Tanbien (for Louis, in particular).

Tanbien (for Louis, in particular).

Postby Simon Batten » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:16 pm

Louis: I've been reading your translation and commentary to Yang Cheng Fu's 'The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan'. I was particularly interested in the last paragraph of your Translator's Comments on Section Six: Single Whip. Here you say: 'A more literal translation of the final phrase would be, "there is nobody who will not fall down easily". The phrase contains the compound yingshou,literally, "respond/hand", which essentially means something that comes easily to hand. It is a shorthand for dexin yingshou, an expression about great skill, where the hand and mind work in concert...'. As it happens, the Chinese Master from whom I learned the Yang Cheng Fu form in London always starts his classes with preparatory hand and leg coordination exercises based on the repeated movements in the Form, i.e. Yeh Mah Feng Tung, Lu Shi Au Bu, Tao Nien Hou and (if I have heard him correctly!), Yingshou. Yingshou starts off with the Tambien posture and then shifts into 'Wave Hands Like Clouds' which he also calls 'Yingshou' during the Form when he calls out the names of the movements. I notice from the Yang Family website under 'Forms' that something like 'Yingshou' is also used here for 'Wave Hands Like Clouds', but I don't know any Chinese so I'm not sure if these two are actually the same word. But assuming that they are, then that adds further to a link which the Master in London makes between Tanbien and 'Yingshou', and of course, in the form, 'Wave Hands Like Clouds' is immediately preceded and followed by Tanbien. Certainly the way I have been taught 'Wave Hands Like Clouds' is as a kind of development of the final component of Tanbien, with an analogous application executed to right and left. I also noticed your reference to Yang Cheng Fu's description of Cloud Hands as involving 'yingshou fan chu', i.e. a 'smooth turning of the waist'. I wonder if this adds to the impression I get of a subtle connection between Tanbien and Cloud Hands, and would appreciate your comments, if possible. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Feb 27, 2007 5:10 pm

Greetings Simon,

Perhaps what you are hearing is “yunshou,” which is the Mandarin for Cloud Hands. The “yingshou” phrase that appears in the commentary is different, meaning, “smoothly,” or “comes easily to hand” as I said. By the way, ‘yingshou fan chu', in the commentary to Cloud Hands is actually, “a smooth turning out of the wrist” in my translation.

Here’s a bit of trivia: There was a 1948 movie comedy made in Hong Kong with the title “Dexin Yingshou” (don't know the Cantonese pronunciation). The English translation is “Everything Goes My Way.”

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:34 pm

Thanks a lot for these comments, Louis. As the Master speaks Mandarin and calls out the names of the movements in Mandarin, I am obviously confused and thank you for pointing out what I have undoubtedly heard and for disabusing me of the putative linguistic connection! Also I misread 'waist' instead of 'wrist' as you point out. Actually this is the second time I have read your book, and am trying to read it more closely this time round (believe it or not!). Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Simon Batten » Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:21 am

Thanks, Louis for your reply. Indeed, it must be the case that what I have heard is Yunshou, as the Master calls out the names in Mandarin. Also, I did read 'waist' for 'wrist', even though this is the second time I have read your book and (believe it or not)I'm trying to read it more closely this time round! Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:58 pm

Greetings Simon,

I’m glad to be able to clear up the Cloud Hands terminology. That section of Yang Chengfu's book does place a great deal of emphasis on the turning of the waist, but also keys on the contact point with the opponent at the wrist. So the “smooth turning out of the wrist” in the raised arm is a crucial detail. With regard to the arm in the upper position, I recall Yang Zhenduo stressing the importance of rotating the forearms from a palm-in to a palm-out orientation in coordination with the waist turn. He would repeat, “fan, fan, fan” to emphasize that the turning out of the forearm is synchronous with the turning of the waist. I recall that up until that point, I had always kept the palm facing in until I’d reached the limit of the waist turn, and then turned the palm out. Yang Zhenduo helped me understand that the rotation of the arm begins much earlier. It makes for a much more fluid execution of the movement.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Simon Batten » Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:03 pm

Thanks, Louis for this information on Yang Zhenduo's emphasis here. It accords with the way I have been taught this movement in London also. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:04 pm

Louis,
When does YZD say that the turning of the upper wrist begins? Is it immediately after the waist turn begins, or as the wrist crosses your centerline like in push hands?
Also, bottom wrist. Does it turn back to ward off in synchronicity with the top? Or is there a seperate timing for it?
I have been assuming they would follow the same timing as in push hands, but I know what happens when one assumes...

Thanks,
Bob
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Postby Audi » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:00 am

Hi Bob,

Excellent question! I have been pondering aspects of this for about a year or two and do not know if what I am doing is correct.

What I have elected to do is to reproduce more or less what I understand of the Cloud Hands push hands drill, which I think is slightly different from the vertical double circle and the horizontal single circle.

For the top hand, I try to concentrate on Ward Off energy and an outward twisting feeling (palm slightly facing up) until I cross the midline. For the bottom hand, I turn my palm to face the rear as it descends to a certain height, perhaps a 45 degree angle?). I do not think the rotation of the two hands is directly connected, since different energy relationships probably apply.

If martial scenarios help your visuation, try this. For the top hand, imagine connecting with a punch with the soft inside of your forarm, stick, then rotate like a wratchet to control the opponent's wrist and pluck directly downward to the side. For the bottom hand, imagine your wrist is grabbed and rotate you palm into the opponent's fingers to destroy his angle and force a choice of tactics. As you cross the midline below and raise your hand, the force relationships change and so you rotate the palm the other way. I do not know how to describe the scenario succinctly, but try to observe whether the height of the opponent's grab affects what palm orientation is comfortable. You then try to do what is comfortable for you and uncomfortable for your opponent.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:45 am

Audi: I believe that another application of Cloud Hands in addition to the one you describe is a ward off with the upper hand, possibly with twist and grab as you suggest, according to circumstances, while the lower hand wards off a kick to the abdomen or genitals from the same side. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:25 pm

Audi,
Good visual. I can picture it clearly.
I am just beginning my in-depth training in Yang family push hands techniques, so I've not run into Cloud Hands push hands as of yet to be able to picture it.
But I have been turning my palms in Cloud Hands pretty much as you outlined in this scenario since I began to train push hands, so I think we're on the same page.
Since I began training in push hands, I've begun to see the rotation of the arms along with turning the waist, or whole body, in a whole new light.
One that I hope is more accurate.
Since Yang Jun's seminar last June, and my classes with Bill since then, I've begun to see the entirety of TCC in a whole new light.
For instance, "don't resist" suddenly means something entirely new to me. I always THOUGHT I was not resisting before, but now I have begun to see what this really means.
Only begun, mind you. I've got a lot to learn.
Being "sung" has a new meaning to me as well.
Heck, it ALL has new meaning for me.
You peel back one layer, there's another waiting for you to start peeling.

Bob
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Postby Simon Batten » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:56 pm

Bob: I agree: this is the beauty of Tai Chi, that you can never really get to the bottom of it, so it will be an interesting quest for the rest of ones life. How boring it would be if we could be certain of reaching the end of the 'Tai Chi road' in just five years, or even ten! Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Audi » Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:21 pm

Hi everyone,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Audi: I believe that another application of Cloud Hands in addition to the one you describe is a ward off with the upper hand, possibly with twist and grab as you suggest, according to circumstances, while the lower hand wards off a kick to the abdomen or genitals from the same side.</font>


Simon, I agree with your observation. That sounds like a definite possibility.

Your comment also brings to mind a different concern that may not apply to you, but is something I wish someone had offered to me early on in my practice. I have been taught that every posture has many different applications; however, as you do a posture in the form, you should adapt the fine motions of your movement and the focus of your mind to the application explained by your teacher for the form.

I think the form we do is not designed so much for the direct practice of applications as for learning and training movement principles and how they apply to various situations. To train applications properly, you need a live partner and the possibility of infinite variation. This is particularly appropriate after a good foundation in push hands, because only then is the training likely to increase knowledge of internal energy usage.

One reason I described the lower arm rotation in the way I did was because of a desire to describe a full “circle.” Most applications seem to require more than 180 degrees of “circular” motion, and one of the faults I most frequently commit and see in Push Hands is not to use circles in the proper way. This is a long way of saying that if we are talking about the motion of the right hand in Cloud Hands, the grab to rightward and downward is actually born with a circling motion leftward and upward. If we want to show a redirection of a kick leftward and upward, this should be born with a motion rightward and downward. The fine details of the movement should make the circle clear.

Another reason I focused on the application I did was to draw attention to the arm rotation that happens after the grab. Basically, there is an important elbow rotation that people often do not feel and so do not execute properly. I am not sure I can explain how to do it in words, but I think I can describe an exercise that could allow someone to feel what the issue is.

First, windmill your arms, keeping the elbows straight, with the center of rotation being the shoulders. This is probably the core visualization many people have for Cloud Hands. Notice the change in your palm orientation that makes the movement comfortable, but which serves no martial purpose.

Now try the circular rotation that is the reverse of Cloud hands (roughly like Brush Knee). Start with the arms hanging in front of the legs with the palms facing the thighs. (This position is similar to the “second” position of the Opening Posture (Qi shi/ Ch’i shih) after the initial arm rotation.) Now raise your arms slowly to the sides and a horizontal position, while keeping the palms facing the rear (this is different than in Brush Knee).

After your reach only about 45 degrees, keeping the palms facing the rear should begin to feel uncomfortable or at least martially vulnerable. If it does not, it is probably because you have allowed your arms to drift forward out of the vertical plane described by the thighs. Allowing this drifting shortens the size of the circle and cheats on some of what big frame movement is supposed to teach. To avoid the discomfort and maintain the power of the circle, you have to consciously rotate your “elbow” and make the palms face forward as you raise the arms to the side past about 45 degrees.

Now try the actual rotation of Cloud Hands. Just after you show the Fajin of the grab, your arm will be almost straight and your wrist will be seated. Your elbow will have led the motion of your hand. If you rotate at this point, your forearm and hand will describe (i.e., trace out) a cone and cheat the power of the circle. To avoid this you must straighten out the wrist and straighten your elbow even more as your arm descends through about 45 degrees. The problem at this point is that your elbow is about to lock. To avoid this you have to rotate your “elbow” and simultaneously change the orientation of your palm to face the rear. Your hand will now move “past” your elbow in the circle, so that your arm will in a slight curve and your elbow can now support the upcoming lifting motion “from behind.” The position will be like the transition into Cross Hands, where the fingers are pointing down, the palms face the rear, the elbows are slightly bend, and the arm has begun the curve that will carry into the final Ward Off position.

This elbow rotation happens in many places in the form (and in the Sword form as well). To me, it seems like some of the small circle work that his hidden in the big frame. When you get really big, you start to have to pay attention to the really small. Some of the details of the rotation will vary, because of differences in the applications, but the principle will not. Examples of places to look for this elbow rotation are Brush Knee and Twist Step, White Crane Spreads Wings, Cross Hands, and Cloud Hands.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:39 pm

Audi: thanks a lot for taking the time to make these extensive observations in reply to my suggestion. I have gone through everything you recommended, and the odd thing is, unless I am fundamentally deceiving myself or trying to flatter myself, it turns out that the results are exactly in accordance with what I have been taught in London. The Master there lays a great deal of emphasis on this movement, and it is included, without the leg stepping, as one of the fundamental sequences of arm and leg co-ordination exercises with which he always begins his classes, and which usually take about 20 minutes altogether. I am therefore very pleased to find, as it were, a double confirmation from you of what I have been taught, particularly as this comes from a source so close to the Yangs themselves. Actually, in my own case, the thing that the Master in London has corrected me for the most in this movement, is having too much tension in my shoulders. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:39 pm

Simon,
TCC is a lifetime commitment to learning, then relearning.
I've begun to understand that every time I "get" something, I'm only "getting" one narrow avenue of understanding about it. There will be layers on top of layers below my current "aha" moment that I will be able to explore for the rest of my life.
Each time I discover a new aspect of the art, I now can see that I am only scratching the surface of it and will have to take a long time to study and work on the concept.
For instance;
Just yesterday I said that I had gained a new understanding of "don't resist".
Well, last night at push hands class I learned an entirely new layer of what that means.
Resisting causes your waist to tense. If your waist is tense, you cannot move it freely. If you can't move your waist freely, you can't make an effective circle with your partner.
I was using my shoulders, arms and back to do verticle circles, almost no waist involvement at all.
My teacher used the horizontal circle to show me what was going wrong with my waist in all types of push hands.
So just since yesterday a whole new definition of "don't resist" has come to light for me.
I feel certain that is only the next step and I will have to work on this concept, along with all the rest, for the rest of my life.
I'm looking forward to it, myself.

Bob
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:45 pm

Audi,
What a great exercise! Helped me to feel what is going on quite clearly.
I've only just begun to understand this "elbow" circling. I am now seeing it all over the place, where before I just plain old didn't understand what I was seeing.
I've seen this with my eyes, I've read the descriptions of it. I've been told about it.
I just plain old wasn't doing it.

Now I'm doing it, but badly.
I believe this is part of what Bill calls the "articulation" of the arms and we've been practicing silk reeling to work on including it with whole body movement.
Also we've been working on that elbow turning in the verticle circles, specifically in Press.
Each class brings me a new level of understanding of the concept but I doubt I'll actually begin to fully understand it for about ten or fifteen years...

Bob

[This message has been edited by Bob Ashmore (edited 03-09-2007).]
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