The meaning of an?

Postby DPasek » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:33 pm

Audi, I love the interaction we are having on this forum, and I agree with Bob that you are making good points here; therefore, I hope you don’t mind a continuation of this topic. As time permits, I’ll reply in pieces to your last post since it was rather long. I’ll start with the following:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
I should also add, that I have routinely been taught that the eight energies are mostly used in combination, and so it is often hard to separate them out. Although we are taught to experiment with them, the goal is not so much to use them independently, but to aim toward the state of “shenming” when your actions can follow your thought at will. At this stage, you yourself may not be intellectually aware of what you do in the moment. You just know what to do.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I value sensitivity and awareness “in the moment” and thus try to be aware of even the minutest changes at every instant (a major objective of my current practice, and a goal that I am still working towards). I used to think more along the lines that you state – “the eight energies are mostly used in combinations, and so it is often hard to separate them out” – but that holds true more for complete postures from the form, for example, than for individual transitional movements. I feel that part of the difficulty in separating out the eight energies has to do with inadequate definitions of the energies themselves. An application certainly almost always uses a combination of jin to complete (I can’t think of any that don’t), with one energy setting up another, etc. but each intermediate transition step for a particular application seems to me to have a clear distinction between the various energies, and even when several are applied simultaneously they seem to me to be clearly identifiable (distinct component parts). Your examples of applications later in your post actually reflect a similar analysis of individual transitional movements exhibiting different energies – I just do this to a greater degree.

The level of detail possible depends on the way that the energies are understood/defined, which I guess is what lead me to the way that I currently view the eight jin. Typical definitions were either too vague or they were not inclusive enough for my attempts at finely detailed and precise analyses. I can differentiate much finer details than I had previously thought possible. While it is valid to view them as being used in combinations, my current understanding is that they can transform instantly from one to another (depending on intent, the interaction of energies between you and your partner/opponent, etc.) and I prefer to take that perspective for my analyses. The Chen style perspective that every inch of movement has potential application influences my analysis, but I don’t think that this perspective should be any less valid for Yang style.

While my abilities may prove to be insufficient to reach my goal of awareness at every instant, I view the eight jin (or more precisely, the Shisanshi) as a tool in the path towards understanding every inch of movement.

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:38 pm

Audi,

I thought that your reference to the Yin & Yang correspondence for the 8 jin might have been referring to the Bagua trigrams that you listed, but I was hoping that it wasn’t. I used to think that I had some understanding of this correspondence, but the more that I learn, the more confusing that I find it to be!

First, while you chose to follow one arrangement for the correspondence, I know of at least three additional ones given for Taijiquan (Yang Jwingming’s book “Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan” Vol.1 illustrates three versions). My understanding is insufficient to determine which version should be used, if the different versions are appropriate for different conditions (perhaps for different styles or lineages?), if some version is incorrect, etc, and why the given correspondences are significant for Taijiquan.

The following illustrates some of my confusion concerning the Bagua, elements, hexagrams, and Yin/Yang. Perhaps someone can enlighten me concerning this topic (perhaps a different thread would be appropriate).

You state:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
I see Ji as being Yin, because the trigram Kan has two Yin (broken) lines, on top and bottom, but only one Yang (solid) line in the middle.

...

I see An as being Yang, because the trigram Li has two Yang (solid) lines, on top and bottom, but only one Yin (broken) line in the middle.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yet Kan is considered the ‘Middle Son’ and Li the ‘Middle Daughter’; wouldn’t one expect a daughter to be Yin and a son to be Yang? Using this criterion, Kun/Earth (Mother), Xun/Wind-Wood (Oldest Daughter), Li/Fire (Middle Daughter), and Dui/Lake-Valley (Youngest Daughter) would be Yin; Qian/Heaven (Father), Zhen/Thunder (Oldest Son), Kan/Water (Middle Son), and Gen/Mountain (Youngest Son) would be Yang. Here the Daughters are determined by the position of the single Yin line while the Sons are determined by the position of the single Yang line.

Perhaps the associated energy would be determined by the relative frequency of the Yin & Yang lines such that Kun, Zhen, Kan, and Gen would be considered Yin while Qian, Xun, Li, and Dui would be considered Yang, as you seem to suggest.

Alternatively, and assuming my understanding is correct, the overall quality of hexagrams is determined by the line in the first position (bottom). If this also holds true for the trigrams (and I am not certain that it does) then Kun, Xun, Kan, and Gen would be considered Yin while Qian, Zhen, Li, and Dui would be considered Yang.

The preceding interpretation is based on the idea that the lines (Yao) enter from the bottom of the figure (it is the emerging quality) while exiting the figure from the top (losing influence). This is carried into the conventions used to name the two line elements, e.g. Metal, with a Yang line over a Yin line can be properly called either Lesser (or Weak…) Yang, or Emerging (or Young, Little, New…) Yin. But for the elements, as implied by the alternative naming conventions, the overall quality assigned to the two line figures may not really be assigned to (or determined by) either the top or bottom line.

If trigrams are compared as complementary pairs (the Fu His arrangement) then another way of assigning Yin and Yang to the trigrams is possible. With Yin listed first for each pair this would give the following: Kun/Earth:Qian/Heaven, Kan/Water:Li/Fire, Xun/Wind-Wood:Zhen/Thunder, Dui/Lake-Valley:Gen/Mountain.

I could possibly come up with other ways of assigning Yin & Yang to the trigrams if I thought about it some more, but the preceding gives plenty of evidence why I have no idea which way would be most appropriate for Taijiquan, and why.

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:08 pm

Audi,

You seem to be trying to define Peng as a single energy, whereas I divide it into two aspects. I made my distinction clearer in my 3/10/08 post on this thread which I’ll quote here so that you or other readers will not need to find the original post:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DPasek:
<B>If viewed with the analogy of an elastic sphere, then Peng could be viewed as the ability of a properly inflated sphere to resist forces by compressing and rebounding (with the ‘rooting’ being implied since otherwise a ball would be bounced away from a force rather than being able to compress into the ‘root’ and rebounding the energy back from whence it came), whereas Lu could be viewed as the ability of the sphere to rotate and to divert the incoming force away from the sphere’s center. Thus Peng implies ‘structural integrity’ in its general sense (the properly inflated ball), and compressing (in response to the incoming energy) and expanding (to issue the rebounding energy outwards) in its application sense.

Thus as terms for translations, I suppose that I would use Peng = ‘structural integrity’ in its general sense, and I suppose ‘ward-off’ (understanding that this is done through ‘contraction and expansion/rebounding’) or ‘rebounding’ would be ok for its application sense. I would use Lu = ‘diverting’.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Since it seems that I was not articulate enough originally, let me expand on this. The ‘structural integrity’ of Peng is like an inflated beach ball, with the air inflating it providing its structure such that (assuming no slow leak, etc.) Yin & Yang are perfectly balanced even when it is sitting stationary on the sand [i.e. the Yang expansion from air pressure inside the ball is perfectly balanced by the Yin elasticity of the ball’s surface material that contains the air with an inward pressure]. Yet that stationary ball, while exhibiting Peng energy, is doing neither Peng (‘Rebounding’: ‘Bouncing’ for a ball) or Lu (‘Diverting’: ‘Rolling’ for a ball).

Now let’s have a young child jump on that beach ball (apply force to it). That ball will bounce (Peng) &/or roll (Lu) that child away. If the ball did not have the Peng provided by the air pressure from being inflated (or if it busted when impacted, thus losing its air), then it would not be able to either bounce or roll the child away, and would instead collapse (flatten). Even if the weight of an un-inflated beach ball did not collapse the ball so that it still retained its round shape, that un-inflated shape would have structure but no Peng (no ‘structural integrity’). Indeed, all eight jin (including Peng ‘Rebounding’) should have Peng ‘structural integrity’ included.

In the above ball analogy, the possibilities for dealing with an incoming force are essentially limited to collapsing/deforming [loss of ‘structural integrity’ Peng] or being bounced/rolled/flung away [loss of ‘root’] (both defects if correlated with martial arts), or bouncing [‘rebounding’ Peng] or rolling [‘diverting’ Lu] the incoming force away (both desirable martial applications). Of course, the ball analogy is much simpler than with humans (since we are not simple spheres), but it illustrates the energies rather well. The child and ball analogy also artificially addresses the issue of ‘rooting’ by having the child jump onto the ball, thus giving the ball a relatively good root against the ground, while the child has lost their root by jumping onto the ball. Since ‘rooting/uprooting’ is perhaps a subject for a separate thread I will not go into further details here (although it is related to application of the eight jin), and I hope that my definitions of Peng and Lu are now clearer.

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:14 pm

Audi,

If we examine a moving ball striking another object, we can examine the issuing energies of An and Ji. This analogy is not as nice as the child/ball one for Peng and Lu, but it is still useful. When a moving ball strikes another object, it is essentially limited to collapsing/deforming [loss of ‘structural integrity’ Peng] or being bounced/rolled/flung away [loss of ‘root’] (both defects if correlated with martial arts), or pushing/displacing (An) or deforming/crushing (Ji) the struck object (both desirable martial applications). An is ‘pushing’ by impacting the surface of the object, and your terminology of ‘restraining’ or ‘covering’ work well with my interpretation of this energy since these terms imply actions on the partner/opponent’s surface structure. Ji works inside the structure by penetrating weak spaces (in the not quite appropriate ball analogy this would be the deforming/crushing of the struck object).

This ball analogy is not very good since Taijiquan practitioners don’t simply run or bump into others, and because once inside the partner/opponent’s ‘sphere’ one can choose to continue inward or apply force from inside outward against the partner/opponent. This requires me to explain in more detail in order to convey these more subtle skills.

While I consider your overlapping energy spheres idea to be compatible with my understanding of Jijin, I feel that one sphere invades the other and gains an advantage that allows it to displace or otherwise control the attacked sphere. I can not picture this advantage being portrayed by a picture of overlapping spheres, i.e. which has the advantageous position? I also don’t agree with the idea that “you must end up at a place where the opponent cannot contract any further.” While Ji can be used to push-displace a partner/opponent (“cannot contract any farther”), I feel that it can also be used to pull-displace them. Likewise, while it can be used so that the partner/opponent “can find no way to ‘reinflate’”, I feel that it can also be used to ‘over-inflate’ them, so to speak, so that they cannot avoid being moved in an outward direction.

While the inward and outward possibilities for Ji would be easy for me to demonstrate, it is more difficult to describe. The concept of attacking the gaps/weaknesses/etc for Jijin may also be somewhat difficult to convey. Since I do not have a succinct enough way to present it on this forum, let me instead give several simple examples that you may hopefully be able to use to generalize from.

Have a partner take a good Taijiquan stance with their arms in a ‘holding the ball’ position such that the upper arms, forearms, and hands are all as if they are contacting the surface of a ball held against their chest (fingertips are close together but not touching or overlapping). Have them maintain this structure (without attempting to neutralize the energy that you will apply to them, although ‘rooting’ the energy is fine) with good Peng (‘structural integrity’) energy [following the 10 essentials to the extent that they are capable].

Now stand in front of them, place your hands on their wrists, and push inwards towards their mass. You may feel that, if they have good structure, your push is transmitted through the structure of their arms, into their torso, and down into the ground (if they have a good ‘root’). I would call this push An [you are attacking their structure – from outside, if you prefer] and, rather than attacking their mass by collapsing their arm structure, you are transmitting your force into their mass through the structure provided by the shape of their arms. If you had better structural dynamics, root, etc, or were able to take advantage of some other deficiency of the other person (stiffness, lack of awareness, etc), then this An could be used to control them, pushing them away if desired (displacing them – moving your ‘energy sphere’ against theirs forcing them to move - or however else you wish to describe it).

Now have the partner change nothing except to bend their wrist outward so that the palms and fingers no longer contact the imaginary surface of the ball. This change is similar to what often accompanies the attempt to ‘leverage’ an incoming push and push it to the side (rather than using the rotation of the hips to divert incoming energy) as sometimes encountered in the simple one hand horizontal circling drill. This new shape, created with the bending of the wrist, protrudes that person’s ‘energy sphere’ and creates a weakness at the wrist. Now if you push towards that person’s mass (with the energy passing through their wrist) you may be able to feel how much more difficult it is for that person to maintain the ‘ball’ shape, and rather than the force being transmitted through their structure, the arm now tends to collapse (deform inward – allow penetration of your ‘energy sphere’ into theirs). I would call this Ji [you are attacking through a weakness in the structure and can subsequently use this advantage to control them].

Rather than pushing against their wrist in towards the center of their body, you could also direct your force (with the contact point still on the wrist) through the partner’s forearm (and continuing through their upper arm) in order to engage their mass (torso). This I would also call An. But if the force was directed so as to exit their elbow (e.g. making it protrude and thus attacking their structure through the resulting structural defect/weakness/protrusion…) or their shoulder (e.g. making it raise…), then I would consider it to be Ji. While both An and Ji in these examples could be used to control the opponent by effecting their mass, they are done in differing ways.

While this approach may not follow the conventional method for understanding these jin, I find that my approach allows me to use all eight jin as a tool in trying to understand every inch of movement, a tool to aid my attempt at having awareness at every instant in my practice.

To illustrate how Ji could be used in an outward direction away from the partner, let’s keep the partner in the same shape as previously (‘holding a ball’), but move our application to their elbow (it could work the same at the wrist, but I think that it will be clearer at the elbow, especially since I can reference a concept that you are already familiar with – having sinking energy in the elbow). Start by hooking one hand over their arm so that your hand contacts the inside of their elbow [you have entered their ‘energy sphere’]. Pull outward away from them and, if they have good sinking energy in their elbow, you should feel that it is not easy to pull their elbow out of the shape formed with the arm. Now have the partner change the energy at the elbow more outward (this does not necessitate a perceptible rotation of the elbow, but if the arm does rotate the elbow outward it will make the demonstration clearer), thus losing the sinking quality and making the elbow have an excess of Yang (a protrusion from their ‘energy sphere’). Now when you pull you should be able to feel that it is more difficult for your partner to keep the elbow from being pulled outwards (an energy that also tends to pull their mass in that direction as well).

The above can also be demonstrated with pushing energy if you and your partner set up with their arm embracing (outside) of your arm [your arm is inside their ‘energy sphere’], with their palm on your elbow and your hand or wrist at the inside of their elbow. Try the same exercise as above except that now you would be pushing their elbow outwards (rather than pulling on it from the outside). The results should be similar.

There are many other possible demonstrations from this position, like pushing on the elbow from the outside against an elbow either in the proper shape or with a Yin deficiency (too much inwardness); like changing from affecting the elbow towards or away from the partner’s mass to affecting it inwards or outwards along the direction of the upper arm, etc. In each case, I would consider the condition that affects them through their structure to be An, while the one that affects them through the weak joint as Ji. Of course, Ji is also used when simply entering the opponent’s ‘sphere’ through gaps (e.g. the space between the arms, as in the classic example of this energy as in the earlier example posted by Louis).

There are many additional aspects that relate to An & Ji, including internal & external energy spheres, Yin & Yang balls, Yin & Yang surfaces, concave & convex shapes, ‘tangent’ and ’90 degree’ forces, etc, but it would be far too lengthy to address these in this online format. I also suspect that these concepts have terminology and reference points that we do not share, making it difficult to convey these ideas to you. Plus, it would be much easier for me to demonstrate these concepts so that you could feel them, than it would be for me to talk about. I hope this perhaps difficult presentation has helped to clarify both how I view these jin, and how I use them in my training.

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:39 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>[QUOTE]
...After considering the issue further, I must say that I am not sure what “smearing” refers to...</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Audi,

I’ll try to present more details, but if I remember correctly, I only had one weekend workshop and perhaps a half dozen 1-2 hour seminars with Zhang Luping, so what I present here is primarily my own interpretation (misinterpretation?) of his ‘smearing’ concept.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>[QUOTE]
When you touch the opponent, imagine that there is one point for each contact that is privileged and imagine driving a nail through that point to connect you to your partner. That nail prevents you from sliding in any way. You are generally not permitted to pull the nail out unless you have another point of contact on that hand or arm to give you leverage. This rule means that you are permitted to pivot around the nail and that you are permitted to roll through a serious of contacts (like the rowel of a riding spur rolling across your skin). Putting the two techniques together also allows you to coil or snake from one point to another. In fact, one of our exercises involves doing open wrist circles and switching between wrist, elbow, and shoulder contact without sliding and without disconnecting.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That is an excellent approach that teaches very important concepts. I feel that there are also additional ‘levels’ that are different from this approach. I view practice as a continuum, with all stages being appropriate and interrelated, that progresses from primarily ‘bone’ to ‘tissue’ to ‘skin’ to Qi & ‘intent’ (& spirit?) levels. I am certain that you have probably had accompanying instruction that addresses Qi &/or intent (& spirit?) during the practice that you describe, but this is interrelating concepts from those levels into what is happening in what I would consider as essentially work at the ‘bone’ level (working against the partner/opponent’s fixed structure provided by their skeleton).

My understanding is that the ‘smearing’ technique works primarily at the level of the tissues, but Zhang’s presentation seemed to me to also approach the ‘skin’ and ‘qi’ levels. He stated that you should ‘smear’ as if you were spreading something sticky (like honey) on your partner/opponent. So let’s call this ‘sticky sliding’ rather that merely sliding without maintaining control. He also stated that one should eventually be able to control the partner/opponent even if the contact with them is nothing more than the little finger at the corner of the fingernail. As I can not yet accomplish this, I can only speculate that he was referring perhaps to the skin &/or Qi level of contact and control.

I won’t address the skin/Qi/intent/spirit levels since I have only affected people this way on rare occasions and by accident; since I cannot apply these levels with anything approaching consistency, I cannot claim to really understand them. A former poster on this forum, ‘Bamboo Leaf’ (Dalton), seems to have been trying to work primarily on the Qi/intent levels, so rereading his posts may provide insights into those approaches.

The ‘bone’ level is essentially treating a section of the body, like the forearm, as one undifferentiated whole. The ‘tissue’ level differentiates that same section of the body into Yin and Yang surfaces that can be individually controlled. I call the one ‘bone’ level because the solid bone running roughly through the center of the limb is more difficult to differentiate into individually controllable Yin and Yang surfaces than are the moveable tissues that surround the bone; but both of the designations are really more about energy than they are about physical parts of the body (although there certainly is also an anatomical component, especially when referring to the ‘tissue’ level).

The intent of the practitioner and the qualities of the interaction with a partner/opponent is what determines whether ‘bone’ or ‘tissue’ approach is better to use; one is not better than the other out of context with the actual interaction. However, the ‘tissue’ level is more difficult to learn to apply, and it appears to be much less frequently used by Taijiquan practitioners. What you describe is what I would consider to be excellent advanced practice at ‘bone’ level application.

I hope that the above makes some sense to you. Like so many things about Taijiquan, these concepts would be easier to demonstrate so that you could feel what I am talking about.

As for using a sword (jian or dao) against a staff or spear by deflecting/diverting it, followed by sliding up the shaft to attack the hand, I consider this continued contact as continued control of their weapon (sticking, if you will) while attacking their hand. You do not disengage from their staff/spear in order to attack their hand, although you could choose to disengage once you have slid into a position of control inside their weapon in order to attack their wrist, arm, torso, etc if desired and if it is appropriate to the situation.

I have had instruction similar to what you describe where weapons are indeed kept in contact at a single point, reflecting what is commonly taught for weaponless interactive Tuishou, but I have also been taught choreographed sparring routines (jian, dao & staff) as well as free sparring and drills where contact at a single point is not maintained, and the weapons frequently break contact with each other.

I’m not clear about the difference between ‘sticking’ and ‘adhering’, but I do know that there is a difference between simply contacting the staff/spear when deflecting/diverting it and instead contacting it in such a way as to induce the partner/opponent to not only continue the attacking energy, but also to extend that energy farther than they may have originally intended (sort of drawing their energy out) in order to make the counterattack more effective. Perhaps this has something to do with the differences in terminology. I suspect that, at least in part, our differing views of ‘sliding’ may be due to slightly different ways of viewing ‘sticking’.

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:40 pm

Audi,

The preceding posts have hopefully indicated where I may disagree with you on your specific examples of techniques, but I’ll address some of them in this post.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
I think “rebounding” is a definitely quality of Peng; however, I think that trying to actually causing the opponent’s energy to rebound is often not what we want. For instance, in our simple one hand horizontal circle, many people try to move their partner’s push across their bodies by “leveraging” and using a “rebound” quality to their pressure. I understand this to be a failure to follow. It gives off an energy feel that is very similar to people who lose roundness and hook with the back of their hand and wrist.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

In this example, I would classify the energy used “to move their partner’s push across their bodies by ‘leveraging’ and using a ‘rebound’ quality to their pressure” not as ‘rebounding’ (Peng), but as pushing (An). Here the force used is not rebounding the partner’s energy back into the partner, but is instead pushing to the side. ‘Leveraging’ yes, but not Peng ‘rebounding’ which should redirect the force back into the issuer in order to bounce them away. Whether using the back of the arm, wrist, or hand, this is all trying to connect to the partner’s structure (hand/forearm) to push them off to the side. If one wished to use Peng ‘rebounding’ in this situation, then it would be better applied as the partner is advancing; once the Lu ‘diverting’ starts, Peng ‘rebounding’ is not as easy to execute (unless the Lu causes the partner to feel like they need to lean into/on you in order to attempt to regain a loss of balance, or if they redirect the diverting energy vector back towards your center by switching to the elbow or shoulder, etc).

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
I think that Lu can definitely have a “diverting” feel; however, we also can use Peng in this way. In the two-hand version of the simple horizontal circle (counterclockwise with each person having the right foot forward), we practice an application of Peng as a counter to a circular push. As the opponent’s tries to widen the circle and push in a manner that makes it uncomfortable to follow his energy to your right, you can follow the energy to the left, turning the waist to the lift and bringing up the left arm to use “Cross Hands” (except with the left arm on the outside of your right arm). You transfer the opponent’s push from your right Ward Off to your left. As you use Adhering with your left arm, you circle your right arm down and forward (similar to the transition into Brush Left Knee) and then put your right forearm above the opponent’s elbow. Simultaneously, you rotate the left arm into Cai (Pluck). You then use Peng to launch the opponent to your right rear in a motion a little bit like shoveling snow and tossing it behind your right shoulder. To me it feels that this application involves a diversion to the left and then a diversion to the right, but both are Peng, rather than Lu.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As pointed out in an earlier post, I think that the Peng you are referring to in this example is the ‘structural integrity’ version rather than ‘rebounding’ Peng. I consider the “diversion to the left and then a diversion to the right” to both be Lu. Unless I am not understanding your example correctly, I would not call the “launch the opponent to your right rear in a motion a little bit like shoveling snow and tossing it behind your right shoulder” ‘rebounding’ Peng. While you certainly could use Cai (Pluck) to set up ‘rebounding’ Peng in this scenario, the energy would rebound into them sending them back away from you rather than around you. As written, I would call what you describe as using Cai to set up Lu (rather than Peng), even though it is in an upward and around direction rather than the more typical downward and around direction. I do not think that the direction the ‘ball’ revolves matters in classifying Lu as diverting. Rebounding Peng does depend on a force directed in towards your center being ‘bounced’ out away from your center. Structural integrity Peng is more about an outward energy used to maintain the shape of the ‘ball’ or ‘energy sphere’ and is certainly a requirement for a ball to bounce something off of it (‘rebounding’ Peng), but I view them as being somewhat different (as explained in the earlier post). To restate what I understand the energies to be in your example, the ‘shoveling’ action primarily has your arms rotating around your body (Lu) rather than coming in (compressing) towards your body followed by moving out away from your body (rebounding Peng) back in the direction that the incoming force came from.

Dan
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Postby fumin » Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:50 pm

Hi,Audi and Dan

Both of you have a good and clear description of peng, Lu, rebounding, deflecting,and divirting.

Take a step forward downdeflect, intercept and punch for example.

This step forward is following the spinning of torso and then downdeflect can result in lu, intercept in peng and punch in harm.

But this application can be adjusted to cai, elbow, kao, etc. due to the opponent's change .

Cheers
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Postby Audi » Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:45 am

Hi Dan and Fumin,

I have not forgotten your posts. I have not yet had a chance to respond with the thoughtfulness you have chosen, but hope to do so this coming week.

Best regards,
Audi
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Postby Audi » Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:41 pm

Hi Dan:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Audi, I love the interaction we are having on this forum, and I agree with Bob that you are making good points here; therefore, I hope you don’t mind a continuation of this topic.</font>

I have enjoyed the interaction as well, although sometimes have not had the time to respond as I would like. I just returned from a wonderful week-long Tai Chi seminar. The week before, I was also preparing for a ranking test and so was pressed for time. I apologize for the length of time it has taken me to respond.

Before I continue, I should repeat that I think the Association addresses these issues in a very practical and hands-on way, rather than primarily in a theoretical way. We practice various versions of various energies to get a feel for them. The goal is not to be able to distinguish them so much as to get a feel for a range of techniques that can lead us to move without mental deliberation. My purpose in describing some of my ideas is not to suggest how to train, but rather to give an example of how the Eight Gates could be the foundation for a complete system that goes from simple concepts to great depth.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I value sensitivity and awareness “in the moment” and thus try to be aware of even the minutest changes at every instant (a major objective of my current practice, and a goal that I am still working towards). I used to think more along the lines that you state – “the eight energies are mostly used in combinations, and so it is often hard to separate them out” – but that holds true more for complete postures from the form, for example, than for individual transitional movements.</font>

When considering the “minutest changes” I think that I look more to sticking-adhering-linking-connecting and to contrasts between full and empty than to differences between the Eight Gates, but I see how your approach could be helpful in focusing your training.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I feel that part of the difficulty in separating out the eight energies has to do with inadequate definitions of the energies themselves.</font>

Perhaps this is so. I also think, however, there are two other aspects.

First, I think that defining the energies should take into account the interaction of the intent of the two parties. It would probably be easier to look only at the physical, but I think this would not be sufficient.

Second, I think that the energies are something quite simple, but with many very deep layers. Sometimes the simplest things cannot be easily expressed in words that are unambiguous. Depending on the level of discussion, different aspects tend to be emphasized in a way that is indeed confusing.

I think you are right that we are approaching these issues quite differently. For me, “inches” do not matter in themselves, since neither length nor direction are at the heart of the distinctions as I understand them.

At perhaps the highest level of analysis, what I want from the Eight Energies is a partial “theory of combat.” If we understand that the Tai Chi response has to be soft and that no configuration can be fixed, I think the theory must focus on formless energy relationships. Formless things are hard to describe.

The first question is how to deal with the opponent’s extension of energy from his center. By extension, I am referring to both the intent and the physical movement. I am also talking not only about energy “in motion,” but also the potential energy “already in place.” Perhaps “full” and “empty” cover this ground, but I would have to think through that more to be sure.

I think the Yang style approach is to think of responding with the Peng that underlies all Yang Style techniques. (I am limiting myself to Yang Style, because I think some other styles may require a different “vocabulary.”) “Peng” is that resilient response that mediates receiving and issuing, like the beach ball you have described. This general “Peng” can then be divided into four main specific categories: Wardoff, Rollback, Press and Push.

Wardoff (i.e., “Peng” in the specific sense, rather than in the general sense) deals with the opponent’s extension (perhaps “fullness”) by trapping it from the “inside,” i.e., between the opponent’s center and the point of fullness. You increase the separation of full and empty to create dynamic imbalance in the opponent. You attack the extension from the inside and lift the energy out further and carry it to a place of advantage. The opponent has difficulty countering because your attack is aimed at the empty part of his attack. If he himself is trying to extend, it is difficult to oppose your technique when you try to aid this extension. If you are successful, the opponent cannot “contract” after his extension. He cannot empty. Consider the application Yang Zhenduo shows for Ward Off Right, where the opponent feels he cannot put weight back in his heels and is forced into the air on his tiptoes. Also compare Fair Lady Works the Shuttles or Parting Wild Horses Mane. The opponent wants to get “down,” but can’t.

Rollback, on the other hand, attacks the extension (perhaps the “fullness”) from the outside by shaping and “funneling” it into imbalance, like stroking a beard into the shape of a goatee. The opponent has difficulty countering because she herself is tending to create this shape by her extension. If you are successful, the extension/fullness becomes excessive, creating an imbalance you can take advantage of.

To me, it seems that the theory teaches us that if there is extension, then there must be contraction. If there is full, then there must be empty. If I want to attack the opponent’s extension of energy (or “fullness”), I should therefore be able also to attack his contraction into emptiness. This is how I view Press and Push. Again, by contraction, I am not limiting myself to energy in motion, but also the potential for energy. That is why “emptiness” might be an appropriate way to think of it.

With Press, I think that we are attacking the contraction or emptiness from the “inside.” We occupy the space that the opponent needs to contract or needs to empty and make him contract or empty even more. If we are successful, his emptiness becomes excessive. We “squeeze” him out. His “contraction” becomes excessive.

With Push, I think that we attack the contraction or the emptiness from the “outside.” We follow the opponent to the point where Yin should turn to Yang, but leave the opponent no way to accomplish this. Like flowing water, we flow down into all the cracks and crevices and block the exits the energy could take. She can no longer extend her energy or “fill.”

If my approach is correct and these techniques are fundamental to the system, then each should be able to address a simple attack. If I imagine standing in the Preparation Posture and someone stepping forward with his or her right foot and punching to my face or chest, I can imagine using any of the four energies to respond, individually or in overlapping combination. In reality, I would most likely use a combination.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> First, while you chose to follow one arrangement for the correspondence, I know of at least three additional ones given for Taijiquan (Yang Jwingming’s book “Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan” Vol.1 illustrates three versions). My understanding is insufficient to determine which version should be used, if the different versions are appropriate for different conditions (perhaps for different styles or lineages?), if some version is incorrect, etc, and why the given correspondences are significant for Taijiquan.</font>

I included reference to the Bagua, not because I have figured it all out, but more to give an idea of how the theory of the Eight Gates might be considered comprehensive. The Bagua (trigrams) themselves, as you rightly allude to, are part of a very complicated and deep theory. Let me just say that I use them to the extent I find them helpful and ignore the rest. I would be happy to discuss what I know or theorize in another thread, as you suggest.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yet Kan is considered the ‘Middle Son’ and Li the ‘Middle Daughter’; wouldn’t one expect a daughter to be Yin and a son to be Yang? Using this criterion, Kun/Earth (Mother), Xun/Wind-Wood (Oldest Daughter), Li/Fire (Middle Daughter), and Dui/Lake-Valley (Youngest Daughter) would be Yin; Qian/Heaven (Father), Zhen/Thunder (Oldest Son), Kan/Water (Middle Son), and Gen/Mountain (Youngest Son) would be Yang. Here the Daughters are determined by the position of the single Yin line while the Sons are determined by the position of the single Yang line.</font>

Your last line is what I understand to be correct, both from the number theory and the Yi Jing commentary. Assign each Yin line an even number (e.g., 2) and each Yang line an odd number (e.g., 1 or 3) and then add them up. If the sum is odd, the trigram is Yang; if even, Yin.

Going by this theory, I should reverse the assignments I gave to Press and Push; however, I was not proceeding from the Bagua theory per se, but rather from feelings about the individual lines (“yao”) as a practitioner. I was more concerned about the feel of the lines spatially and chronologically. If I changed to the perspective of the opponent, this might be another reason to reverse the assignments. To the opponent, the main part of Press may feel like an advance or an attack; whereas the main part of push feels like a yield.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Now let’s have a young child jump on that beach ball (apply force to it). That ball will bounce (Peng) &/or roll (Lu) that child away.</font>

According to my understanding, I might be able to agree that the “bounce” relies on what I would call “general Peng”; however, I have rarely been taught to apply energy in this way. There should be some kind of curve or circle. Without the circle, I would usually be failing to “follow.” As for rolling the child away, this is most analogous to what I would call “adhering” (“nian”), rather than any of the Eight Energies. Done fiercely, it might turn into Split (Lie/Lieh).

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> An is ‘pushing’ by impacting the surface of the object, and your terminology of ‘restraining’ or ‘covering’ work well with my interpretation of this energy since these terms imply actions on the partner/opponent’s surface structure. Ji works inside the structure by penetrating weak spaces (in the not quite appropriate ball analogy this would be the deforming/crushing of the struck object).</font>

I think I understand your distinction better now. For me, I think of using all four energies to penetrate “weak spaces,” but focus more on the energy. You move to where the opponent is double weighted and cannot change. According to the theory, the identity and location of these “weak spaces” will be dynamic. In other words, a location like the inside of the opponent’s elbows may be a weak spot in one situation, but a strong spot in another.

Some of the masters talks about An as being like water that flows down through all the cracks and crevices Maybe someone could help me with the actual wording and citation. I view this analogy as important because it explains that it is not enough merely to push just anywhere; instead, you actually must push in a way that will tend to freeze the opponent as he “withdraws” in “contraction.” Even if you push on a surface such as the opponent’s chest, you often do this in a way to attack his lower back and lock it into a closed position. In other words, you are always trying to make your energy penetrate to weak spots.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Now stand in front of them, place your hands on their wrists, and push inwards towards their mass. You may feel that, if they have good structure, your push is transmitted through the structure of their arms, into their torso, and down into the ground (if they have a good ‘root’). I would call this push An [you are attacking their structure – from outside, if you prefer] and, rather than attacking their mass by collapsing their arm structure, you are transmitting your force into their mass through the structure provided by the shape of their arms. If you had better structural dynamics, root, etc, or were able to take advantage of some other deficiency of the other person (stiffness, lack of awareness, etc), then this An could be used to control them, pushing them away if desired (displacing them – moving your ‘energy sphere’ against theirs forcing them to move - or however else you wish to describe it).</font>

For me, this situation does not really exhibit an attempt at “control” and is more analogous to a strike, rather than the Eight Energies themselves. For me, pure displacement is not enough. In this scenario, I would much prefer to be the one being subjected to the attempted push, since I would reveal less of my full and empty and have less exposed to attack. For this to be An according to my understanding, there needs to be an attempt to “cover” the partner’s energy, not just an attempt to push on something or displace something.

As for sticking and “skin/Qi/intent/spirit levels,” we should probably continue this discussion on a new thread, if you would like. Let me just say that at my recent seminar, there was extensive focus on sticking without sliding or separating. My current belief is that advanced levels of this would not lead down the path of physical “smearing,” but non-physical sensations that might be described as “smearing” might be possible. I also think that as you advance, the focus on Qi, intent, and spirit does get stronger and stronger without, however, by-passing the physical basis of the technique.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 08-10-2008).]
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Postby fumin » Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:45 pm

Hi, Audi and Dan

Very good to read your discussion.
I would like to give an example of baseball.
As only one Taichi Practitioner, he plays all the roles and manipulates every kind of strategy. As a whole, in a proper timing and position, he plays pitcher and catcher and batter at the same instant or continually changes his status and position.

He is not like the opponent who plays only a striker with the strategy.

This way, the opponent is hard to detect the Taichi one. However, the difference is that the target to strike is not the ball but the opponent.

So, I can see your interactive discussions.

Cheers
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Postby fumin » Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:26 pm

Hi, again.

Audi talks about water. I would like to say about it.

While the opponent's deadly stike is only one point such as hand or leg with speedy mass. The characteristic of water is to yield and penetrate of the whole, and so is the Taichi one.

The yielding is transforming the deadly striking point into a useless small balloon floating unsteadily. This means all part of the opponent's body becomes weak points. The Taichi person with water characteristic strikes back to any of the opponent's weak points.

Of course, if the taichi practitioner without water quality must have someting blocking the opponent's attack, which causes double weighted. Then the opponent can take advantage of this blocking weight and change his attack and hit again.

The water or air yielding quality makes the opponent's striking useless and then the
Taichi one can take advantage of this timing. Of course, the back striking ways are various.

Cheers


[This message has been edited by fumin (edited 08-09-2008).]
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Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:57 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fumin:
<B>
Audi talks about water. I would like to say about it...
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Fumin,

I really like the qualities of water, and they are often quite useful to express the desired qualities of how one should apply the 8 jin (as well as other aspects of the art) using Taijiquan principles; but it may become somewhat problematic if used as part of the definition of the 8 jin, rather than just as guides to the proper way to apply the jin. For example, while Pengjin is applied like the way that liquid water is able to lift the solid weight of a boat, I do not believe that this means that Pengjin can only be applied in an upward direction. Other qualities of water: wave power, currents, whirlpools, the ability to penetrate objects by seeping into them, the ability to coat the surface of objects, the ability to seep or drain away from attempts to grasp it, the buoyancy provided by it, the gentle resistance to movement through it, etc, all provide useful analogies in Taijiquan usage.

Perhaps an examination of how the qualities of water could aid in understanding how Taijiquan principles are applied to the 8 jin may be valuable. I, however, have not done this in a careful or complete manner. Have you given the relationship between water and the 8 jin careful considerations that you could share?

Dan
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Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:35 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
Before I continue, I should repeat that I think the Association addresses these issues in a very practical and hands-on way, rather than primarily in a theoretical way.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Audi,

I certainly understand the desire to find practical hands-on ways to understand Taijiquan concepts, but I don’t think theoretical analysis and practicality are necessarily mutually exclusive. For my practical usage of the 8 jin, I find the way that I have analyzed them theoretically to be very useful in developing the precision that I desire, and the ability to interpret what is happening with each instant of circular movement produced by the interaction between individuals doing push-hands and martial applications. My system allows me to use the theoretical to analyze opportunities (whether realized or missed) and indicates ways to attempt to correct mistakes exposed during the interactions. To me, the theoretical aids the practical.

Perhaps my 8 jin definitions do not directly address the numerous other principles required to exhibit proper Taijiquan technique, like sticking-adhering-linking-connecting, the qualities of water that infuse our art, etc, but those important concepts must also be adhered to. Although I try to practice them simultaneously, I suppose that I address them separately in my theoretical approach to understanding Taijiquan. With that in mind, I agree with the following:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>First, I think that defining the energies should take into account the interaction of the intent of the two parties. It would probably be easier to look only at the physical, but I think this would not be sufficient.

Second, I think that the energies are something quite simple, but with many very deep layers. Sometimes the simplest things cannot be easily expressed in words that are unambiguous. Depending on the level of discussion, different aspects tend to be emphasized in a way that is indeed confusing.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think that the basics of the 8 jin are indeed rather ‘simple’, but the proper usage of Taijiquan principles in expressing them is rather complicated. Here the interaction with the partner/opponent and their energy and intent impact our usage of the 8 jin, and all of the complexities that are brought out in the interaction tends to make it somewhat difficult to discuss.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
At perhaps the highest level of analysis, what I want from the Eight Energies is a partial “theory of combat.” If we understand that the Tai Chi response has to be soft and that no configuration can be fixed, I think the theory must focus on formless energy relationships. Formless things are hard to describe.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Perhaps the ‘formless energy relationships’ are the reason why the qualities of water are so appropriate for describing Taijiquan.

Dan
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Postby fumin » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:57 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DPasek:
<B>Audi,

The preceding posts have hopefully indicated where I may disagree with you on your specific examples of techniques, but I’ll address some of them in this post.

As pointed out in an earlier post, I think that the Peng you are referring to in this example is the ‘structural integrity’ version rather than ‘rebounding’ Peng. I consider the “diversion to the left and then a diversion to the right” to both be Lu. Unless I am not understanding your example correctly, I would not call the “launch the opponent to your right rear in a motion a little bit like shoveling snow and tossing it behind your right shoulder” ‘rebounding’ Peng. While you certainly could use Cai (Pluck) to set up ‘rebounding’ Peng in this scenario, the energy would rebound into them sending them back away from you rather than around you. As written, I would call what you describe as using Cai to set up Lu (rather than Peng), even though it is in an upward and around direction rather than the more typical downward and around direction. I do not think that the direction the ‘ball’ revolves matters in classifying Lu as diverting. Rebounding Peng does depend on a force directed in towards your center being ‘bounced’ out away from your center. Structural integrity Peng is more about an outward energy used to maintain the shape of the ‘ball’ or ‘energy sphere’ and is certainly a requirement for a ball to bounce something off of it (‘rebounding’ Peng), but I view them as being somewhat different (as explained in the earlier post). To restate what I understand the energies to be in your example, the ‘shoveling’ action primarily has your arms rotating around your body (Lu) rather than coming in (compressing) towards your body followed by moving out away from your body (rebounding Peng) back in the direction that the incoming force came from.

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

Hi,
Nice to read your water question and this response to Audi.
It creates a lot of substential discussions and I am looking forward this interaction.

Because I have something to do later, I'll make a brief response.

While my friend and I appliy the Taichi quan, I'll ask my partner push me forward slowly and never stop and in the process I won't change his direction and I won't give him any stopping or changing-his-direction strength until he loses his balance.
Also, let him start his hit very quickly tword me,and the same result happens to him.

Then I ask him how he feels in the process.
He says,"I know two objects are moving but I can't feel anything resisting."

While I attact him, I feel many stoppings and resistants. Then I ask him what happen about this stopping and resistants.

Why do you make this? For him, it is hard to answer.

Later, I'll show him how I make it. Let his hand feel how I do it while I am explain the principles.

Talk to you later
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Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:32 pm

Audi & Fumin,

I don’t know if this will lead to anything of value, but since my definitions for the 8 jin tend to emphasize the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’, and since both of you seem to want more of the ‘how’ in this discussion, perhaps we could see if we could come up with ways to describe the 8 jin using the qualities of water.

I’ll start with the following for Pengjin:

A single molecule of water cannot exhibit the coordinated power of water masses as seen in currents, waves, tides, tidal waves, whirlpools, hurricanes, etc. Water vapor (mist, fog, etc) alone has little power to physically impact objects, or to generate power, but water masses, or steam that is coordinated into acting in a unified manner, have the potential to exert tremendous forces. It is this unity that powers all 8 Taijiquan jin.

While various parts of a water mass can work in different manners, like the underwater currents flowing differently than the surface waves in a body of water, Taijiquan practitioners should be able to have different parts of their bodies exhibit different energies while simultaneously maintaining a unified whole. The fluid nature of water allows it to respond to anything that it encounters without ‘resistance’, and to affect objects it encounters while remaining ‘soft’. These are also desirable and fundamental qualities for Taijiquan. Yielding, yet strong; soft yet powerful; it is these qualities of water that produce pengjin.

In the specific application of pengjin (‘rebounding energy’ or ‘ward-off’), it is like the ability of water to float objects on its surface. The amount of lift that the water provides to an object depends on the weight/mass/buoyancy (water displacement) of that object. The effect on the object is thus dictated by that object; as long as there is a sufficient quantity of water (coordinated pengjin) the water responds to (floats) all objects simply as water – it accepts the force of the object without changing its own nature. Likewise, for pengjin, Taijiquan practitioners should maintain their coordinated structure in response to incoming energy, without tensing or pushing back against the force, such that the amount of incoming force is what dictates how difficult it is for it to continue coming in. The greater the incoming force, the greater the difficulty it has to further penetrate the Taijiquan practitioner’s structure, and the greater the resulting rebounding energy. The opponent can be bounced away like a ball that is thrown down into water with such force that is goes in beyond its buoyancy point only to be popped back out of the water.

Whereas for water floating an object like a boat or a ball, the direction is determined by gravitational forces such that the object is exerting force downward into the water (resulting in the water buoying up the object), the human musculoskeletal structure is capable of operating in all directions. Thus this pengjin can be exerted in any direction in Taijiquan, and its direction depends on the direction that the incoming force is from.

I’ll try to continue with the other 7 jin after I have given it more thought. Jump in with your own ideas and comments if you wish.

Dan
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