Weighted or unweighted pivots?

Weighted or unweighted pivots?

Postby DavidJ » Tue Feb 27, 2001 6:09 pm

Audi,

I wrote to you in the earlier posting, "With one exception your questions and ideas dance around the answer." And I said that I'd deal with that exception in another post.

The basic response is that weighted pivots per se don't cause or cure double-weightedness. This isn't double-weightedness; it's simply weightedness.

You wrote, "...The logic of this would seem to be that one should always unweight a moving foot to give it nimbleness; however, this seems to run counter to the apparent tolerance or perhaps even fondness of some of Yang Cheng Fu’s successors for weighted foot pivots. If memory serves me right, Wu Yu Xiang Style also has many weighted pivots in changing angles in cat stances (xu shi bu). Can anyone reconcile these practices with these statements about nimbleness?"

Getting caught flat-footed is one thing, and how you pivot is important, but I don't see how a weighted pivot can cause double-weighting.

I don't find pivoting on a weighted foot in any way limiting nimbleness. In fact, in practice, I find weighted pivots increase my mobility. In addition, they are more direct. In some situations if I want to pivot, to turn and go in another direction, I'm not required to shift my weight from the foot, then pivot, then shift the weight back onto the foot again. Why do three things where one is sufficient?

Since you can change the amount of weight on the foot during the pivot, I don't see what the problem is. If you're trying to just turn the weighted foot, that can be hard. Turn your whole leg.

During the long form much of your time is spent with the majority of your weight on one foot, do you really not want to know how to pivot where the majority of your weight is in contact with the ground? I think that there is an increase of agility to be found here. Once familiar with doing weighted pivots correctly, you may see what I'm talking about.

That being said, in other situations unweighted pivots are appropriate. I do both weighted and unweighted pivots. I find that how they are used depends largely upon timing.

Note: so far as I know Yang Tai Chi doesn't insist on either weighted or unweighted pivots. Whether you use weighted pivots or not is your choice. This would be a good question for Yang Jun.

David Salvia
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Feb 27, 2001 6:30 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DavidJ:
<B>
If you're trying to just turn the weighted foot, that can be hard. Turn your whole leg.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I would go one farther than this: turn your waist and in so doing turn leg and foot.
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Postby Audi » Wed Feb 28, 2001 5:56 am

David and Jerry,

Thank you for your suggestions and comments on weighted pivots. They provide good food for thought. Let me clarify, however, that I do not believe that weighted pivots violate T'ai Chi principles or that I cannot do them, it just seems that every time I "turn around," I see some suggestion that casts a shadow over them, with the justification of avoiding double weighting or distinguishing yin from yang.

For example, in Yang Zhen Duo's 1996 book in English, Yang Cheng Fu is quoted as saying: "It is of primary importance in Taijiquan to distinguish between 'Xu' (Empty) and 'Shi' (Solid). If you shift the weight of the body on to the right leg, then the right leg is solidly planted on the ground and the left leg is in an empty stance. When your weight is on the left leg, then the left leg is firmly planted on the ground and the right leg is in an empty stance. Only in this way can you turn and move your body adroitly and without effort, otherwise you will be slow and clumsy in your movements and not able to remain stable and firm on your feet." What do you all make of this quote? Do you not think that it implies that turning should preferably take place on empty unweighted legs?

When I was first exposed to the study of T'ai Chi (I think it was a long form derived from Cheng Manching), one of the bedrock "truths" I learned was that from the very first posture you always shifted the weight off a stepping or pivoting foot. I extended this prejudice into learning Yang Zhen Duo's form, with the difference that I noted that the feet adjustments generally took place before the steps, rather than after.

I was then surprised by one of Yang Zhen Duo's students, who informed me that the backward weight shift in the Brush Knee and Twist Steps was optional, implying that weighted pivots were fine. He then further surprised me by advising me to delay fully shifting the weight in the Brush Knees (and in the Kick with Right Heel following Double Wind/Peak to the Ears) until I completed most of my waist turn, explaining that this was to minimize the period of double weighting. His form looks great to me, but these instructions seem to express contradictory sentiments.

To top this off, I have seen videos of Fu Zhongwen, his son, and many Wu Yuxiang stylists performing weighted pivots without a care in the world. All of this confusion led me to my post on double-weightedness. I have been very grateful for all of the responses and subsequent discussions, but amd still somewhat mystified that everyone else seems to find seemless agreement among the authorities, where I see what seem to be multiple contradictions.

To test the theory of nimble weighted pivots, I just conducted a scientific experiment of one (myself) on my carpet, using as an example the transition from Fan Through the Back to Chop with Fist and imagining a sudden attack to my rear after completing the Fan Through the Back part.

You may pleased to hear that I have conclusively proven, to myself at least, that a weighted pivot with no weight shift is the quickest and most versatile response. If you agree, I would appreciate your speculation as to why this is not the way this transition (or any of the other 180 degree turns) is performed in form (at least as taught by Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun)? Is this a question of a divergence between what is optimal for health and what is optimal for martial training?

Do any Cheng Manching practitioners endorse weighted pivots? Do the Yangs explicitly endorse them? Is it just a matter of what is "comfortable"? I would welcome any further thoughts from either of you or from any others as well.

Audi
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Postby Michael » Wed Feb 28, 2001 6:04 pm

I have also wondered about weighted pivots and somtimes use them in my practice of the YCF set to work on certain applications.

Audi, I liked the turn from Fan through back into Turn and chop I had not used the weighted turn there before. I think that both weighted and "unweighted" turns have their place, just like "spinning" on the heel or the ball of the foot (though I have not worked out that yet to my satisfaction yet).

Shifting back and turning a leg/foot out (via the waist of course) before a step can in certain situations be used against a persons leg. The weighted turn saves time. Taiji is economy of movement and "energy". The weighted turn is just that. However the "unweighted" shift can be that also depending on the intent. Each has it place and is more appropriate at different times. I think that this is up to each individual depending on what he has seen in a form and how he sees it being used.

It must be remembered that these unwieghted turns do not have to have all the weight off them. You take off what is neccessary.

I THINK you will find that there is more stepping out and bringing the back toe around in the Cheng Man Ching style than pivoting (certainly no weighted pivots-that I remember), but it has been many years since I did Chengs set and i am most likely wrong.

Don't anyone be suprised by the many ways of doing the transitions as they contain or deal with most of the variables. There must be a large degree of flexibility in ones actions, and each of us has many differnt ideas about the applications found in these transitions.

I suggest to those who have not tried the weighted turns and pivots to try them so you can be comfortable moving that way, you may find them useful.







[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-04-2001).]
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Postby gene » Wed Feb 28, 2001 8:21 pm

Audi and David: At the risk of stating the obvious, there are some very clear weighted pivots in the form as done by YZD (e.g., transition into double wind blows ears, turn into the sweeping lotus kick near the end of the form). When I do these pivots, I think not of the support leg, but of the support foot. In other words, part of the weighted foot (ball or heel) must become yin to allow a smooth turn. If the balance of yin and yang in the foot is discombobulated (how's that for a word?) so is the player's body. Result: either a wobble (discombobble?), or lost balance. For me, that translates into the overarching no-no of "double-weightedness." On the subject of the pivot after fan through back (while there are many applications and views of everything, as you know) try looking at the non-weighted pivot as the setup for a chin na technique, instead of a turn to meet an attack from the rear. That is, get a partner, and have him or her throw a right straight punch or push at your head (slowly) at relatively long range, with right foot forward. Deflect from the outside with fan arm positioning, then slide your right hand back and grab the opponent's right wrist while you take weight off your left foot and shift weight to your rear to cause an uproot (lu energy). Keep your elbows and shoulders sunk. Be careful - since he's already coming forward this can work better than you would think (I know this from personal experience). Also, you have to be very careful to avoid pulling the opponent directly into you - make sure you are pulling on an oblique line to your right rear, or this technique will fail. Keep your left hand on the back of the opponent's right arm as a guide and to prevent getting belted by an elbow. (Note: In application practice or freestyle practice, depending on your partner's size and distance, you may have to take a step back with the rear leg to make the uproot work most effectively.) Once you have the opponent uprooted, make your waist turn, and twist the opponent's arm over and down with your right while pressing your left palm downward, with force, to the back of the opponent's right shoulder. Make sure that when you end up, the opponent's wrist is higher than his shoulder, which will give you a nice, firm lock with your right (now unweighted) foot in position to cause some serious damage. You will also be in virtually the exact position you would be after the turn in the form, except your left hand will be lower, and your right palm may be face up rather than face down, to get the proper torque on the opponent's arm. (By the way, I was once at a Yang Jwing Ming seminar where he defined the purpose of chin na as "putting an opponent in position to kill." Yikes.) Fool around with this a few times and you'll eventually hit the lock and feel what I mean - you need to shift back and make an unweighted pivot to cause the uproot and make the technique work, then the rest flows effortlessly. (It's relatively easy to hit the lock when your partner is distracted by trying to regain his balance.) So: I think the difference between using the weighted and non-weighted pivot on the transition depends on the application you're noodling through. And to me, answering these kinds of questions always starts with thinking of combat applications, and reasoning them back into the form. This is why, even for those who are only interested in health benefits, I think that knowledge of applications, and practice of applications, is vital.

Other than that, I have no opinion. And by the way, Audi, please e-mail me as I would like to see whether we can get together once in awhile to practice. We talked this summer in Montreal and you don't live far from me.

Cheers,
Gene
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Postby gryknght » Thu Mar 01, 2001 2:49 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
I would go one farther than this: turn your waist and in so doing turn leg and foot.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Is it turn the waist?

In Brush Knee and Twist Step I do this as "open the kwa" which is more a rotation of the whole leg from the hip joint which opens the illiac fold (between groin and inner thigh.)

I only have 30% of the cartillage left in both my knees. A weighted pivot using my waist puts massive strain on the weighted knee. However, "opening the kwa" keeps knee and foot in alignment and prevents further damage.

Doesn't mean I am doing the right thing though Image

Am I making this weighted turn correctly?
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Mar 01, 2001 6:45 pm

David,

You are doing the 'Brush Knee' pivot correctly.

Where the waist turn applies is in pivots like the left foot 90 degree inward pivot from 'Apparent Close Up' to 'Close and Seal,' at the end of each section; and the entry to 'Cloud Hands.'

Doing these inward pivots this way keeps the knee and foot in line, also.

David
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Postby Michael » Thu Mar 01, 2001 7:35 pm

Gene, very nice. You can also use the second shift back while leading the opponent in and down to raise the knee for a face smash. This technique however, is most suited to begining with the first sift, bringing the opponent across you with the shift and pivot and finishing with the knee on the second shift.
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Mar 01, 2001 8:19 pm

Well, you can do it any way you like and I will leave it up to the individual practitioner to decide what is right or wrong. There is a general taiji principle: 'when one thing moves, everything moves'. The flip side of this is the general dictate that there are no small moves in taiji. That is why taiji is called a 'whole-body exercise'. Yang Zhenduo, in seminars and in his book specifically mentions that you should use the waist to turn out the foot in brush knee. In fact, as a general principle he advocates using the waist when turning a foot in or out. If you want to try it, to begin with at least, ease a little weight off the foot before turning, so that you are not grinding the heel and putting tension on the knee (if you have knee problems you may need to shift quite a bit of weight back). When you do this the waist, leg and foot all move together. There are applications associated with the rollback of this move which you might not be able to do if you only move leg and foot. If you have knee problems, you may need to make some adjustments to the way you do the form, in consultation with your teacher and your doctor. IMHO using the waist should not put any more stress on the knee than rotating the leg and foot only. In either case the leg and foot move as a unit.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-01-2001).]
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Mar 02, 2001 8:16 pm

For Jerry and gryknght,

The part of the waist turn that I thought we were discussing was the hip/foot part, and so I was thinking in terms of the bottom half of the waist turn. In regard to the hip/foot relationship, there are distinct differences between waist turns in outward pivots and those in inward pivots.

The advice I gave was in the context of that specific knee injury, and I tried to be brief, perhaps too brief.

But my primary concern here was for the knee.

While there is a waist turn there, from 'Brush Knee' to 'Brush Knee,' it is mostly in the shoulders, and, because of the position of the feet, how much the hips turn determines the angle of the thigh bone between the hip and the knee. The more the hips turn the larger the angle, and the larger the angle the greater the torque on the knee.
In this instance the less torque the better; therefore the the rotation of the whole leg is better, in my estimation, than the hip moving with the leg.

Fully turning the hips there also tends to lean the leg over, which puts the knee over thin air, and I don't think I have to tell you how many times I've seen that error...

So, in this instance I favor turning the leg out and turning the hips less.

I've torn the cartilage under the kneecap, and pivoting this way was part of healing the injury.

By turning the leg as gryknght decribed, the knee is much less likely to get injured.

David
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Mar 02, 2001 8:30 pm

Some of the exchanges in this thread have finally convinced me that it is necessary to have a private, association members only area. I find myself in the strange position of wanting to explain the way that Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun do a move, on their site, sponsored by them, and having to tiptoe around so as not to offend anyone who does it differently. People respond to my post saying the 'correct' way is something else!

Clearly there is a place for this sort of public dialogue, but if we want a dialogue which can build upon a common understanding and progress beyond that, we need a separate area where everyone starts on the same page, with the form taught by the Yangs. I will create an Association Members area soon to address this need.
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Mar 02, 2001 11:40 pm

David wrote to me offline about my last post. So let me add that I don't have a problem with his postings. I think this is really a matter of me realizing the futility of trying to talk about specifics for moves in the form in a public setting where there quite simply are no standards and a wide variety of execution specifics. After the empty step weighting wrangle and now the use of the waist in turning out the toe, I see that any time I cite what the Yangs do, there will always be a chorus of different versions, all of which is actually pretty confusing to the beginner.

I am going to keep all the public forums as is, except for the ask Yang Jun forum, which will be moved into a private, Association members only area (only because he and I have limited time available for answering questions,it's much easier to handle questions posed by practitioners who are actually trying to do the form the same way as the Yangs, and because we are trying to get back to the original concept of this as a service for association members). Personally I am going try to to avoid making pronouncements about form specifics in the public area, for the reasons I just mentioned; it's just too frustrating (for me anyway)when there is no common basis. The members only area will have somewhat different ground rules, because the basic idea will be that we are discussing the form as taught by the Yangs.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-02-2001).]
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Postby Michael » Sat Mar 03, 2001 12:05 am

Jerry, do you really feel that this is necessary? I myself do my set with the unweighted pivots, though at times i will practice certain transitions with the weighted ones as they can have legitimate uses (but to teach another i would teach the unweighted ones). I do not think that it involves any question as to the legitimacy of what Grandmaster Yang and Master Yang teach. I don't think anyone on this thread really means that.

I don't think it that you need defend the Yangs or anything that they teach. But hey, anything you feel is necessary....

And for Lao Zi s sake, turn your waist when doing nearly everything!!!! When one part moves...!!!! There is little else you will hear that is more true than these two simple points.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-04-2001).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Mar 03, 2001 12:14 am

Michael, as I mentioned very little will change in the public areas, except that I will try to keep quieter (form an orderly queue for the champagne Image ). I may substitute a 'questions for Jerry' forum for the 'questions for Yang Jun' one that we have now. That would allow me some discretion about whether Yang Jun needs to be consulted.
From the beginning we wanted to have a place to discuss traditional Yang style taiji as taught by the Yangs so I think all I am doing now is being realistic about the proper place for that to occur.
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Postby Michael » Sat Mar 03, 2001 12:30 am

Jerry, sounds good.
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