Sung

Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 05, 2001 4:10 am

Hi Louis,

Actually I think the translation of ding shi as fixed position is perfectly fine. I was reacting against the thrust of the quote from Tang, which without explanation might seem to indicate that the 'fixed postions' are not significant. I wasn't criticizing the translation in the book at all, rather the lack of explanation, since ding shi is actually a critical concept, IMHO, and the phrase needs some 'unpacking', because though 'fixed position' makes sense in English, it does not convey the nature of this technical term.

I'm glad you brought up Yang Chengfu's description of 'as if sealed, as though closed'. I had always thought of this as hu4 wen2 ('mutual phrasing', a kind of rhetorical device in literary Chinese where both predicates refer to both objects), which of course it is, but clearly Yang Chengfu was making the point of two actions in sequence.

Regards

Jerry
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 5:29 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
<B>I'm glad you brought up Yang Chengfu's description of 'as if sealed, as though closed'. I had always thought of this as hu4 wen2 ('mutual phrasing', a kind of rhetorical device in literary Chinese where both predicates refer to both objects), which of course it is, but clearly Yang Chengfu was making the point of two actions in sequence.

Regards

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

Er, I'm a little lost in what you're talking about. Are you aware that this is the sometimes-used name of one of the postures in the Chen-style Lao Jia Yi Liu, the form on which the 108 Yang form is based?

Mike
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 05, 2001 5:57 am

Mike, we were discussing ru feng si bi, often translated as 'apparent closure' or some such. I had been rendering it as 'as though sealed and closed'. Literally it is 'like sealed, resembling closed'. Earlier in the thread louis was talking about Yang Chengfu's explanation of what the sealing and closing were.
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Postby Audi » Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:20 pm

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

Mike and Gryknght,

I like what you all have said in general about "song," but respectfully disagree that opening is not accompanyied by physical movement. This is precisely one of the things that surprised me when I first saw Yang Zhen Duo demonstrate. When he would illustrate what he meant by "fangsong," he often assumed Roll Back and visibly increased the joint space in the elbow and shoulder joints, as well as between the shoulder blades. The other joints also flexed more, but I cannot honestly say that I saw more joint space in his wrists or fingers.

In the last issue of T'ai Chi magazine, there is an article by William Ting that talks about "song" as being a combination of relaxing, while physically expanding the joints. He describes creation of empty space internally as critical to the accumulation of "qi," like the difference between a sponge in water and crumpled cellophane.

I basically agree with the approach he describes, but differ only in that I concentrate on the "expansion" aspect, because doing that seems to take care of my need to relax. My main fear is having the "nebulous" sensations Yang Zhen Duo warns of, rather than being unable to ease up as needed on my attempts to lengthen the joints. At a crude level, I judge the level of my "song" by physically monitoring the amount to which all my joints remain in motion as I do postures.

To expand, I have enough energy in my muscles to make the joints in my arms crack on and off throughout the form. If I do this with enough intent, the muscles have nothing left to lock the joints up. I can feel the soft tissues tug each other back and forth and motion from my feet and waist occasionally ripple through my shoulder and arm tendons.

Having talked about the physical, I basically agree with Mike that the essense of the process is mental. One just isn't "song," one decides to be "song" and to maintain it from moment to moment or under the stress of external stimuli. You can be nice and limp in a hot tub, but go rigid if somebody unexpectedly pokes you in the ribs. Even standing up can kill the feeling.

In high school, I used to train for the pole vault. I found that I could practice profitably with my feet on the ground by visualizing a jump. To do this, I really had to reproduce the physical sensations in my body, for example, the feeling of hanging upside down as I stretched my feet towards the bar. Merely imagining a jump in detail really did not do the trick.

I agree that feeling "song" and exploring "jin" paths involves "willing" these things into existence, but I think that understressing the physical aspect is too high level for most of us. It is like trying to enter the second floor without going through the front door of the building, as the literature talks about.

Do you all feel no physical changes between doing reasonably correct and empty form?

Audi
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:41 pm

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

I like what you all have said in general about "song," but respectfully disagree that opening is not accompanyied by physical movement. This is precisely one of the things that surprised me when I first saw Yang Zhen Duo demonstrate. When he would illustrate what he meant by "fangsong," he often assumed Roll Back and visibly increased the joint space in the elbow and shoulder joints, as well as between the shoulder blades. The other joints also flexed more, but I cannot honestly say that I saw more joint space in his wrists or fingers.
</B> </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm not sure if you told us anything, Audi. You noticed some postural changes that support your contention, but in the places germane to the discussion, you noticed no changes.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> <B>
In the last issue of T'ai Chi magazine, there is an article by William Ting that talks about "song" as being a combination of relaxing, while physically expanding the joints. He describes creation of empty space internally as critical to the accumulation of "qi," like the difference between a sponge in water and crumpled cellophane.</B>
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm not sure who William Ting is, but I assure you that many people, often with no Taiji skill at all, are quoted freely in T'ai Chi magazine. In fact, the mixing of experts with New Age Hippies has been one of the great pleasures of reading the magazine. Image

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

Having talked about the physical, I basically agree with Mike that the essense of the process is mental. One just isn't "song," one decides to be "song" and to maintain it from moment to moment or under the stress of external stimuli. You can be nice and limp in a hot tub, but go rigid if somebody unexpectedly pokes you in the ribs. Even standing up can kill the feeling.

[[snip]]
I agree that feeling "song" and exploring "jin" paths involves "willing" these things into existence, but I think that understressing the physical aspect is too high level for most of us. It is like trying to enter the second floor without going through the front door of the building, as the literature talks about.

Do you all feel no physical changes between doing reasonably correct and empty form?

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


I think that you need to be relaxed to play the piano well. However, concentrating too much on being relaxed is not the same thing as playing the piano. Image

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Audi » Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:41 pm

Hi Mike and Gryknght,

I stopped being lazy and found the essays on the site that express in better language what I have been conveying so poorly. I would appreciate your comments on what is described.

The first is Jerry's Translator's Note to Yang Zhen Duo's Twenty Character Motto. Under T'ai Chi Info, Essays. (If Jerry can edit in the link here, I would be very appreciative. I have never mastered framing technology). Does what Jerry describes apply to what you experience?

The second reference is in the description of "the special characteristics of "seated wrist upright palm.'" under T'ai Chi Info, Essays, Palm Methods. (Again, Jerry, can you help with the frame link?) Yang Zhen Duo speaks of very specific hand positions and internal sensations. He also talks about what to do and what not to under-do. Does any of this discussion describe what you feel and how you practice?

These two references may be more applicable to a discussion of "jin" than "song," but I also find these two ideas difficult to separate.

Audi
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:59 pm

Here are the two references:

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/rep/archives/20.htm

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/info/essays/palmmethods.htm

Hmmn, I see the problem you mention with frames. If you navigate to info, then essays, and then put your cursor on the link, most browsers show the url of the link (in internet explorer it is shown on the lower left). Maybe I can come up with a solution to this.
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 4:17 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
<B>Here are the two references:
.............[[snip]]
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hmmm. OK. I see what Audi is referring to and I know what's happening, but I'm not sure if I can put it into words very well. Basically, it would seem that you are taking YZD's exaggerated training device and using it as an example... and that's not an accurate picture.

A discussable progression in movement in Taiji goes from gross movement to "myterious movement", "intuitive movement", or "motion in stillness". First you set up gross postures. Then you learn to move. Then you develop jin and learn to move with and while maintaining jin (a process totally avoided by the tournament push hands faction Image). As your jin control becomes good, the need for gross movement declines, but there are always subtle indicators because of the micro-movements of postural muscles.

So an experienced practitioner will exaggerate small movements, but he may not really need to do them on an observable level... he may personally do them more at the "mind moves the qi" level (which will always involve some micromovements).

That is one topic. Another topic entirely is the idea of physically expanding the joints because the expansion and space created is a mysterious, but important factor. It would take a certain amount of tension to *try* to expand the joints. You shouldn't be tense.

FWIW

Regards,

Mike
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 05, 2001 4:34 pm

I don't know a great deal about physiology, but I once saw David Leang give a very convincing demonstration of opening up joints. This was very physical, measurable lengthening and expansion. I do know that when Yang Zhenduo talks about extending the elbows downward and outward, he wants you to do something physically, not merely imagine it. When I do it physically, the result is a distinct sensation.



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-05-2001).]
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 5:05 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
I don't know a great deal about physiology, but I once saw David Leang give a very convincing demonstration of opening up joints. This was very physical, measurable lengthening and expansion. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Jerry:

Well, I can't rebutt something that you actually SAW . Image

However, my wife the orthopedic surgeon and I would both be interested in seeing a joint expand (think about the mechanics of a joint and what it does, for a moment) without screwing up the very purpose of a joint. There are a couple of other possibilities for what you saw, if you think about it. Image

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I do know that when Yang Zhenduo talks about extending the elbows downward and outward, he wants you to [b]do something physically, not merely imagine it. When I do it physically, there is a physical sensation which results.

[/B]</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

If you look at what I said previously, I admitted that there MUST be small changes, even when it is the "mind" leading the qi/jin. Even though the mind is more or less intangible, to effect physical changes in force/jin requires some physical changes, no matter how small. There is a subtlety to this sort of motion that is very interesting.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Mar 05, 2001 5:12 pm

I don't know if the joints really open up physically. It doesn't matter.

Mike, the physical effect is not all that small. When the Yangs perform the form in a natural, continuous progression, there is a recognizable shape to the shoulders. It's not all that subtle. You can actually see it, and you can see when someone isnt' doing it.

By the way, when I look at pics of the top Chen players in Tai Chi magazine, their shoulders look the same way.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-05-2001).]
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 5:59 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
I don't know if the joints really open up physically. It doesn't matter.
</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oh, poo... and that's what I thought I was debating. Image


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> <B> Mike, the physical effect is not all that small. When the Yangs perform the form in a natural, continuous progression, there is a recognizable shape to the shoulders. It's not all that subtle. You can actually see it, and you can see when someone isnt' doing it.

By the way, when I look at pics of the top Chen players in Tai Chi magazine, their shoulders look the same way.

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


Hi Jerry:

I don't know what you saw unnamed Chen players to, but the shoulder does come forward in both Yang and Chen styles while they "hollow the chest" and "round the back". That's simply part of the optimum posture of the body to propagate the jin of Taiji.

The Yang form does require an "expansion" aspect within the movement of the form that is not a part of the Chen style, and that may be what you are talking about.

It is that "expansive" movement that clearly indicates that the CMC form is not part of the basic Yang form, BTW, since the CMC form does not contain it.

It's an interesting topic. If that is what you are calling an expansion of the joints, then you and I see it somewhat differently and I would have to show you (through a series of logical steps) why we are seeing the same thing differently. There is a saying in Xingyi that if you do Xingyi properly there is no need to practice an "iron shirt" gung. The reason is related to this same sort of expansion, FWIW.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Audi » Mon Mar 05, 2001 6:20 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mike:
<B> If you look at what I said previously, I admitted that there MUST be small changes, even when it is the "mind" leading the qi/jin. Even though the mind is more or less intangible, to effect physical changes in force/jin requires some physical changes, no matter how small. There is a subtlety to this sort of motion that is very interesting.

Regards,

Mike

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

Mike,

I agree 100 percent with what Jerry has expressed and more or less with what you have added about the different levels of movement required. Where I may disagree is on the emphasis.

After really noticing this aspect of Yang Zhen Duo's practice, I began to notice it in all sorts of "odd" places. As Yang Jun stands in the Preparation Posture, he is noticably lengthening and curving his arms and extending his spine in a way that is altogether different from allowing his arms to hang loosely/limply. As his arms begin to hang downward and cross in Cross Hands, there is a noticable stretch that goes from the finger tip of one middle finger across his back and down to the other middle finger.

I believe that an essential aspect of this practice is that you must extend enough to engage the ligaments that connect the joints. Don't ligaments partially determine the space in the joints? Once the ligaments are engaged, they can transmit kinetic energy to other joints.

I once partially dislocated (subluxed) a shoulder that required surgery. One of the techniques I was taught before and after to realign the join was to lie stomach down on a table and let my arm hang down off the edge while holding a 5- or 10-pound weight in my hand. This slowly pulled the joint into alignment.

What I now do in form, following Yang Zhen Duo's instructions, feels like this reabilitation exercise. In one sense, it feels like the joint is weakened, because it becomes harder to use the joint to brace the muscles. On the other hand, this is probably the point of the practice, because you are forced to use the joint in a different way. With proper alignment, the weakness turns into near effortless strength.

One additional thing I would like to add is that this physical practice is independent of the amount of physical pressure one is subjected to. I used to wonder how to remain "song" when someone would push really hard against my ward off arm. I assumed that I always had to turn my waist to instantly relieve the pressure. Although I believe this is usually a superior tactic more on line with T'ai Chi's general philosophy, I do not believe it is required. What I can now do as an option is to vigorously fight to maintain the (imaginary?) joint space so that I can withstand quite a lot of force while still being able to move my joint and elbow around. I also find that when I do this I can no longer ignore stiffness in the small of my back, because all of the force will immediately shift to there and make me go rigid.

Audi
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Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 6:39 pm

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


[[snip]]
I believe that an essential aspect of this practice is that you must extend enough to engage the ligaments that connect the joints. Don't ligaments partially determine the space in the joints? Once the ligaments are engaged, they can transmit kinetic energy to other joints. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE> </B>

I agree that the body has to be "connected" and a *slight" extension helps, Audi... but not much. In fact, it is almost invisible. But here again, we are devolving to semantics and I havene't seen what you are talking about, etc. Insofar as "transmit kinetic energy to other joints", you'll have to analyze that a bit further for me. It sounds a bit like techno-babble. Image


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> <B> I used to wonder how to remain "song" when someone would push really hard against my ward off arm. I assumed that I always had to turn my waist to instantly relieve the pressure. Although I believe this is usually a superior tactic more on line with T'ai Chi's general philosophy, I do not believe it is required. What I can now do as an option is to vigorously fight to maintain the (imaginary?) joint space so that I can withstand quite a lot of force while still being able to move my joint and elbow around. I also find that when I do this I can no longer ignore stiffness in the small of my back, because all of the force will immediately shift to there and make me go rigid.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Relax and let them try to compress your back leg into the ground. The body will adjust the rest. Start lightly and with your arm at a comfortable height before you work your way to harder positions.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Audi » Mon Mar 05, 2001 9:48 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mike:
<B> Relax and let them try to compress your back leg into the ground. The body will adjust the rest. Start lightly and with your arm at a comfortable height before you work your way to harder positions.

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

Mike,

Touche with the "techno babble," I do not know what came over me.

What I should have said is that when I try to extend, I feel that the connection between my limbs becomes elastic. For example, if someone were to pull one of my arms in the push position, it would cause my opposite arm to come back in towards my body, because of the connection through the back. If someone pushed on my arm, it feels like the slight decrease in ligament tension in that arm would automatically allow the other arm to extend more. Stated differently, the wave of compression in the arm that is pushed flows into the back and is expressed in the opposite arm as an increase in extension.

This is more or less how I coordinate everything in form, I concentrate on one point in the structure that kind of pulls or pushes everything else along. As long as I keep lengthening and extending, the coordination feels almost automatic.

Every back has front, and every front has a back. If I am slack, back and front have no physical connection and cannot communicate without conscious effort or without muscle programming. My karate punches were this way. Throwing a punch with one arm did not force me to chamber the other arm except through the weight of repetition drills. In Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch, the more I punch with my right arm, the more my left arm needs to bend back in, and vice versa. If I do not lengthen, the motion feels like soft, sensitive karate. I find myself trying to time the movement of the two arms by conscious planning, rather than organically.

It's as if everything is connected with rubber bands that are under some tension. The springs and fabric of a trampoline are another image. You cannot push or pull on one part without the movement energy being communicated to all other parts. Another image is that of swimming. Every movement effects your entire body position, because an extension in one direction causes a physical reaction in another direction. If your joints are too slack, this does not happen.

Let me clarify also what I mean my extension. I do not mean that one lengthens to a particular position. I mean that one behaves as if one is trying to lengthen to infinity. How much intensity you use varies according to circumstance, but not doing it sufficiently makes the sensation too weak.

I find that overdoing it in form is rarely a problem, because I am unable to sustain the intensity beyond one or two postures. It is similar to trying to remain tense during standing meditation (zhan zhuang). Generally, the movement works out the kinks.

As a training method, I find it is also like what Yang Zhen Duo refers to as the refining of iron into steel. My limbs are, unfortunately, far from steel, but the more I move the joints while trying to keep this feeling, the smoother, more powerful, and more connected everything feels. It feels like every joint has been popped, and I have had a full-body massage.

One other way of looking at it is that it is the exact opposite of what you describe as being compressed into the ground. I do not mean the physical opposite, but rather the opposite feeling. Whether I am actually compressed or not, I maintain a feeling of trying to expand to fill the available space. I try to make my opponent float on the synovial fluid in my joints. If I am doing form, it is like trying to expand to infinity.

I agree with your advice about beginning lightly. However, I know from past experience that I am perfectly capable of keeping my joints relaxed, but closed, under light pressure. I used to careem back and forth between worrying that my wrists were too slack and worrying that they were too flexed. I am sure I still suffer from these defects, but now what I search for is the right feeling, irrespective of my hand position.

I hope this helps and is a little bit more concrete. By the way, I am curious. How much and when do you flex your right wrist in movements like Brush Left Knee? Do you flex your left wrist in Deflect Downward Parry and Punch? I think there are many ways to do these postures, but how you do them has, I think, a bearing on how you try to cultivate "song" and open up "jin" paths.

Audi
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