Sung

Postby Mike » Wed Feb 28, 2001 11:00 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
We do the best we can and have to accept that inevitably whatever we do with jing ends up as a convention or conventions for dealing with it and you do need some background and explanation to make sense of it. Having said that, I do still tend to the view that 'power' 'strength' 'force' 'energy' etc are closer to the real meaning of jing than 'skill'. Admittedly there are some instances, like dong jing 'understanding jing' where I will sometimes use 'skill'. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Jerry:

"Force" and "strength" I could live with because they are roughly what the general category of the Taiji main jin is. The problem is that those two words don't differentiate between the specialized and unique jin of Taiji and normal strength.... so that would lead to even more confusion. "Intrinsic energy" or "energy" is misleading because it connotes what is often an intangible (you can "feel" energy, but you can't usually see it and feel it in the normal sense; hence, intangible). The jin of Taiji is actually a tangible thing, not some etheric function that everyone can simply apply any vague definition to.

The jin of Taiji is an unusual subset of normal human movement and "it is not intuitive, it must be learned", as the old saying goes.

So it is indeed a strength and it is a skill. It is mind-directed, literally; hence the old saying that the "heart (the "want") leads the mind, the mind leads the qi, and the qi leads the strength" (in this case they mean the jin itself and therefore jin is a strength).

So it is a strength, a skill, and the mind leads it. Maybe "Mind-controlled strength skill" would be the most complete term for the "jin" of Taiji. Incidentally, I can show this fairly clearly in person, so that the how's and why's of this are fairly clear.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby gryknght » Thu Mar 01, 2001 2:24 pm

Wow, a lot of action around this subject of peng jin...I should have started the thread on that subject and not "sung"... Image

Just to clarify my understanding. I do not suggest that focusing on relaxing is the key to practicing taiji correctly, merely that it is a first step leading into the state of connectedness that is sung. This in turn is the first step leading toward peng jin.

As such my training starts with relaxing. By this I do not mean going limp, but in slowing my breathing and heart rate and removing tension from my muscles. This was part of my original posted attempt at a definition. Mike Sigman's follow up clarified that the core jin is peng jin - I don't have a problem with this and will revise the definition to suit.

Jerry then followed up with a post referencing "fang song", which in my ignorance of the chinese language I am assuming is the same thing as "sung". This triggered the discussion on translating "jing".

I think the discussions on jing are critical to western understanding of the terms, but can we swing this thread back to "sung?

Many thanks,
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Postby Mike » Thu Mar 01, 2001 3:42 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gryknght:
<B>I think the discussions on jing are critical to western understanding of the terms, but can we swing this thread back to "sung?

Many thanks,</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I always get confused by the fairly common idea that "sung" is sort of a separate topic. It's sort of like separating the water from the backstroke when the subject is "swimming". Image Taiji is about cultivating jin; jin cannot be cultivated without sung. The sung admonishment is inextricably a part of jin; peng jin is the core jin.

A lot of times I say something about someone using stiff and/or local strength, but I could just as easily be vaguer and say they are "not sung". I could also relatedly say that someone who is using arm strength, etc., has not "sunk his qi to the dantien", etc. All of these things are intertwined too much to just take one out and examine it as a separate issue. Image

Mike
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Postby gryknght » Thu Mar 01, 2001 5:10 pm

Mike,

Thanks for your reply.

I understand I am probably over simplifying this, but I wanted to get a clearer sense of this aspect of my practice.

I also agree with your position that, in reality, this is a small part of a larger issue - peng jin.

I don't see it as a separate topic so much as a first (albeit small) step toward peng jin development. I was also hoping there might be some simple "warm up" exercises that could be done before starting practice. As I previously posted, these could be breathing, stretching or swing exercises. Swing exercises in particular can also help loosen and develop the dantien.

The primary reason I separated it is that I believe the issue is more than "relaxed" or "loose" as most people imply. I believe there is also an element of extension or "opening" of skeletal joints in order to develop the connectedness so essential to peng jin.

Being muscular and tense in one's movement automatically destroys peng jin. It also removes many of the side effects of the state of sung, so this should be obvious to a practitioner.

Am I wrong in my understanding?
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Postby gryknght » Thu Mar 01, 2001 5:26 pm

Thinking about this further, I realise that skeletal alignment is critical to development of sung. Without correct skeletal alignment the major muscles can not properly relax or loosen up as required to allow peng jin.

Presumeably exercises that encourage opening up the joints between bones also act to encourage correct alignment (Fang Song Gong as mentioned Keneth Cohen's book "The Way of Qigong.)

Swing exercises have a loosening effect on muscles and also open joints. However, without conscious separation or extension of the joints, this effect would more quickly wear off.

Any comments?
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Mar 01, 2001 6:01 pm

Hi Mike,

you write:

"In the particular case of the special skills (i.e., the "jins") of Taiji, the odd strength which is controlled by the mind, directed by the waist, etc., constrains the use of qi/jin to one special set of skills, not ALL things that would normally fall under the domain of "qi" or "jin"."

and

"So it is a strength, a skill, and the mind leads it. Maybe "Mind-controlled strength skill" would be the most complete term for the "jin" of Taiji. Incidentally, I can show this fairly clearly in person, so that the how's and why's of this are fairly clear."

[*Taken from two separate posts]


FWIW, there's probably no problem with having a specialized vocabulary. And, perhaps, "mind-controlled strength skill" is an accurate description of something called "jin." But, it doesn't tell us "what" it is. There are, as you know, many "mind-controlled strength skills." It does seem to me that "jin" is the product of a "strength skill." You're obviously right that "mind" is a key component; but it could also be considered a kind of "technical term" since it has several connotations in general usage. Anyway, I'd just paraphrase what you point out above, there are "special skills" in Taiji that produce the various "jins" --or "jin." I could easily live with that. However, imho, any attempt to unpack the Chinese term and translate it into a Western equivalent less comlicated than the original won't be satisfactory.

Best,
Steve James
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Postby Mike » Thu Mar 01, 2001 6:18 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gryknght:
<B>Mike,

I don't see it as a separate topic so much as a first (albeit small) step toward peng jin development. I was also hoping there might be some simple "warm up" exercises that could be done before</B> starting practice. As I previously posted, these could be breathing, stretching or swing exercises. Swing exercises in particular can also help loosen and develop the dantien.

The primary reason I separated it is that I believe the issue is more than "relaxed" or "loose" as most people imply. I believe there is also an element of extension or "opening" of skeletal joints in order to develop the connectedness so essential to peng jin.

Being muscular and tense in one's movement automatically destroys peng jin. It also removes many of the side effects of the state of sung, so this should be obvious to a practitioner.

Am I wrong in my understanding?
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Well, my first comment is that you are quoting one of the great mistakes that is often seen about "opening" the joints. It is not a physical movement, but it means to allow the jin through unhindered (i.e., not tense). A tense joint is "closed" no matter what the position.

Just as an aside, one of my favorite misunderstandings has to do with the so-called "shaking power" of the Chen style, or even some other styles' fa jin. "Shaking" can be construed as "vibrating", so what originally meant a sudden fa-jin shake sometimes became a mysterious "vibrating power", "vibrating palm", etc.

My advice for "warming up", etc., is to do some slow, relaxed, qigong motions incorporating peng, ji, an, lu while being sure that your mind is leading the qi/jin in the right direction. Why do "warmup motions" that practice any other kind of movement? And don't use any tension.

FWIW

Mike
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Postby Mike » Thu Mar 01, 2001 6:26 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tai1chi:
<B>

And, perhaps, "mind-controlled strength skill" is an accurate description of something called "jin." But, it doesn't tell us "what" it is. There are, as you know, many "mind-controlled strength skills." </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oops. You're right. I wasn't thinking.

The mind must first learn to deliberately form a "path" conducting the ground *unhindered* through the body. Ultimately, it must learn to conduct that path wherever it is needed, automatically.... and that involves re-coordinating how the body is moved. The mind leading that path along which the "strength" of the body flows is what I was talking about. Taiji movement, particularly at first, involves a lot of focused attention on "willing" that path, very relaxedly, to where you want it. That was why I emphasized "mind".... and you're right, there is mind in all other movements, too, but not in the same way.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby gryknght » Thu Mar 01, 2001 7:08 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mike:
<B>
Well, my first comment is that you are quoting one of the great mistakes that is often seen about "opening" the joints. It is not a physical movement, but it means to allow the jin through unhindered (i.e., not tense). A tense joint is "closed" no matter what the position.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Understood...

As I understand it there are no muscles capable of pushing or extending their length - they either contract or relax. As such I suspect that there are very few, if any, joints that can be physically pushed apart and "opened" by their surrounding muscle groups.

I should have made it clear that the term "open" is more related to some of the more traditional neigung exercises where there is mind intent, but no physical movement.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Mar 03, 2001 6:51 pm

Greetings Audi,

You wrote:

". . .I would be interested in exploring (as a questioner and contributer) the origin of many of the posture names from the hand and weapons forms. . . .If there are any takers, I would be happy to start off a new thread, since I have questions or heard stories about most of the postures from the hand form that might be of general interest."

I for one would welcome your doing this. I think that could be an enjoyable discussion!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Sat Mar 03, 2001 9:11 pm

Since something that is translated litterally may be metaphor, to what extent are coloquialisms used in Chinese and how do they help or hinder translation?

I, too, have difficulties with the names of some of the moves, like, 'The Fair lady Works the Shuttles to the Four Corners of the Earth,' but I find nothing wrong with the name 'Apparent Closure,' or 'Apparent Close-up.' It's supposed to be a fake-out, a feint: to pretend to withdraw, cringe and cover up.

To try to sum up the preceeding discussion, and add a tweak of my own, I might define jin as "The issuing of energy as a force vector by means of developed skill using integrated body mechanics, and initiated with a clear intent."

I can see that no one here wishes to be an unsung hero. Image

David
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Mar 03, 2001 11:25 pm

Greetings David,

Excellent pun! I should point out, though, that “song” in Mandarin is pronounced with a rather longer vowel sound, close to the “o” in “old,” or “obey,” but not exactly the same.

On “Fair Lady,” the form name is “Yu nu quan suo.” Literally this is “Jade Girl Threads Shuttle.” The term jade maiden is a euphemism for a fair or beautiful woman, hence the occasional rendering as “fair lady,” or “fair maiden.” The Jade Girl or Jade Maiden is in fact a mythological reference, as there are jade maidens in various Daoist texts who are fairy-like entities, and in particular there is a figure known as Xuan Miao Yu Nu, who was said by post-Han religious Daoists to have been the mother of Laozi.

In Yang Chengfu’s description of the Jade Maiden sequence in the form, he says, “In this form, the left and right hands thread reciprocally, suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed (hu yin hu xian) —unfathomable (zhuo mo bu ding) -- attacking by seizing upon his emptiness. Thus, it is called Jade Maiden Threads the Shuttles, in order to evoke the artfullness of the forms.” The imagery is that of the Jade Maiden working the shuttle of a loom, which disappears and reappears in passing through the weft threads.

Now as for the form sometimes called “Apparent Closure,” “Apparent Close-up,” or my least favorite, “Withdraw-Push,” the problems with these renderings is that they miss a subtle, and crucial, sequencing of movements. The sequencing has important implications for understanding the application of the form. The Chinese name for the form is “Ru Feng Si Bi,” which means “Like sealing, as if closing.” First there is sealing, then there is closing. The “like” and “as if” are there because these are metaphorical usages, but the metaphors themselves refer to important physical actions. The very best explanation for this can be found in Yang Chengfu’s narrative on the form, which I translate as follows:

~~~
Like Sealing, As if Closing:

From the previous posture [advance step, deflect, parry and punch], suppose the opponent uses his left hand to grasp my right fist. I then rely on my left hand to thread under my right elbow, using the palm to hem the elbow and guard the arm, attacking toward the opponent’s left wrist. If the opponent wants to change hands in order to apply push (an), I then extend and open my right fist, pulling it toward my thorax to the point where the two palms face in and intersect diagonally, like an oblique cross-shaped sealing tape (fengtiao)*, preventing the opponent’s hands from getting in. [It is] just like closing the door against a robber. This is why it is called ‘like sealing’.

Concurrently, contain the chest and settle the kua (inner thigh), then separate [arms], changing so that the palms of the two hands are pushing toward the opponent’s elbow and wrist, making it impossible for him to either move to his advantage, or to separate [his arms]. This is why it is called ‘as if closing.’ It is as if closing his door so that it cannot be opened.

Now, rapidly using chang jin (long energy), push in accordance with the an posture. Eyes looking forward, the waist attacks, with the left leg bent at the knee and substantial, the right leg following the kua and extending straight, combining as one energy (he yi jin), and striking toward the opponent. This is the method of joining (ci wei he fa).
~~~

*Note: Feng means to seal. Fengtiao were strips of red paper pasted across parcels, doors, crime scenes, etc., as seals.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-04-2001).]
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Postby Mike » Sun Mar 04, 2001 12:23 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>
In Yang Chengfu’s description of the Jade Maiden sequence in the form, he says, “In this form, the left and right hands thread reciprocally, suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed (hu yin hu xian) —unfathomable (zhuo mo bu ding) -- attacking by seizing upon his emptiness. Thus, it is called Jade Maiden Threads the Shuttles, in order to evoke the artfullness of the forms.” The imagery is that of the Jade Maiden working the shuttle of a loom, which disappears and reappears in passing through the weft threads.

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


Hi Louis:

Since the Yang and Chen (Lao Jia) have almost all the same posture names (with the exception of a few that are known as being homophone errors that probably happened during transcription), I was wondering if you have ever thought to compare the "application" of the postures between the 2 styles?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby DavidJ » Sun Mar 04, 2001 7:02 am

Louis

Thank you very much. Your description of "Jade Girl Threads Shuttle" as a metaphor answers two questions at once.

Your explanation of "Like sealing, as if closing," raises a question. In this move I've seen a master delay pulling the left hip back when shifting the weight to the rear, and your description of the timing (with the line, "and settle the kua (inner thigh),") seems to suggest the same delay. This is why I thought that a feint was the main application, since I was taught that the hip of the forward foot pulls back when shifting the weight to the rear, and this is the only delay I've seen in the form.

Is the delay supposed to be there?

David
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 04, 2001 8:11 am

Greetings David,

Without seeing what you're describing, it's difficult to know what you mean by a "delay." There is a slight turning of the waist to the right as one shifts the weight back, which may be what you're seeing. The phrase I translated "settle the kua" is zuo kua, and might better be rendered as "seat the kua." The seating of the kua is a general prescription here, and there's nothing in the sequence that I would readily describe as a "delay."

Take care,
Louis
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