Postby tai1chi » Sun Mar 11, 2001 2:16 am

Hi DavidJ, Audi,

David wrote:
"All things being equal, if the great pyramid was on rollers, and I had engines with enough torque to move it, I would choose to pull it because it would be so much easier to steer, and to apply the force efficiently."

Hmm, ok, suppose it were riding on a bed of air, maybe one might prefer to pull it (ymmmv). But, my point was that the amount of effort required to move the pyramid wouldn't change. Well, I have to admit that I'm not a physicist. Anyway, otoh, how does one usually move a car that has run out of gas --just for argument's sake, especially if the gas station is at the top of the hill. Again, ymmv.

"On the Punch to Knee and Needle to the Bottom of the Sea, try turning your shoulders to the left. With the punch your left shoulder need not drop at all."

I don't know if we're talking about the same movement. I'm thinking of the lowest punch in the second section. Anyway, Audi referred to my main concern about Needle: i.e., that some styles seem to "lean" (however we define it) and others don't. The shoulders weren't what I had in mind.

Audi, well, -imho- what is "correct" is often determined by circumstances. In an ideal world, we can practice on a flat, smooth surface. In the world we live in, allowances have to be made. I think the principles of tjq are broad enough to handle it. I can tell you, though, that there are those who deliberately practice on uneven ground, and even put artifical obstacles in the way. But, they also look at forms training as a means and not an end. Fwiw.

Audi wrote:

"I have seen performances of the modern 24-movement form that do not have a lean even in this postue, but I assume that this form has the least claim to be representing martial efficiency. Is a bending Needle at Sea Bottom simply an exception?"

Again, fwiw, but --as to the Beijing 24-- the reasons for the lack of lean have much to do with the application. It is the "weight" of the body's "sinking," not of the arm movement that, imv, enables the application. Clearly, no?, using the lean for power generation is somewhat a violation of principle: i.e., not "whole body." Otoh, as in Wu style, there are reasons for leaning, but --imho-- it is more important for the practitioner to understand why he is doing it, and why it is Not a violation of principle.

"Also, is there anyone who maintains a reasonably strict vertical posture during vigorous push hands?"

You know, I think Mario would be a good person to respond to this. My guess is that he would try. And, I personally think that, in general, maintaining "uprightness" is a better strategy (you know, the "light and flexible energy," the "as if suspended" idea. However, I think it is often the case that we have to move. And, just my opinion, but if it is just as possible to do taiji without leaning as it is to walk without "leaning."

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Postby Audi » Sun Mar 11, 2001 6:54 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your response.

Let me add to my question about leaning in push hands. It seems some practioners advocate leaning forward or backward in order not to offer "resistance" in certain positions. I have always found this somewhat strange in view of what the classics say about leaning, but was curious whether such practices were generally accepted. I, of course, agree that trying to lean as little as possible is probably best.

Another question I have is what should be a natural T'ai Chi response to an opponent's attempt to tackle you? The natural wrestling response to such a move is to lean and sprawl on top of the opponent, partially to remove the legs from harms way. Do you think a T'ai Chi response would mandate a vertical posture? I recall from my high school days that merely attemptng to retreat (even without a concern about "disconnecting") was rarely a successful option, since that usually left a foot behind to be grabbed.

As for Needle at Sea Bottom, if in your view, the lean is not related to generation of power, what purpose do you think it serves? Also, do you know what purposes leans generally serve in Wu Style?

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Postby DavidJ » Sun Mar 11, 2001 8:41 pm

Hi Steve, Audi,

You wrote, "Anyway, otoh, how does one usually move a car that has run out of gas --just for argument's sake, especially if the gas station is at the top of the hill. Again, ymmv."
A tow truck would pull it, a friend with a car would push it, and if you were alone it would probably be easier to walk up the hill and return with some gas. Image

What does ymmmv and ymmv mean?

'Punch to knee' is in the second section, after two 'brush knees.' Punching forward and down with the right hand, the shoulders turn to the left as the right hand moves forward. General rule: if the hand opposite to the forward foot is back, the hips and shoulders align; if the hand opposite to the forward foot is forward, the hips and shoulders are offset. (I'm sure that can be expressed better.)
I've done the long form on many different inclines because it can be hard to find level places to practice while traveling. I prefer level places.

I think about 18 to 20 degrees is an ample lean. If you've a protractor to draw a line on a wall, and a mirror to see yourself by the line, maybe you can get a better idea of it.

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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 11, 2001 9:02 pm

Greetings Audi,

Responding specifically to your questions about the purpose of Needle at Sea Bottom, I’m posting a rough translation of Yang Chengfu’s narrative of this sequence from his book, Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu. (You can find this passage on p. 397 of Yang Zhenduo’s book, but there’s a misprint—‘chest’ for ‘foot’—in the fourth line.) Note the injunction to “fold at the waist.” This is certainly a “lean” but the spine is kept relatively straight, and the weight is distributed in such a manner that one is aligned and in equilibrium.

My first taijiquan sifu used to use the sequence from Needle at Sea Bottom to Fan Through Back to Turn Body and Strike as almost something of a mini-course on the principles of responding to and using the force of an opponent, and of an escalation or progression of responses ranging from a simple wrist release to more intensive measures of unbalancing and striking the opponent. Each progression depends upon the force of the opponent. The more willful and insistant the opponent, the more serious the consequences. I find it a good illustration of “yielding to the initiative of the other.”

Needle at Sea Bottom

From the previous form [Brush Knee Twist Step], suppose the opponent uses his right hand to pull my right wrist. I then bend my right elbow and sit [over] my right foot. Turn the waist, lifting [the hand] back, [with its] palm facing left. [The left] foot also follows along with it in drawing back; the toes of the foot touch the ground. If the opponent still has not released my hand, and still wants to take advantge and strike me, I then let my right wrist follow the force (shunshi, or 'take the opportunity') with a loosening movement (song dong), folding at the waist and sinking downward. The gaze of the eyes is forward. The fingertips hang down. Their intent is like that of a needle probing the sea bottom. At this moment, though [he] may want to pull or struggle, all of this going to and fro will become one continuous strength [with mine], and [he] will be unwittingly defeated by me. Then, his rooting strength will sever itself, making it convenient for me to avail myself of his emptiness, and to advance and strike.


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-11-2001).]
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 13, 2001 6:55 pm

Audi, concerning your "...verticle posture actually produce a stronger flow of jin than one with a slight lean." The type of structure in which a technique is executed determines the power, it is not a lean or not to lean argument. I will have to compare two styles to show what i mean.

I have seen a fairly high level Kuang Ping practitioner deliver incredible jin in a push with the upright spine on a well rooted "victim". When using the lean it maybe had half the power because it did not fit the style. In that style of push one steps in deep, tucks the sacrum under and a little forward(with a slight rounding near or at the ming men) corresponding with the legs and an upward and outward arm direction, with the palms "hooking" under the ribs. That slight move produced an incredible amount of power.

This may be a case of apples and oranges. In the KPYang style(this is very general, with numerous exceptions), hand techniques are usually from a waist turn and across as opposed to "directly"(waist still involved of course) ahead, sinking and/or rising from a kneeling position, and stepping (direct forward techniques). It is very small and contained. Any lean that occurs within the use of those techniques will break the connection and the power due to it's upright structural nature. That it is how it is designed. The only "leaning" comes from making contact to pull a person or to lift them off their feet.

My suspicion (THIS IS PURE CONJECTURE)is that much of the EARLY writings are in the context of NOT "leaning" had to do with the smaller frame style that is exhibited in the time of Old Chen routines and the early Yang style. As the art evolved and was refined by the Yang family, it took on new structural characteristics, new intent, and meaning. Now it(not to lean) came to mean "centrally aligned" as Louis put it---and for good reason (see Louis' post way above)-it fits. Note: still no "slanting" to the side.

As I look deeper into the structure and USAGE I begin to see a strong reason why one branch does not "lean" and why the other does(slight). Both view points are correct due to the nature of each systems structure and usage. The use of the upright spine can be used and has value in combat usage in the traditional Yang style. The lean cannot be used in the KP. The "energies" are the same but the structure changed to deliver them. Both viewpoints are correct as they both work.

The "rules" are there to allow you to function at the highest level possible within the structure we are training in. But winning in combat is determined largly by what the enemy gives you. If one HAS to lean (or whatever) one does what is needed and/or appropriate.

In my recent experiments with being PULLED, the critical factor is increasing the angle of the body. One degree too far forward has the same effect as allowing the knee to go past the toe. Regardless of the techniques one tries to maintain one's position, no matter how good your root, there is nothing you can do about it other than to step.
The neural pathways have to be developed to put the breaks on our forward momement so that we do not become overly vulnerable (in which I still have concerns) and to still be able to deliver maximum power. That is why we train the SMALL lean.

You have all made this little question very interesting and thought provoking. How steep is that hill?

Thanks, from toooo many words

I just found this in Kou's book. It seems that kuo had two ways of looking at leaning himself. "...When striking, the nine joints move equally and strike one point. This way the striking energy is upright and not leaning in any direction. This the way of striking is like an arrow piercing a target...."

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-13-2001).]
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