Bouncing

Postby Kalamondin » Wed Dec 22, 2004 12:09 am

Hi David,

Thanks for your thoughts on emptiness and for sharing excerpts of the Li Ya Xuan article.

I liked the image of practice partners jumping into and out of holes generated from leading each other into emptiness.

Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Wed Dec 22, 2004 1:24 am

Hi Audi,

You wrote: <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
I now prefer to view “neutralizing” as “transforming,” which immediately provokes the question: “Transforming into what?” The Chinese word “hua” can mean to “neutralize” or “dissolve,” but I think it also has an underlying meaning of “transform.” </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My beginning understanding of neutralizing energy was something like yielding, deflecting off to the side, and then allowing the incoming energy to dissipate off into space after guiding it away from my center. Now, rather than allowing the energy to dissipate, I’ve been working on circling it back, this idea of meeting it, matching it, turning (transforming it), and returning it in progressively smaller circles. This includes the “bouncing,” where the physical structure compresses then rebounds outward, as though the momentum of the opponents energy circles through my chest, into my arm, and then back at them.

Is that what you mean when you said, “In the first part of this circle you drain the opponent and store energy. In the second part, you release energy and circulate it back into the opponent[?]” I’m curious to hear more about what you think of “draining” and “storing” energy, particularly what that means on an energetic (qi) level, or if you think it has “only” to do with conserving momentum?

With regard to the “dissolve” element of “hua,” isn’t there also a jing for absorbing energy and dissipating it utterly? Say, like a lightning rod channeling lightning into the ground? In this forum there’s been talk of guiding the opponent’s energy to the ground and then guiding it back up and out, like a basketball bouncing off the ground, but now I’m not talking about bouncing, or redirecting off to the side. No deflection, no reflection. What would the application be? I think it would be for absorbing a blow you didn’t want to return, or possibly as an intimidation tactic (with luck, preventing further attempts).

Louis’s translation:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> “Hence, zhan (adhere), ti (lift), ting (listen), and fang (release), already exist at its core (yi zai qi zhong). The techniques of unite (he), swallow (tun), and spit (tu), all obtain in an instant (sha na jian).” </font>


I think this sounds like what you (Audi) were talking about when you said,
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> “Some of the “shock” in receiving a push from advanced practitioners is that one often feels the Jin leave one’s body, concentrate in the opponent’s body, and than return through a vulnerable spot. </font>


Does it feel like advanced practitioners unite with your energy (match speeds, frequencies), swallow it (incorporate it and make it their own), and then spit it back? To me the condensing feels rather like a spring condensing/contracting before it springs open again, only the direction of the release is finely controlled, aiming for those vulnerable spots.

Thanks,
Kal
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:19 am

Greetings All,

<< This is Ben Lo’s translation of the San Shou essay, correct? There is something curious about this text... the order of the terms is slightly different from Lo’s translation >>

Louis,

Very interesting note. It seems you are right, and ZMQ meant that these FOUR exist in one initial thing. I'm glad that you turned my attention to that section.

Another character that seems not clear to me is zhuo2/zhao2 that Lo translates as "correct touch". Professor has paraphrased well known phrase from Wang Zongyue's "Taiji quan lun" "you2 zhuo2shu2 er2 jian4 wu4 dong3jin4" (From familiarity with "ZHAO" (how to maneuver / to touch?), one may gradually realize how to comprehend jin). Barbara Davis also uses the word 'touch' and gives the following translation of WZY's phrase: "Through experience of the touch, one can gradually comprehend and understand jin". Apparently ZMQ's followers endue this character (zhao2) with specific meaning that somehow relates to the particular phase of closing with an opponent in tuishou/sanshou.


<< Now, rather than allowing the energy to dissipate, I’ve been working on circling it back, this idea of meeting it, matching it, turning (transforming it), and returning it in progressively smaller circles. >>

Kal,

I like your approach. IMO this is the main purpose of taiji as a MA that emphasizes non-violence.


Take care,

Yuri



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 12-27-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Dec 23, 2004 7:34 pm

Greetings Yuri,

Barbara’s notes are very good for that passage in the Treatise. She writes,

“Shu can mean experienced, familiar with, or careful study. Zhao has a number of meanins (as well as alternate pronunciations) including to touch or feel, or defensive and offensive moves.” (p. 107)

I agree that the line is talking specifically about touch, and by extension the internalized experience that builds up from that familiarity with touch. In English we talk about “carpenter’s hand” or “mechanic’s feel” to describe the sort of skill for knowing how much pressure to apply to the chisel, or how much to tighten a bolt without shearing it. It only comes from a gradual buildup of experience.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:38 am

That is a nice excerpt from Zheng Manqing. It seems to me that this whole notion of receiving and then circling back is one of a handful of secrets in taiji (which are hidden in plain sight). Xie Bingcan demonstrates this sometimes using a sound something like "ahhhhAHHH?" Every time you push him, even in seemingly impossible situations for him, he just goes "ahhhhAHHH?" and you find yourself getting pushed back.

Another one of these open secrets is that if you follow the ten essentials, you can get your body to line up in such a way that it is very hard for someone to push you and when they do they tend to just push themselves backward.


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 12-25-2004).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Fri Dec 24, 2004 9:15 am

Greetings All

Louis, thank you. I understand the meaning of 'zhao' much better now. Probably one more thing relates to the concept of that 'touch'. It's jin dian (jin point). However, this is only my assumption.

<<Xie Bingcan demonstrates this sometimes using a sound something like "ahhhhAHHH!" >>

Very interesting. Obviously it's a manifestation of well-developed neigong.

<<Another one of these open secrets is that if you follow the ten essentials, you can get your body to line up in such a way that it is very hard for someone to push you and when they do they tend to just push themselves backward.>>

Well, I think it would be beneficial for me to reanalyze the ten essentials again.

Merry Christmas to All,

Yuri
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Fri Dec 24, 2004 9:34 pm

I have not seen the graph (×Å) interpreted by Chinese sources as anything other than the word pronounced ¡°zh¨¡o¡± in B¨§ij¨©ng, which means ¡®postures, moves¡¯. The usage of this graph seems to be a T¨¤ij¨ª ¡®guild usage¡¯. The graph used in the standard language is (ÕÐ).

I interprete this line thus:

¡°By mastering the ¨Cpostures- one will experience a process of gradual realization of what it is to understand internal strength.¡±


Has anyone given an explication for the ¡®touch, feel¡¯ interpretation of this word, particularly in this passage?


Jeff
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Dec 25, 2004 9:11 pm

Greetings Jeff,

I’ve also seen lots of Chinese commentary that glosses this ‘zhao/zhuo’ graph with the other ‘zhao’ character meaning “moves, actions, gestures,” or stating that the graph in the Lun line refers to form training, or the like. I agree that the usage is likely a term of art specific to taijiquan, but I don’t know know if I would stop with a simple meaning of “moves” or “postures.” We endeavor to learn not only the shapes and gestures of the form, but the content and intention of those shapes and gestures. It doesn’t really qualify as gongfu until the content of the actions is internalized. So when I ponder these lines in the Lun, the “touch” and “feel” connotations of the zhao graph seem readily to apply here, especially since Zheng Manqing quotes the line in the context of tingjin.

One source (Meng Naichang) says that “zhaoshu” refers to form practice: pan2jia4. There’s a nice little entry for panjia in the Dictionary of Essential Taijiquan Terminology (Jingxuan taijiquan cidian) that I roughly translate:

~~~
Pan2jia4 The method of training the set of taijiquan movements. By going through repetitive practice, one tries to fathom the inner patterns of taijiquan—from a stage of xing2si4 (imitation of shape and appearance) to a stage where one gradually probes toward a condition of shen2si4 (alike in spirit, not only appearance). The overall sequence and principles of panjia are as follows: 1) first achieve precision in the movements, then emphasize the inner feeling (neizai ganjue); 2) first train individual postures, then link them up into sections, advancing this training to the whole set.
~~~

Another source that comes to mind is the Push Hands section of Yang Chengfu’s book, _Taijiquan tiyong quanshu_. There, Yang states that studying push hands “is learning how to sense energy (jue jin).” He also quotes part of the Lun lines about the progression from “dongjin” to “shenming,” saying, “These words are without question rooted in push hands.”

I may well be off the mark in reading the “touch/feel” entailment into the Taijiquan Lun usage of the “zhao” graph, but it seems to me that the touch and feel is really what we’re aiming for when we train movements and postures.

What do you think?

Happy Winter Solstice,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Dec 27, 2004 12:13 am

Greetings Jeff,

I now think I may need to reconsider what I posted above regarding the “touch/feel” connotation of the “zhao” character. In looking over various sources, I read the running commentary to the “Taijiquan Lun” in Yang Chengfu’s early book, _Taijiquan Shiyongfa_. It isn’t clear to me who wrote this commentary; it may have been Yang Chengfu, or one of his students. Does anybody here know? In any case, it glosses the “zhao” graph as “the boxing form” (zhao zhe, quan shi ye). Here’s Wile’s translation of that bit of commentary:

‘ “Postures” refers to the T’ai-chi form. At present my fellow practitioners seek only to grasp interpreting energy, but are unable to repulse opponents. Instead, they should first learn the postures correctly (xian xue zishi zhengque) and practice them until thoroughly mastered. Then gradually they should study interpreting energy. The ancients had a saying that to ignore the root and trim the branches was like raising a square inch of wood above the highest building. This teaches us that we must first develop the postures and later learn interpreting energy. It will then not be difficult to reach “spiritual insight.” Spiritual insight here refers to miraculous martial skill; “sudden breakthrough” means grasping the marvelous secrets of martial art. If you can circulate the ch’i through the “nine-bends-pearl,” then you will have mastered the principles of T’ai-chi. Without long practice and familiarity, how can you hope to reach this level.’
—Wile, T’ai-chi Touchstones, p. 120

So, this commentary clearly supports the interpretation you pointed out. It specifically states that “zhao” refers to the form movements. Moreover, it puts the mastery of forms in a context of stages of learning, so that the content, the “touch” is something that only comes later. That makes sense.

One thing I’m constantly discovering about the classics is that the meaning seems to change, depending upon one’s one stage of development, or what one is currently emphasizing in one’s training. I suppose that’s what makes it so profitable to re-visit them again and again.

Thank you, Jeff (and Yuri) for raising this question. Doubt is always a useful thing.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:26 pm

Hi Yuri, Louis, and everyone else,

Great discussion about “zhao.” It is good to see comments that directly relate form postures to principles.

Yuri, thanks for the passage and including the Chinese. I now recall that I I have usually thought of “jie1” as “connect.” Your passage seems to associate it more with an idea of “catching.” “Catching” seems to be a more apt term, because it more clearly relates to the underlying energy, instead of implying mere physical touch. One can “connect” with an opponent’s punch merely by meeting it with one’s chin. To “catch” the punch, one must at least manipulate it and control it to a certain degree. On the other hand, “catch” implies that everything stops in a way that “connect” does not. “Connect” also implies less rigidity in reference to the time factor. One can “connect” with a process at any time along its development. One can “catch” something only after it has been thrown or launched and is about to arrive.

I know that “jie1” is also translated as “receiving,” but I have problems with the image this creates. For one thing, I think some people talk about “shou4 jin(r)4,” which also means “receiving energy.” “Shou,” however, has little or no sense of the initiative that “jie1” can imply. To me, this is a much better match with “receiving.”

I also had some of the same translation questions that you and Louis have discussed. Louis, thanks for resolving some of questions, even before I asked them. By the way, do you have any particular purpose in rendering “he2” as “unite,” rather than as “close”?

One question that remains for me is why zhan (adhere), ti (lift), ting (listen), and fang (release) have been listed in this order. (My understanding of this style of Chinese is that there is more of a tendency than in English to order items according to time sequence or according to causality.) In particular, I found the placement of “Ting” surprising. On the other hand, I am not sure where else I would place it.

My interpretation of the phrase was as follows: “If you adhere to your opponent and follow his movements, his qi will tend to rise as he stiffly responds to your touch. If you listen for this response, you will know the correct moment and manner to release the energy involved in the interaction and launch him.”

The two questions I have with this interpretation are the following. First, should “Listening” come before “Adhering”? I generally think of Listening as the foundation for everything else. In addition, I think of it mostly in relation to Interpreting/Understanding (“Dong3”) Energy and Neutralizing/Transforming (“Hua”) Energy, and not in relation to Adhering-Sticking-Linking-Following (“Zhan-Nian-Lian-Sui”). This is perhaps a variation of the issues Louis raised with respect to “Tifang.”

The second question I have with my interpretation is that it can imply a greater degree of passivity than I have been taught. I have been taught that in “Following” one can actively look for opportunities to create difficulties for the opponent. In other words, if I decide I want to use Press, I should be able to follow the opponent in such a way that he will give me an opportunity to execute Press. I do not think one is compelled to “strategize” in this way, but I think it is an option or rather a question of degree. In all cases, you yield the initiative to the opponent, but how much you play with what the opponent leaves to you is an open question. The more your put in play, the more you have to gain and the more you have to lose.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Dec 29, 2004 4:23 am

Greetings Audi,

Re: By the way, do you have any particular purpose in rendering "he2" as "unite," rather than as "close"?

The word "he" doesn't always mean "close" in taiji. The usage here in the “unite, swallow, spit,” line is based, I think, upon the usage in the line in the Song of Push Hands: "Attract him into emptiness, join, then issue." So the meaning is to "join," or "unite" with the opponent. That’s the way I read it here, anyway.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 12-29-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:18 am

Greetings,

I may be one of a very few who find this sort of thing interesting, but I got curious about the source of the line Wile translated in the Touchstones “Treatise” commentary: “The ancients had a saying that to ignore the root and trim the branches was like raising a square inch of wood above the highest building.” After some considerable digging, I found it in Mengzi (Mencius 6:B). It’s part of a rather involved discussion of ethics, food, and sex. The line, which Mengzi uses in an extended argument about ethical relativities, is an interesting sort of carpentry/engineering metaphor. D.C. Lau translates it: “If you bring the tips (mo) to the same level without measuring the difference in the bases (ben), you can make a piece of wood an inch long reach a greater height than a tall building.” The Treatise commentator made a very clever use of this metaphor, I think, drawing upon the practical entailment of the need to establish a proper foundation.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Michael » Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:25 pm

No Louis you are not the only one who finds this stuff interesting. I should not tell you how many different books and tranlations you have "caused" me to buy. You should be getting "kickbacks". *G*
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:14 pm

Hi Louis,

I'm curious about the concepts of uniting, swallowing, and spitting. Do you know any more about the origins of that? Are there other references to it?

Your translation was:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
"Hence, zhan (adhere), ti (lift), ting (listen), and fang (release), already exist at its core (yi zai qi zhong). The techniques of unite (he), swallow (tun), and spit (tu), all obtain in an instant (sha na jian)."
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I guess I'm trying to get a better sense of the cultural context for it, the etymology, anything you've got that might shed some more light on it including your own interpretation.

I found a quote in the most recent Tai Chi magazine (Vol. 28, No. 6, p. 17) that uses the phrases swallow and spit in a way I haven't heard before and I'd like to better understand what's being talked about. It's from an interview with Professor Huang Zhenhuan who created a new style called Dadao Taijiquan Gong based on Yang and Wu styles. I don't know anything about this style other than what I read in the article. His ninth point of Song gong practice says:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Ninthly, the inner-transformation of You (exist or have) and Wu (non-exist or nothingness), Dong (motion) and Jing (stillness), Tun [gulp the opponent down to the practitioner's stomach (spiritually)] and Tu [throw out the opponent from the practitioner's stomach (spiritually)], Xu (insubstantiality) and Shi (solidity)
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Do you know what the bit about swallowing someone spiritually might mean? And what about the stomach?

Thanks very much,
Kal
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 04, 2005 6:53 pm

Greetings Kal,

To my knowledge, these are just idiomatic taiji terms: tun (swallow) connotes a kind of controlled yielding, and tu (spit) is simply a colorful term for fajin, discharging energy. I haven’t seen the interview you refer to, and I’ve never seen it expressed quite that way. I don’t know what was meant by “spiritual” in that context, but in my estimation these are metaphorical expressions. The yielding and discharging are “like” swallowing and spitting. The reference to the stomach seems odd. It may mean the dantian. As far as other references, I think I’ve seen references to tun and tu in some classic taiji texts, maybe Li Yiyu, but I can’t recall exactly where. There is a reference to tun (swallow) in a short text by Wu Yuxiang, the Four Character Secret Formula.

Take care,
Louis
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