Other Yang family descendants?

Postby Audi » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:23 am

Hi folks,

I wanted to add a little bit to the discussion of Ji3 (Press/Squeeze). I might add something later about "Yang Style leg work" if I have time.

First, I wanted to point out that the meaning “squeeze” is somewhat trickier than one might think at first blush. I believe that in both English and Chinese, one can “squeeze” toothpaste out of a tube, but one can also “squeeze” toothpaste into a tube. These two actions are mechanically quite different, which might have implications for how we visualize the application of this use of Jin. In fact, as I understand it, a fairly common meaning of “ji3” is indeed to “cram,” “crowd together,” or “jam together.” For instance, I think one can “ji” one’s way into a crowded bus.

I couple of years ago, we had some discussion about the eight gates. I think I recall building on some material from Kuo Lien on Press. He talked about the joining together of two energies, which could refer to the two arms squeezing together or perhaps the fact that one “squeezes” into the opponent. I recall some practitioners indicating that squeezing the opponent’s abdomen between the inside of one forearm and the palm of the other was also an instance of Press.

What I have understood of the Yangs’ teaching has not stressed these aspects, but has seemed to center on using the outside of the forearm to press into the opponent. Press in this sense is possible while using only one arm. Push (“An”) likewise can be performed with only one palm.

I personally do not think that the location of the left hand is meant to define an ideal Press application that is to be applied generally. In the Form, I think that one is focusing the Jin at that particular point on the right arm. One will naturally place the left palm there, since the whole body is focusing Jin through this same point. If the Jin point were in the back of the right wrist, I think one would than place the left palm on the right wrist. Press, as a usage of energy, is not quite the same thing as the Press Posture from the form. The latter has a fixed shape, but the former does not. The latter has different forms in Yang and Wu2 styles, but I am doubtful that the former does.

Take care,
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Postby Audi » Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:57 am

Greetings Wushuer,

In one of your posts above, you stated the following:

<<In the YCF form I'm learning presently, there is an emphasys on opening the kua in stances, and keeping some tension between the legs like a pulled bow (in bow stance, which I'll start with), back foot at 45 degrees to front, 70/30 weight distributions and you're pushing back against the back leg with the front and the front with the back (very hard for me to adjust to). >>

My guess is that you are doing all of this correctly; however, there are aspects of your wording that trouble me slightly. To the extent that I myself may be one of the sources of your wording, I think I want to add some clarifications.

First, let me state what I believe to be the Yangs’ explicit teachings for the barehand form. By the way, I think this differs slightly from what is taught for their other forms. In other words, I think these concepts are basic training requirements and not necessarily advanced training requirements. They are definitely not combat requirements.

One should round the crotch somewhat, but too much or too little are both wrong. It must be “natural.” Both knees should be held in “in line” with the direction in which the toes are pointed. This will keep the hip sockets open. All the joints should generally be kept “open,” without any special emphasis on the hip sockets. As you step forward into a bow stance, the heel of your front foot first touches the ground with no transfer of momentum. You then shift some weight to flatten the foot and “grab” the ground with your toes, but do not bend the knee much yet.

You use the back leg to thrust against the ground (Deng1) and use the front leg to prop up (Cheng1) this thrusting force. You should end up with the front knee neither in front of the corresponding toes nor behind the corresponding ankle and with more weight in your front leg than in your back leg, but mathematical proportions have not been handed down traditionally. Jerry reported in an earlier post that the Yangs once gave out 60/40 as percentages for the bow stance; however, I think he would agree that the flavor of their teaching is not numbers-oriented in this respect.

Here is what I can add from what I have heard of their teaching, from what others have said on this board, from what I have read, and from what I experience through practice. The rounding of the crotch is analogous to the rounding of the back. It involves keeping the knees oriented with the toes. As Psalchemist mentioned, it helps counteract the tendency to let the knees go inward too much, making them knock-kneed.

In the Preparation Posture, think of your body as forming a stable rectangle, whose corners are formed by the tips of your shoulders and the soles of your feet. The rectangle is also divided into two sections divided by a cross bar linking your hip sockets across your pelvis. You want to have the feeling that your pelvis is spreading and the small of the back (Mingmen) is open.

If you focus on standing with a “minimum expenditure of muscular effort,” you may tend to let your knees collapse inward, as if your legs are forming a triangle, with the pelvis at its apex. This can “lock” your legs in place and allow your bone structure to take weight off your muscles, but it goes against what the Yangs teach. It focuses on hard structures rather than on soft structures.

As you push up with your head, this pulls the yoke of your shoulders upward, while simultaneously pivoting the ends of your shoulders downwards. This procedure allows you to lengthen downward along the arms through the tips of the fingers. The arms, however, do not end up straight, but in banana-shaped curves because of the sinking of the shoulders. The backs of the wrists are oriented to the sides, again accentuating the lateral feel of the shoulders.

Having the feeling of tucking your tailbone under also helps to open your hip sockets and spread you pelvis. The rectangular feel of the space between the feet, hip sockets, and shoulders encourages lateral stability and is an aspect of “zuo3 gu4 you4 pan4” (“take care of what is left and anticipate what is right”). These are two of the Five Steps.

At this point in the form, I do not think that one feels particularly for “tension” between the legs; however I think things change at the beginning of Ward Off Left. After the Beginning/Arising Posture (“Qi3 Shi4”), the body is in the same position as in the Preparation Posture, with the same body mechanics, except for the following. Rather than extending down through the tips of the fingers, one extends downward through the seated wrists and up with the fingers. The arms are also rotated inward with the fingertips pointing forward. This seating and different orientation changes the manifestation of the bend in the arms to one that is frontward and backward, rather than side to side.

To complete Ward Off Left, you must change both feet. To get into a left bow stance, you must step out with your left foot. Before you can step out with your left foot, you must first correctly place your right foot. “To go left, you must first go right.” Unfortunately, your right foot is incorrectly oriented for a bow stance, so you must adjust it first. To adjust the right, you must first adjust the left leg. “To go right, you must first go left.” To adjust the left, you have to change it from neutral to full. You create the fullness, by emptying the right somewhat. This is the logical sequence in reverse. Let me know try to tell it in correct sequence.

At the end of the Beginning/Arising Posture (Qi Shi), just before you hands hit bottom, you change the left-right relationship between the legs so that the left leg becomes somewhat full and the right leg becomes somewhat empty. In order to change the relationship, they must first have a relationship capable of changing. They cannot be involved in independent activity, but have to be integrated in the same activity and share a free circulation of Jin. Think of it as a zero-sum game. Jin in the left leg must come from the right or else we are not talking about integrated energy.

I have seen this initial move done with a distinct and noticeable weight shift to the left, but also with little or nothing visible externally. The important thing is not so much to shift weight to the left, as to divide (Fen1) empty and full so that the left is more full than the right. For me, this means that I slightly unload the joints in my right leg into the joints of my left leg. My right leg decompresses slightly, and my left leg compresses slightly. Both legs remain springy, and this is again where “bow-like tension” might be a good image. In a similar context, Jerry once used the image of manipulating both ends of a wishbone to shift the apex to one side.

The fullness in the left can then be used to pivot the right leg, which has been correspondingly emptied. As the lumbar spine rotates to the right, the right kua should not close, since it must follow the direction of the right toes. In order not to close, the leg must rotate with the spine and will travel along with it to the 45-degree angle. In this case, you must now completely unload the left leg into the right, as you lift your left heel off the ground and bend your right knee. Fulfilling these requirements while keeping the left knee pointed towards the front ends up making the legs quite rounded, almost like you are sitting on a big ball. Again, this will make the hip sockets quite open.

The type of hip/Kua usage I have described above is rather different from what happens in a posture like Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. In this posture, there are many instances in which one must sink into the hips and leave them relatively closed. I do not recall the Yangs quite using this type of terminology, but in my opinion this is what happens during many of the pivots. The same thing happens to the hips during the Single Whip transition, until the final step in the posture.

This is all I have time for now. I hope this helps.

Take care,
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Postby Wushuer » Sat Mar 13, 2004 10:20 pm

Very nicely put. That's very close to how it was described to me by my YCF instructor.
He has taken a great deal of time showing me that weight shift into the Left Ward Off. I originally would shift 100% of my body weight into my left leg and sit quite deeply into my knee, then lift my right toe and turn my right leg out to 45 degrees, then I would shift all my weight over to my right leg, still sitting deeply on my right leg, and lift my left leg, step to my heel, toe down and push from my right leg into my left to complete the Ward Off.
This is how it would be done as a Wu style form, except that in the square form you would not turn your right toe to 45 degrees, you would not shift your weight to the left before you went right, you would simply sink your weight into your right leg and step out to the left and transfer forward.
So the kua opening doesn't become an issue in the move. You're kua is as open or as closed as it's going to get when you start.
I have been closely observing my tapes of the Wu style forms. I have a few idea's regarding thier use of the kua in thier forms, but like you I don't have much free time right now. I'm sneaking in time in between projects at home.
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Postby Audi » Tue Mar 16, 2004 5:32 pm

Hi Wushuer,

It's good to hear that my explanation did not seem to far off.

In the past, I think you have expressed curiosity behind the "complexity" involved with the Yang Style pivot, since in your Wu Style you simply sink the weight to the right and step out with the right. I do not have a complete answer to this, but thought I could give a few comments.

First, my understanding of the form is that it is training, not a slower version of combat movements. There is, of course, a huge overlap between the two, but they remain different, at least in the version of Yang Style taught by the Yangs.

If using Yang Style for combat, I believe principle requires you to do whatever you have to do according to the situation, and not to try to conform to some supposed ideal. Pursuing an "ideal" against what is required by the situation would be, to my understanding, a gross violation of principle.

I do not know the logic behind all of the Yangs' training curriculum, but I think you have experienced similar things and so can trust on faith that what you are doing has purpose.

I have seen two very different applications for Ward Off left that bracket for me the possibilities of the movement. One seems to telescope the movements into a redirection and counterattack. The other gives a reason for every external weight shift, pivot, and arc of the arms. The former is consistent with seeing the movement essentially as a step forward with the left leg. The latter cannot be further simplified without losing some of the essential techniques.

I am not one who believes that more is always better and so have no problem with forms that do not show all these possibilities. Form design seems to be a very complicated matter. How forms fit in with overall training is also not necessarily obvious in all details.

Take care,
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Mar 16, 2004 6:35 pm

Sorry, I got off of this subject the last few days. I've not had a lot of free time.
Let's just say that I don't think the kua opening is emphasized in the square form as in the Yangs round forms, because as I said above it's as open or closed as it needs to be from the setup of the form.
I may be wrong, heck I usually am, but it seems to me that the Wu family set is designed to put your body in it's correct position without your having to worry about it too much.
Grasp the Birds Tail.
Sink your weight into your knees, "sitting" as they say and that's what it looks like you're doing, shift your weight to your right leg completely (100%), lift up your heel on your left leg, step out. There is no shift to the left to go right, no shift to the right to go left, if you're stepping out, you sink into the other leg and then lift the one you want to move and step right on out with it.
I will skip the arm motions, not really important to what I'm talking about here.
Without moving your heel, turn your left foot in towards your right 90 degrees so that your toes are facing to your right side. (I'm using my words here, not their breakdowns, for further clarity). Go forward (this is just like any bow stance in Yang style, only your left toe is facing 90 degrees to your right, so your knee is going to face more or less that way when you're done too) shifting 100% of your weight into your front, left, leg. When your weight is totally in your left leg, you lift the heel of your right leg, pivot your foot on your toes by turning your tantien and letting it follow you, to face what is now straight ahead. Lift your right foot off the ground, step your right leg forward, toes straight ahead, heel touches first, toe down, go forward 100% to your right leg.

That is the legwork of Left Ward Off and it's tranistion to Right Ward Off in the Wu square form.
If I've missed something I hope Polaris corrects me, as I'm going completely from memory here (and standing up and doing it), but I think I got the gist of it.
So, as you can see, thier is no place here where you can open or close your kua any more than it is naturally. It's not like the bow stance of the Yangs, with the back toe out at 45 degrees, the weight split at 70/30 or 80/20 or 60/40 or whatever. Your toes are both straight on in the same direction, or working to get that way. There isn't that "tension" between your legs at the end of the form, once you get out to 100% your empty leg is completely empty and ready to move anyplace you need it to go.
So emphasizing opening the kua would be superflous. You can't, really, do anything more with it.

Apples and oranges.

Once again out of time for now.
Wanted to get this out there, though.
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