Standing like a tree

Postby shugdenla » Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:32 pm


As I am not literate in Mandarin, I cannot go any futher on the "root" meaning. The words ding shi, though, does fit what I know as taijizhuang (it may be a modern expression, I guess-I have no idea) since one holds the ending posture in all circumstances. Therefore taijizhuang is specific to the posteures of a specific style of taijiquan!

Zhanzhuang, as a rule, usually does not have taiji related posteurs but surely its basic generic posteurs like holding ball, hands at sides with palm up, hands at qihai, etc., can help taijiquan practice, in general.
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:01 am
Location: USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:36 pm

I tried the exercise mentioned here, stop-motion form practice, this morning. Very interesting.
I must say, this puts a heavy emphasis on accuracy of movement. Even more so than going very slowly. At this moment, having only done Section 1 one time, I find myself thinking, "Whew! I'm really glad I didn't try to do the entire form like this."
I don't feel stiff or sore, not yet anyway, but I do feel it very much in my legs. Like I've walked, all uphill, for about five miles.
Coming from a guy who clocks three miles a day, both up and down hills (here in KY it's quite hilly), as well as 40 flights of stairs, both up and down, I'd say that's a pretty good workout.
I found myself having to pay very close attention to my center. More so than usual. Stepping became quite interesting. If any part of my body was even slightly out of position I knew it immediately when I tried to step.
As Louis pointed out, it was very tempting to put my foot down early when this would happen. I don't think it was fatigue, though that may have been a part of it, it seemed to be more mental than physical. Like my mind wanted me to put my foot down for its comfort, not my body.
However, if I was positioned correctly before and during the step, I found I could hold myself in any position I wanted to for as long as I wanted to. Once I co-ordinated the waist/body turning with the stepping it felt wonderful.
That only happened twice during all of section 1, near the end when I'd begun to work out the kinks. Once that did happen though, from Hands Strum the Lute through Step Forward, Deflect, Parry and Punch, I found myself very clearly connected throughout my frame and the punch of SFDP&P took on a whole body meaning that I've only rarely felt before.
I lost focus at that point, because I was concentrating on the feeling I'd just had and not on where I was, so Apparent Close Up and Cross Hands got sloppy.
After I had recovered a bit from that, I thought I'd try Cloud Hands in this fashion, as it was being heavily mentioned on the thread.
I found Cloud Hands to be very easy to do in this fashion. I even found and was able to correct a flaw in my execution of Cloud Hands by doing so, as it focused me right into my body positioning. I found I was turning my waist a little sooner than was wise for the stepping. Once I got that worked out Cloud Hands became a very simple exercise, even with the stop-motion.
I don't know why Cloud Hands was so much simpler for me to do this way than any other posture I've tried so far, but it was.

Thanks, guys, for this exercise. I think I will continue to do this fairly regularly. It really taught me quite a bit about myself and my form.

I do have a question, though.
Is this analgous, at all, to the "stop but don't stop" that we practice at the end of each posture in the form?
This has probably been discussed and figured out in the above postings, but I'm still somewhat confused and would appreciate it if someone could bring me up to speed.
Sometimes you've got to hit me in the head with a brick to get things in there.

Bob Ashmore
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Pamela » Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:50 pm

Hello Shugdenla,

I am sure you are right...or at very minimum, they are beneficial in their own right, which will certainly improve ones taichi.

Chi Gong is a good accompaniement for TaiChi, I believe, helping one to gather and circulate ones energy freely is surely beneficial to TaiChi practice as well.

Thank you for your reply.

Posts: 89
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:01 am

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:18 pm

Greetings Bob,

First, let me state that this “stop action” practice is just something that was suggested to me years ago by Gate Chan, and I don’t want to imply that it is orthodox or traditional taiji practice. I don’t know if it is based on any traditional practices, but it was presented in the spirit of experimentation and personal investigation. Master Chan did, however, teach the form in a very traditional manner. As students learned the form, we held the dingshi for long periods of time as he walked from one student to the other, checking and correcting our postures. I only recall him suggesting the “stop action” routine once, and he demonstrated a few movements to fascinating effect. He encouraged us to try it on our own.

Regarding your question, ‘Is this analgous, at all, to the "stop but don't stop" that we practice at the end of each posture in the form?’

I think that’s unrelated to this “stop action” routine. I think what you’re referring to is something Fu Zhongwen expressed as follows: “as each movement reaches a fixed point, one must accomplish what is called ‘seems to stop, does not stop’.” This is an example of a rhetorical manner of speaking, and the all-important word is “seems.” When you reach the limit of the posture, it seems like a pause, but it is not. It’s like when a pendulum reaches the limit of its swing; it seems to pause before it swings back. The significance of this for form practice is that while ending forms are clearly defined, one seeks continuity and linkage from form to form.

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 02-07-2006).]
Louis Swaim
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby JerryKarin » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:03 pm

These are all good things to try. Another one is to stay continuous (no stopping) but cut the speed to one half, one quarter or even smaller fractions of your usual speed. This is very demanding. You can do the same in push hands, slow it way down.
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby Rich » Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:18 am

Hi All,

Regarding the holding of transitional portions of movements, something I do in my practise is to hold the closed part and then the open part of the movements. I find that keeping in mind the dantien and the 'insubstantial energy at the crown of the head' during this really helps to find the 'zhong ding'. When I move from closed to open, I try to keep this feeling all the way through the transition, and I move extrememly slowly until I get to the fully open posture, where I hold again, feeling the dantien and the crown of the head. During the transition, I think on YCF's 10 essentials - so I kinetically visualise (if that makes sense, or maybe it should be 'kinetualise'!) energy moving from dantien up to the crown of the head, as well as expanding in all directions. Can any of you experienced players confirm for me if this is good practise or not please? It feels good to me, and seems to bring about improvement, but I'm not sure if I'm on the wrong track with the top of the head thing.

It's not quite the same as breaking the movements up into increments and holding each, but it's very similar. It certainly does make for a hard workout, and really improves balance, core stregnth and overall performance of the form. Every time I start to feel clumsy on something, I return to this practice. It is also a good way to work on getting lower, or taking a longer step.

I've never done the whole form this way though, only sections. Because of the repeats throughout the form, I devised a 40 move form which goes through each posture once only, and is more or less on the spot for my small living room. I do work through this form once in a while.


Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2005 6:01 am

Postby Pamela » Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:16 pm

Greetings Rich,

Yours sound llike a great way to find that opened/closed sensation, I think I will persist in its search through this method.

Thanks for sharing your experience on this.

I am eager to see what others will say on your queries of the crown...A particular source of interest to me.

Posts: 89
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:01 am

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Feb 02, 2006 3:09 pm

Thanks for the caveat, though I knew this was "non-traditional" it's always good to point that out.
I have found that some postures are easier than others to do in this fashion. The one I seem to have the most trouble with is Hands Strum the Lute.
I think it may relate to my turning my upper torso from the waist on the forward motion. I'm still working on it.


[This message has been edited by Bob Ashmore (edited 02-02-2006).]
Bob Ashmore
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Feb 02, 2006 3:24 pm

I have only recently begun to really slow down my form work. Bill suggested this to us in class a couple of weeks ago, and I finally found the time to try it.
Last weekend I had some time to kill, so I decided to do a long form as slowly as my body would do it.
It took me an hour and seventeen minutes to go through the entire form from beginning to end.
I found out a lot about balance from this, as well as some other feelings I'm still trying to work through.
Also I found that going slower is actually a lot sweatier than going faster. I was completely drenched by the time I was finished. I was in my basement and it was a relatively cold day, so it was not the environment causing this, it was the form work.
I'm definitely going to be working on this some more.
Some of what I felt during this is not easy for me to define. I'm going to need a lot more experimentation before I can figure out what this is telling me.

Bob Ashmore
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby laopei » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:22 am

Greetings Louis:
This is Horacio. As always I enjoy reading your posts.
I also appreciate your comment that your suggestion was not to "imply that it is orthodox or traditional taiji practice".

I was reminded of Fu Zhongwen's advice. (in a moment)
I would always appreciate any insights you have about TCC practice and specially about the following:

Fu Qing Quan (James Fu) Born 1971 is the grandson of Fu Zhong Wen.
Fu Zhong Wen wrote the book that Louis translated: "Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan. Fu Zhong Wen was Yang Chengfu's nephew.
About the speed of the Form, James Fu relates in the article :A last interview wit Fu Zhogwen -Tai Chi Magazine-Volume 18, # 6:
..."Too slow is stopped", James Fu said. "if it is too slow, it is not Tai Chi. Tai Chi is supposed to be continuous. It is like water. Water has to be continuous."
"Grandfather used to tell me regarding people doing Tai Chi for one hour for a single set, "your body is stopped. There is no Jing anymore, the Jing is gone. If you do it for an hour, it is stopped."
end of quote.
Fu Zhong Wen recommended practicing the form 6 to 8 times a day in a continuous sequence. At the same pace. About 20 to 22 minutes per form.

Take care
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2001 7:01 am
Location: San Antonio

Postby JerryKarin » Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:47 am

Fu Zhongwen seems to have preferred a somewhat faster pace in general than Yang Zhenduo. Fu's student Xie Bingcan takes only 15-20 minutes. Yang Zhenduo seems to suggest a bit longer, like 25-30, and mentions in one of the Tai Chi magazine interviews training taking over an hour for a rep (and doing several reps, leaving a trail of perspiration on the floor!).
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 7:01 am

Postby laopei » Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:14 am

I found it:
Tai Chi Magazine- 1995- Vol.19 #5.
Cover: Yang Zhenduo, showing “Fair Lady” Posture.
From YZD “on Yang Style’s Growing Potential”

He said now everyone practices the form in about 25 minutes, "but when I was training, it was about 45 minutes for the form and all the requirements had to be in it. I also had to practice before the sun rose, three times in a row, each time 45 minutes. I would constantly sweat and you could see the line of sweat on the floor from one side of the room to the other.

With Fu’s quote:
I am not so concerned with what “he seems to have preferred... a somewhat faster pace”;
but with his advice that if it is too slow -one hour- ...” There is no Jing anymore, the Jing is gone. If you do it for an hour, it is stopped."

YZD said in older times it was 45 minutes and ALL the requirements have to be in it.
One of the ten requirements is “move continuously without interruption”
He makes this point very often in his 5 interviews in Tai Chi Magazine:
For example, in the first interview -August 1990 -Vol14, #4 :An In terview with Yang Zhenduo”
T'AI CHI: How fast should the Yang style be done?
Yang Zhenduo: It depends on each person's physical condition. Some people can do it much slower and some people can't and must do it much faster.
It should be based on what they can do physically. But of course, by doing slowly, it is much more difficult. But by doing it slowly, it does not mean a person stops in one motion and doesn't move. That is not the right way to do it. Regardless of what pace they do their forms, they have to follow the principles.
The most important thing to remember when you do it slowly is that the upper limbs and lower limbs have to coordinate together. It depends on the person. The movements have to be fluid and continuous and at the same pace. But the speed is up to the individual.

also, in 1994. “generating Internal Energy” Tai Chi Magazine- Vol 18 #
talking again about misunderstanding the basic principles he said:

He is concerned that many practitioners of the Yang style misunderstand the basic principles of T'ai Chi and the essential points given by his father, the famous Yang Chengfu, with the result that the potential of the practice is not realized by many students, even when they study seriously.
Yang said the main point for practitioners is to follow the basic principles in a way that they are dynamically expressed in the whole body. He said they cannot remain disembodied ideas.
"Without these principles you will not succeed," Yang said.
"Yang style T' ai Chi's main characteristics are moving slowly at an even pace and every move is not rushed. Energy is more internal and motion is big and open and extended. The frame looks beautiful. Because of these main characteristics, therefore a lot of people can learn it.
But Yang commented that while the number of practitioners has increased, "The ones that follow the correct principles of practice are not all that many. He added that people who teach sometimes do not make clear the basic requirements in the right way.
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2001 7:01 am
Location: San Antonio

Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:05 am

Greetings Horacio,

It’s great to hear from you! I remembered that the James Fu quote, and the reference to Fu Zhongwen’s prescribed running time, came up in a thread here a couple of years ago:

One of my conclusions at the time was the following:

“So perhaps we should take Fu Zhongwen’s prescription in context—as the stated standard of a master who knows his form with an intimacy we can only try to achieve. My guess is that he did not perfect his form by timing it with a stopwatch, but rather that he achieved an efficiency and consistency of cadence that he latter came to know resulted in a predictable ideal running time. The message, perhaps, is that we should work toward that kind of intimacy with our own individual form, with an achieved modulation of cadence—not too fast, not too slow.”

I very much agree with what you quoted from Yang Zhenduo, and with his understanding that the speed of the form depends upon the individual and his or her constitution. My usual practice form is 20-something minutes, but there have been times when I worked on practicing at a very slow pace, and to good effect. I do think it is more difficult to maintain the flow at a slower pace, but it can certainly be done.

Again, I want to be clear that the “stop action” practice I described is meant to be an auxiliary practice. It is a method for testing the principles in increments. For me, I don’t feel that the pauses are interruptions—I still strive for linkage, and for continuity of intent. But of course it is in no way a replacement for traditional form practice.

As always, Yang Zhenduo’s remarks are very helpful and inspiring. Thanks for posting them!

Take care,
Louis Swaim
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:53 pm

At least I'm not alone in sweating profusely when training slowly. I certainly didn't leave a "trail" of sweat, but there were definite drops on the floor when I was done. Maybe if I keep going in this fashion I will get there. Especially if I can work all Ten Essentials into my form, which I certainly have not done yet. I'm lucky if I can get the first three or four on any given day. The rest will have to come in their own time, though I do try.
Perhaps my first foray into going as slowly as is possible was a tad too slow. I'll try to go slowly a little faster!
I certainly give full kudos to any of Fu Zhongwen's advice. However, my personal preference is for the Grand Masters point of view on this topic. Purely my opinion, which means nothing to anyone but me.
Everyone should make up their own minds about which way to go on such an issue but it is a good start to know how the various Masters feel about it. From there, you can decide for yourself based on good information.

Bob Ashmore
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby tccstudent » Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:01 pm

I just watched the entire long form of Fu Zhong Wen, and he did it in 15:20 exactly.
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Boston


Return to Miscellaneous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest