Breathing and the Form

Postby psalchemist » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:21 pm

Hi Kalamondin,

Pondering your words...I am wondering now if you meant absorbing in reference to the opponents momentum...Is that it?

Thanks,
Psalchemist
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Postby Anderzander » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:55 pm

I'm pretty much with Kalmondin with the split.

The body rotates, striking the opponent whilst attracting his movement.

The key to the strike being that the energy is split - energy is released (like a stone from a sling shot) from one side whilst the other side remains connected and attracts their movement.

The punch (after parry and puch) can be this, brush knee can be this, separate foot can be this etc

The body turns and the energy shoots out. Striking

edit:

after I wrote this I read a few relevant passages in Wile's touchstones:

the song of split (attributed to T'an Meng-hsien)

"How can we explain the energy of split?
Revolving like a flywheel,
If something is thrown against it,
It will be cast off a great distance.
Whirlpools appear in swift flowing streams,
And the curling waves are like spirals.
If a falling leaf lands on their surface,
In no time it will sink from sight."


secrets of the applications of the 13 postures:

"When the attack is fierce, use the technique split"


the secrets of the 18 loci:

"pull-down is in the fingers.
split is in the two forearms"

Stephen

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 06-03-2005).]
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:06 am

Whilst here - the energy of my press is the energy of both arms combined into a single point. It changes the direction of Peng.

Usually towards a single point within the opponents body. By working into the opponent from two directions we are better able to feel where he is empty and full.

edit:

after I wrote this I read a few relevant passages in Wile's touchstones:

Secret of the Five Character Classic:

"When we use press our opponent's full and empty will appear"


Secrets of the 18 loci

"Ward-off is in the two arms.
Press is in the back of the hand"


The Song of Press

"How can we explain the energy of press?
Sometimes we use two sides
To directly receive a single intention.
Meeting and combining in one movement,
We indirectly receive the force of the reaction.
This is like a ball bouncing off a wall,
Or a coin dropped on a drum,
Which bounces up with a metallic sound."

Stephen



[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 06-03-2005).]
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Postby Audi » Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:02 pm

Greetings Stephen, DPasek, Kal, and fellow enthusiasts,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>What did you think of Kou Lien Ying's description of the 8 energies?

They, from memory, seem similar to what you and CFC have been discussing.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Stephen, I have very fond of Kuo's book and his descriptions. There are a number of things he explores that are not discussed much elsewhere. I particularly like his situational analyses.

Some of what Kuo says, however, implies some slight contradictions with other teaching I have received. For instance, I believe I recall him saying that An ("Push") was an instance of energy divided, presumably with reference to using the two palms. I have been taught that An can be done with one hand. Similarly, Kuo talks about Ji ("Press") about being energy combined, presumably with reference to the joining of the arms. I have been taught that Ji can be done with one arm. Lastly, Kuo refers to "moving energy" and "striking energy" in ways I do not understand.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Strike – striking the opponents body whilst attracting his movement</font>


This quote from your site is something that I attribute more to the circumstances for which Lie was "designed" than to the intent of the energy itself. In other words, as you are being "forced from the circle," you have a means of using the opponent's energy to strike back. For me, this is also linked to the idea of rotation. Something comes forward and is returned back. Many of your definitions include aspects that I attribute more to "design" purposes than to the nature of the energy themselves.

The other reservation I have about Kuo's excellent book is the emphasis on theorizing itself. The most authoritative and pertinent teaching I have received about the eight Jins I received in the space of about five minutes each. I agree with cheefatt taichi that the Jins are essentially simple things and variations on a single them. The only nuance of a difference I may have is that I apply the onion imagery to them and think there may be value to peeling away additional layers of their depth in the manner Kuo does in his book. For instance, what is the location of the typical Jin point? Where does it typically fit in during an engagement with the opponent? I also understand that the Jins are fundamentally internal, rather than external things. Internals are harder to understand than externals.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> view Lie (Split/Tear/Rend/Wring/Snap…) as any force-couple (force applied in opposing directions) whether applied quickly or slowly. </font>


DPasek,

I have also heard this formulation applied by Yang Stylists before and find the idea of an opposing force coupling quite elegant. Where I wonder about its full applicability is that there are many places in the Yang form were the arms have opposing movement, but I have not heard talk of Lie. Frequent examples are where one arm is "scraped" by another in an attempt to free a grip or set up a particular force relationship. This happens in Apparent Closure, Fan through the Back, the transition into Needle at See Bottom, and the transitions into each of the corners of Fair Lady Workds the Shuttles.

Some of what you list as Lie fits in with my understanding of what rotation means in this case. By rotation, I mean what a ferris wheel does. Something comes forward to drive something back. For me, "spliting wood" is fundamentally different, since the relation betwee Yin and Yang is different. The energy does not circulate between them in the same way. There is also no issue of "snap" when we talk of splitting wood, only of speed and sharpness of contact.

"Tear" is an ambiguous case. An example of "tearing" was actually put to me authoritatively as one explanation of what qualties Lie should have. Unfortunately, the object being described (I believe a type of pad) was unknown to me; however, I believe I followed the essentials of the explanation and can give an equivalent example.

Bascially the teaching described what happens with rolls of plastic bags in U.S. supermarkets. If you try to jerk a bag free from the roll with the wrong action, it merely pulls a long string of linked bags out of the roll and your purpose is frustrated. If you jerk the bag with the correct quality of short, sharp force (What I have described as "snap"), a single bag can be separated with very little force and great accuracy. I am actually ignorant of the actual truth of this or the real underlying physics, but this is indeed the psychological impression I have.

The actual example used in my instruction involved separating a sheet of paper from some sort of pad, again with a clean, snappy motion. With the right motion, their was a clean separation. With the wrong motion, nothing happened. I am unsure where the Ferris Wheel rotation fits in with this example, but I think the direction of the snappy motion with reference to the underlying surface can also be a factor. In other words, the direction of the tear may need to have some rotational quality as it peels away from the surface.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>As the opponent pushes in on your arm, you simultaneously lift and rotate it, such that their pushing arm is carried away and to the side. This can happen in any variation of up, down, to the side, or any diagonal—but as mentioned elsewhere, it has an expansive outward flavor. You can see it in the right arm of White Crane Spreads Wings, and also in Fan through the Back, which is similar to Cloud Hands in that the Ward Off transforms into Pluck. There’s a rotation, but it’s rotating away not in (as I would characterize Roll Back).
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Kal,

This also accords with how Fair Lady Works the Shuttles is described. I have only heard Ward Off discussed in this context. I wonder, however, if the operative factor here is the direction of movement, rather than the presence or absence of arm rotation per se.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Even smaller than these Roll Backs is the one in single-arm figure 8 push hands. There’s a transition from Ward Off to Lu: the hand rotates palm up and one uses the forearm to cover/deflect the opponent’s push downward and to the outside.</font>


I agree with this, but what about the simple horizontal single-hand circle? From what you describe, it does not contain any Lu at all. Do you see this exercise as only an alternation between Ward Off and Push? I ask about this particularly because this motion seems directly comparable to Cloud Hands, a rotation that receives the opponent's force, absorbs some Jin and leads it to the side.

Much of how you describe Lu I have attributed to the necessary mechanics of effective performance, rather than to what is necessary to describe its internal qualities (whatever that means Image). If someone asked me to show how to do Lu, I would do it exactly as how you have described it. If, however, someone asked me where Lu is in the form, I would be tempted to point out many other places where you accept oncoming force and divert it to the side with some sort of rotation peformed or led by the waist. In other words, I am distinguishing between how to use Lu effectively as the lead energy and how Lu might interact and combine with other energies.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Audi, I think “split” does mean to divide into two pieces. I don’t agree with the above; I think the word “split” does describe accurately how the energy is deployed and also what happens to the opponent.</font>


I hope this is so, because it would make things simpler. One final reason I have resisted adopting this definition is that I have heard from one native speaker of the Hebei dialect of Chinese that "split" is really not correct. I have difficulty coming up with a good English equivalent of what he describes, but I think it is what is behind those who translate Lie as "thrash." Basically, this person said that Lie refers to the slapping arm motion that occurs in Flying Diagonal.

An argument in favor of this viewpoint is that the character for Lie is unique to Taijiquan and is different for the character that is used in the meaning of "split," "come apart," "crack or rip open," etc. A possible explanation for this is that Lie is a dialect word distinct from the other word and had no established character to express its meaning. The first scholar(s) recording the oral tradition would then have been forced to invent a character for it. A contrary possibility is that the two words really are the same, but the first scholar(s) simply decided to introduce a slight refinement of meaning and create a more specific character. Of course, the change in character could also simply be a scribal mistake that has been passed on by tradition.

The views I have expressed above rest on my own speculation that the two words are the same, but that a refinement of meaning specific to Taijiquan has indeed developed to justify the use of different characters and to distinguish a different range of meaning. This leaves a lot of overlap, but leaves unclear what is the key internal part of what makes Lie Lie.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>Revolving like a flywheel,
If something is thrown against it,
It will be cast off a great distance.
Whirlpools appear in swift flowing streams,
And the curling waves are like spirals.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Stephen,

"Revolving," "flywheel," and "whirlpools" are all instances of what I meant by rotation. They also accord with the applications I have been shown. Some of these involve the use of circular leverage, but others, like Flying Diagonal do not.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The body rotates, striking the opponent whilst attracting his movement.</font>


If I apply this to Flying Diagonal, I would assume that using Zhan or using a high degree of energy in the left hand Pull Down (Cai/ts'ai) would be necessary to meet the definition of attacting movement. In contrast, such techniques should not be necessary in order to emphasise Ward Off and Shoulder Stroke in Parting Wild Horse's Mane. I must say, however, that I do not feel such a distinction in my form. A contrary argument could be that the scenario underlying Flying Diagonal inherently involves an opponent who is closing with greater force than in Parting Wild Horse's Mane.

Another place I have difficulty with "attracting movement" as distinct from the idea of Ferris Wheel rotation is in Needle at Sea Bottom. If the Qin Na break is an instance of Lie, where do you see the simultaneous "attracting movement"? I see rotation in the unusual angle of the palm, but am not sure that I am trying to bring the opponent's energy closer to me as I bend forward.

All of this stuff is very interesting. I certainly do not have answers. I also wonder if it is necessary to have one set of answers. I think the theory of the 13 postures implies a complete system, but I am not sure it requires that all pieces by identical or that they serve quite the same role withing the theory. Part of the difficulty in nailing definitions down is dealing with what an energy is designed for and what an energy can be used for. Elbow is a good example of a powerful energy that is nonetheless not supposed to be our first line of defense.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Anderzander » Sun Jun 05, 2005 5:49 pm

Hi Audi

thanks for the reply :-) I have answered your post a bit out of sequence..

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The other reservation I have about Kuo's excellent book is the emphasis on theorizing itself. The most authoritative and pertinent teaching I have received about the eight Jins I received in the space of about five minutes each.</font>


I feel that if perhaps if we could have crossed hands with him he could have made himself clear in five minutes too. The nature of writing limits us to theory - and the limit is one's language as much as ones skill. This board being no exception :-)

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I agree with cheefatt taichi that the Jins are essentially simple things and variations on a single them. The only nuance of a difference I may have is that I apply the onion imagery to them and think there may be value to peeling away additional layers of their depth in the manner Kuo does in his book. For instance, what is the location of the typical Jin point? Where does it typically fit in during an engagement with the opponent? I also understand that the Jins are fundamentally internal, rather than external things. Internals are harder to understand than externals.</font>


I agree - if one is practicing jin and has peng, then the eight jin can be clarified very quickly in person (or if the right words are used). It is easy for those who know or are ready. To someone who who has no peng - it would be hard indeed. And to write about... even if both knew it in their bodies they would need to have a similar theory to describe it and to be able to relate to each other. Again the limits of writing.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>Stephen, I have very fond of Kuo's book and his descriptions. There are a number of things he explores that are not discussed much elsewhere. I particularly like his situational analyses.

Some of what Kuo says, however, implies some slight contradictions with other teaching I have received. For instance, I believe I recall him saying that An ("Push") was an instance of energy divided, presumably with reference to using the two palms. I have been taught that An can be done with one hand. Similarly, Kuo talks about Ji ("Press") about being energy combined, presumably with reference to the joining of the arms. I have been taught that Ji can be done with one arm. Lastly, Kuo refers to "moving energy" and "striking energy" in ways I do not understand.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am no expert on Kuo's taiji and it is quite some years since I read it - so I may be awry, but:

I remember him saying An was peng drawn down and forwards and could be one handed or two. I believe his alusion to energy divided was that the 'streams of strength' )for want of a better term) were not convergent.

Ji was convergent 'streams of strength' - the concept of joined being the jin (or yi if you are working with emptiness) were combined at a point within the opponent. (thus the ability to discern empty and full - like feeling something with two hands).

The way this energy (Ji) was practiced in the form (ie with the hands touching) being different to it's application with a partner. (Much like a punch being extended in the absence of someone to hit I suppose).

Some of that still seems different (contradictory) to what you have described - but it may have clarified an alternate perspective a little?


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This quote from your site is something that I attribute more to the circumstances for which Lie was "designed" than to the intent of the energy itself. In other words, as you are being "forced from the circle," you have a means of using the opponent's energy to strike back. For me, this is also linked to the idea of rotation. Something comes forward and is returned back. Many of your definitions include aspects that I attribute more to "design" purposes than to the nature of the energy themselves.</font>


Yes - I wrote those things (several years ago now) from the perspective of application of the jin rather than the nature of it. I think that still provides input into the nature of the energy too.

Like in ball sports - focusing where you want the ball to go influences the technique. If you solely concentrated on the technique of striking/kicking/throwing it - well the techniqique would be different and not complete.

I have written on here not so long ago that my taiji was turned on its head and after many years of focusing on the 8 jin. I am now practicing a method based on the use of just Lu (roll back) and central equilibrium.

I used to stick(push) with the best wing chun people I could find (in the uk) to practice the 4 corners. I learnt a lot about the nature of the energies and their application from that - and would reccomend it if it seemed at all apporpriate to anyone.



[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 06-05-2005).]
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Postby Anderzander » Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:10 pm

Oops! - I missed replying to this other bit Audi.

Unfurtunately though - as I practice my taiji through CMC's shortened form - I am not familiar with Parting Wild Horse's Mane and Needle at Sea Bottom.

Two of your three examples!

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B> If I apply this to Flying Diagonal, I would assume that using Zhan or using a high degree of energy in the left hand Pull Down (Cai/ts'ai) would be necessary to meet the definition of attacting movement. In contrast, such techniques should not be necessary in order to emphasise Ward Off and Shoulder Stroke in Parting Wild Horse's Mane. I must say, however, that I do not feel such a distinction in my form. A contrary argument could be that the scenario underlying Flying Diagonal inherently involves an opponent who is closing with greater force than in Parting Wild Horse's Mane.

Another place I have difficulty with "attracting movement" as distinct from the idea of Ferris Wheel rotation is in Needle at Sea Bottom. If the Qin Na break is an instance of Lie, where do you see the simultaneous "attracting movement"? I see rotation in the unusual angle of the palm, but am not sure that I am trying to bring the opponent's energy closer to me as I bend forward.
Take care,
Audi</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Perhaps all I can say is to add a bit more info from this perspective:

The body rotates, to a great or tiny degree, and the hand (although it can be a foot etc) shoots out. The other hand balances with it's energy often being drawn in and down (like lu)

This is the hand that attracts - it can manifest it's energy (like pluck) or not. It can be moved greatly by the energy manifesting or hardly at all with the energy concealed.

The energy is the same - but how it is manifested is not. Endless possibilities create a large number of forms - but the princpile remains the same.
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Postby DPasek » Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:27 pm

Audi,
Perhaps I should have been more careful in my illustrations of Lie earlier. While they are all examples of split energy force-couples, not all of them illustrate Lie applications particularly well. I think that the force-couple would have to be applied to the opponent for the application to be classified as Lie. Thus your examples of brushing off an opponent's grip on your arm in various movements would be an example of splitting your own energy in your two arms, but it would not be a Lie application since you are not forcing the opponent's body into opposing directions (no force-couple against them). Needle at Sea Bottom illustrates this well. If you use Qina in this move, then it would be Lie [the force couple would be pulling the hand/fingers which are trapped against your arm with your left hand, while the right hand circles over their wrist and pushes against it], but if you did not trap their grabbing hand with your left hand, then the circling right hand could be used to break their grip but would do so without applying the force-couple (push but no pull). Since it would not be a force-couple against them, it would not be a Lie application. This could probably also be applied to the quote you had saying "Strike - striking the opponents body whilst attracting his movement" where the strike is away from you while "attracting" another part of their body towards you. A simple strike would not be Lie, but a strike while pulling another part of their body towards you could be Lie. For example, Repulsing Monkey could be a Lie application if used to pull a kicking leg towards you while pushing (or striking) their head. This would be using a force-couple against them. Of course the identical move could be performed without being Lie if one were to only deflect with the non-striking hand rather than drawing them toward you with that hand.

However this energy is applied, if thought of as a force-couple then the effect on an opponent would be to make one part of their body go in one direction while another part goes the opposite direction; "the effect on the opponent" is necessarily dependent on "how the energy is deployed". The illustration of this for Yang Style would be the differences in force application between Diagonal Flying (Lie energy) and Parting Wild Horse's Mane (Peng energy), even though the physical movements share many similarities.

I don't mind the use of the word "split" for Lie although, according to my understanding of the energy, force-couple would be more inclusive of variations in how this force could manifest.

I agree with you that the character for Lie, according to my understanding, was invented for this type of jin used in Taijiquan rather than being a standard character, and thus that the components chosen for this character should be very important for understanding the meaning that they intend to convey. Unfortunately, the choice does not seem particularly clear to me. Perhaps someone like Louis Swaim could shed some light on this matter.

Here are my speculations. The hand element (Shou ÊÖ) was added as the radical to the left of the phonetic Lie in order to indicate hand skill rather than what the character used as the phonetic originally meant. The Lie (ÁÐ) that I have in my Taijiquan texts is the one with the element Dai (´õ) to the left and Dao (µ¶) on the right. While this seems to mean something like to separate/arrange into a list (not particularly martial in meaning, nor is it particularly close to what I understand Lie to mean in Taijiquan), I guess it could mean something like vicious knife (although my dictionaries do not translate it that way). The more appropriate Lie (ÁÑ) phonetic element would seem to be the one with the previous elements above the element for cloths and which my dictionaries translate something like split/crack, rend/rip open, etc.. Why is the first Lie used rather than the second? Was it a phonetic transliteration mistake, and if so, why was it not corrected? Was the choice purposeful, and if so, why would the character closer in meaning not be used? Perhaps, if this was actually the character chosen, the idea of ripping/rending/splitting clothing is not the best image for a martial art where the desired effect is actually to the opponent (not their clothing). Perhaps this first Lie character (ÁÐ) could have been thought to still carry some of the implied meaning of the second Lie (ÁÑ) without the clothing confusing the martial meaning?

Thoughts?
DP
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Postby Audi » Tue Jun 07, 2005 1:09 am

Greetings Stephen, DP, and all others,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>I remember him saying An was peng drawn down and forwards and could be one handed or two. I believe his alusion to energy divided was that the 'streams of strength' )for want of a better term) were not convergent.

Ji was convergent 'streams of strength' - the concept of joined being the jin (or yi if you are working with emptiness) were combined at a point within the opponent. (thus the ability to discern empty and full - like feeling something with two hands).

The way this energy (Ji) was practiced in the form (ie with the hands touching) being different to it's application with a partner. (Much like a punch being extended in the absence of someone to hit I suppose).</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, I can see how this makes sense. Thanks for the amplification. I do think this is an example, however, of the type of theory in Kuo's book that I find interesting, helpful, rare, and esoteric all at once. As you say, how to discuss internal things in print?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I have written on here not so long ago that my taiji was turned on its head and after many years of focusing on the 8 jin. I am now practicing a method based on the use of just Lu (roll back) and central equilibrium.</font>


I must confess I do not recall this. Could you amplify on your motivation when and where appropriate? Why do you see this as the key to your practice and what method do you actually use.

DP,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Perhaps I should have been more careful in my illustrations of Lie earlier. While they are all examples of split energy force-couples, not all of them illustrate Lie applications particularly well. I think that the force-couple would have to be applied to the opponent for the application to be classified as Lie. Thus your examples of brushing off an opponent's grip on your arm in various movements would be an example of splitting your own energy in your two arms, but it would not be a Lie application since you are not forcing the opponent's body into opposing directions (no force-couple against them).</font>


In all the applications I cited, I would argue that we are indeed forcing the opponent's body into opposing directions. In the "brushing off" examples, the opponent's arm is pulled and pushed at the same time. The pulling is key to the applications, although it is not necessarily important that the opponent's grip actually be broken.

Another aspect of the force couple that makes me wonder is that Yang Jun also peforms Ward Off Right (and maybe Ward Off Left) with opposing forces applied to the opponent. It would not particularly trouble me if this was instance of mixing Split with Ward Off Energy, since this also happens with Rollback; and yet, this would seem to make Split pop up all over the form.

How about High Pat on Horse and Thrusting Palm? How about Turn the Body and Lotus Kick? Strike Tiger Left and Right? For me, all these imply opposing motion applied against the opponent's body. And yet, I am not sure opposition feels all that prominent to me even in Flying Diagonal, as opposed to the whirling and the snappiness. I have never been instructed to use much vigor in pulling the opponent in the opposite direction of the arm strike.


As for the origins of the Lie character, I think your speculations are as good as any. I should caution, however, that I see speculations about character origins in the literature that have good precedent in Chinese literature, but seem to go far beyond what historical research has suggested was the actual method used to create characters.

When characters were originally created, it appears that scribes engaged in far less philosophy and analysis of individual components than you might think. There are actually relatively few cases where all the individual components of a character lend individual meaning to the whole. In other words, it is far more likely that the phonetic element of the Taiji "Lie" was chosen for its meaning as a character on its own than that its individual components were separately chosen to represent any particular meaning individually.

My speculation is that the first person to write down Lie was uncertain about its meaning and so was not sure what character to use. He was probably writing down material communicated in dialect and so might even have been unsure whether the word existed in the Classical Chinese he was trying to write. In such situations, scribes typically substituted characters with similar pronunciations and simply went on writing. In this case, the Lie that means "line up, arrange" is a common character and a likely candidate for such substitution.

The addition of the hand radical on the left would also make sense, because it would help clarify that "line up, arrange" was not its meaning or that a separate character specific to Taijiquan was in order. If memory serves, one of Yang Chengfu's books has unique charaters for Lu that have an additional hand radical that appears in no other documents or dictionaries I have.

The Lie that means "rip open, crack open, split" would also have worked as a borrowed character, but is more complex and harder to write quickly. If the scribe were unsure of the meaning, I can see why he might not reach for this character. If the example given to you were Flying Diagonal, is "split" the term that would first come to your mind? I should also say that there also appears to be quite a lot of scribal mistakes or character substitution in Taijiquan's literature, so that the problem with Lie is not entirely unique.

One reason I gravitate towards associating the Taiji "split" with the character that means "split open" is that they both have the same tonal variation and can be pronounced in either the fourth or third tones. (By the way, the fourth tone seems to be overwhelmingly more common for both words, from my very limited exposure to Chinese speakers and what I can find in dictionaries.) This is not a common pattern and so again suggests that they are really the same word, despite the different characters used to represent them.

To further the overall discussion, I want to quote below a little from Kuo's book. I have no particular point to make by these particular passages, but thought they might be of interest since they echo some previous points, but introduce new concepts as well.

On page 47 of the T'ai Chi Boxing Chronicle, Kuo says:

"6. Lieh ching [Lie jing]

"Lieh is the chief striking energy but differs from releasing energy [fajin?]. When you strike it is not directly at the body. You encounter a vacant space or gap between yourself and the opponent to use Lieh's strike. Don't measure or wait for a reaction. When Lieh is used, one hand has Lieh and the other hand must have inside drawing of silk energy in order to keep the body's balance in any direction. The hands mutually interchange their use.

"If the opponent is concerned about his hand going out of the circle or being overextended, then Lieh's strike can be used. If the opponent reacts to the hand with Lieh's energy, then the other hand has the rolling and releasing effect which will return you to equilibrium. This is the method of the corner hand supporting the primary hand. Lieh's useis to draw silk outward towards the opponent when you are very close. This is also called T'ai Chi boxing's small strike energy. When the strike's energy is first released, you cannot stop halfway and change. You are committed and its not always a safe way. So, T'ai Chi boxing's Lieh energy strike is done quickly and begins a few inches away from the oppnent's body."

On pages 104-105, Kuo has drawings of little curving figures used to represent the direction and quality of the Eight Gates. For Lie, he has a vertical curve that bends to the left with an arrow shooting out of the middle toward the right. He describes this saying: "Peng suddenly shoots out is called Lieh ching [Lie jing]."

On page 114, he says: "Lieh: Striking the enemy's body and at the same time attracting the enemy's movement."

Take care,
Audi
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Postby DPasek » Tue Jun 07, 2005 5:56 pm

Audi,
Thanks for your critical comments on the subject of Lie. Part of my reason for introducing the force-couple concept is that I also have some concerns about it (although I still think it may be a more understandable/informative translation of Lie than most others). While Kuo's writings that you post are consistent with the force-couple idea, other writings are not. For example, the song of split (attributed to T'an Meng-hsien) posted earlier by Anderzander contains the images of a flywheel and a whirlpool. While these certainly illustrate the spinning force that is generated by a force-couple, the effects on the objects (whether sent out or drawn in) as described in the above song seems to only use one side of the force-couple rather than both simultaneously. How does this song help others clarify the meaning of Lie as they understand this energy? I would also still like to know how Yang's analogy of the dragonfly helps clarify this point for YJ/YZD students, since this analogy apparently comes directly from the Yang family.

As to the appearance of Lie energy in numerous places throughout the form, yes, I think it does, just as all the other energies do. Perhaps this comes more from my understanding of, and emphasis on, Chen style, but most of the energies have the potential to be expressed in almost every circle that is made during the form. I see numerous applications throughout the transitional movements rather than focusing the applications solely on the final movement in the posture, and there are numerous places that seem to use "combined" energies.

I also think that not all examples of force-couples could be considered to be Lie applications (e.g. swinging around a dance floor with a partner would show the spinning forces of a force-couple, but would not be applying the force-couple in a way that would split/rend/tear apart your partner!). I also concede that perhaps not all Lie applications exhibit force-coupled energy, but these are the ones (like in the flywheel and whirlpool analogies) that I do not fully understand, and for which I am hoping for some clarifications from participants of this forum.

DP
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Jun 17, 2005 10:43 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Could you explain "absorbing momentum" please, or was that simply a casual term I am taking too seriously.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Psal,

Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s a good question—I’ll take a stab at answering it, but I don’t have such a good handle on it myself, so maybe others can chip in.

Did you ever spin around with your backpack or satchel of schoolbooks as a child? So fast that you had to stop or fall down? If we use that as the example, “conserving” the momentum of the book-bag would be to get going fast enough that you don’t have to add force to keep it going. Yet if you didn’t hold onto it tightly enough, it would fly out of your hands. I think the tension you have to maintain by pulling the bag towards yourself when spinning would be more like “absorbing” momentum. The bag wants to fly away, you have to keep it from leaving your hands. This means you have to maintain a rooted connection with the ground in order to have something to brace yourself against. Moreover, you have to maintain a sense of central equilibrium or your bag unbalances you and you stumble or fall. I also suspect that absorbing your opponent’s momentum could increase your own speed, much the way that pulling the backpack towards your chest while spinning forces you to spin faster. Like when a figure skater spinning with her arms out or one leg out (tracing a large circle in the air about her) then pulls them inward (making a much smaller circle) and the speed of the spin increases until she looks like a spinning top.

Best,
Kal


[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 06-18-2005).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:47 pm

Hi Audi,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> This [rotation] also accords with how Fair Lady Works the Shuttles is described. I have only heard Ward Off discussed in this context. I wonder, however, if the operative factor here is the direction of movement, rather than the presence or absence of arm rotation per se.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, I think you may be right—the direction of movement (outward) is more important for ward off than arm rotation. After all, in the first ward off applications taught for ward off right and ward off left, there’s no rotation of the lifting arm, just lifting the arm and waist turning. I still think it’s an expansive outward movement though. But don’t take my word for it. I’m trying to discern generalities from some of the different things I’ve learned, but don’t really trust myself to do that well.


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Kal: “Even smaller than these Roll Backs is the one in single-arm figure 8 push hands. There’s a transition from Ward Off to Lu: the hand rotates palm up and one uses the forearm to cover/deflect the opponent’s push downward and to the outside.”

Audi: “I agree with this, but what about the simple horizontal single-hand circle? From what you describe, it does not contain any Lu at all. Do you see this exercise as only an alternation between Ward Off and Push? I ask about this particularly because this motion seems directly comparable to Cloud Hands, a rotation that receives the opponent's force, absorbs some Jin and leads it to the side.” </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I do think that the single-hand circle is similar to cloud hands in receiving, absorbing, and leading to the side (or in a circle). Lu has never been mentioned (that I’ve heard) as a part of the single-hand horizontal circle. The applications that were discussed were ward off, pull, and push (in that order). YJ describes single-hand circles as pushing on the level surface of a table. To do this, the transition from ward off to push has to be nearly horizontal (the forearm rotates as though the elbow and wrist were resting on a table). In my view, this precludes or at least inhibits the use of roll back.

IMO, rollback has a twisty kind of under-to-over, bottom-to-top, “tables turned” kind of flavor. I don’t believe rollback is merely deflecting from outside towards inside, or pulling. So for single arm circles, the only way to do rollback would be to drop the elbow in the transition from ward off to push. With the elbow down, the wrist could cover the opponent’s pushing hand and deflect it by moving from under to over.

Many of us ended up doing this and still do. Dropping the elbow in single-hand circles is a natural counter to the opponent’s push. But I think it’s still ward off with the elbow down unless the wrist comes up and over the opponent’s pushing arm. In fact, this kind of rollback is cultivated in single-hand figure 8 circles. But Yang Jun discourages us from doing it in single-hand horizontal circles. One, it’s not horizontal. And two, this counter makes it difficult to train beginners to stick because it upsets the contact of their pushing hand by bending their wrist in weird ways.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Much of how you describe Lu I have attributed to the necessary mechanics of effective performance, rather than to what is necessary to describe its internal qualities (whatever that means ). If someone asked me to show how to do Lu, I would do it exactly as how you have described it. If, however, someone asked me where Lu is in the form, I would be tempted to point out many other places where you accept oncoming force and divert it to the side with some sort of rotation peformed or led by the waist. In other words, I am distinguishing between how to use Lu effectively as the lead energy and how Lu might interact and combine with other energies. </font>


I was actually describing my understanding of the internal and external qualities—but I’m not kidding myself that I actually understand these things well yet. As for where Lu is in the form, well, I’d say there are plenty of places where the opponent is diverted to the side using the waist, but I would not call all of them roll back. Did you have some examples you were thinking of?

I really think that a main component of roll back is a twisty snake twining energy. One point of the opponent’s body is held relatively still while you twine around them, lifting and twisting, at another point, thus leading them into pretzel shapes or to be pulled off balance. A gentle roll back that just pulls someone to the side does not begin by just pulling—or even by following ward off into pull. It starts by connecting and lifting slightly to turn their “right side up” to “upside down,” much like a kayaker getting rolled by getting bumped upward by a rock in a river rapid—or a car that hits an embankment and rolls, for that matter.

I think that roll back most often happens down to up then down again. But it can also happen from left to right or right to left—like just before the separation kicks…but here’s where I get a little lost and am not quite sure that the twisting applies. He’s explained the pre-kick applications to me twice—the separation, the roll back—but I’m still rather foggy about them (the second time, he said, “I thought I showed you this already” with a “Now pay attention!” teacher stare so I’m not going to ask again until I have a different question. The lesson was really clear, of course, but this is one movement where my brain gets turned around so I’m just going to have to work it out through repetition until my body gets what my brain doesn’t.).

When I’ve experienced Yang Jun using rollback, there’s almost always a bit of twisting my arm, even if he’s doing the most gentle variation of roll back (and lots of twisting if he’s not, albeit precisely gauged for safety).

Kal
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Jun 20, 2005 4:25 am

Thank you for your explanations Kalamondin Image
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Postby Audi » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:16 am

Greetings all,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Yes, I think you may be right—the direction of movement (outward) is more important for ward off than arm rotation. After all, in the first ward off applications taught for ward off right and ward off left, there’s no rotation of the lifting arm, just lifting the arm and waist turning. I still think it’s an expansive outward movement though.</font>


Kal, I think I see what you mean and basically agree, but please allow me to be a little picky with some of the wording. I would say that there is a slight feeling of arm rotation in Ward Off Right and Left. In both cases, the palm faces slightly upward in a way that requires a slight twisting feeling. I mention this because I believe that some teachers teach these postures with the palms vertically oriented. For the same reason, I would also agree more with your description of lifting rather than an emphasis on outward expansion. Some teach a Ward Off Right where the elbows noticeably extend from in to out and where both hands expand horizontally forward; whereas we do it with elbows already pretty much extended and with the right arm lifting and the left palm pressing down as the left elbow contracts.

The practitioners who use the former method often describe the left hand as being ready to help the right, rather than as actually engaged in doing something. They often seem to orient both palms opposite each other, almost as if they are squeezing a small ball between them and as if the jin point is in the back of the right palm.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Lu has never been mentioned (that I’ve heard) as a part of the single-hand horizontal circle. The applications that were discussed were ward off, pull, and push (in that order).</font>


Since we are trying to make very fine distinctions here, I would differentiate between "applications" and "energies." I would agree that there is no intent to apply a Rollback application in the single arm circling. The constraints of the positioning make pure Rollback impractical. Perhaps I am beating a dead horse or requiring words for something that is better not put in a straight jacket of words; however, I still wonder about the interplay of energy, since this is such a common pattern in Push Hands and in the Form.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So for single arm circles, the only way to do rollback would be to drop the elbow in the transition from ward off to push. With the elbow down, the wrist could cover the opponent’s pushing hand and deflect it by moving from under to over.</font>


I find it interesting that you describe this possibility, because I was told that this is precisely how one would want to react, except for the desire to create a continuous horizontally-oriented exercise. In other words, I was told that it would actually be best to drop the elbow; however, if you did this, you would make it difficult for your partner to continue the exercise. He or she would normally be forced to follow and end up in what I think you are calling the figure-eight pattern.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for where Lu is in the form, well, I’d say there are plenty of places where the opponent is diverted to the side using the waist, but I would not call all of them roll back. Did you have some examples you were thinking of?</font>


Places I wonder about would include the combined action of the descending right arm and rising left arm in the transitions leading into Brush Left Knee and Twist Step and the transition between the unnamed Ward Off Left and named Ward Off Right that begins Step up and Grasp Sparrows Tail (e.g., after Punch to the Groin). Another would be the leftward action of the left arm in Fist Under Elbow. In none of these would I think that Rollback is an end in itself, but would suggest that it must be complemented with some other energy. I would also say the same about Ward Off, which often is not very effective if used only by itself.

Another example might be the transition after Step Forward and Punch Down (Jin Bu Zai Chui). Imagine that after you dispatch an opponent in the west with Punch Down, another opponent (who is in the east) comes to grab your waist from behind. If you are late in your reaction, you can use the rightward rotation of your torso (perhaps, an instance of kao) to throw the opponent off and to the right. This is quite different from using Kao as a shoulder or even a hip strike and seems analogous to me to the type of absorbtion and redirection more usually encountered with the regular Rollback. If your reaction is quicker, you can meet your opponent with your elbow and use zhou.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">He’s explained the pre-kick applications to me twice—the separation, the roll back—but I’m still rather foggy about them</font>


I know what you mean about getting these types of explanations to stick in one's head, especially when given on the fly. The worst--and best--can be when the explanations are accompanied by a demonstration on you. I often get a feeling of How did you actually do that? All I can say is thank heaven for the new DVD, where we now have the option of watching some applications over and over.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 06-27-2005).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Wed Jun 29, 2005 1:20 am

Hi Audi,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
I would say that there is a slight feeling of arm rotation in Ward Off Right and Left. In both cases, the palm faces slightly upward in a way that requires a slight twisting feeling. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, that’s right-I think I was too quick to talk about lifting only, but meant to distinguish between Ward Off in the form, with its more slight rotations; and a one-arm Ward Off as used in free style push hands practice where the forearm might rotate 180 degrees with the palm rotating from in to out.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> For the same reason, I would also agree more with your description of lifting rather than an emphasis on outward expansion . </font>


Well, I think it’s both. I agree that in the form, the lifting is more visible. But even in the form, a sense of outward expansion from the dantien (pung) is necessary to lift the opponent using that sense of internal buoyancy, even though the opponent is moved more upward than outward.

But in push hands, the situation is a little different again. For example, in single arm horizontal circles, if you were to push towards me but with a slightly downward angle, then I could still do ward off, rotating my forearm in the same way, but heading downward. At some point I would have to turn it into something else (pulling, or even circling up and back into push), but it’s still Ward Off even though it’s heading downwards. That’s why I think the outward expansion is more important than the idea of lifting. Lifting works, and is part of Ward Off in many instances, but it’s the outward expansion from one’s center that allows one to lift and uproot the opponent—but again, I could be wrong.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The practitioners who use the former method often describe the left hand as being ready to help the right, rather than as actually engaged in doing something. They often seem to orient both palms opposite each other, almost as if they are squeezing a small ball between them and as if the jin point is in the back of the right palm. </font>


Hmm, interesting. I think a jin point on the right palm could work if the posture were small frame, or the practitioner were really strong, but they might have a really different way of using it that I don’t know about. And two hands are not required for some applications of Ward Off…but I wonder what the left hand is getting ready to do? In the form we practice, the lower hand seems to serve a few different purposes: holding your opponent where you want them so you can get underneath and lift them; holding their arm as a kind of handle for stability after uprooting them and carrying them off their center (the way one holds a full pitcher of water by the handle, but then often supports it from underneath with one hand maintaining a lifting energy); or using the lower hand to control one of the two points necessary for split energy (as Ward Off can easily be turned into split, with the hands going in opposite directions—up and down on a diagonal).


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Since we are trying to make very fine distinctions here, I would differentiate between "applications" and "energies." …however, I still wonder about the interplay of energy, since this is such a common pattern in Push Hands and in the Form. </font>


Generally I enjoy splitting hairs with you, but this is one instance where I’m not convinced it’s useful to distinguish application from energy. I might be misunderstanding what you mean though. When we learned single arm circling, we practiced the form (shape) of the circles, then we practiced the applications within the circle (push, ward off, pull), all with the intent of coming to understand the energies. I think they are inseparable. I suppose that one could say that the long form contains specific applications, and that push hands is the study of the energies in use…and both statements are true, but making that distinction just feels too artificial to me, too Cartesian in its emphasis. To throw out a cliché: it’s not either-or; it’s both-and.

Maybe it would be more helpful for us to think of a yin-yang relationship between applications and energies—or even more of a five-element relationship if you want to get more complicated. Because any of the 13 energies can be transformed into any of the others, I have hard time saying this is an application, and that is energy. The application changes depending on how the energy from your opponent is coming in. The energy changes according to what application seems most useful in any given moment, and is always shifting: Ward Off to Press to Roll Back to Split to Whatever.

Sorry—I got a double whammy of corrections last night: 1) I’m to develop the skill to use whatever application I want, slowly enough that my opponent sees it coming, but such that they are unable to counter it. 2) I’m to give up more. Essentially, I need to stop beating dead horses trying to get an application to work whose time has passed (of course it was phrased more gently). I’m to go on to the next thing. There was more too, all great corrections, but I’m a bit frustrated trying to wrap my head around seemingly contradictory pieces of advice (follow through, but give up) both of which I can see are utterly true and useful bits of advice.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Kal said: quote:
So for single arm circles, the only way to do rollback would be to drop the elbow in the transition from ward off to push. With the elbow down, the wrist could cover the opponent’s pushing hand and deflect it by moving from under to over.

Audi said:
I find it interesting that you describe this possibility, because I was told that this is precisely how one would want to react, except for the desire to create a continuous horizontally-oriented exercise. In other words, I was told that it would actually be best to drop the elbow; however, if you did this, you would make it difficult for your partner to continue the exercise. He or she would normally be forced to follow and end up in what I think you are calling the figure-eight pattern. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yup, you’ve hit the nail on the head—the horizontal exercise is designed to teach listening, sticking, following, connecting, adhering. In fact, for people who are a bit more rigid and have trouble relaxing and getting their mind’s past the shapes and structures of the horizontal circle, YJ will often start them off with a completely unstructured exercise where one person puts the back of their right palm against the back of the other person’s right palm with instructions to move around, but move together and not separate.

The elbow drop for roll back gets added in later, spontaneously, when people begin countering pushes. I too was told that it’s a natural, desirable, and simple counter.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Places I wonder about would include the combined action of the descending right arm and rising left arm in the transitions leading into Brush Left Knee and Twist Step</font>


If you mean the transitions in the Brush Knee sequence between one and the next, yes, I’ve been told there’s the possibility of Roll Back there.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> and the transition between the unnamed Ward Off Left and named Ward Off Right that begins Step up and Grasp Sparrows Tail (e.g., after Punch to the Groin). </font>


Hmm, I hadn’t thought so, but now that I think about it, I think I could use Roll Back there: left arm comes under the opponent’s right upper arm, right hand grabs and twists their wrist—but it’s an awkward footwork choice as there’s some danger of rolling them back into your center (particularly if they go for a shoulder strike) and you are potentially rolling them back into your unsupported emptiness (no back leg on that side). But we did train roll back that way, just to see how to do it and what the dangers were.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Another would be the leftward action of the left arm in Fist Under Elbow. </font>


Are you talking about a single arm roll back where after the Ward Off with the left arm, the left then covers the opponent with the back of the forearm and deflects them to the side (like in single arm figure 8s)? I think there’s the possibility of Roll Back there—but I think the application is more effective as it stands: Ward Off to Pull Down with a small circle into Lift and punch. In fact, it’s one of my favorites (albeit in theory at the moment…hmm, maybe I’ll practice).

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Another example might be the transition after Step Forward and Punch Down (Jin Bu Zai Chui). Imagine that after you dispatch an opponent in the west with Punch Down, another opponent (who is in the east) comes to grab your waist from behind. If you are late in your reaction, you can use the rightward rotation of your torso (perhaps, an instance of kao ) to throw the opponent off and to the right. This is quite different from using Kao as a shoulder or even a hip strike and seems analogous to me to the type of absorbtion and redirection more usually encountered with the regular Rollback. If your reaction is quicker, you can meet your opponent with your elbow and use zhou . </font>


Wow, that’s an interesting interpretation of Roll Back. I’m not 100% certain about it, but it’s interesting and I can see how it would work. It feels more like Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain in the circular rotation of the torso, which means that one wouldn’t need to use kao or zhao energies even if the shoulder and/or elbow is engaged. Of course, I agree that zhao and kao are possibilities there too. But to make it into Roll Back, I think one would need to cover the opponent’s energy with the torso, or right shoulder or right arm, before deflecting down and to the side (there’s that up to down, tables turned movement I was talking about before). One would need a really good sense of central equilibrium to pull this move off well—turning backwards, changing footwork, and rotating the torso off the center vertical line. There’s a vulnerability in rotating the torso around the center—and an even greater vulnerability in using the torso as both of your energy points for Roll Back because it’s so close to being the center that you have only your legs and spine flexibility to get you out of a tight spot if your opponent is able to counter with a push. There’s not much you can collapse or fold—if you have two points with your torso, it also means your opponent has two points on you.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The worst--and best--can be when the explanations are accompanied by a demonstration on you. I often get a feeling of How did you actually do that? All I can say is thank heaven for the new DVD, where we now have the option of watching some applications over and over. </font>


Hear, hear! But seriously, after the “How the…?!?” feeling—often combined with a more visceral feeling of befuddlement after being gently put through the wringer—I find I have a better physical memory than visual memory, so I often need to experience an application before I can approximate replicating it. But I’m certainly not complaining! Image

Best wishes,
Kal

[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 06-29-2005).]
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Postby Audi » Sun Jul 03, 2005 5:02 pm

Greetings all,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But in push hands, the situation is a little different again. For example, in single arm horizontal circles, if you were to push towards me but with a slightly downward angle, then I could still do ward off, rotating my forearm in the same way, but heading downward.</font>


Kal, I agree with this tactic, but I still see the energy as “lifting” because this action tends to float or buoy up the partner’s push. Another challenging scenario is the “horizontal” ward off that the left arm executes just prior to the “push” at the end of Single Whip. I understand this to be “ward off,” even though nothing is “lifted,” because of the arm shape and because of the manner in which the opponent’s power is diverted off to the side.

I am not a fan of emphasizing the primacy of gravity and so do not see “lifting” simply as opposing the action of gravity, but rather as describing a type of interaction with the partner’s energy. I should also say that many people talk about ward off (“peng”) in two ways: as the typically upward, lifting energy that is exemplified in Ward Off Left and Right and that is one of the 13 postures/dispositions, but also as the energy that expands from one’s center and that underlies all 13 postures/dispositions. Since all the one-on-one teaching I have received has focused on the former, I find it helpful to distinguish these two usages.

Another reason I try to keep the two separate is what I mentioned in my previous post. It seems to me that many Yang Stylists interpret Ward Off Left and Right in ways that seem more similar to how I have been taught to express Press (“Ji”) energy. They emphasize the back of the forearm rather than the inside of it. I think that is why some can perform Ward Off Right while expanding through the back of the right hand and leaving the left hand “in reserve.”

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Generally I enjoy splitting hairs with you, but this is one instance where I’m not convinced it’s useful to distinguish application from energy. I might be misunderstanding what you mean though. When we learned single arm circling, we practiced the form (shape) of the circles, then we practiced the applications within the circle (push, ward off, pull), all with the intent of coming to understand the energies. I think they are inseparable. I suppose that one could say that the long form contains specific applications, and that push hands is the study of the energies in use…and both statements are true, but making that distinction just feels too artificial to me, too Cartesian in its emphasis. To throw out a cliché: it’s not either-or; it’s both-and.</font>


I not only enjoy splitting hairs with you and others, but it is actually the core of my learning method. I am extremely concept oriented, and so any inconsistency that threatens a concept is for me a basic issue, not a philosophical one. One of the implications of such an approach means that I have to be willing to change concepts whenever hairs do not “split” appropriately.

I think I was taught similarly to you, but may have drawn the wrong conclusions; nevertheless, what follows is how I viewed that common teaching. The circling was a way of training energies in a continuous way, but in a way that was necessarily somewhat different from actual applications or that was necessarily restricted to match the constraints of the circling and push hands in general. The constraints of the circling made it difficult to fully appreciate the nature of the energies involved.

The push hands applications I have been taught all seemed designed to uproot your partner (i.e., force both of the partner’s feet to leave the ground together or in sequence). These were offered as clearer expressions of the energies than what is shown in the limited constraints of the continuous circling. Even these applications, however, often involved mixing or blending of energies, either simultaneously or in sequence.

There are uses of the energies in the form that are not very effective by themselves to uproot your partner entirely, but are very effective as a component in self-defense. This is the area I am trying the most to explore in our dialog, because it helps zero in on whatever is the core of each energy. As you have mentioned, there are many instances of one-arm Ward Off in the form. There are also many instances of one-armed Push. Based on these, I had thought there were many instances of one-armed Roll Back and Press. I am not requiring that any of these instances be sufficient to send the opponent flying, just as Ward Off does not always do this.

There is another category of terminology that I want to raise in order to discard it, and that is terminology based merely on arm or body shape. In the Rollback posture, the left arm assumes a ward off shape and the right arm assumes a push shape, and yet my understanding is that neither Ward Off Energy nor Push Energy is involved in the application we express through the Rollback posture.

On the other hand, after tracing the Yin-Yang Diagram in the Fist Under Elbow transition, the arms assume another Rollback shape. Here, my understanding is precisely that the left arm is doing Ward Off and the right arm is doing Push as the waist begins to turn to the left for the last time.

I have been taught that the eight energies are internal things and not dictated by external shapes. One way to interpret this distinction is as I have described in the previous paragraphs: external shape is not sufficient to define internal function. Another way to interpret this, which is more challenging, is that internal function does not need any particular external shape. I could be wrong, but this is what I thought was suggested by what I have been taught.

An example of function without the accompanying characteristic external shape might be the Push posture. At the beginning, the bend in the elbows necessary to stick to the opponent makes it relatively hard to express power through the arms; as a result, we can use the energy in the torso (i.e., shoulder stroke/kao) instead, even though the torso is not in contact with the opponent. If I am correct, the Push posture could therefore be a mix of Push Energy and Kao Energy, at least if strong power needs to be expressed while the hands are still near the torso.

Another example might be Parting Wild Horse’s Mane, where Kao can be relatively more or less mixed in with Ward Off, depending on desire and the precise interaction with the opponent.

Neither of these instances of Kao are very close to the Kao application(s) I have been taught to explore in Push Hands.

What the scheme leaves unresolved or imprecise is what exactly is the “function” or essential characteristics of each of the eight energies? Does Rollback occur only with the arm and two points of contact/leverage? If we omit one arm or the other from the Rollback posture in the form, is there still an element of Rollback Energy in what is left, after all both hands have an element of under-to-over twisting?

When I proposed that an instance of Rollback Energy was possible after Step Forward and Punch Down, I was trying to get at this type of energy usage. If the opponent grabs your torso from behind, can you change the interaction of the energy in a way that executes the “function” of Rollback? In proposing this, I am not trying to exclude simultaneous use of other energies, such as kao. In fact, since the arms would not initially be in contact with the opponent, it would be necessary to use kao (i.e., direct torso energy) in order to apply lu (“Rollback”) (i.e., up to down, rotational, and sideways energy).

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Sorry—I got a double whammy of corrections last night: 1) I’m to develop the skill to use whatever application I want, slowly enough that my opponent sees it coming, but such that they are unable to counter it. 2) I’m to give up more.</font>


Wow, that is great stuff to work on! I think that sort of advice goes to the heart of our training method and distinguishes it from those that emphasize having no intent or complete mental emptiness. I think it also distinguishes it from methods that emphasize acting on the opponent as an object or automaton where quickness, power, or even cleverness are the main determinants of the result.

Since all this may not be clear to those who do not train this way, let me clarify. As I understand it, in our method you can train to execute a specific application (e.g., Press) during free-style push hands, but are required not to move according to your own will and must still follow and stick to the opponent’s “initiative.” The challenge is how to execute a specific application while not being able to move independently of the opponent or according to your own desires. You have to “control,” but you have to do so by “yielding.” Both aspects are necessary.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
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