<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Ward off is not just the 'Ward Off' move in grasp the bird's tail. Look at the ward offs in White Crane or Jade lady weaves shuttle. The rotation is the opposite of rollback rotation.</font>
I agree with this statement. My understanding is that these rotations are ideally accomplished the same as in the push hands circling, i.e., without the contact point sliding against you partner's skin. You may indeed slide, skin to skin, when your purpose is not to stick, but to do something else. For instance, in Fair Lady Works the Shuttle, you might slide beneath your own arm and your opponent's arm to reach his elbow; however, once you free yourself, I think you want to "stick." While sticking, your arm rotation will help cause the opponent to open up further. Your arm is the sprocket (?) in the bicycle wheel that causes the chain to move. Even though the sprocket stays "still" in one place, it causes the chain to move. "Seek stillness in movement"?
By the way, I recall a few times in the three-volume video set where Yang Zhenduo very deliberately goes from a ward off into a grab in order to demonstrate applications. (If I recall correctly, he did this to demonstrate Rollback.) When I first saw it, I remember thinking that he moved in a very deliberate and special way. I wondered why he took such care, since he was merely getting his hand in position to show a subsequent application.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">They slide the way we can if we plant our back foot and slide the front forward, then plant the front and slide the back forward, then plant the back... come to think of it pretty much like skating... only different!</font>
As an aside, I once recall watching a nature show about the motion of sidewinders. These snakes appear to move my wriggling sideways across the ground, but in reality they sort of walk sideways with only two parts of their bodies touching the ground at any one time. Most of the wriggling actually takes place in the air. If you imagine the snake in the shape of an uppercase "N" with the head at the right and the tail at the left, only the top two points would be touching the ground. As the snake moved up the screen, it would invert its coils, moving the two "bottom" points of the "N" through the air to touch the ground above the previous two points. This would form the shape of an inverted "N."
Here is a picture and a description of sidewinder locomotion
(the description is at the bottom) that is clearer than what I have written above. Note that the marks in the sand show that its contact with the ground is actually discontinuous and that it cannot be sliding or wriggling along to produce such marks. I find it interesting that what our eyes think they see is different from what actually happens.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Zhang Yun's description, ime, is for any circumstance where you touch. If you can't understand it as applying in all circumstances then I think their must be differences in your taiji and his - or you have misread it somewhere.</font>
It's not that I thought his description does not apply, its that his description led me to think in a restricted way.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In pushing hands, when you touch your opponent, you should unsettle him. Do not use too much force, just let him feel that he must do something to solve the problem. Then he will give you a reaction. From his reaction, you can determine how you should respond. If you cannot make a chance, keep doing Nian, that means follow him, keep touching and giving him a little bit more trouble, and wait for him to give you more reaction. So Nian is also used to sound the opponent out. That means to give him questions and await his answers. The questions should hit his weakness point continually. If you have question for him one by one and he cannot give you the right answer on time, you are controlling him.</font>
Language like the above led me to think of Nian only in a "macro" way as something that you "keep doing" over and over, that you do "continually," or to "sound your opponent out." As I considered the live teaching I have experienced, discussion of these things always seemed to focus first on the "micro" issues. For instance, during a particular counter to a Press application, I was told not merely to get my body out of the way as my partner sailed by, but to try to "stick" body to body during the process. In other applications, I have been instructed to get my partner's limbs in certain positions and needed to use zhan-nian-lian-sui to do so.
During some of my most intense instruction in push hands, I have been asked to show each of the eight energies from a position of doing open circles. If I simply moved on my own initiative and put my arms in position to start the application, I received the friendly caution about disconnecting and giving permission to my partner to strike. Instead, I was supposed to use zhan-nian-lian-sui to set up the right conditions. Imagine doing circles with your opponent's palms on your wrists, being asked to perform Rollback, and being forbidden from (1) disconnecting, (2) relying on crossing your arms and using a closed circle, (3) sliding, or (4) taking more than five seconds or so to set up the right conditions. I should stress that this is not magic and is performed as a semi-cooperative exercise.
I believe Zhang Yun's description can be applied to the situation I describe above, but I think the viewpoint and training emphasis feels different.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>I don't quite follow your train of thought here Audi. It appears to be contradictory?
You say you want your opponent to take the initiative - but what are you doing until that happens?
If you are not passive, have a firm root and are full then you are handing your initiative to a sensitive opponent. He will be able to know you whilst you do not yet know him.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
As far as I understand, I am just regurgitating standard theory and so must indeed be explaining myself badly.
Consider the Preparation Posture. Some people teach this as an opportunity to "relax" completely and eliminate any feel of muscular exertion. The Yangs do not talk in these terms. They talk about demonstrating the Ten Essentials even here. To do this, you must exert yourself physically. You cannot do this if you merely stand there impassively. Even though you are waiting for you opponent's movement, you are actively engaged in doing various things while you wait in alertness.
Waiting has both a macro and a micro component. Consider a partner in a bow stance. By using this stance, she has relatively good control of front and back, but poorer control of side to side. If her right foot is forward, her "right door" is closed, but her "left door" is open. Consider a horse stance. Left and right are well controlled, but not so front and back. No matter how your partner stands, she has vulnerabilities and has to have an empty and full. By taking any stance, she has taken an initiative that you can exploit. If she does not commit to a stance or, more likely, disguises her commitment, you can either wait for her to do something or you can take action to force her to reveal her disposition of full and empty. If she is better than you, you will probably reveal yourself first, but if you execute with better skill, you can be successful.
If your partner commits to movement, you can control the movement through stillness. If your partner commits to stillness, you can control it through movement. If your partner commits neither to movement nor to stillness, then you also cannot commit and in this limited sense must wait.
My push hands instruction has not been focused only on "counters," but more on how to make the opponent give you the energy you need, both in a macro and micro sense. "Forget yourself and follow the other" is very meaningful for this kind of play, but not because you are supposed to give up all control, but rather because the root of your control is always in the opponent's energy flow. To resist this energy flow is to give up the goal of controlling it and to deprive yourself of the energy you need. You have to let the opponent extend or trap his energy in order to be able to use it.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If you are not passive, have a firm root and are full...</font>
For whatever reason, I have never heard instructors in the Association speak of a person being full or empty, they always talk about a particular part of a person's body being empty or full. If a person's arms are full, then their legs must be empty. If their legs are full, then their arms must be empty. It is the same with right and left. If all is full, then all is empty.
The name of the game is not to be empty or full, but to differentiate empty and full in order to use them to your advantage, both within yourself, but also with respect to your partner. There are several methods to do this. I can do none of them consistently, but can replicate them in "controlled" conditions.
One method is to know the moment when some part of the person's body is full and must begin to "empty" (i.e., when old yang must turn into new yin). You can choke off the flow and cause it rebound or reverse. The body part becomes too full and must empty in a way opposite to your partner's intent. You can also interrupt the flow so that the partner cannot separate empty and full adequately and cannot apply his power. This happens when your palms are in position to push, but somehow you can't seem to apply any power.
Another method is to use control over the full part to attack the empty part. You make what is empty in the opponent too empty. This sometimes happens when you pull on the opponent's push or push on his pull, but it is not the only way. Sometimes you find that when you push with someone for a while, it is easy to send them stumbling twenty feet away at the beginning, when they are fresh and can make their arms very full, compared with their legs. When they tire or get used to your tricks, their qi naturally sinks and their arms are less full. Now it is hard to use the same techniques to move them the same distance. It can, however, now be easier to prevent them from generating any power and separating full and empty for their own purposes.
Since, according to Sunzi, you cannot eliminate either full or empty, you try instead to use them to your advantage. To use them, you must be able to distinguish them in your opponent. To act on your knowledge, you must be able to distinguish them in yourself. By distinguishing them in yourself, you potentially expose yourself to your opponent. If your actions are rooted in your opponent's energy flow or stagnation, your are safe; however, to the extent you must root your actions in your own flow, you expose yourself. In actual practice, you usually have to use some of your own energy, expecially against an opponent whose level of skill is anywhere near yours. The game then is in trying to minimize how much of your self you have to use, concealing your own disposition of full and empty, being nimble in changing your own full and empty, and detecting and controlling your opponent's deployment of full and empty.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Cheng Man Ching may seem to be centred around a simple alternation, but I don't think it is.</font>
Did I say something inconsistent with your statement?
From the little I have seen, there are many of Cheng Man-ch'ing's successors that certainly have complete and effective push hands systems. My point was to focus on communication difficulties across sub-styles.
I remember once seeing students of Chou Tsung Hwa demonstrate a simple push hands exercise that showed a four- or five-step retreat. The design was to match each of the movements to one of the Five Elements. I have never done the exercise and so cannot comment on its training purpose or ultimate value, but what struck me was the difference in apparent activity between the two parties. The "defending" party was engaged in multiple transformations that clearly showed the five elements, but the "attacker" seemed to simple shift his weight forward in four or five straight increments. The flavor was markedly different from the circling I am used to.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Have you trained much CMC Audi?</font>
Certainly not enough to speak with any authority. It was many, many years ago for perhaps only a year or two. As I think further, I am not sure if the first "circle" I was taught was a simple circle, or the two-hand exercise; but, in either case, the feel for me was the same.
When I was taught what I think was the initial circle, I was taught that my partner would push, I would look for the right moment to turn the waist and use Rollback. She would then attack with Press, and I would use Cover (?) to let her force pass by. Then I would use Push. In learning this method, I was never encouraged actually to execute a Rollback attack unless my partner committed to a Push application. I could not really initiate a Press attack unless my partner committed to a Rollback application. I was not taught an application for the "Cover." Pushing, however, was okay. There was a tremendous emphasis on "relaxing" that seems to me to be handled quite differently in the Association's pushing.
Stephen, I would be curious to know how you have been taught about zhan-nian-lian-sui and how you find these concepts helpful in your circling. I am also curious how much emphasis there was on the size and geometry of the circle and also on the palm orientation. Also, how were the initial exercises stated? In other words, what were you told that you would actually be practicing by going through the motions?
In the Association's initial circle, the only commitment you need from your partner in order to partake of the flavor of an application is the circling motion itself. There is no need to immediately think in terms of counters. The circle motion itself is sufficient. When I show the initial applications (i.e., the Push and the Pluck), I do not ask my partner to change the circling in any way. In fact, I think this is one way to check on the mechanics of your motion, which are supposed to be quite externally precise to provide the foundation for the inner feeling.
Now in reality, both training systems, as I understand them, are intended to be cooperative. You do not initially push competitively or use applications in either of them; nevertheless, I find that in other ways, the initial psychology promoted is different. Terms like "force," "attack," "defense," "circles," and "relaxing" seem to receive very different emphasis and have very different focuses or connotations. If I am talking across styles, I think it can be helpful to clarify what one is talking about.
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 09-02-2006).]
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 09-03-2006).]