## Four-Hand Rhythm

### Four-Hand Rhythm

Greetings to all,

In practicing the basic Yang-Style four-hand, vertical push-hands drill with fixed steps, I have noticed several different rhythms. I have used some of these to correct my form. I would be curious as to how others experience this drill and whether you perceive the same or different rhythms.

All this is fiendishly difficult to describe in words and may represent my crazy perceptions; nevertheless, I will do my best. I have not really worked out all of my thoughts, let alone their implications, but thought I would go ahead and post.

First, I experience the unity of the drill as a series of single beats, as if one were simply counting single numbers corresponding to each repetitions of a cycle.

Next, I experience a series of two beats corresponding to the back and forth movement of the knees. This could be represented by counting: one, and, two, and, three, and, etc., where the number corresponds to having the weight fully forward, and the “and” corresponds to having the weight fully back.

Next, I experience a series of three beats, corresponding to being fully advanced, in the middle, and fully retreated. This is the path described by the push and the pull of the interaction and may correspond to the number of waist rotations executed in advancing or retreating. It might also correspond to how the “kuas” open and close, but I have not fully worked this out.

If one visualizes the right foot forward the right arm positioned in Ward Off, I can give the following description of the three beats. The first curve is roughly forward, upward, and backward. The second is leftward, backward, and rightward. The third is backward, upward, and forward. There seem to by three loci of interaction with one’s partner at these three points, and I experience three curves or partial circles corresponding to each. The path of the interaction seems to follow a figure eight that is lying on its side and its edge, but which is bent around the central vertical access. This arrangement yields a feel of three distinct curves or partial circles and is the predominant rhythm I perceive. Does anyone else perceive this?

Next, I experience a series of four beats. This is the same as the three beats, but counts the middle circle twice on each cycle, once while advancing and once while retreating. These four beats correspond loosely to the four major techniques practiced—i.e., ward off, roll back, push, and press--; however, I am not sure that the length of each technique or “beat” is really equal. I also have difficulty figuring out where to place each technique within the four “circles.”

Next, I count five techniques, if Ward Off is counted twice. One does ward off once while retreating and raising the arm and once while advancing and spiraling the arm downward. If these five are “real,” how does this rhythm correspond to the three/four circles and the other rhythms?

Next, I have begun to perceive six beats, three curves going forward and three coming backward. Some of this corresponds to the storing (Yin) and releasing (Yang) of the three loci of interaction, but I have difficulty with the overlap between the four techniques and the exchanges between them.

Lastly and most recently, I have begun to perceive eight beats that correspond to the storing and releasing phase of each of the four techniques. Again, I am not sure how these eight should correspond to any of the other rhythms. I am particularly unsure whether to count Ward Off and Rollback as separate beats or whether to link them together as two components of one technique. The former supports a count of eight beats, and the latter supports a count of six beats. The choice also has implications for how offense and defense should match up between you and the opponent.

Let me ask some concrete questions to add shape to what I am trying to describe. Should one do the releasing aspect of Ward Off while advancing the arm, moving it rightward, or while lifting it? Should one do the storing phase of it while lifting the arm or while beginning to retreat? Similarly, should one do the releasing aspect of Press while moving rightward or while advancing. How about the storing aspect? Does this happen before the release phase, while the waist is rotating rightward or leftward, or perhaps as the legs advance forward?

I suppose there are also ten beats that correspond to doubling the five beats described above, but I do not strongly perceive the spiraling Ward Off (performed while advancing) as a clear technique that can be subdivided. Any takers?

What is the essential “rhythm” of the four-hands drill? What other rhythms do you perceive?

Take care,
Audi
Audi

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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Greetings to everyone,

Audi,
I didn't elaborate the rhythms idea yet to that extent as you did; I only noticed one basic rhythm in the tuishou of the four main directions:

two short beats in the position when the weight is on the back leg (the waist slightly turns on one beat to the left, then on the other beat to the right in order to neutralize the incoming attack) – then double (long) beat while moving forward – and again two short beats with the weight on the front leg corresponding to the two short opposite rotations of the waist – then again one double (long) beat while shifting weight backward.

Then the circle repeats. Actually the waist movement resembles figure "eight".

Schematically it can be represented as following diagram:

F
----   ----
|
|
|
|
----   ----
B

Concerning the storing and the releasing I have switched in my practice now to the exploring of the "vertical circle" approach that was just discussed in the other thread. The storing and the releasing in it on the advanced level IMO are the "swallowing" (TUN1) and the issuing (FA1).

Take care,

Yuri

[This message has been edited by Yury Snisarenko (edited 11-25-2004).]
Yury Snisarenko

Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2003 7:01 am

Erm, sorry, you lost me on this one. I have a hard time translating descriptions of rhythm in to rhythm--you gave a very detailed description, but rhythm is something I don't experience particularly consciously. It's more visceral to me. I can tell when the rhythm of push hands is right and I can use breaks in the rhythm to analyze where it's going wrong during vertical circling. But have no idea what is where when without stopping in the middle to find out.

When I first learned double arm push hands, it was the rhythm that caught me and helped me understand where to put my arms and when. But if there was any break in the rhythm I'd get hopelessly lost. Actually, that still happens sometimes. I know that feeling the rhythm of cycling back and forth in push hands is essential to the way I practice, but I can't break it down for you.

Good luck,
Kal
Kalamondin

Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Hi Audi

Would you describe the sequence in terms of movements?

So I can be sure I am think of the same one.

I *think* I know the one you are referring to - but want to make sure.

Stephen
Anderzander

Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 6:01 am
Location: UK

I use free hand for my pushing practice. Some thoughts on patterns.

My own background includes the tung, and cmc styles which use patterns in their practices. they are good begining level practices but one should be carfule about useing them to long. IMO

If you are able to sense a rhythm it means that your not really listening, your mind is on the outside.

Circling like a hawk looking for a rabbit, this means the mind had no direct intent. Only awareness of the action waiting for the right time. The right time is one where the other has stopped listing or is caught in their own mind following some type of pattern.

For this reason practice of this type can lead to wrong ideas, and trap ones attention in the outer shape instead of really developing inner awareness. Open, close, empty and full states of mind and body, this is what pushing develops awareness of this.

[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 12-05-2004).]

[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 12-05-2004).]
bamboo leaf

Posts: 188
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 7:01 am

Is it this one:
(please be patient 1mb file size)

Steve

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 12-05-2004).]
Anderzander

Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 6:01 am
Location: UK

Hi Steve, Yuri, Dave (BL) and everyone else,

Steve,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Posted by Stephen<B> Would you describe the sequence in terms of movements?

So I can be sure I am think of the same one.

I *think* I know the one you are referring to - but want to make sure.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Steve, from what I understand, the most basic Push Hands pattern Yang Jun and Yang Zhenduo teach is a horizontal “two-hand” circle, where each partner uses only one arm. The next exercise is a more vertical “four-hand” circle, in which each partner uses both arms. In the vertical circle, the order of the techniques follows the sequence of Grasp Sparrows Tail in Yang Chengfu’s form. When partner A does Push, partner B responds with Ward Off and Roll Back. Partner A then responds with Press, to which Partner B responds with Push, etc. Speaking more mechanically, one could say that Partner A actually inserts her own Ward Off between Partner B’s Ward Off and Roll Back. I have seen this pattern on some of the links posted over the last year or so, but cannot find any at the moment. Perhaps, someone could help with this.

I believe this sequence has more or less the same theory as what Cheng Man-Ch’ing taught, but the mechanics are somewhat different from what you posted on your later link on this thread. Although the rhythm is different, I think many of my questions might still apply. How do the rhythms of the “techniques” match with the rhythms of the movements? What is the basic rhythm?

Westerners can easily count rhythms of beats of four, such as in Jingle Bells or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or rhythms of beats of three, such as in any Waltz or in Silent Night or O Christmas Tree. Westerners have extreme difficulty doing both at once, such as by beating one rhythm with one hand and the other rhythm with the other hand.

As I do the four-hand exercise, I am curious as to what rhythm takes place, since I get the sense that there are multiple rhythms that are not subsets of each other. I find it intriguing that I can do something with conscious attention, but not be able fully to perceive what I am doing. I would be even more curious to know if I am doing something indirectly that I cannot do directly.

Yuri,

Are your “two short beats” equal to “one long beat”? If so, are you talking about eight beats in total: two on the back leg, two advancing, two on the front leg, and two retreating?

Dave,

You raise good points about patterns; however, I think that free practice has not been good for me. The danger in patterns is that one seeks to impose them on reality where they do not exist. The danger of ignoring them is that one can forget that reality is made up of patterns.

One of my inspirations for this post was the realization that I could use a philosophical pattern to explore whether my practical execution of the exercise was correct. When I did this, I realized that I was tuning my movements to an irrational pattern. My rhythm was off.

In some of your other posts, you mention “balance” as a primary principle. I have found that much Taiji teaching seems to take it as a given that we can control and manipulate certain aspects of reality at will. I think I have over-learned this and need to recognize more the constraints that reality places on us. In Push Hands, I spend too much time listening for the fullness and so never perceive the emptiness. The same thing happens in form when I become too concerned with “posing” and do not listen for the natural patterns in movement.

Take care,
Audi
Audi

Posts: 1205
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Greetings to All

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
Yuri,

Are your “two short beats” equal to “one long beat”? If so, are you talking about eight beats in total: two on the back leg, two advancing, two on the front leg, and two retreating?
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Audi,

I have analyzed the movements in that tuishou again and must say that actually that central beat of the weight shifting is undefined, because the shifting of the weight smoothly passes in the turning of the waist. In the very beginning for educational purposes these phases may be more dynamically separated in order to help the beginner to understand every phase. But usually we count only beats related to the waist turning. I.e. we have rhythm of 4 beats.

In our group in the beginning stage the shifting of the waist are carried out as quite long evident movement. But after time we try to shorten this phase. The shifting of the weight becomes shorter and shorter, i.e. center of the gravity tends to sway near the vertical center line of the middle point between the feet. So movements becomes tighter and tighter.

Probably this is also an answer to Mr. Wisdom's question from the Push Hand section.

Take care,

Yuri
Yuri Snisarenko

Posts: 205
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:01 am
Location: Russia