Single Whip

Postby gene » Tue Oct 22, 2002 7:44 pm


Thanks for the welcome back. (Work always seems to get in my way.)

A few thoughts, in no particilaur order:

1. I'm not sure that swimming is the best analogy for your position. Once we're past the stage of learning the mechanics, I think swimming is unconscious. We can tie this into the four stages of learning, expressed in many books and articles: unconscious incompetence progresses to conscious incompetence, then to conscious competence, and finally to unconscious competence (i.e., the "Zone"). Your framework of constantly applying peng energy to the opponent is your way to the Zone, which happens when you do this well and without thought. (I think.)

2. I agree with you that too many players focus too much on the yin aspect (the wet noodle syndrome). Taiji then becomes simply a dance exercise, and a key element - balance between yin and yang - is lost. I wonder, however, whether the theory of constantly pushing on the opponent neglects the yin aspect altogether. Does it?

3. Paul Crompton's book "T'ai Chi Combat" contains some interesting thoughts about the overemphasis on yin by many health oriented teachers and schools. He argues that not understanding combat applications removes much of the enjoyment and depth from the art.

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Postby DavidJ » Wed Oct 23, 2002 1:21 am

Hi Audi and Gene,

FWIW I agree that many people's practice does seem focused on the yin aspect. From what I've seen this is the result of a conscious (or unconscious) decision to try to compensate for being too yang.

Welcome back from me too, Gene. How's your little taoist master these days? I hope you find more time to post.


David J
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Postby gene » Thu Oct 24, 2002 7:03 pm


Thanks. The Taoist Master just turned two. I know it's a cliche, but the time just flies. She remains a daily source of amazement and truth. I think she has martial arts in her blood, since one of her favorite activities is dragging daddy's taiji staff around the house. Which is OK since I never learned to use it.

Here's an interesting quote from Zhang Zhi Jun in the August 2002 T'ai Chi Magazine, which may contribute to the discussion of force and energy: "At the heart of Chen T'ai Chi, he said are four grievous errors in push hands. One is diu, which means to lose something. Another is ding, which means to resist. Another is dyan, which is becoming flat. The fourth is kang, which means resisting with hard force. To overcome these four faults, you should meet force with peng, meet peng with spiral motion, meet spiral motion with turning of the body, and meet turning of the body with sinking the gua. If you apply these principles then you can avoid the four grievous errors."

What does everyone think of these concepts? Are they equally true for Yang style? And can someone give me an example of "spiral motion" from the Yang form?

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Postby Audi » Tue Oct 29, 2002 1:42 am

Hi Gene and David,

Gene, I read the story you quote from and found it intriguing; however, I am not sure that what Zhang says is readily translatable to Yang Style. I frankly also wonder if this is a standard view of Chen Style since it differs in several respects from what I had been led to understand about Chen Style.

The classics referenced by the Yangs do refer to the same grievous errors described by Zhang, but they are described only as the opposites of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following (zhan, nian, lian, sui). I do not recall that the rest of Zhang's ideas are described anywhere.

My understanding of Yang Style is that the type of Peng energy apparently referred to by Zhang is prominent and to some degree always present in Yang Style movements. I also have not heard of peng, spiral motion, body turning, and sinking the kua (?) as being a group of four alternating energies.

Take care,
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