Step up to seven Stars - Shoot Tiger

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jun 15, 2002 9:00 pm

Greetings Hans-Peter,

You wrote in an earlier post:

“. . . I'd like to hear what you say about the fact, that when doing single whip in the left bow stance manner you've described, the left foot and the left hand is substantial (other than in Brush knee left). I've always learned, that if left foot is full, left hand is empty and vice versa. Here and in other related postures (e. g. Fan through back, High pat on horse)it seems as if this principle doesn't work. I was asked sometimes for this, but I cannot really answer to it”

I’ve heard that too, about the supposed necessity of “left foot full, left hand empty,” but I can’t seem to figure out a practical or logical basis for adhering to that prescription. Where did that come from, anyway? I think Zheng Manqing may have written something to that effect, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen any support for it in the taiji classics. In fact, while it may be a helpful provisional or intermediate guideline for “clearly distinguishing full and empty,” however, as one’s practice develops, I think it could actually hinder advancement. Holding to such an inflexible interpretation would not, in my mind, accord with classical yin/yang theory (which Audi brought up in a recent thread).

There is an early taiji saying, “within empty there is full; within full there is empty.” The “Taijiquan Jing” also states, “Each point has its point of empty/full. Everywhere there is always this one empty/full.” When first learning the form, the challenge is to distinguish between a full arm and an empty arm, but it does not stop there. One must come to understand that full and empty can be distinguished in one arm, wrist, finger, palm, leg, sole of the foot, etc.

In Single Whip, it may be helpful to think in these terms. As you say, the left arm and palm is full with regard to concentration of jin and intent. While this is a left-weighted stance, the left foot is “full” only in the sense of bearing most of the body’s weight. In another sense, it is empty, as it is only carrying the weight, but it is playing a subsidiary role with regard to directing the intent of the strike. The right foot could be said to be empty in the sense of its share of the weight being born, but it is full in the sense that it is “charged” with jin. One can sense a charged conduit from the right heel directly into the end of the left arm’s ulna at the base of the palm. Here, I find a saying from Li Yiyu’s “Five Key Words” particularly useful: “Empty does not mean completely devoid of strength (li), and full does not mean to completely stand firm (zhan sha).”

A good while back there was a discussion on the board about the terms “ao bu” (as in Brush Knee Twist Step), and “shun bu,” which has been translated as “favorable step” in Huang Wen-Shan’s 1973 book, _Fundamentals of Tai Chi Ch’uan_. Huang explains that when the forward hand and forward foot are both on the same side, it is called “favorable hand.” When the forward foot and forward hand are on alternate sides, it’s called “twist step” (ao bu). I discovered this exact explanation in Xu Yusheng’s 1921 book, _Taijiquan Shi Tujie_ (Illustrated Explanations of Taijiquan Postures), which Huang evidently cribbed for this and some other material in his book. The term Huang was translating as “favorable” is “shun” which means “goes along with,” “in the same direction with.” One of the glosses one will find in Chinese dictionaries for “ao,” is “bu shun,” that is, “not” shun. So it is the opposite of “going along with.” Another meaning of shun is “easily, smoothly.” Shunshou means it comes easily to the hand: easy and convenient. In any case, the fact that we have these instances of “shun bu” and “ao bu” in the form should point up the fact that an overly formulaic interpretation of where and how “empty” and “full” are distributed in the forms should be avoided.

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby DavidJ » Mon Jun 17, 2002 9:40 pm

Hello Hans-Peter,

You wrote, on 6-09-2002, > I've always learned, that if left foot is full, left hand is empty and vice versa. Here and in other related postures (e. g. Fan through back, High pat on horse)it seems as if this principle doesn't work. <

This is in reference to “left foot full, left hand empty.”
The question is "full of what, empty of what?". Generally speaking, if it feels awkward, it may well be less than correct. (It could be right, but hard to tell, if someone's body is out of whack.)

The interpretation should be a bit flexible. Even when you aren't sure what it is that the classics and the masters are refering to, I think that you can safely assume that they are referring to something real.

On one point I guess that I differ a bit from Louis, I have no difficulty figuring out a practical and logical basis for adhering to that prescription.

This idea has been discussed here before. There is a two page thread on double-weightedness:
look at http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000002.html
I have an entry dated 2-6-2001, but on the second page
http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000002-2.html
is the main entry dated 2-27 2001.

Your feedback from this is welcome.

Regards,

David J
DavidJ
 
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Jun 21, 2002 7:05 am

Greetings David,

Last Fall I did a translation article for Taijiquan Journal. It was of a section on “Empty and Full” from Tang Hao and Gu Liuxin’s 1963 book, Taijiquan Yanjiu (Research into Taijiquan). There was something in there that vaguely reminds me of your “opposite shoulder” idea you reference in your 2-27-01 post, but it’s stated somewhat differently. Here’s a quote:

‘When one side of the waist settles down solidly, then the leg for that side also settles solidly. The empty leg on the other side is then able to step in a light and agile manner. Moreover, there should be a mutual pulling and responding between the empty leg and the side of the upper torso that corresponds with the solid leg. Only then can you avoid leaning or floating while moving the empty leg. Therefore, Li Yiyu said: “Above, the waist causes a mutual connection through the two arms, and below, a mutual according through the two kua and the legs.”’

So I think what you were describing may have something to do with what’s being expressed here. It’s a subjective thing, but I don’t know if I would go as far as you have in saying “the focus of balance in the upper torso is in the opposite shoulder.” It would all depend on just what you mean by “the focus of balance.” To beginning students, in particular, it’s sometimes a challenge to get their focus of balance *out* of the shoulders and into the dantian. But “mutual pulling and responding” as expressed in the Gu/Tang book definitely reflects a hightened sense of torso awareness. That is, instead of focusing merely on the placement of the extremities, one is conscious of the engagement of the torso in the movement and placement of the arms and legs. This is what Jou Tsung-Hwa liked to call “torso method,” in which the torso initiates and leads all movement. He wrote that with torso method, “your body must learn to move more and more, as you strive to move the hands less and less.” Yang Zhenji says something very similar, that taijiquan requires that, “the waist’s movement be a bit more, the hands’ movement be a bit less.”

Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Hans-Peter » Fri Jun 21, 2002 12:32 pm

Hi to all,

I'd like to reply to some special topics of the fine last posts.

Louis,

I'm very happy about your statement concerning "left foot full, left hand empty" principle. Before trying internal arts, I've learned some external forms and have never heared about this principle there. Moreover the "right foot full, right hand full"-principle was used very often, due to my experience it's really favorized. Also in Xingyi-chuan it is the rule to act this way. One may look e.g. at the splitting fist, which is the xingyi-single whip. But when starting to learn Taiji, I've been taught this principle from the very beginning, maybe for making things clear, but here it's commonly used in Yang style schools. I've never come across this principle in Chen style. So you're probably right when tracing it back to Zeng Manquing. Due to my experiences from other martial arts it was puzzling me all the time since I also couldn't see the reasons for this rule. So same as Audi I think I'll have to abandon this principle for the future.

Concernin the charging of jin in Single whip you wrote, that "...the left foot is fully only in the sense of bearing most of the body weight...the right foot is full in the sense as it is charged with jin". I think that in a posture like Single whip, where left foot and left hand are involved in a yang action, the transmission of power doesn't work in the same way as it does in a posture with foot/hand constellation as in Brush knee. I think the name Single whip indicates a very fast and powerful whiplike stroke, that's where the name is from. It appears very often in external and internal martial arts. The power of this stroke is generated in the front leg. The right backleg has the job to propel the body forward. When the left heel touches the floor, the leg bends, but not further then the toes. This stops the forward movement of the body and the left hand is brought out for a strike in a whiplike manner. It's comparable with throwing a spear. The backleg has not really something to work, it's physical weight is used to counterbalance the body. So it could be moved of the floor, without affecting the main movement. The stopping and sinking movement of the frontleg brings the power. Therefore I think, that in Single whip the frontleg is full and substantial in every sense.


Audi,

you wrote that "If you have better insights into full and empty, please share them".
I don't know if I have "better" insights - but yes I have some "other" ones that I'd like to share. Maybe they are not new to you but I've never heared them being discussed with respect to the following special viepoints. I've received them brandnew from a longtime direct Chen Xiaowang disciple. He pointed out the following aspects.

1. Beside the fact, that full and empty is always in any part of the body,in Taiji postures there should be a kind of "general separation" of full/yang and empty/yin between the complete right and left bodysides. The reference line for this separation is the bodycenter-line (Ren-and Du-meridians). That means, that when you like to issue power with the left hand not only the left arm should be full, the complete left bodyside should be full.

2. Don't look at the endposition of a posture to check this principle. The separation of full and empty is necessary in the moment when power is applicated (=the application). Every posture has a beginning, a midway-point and an end. Apllications happens mostly at the midway-point, where power is strongest, not at the end. After the application the movements didn't stop instantly. But the movements after applications are for sinking the qi back into the Dantian, so that it's ready for the next move.

3. Looking at single whip, it means, that when starting the posture with building the hook, the right bodyside is full. When stepping out to the left and bringing the left arm out, energy shifts into the left bodyside. By the time you get to the place where it looks as if you're pushing someone, the technique is already coming to an end.
The left elbow drops and the qi returns to Dantian. The centerline of the body stays upright and this is the axis of the wheel, not the weighted left leg.

4. In Brush knee and related postures it's the same. Don't look at the endposition, where the opposite arm of the front leg is froward. This is not where the application happens. The true application of Brush knee is an armbreak. This happens also at the midwaypoint of the posture. For example in left Brush knee, at the beginning, the right foot is full and also is right arm. Now you intercept a left punch, pulls the opponents left arm forward and leads him to the left, Left foot steps forward - the energy shifts from right side into the left bodyside. While turning to the left, your right arm makes contact with opponents left elbow, follows thorugh and breaks the arm. But the movement of right arm doesn't end here. It extends further forward. But again - at this point where it looks as if the right arm pushes someone, this technique is coming to an end. It's just necessary for the qi to sink into the Dantian, ready for next movement. This next movement beginns on a full left side with turning out left foot.

At the moment I don't know how this will influence my forms after I thought it over long enough. But it sounds very logical to me. When you write: "Alsdo I recall somewhere in the Classics about advice about when to attach to the full or empty side of an opponent. Does this refer to the opponents legs or arms" - it really could mean the complete "side" and not only an arm or a leg if the above mentioned includes the correct principle.

David,

thanks for your reply. I'll soon be back with a reply to your double-weighting-post, when I've made my way through all the high quality statements of this thread.

Best regards
Hans-Peter
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2002 6:01 am
Location: Idstein Germany

Postby Erik » Sat Jun 22, 2002 6:45 am

Hi Audi,

The opponent is trying to prevent you from placing your RIGHT fore-arm across his upper chest by grasping, blocking or pushing on your RIGHT wrist with his RIGHT hand. You then sit back to relieve the pressure, exchange the grasp (grab his right with your right) and re-direct or pull his right arm across his body (keeping the slack out of the arm) before applying 'Push'.

Hope that clarifies things. Good training - Erik
Erik
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2002 6:01 am
Location: Koh Tao, Thailand

Postby DavidJ » Sat Jun 22, 2002 4:31 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thank you for finding the reference.

In a way the quote addresses the yin "empty" aspect, and, for the most part, my post expressed the yang "full" aspect. A friend of mine expresses the idea as the "Secret of the Empty Shoulder," which makes me laugh, but I like it. As you say, the quote (below) from Tang Hao and Gu Liuxin’s 1963 book, Taijiquan Yanjiu (Research into Taijiquan) states it differently, but it is about the same thing.

Part of the quote reads, > ‘When one side of the waist settles down solidly, then the leg for that side also settles solidly. The empty leg on the other side is then able to step in a light and agile manner. Moreover, there should be a mutual pulling and responding between the empty leg and the side of the upper torso that corresponds with the solid leg.’ <

A portion of my post reads, > Application of the 'opposite shoulder principle' frees the opposite shoulder first, then the other joints are freed up, one by one. If you practice this can happen quickly. The 'same' shoulder soon frees up, then the 'opposite' hip. <

Part of the quote reads, > Only then can you avoid leaning or floating while moving the empty leg. <

The same part of my post reads, > When this happens the imbalances and the unneccessary leanings that sometimes plague people can disappear. <

I think I now understand what you (and others) mean about "focus of balance" being an inadequate, and perhaps confusing term. You said, > It would all depend on just what you mean by “the focus of balance.” To beginning students, in particular, it’s sometimes a challenge to get their focus of balance *out* of the shoulders and into the dantian. <
I would call that "focus of mind," but I get your point.

I have become aware that many people do put a "focus of balance" in their upper body that is incorrect. In my post I was assuming that those who might read it already had their *primary* "focus of balance" in the dantien. Silly me. :^(

So, to clarify the idea of "focus of balance in the upper torso" : what I'm talking about is a part of the connection that a hip and its opposite shoulder have *through* the dantien.

I'll have a look at Jou Tsung-Hwa's “torso method.”

Thank you very much,

David J

The quote from Tang Hao and Gu Liuxin’s 1963 book, Taijiquan Yanjiu (Research into Taijiquan), > ‘When one side of the waist settles down solidly, then the leg for that side also settles solidly. The empty leg on the other side is then able to step in a light and agile manner. Moreover, there should be a mutual pulling and responding between the empty leg and the side of the upper torso that corresponds with the solid leg. Only then can you avoid leaning or floating while moving the empty leg. Therefore, Li Yiyu said: “Above, the waist causes a mutual connection through the two arms, and below, a mutual according through the two kua and the legs.”’ <

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 06-22-2002).]

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 06-22-2002).]
DavidJ
 
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Audi » Fri Jul 12, 2002 8:41 pm

Hi all:

Great discussion.

Louis, I like the sophistication of your analysis. It is a good reminder that simple labels may hide multi-layered complexity.

David, I still like your opposite-shoulder idea from a practical standpoint, even if I do not like the wording of the principle Louis has commented on. While the end positions of some postures seem reversible to me, others decidedly do not, e.g., Brush Knee, Repulse Monkey, and Play Guitar. Your idea seems to explain as much as any what feels wrong in my body.

I also want to share something I ran across about the term "Single Whip" in a dictionary, but, alas, cannot quite remember the exact context and do not have current access to the dictionary. From what I recall some version of this phrase was described as applying to some Ching Dynasty (?) policy of combining various taxes into one. The Chinese phrase may have been something like "dan1 tiao2 bian1." If anyone knows anything about this and can enlighten us as to whether this might have a bearing on the choice of the posture name, I would appreciate it. What I am wondering is whether the term implies the combination of different things into one, meaning the application of power through both arms in order to topple the opponent.

One other thing I wanted to share is another definition of double weighting I heard from one of my teachers. With some alteration on my part, I would render it as: "One is double weighted whenever one cannot feel how one is both yin and yang." I like this, because it is a definition that allows application to an entire posture or to an individual joint.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jul 13, 2002 7:17 pm

Hi Audi,

Regarding your question above about the posture name, Single Whip, a few years ago I speculated about a possible relationship of the name for the taiji term Single Whip with the taxation term Single Whip, but it was pointed out to me that the term is different for the taxation policy. The Single Whip taxation system, which was a reform and consolidation of the tax-in-kind levy, began in 1581 in Ming China, and continued with variations under the Qing. The name of the taxation term, Yi(1) tiao(2) bian(1), was a pun, since the word for “whip” (bian) is a homophone for “register.” The “yi tiao” can mean “combined into one,” or it can be a measure word for something long and thin.

The term danbian seems to be unique to martial arts, but not exclusive to taijiquan. It appears in Qi Jiguang’s boxing manual, which happens to have been written around the time in the Ming when the taxation policy was instituted. You can find it rendered as "single whip," for example, in Douglas Wile’s translation of the manual in his _T’ai Chi’s Ancestors: The Making of an Internal Martial Art_, form 1, p. 20, and form 4, p. 21. I checked the original in Gu Liuxin’s _Taijiquan Shu_ (The Art of Taijiquan), and the Chinese is indeed “danbian.” However, what Wile translates as “one lash” for form 24 on p. 31, is in fact the term “yi tiao bian!” That is, it’s the same exact term used for the Single Whip taxation system. So, there may indeed be reason to think that there is a historical relationship between the Single Whip tax and the Single Whip martial form.

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 07-14-2002).]
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby DavidJ » Sat Jul 13, 2002 9:36 pm

Hello Audi and Louis,

Dealing with two opponents at once is part and parcel of how I was taught to use 'Single Whip,' so the idea of the term also meaning “combined into one” makes sense to me.

Recently I ran across a reference stating that 'Single Whip' was a posture *preparatory* to wielding a whip, like a reed. I've not run across this before, and I was wondering whether either of you have heard of this.

Thanks,

David J
DavidJ
 
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am

Previous

Return to Tai Chi Chuan - Barehand Form

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests

cron