Stepping Applications - An

Stepping Applications - An

An in the footwork looks very similar to Ji. However, the energy (as you know from Grasp the Bird's Tail) is quite different. An is like a long wave, beginning in the rear foot and pushing towards the front. However, lacking the upper body and waist action, using An in the legs has less power than the actual "Push."

The parts of the legs which manifest An are the knee and the thigh (remember, we're talking about steps, not kicks). Using the knee is very similar to Ji, except that the ankle is not locked, and the power comes from pushing with the back leg rather that pulling with the front leg. This may, therefore, be used against the knee, or the inner or outer thigh, as the situation and positioning dictate.

Using the thigh requires initial contact in close range. As you step in, make contact with the opponent's leg. Pushing from the back leg into a forward stance, you can force the opponent off balance with the pressure of your front thigh. This is especially function when combined with the hand form. You may, however, need to experiment with different angles to really get the feel of An moving from back to front.

SB
Steve

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Hi Steve B.,

"An in the footwork looks very similar to Ji."

I think much of this is going to have to do with how the terms are defined. For example, "An" can be translated as "press down" and "Ji" can be translated as "Squeeze." Translating them these ways might change the applications you describe. Anyway, imho, for this particular argument, it might be possible to think of "peng, an, lu, ji, etc" as directions. I'm not saying that this "is" what they "are" in any definitive sense, only that they can also be related to directions. Well, even easier is to think of "4 sides" and "4 corners." To these we can attach directional markers like N,NE,E,SE,S, etc. OK, this is actually an insufficient description because we are working in 3 dimensions. As in the description of "peng" as "ward off slantingly upward." Though I've never heard it described as such, "lu" in most cases is done in the opposite direction: i.e., "diagonally downward." Again, I'm not arguing anything more than that the names can correspond to directions. I'm not saying that this is traditional theory either, only that this is a way to look at it. Well, if you can accept that, then it might be possible to accept that each leg has "sides" and "corners." And that "pressing down" --while advancing-- with the knee (i.e., using the front-side) aginst the opponent's knee could be considered an "An." Of course, this is a question of position, since using the front of the knee directly against the other's front knee could be considered a violation of the principle of opposing force with force. So, front of knee against side of knee is a lot safer --and probably more effective (ymmv). Hmm, it's also probably true that these things are more clearly demonstrable in steppting push-hands or in active-step styles. Anyway, just a thought.

Best,
Steve James
tai1chi

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True, and the directions are important, and your analysis is absolutely valid. However, since the question was whether the steps themselves held hidden applications of these energies, what I have done is to look at the energies as they are ususally considered in the hand forms, and tried to find how these might be concealed in the stepping. As you said, this isn't traditional theory, so it is all still open to interpretation.

All of this just goes to show how deeply the principles of this art run.

SB
Steve

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Hi Steve B.,

I didn't question any of the specific applications you described. I just thought it would be theoretically relevant to (sort of) define what was meant by "An" before carrying on much further. For example, if it is translated as "push," (or even "withdraw - push," then we might be lead (or mislead?) to believe that any pushing action is a manifestation of An. OTOH, if we use the hand positions as indications of An, then the question becomes "how do we use both feet?" Actually, this isn't impossible, but it doesn't seem to resemble the hand usage. Well, the feet don't operate exactly the way hands do, anyway. It could easily be argued that "kick with sole" uses "An." This, it seems, would also comply with your explanation of the advancing (diagonally) leg in "Step Up, Parry, Punch."
The other thing I wanted to mention, or have clarified, was your idea of "steps", in general. Usually, I think "steps" can be associated with a relatively fixed number of "stances", i.e., bow stance, reverse bow stance, empty step/stance, etc. How many of them so you see in, ok, the Yang long form?
Granted, there are many many permutations.

Best,
Steve James
tai1chi

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Indeed, the steps are related to the relatively fixed number of stances. But we must not forget (and I do this sometimes) that stances are not stationary. They always come from somewhere and go to somewhere else; they are transitory. So, stepping is a means of getting from stance to stance. It is in those transitions that I see the development of these applications.

Of course, most of the things I'm talking about are related to the hands, and in fact the whole body movement. But if we look at the legs by themselves, the question becomes (suspension of disbelief) "What if I had no hands?" Then, when the energy of the leg movements is analyzed and understood as it pertains to the opponent's legs, it can be combined with the upper-body movements to increase the potential of the techniques.

This is already done in advanced sparring practice, but it does not usually include a detailed analysis of the legs. They are just a part of the whole movement. By looking at the legs separately, the totality of the movement becomes very clear.

As for the number of stances, that usually varies according to which things you want to consider postures or transitions. Generally, though, I see three bow stances, the reverse bow stance (or "backward breaking step"), the two empty stances, the long side bow stance (Snake Creeps Down), the opening and transitional horse stance, the cross-legs stance (Parry&Punch), and the one-leg stance.

The three bow stances are the narrower stance used for lead-hand techniques(Horse's Mane; Ward-Off), the wider stance for rear-hand techniques (Brush Knee; the punch for Parry&Punch), and the split stance, where the legs form the bow position, but the hips do not face directly to the front (Single Whip; Fan Through Back). Each of these stances has a name in Chinese (I'll have to ask my master), and has a specific reason for its particular posture.

I make that 10 stances; but as you said, there are many derivatives and variations.

[This message has been edited by Steve (edited 02-27-2001).]
Steve

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Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2001 7:01 am

Steve,

Thanks for the posts on the "leg" "jins." I have little experience with this type of push hands, but found your suggestions very interesting.

Audi
Audi

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Location: New Jersey, USA

Hi Steve B.,

you wrote:

"But we must not forget (and I do this sometimes) that stances are not stationary. They always come from somewhere and go to somewhere else; they are transitory."

FWIW, I see what you mean in the apparently contradictory "stances are not stationary." If we posit that "stance" and "step" are relatively equivalent to states of stillness and motion, then "stance" is the still state. In tjq, though, we recognize that, although they must be carefully differentiated between/among, there is stillness in motion, and vice versa. So, in this sense, I agree with what you say above.

"So, stepping is a means of getting from stance to stance. It is in those transitions that I see the development of these applications.

Here, I disagree with the way you state it (that "stepping is a means of getting from stance to stance"), but I think the principle of the applications being developed from the "transitions" is right on the mark. My complaint with your argument is that you seem to place a priority on the "stances." Why couldn't it be argued that a stance is simply part of the process of stepping. Louis or Jerry could correct me, but I think the term "bu" can be equally applied to "step" or "stance." I'd have to say that my personal, perhaps idiosyncratic, interpretation is "step." Without the "step", there is no transition. Anyway, I don't think we disagree on this except in description. Maybe?

Best,
Steve James
tai1chi

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