Coming over from another style

Coming over from another style

Postby Wushuer » Fri Nov 22, 2002 5:28 pm

How about a topic area for people who studied a different form of Taiji and are now studying YCF style, and need help getting their head out of their...
You know what I mean?
;-)
Levity aside. From my posts you can easily see that it is very difficult to put aside a lot of the pre-conceived notions that another style imprints on your mind, to allow you to accept YCF style for all it's worth.
Might be helpful to those of us who are in that boat. If there are enough of us to warrant an entire topic area, it could be a very good idea.
We could get the "blockage" out of our systems here on the website and maybe help other newbies to YCF style slowly come around to the theories and practices of this style.
Just a thought.
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Postby Charla Quinn » Sat Nov 23, 2002 6:24 am

Hi Wushuer,
I was in that same boat and in 1998 went to my first seminar with YZDand YJ in VA. It was a very frustrating experience as I dug in my heels, I cried, I complained, and generally resisted learning this new way of doing the form. I resolved that I would practice both this new form and my old way of practicing. But, by the following summer's seminars, I'd given up the old and embraced the new and haven't looked back. I had pretty much been oriented toward just the health aspects of TCC before, but now, was intrigued by "application" and "intent." For my gender and age, I may be regarded as a little peculiar by my peers, but I'm having fun and am understanding what I'm doing with the form so much more than I ever did before. YZD and YJ are excellent teachers and so very generous. They exemplify to me the "peaceful warriors." I'm always enjoying and learning from your and the others' posts. Thanks.
Charla
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Postby gene » Sat Nov 23, 2002 7:58 pm

Hi Wushuer and Charla:

For me the key word in Charla's post is "fun." Sometimes we get so serious about these debates (such as, is standing meditation an intrinsic part of Yang TCC) that the fun gets lost. "Stop thinking and end your problems." (Tao Te Ching 20) I started with Guangping, which is generally thought to have started with Yang Ban Hou and so is "a" Yang style. The visual differences between Guangping and YCF Yang style is startling (example: single whip in Guangping is executed in an L stance with the arms spread 180 degreees), but I think that the Ten Essentials as defined by Yang Zhenduo apply in both styles. I have also done some fooling around with a minor style called Wu Ji Jing Gong, which is taught here in New Jersey by Master William Ting, and which looks VERY different from either traditional Yang or Guangping. Again, though, I think the Ten Essentials universally make for good (and fun) taiji. I will never master any of these styles, because I still like to practice all of them!

Best regards,

Gene
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 25, 2002 6:33 pm

Charla,
I KNOW that feeling!
My YCF Center instructor MUST be a saint, because he's calmly and with much skill dealt with my "crying" and "whining" and digging in to resist the change in style. He has shown more patience than I have ever imagined with my constant "comparisons" (to be accurate, they were actually downright argumentative statements) between the two styles.
It took me a year to come to the conclusion on my own I KNOW he must have wanted to ask me in the first place:
STOP DOING THAT OTHER STYLE!
Fortunately I figured it out for myself. (I'm not a TOTAL moron. I taught quite a few beginners in my days in Wu style)
As soon as I gave up practicing the Wu Family 108 long form my YCF form improved dramatically. I didn't exactly get "perfect" overnight, and doubt I ever will, but I seemed to drop the worst faux pas.
I have to say, I will NOT give it up forever. No matter how good I get at YCF style, I will continue to do the Wu forms, probably for the rest of my life.
They are genuine Taiji and offer me much in the way of genuine skill. Not to mention I still have the utmost respect for the skilled Wu family members who spent quite a long time drilling their form into my head. I will continue to honor their training.
However, while learning YCF style, I will refrain from practicing the Wu style. I can say from experience, and yours backs me up, that I simply cannot learn one style and still continue to practice the other.
Since my section one class has been over for a couple weeks, I got "itchy" to do a "complete" form, and so I ran through a Wu long form Saturday afternoon.
I was completely amazed at how much easier it was to seperate the two now. I had found myself running the two styles forms together, but now that I have at least completed the section one, I seem to not have as much trouble keeping the aspects of each in thier own place.
So during the break I think I'll brush up on both forms, doing my level best to keep them seperate, but when the section two class starts up, I will again stop doing the Wu hand forms.
I don't seem to have a hard time if I keep on practicing the weapons forms of the Wu style while doing the Yang hand form. But when I take the Yang weapons training, I will cease those at that time as well.
I happen to believe that eventually I will be enriched beyond measure by studying these two forms and practicing both.
However, I am getting experienced enough to recognise that they need to be STUDIED seperately.
After all, the Wu forms are just derivatives of Yang Luchan and Ban Hou's small frame style. The origins are the same.

Gene,
I too have given up on the idea of "mastering" either style.
I reached the level where I was considered a "practicioner" of Wu style (a high compliment in that school, though not an official designation, officially I was a Senior Student), though I do not consider myself as such. If I can reach the point where my instructors consider me a "practicioner" in Yang style (I have no idea what the corrolary would be), then I will consider myself a lucky man indeed to have at least a "practicing" knowledge of two such highly skilled family styles in Taijiquan.
I would urge you, in light of what Charla and I have both experienced, to leave off your "other" style training, at least long enough to gain proficiency in YCF style before you go back to it.
I have never heard of "Guangping" as a martial style, only as a province in China. I am fascinated by the idea of a style started by Ban Hou, as he is considered one of the premier practicioners of Taijiquan ever.
What more can you tell us about this style?
I have just performed a Google search of Guangping, and that did not show anything other a family name (quite a pretty model has that family name) and a province. There is no website containing reference to it as a martial style.
I would like to hear more from you about this. Is that, maybe, a shortening of a longer style name?
The differences between Wu style and Yang style Single Whip are pretty profound as well. Even the differences between the first Yang style I learned (I have no idea if my instructor in that "style" had any legitimate lineage. His style was quite authentic, I later learned, to other Yang styles but he never told me his teachers name and I was too niave to know to ask) was quite different.
In Wu style, you end single whip in a 50/50 weight distributed stance, with your arms just shy of 180 degrees apart. The fact that this is the only posture other than "begining" and "return to mountain" that ends in a 50/50 weight split makes that pretty significant in their form.
You expend chi equally through both hands in this form, it is two distinct strikes to either side of you.
This seems to hold true in YCF's form, without the 50/50 split in weight. The rest of the differences in this posture are too slight to mention. Other than those distinctions it seems to be the same move.
Now I don't want to talk about "differences" anymore?
It took me until just this past weekend to find the SIMILARITIES between YCF style "White Crane Lifts Wings" and Wu style "White Crans Spreads Wings".
They LOOK completely different. If you were to have asked me even just last week, I would have probably said they weren't really related and had been assuming they were COMPLETELY different moves with similar names.
Wrong.
Doing the Wu form last weekend, I hit the point of WCSW's and was suddenly overcome with a revelation.
They are, essentially, the same move.
To look at them, they seem completely different. Your hands don't seem to be doing the same things, they certainly don't end up in the same places!
However, now that I have had some distance and have gained, at least, a slightly better grasp of YCF forms, I can feel the SAMENESS of the move.
It is in the Tantien! The motions are identical in the tantien. The hand moves, even the footwork, is different enough to seem completely alien. But the proof of their identical origin is in the tantien.
You would have to know both forms to grasp the idea, I would imagine. But to me, the mental knowledge of their same point of origination is FINALLY shown to me in the details of the moves of the tantien.
They are EXACTLY the same and now I can see that.
It was a pretty major revelation for me.
The hands are spaced much further from your center in YCF Style, your arms are much more rounded and extended (remember, Wu Style is small frame) and your feet are seperated more in YCF Style, but the tantien goes through the exact same turns and movements.

Fascinating stuff.

Now. I'd like to ask everyone with multiple Taiji styles in their background a question.
What have you found SIMILAR between the other styles and what you are seeing now in YCF style?
We know they're different. What I want to find out is how similar are they, now that you have been at this for some time.
I have found that "Grasp the Birds Tail" is remarkably similar NOW that I can seperate the two in my mind.
Again, the hands do different things, specifically there is a definite touch between the fingers of your left hand and your right forearm in Wu Style, but again the tantien moves the exact same way. The turn of the tantien to open to the right at the beginning of Roll Back is identical, also.
I'm starting to see these things, now I have a certain "distance" from the Wu forms in my mind and I'm gaining more skill with the YCF forms.
Any others?


[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 11-25-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 11-25-2002).]
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Postby gene » Mon Nov 25, 2002 7:59 pm

Wushuer:

Kuo Lien Ying is credited with having brought the Guangping style to the US in the 1960s, and his wife still teaches in San Francisco. There are some books out by or about Kuo and Guangping; one is the T'ai Chi Boxing Chronicle. I am told by those fluent in Chinese that the translation of this book is a little off, but I find it to be an interesting read anyway. Madame Kuo has at least two books out. In one of her books, the name of which is escaping me, there is a photo layout of Kuo doing the form movement by movement (but without verbal instruction). I think the photos are excellent and you can really see and feel Kuo's power. You can get more information about the style at www.guangpingyang.net. The style was recently featured in the Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi, although most of us were very disappointed with the presentation in the First Edition, and so cannot recommend it. There is also a videotape instructional series out by Sifu Henry Look of California (in fact, there was a complete pictorial of the form as done by Sifu Look in Inside Kung Fu within the last couple of years), but I cannot recommend the video. Sifu Look was one of Kuo's students. Another one of Kuo's students, Peter Kwok, taught the form (as well as Shaolin) here in New Jersey for a period of time, and I am told that his power was astonishing. He no longer teaches here and I don't know where he is today.

I certainly hear what you're saying about focusing on a single style, and you're probably right, but I like the variety in my practice.

Gene
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 25, 2002 8:45 pm

To each their own. I also enjoy the variety in styles. Each has it's own appeal, for different reasons at different times. Just as each has it's valid martial points that will differ, they have different "feels" for different moods.
It is one nice perk of being "mulitstyled".
I will visit the website and take a look. Always fascinated by different styles.
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Postby Michael » Tue Nov 26, 2002 6:39 am

Wushuer,

I also studied Guang Ping(or Kuang Ping) Yang style. My sifu told me to forget my YCF style---"it was a waste of time". I do find the Kuang Ping a rare, very powerful and beautiful style. I took KP to understand the roots of the YCF style--if it was truely handed down from Yang Ban Hou unchanged as reported. I have no reason not to believe the story.

Now the study of this style actually deepened my understanding and appreciation of the YCF style, Contrary to my sifu's expectations and desire I have stayed with it as opposed to the Kuang Ping---though portions of the set I still practice mostly as single movement practice or in short blocks of mainly three moves--right style and left style.

At first it was really fustrating keeping similiar/dissimiliar things straight. I would find myself doing the Kuang Ping single whip at the YCF class (or visa versa)--as Gene described earlier. In one class I would get an understanding smile and in the other I would get a good "scolding". The hardest thing for me in the beginning was keeping them distinct and seperate. It took awhile.

I sometimes regret not continuing my KP training but from that training I found that what I had already was all I "needed". And that "it" could provide all I could ever expect or want (martial wise) from a taiji style.

Gene,

I can't find Gordon Guttman's site. It seems that I lost the bookmark. If you have it handy, could you post it? I think that Wushuer might find it interesting. I think a single taiji style is probably best...but I agree that variety is good. But for me, I find it hard to devote enough time to both. It ends up being more "maintenace" as opposed to "improving". But as I said, I still practice portions of the "KP" or "GP" style. It is too good to let it all "fall by the wayside".
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Nov 26, 2002 4:57 pm

Michael,
I visited the website provided by gene's link. Fascinating stuff.
There are SO many styles of Taijiquan, and they all claim to be "The (qualified definitive) Taiji" form. That's one of the things I've liked the most about YCF and Wu style. They don't claim to be the "best" or even "better" than other styles. They even seem to embrace the other styles and try to learn from them.
KP seems to lay a lot more emphasys on the martial aspects than most, and plays against some well known racial prejudices in Chinese culture to lend credence to it's claim that it's founder taught this as a 'secret', or better style than what was being taught to those "foreign invaders" at the imperial court.
Throw in the almost universal appeal of learning an "ancient chinese secret, taught only to a very few students, at night, in dark alleyways by a Master who is pulling the wool over ALL the rest of the worlds eyes and only taught THE true art to these few deserving artists who will now simply GIVE this closely held secret up to YOU, for a price" and you have a powerful draw to pull in paying students.
Though, as I've said many times: There is only one Taijiquan, but there are many ways to get there.
However, one red flag that I have found to hold true in ANY kind of martial art, internal or external (I have studied both), is that if the instructor tells you to "forget" your previous style and lambasts it as "a waste of time" or "garbage" or whatever adjectives they use, then they are trying to cover up for a shortcoming in THIER style that they are, usually rightly, afraid you will see in time. By criticising what you have previously learned, they wish to make their art look "better" and are hoping to keep you from using anything "legitimate" you may allready know to recognise the shortcomings in their style or their own knowledge of that style.
Not a universal truth, but I have walked away from many "schools" using this theory and I have never regretted it.
One of the first things I liked about my YCF instructor was his eagerness to embrace my past knowledge and his habit of asking for correlary martial applications as he teaches me my new style. He has never once asked me to "forget" or abandon my "old" style as useless or a "waste of time". If he had, I would have recognised this as uncertainty in his knowledge of his style or his teaching methods. Either would have caused me to leave politely, but immediately.
Again, I have respect for any knowledgeable practicioner of Taijiquan, I just find it a bit strange that your instructor would NOT have respect for other styles.

I can definitely relate to your feelings of "maintanence only" in my "other" style. That's what Id been doing for the past several years and considered myself lucky to be doing that much.
But I am finding that as I gain knowledge and skill in YCF forms, I can correlate that new knowledge and skill back to similar forms in what I have previously learned and make both better. The two together should, I hope, equal out to a greater whole.
I feel that the two combined should lead me to a greater overall understanding of that one, elusive, Taijiquan.
I may be taking the long and winding road to get there, but my hope is that one day I will find it.

I have also been running the forms together here and there. Sometimes it's actually funny to watch.
I find my biggest problem has been reconciling the Wu "lean" with the YCF "upright, centered" postures. I THINK I'm straight up and down, and my instuctor comes over, puts one hand on my shoulder and gently pushes me straight. What is "straight" for me after more than a decade of "leaning" into postures is far, far from centered or straight up and down by YCF standards.
By forgoing the Wu hand form while I train, and setting up a mirror on my basement wall so I can see myself when I practice, I have managed to correct the worst of that, though I STILL am leaning a bit. Probably always will, I'm afraid.
Now, after much conscious effort, I find I can go between the styles and keep them, mostly, seperate.
The "small frame" of Wu style also causes me one of my bigger problems. When I feel "open, rounded and extended", I'm actually only "open, rounded and extended" for small frame, not large frame. Large frame is visually "open, rounded and extended" throughout the form, small frame is all these things, but it doesn't LOOK like it is. It's much more "deceptive", for lack of a better word. You seem to be closed, straight and held in, but you're not.
It is yet another aspect of "coming over" to YCF style that I am going to have to work on.
I guess it's lucky for me that doing that work happens to be one of my favorite passtimes.




[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 11-26-2002).]
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Postby gene » Tue Nov 26, 2002 7:44 pm

Michael:

Sorry, can't help you with the Guttman link. I'm not sure about the contention that Guangping is more martially oriented than the YCF style. I think a lot of this depends on who's doing the teaching. In Guangping grasping bird's tail, for example, the trunk of the body is straight up and down. I remember being at a Yang summer seminar a few years back when Yang Jun corrected my posture in the push element of YCF grasping bird's tail by causing me to incline foward at an angle which at the time I felt caused me to be overcommitted. But when I examined the corrected posture in a mirror I could really see the intent rising from the rear heel up the spine and out the hands, and since my front knee was not inclined past my toes, I could see that I was pretty firmly rooted. When I push hands and feel I have the four ounce point, I now like to commit to the push in this way, and I think I've gotten some good results from time to time. (On a related point, I still find the most difficult attack to defend against to be a simple straight in push by a committed partner!) That's about as martial as you can get. Meanwhile there are some Guangping teachers who use the form solely as a health exercise and spend no time on applications. I don't agree with that approach, because even if you are only studying for health and enjoyment, without some idea of possible applications, I question whether a person can know how the energy is, or should be, directed. And feeling the energy is both healthful and enjoyable!

Best regards,

Gene
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Postby Michael » Tue Nov 26, 2002 10:53 pm

Gene,

I couldn't agree more. It took me a good while to go back to the slight lean. I still have some doubts in certain situations but it works in this style.

You are also correct that there are big differences on how KP is taught just as with YCF style. I do think that "on the surface" the Kuang Ping can LOOK more martial. As I said, in reality that is not the case however.

Wushuer,

I think what you say is correct about "covering up shortcomings"---not only in the style but in the teacher. I wonder sometimes if it was not that he was jealous of my other teacher....no I know he was. He wanted my undivided attention---or "devotion". Whereas he wanted me to forget about the YCF style, my other teacher encouraged me to keep learning the other style. Tell me which teacher you would stay with?

The main reason I stopped going to my Kuang Ping teacher is his attitude towards our style. He was very good, very powerful, very fast. I could have learned a lot more from him...but did not want to. It is not the style, it is the practioner that is "superior". I have never found this attitude in teachers of the YCF style.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Dec 03, 2002 3:45 pm

Yes, very much the teacher. A good teacher is the key to the whole thing.
I'm glad I found one.

The idea of "lean" is one that I never really considered before. It was taught to me very early on, so I never gave it much thought until I had to try to "correct" that lean out of my form.
There is a decided "lean" to the Wu forms, and not just front to back, but side to side. Not so much that you get off balance, in fact for me leaning IS balanced, just enough to offset the weight shift when you are single weighted.
This is not present in YCF style, straight up and down is the rule with only forward leans in the push or brush knee kind of moves.
I ran into some old friends of mine over the weekend while I was up north, Wu family students. Inevitably we did a form and I was subjected to much questioning about my "new" form. The lean/not lean argument came up immediately after I demoed section 1 of YCF style.
These people were fascinated by the lack of "lean" anywhere in YCF style. We got together and did some push hands, one handed, Da Lu, Chain Step, then free style.
I tried to push more YCF style, upright and centered, as opposed to Wu style, leaning and that version of centered. I have to tell you, I saw advantages and disadvantages to both.
The upright postures gave me a lot more control when I was upright, but once I got slightly off to the side in any fashion I found myself automatically slipping into a Wu lean. I could do much more fine adjusting to force while "leaned" into my posture, though this simply may be a reflection of lack of training in upright postures.
My reach was longer, also.
Again, this may be due more to my lack of experience and knowledge of the martial aspects than any defect in the strict upright postures.
Anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on the differences?
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Dec 03, 2002 8:51 pm

Hi Wusher,

You wrote, > I tried to push more YCF style, upright and centered, as opposed to Wu style, leaning and that version of centered. I have to tell you, I saw advantages and disadvantages to both. <
> The upright postures gave me a lot more control when I was upright, but once I got slightly off to the side in any fashion I found myself automatically slipping into a Wu lean. I could do much more fine adjusting to force while "leaned" into my posture, though this simply may be a reflection of lack of training in upright postures.
My reach was longer, also.
Again, this may be due more to my lack of experience and knowledge of the martial aspects than any defect in the strict upright postures.
Anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on the differences? <

Over the years I've experimented a fair amount, and I found that the differences can be subtle.

Generally speaking, there is better leverage when upright, though there are some specialized leaning applications. It sounds as though you fell back on what you were used to.

Though generally it is good to go by your experience, familiarity can give unwarranted weight in a for/against argument.

As you study on, and explore, the more upright stance, I think that you will find that its application is easily as comprehensive as what you did while leaning.

Were you to do some of your Wu forms and lean a bit less you might find the increased leverage.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 12-04-2002).]
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:18 pm

David J,
I did as you suggested, simple shadowboxing in Wu style without the lean.
I think I'm sitting down to far in my postures to make the lack of lean be effective. I would have to do the Wu forms standing much more upright to do them without the "lean".
So I do the postures I learned upright, YCF style, that way and I think I will leave the Wu style postures as they are.
I'm not wise enough to the ways of "upright, centered" yet to try and work the "lean" I learned previously out of those forms.
Maybe someday, when I am proficient at YCF style, I can bring the two together. For now, I will try and keep them seperate.
Good advice though. I have had fun trying this idea.
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Dec 06, 2002 7:14 pm

Hi Wusher,

You wrote, > So I do the postures I learned upright, YCF style, that way and I think I will leave the Wu style postures as they are. <

I think this is the right thing to do.

To be clear, I only meant to suggest trying it with less lean, for perspective, not permanently altering your Wu set.

Glad you enjoyed it.

David J
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Dec 06, 2002 9:45 pm

Yes, I have been having a lot of fun, in general, with YCF style.
The perspective is quite different.
I have been striving to get more "large frame" with my postures. I must admit I've only come to about "middle frame", so far.
I just can't seem to get "up" enough in my stance to get "large frame". I sit down way too low and I'm battling fifteen years of that habit.
I will continue with diligent practice.
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