the amount of contact between my heel and the floor so that I can feel for purchase (kind of like friction) against the floor. This same motion begins to flatten the foot against the floor and causes me to reach toward the bubbling well in the front foot. At the some time, my front knee bends, but only very slightly, perhaps only 20% of the way towards its final position.

You can test this procedure so far in an application of Lifting Hands with a careful opponent. I can supply details of how I do it.

As the whole sole of the foot begins to contact the ground, the pressure of the sole against the grounds changes the effect on the tendons attached to the toes and causes them passively to flatten out as well. Again, I send no particular mental commands to my toes to make this happen. When the toes flatten, I begin the rooting process and the "supporting" action (撑 or cheng) of the front foot.

As I continue the rooting process, I begin gradually pressing my toes against the ground (or the bottom of my shoe) and bending my front knee. This changes the tendon dynamic in my lower leg to fully create the supporting the action of the front foot. This is what I understand as "grabbing with the toes."

You can feel the reverse of this process in our version of the transition between Brush Knee Left and Brush Knee Right. In this transition, you push your weight back with the left foot, which is in front. The pushing is facilitated by the pressure of the toes pressing against the ground. Once you have shifted "some" weight, your left foot still feels locked against the ground. To unlock it, release the pressure of your toes to let them passively flatten out and then lift the foot. As you lift the foot, the toes passively curl up a little bit and then you can smoothly pivot the foot out and continue the transition.

By the way, at least for me, I do not grab the ground as I have described above during an empty stance. My entire foot and the toes are "engaged," as I have described above; but I do not send any particular mental command to my toes, and they remain passively curled slightly upward.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:36 pm

"Grip the ground with your toes"...
Yeah, not exactly evocative of what's actually going on there.
I teach it the way I understand it, as that's all I can do.
I explain that it's a metaphor, not something that you're actually going to be able to do.
That seems to happen a LOT in Tai Chi Chuan...
Anyway, I teach not to crunch the toes into the ground with a force like Superman trying to stop a train.
That's just going to induce stiffness, which is the exact opposite of what we're going for.
Instead, I teach to "extend" across the top of the foot and allow that extension to be what "grips the ground".
Also, not to only "grip" with the toes but with the bottom of the entire foot as well.
Sort of my take on Chen Man Ching's "three nails", but with a personal twist of my own. Naturally.
I teach to consider the foot as a plunger, just like the kind used to plunge a commode (to be PC about it).
Consider the bottom of the foot to be like the bottom lip of the plunger, equally gripping the ground at all points along the outside edge (including the toes).
I further teach to consider the "bubbling well" point to be where the handle of the plunger is attached and use the "bubbling upwards" sensation that originates from there as the gentle pull that is used to allow the foot to "grip" the ground.
Strange?
Definitely.
Also very effective.
That lesson has never failed to instill a greater feeling of "gripping the ground" or "rootedness" (not a word, I know but it's what I use) in a student.
And I've been using this lesson for over twenty years.
If this concept works for you, great. Steal it and move on with my absolute blessing.
If it does not...
No worries.
Always use what works best for you.

Cheers
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:48 pm

Audi,
Regarding this:
"I do not grab the ground as I have described above during an empty stance. My entire foot and the toes are "engaged," as I have described above; but I do not send any particular mental command to my toes, and they remain passively curled slightly upward."
If that's how it works for you then by all means continue. Everyone has their own way of doing things.
However, try it like this next time just to see how it works for you.
Use the same "gripping" intent with your empty foot that you are using with the full one (obviously, I hope, I am speaking of empty/full weight here).
See how that feels for you.
For the sake of others, I know you know this, I will reiterate not to induce tension as you do this. Simply "extend" across the top of your foot and think of the plunger. ;o)
Let me know if that does anything for you.
Also, if it doesn't.

Bob
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Audi » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:03 pm

Hi Bob,

If that's how it works for you then by all means continue. Everyone has their own way of doing things.
However, try it like this next time just to see how it works for you.
Use the same "gripping" intent with your empty foot that you are using with the full one (obviously, I hope, I am speaking of empty/full weight here).
See how that feels for you.


Sometimes there are equally good ways to do something. Sometimes not. Sometimes there are equally good ways to describe the same thing, but sometimes not. Sometimes people feel differently about the same reality, but sometimes this indicates that there really is a different reality after all. It is hard for us to know what the other is talking about without being in each other's presence. Sometimes it is hard even then.

For the sake of others, I know you know this, I will reiterate not to induce tension as you do this. Simply "extend" across the top of your foot and think of the plunger. ;o)


I will confess to liking the toilet plunger image somewhat, if we want to stick to thinks we might actually experience in everyday life. That image captures what I feel, except that, until my toes contact the ground there is nothing for them to grip.

An alternative image might be striking your palm against a wall. At first, you kind of pull the fingers back somewhat so that the palm can contact first or with more pressure. You can mimic this now in front of your body with your right hand. Then press lightly with one of the fingers of the left against the point that corresponds to the bubbling wellspring in the foot. You will notice that this pressing action against the tendons in your hand makes the fingers of the right hand curl up slightly. This is what my toes do as I engage the bubbling well spring in my foot. The engagement is activated by the action of the tendons in the whole foot.

Since my “toe-against-ground” technique is sequential, I do not have an opportunity to do it yet when only my heel is touching in an empty stance. I am still reaching out and feeling the “pole” of my lower leg pushing through the center of the “plunger” in my foot.

In an empty stance with the ball of the foot touching, I am less certain about what is correct. In this case, I am trying internally to extend the ball of my foot and don’t like what I feel when I also press down against the floor with my toes. I just leave them in place with the tendons in the foot all doing supporting the extension of the ball of my foot.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:13 pm

Audi,
Thanks for trying and letting me know how that works for you.
Like I said, everyone feels and does things differently so some people have to do things one way and others do it differently. The important thing is to find what works for you and then do that.
For instance...
Some folks have breathing patterns tied intrinsically in to their movement patterns, for them it works perfectly and they see no reason to change. Yet for me all that does is confuse me, so I don't do it.
Same thing here.
I have always thought of "gripping without gripping" in empty stance, it's just how it works for me so it never occurred to me do it differently.
On that note, I took an informal survey in our Saturday morning class. I asked everyone who showed up how they do this particular thing.
It was about 50/50, some "emptily gripped", some didn't using a method very similar to what you describe.
I then had one of my students apply various energies against me while I used empty stance both ways.
For me empty stance only worked if I emptily grip the air while doing it. Otherwise my energy, or maybe my root?, followed the energy in the direction of my upward or forward pointing toes.
In other words, I was constantly being offset when not "gripping" emptily as I attempted to follow the energies being applied. Instead of my being able to redirect it pretty much anywhere I needed it to go, instead it just flew upwards or forwards following my front foots toe direction.
I then did the same to one of my students who reported that they don't grip.
Same result, only backwards.
Long, long ago I figured out that people have differences in their bodies. Everyone is unique, so their practice of TCC is going to be unique as well.
Sure, there's "sets" of folks who will fall into general patterns, but then you'll find that on some things a "generally rule" simply doesn't work for someone.
At that point, as a teacher, I always have to figure something that will work for that person, or those people.
This is obviously one of those things.
Keep on doing what works for you once you find it.
I have long understood that trying to force your TCC to meet all the "generally rules" exactly is a very bad idea.
You are not identical to anyone else, even identical twins have some differences in how things work for them, so while we can certainly have "generally rules"...
That's why they're "generally" the rule.
Nothing about this art is written in stone because there is nothing that will work for simply everyone 100% of the time.
But...
I sure wish there was!
That would make life as a teacher MUCH easier!
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby ChiDragon » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:01 am

mls_72 wrote:
Tai Chi: ".......... Take stepping for example,
1. It is important to settle the stepping foot on the ground and grab the ground with the toes.

2. If the knee is shifted forward too fast without grabbing the floor with the toes and settling the foot,
then the foot is empty and no jin is there.

3. You have to settle your weight in the feet and grab the floor and then move the body forward with the feet rooted. When you have your root in your feet and the legs, your fundamental roots and foundation, are in your feet.

4. Once this is developed, the jin comes up through the legs, to the waist, and the rest of body.

5.If you have an empty foot as you move, then, the upper and lower body will be without coordination and not have a unified force." -Yang zhen Dou
Tai Chi magazine Vol. 22 No. 1

Audi wrote:As the whole sole of the foot begins to contact the ground, the pressure of the sole against the grounds changes the effect on the tendons attached to the toes and causes them passively to flatten out as well...... When the toes flatten, I begin the rooting process and the "supporting" action (撑 or cheng) of the front foot.

As I continue the rooting process, I begin gradually pressing my toes against the ground (or the bottom of my shoe) and bending my front knee. This changes the tendon dynamic in my lower leg to fully create the supporting the action of the front foot. This is what I understand as "grabbing with the toes."

You can feel the reverse of this process in our version of the transition between Brush Knee Left and Brush Knee Right. In this transition, you push your weight back with the left foot, which is in front. The pushing is facilitated by the pressure of the toes pressing against the ground. Once you have shifted "some" weight, your left foot still feels locked against the ground. To unlock it, release the pressure of your toes to let them passively flatten out and then lift the foot. As you lift the foot, the toes passively curl up a little bit and then you can smoothly pivot the foot out and continue the transition.


Greetings!
It seems to me that Audi has a good grip on the ground as well on the subject matter. The phrase "grabbing the floor" should not be taken too literally. In reality, one cannot grab the floor with the toes. As Audi points out, it simply flatten the toes to have the sole fully in contact with the floor. In result, it gives more leverage for the body to stand up with greater balance. Of course, if one take a deep breath, then it will prevent the leg from oscillation as Bob had mentioned. Please believe me, without the deep breathe one cannot grip the floor nor standing up too long. Most definitely, item #4 will not happen.

Audi wrote:By the way, at least for me, I do not grab the ground as I have described above during an empty stance.

That is exactly what item #5 implies.
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:39 pm

Actually, I think Yang Laoshi is pretty clear:
"You have to settle your weight in the feet and grab the floor and then move the body forward with the feet rooted. When you have your root in your feet and the legs, your fundamental roots and foundation, are in your feet."
I believe it should be pointed out that he doesn't say "foot" anywhere, but he repeatedly says "feet". Four times, in fact.
I'm rereading it now, just to be clear, and...
I guess I'm still missing the part where he says, "Well, EXCEPT for in empty stance. Don't grip with your toes there."

You know...
Some of us here have been practicing this art for a day or two and we've figured out one or two things about it.
If we're all still this confused about something like this to the point where we're having an ongoing back and forth discussion over it, quoting Masters and Classic treatises to bolster our own personal points of view...
I can't even imagine what someone who's just getting started would make of this kind of discussion!
I picture their thought process going something like this, "Look at these clowns! They can't even agree on how to hold their damned toes! What a pack of..." :lol:
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:32 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:.....I believe it should be pointed out that he doesn't say "foot" anywhere, but he repeatedly says "feet". Four times, in fact.
I'm rereading it now, just to be clear, and...
I guess I'm still missing the part where he says, "Well, EXCEPT for in empty stance. Don't grip with your toes there."



Hi..Bob
I just love to read your posts. They amuse me.

One could grab the floor with the toes on one foot or both feet; but not when the foot is not fully in contact with the floor. The toes require the heel for leverage to grab the floor. AND it is what the phrase "Well, EXCEPT for in empty stance. Don't grip with your toes there." implies.

I think that "empty stance" means that the foot in not fully in contact with the floor.
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:44 pm

I honestly have no horse in the "grip in empty stance" or "don't grip in empty stance" race.
I know how I do it and what I do works for me.
Up to each person to make their own decision based on their own best practices.
I recommend trying this both ways and see which one works for you, then do that.

Ah, the age old question: Why do they call it "empty stance"?
I have a theory, it is only MY theory and it's based on something rather tenuous.
Still, I like it.
In the older series of training DVD's that Yang Zhen Duo stars in the translator calls the "empty stance" "empty fullness stance" every time he reads it.
Now, if that is anywhere near accurate it answers the question for me clearly.
Front leg is "empty" of weight but "full" of energy.
Hence, "empty weight/full energy stance".
Which makes perfect sense.
Is that correct?
I honestly have no idea.
It does describe, rather succinctly, what is actually going on.
So it makes sense.
To me anyway.
Which doesn't mean it has to make any actual sense at all.
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Re: Jin- starts in the feet YZD

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:58 pm

Hi, Bob
The empty stance is, only, when the ball of the foot touching the ground. The front leg uses this application in "the white crane spread its wings."

In a bow stance, only 30 to 40% of the weight was applied to the foot of the front leg. It is considered to be an hollow foot(虛腳) because the foot was not firmly in contact with the ground. In English, it is called an empty stance.

In a full stance, the sole of the foot is firmly in contact with the ground, and 60 to 70% of the weight was applied to the leg. The Chinese referred it as a "solid foot(實腳)." You can grab the floor with the toes on this leg. The hind leg uses this application is in a bow stance. 

A horse stance is when the soles of both feet are flat to the ground like Zhan Zhuang(站樁). This is where one can grab the floor with the toes. It should be done with the knees bent and aligned with the toes. Otherwise, if the weight was only applied to the heels, then, one will rock back and forth. When the knees are aligned with the toes, the toes can grab the floor with no problem and the rocking movement may be avoided.

Edited to make corrections and avoid confusion.
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