Translation Questions: “Taiji,” “Form,” and “Posture”

Postby Mike » Tue Mar 06, 2001 4:07 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
<B> Yep! Do some searches and you'll see it's true.

</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You're kidding, right? Image You deleted the thread with all of that in there. I pre-emptively (and in a non-personal way) move to educate and prevent it from happening again, and you say it never happened?

The core teaching of the people you removed from the list was in every case the belief that the "southern transmission" story was true. By educating about and openly discussing the origin and background of the "southern transmission" fable, we can perhaps avoid a situation like that again. Particularly with the help of Yang Jun, BTW. His comment about Jiang Fa was a tacit comment that the "southern transmission" story was not true. However, from private email that I got, I realized that even with Yang Jun's comments, a few people were trying to say that the fable was somehow still true. Image Go figure.

If you think that the "southern transmission" is a taboo topic and I should pretend the thread you deleted never existed, just say so. I'm as amicable as you can get. Image

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 06, 2001 5:40 pm

i hesitate to enter here again. These are questions which can be answered anyway each of us wants them to. There are no "facts" that can be argued here.

If I believe that the Chen family did not INVENT what we call taji quan, but rather gathered elements into their system--and improved upon it--am I right, or wrong-- who has the proof? Did some elements come from Daoist sources?

Maybe the Chen patriarch at that time of formation was a Daoist(or not). Maybe the next guy who took over, was a "Confusionist"(or a Daoist) and wanted to deny any Taoist (or "confusionist") junk, and maybe, maybe,...was it invented or did it "evolve" as it has continued to? We have what we have here and now. Is there anything else?

Jerry and Mike, I respect both of you. But will this improve anything having to do with mine or anybodys taiji? I remember that Audi had a question or two......And Steve made a point.....and I will shut up.
Best wishes!
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:09 pm

Greetings Audi,

I'm a bit pressed for time right now, but will try to post later in response to some of your questions initiating this thread. I think we share some of the same linguistic sensitivities. I have long been unsatisfied by the word "posture" as a rendering of "shi," and have gathered a good deal of material for a possible journal article on this issue. The related questions on "form," "routine," and Michael's question regarding "set" all are subjects worth delving into. I think it's pretty apparent that words matter! Feel free to email me on specific questions too.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Mike » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:25 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Michael:
<B>i hesitate to enter here again. These are questions which can be answered anyway each of us wants them to. There are no "facts" that can be argued here.

If I believe that the Chen family did not INVENT what we call taji quan, but rather gathered elements into their system--and improved upon it--am I right, or wrong-- who has the proof? Did some elements come from Daoist sources?

Maybe the Chen patriarch at that time of formation was a Daoist(or not). Maybe the next guy who took over, was a "Confusionist"(or a Daoist) and wanted to deny any Taoist (or "confusionist") junk, and maybe, maybe,...was it invented or did it "evolve" as it has continued to? We have what we have here and now. Is there anything else?

Jerry and Mike, I respect both of you. But will this improve anything having to do with mine or anybodys taiji? I remember that Audi had a question or two......And Steve made a point.....and I will shut up.
Best wishes! </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:39 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mike:
<B> You're kidding, right? Image You deleted the thread with all of that in there. I pre-emptively (and in a non-personal way) move to educate and prevent it from happening again, and you say it never happened?

The core teaching of the people you removed from the list was in every case the belief that the "southern transmission" story was true.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That is simply incorrect Mike. The dispute in the posts which were deleted had to do with 30/70 weighting and the relations between Yang style and Zheng Manqing. There was nothing in there about the 'southern transmission'. Your position now is becoming a grotesque caricature: any time the question of Taoism comes up this is the 'southern transmission' heresy raising it's ugly head. What nonsense. Strains of Taoism are found throughout Chinese culture, including in Buddhism! The notion that for anyone to mention Taoism in same breath as taiji is to invoke this tired old 'insult' to the Chen family, that is really ludicrous. I wish you would let it go.

By the way I looked through 1963 book by Shen Jiazhen and Gu Liuxin on Chen style (it's similar to Fu Zhongwen's book on Yang style, with line drawings made from photos of Chen Fake). I examined the list of names and the pictures and text in both the first and second routines in cases where the difference between Chen and Yang move names could have had something to do with errors due to homophones. I'm sorry Mike but it's all bunk. The notion that Yang Luchan and his successors couldn't tell the difference between '4 sealings and 6 closings' and 'as if sealed, as though closed' - it's absurd. You are ignoring the real possibility that Chen style very likely was not standardized until recently, that there could have been a number of variants for different moves and their names floating around among the Chens in Yang Luchan's time, and that Yang Luchan and his successors had every right to change names to suit their own convenience. They clearly do not have the same sequence or move specifics that Chen Fake taught, why is it so difficult to believe they might have inherited different names or changed the names themselves? To attribute the differences to 'errors' by the Yangs is to very unfairly and quite unnecessarily denigrate them. Even if we assume you are right and there were 'homophone errors' - which I do not believe - so what? Generations later these are the 'correct' names according to the Yangs. Their explanations of the names fit the names they have. Glance up at the top of the page. We are having this discussion on the Yang Family Tai Chi Discussion Board.
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Postby Mike » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:45 pm

Jerry may want to move this or something, since it is off-topic to the original thread.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Michael:
i hesitate to enter here again. These are questions which can be answered anyway each of us wants them to. There are no "facts" that can be argued here. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Certainly there are facts. Yang Lu Chan studied in Chen Village and learned from Chen Chang Xing. No one disputes those facts, that I know of. Image


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If I believe that the Chen family did not INVENT what we call taji quan, but rather gathered elements into their system--and improved upon it--am I right, or wrong-- who has the proof? Did some elements come from Daoist sources? </font>


Fine, but it's you who need to prove those facts, not the Chen's who need to prove that it didn't happen.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Chen-o-phile. I'm a Taiji-o-phile. What I invariably see with these wild histories is that they are used as the stepping stone to usurp good Taiji and put in place someone who is "better than the Yang family heads" or "better than the Chen family". Until I see actual proof of the purported wild histories, I do everything I can to discourage them. The Yang family does not perpetrate those histories and the Chen family says very little publicly either.

Already on this forum there was a disruption that gathered its strength from some wild histories. The most brazen one was from a person who was trying to establish that the only real Yang style was through Gin Soon Chu in Boston. The rest of the garbage was the same old "southern transmission" story where the Chen style was just Shaolin, etc., etc. And here we are on a forum with access to some of the best Yang-family information in the world, yet it was belittled. Can you see why I think it is worthwhile to nip this stuff in the bud by talking it through once and for all? Image



<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> <B>
Jerry and Mike, I respect both of you. But will this improve anything having to do with mine or anybodys taiji? </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think yes, it will. In a way, what I am doing is a back-door but legitimate approach to Matt L's comments about unqualified, etc., teachers. This is legitimate Yang information that comes through Yang Jun on this list. Rather than ignore other theories in the hopes that they will go away, why not discuss them and look at the facts that are presented?

One of the problems with Taiji in the United States is that it got a lot of its impetus while mainland China was still closed. A number of the "histories" of China that were strong in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, etc., got a strong foothold while China was closed. The "southern transmission" story is the major one. It is the one that Taiji was invented by Chang San Feng of Wudang Mountain and came through various sources to an untraceable Wang Tsung Yueh to a historically misplaced Jiang Fa to Chen Chang Xing who learned it in one month and only showed it to Yang Lu Chan. Image The amazing part of the story is that people don't just laugh when they hear it.

So yes, it will improve peoples' taiji to pick through the history and any other sort of information, also. It is a great pleasure to have a legitimate resource like Yang Jun. He is Yang style. Yang style proper does not disavow the Chen style and the Chen style does not disavow the Yang style. They are variants of the same thing. But just as the Chen people do not disavow the Yang style, it is only proper that the "southern transmission" fables don't get mixed into the Yang style as truth, because the essence of the fables is to deny the legitimacy of the Chen style Taiji... and that is a fairly big insult to the people who were kind enough to teach Yang Lu Chan.

Enough said.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:50 pm

Hi Jerry,
Mike is right.
On the old discussion board I mentioned Wang Tsung Yueh, Jiang Fa, and the apparently false tale, among other stories that I had read and heard regarding Tai Chi's roots.
At the time I didn't know of the shenanigans that have taken place. I've tried to contact Peter Lim, to ask him about the 'history' he has posted, but his email box is full.
If this episode ends well then maybe I won't have to apologise for starting it. Image

David
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 06, 2001 7:33 pm

Aw, don't confuse me with facts, David! Image
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:06 pm

Mike, about the bit about Chen family, inventing or gathering...notice the word "IF". I have nothing to prove as i don't have a belief to support.

I study two Variations of the Yang style, one through YZD and Yang Jun. I do not quible about the difference in names or what postures they may refer to, or where they come from (although often interesting). All I care about is to PRACTICE HARD AND ATTEMPT TO BE TRUE TO THE TEACHINGS that are handed down to me.

Yes there are FACTS. Did you notice the quotation marks around the word "facts". Yang Lu Chan Is a fact. That he was taught taji quan (or whatever one called it) in the Chen village. A fact. FACTS can't be argued. There is nothing to argue if it IS a fact. All i am saying is that some things we ALL "know", somethings we can't "know", and somethings we think we "know", somethings we "know" because someone told us so, or we read it.....or we believe. Those are "facts". I hope that clarifies my point that you refer to.

One of my hobbies is history. It teaches us unless one is there, has a picture, and the archeological evidence--and even then...it is a great deal of guess work. You will hear no southern transmission stories coming from my mouth.

"But will this improve..." It was not the WORDS or statements of facts or "facts" I was alluding to, but the defensiveness. I understand very well why both of you felt the way you did and your reactions. I fault no one. A mistake or two was made somwhere along the line and the value of the "interchange" was or was nearly lost. Mike, it was good that you made some things clearer now as far as your intent. Now i hope you now know mine better as well.

I respect you both. No more to be said. Practice Hard!
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Postby Steve » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:13 pm

Wow! Did that throw a wrench into the conversation.

As to the Daoist origins of Taijiquan, I should say for the record that I was responding to Audi's comment about the meaning of the term "Taiji." This is the root of the term "Taijiquan." As to when the word first appears in reference to the art, I can't say off the top of my head.

Some scholars have called the Chen style "Shaolin fighting adapted to include internal Daoist methods of qi cultivation." Even the Chronicles of the Chen family show the lineage from Wudang Mountain (although the verity of these chronicles is debatable).

There is no doubt, however, that the underlying principles of the art owe a great deal to the philosophies of Daoism. It pays to remember as well that the "shamanistic" traditions in China are foundations of Daoist religion. (but this is intense, pre-history stuff that still has to be organized and proven)
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:22 pm

Steve, it is all your fault! HA!

And Jerry, your last line very funny..and needed.
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Postby Mike » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:37 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Steve:
<B>
(a.)Even the Chronicles of the Chen family show the lineage from Wudang Mountain (although the verity of these chronicles is debatable).

(b.)There is no doubt, however, that the underlying principles of the art owe a great deal to the philosophies of Daoism. It pays to remember as well that the "shamanistic" traditions in China are foundations of Daoist religion. (but this is intense, pre-history stuff that still has to be organized and proven)</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree with Michael in that my initial and current irritation with this stuff is that it is used to obscure the Taiji skills and abilities that we all *thought* we were getting involved in. Both (a.) and (b.) are not particularly true, especially the "there is no doubt" part. I think we are all victims of a lot of the legend stuff we read about China, Taiji, Taoism, etc., early on.

My point in a lot of this is to simply cut away the rubbish that some others have built their houses on and just stick to the facts and the demonstrable skills. And when you get to a reasonably pure source of information, utilize it. Don't load it down with your preconceptions.

I have done both the Yang and Chen styles. I have spent an awful lot of time in the Chen style and learned a lot, BUT knowing what I know now, *IF* I had had a good Yang teacher... all I originally ever wanted to know was in the Yang style. What irritates me within the Yang style though is the many factions of bogus history and politics. And I see the same thing now beginning to creep into all of the styles.

So my comment is to resolve the bogus history stuff immediately and recognize that REAL Taiji falls within small parameters (it is not mixed with Southern Shaolin conditioning gungs, for instance) and the Real Yang style and the Real Chen style, etc., are all recognizable and legitimate variants of the same theme.

With that in mind, it is easy to move on, discuss between the styles, etc. The factionalization, which irritates me so much, is forced to disappear. Image

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Mar 07, 2001 2:43 am

No matter who originated it, we know, and are learning more about, who has genuine pieces of it.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, Image I wish to note that the part of what Yang Jun said that I like best, perhaps, is that Tai Chi is still growing.

David
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Postby Audi » Wed Mar 07, 2001 6:28 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Steve:
"Dao" is not "Wuji." It is what caused Wuji to become Taiji. It is the unifying force in the universe, the motivation behind all life and motion. It is the way of nature. The Daoist way, then, is to not resist the flow of natural events but to accept them and move with them. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the wonderful clarification and addition information. It is good to get back to basics once in awhile, with all due deference to the other roots of T'ai Chi. However, your comment about about "Dao" not being "Wuji" puzzles me some.

I really do not know a whole lot about Daoism. My knowledge of these things comes from a smattering of reading here and there, including Jou Tsung Hwa's "Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan" and bits of the Dao De Jing. In chapter 42 of the latter, it states: "(The) Dao begot (the) one. (The) one begot (the) two. (The) two begot (the) three. And (the) three begot (the) ten thousand things." (Dao sheng yi. Yi sheng er. Er sheng san. San sheng wan wu.)

I had always assumed that the reference to Dao was to the same concept as "wuji," and the reference to the one was to "taiji." (I can't fit three anywhere into my cosmology, since four, eight, or sixty-four would have fit ever so much more neatly into my understanding of Chinese philosophy. Image) What do you make of this? If I have had this wrong all this time, this is really going to put a crimp into my "Wuji Postures." Image

By the way, the translation of the Dao De Jing I use mentions "yielding overcoming force" in numerous places, but none use the term "zou3," which I understand to be the near universal T'ai Chi word for "yielding." Do you know where the term "zou" comes from? I cannot find any dictionary that provides "yielding" as a definition, only "walk/go/leave/depart."

Audi
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Mar 07, 2001 8:21 am

Hi Audi,

The Daodejing uses a number of words for what can be called yielding, but none of them is zou. There seem to be a lot of words for yielding in Chinese, perhaps because there are a lot of ways to do it, and because it is a valued notion. In English we only seem to come up with "yielding." The word zou, as you say, means walking, but zou, or zoujin is idiomatic in taijiquan for a soft retreating, or giving way.

Take care,
Louis
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