Hi Fred, DP, Louis, Kal, and everyone else:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>One is the whole. The whole is one.
Lu is one of the 13.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Fred, I agree with your statement, at least in a certain sense, but it raises a question for me. Do you believe that Ba Gua, Xing Yi, etc. have the same “one” as Taijiquan? Do you believe they have the same 13?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Does it matter to you if a Taijiquan energy is illustrated by the generating force or its resulting effect on the opponent? I tend to use both, depending on the context, and which may be less confusing in a particular illustration.</font>
I think we have a similar approach. I tend to think in terms of a single force that has the two aspects you mention. Where we may or may not differ is that I try to think of the characteristics of the force itself independently of what generates it or what effect it has.
Imagine that you are holding a chain that is attached to your opponent. If either you or your opponent pulls on the chain, the tension increases with respect to both. If either you or your opponent introduces slack, the feel is the same for both. If either of you twists the chain, the chain is affected uniformly. Even if the chain is whipped, the same energy will travel the length of the chain.
In each of the manipulations of the chain, there is more than one way to generate the energy. More importantly, although the chain defines the connection between you and your opponent, the changes in it do not fully define what happens either to you or the opponent. If you suddenly tug on the chain, the opponent may lose his balance and fall towards you. The reason you yourself do not fall is not because the energy is any different at your end of the chain, it is merely that you have disposed your body in a different way to absorb it. In this way, you can think of the energy as “directional.”
If find this way of thinking hard to describe and usually rely on describing how force is generated or absorbed by the opponent, but I sometimes wonder whether these other descriptions can be misleading. For instance, one application of Wardoff I have been taught, seems to have an effect on the opponent that is similar to what I used to think of as Rollback. It pulls the opponent in and throws him behind you. Sometimes the opponent ends up spinning away. The difference between the two techniques, Rollback and Wardoff, could theoretically be described by your initial position. Some might naturally conclude then that it is the initial body position that defines the energy; but this is not what I have been taught. I have also come to doubt such an approach through my own practice.
If we go back to the chain, it is easy to see that it is easy to pull it, give it slack, twist it, or whip it from many of the same physical positions. In other words, your initial position is not much of a constraint. If, however, you are trying to affect your opponent’s stability, you may be greatly constrained by the way she has arrayed her limbs and her energy. If she is advancing on you, introducing sudden slack will accomplish nothing; however, a well-timed pull on the chain could unbalance her and pull her past you. If she is trying to pull you, pulling back is unlikely to achieve much; however, suddenly giving in and introducing slack might cause her to fall backwards. If she is stepping forward and committing to one foot, suddenly whipping the chain to the side might cause her feet to cross and make her trip.
When I think of the eight energies, I generally think of things that address problems of engagement (Louis’s term) with the opponent. They are more general than specific applications, but they are still relative to the opponent’s “disposition” of energy. This is why I too have difficulty with reducing them to mere directions, like up or down.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> That is why I think it is better to think of the thirteen shi not as “postures,” but as root configurations. I don’t think that they were originally conceived as particular postures or movements, but more to an implied impetus and objective.</font>
Louis, I agree with this and think we are trying to explore the same territory. One way I try to do this is to pick one instance I am reasonably sure about and try to find the macrocosm in the microcosm. There are, however, dangers to such an approach; and it is certainly not the only valid learning style.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Using liejin as an example, calling it a simultaneous push/pull or absorb/project illustrates the generation of the force </font>
DP, Are you talking about actions that involve no rotation? If so, can you give an example of what you mean by “absorb/project”?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But something like "spin force" could be confusing depending on the context since a practitioner performing Lujin could interpret their waist turn and thus their spinning body to be "spin force" even if it is not used to impart a "spin force" on the opponent (which I consider necessary for it to be called liejin). </font>
I would tend to agree that every waist turn does not imply much Liejin. For instance, as far as I know, all Yang stylists perform the Rollback in the form with one or more waist turns. It would be surprising if this move was actually designed to be a primary application of Liejin. I do wonder, however, whether Liejin requires “imparting spin force” to the opponent. I think you have to spin a portion of the “string” of energy that connects you with the opponent, but I do not think the opponent must spin himself. As I mentioned above with Wardoff, I think it is also possible to make the opponent spin without using Liejin.
The first authoritative reference to Liejin that I saw was a demonstration of using Flying Diagonal to strike the opponent’s body or intercept a strike. The only spinning involved seemed to be the spinning of the practitioner. When I once heard Yang Zhenduo distinguish Flying Diagonal from Parting Wild Horse’s Mane, he seemed to stress the difference in the starting positions irrespective of any particular effect on the opponent. I am not sure how to interpret his comments, but I have ended up settling on the scheme I have laid out above. Perhaps a simple way to put it would be that Liejin succeeds through the use of spin force; however, there are many ways to use force so that the end result will send the opponent spinning.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Finally, I was not considering the drill where the elbow and wrist are restricted to the same horizontal plane since I have never been taught that way. Thanks for bringing this method to my attention. </font>
When I first heard this, it was also quite a surprise to me and different from what I had originally been taught. Now that I think about it, I believe the Association’s drill is described as something like “horizontal circling,” rather than single-arm circling. Because of this, I think the emphasis is truly on the horizontal plane to the exclusion of other planes. Similarly, the four-hand drill is described as “vertical circling,” because the circles must be distinctly vertical in character. My understanding is that there are many, many different types of circling, and one of the aims for training is to be able to smoothly transition between the various types.
In the horizontal circle, the end of the rotation leaves the palm in a position with the hand flat on the opponent’s wrist, but with the thumb below and the fingers above. The palm is in position to close like a clam and initiate a horizontal Pluck (Cai/Ts’ai) in the direction of your elbow. You do not actually do Pluck in the drill, but you end the rotation in position to do so. One easy error to commit is to use the rotation merely to initiate the forward push (An). If you have this intent, the rotation arrives too late for Pluck and tends to violate the principles of sticking that I think the drill is designed to teach. It is also possible to rotate too quickly, ahead of the waist. To me, it seems that the palm arrives completely only as the waist rotation finishes and as my partner should be switching full and empty.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Still, I’m kind of attracted to the rendering of lie as “torque.” </font>
“Torque” is a nice simple word that is just mysterious enough to make English speakers think. By the way, for those who might not be native speakers or near-native speakers, you should know that “torque” is not an everyday word. To me, it is a scientific term that refers to the physics of motion. I think of it as “twisting force.”
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> lie is torque based </font>
Rich, I think I even prefer this formulation, because it tells us to look for some sort of twist as the basis for what is done, but implies there is more. For example, as I mentioned in another post, it was made clear to me that Liejin requires a certain delicacy or exactness in the application speed. Another example would be not to assume that the local twisting of the opponent’s left arm in a move like the Rollback in the form is enough to characterized the entire application as emblematic of Liejin. In Rollback, the twist merely sets up the effectiveness of what comes next. The twist itself does not uproot, move, or injure the opponent.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> First though, I do agree that itÕs useful to break down the single arm push hands sequence into push, ward off, rollback/split/pull to get a better idea of the forces (jins) involved, and I also agree that there is a point where the jins do all blend together and itÕs impossible to say where one ends and the next begins. </font>
I also have been taught that mixing the jins
is indeed supposed to be fairly typical of Taiji applications.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> A more complicated example of liejin might be a combination of pung to attract, lu to smooth, pull to draw in, and finally liejin to rend. In that example, IÕm actually thinking about one of the basic applications of lu (most likely on YJÕs DVD) with the addition of split at the end. This is more like the whirlpool analogy of drawing something in while rotating around a central core. </font>
I find it interesting that you examine this sequence from the perspective of one technique. I tend to be a splitter, rather than a joiner, and so prefer to examine it as a series of different possibilities that are somewhat mutually exclusive. I can think of peng/pung
in this situation only as you describe it above. The other three, I think of as sequential possibilities, each of which could theoretically be emphasized, but not simultaneously or in the same cycle.
For Lu, I think I would want to search for a fulcrum. For Lie, I think you want smoothness. For Cai, perhaps the key is a transition between states. The way the exercise is actually performed, I would think that the Lie part is what is emphasized, at least as we have apparently come to define it.