new, semiconfused student

new, semiconfused student

Postby nik79 » Thu Mar 01, 2001 3:17 am

heLLo!

ok. my name is nick. anyways,

when i found out my college was offering Tai Chi for kinesiology credit, i signed up. we are now in our 6th week of class. i started researching what we've been learning, and have come up with plenty of variations of forms. its all rather confusing.

My teacher, is a student of Horiaco Lopez; she has studied for 7 years. We are learning the Traditional Yang style 103 posture empty-hand form. So far, we've gone through 15 postures, being:
-----------------------------------------
1. prepatory stance
2. opening (raise/lower hands)
3. grasp the birds tail
4. ward off left
5. ward off right
6. *cant think of name*
7. puLL back
8. press
9. push
10. single whip
11. lift hands
12. white crane spreads wings
13. brush knee, push right
14. play the pipa
15. brush knee, push left
**this is where we stand so far**
-----------------------------------------

...now. i find lists of the forms all over, but none resemble exactly what we are learning.

Q:im wondering whats the deal with such various forms?

*NO disrespect for my teacher, but im way too curious*
Q: am i truely learning the 'traditional' Yang family form?

also, i wish to learn the Tai Chi Sword form and the Saber form as well.

<B>Q: any suggestions as to WHEN i should begin to study these forms?

Q: is the reading/studying of books as valuable as taking classes? how far can one go with the 'book'?</B>

ill probably be asking many more q's than these, but this is it for now!

thanks to those who reply!!
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Mar 01, 2001 9:30 am

If you are studying with a student of Horacio, you are probably doing the 103-move traditional Yang style long form, which is the sequence taught by Yang Chengfu. A list of the postures in that form can be found here . This form is sometimes counted as having 85 moves (Fu Zhongwen) and I think also 108; it depends on what you count as a move. Aside from the traditional sequence taught by Yang Chengfu, there are other sequences, for example the 24-move form popularized in China, the 37-move form of Zheng Manqing, etc. These are executed somewhat differently from the Yang Chengfu form, as well as having a different sequence of moves.

For some advice on the process of learning taiji, there are few sources better than Yang Chengfu's essay, A Talk on Practice
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Postby ken » Thu Mar 01, 2001 8:45 pm

Also, at this stage, don't worry about lists that name the various moves. As Jerry indicates, the same form can have a different number count depending on what one counts as a move. For example, the sequence you describe as running from the ward off through the push is sometimes listed as a single move (grasp the bird's tail, or other variations on the name).

While there are different styles of tai chi, even within a given style there may be some variations. For example, I have studied Yang style under two different instructors ---- and while the basic moves are the same, there were still variations in the execution of the moves. Rather than focus on the differences in the ways tai chi is done, I would suggest that a better focus would be on the essence of tai chi --- i.e., what makes tai chi tai chi. In other words, for now look for what the different styles have in common.

While reading can be helpful, in my opinion there is no substitute for taking classes. Reading may help give some insights into the moves, and maybe help you look at things in a different way. But for me, class has been the most valuable process.
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Postby laopei » Fri Mar 02, 2001 12:11 am

Image
Hi Nick: This is Horacio -Jackie’s teacher. I will address the list of names first.
I am writing about it because we are trying to teach TCC as taught by Yang Zhenduo to us.
I follow the same sequence of postures that he teaches which is the same list that Jerry posted in his reply. (The list you posted -from memory- is different from what Jackie gave you at the beginning of her course. Please check it out again or ask her for a new list.
The difference is that posture #3 Grasp the bird’s tail has five parts (ward off left, right, pull back, press and push). Jackie’s list follows the Association’s List. By the time one finishes Grasp the bird tail -with the posture “an”-push- one has done 3 postures. The way you remember it -by your count- you executed 9 postures. That is how things start to change...
It is the same sequence. Just broken down different.

You said:
...now. i find lists of the forms all over, but none resemble exactly what we are learning.

The assoc. list is the same as the one you are learning.
you said:
Q: am i truely learning the 'traditional' Yang family form?
Yes, "the real thing" as taught by the 4th generation of the Yang family -Yang Zhenduo.

also, i wish to learn the Tai Chi Sword form and the Saber form as well.

Q: any suggestions as to WHEN i should begin to study these forms?
Usually after learning the long form. For you, July/2001 when the yang Masters Will teach saber in San Antonio. Whenever possible, try to learn directly from the Masters.


Q: is the reading/studying of books as valuable as taking classes? how far can one go with the 'book'?

Both are valuable. There are “gold nuggets” in the writings of Yang Family Masters of past generations. Reading and understanding their insights will help your learning and give you a clear direction for what you are trying to learn. Sometimes the teacher may quote these sayings and lead you to research more for yourself. But you have to read it and digest it yourself.
I heard they ask Buddha if he achieved his state through the practice of meditation, and he answer “Not with it nor without it”
I would say one can not achieve “with books alone” nor without them. (also there is a question of Which books are good or necessary?. I am suggesting that books written by the Family of the Style you are learning can not be ignored)

=================
Gene told you:
While there are different styles of tai chi, even within a given style there may be some variations. For example, I have studied Yang style under two different instructors ---- and while the basic moves are the same, there were still variations in the execution of the moves. Rather than focus on the differences in the ways tai chi is done, I would suggest that a better focus would be on the essence of tai chi --- i.e., what makes tai chi tai chi. In other words, for now look for what the different styles have in common.

Horacio's Comment: If you are a beginner you probably know only one style -the one you are currently learning.You can not compare styles if you know only one style otherwise the comparison would be only intellectual -in the head.
One really can know what the different styles have in common if one studies and researches the different styles. From outside they have in common several things....but they are really different, otherwise they would have the same name.

Now how to say this without offending anybody? No intention to offend, really!!!!!!.
Wouldn’t one say that one is teaching Yang Family Style if one teaches what the Yang family teaches?
How can there be teachers of Yang Style with variations in the execution of moves? There are variations of skill, and like it has been noted: Yang Jun does not look like Yang Zhenduo when doing the same form. There are obvious reasons for this: YZD has practice for 70 years. But what they-YZD & YJ- are doing is the same. They are applying the same method to the postures they are performing.

What makes Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan be Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan? instead of Chen Style? or Wu style? or Beijing Style (24)?
The Method used.
What is the method?
The method is in this case is the prescription Yang Chengfu left: The ten principles.

Master Yang Zhenduo has described the characteristics of Traditional Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan as marked by: (quote)
* extended and natural movements;
* distinct transformation between and combination of hardness and softness
* beautiful postures, and bold grace.
These features are derived from the ten requirements set by his father, Master Yang Chengfu.
The ten requirements are: 1) emptying the neck and straightening the head; Etc., Etc.
"When these requirements are fulfilled, the features of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan become manifest"”. (end of quote)

My point:
Maybe we should not give the name Yang Style to almost anything just because it follows a certain sequence and the names are the same.
It is Yang Style (yang Chengfu's Yang Style) if it follows the 10 principles. This following is not “just in the head” but in actual perfomance. If a perfomance does not show an intent to execute the 10 principles then it is not Yang Style.

These ten principles are specific operational processes and not merely vague generalities; and they have to be manifested simultaneously while doing the form. For this to happen specific training is required . This training is for the BodyMind together (simultaneously) and it affects the practitioner's consciousness.

The ten principles are the keys needed to unlock the hidden possibilities and benefits of the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan system. There cannot be Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan without the understanding and the manifestation of the ten essential requirements into the form one practices.

Understanding the ten requirements means manifesting them in action. Here, the word understanding does not mean "intellectual knowledge" - i.e. being able to quote the 10 principles from memory.

Understanding, which is Knowledge plus Being, manifests in Action.

In other words, when one understands the importance of the ten requirements one works to embody them at each moment of one's practice; and, for these requirements to be manifested -simultaneously- at each moment of one's practice, specific training is required.
This training can be conveyed only by a “specific teacher”
Is anybody who says, “I teach Yang style” really teaching Yang style?
============
Finally about books:
In Yang Chengfu’s preface to “complete principles and applications of TCC” there are several warnings.
One of them reads:
Quote......"There is only one school of TCC; there are not two methods. Don't be deluded by your own cleverness and foolishly make additions or deletions. If modifications were necessary in the methods laid down by worthy men of the past, then these would have been implemented during the many centuries from the Yuan and Ming dynasties down to the present. Did these modifications need to wait for our own generation? I hope that future students will not be led astray by externals, but seek always the inner truth. One must be patient if one desires to advance to the highest excellence.
The most important thing in studying the "Postures" is not the "external appearance", but to grasp the idea.
The greatest danger is in introducing one's personal innovations and passing on errors as true transmission. The true transmission of principles and applications is easily lost, even to the point of obscuring the original intention of former masters. Thus we offer this book, which is based on the old texts with revisions, as a correct standard" End of quote from:
Yang Chengfu in his Introduction to the "Complete Principles and applications of Tai chi Chuan" (1934). Douglas Wile Translation in "Tai Chi Touchstones, Yang Family Secret transmissions", page 158.

Horacio says:
A teacher that is teaching his own interpretation of what he calls -or someone called- Yang Style is probably not going to suggest you read much. If you read, you will find clear precautions about introducing one’s own changes.
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Postby ken » Fri Mar 02, 2001 3:04 am

Without taking offense or being disrespectful to those who surely know more than I, it seems that some of the discussions that appear elsewhere on the board show some minor differences among practioners of the Yang style. From my own experience, two examples of differences should suffice. One variation I encountered was with respect to the angle of the torso on "brush knee and push" movement --- one instructor having taught a less inclined torso and the other having taught a more inclined torso at the conclusion of the movement. A second variation was in the footwork in the transition between the brush knee and push moves, with one instructor having taught bringing the rear foot into closer proximity of what was the forward foot before moving it out to become the new forward foot (i.e., a slightly curved path), and the other instructor teaching just bringing the rear foot straight forward to become the front foot. Do such small differences make one form Yang style and the other not, or is it merely that one may be better technique or closer to the Yang style as taught by Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun. I'll leave the answer to others, for I am not the lexocographer charged with defining what is or is not Yang style.

I don't disagree at all about the 10 principles being the foundation of the Yang Style. But does that mean that every movement must be exactly the same for every person regardless of body build, that all must work equally high or low, or that the feet must always be placed on exactly the same angles regardless of individual flexibilty, etc. if one is to call it Yang style? Yes, there must also be a high degree of conformity to the style's postures and movements; for this is necessary to carry out the 10 principles. However, I also think you hit the nail on the head when you quoted the following:

"The most important thing in studying the "Postures" is not the "external appearance", but to grasp the idea."

I am not in any way advocting a departure from, or change to, the methods that were developed long ago. Rather, the simple point that I was trying to make is to caution about becoming overly fixated on the smallest of details to the point where you lose sight of the larger picture.

Lastly, with respect to seeking to learn Yang style tai chi from books, especially in the early stages on one's learning, I was merely expressing my belief that one will learn more/better from an instructor than from a book. I think that we are in fundamental agreement, as you also state:

"This training [embodying the 10 requirements throughout one's practice] can be conveyed only by a “specific teacher” "

I don't think anyone advocates reading books to learn tai chi over having a qualified instructor. However, I don't think either of us disagrees that books may be a useful supplement to instruction.

As no offense has been taken here, and none is intended here, I merely offer the foregoing as a clarification of the thoughts behind my previous post. I remain open to the thoughts of others, for only by seeing another's point of view is knowledge acquired.
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Postby nik79 » Fri Mar 02, 2001 3:11 am

thanks for the replies!!

helping me a bunch! i was concerned about the 'watered down' practices that many talk about. but i see that i', following the right path.

Mr. Horiaco stated:
[The most important thing in studying the "Postures" is not the "external appearance", but to grasp the idea.]

this made me see that i have been watching myself, and others, to see if i 'look' right. But i should mainly be 'feeling' the 10 principles. thats a huge pointer!!!!

thanks for the help everyone!!!!

p.s. is there a English version of Yang Zhen Duo's / Yang Chen Fu's books ???
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Postby nik79 » Fri Mar 02, 2001 3:15 am

btw,

i figured my counting was off, and its really about what one sees as a complete move.

this must have thrown me off the most. but i get the idea now Image
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Postby Audi » Sun Mar 18, 2001 5:19 pm

Hi Horatio and Nik,

For some reason, I had missed your earlier posts, but thought I would post a belated reply.

I agree with and appreciate the points Horation raised. I wish I had seen them many years ago, but I do not think I would have understood their importance for me.

What I find valuable in the post is that everyone who says they are following certain principles are not necessarily doing so. That does not necessarily meant that what they are doing is good or bad, only different. Just because the external matches does not mean the internal matches. Debating about authenticity or lineage often distracts from this very important point.

Thank you for posting the quote from Yang Chengfu about there being only one T'ai Chi method. I had seen references to this, but had wondered at the context. I am still puzzled, though, as to what this would imply about Yang Chengfu's view of Chen, Wu/Hao, or Sun Styles, for example; but I think I understand and agree with the overall points.

Nik, great point about "feeling" the ten principles rather than merely observing externals! I would like to add to that thought.

In my view, no external detail of the form can be safely ignored or modified. I do not mean that every detail is important or immutable, but that until our level of practice has reached a certain point, we cannot be sure what we are missing if we do not attempt to copy every detail as taught. This is what I understand to be the concern expressed by "The true transmission of principles and applications is easily lost, even to the point of obscuring the original intention of former masters."

The flip side of the external observance is, as you remarked, the "feeling" aspect. In my opinion, it is even more important to continually try to feel a principle than actually to feel it. If we focus on success, we stop listening and stop learning. We think we know what our body is doing and what it is telling us and so stop listening to it. Change and the appreciation of change become obscured.

If we keep the communication between mind and body continuous and richly detailed, we continue to deepen our practice. Horatio, is this an aspect of what you mean by the term "BodyMind"?

The last thing I want to say about this is that there are levels and levels of this stuff. As others have said, T'ai Chi is as small as an atom and as big as the universe, and everywhere in our practice and in our lives we can see these principles reflected. Merely looking into the eyes of a practioner or at a single finger, you can often see the extent to which certain principles are being cultivated or even see differences in styles reflected.

Let me know if you disagree with any of this or if I have not been clear in conveying my thoughts.

Audi
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Postby laopei » Tue Mar 20, 2001 5:35 pm

Hi Audi:
I have not looked at this thread for a while so I have missed your response.
You asked:
If we keep the communication between mind and body continuous and richly detailed, we continue to deepen our practice. Horatio, is this an aspect of what you mean by the term "BodyMind"?

I have coined a few “new” words for my own practice and to explain certain things to my students. Many experiments have been carried on with language: Rasta people usage of English language; also, the “rheomode” (flowing mode) of Professor David Bohm, etc.
Bohm’s idea -and my little idea- was..-talking about the ‘rheomode” - quote
”We developed such a mode of experimentation with language, which is intended mainly to give insight into the fragmentary function of the common language rather than to provide a new way of speaking that can be used for practical communications”... end of quote.

For example when I look at the taichi symbol I see yinyang together simultaneously -I don't think about seen it this way. I just see both together simultaneously.
When I talk about it, it becomes “yin and yang” or “yin or yang”. (language has already separate them).
I know “yinyang” never leave each other but I see that using language makes us already separate them. Then the idea of time creeps in and it becomes yin “and” yang, instead of one reality:yinyang.
The same with the Body and the Mind. I see them as one “thing”. They are not separate entities. If they are, that is how we will tend to deal with them and try to impose insights from one field into the other.
If they are one entity then there is a flowing relationship between the aspects of this entity.
What the mind sees, senses, has insight into, the body manifest in the inmediate present.
What the body does, the mind senses, feels, experiences at the same moment.
If the time factor comes in, then it -the observation- becomes analysis after the fact. The fact is in the present. The analysis is based on a “memory” of a past experience. (it might be just a few seconds past, it is still the past)
Then, the word “awareness” becomes -for me- a verb.: “to aware” your posture, inmediately in the present instead of to “become” aware. The process of “becoming” trick us into “having to do something” in order to “become” aware (awareness then becomes s”something in the future” instead of an immediate act in the now: example to aware one’s toes now, instead of to become aware of your toes.
I hope this gives a taste of these Ideas. i am sorry if i can not develop them any further in writing. I think I will attend New York’s seminar and may be we can probe into this together then.
Short answer: BodyMind is a unit (for me) instead of an aggregate Body + Mind.
This is not just a concept (for me) but a (heightened) state of awareness that I work on.
Hope this makes sense without sounding too impractical.
This are just my thoughts and observations (they are not coming from anything YZD or Yang Jun teach) I find them useful to my TCC practice but they are not “from traditional TCC sources". (for more ideas about this check J.Krishnamurti’s works: “Freedom from the known”, “the awakening of intelligence”, or any of his works)

Looking forward to met you in New York.
Horacio

[This message has been edited by laopei (edited 03-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by laopei (edited 03-20-2001).]
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Postby Michael Coulon » Wed Mar 21, 2001 1:26 pm

Horacio,

Excellent explanation on the limitations that language puts on our communicating ideas! I majored in philosophy and realized by my senior year of college that language can be restrictive to our explaining what we mean. This is true of any dialect be it English, Chinese, etc. I find this important here for two reasons.

In our attempting to understand the true meaning/principles of taijiquan we have not only a language barrier (at least for the vast majority who do not communicate in Chinese) but the concepts/principles of taijiquan are not easily explained in any language. Master Yang Zhenduo when explaining Brush Knee and Push says the arm is "straight but not straight". "What is this?" I asked myself the first time I heard him say this. It is a concept he is trying to explain the best he can within the limitations of language. I think that it is important to not look so much at the words being used but rather the concepts being implied and suggested.

Secondly, language limits us in our self referential explanations. I think that this is akin to what horacio has outlined. Horacio, I have heard the term MindBody before used in similar context to what you described. Do you think there is a difference in the order i.e. MindBody vs. BodyMind? Just curious.

Michael.
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