Double-Weightedness

Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Feb 16, 2001 2:54 am

Greetings Mike,

I don’t quite follow this. The most prominent appearance of “raise the back” is in the second of Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials. There, it is part of the formula, “han xiong ba bei” (contain the chest and raise the back). The two points are interconnected, and this can be discerned from the whole context of the narrative. Moreover, the notion of “raising the back” is in no way inconsistent with relaxing the back. On the contrary, it means that the sinews of the back are “songkai” (loosened and expanded), and that there is an upward intent in the spine (related to xu ling ding jin). I’m sure I’ve seen it in other Chinese sources as well, but can’t put my finger on them at the moment. Which “later” Chen Weiming book do you mean? I have the "latest": a “complete works” pub’d in ’96 by renmin tiyu. Could you direct me to this “correction” that CWM made?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Mike » Fri Feb 16, 2001 2:17 pm

Hi Louis:

I can't direct you to the exact book. I followed this lead a long time ago and I can't remember all the details. The essential point is that instead of "Raise", it is better to translate it as "Relax"... and this fact is apparently reasonably well known among Chinese martial artists. A second problem is one you often encounter, I'm sure, and that is that many of the terms don't offer a good one-to-one translation because of added implied subtleties, so a translator has to do the best he can. My comment is that "Raise" should simply be "Relax", if the choice has to be made.

Obviously, Chen Wei Ming recognized the problem if he went back and tried to correct the misunderstanding later. If I had to guess, I'd say it would be the next Taiji oriented book after the Yang Cheng Fu one.

Perhaps it's a question Jerry could pose to Yang Jun. As I understood it in my conversations, too many Yang stylists take the "raise" as an indication to slightly push up and/or hump the back (or various other extraneous translations).

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Feb 16, 2001 4:27 pm

Mike,

There is no problem with the term: ba (raise, pull out, pull up) or with translating it thus. If people misunderstand it that’s another issue. I put my finger on one of those other Chinese sources, Gu Liuxin’s _Taijiquan Shu_ (The Art of Taijiquan). This is from his section on the back and spine:

“Contain the chest (hanxiong)” and “raise the back (babei)” are interconnected. When one is able to contain the chest, then one is able to raise the back. “Raising the back” is when the chest is contained slightly in, the musculature of the back loosen and sink downward (wang xia song chen), and the vertebra between the two shoulders (the spinal vertebra, the third fundamental beneath the neck), have an upward rising stimulus and a slight leading or drawing toward the rearward upward direction—it cannot simply pull toward the rear. In this manner, the muscles of the back have a certain elongative tension and springiness, the skin has a sensation of being drawn up. Since the spine, shoulders and arms are mutually linked, therefore the taijiquan treatise has it: “the strength issues from the spine.” In actuality, it is the musculature of the shoulders and back working together in the application of strength, rather than one group of muscles working independantly in the application of force.”

This trans. is kind of on-the-fly, but you can see that Gu Liuxin used the formula and explains it rather well. It appears throughout his books.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Feb 16, 2001 6:02 pm

Mike, Louis,
Many thanks for your answers. I think I get what it's about.
Western civilization has long had an instruction for good posture that seems to be the same: Stand as though your sternum is being held up by a string hanging from the sky.
(...and your head as though supported from above.)
Held this way, the top of the spine arches back and up, and the upper back, the shoulders, and the neck can relax.
David
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Postby Mike » Fri Feb 16, 2001 9:43 pm

Hi Louis:

I wish I knew more than the little bit I told you. As you can see though, the description you're giving via Gu is quite a bit more toward "relaxing" than "raising". Like I said, it's been a while and I can't remember all the details of the error, but it strikes me that part of the problem (don't carve this in stone, it's been a long, long time) MAY also have had to do with the appendage that the man "Du" from ZhaoBao village stuck on Chen Xin's book. Chen Xin's book was not printed until well after his death and the publisher allowed Du to add things that Chen Xin never meant and which created an uproar in Chen Village. One of those things may have had to do also with the origin of the "raise" word.

Still a good question to put to Yang Jun, if possible.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby mnpli » Fri Feb 16, 2001 11:27 pm

I'm not much of a reader, so i probably can't add much to this,' raise the back' thread , but one think comes to mind, I have heard that in the old days, when
somebody was getting ready to retaliate physically . He would worn the antagonist and say to him "don't get my back up" or "your getting my back up"

well anyway, my two cents. Image

Mario


[This message has been edited by mnpli (edited 02-16-2001).]
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Postby Mike » Sat Feb 17, 2001 4:56 pm

Well, maybe the correct Yang style admonition actually means that. In which case it should be translated more like "raise your dander". Image

Mike
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Feb 17, 2001 11:30 pm

Greetings Mike,

Not to belabor this, but I do want to reiterate that to my knowledge “babei” is a traditional taiji formula, that it makes perfect sense if it is understood within context, and that it is in no way inconsistent with relaxing the back. In my opinion, Gu Liuxin’s elaboration brings great clarity to this. There is both “raising” and “sinking/loosening.” This ties in with the notions of sinking the qi to the dantian and threading the spirit to the crown of the head. There is a natual polarity in the two actions—otherwise “relaxing the back” would just be kickin’ back on the old couch! It’s difficult to respond to or refute your mention of a “famous screwup” or to Chen Weiming’s alleged “correction” without some more specific reference to where he might have done this.

Perhaps the heart of the issue you refer to is the potential misunderstanding of what hanxiong babei means. For example, some beginning practitioners when instructed to “sink the qi” respond by bending their knees a little more, but I think you would agree that is not what is meant by sinking the qi. Similarly, some folks think that “containing the chest” means physically drawing in or caving in the chest; or that “raising the back” means physically hunching the upper back in an exaggerated manner. These are simply misunderstandings. I suppose I was fortunate that my sifu made sure I understood what hanxiong babei meant early on.

I’ll also point out that the hanxiong babei formula appears in Yang Chengfu’s later _Taijiquan tiyong quanshu_ (Complete book of the essence and application of taijiquan), for example in the description of the beginning posture (qishi): “Contain the chest and draw up the back. You must not bow forward or lean backward. Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. . . .” There are variations on these formulae as well, as in the description of Gao Tan Ma (High Pat on Horse): “Loosen the waist and contain the chest (songyao hanxiong).” And: “The slight raising (luesong) of the back has the intention of stretching and drawing upward, and advancing forward (tanba qianjin zhi yi).” One of the several entailments of the word “tan” in Gao Tan Ma is one of extending and reaching outward—quite apparent in the posture itself.

Let me know if you track down any additional information about the later Chen Weiming source.

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 02-17-2001).]
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Postby Mike » Sun Feb 18, 2001 4:33 pm

Hi Louis:

Like I said, it's not something that I delved into all that deeply other than in looking at *what* was meant by "raise" the back and the fact that it should be more "relax" was the end product. In other words, it is the same as in the other styles.

Just to clarify a few details (I didn't chase it too far), I called Yan Gao Fei to make sure that I wasn't telling you a lie. He confirmed what I told you. Perhaps if you email him at Yangaofei@aol.com you can get more details about the Chen Wei Ming book, etc. If you speak Chinese fluently, you could call him (email me privately for the phone number) and straighten this out pretty quickly.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby mnpli » Sun Feb 18, 2001 5:44 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by mnpli:
<B>O.K. one last stab at this. Who knows maybe I who don't read all the Chinese stuff, may actually be able to help the both of you, stranger things have
happened no? here it goes as anybody here besides me, ever looked at champion swimmers upper back? I mean can you see the raise round upper
backs that they all posses.
Or a really good BJJ player ever seen their upper backs? very similar to the swimmers yes? How or why for now, no need to get into. the point is that a correct
back either looks or feels like that .

Now back to our experts. Image

Mario</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

[This message has been edited by mnpli (edited 02-18-2001).]

[This message has been edited by mnpli (edited 02-18-2001).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Feb 18, 2001 5:49 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks! Hey, I never was calling your honesty into question, just trying to get at the details, that’s all. I tend to get jiangjiu (particular) about these things—I’m a word guy, and I really dig investigating taijiquan terminology. I poked around a bit more, and I found plenty of instances of babei (raise the back) and the formula hanxiong babei (contain the chest and raise the back) throughout the literature. For example, Wu Chengqing (1800-1884) used the phrase babei hanxiong in his “Notes to the Original ‘Treatise’,” which is translated in Wile’s Lost Classics, pp 43-44, orig. on pp. 127-128. Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880) used the formula in several of his works. In the back of Wile’s book, pp. 164-173, there are some correlation charts tracking occurances of various formulae in a number of the classics. The hanxiong babei phrase appears several times (or reversed as babei hanxiong). Several occurances are correlated to a document titled “Shenfa” (body, or torso techniques), by Wu Yuxiang. I don’t know if this has been translated anywhere, but I have it in a Chinese collection of taiji documents titled _Taiji Quanpu_. It’s a very short document consisting of eight two-character phrases, the first being hanxiong and the second being babei. I conclude from this that this formula is quite old and was well-established by the time Chen Weiming recorded Yang Chengfu’s exposition on the Ten Essentials. It was also well-established before the publication of Chen Xin’s book that you mentioned (I haven’t yet checked for the phrase there). If there was ever any controversy surrounding the phrase, it would have been over, as you say, exactly what it means. I think the second of Yang Chengfu’s “Ten Essentials,” if well-translated, is pretty unambiguous about the meaning. The Gu Liuxin elaboration I posted above is also helpful. Of course, as with many of these formulae, it can’t take the place of good oral guidance, hands-on training, and earnest individual practice.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Mike » Sun Feb 18, 2001 8:57 pm

Hi Louis:

I don't have enough expertise to argue what you say intelligently and I honestly think it's a good point to clarify. I was sincere in my suggestion that you contact Yan Gao Fei. Often the problem is the specialized use of words in martial terminology not meaning what they appear to mean to non-martial people. I just don't know. It's worth an email, at least. Yan Gao Fei is a very nice and knowledgeable person.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby gene » Tue Feb 20, 2001 8:21 pm

Audi: I thought you might be interested in this quote from pages 60-61 of "Flowing the Tai Chi Way," by Dr. Peter Uhlmann (Navigator Communications 1998): "Related to centre is weight distribution. Traditional tai chi masters teach that one's weight should be seventy percent on one foot, and thirty percent on the other. Henry [Wang, Uhlmann's teacher] disagrees. He feels this concept places one off centre in a leaning posture. He claims this causes 'double weighting,' where the arm and leg on one side of the body are load bearing at the same time. This position is unnatural and can cause physical harm to the body. Furthermore, chi flow is disrupted by a seventy-thirty weight distribution." Master Wang advocates 50/50 or 100/0 distribution on the feet. (In any event, I hope 50/50 on the feet is not wrong, because Guang Ping is my first style, and if 50/50 is wrong, I'm in a lot of trouble!) I don't understand the concept of double-weighting either, but I bet the solution lies somewhere in staring at the taijiquan symbol (yin and yang must be evenly balanced, and there must be some yin in yang, and some yang in yin). Have I successfully beclouded the issue further?

Gene
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Feb 21, 2001 6:24 pm

Hi Gene,

Did you read the first few posts under "double-weightedness"? Audis questions touch on what you are saying/asking.

Do the following: on a piece of paper draw the outline of a tee-shirt. Do any move where you are on one foot, and with each of these moves mark on the drawing which foot you were on and where you focused your balance in your upper torso. By this I mean: which point in your upper torso are you holding up?

Then, on a separate piece of paper, make your marks for moves where the weight is shifted from one foot to the other. See if what you do is consistant, and look for what your body might want there.

To partially answer the main question of your post: Henry Wang was partly right, but he was over-generalizing.

More on this in about a week.

David
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Postby gene » Fri Feb 23, 2001 5:49 pm

David: Thank you. Your suggestions lend some physical structure to a very difficult concept to explain. It's like trying to tell someone who's never eaten a strawberry what one tastes like! I can sense when I feel connected (my favorite is the connection between opposite hand and foot in brush knee), but teaching it is another matter.

Gene
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