Standing like a tree

Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:46 pm

Sometimes the held position could be on one leg, such as jinji duli. I remember one seminar where Yang Zhenduo made us several times hold (for an excruciating length of time) a sword position where where the left foot is up in the air and the sword held above the head, tip pointed forward. I was astounded and overjoyed at the end of the seminar when I used my knee to hoist a piece of luggage up onto a rack on a vehicle and the thing leapt up into the air because I had become stronger holding that position.
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Postby Pamela » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:06 pm

Intresting that you mention that Jerry...

I have been doing that since I started TaiChi...everywhere and anywhere I am, I just lift one leg up off the floor, discreetly, and stay until I am uncomfortable then switch legs.

I think...big think....that maybe it does help one to sink, become song...but I 've no proofs to back that up, myself.

It certainly helps one develop muscle and balance.

Nice talking with you Jerry, I never tire of talking about TaiChi

Best regards,
Pamela
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:08 pm

Welcome to the board, Pamela!
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Postby Pamela » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:22 pm

Thank you very much Jerry, for your warm welcome. Image
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:26 pm

Greetings Pamela,

You’ve raised some good questions. There is a related concept that bears on this discussion. One of the “13 shi” of taijiquan is “zhongding,” or central equilibrium. As I’ve argued before, I don’t think it’s helpful or accurate to think of the “13 shi” as “postures.” I prefer thinking of them as “root configurations.” The notion of central equilibrium is a particularly good example of why “posture” is not a helpful way of interpreting this use of “shi.” Central equilibrium is not a posture or position; it is a training objective one pursues in each and every posture/form/movement. I think it is also one of the main objectives in any kind of standing routine, whether known as “zhanzhuang” or not. (By the way, there is a document about zhanzhuang—that includes that term—among the Yang Forty texts.)

The ding4 in “zhongding” is the same term appearing in “dingshi.” Ding4 means stable, fixed, determined, definite, set, etc. Zhongding is a traditional term, while arguably “dingshi” is more modern. The “shi4” in dingshi can more easily be understood to mean “posture” or “position,” hence, “fixed posture.” I think Jerry’s “characteristic posture” captures it well too.

Regardless of these terminological issues, I think that the important matter is what one puts into practice. Be experimental in your approach, and be clear about what your objective is. I think you do well to inquire about holding transitional movements. It’s also valid to ask what actually constitutes an ending posture. I remember asking the same thing about roll back. What is the fixed posture “roll back?”

My first sifu, Gate Chan, once proposed to us that we try training the form in a sort of “stop action” fashion. This involves moving in very small increments, stopping and holding mid-action, continuing in another increment to another held position, etc. I’m pretty lazy, so I’ve never attempted to complete an entire form in this way, which would take a very long time! Your example of Cloud Hands would be an excellent sequence with which to employ this stop action exercise. I’m going to try it!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:32 pm

Jerry,
Master Yang Jun had us do the same thing. I remember it clearly. We stood in that posture for a LONG, LONG time. My leg was shaking by the time we were done.
I do believe it was Big Dipper that we did that on.
I also recall him having us hold Naza Explores the Sea Bottom for quite a long time as well.

If anyone's interested, there is a pretty good article about the importance of Wu Ji here:
http://www.americanchentaichi.com/pages/actarwuji.html

It even talks about Yang Cheng Fu and Chen Men Ching at the end of it.

Bob
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Postby Pamela » Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:16 pm

Greetings Louis,

I see...so the "zhongding" in the five steps is the root configuration, the energy, we exercise whilst practicing holding the dingshi moment or practicing zhanzhuang...since we are not advancing, retreating or moving side or side.
I appreciate that correlation to the 13 shi, I might not have happend on that subtlety on my own.
So, it is an energy in itself,combining with the posture, held, in question.
This is very helpful, I think it will lead me down the path to more discovery.


It sounds like your Sifu is a very patient person! It would be quite trying for me to do the whole form like that at one go...I was thinking of trying bits here and there. I think your idea of starting with cloud hands is a fine one, and I think I will join you!

Thank you very much for your thoughts and references.

Best wishes,
Pamela
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:17 pm

Greetings Pamela,

Re: ‘I see...so the "zhongding" in the five steps is the root configuration, the energy, we exercise whilst practicing holding the dingshi moment or practicing zhanzhuang...since we are not advancing, retreating or moving side or side.’

Well, zhongding is operative in movement as well as in standing practice. In push hands, for example, the objective is to be centered and balanced regardless of where you are in a given form.

In his book on Push Hands, Ma Yueliang wrote an essay, translated by Zee Wen as “The Thirteen Kinetic Movements of Taichichuan,” in which he writes:

“It must be stressed that the thirteen kinetic movements are by no means solitary postures or isolated movements. They are changes of yin-yang and are manifested continuously in circular movements.” (Ma Yueh-Liang & Zee Wen, Wu Style Taichichuan Push-Hands, Shanghai Book Co., 1990, p. 15)

In the section of the essay on Zhongding, he writes:

“Zhong-ding (the strength of central equilibrium), is the most essential and basic skill of Taichichuan. . . . Whenever there is ‘void’ and solid’, there is also Zhong-ding. None of the kinetic movements are ever dissociated from zhong-ding. Strictly speaking there is no fixed form [ding fa] for any manoeuver, but all forms or methods are based on zhong-ding. As in mechanics, zhong-ding is to stabilize the center of gravity [zhongxin], and to balance the momentum.” (ibid., p. 18)

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Pamela » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:42 pm

That is very interesting Louis.

So Zhongding is a very special configuration, with all the other energies and their combinations dependant upon this one...

Thank you very much. Somehow I had it in my mind that centering was something like rooting or song...I had no idea that "centering" was this configuration from the 13 shi.

Oh, this really helps clarify matters for me!

I just tried Cloud hands with pauses and holds...but I abandoned that postures complexity...in favor of tso peng, because I kept getting lost in my movement. A sign that my neurological pathways are not well enough established with that one I imagine. Cloud hands is my cross.
My, my What a workout! Phew! Image

What did you think of this experiment Louis?

Best wishes,
Pamela

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 01-31-2006).]

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 01-31-2006).]
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Postby Pamela » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:48 am

Hi All,

A propos the experiment above...

I thought I should add a small caution.

After making a good go of it through three full postures,no,no, more... up to the first Tampien(for reference to anyone wishing to try).

I find my legs are now,just maxed out, trembling.

This is VERY hard work, and you don't feel the effects of it when you do it...but afterwards.

Best wishes,
Pamela

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 01-31-2006).]
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Postby Fred Hao » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:08 am

Greetings All.

Mozart's music is obvious in his beginning, flowing (in the process),and ending. Then repeated play causes an unceasing circulation of beginning, flowing and ending. As a reference, Mozart's goes to Taichi Chuan.
When someone pushes hand with you freely.
Once the attack begins, you are beginning to respond, flowing with two persons together, which is manipulated by you , and then ending in the opponent losing his balance. It's OK to hold this ending position along with the opponent in his disadvantage.
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Postby Pamela » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:39 am

Hello Fred,

I think I understand what you are implying....in hands on practice, beyond form practice, one would not be required to hold the beginning of, or middle of a posture...but perhaps in the final phase of posture, he might...so really there is little need for strengthening the static nature of anything but that last phase....

This makes absolute sense to me, and I think that answers my original question precisely...

Wow! What a day of discovery for me. Image

Thank you Fred!

Best wishes,
Pamela
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:42 am

Greetings Pamela,

Re: “What did you think of this experiment Louis?”

Yes, I tried this when I got home this evening. It has been years since I last tried the “stop action” approach. It is very demanding, but I found the most interesting aspect of this “move and pause” routine to be the demand it places upon my concentration. Breaking down the Cloud Hands sequence into incremental segments opens up avenues to paying greater attention to fine details. I have to monitor very closely whether my weight shifts are coordinated with my waist turns and peripheral movements. Particularly difficult is coordinating the movement of the stepping leg as it is “airborne” with the placement of the arms. If there’s any stiffness in my arms or shoulders, there’s an impulse to interupt the foot’s arc of movement and touch down prematurely. It took a few trials to work it out. I think this is a good auxiliary exercise to test “distinguishing empty and full,” as one must pay very close attention to the precise moments of “lift-off” and “land-fall” of the feet.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:54 am

Greetings Fred,

Nice observation about Mozart and cadence. Even though I gravitate mostly to modern jazz in my listening, I love Mozart, maybe because my dad taught me to listen. One of my favorites is Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310, especially the Andante cantabile con espressione!

Happy Mozart’s birthday, and happy new year!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Pamela » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:39 pm

Hello Louis, Fred, Jerry, esteemed members, Image

I appreciate the feedback, it is nice to compare notes.
Great observations Louis. You describe very well the same things I felt during the exercise, but could not really pinpoint and articulate as you just did.

The coordination was the most difficult in cloud hands, for myself.
It was confusing, I kept losing the movement...
Concentration is also a very good point, the slower we move the more concentration we need, for we are considering the movement in greater detail as you said....it is hard to concentrate fully on everything at once...I think they say the human mind can balance seven things at once...I am not executing enough automatically yet, to be able to cope with all the TEN essentials.
(( Well, that will be my excuse for it Image ))

And about its assistance in uncovering stregnth and weakness in the form...Yes, indeed~Every weakness is groaning and moaning this morning.

And I have stiffness here and there and everywhere, so I was interrupted and touching down prematurely all over the place.

All in all, it is a good challenge for body and mind, at the least.

I had an observation this morning that I found a way to articulate...
The feeling of song is like being a coat on a hanger, hanging from the nape,,,I feel my upper body drape, as though a marionette, light on my feet, like the skateboarder picture Kalamondin posted a while back.

Sometimes I feel heavy on my feet, like a tree well rooted.

I find actually, I alternate between these sensatons...

What is the difference? Which is the correct sensation for being song...or rather, which would you say is closer to the song you know?

I am very grateful for the gift of fluid movement and comfortable stance that TaiChi has bestowed upon me.....I've never felt so comfortable in my body and its movement.

I must look up that sonata of Mozarts....and I was playing Beethoven on Mozarts Birthday~
That was a great analogy Fred, very effective.

Best wishes,
Pamela



[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 02-01-2006).]
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