Sung

Postby Mike » Mon Mar 05, 2001 10:30 pm

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

Hi Audi:

Essentially, I think there is only one basic way to do all movements in Taiji. They are based on the natural opening and closing of the body using jin. So, for instance, a Brush Knee movement which flexed too much outside of these natural parameters would by necessity be an "external" or artificial movement in relation to the natural movement powered by peng jin... therefore, it would be wrong. Similarly,on a larger scale, when and how you move your arm across in the Single Whip movement... if it does not go with the power of the jin-driven body, then it is artificial and external; not a part of Taiji. All movements in Taiji are constrained/led by these rules.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby Audi » Wed Mar 07, 2001 5:13 am

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

Essentially, I think there is only one basic way to do all movements in Taiji. They are based on the natural opening and closing of the body using jin. So, for instance, a Brush Knee movement which flexed too much outside of these natural parameters would by necessity be an "external" or artificial movement in relation to the natural movement powered by peng jin... therefore, it would be wrong.

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

Mike,

I am sorry if I may not have been clear in my question. I agree with what you have said about peng jin. Unfortunately, though, I still don't have a good practical idea of your technique.

I have seen at least three very different palm methods for movements of the right hand in Brush Left Knee that IMHO are physically inconsistent. (Roughly, flex at the beginning, gradually flex throughout, and flex only at the end.) Each method was justified as an important means for cultivating jin and implied the others were suboptimal. In order to understand which type of training you follow, I thought it might be helpful to know how you physically performed the move.

By the way, in rereading some of my posts, I found that much of what I have said can be read as if I am asserting a high level of practice. If only it were true. Image A couple of years ago, when I felt I was beginning to make progress, I was frequently frustrated because my three-year-old daughter would frequently grab or push my legs in form and upset my postures. Call me thick headed, but it slowly dawned on me that there was something seriously wrong with my practice. Either my daughter was an undiscovered natural talent far exceeding my abilities, or my rooting skills were not quite would they should have been.

After a few years of dedicated practice and serious study, I can confidently declare that I can now handle any frontal attack my daughter can deliver with only a little wobbling. I usually beat her at pushing hands as well. In a few years, I may even be able to hold my own if she jumps me from the rear.

When I have gone to painful lengths during my posts to describe my physical sensations during form, it is not to claim expertise, but to make clear what path I feel I am on. Hopefully, responders will either say: "Yeah, that's what I feel; or no, you must be kidding." I sense you are in the latter camp; but it is, of course, hard to understand another's T'ai Chi feelings hearing or reading mere words.

I am also wary of drawing too many conclusions from merely reading words like "jin" or even "seat" your wrist. I was very surprised to read recently in a book (Gateway to the Miraculous by Wolfe Lowenthal?) that some people apparently interpret Yang Cheng Fu's admonition to seat the wrist as a warning not to flex the wrist backward and to assume a "beautiful lady's wrist." I would certainly have misunderstood the term without his helpful physical description of what he was discussing.

You also implied in your reply that external movements were not good T'ai Chi. I of course agree with this at a general level. I am curious, however, if you subscribe to Yang Cheng Fu's Ten Principles, and if so, what you make of the injunction to Unite/Harmonize Internal and External.

You also linked your comment with the need to avoid "artificial" movements and the need to follow "natural" movement. Again, I agree with this, but confess that I find much of T'ai Chi practice and training not very "natural," at least on the surface, and so do not always find this a reliable guide.

Audi
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Postby Mike » Wed Mar 07, 2001 3:36 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
I have seen at least three very different palm methods for movements of the right hand in Brush Left Knee that IMHO are physically inconsistent. (Roughly, flex at the beginning, gradually flex throughout, and flex only at the end.) Each method was justified as an important means for cultivating jin and implied the others were suboptimal. In order to understand which type of training you follow, I thought it might be helpful to know how you physically performed the move. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

OK, but I see 2 topics being mixed together. The first is jin and the second is movement with jin.

If you "root" your body so that you are relaxed, not "bracing", and you are hard to move, that is an elementary form of jin (even a lot of shaolin styles use this basic level or "rooting"). While in a static "rooting" posture, many people can get the jin to the hand and (please allow me to be very simplistic so I can get to my point; there is more to this)it is easier to get the jin to the hand and fingers if they are relaxedly straightened out or slightly pulled back. The ideal for optimum circulation of qi (if you did a form mainly for health) would be a fairly straightened hand as is seen in the "Fair lady's hand" (this is *not* unique to CMC's style, BTW).

The second consideration is moving with jin and this is much harder... and it's the part where most people who claim to be doing Taiji seem to fall down. But to cut to the chase and your question about moving the hand, it *must* move with the rest of the body and be caused to move by the rest of the body or the movement is not really part of Taiji.


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> <B>
You also implied in your reply that external movements were not good T'ai Chi. I of course agree with this at a general level. I am curious, however, if you subscribe to Yang Cheng Fu's Ten Principles, and if so, what you make of the injunction to Unite/Harmonize Internal and External.</B> </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Of course I subscribe to his 10 principles... they are part of Taiji, no matter what style. As Yang Cheng Fu noted, "there is only one Taiji".

To harmonize internal and external is basically to do the movement with the so-called six harmonies, which includes the internal 3 harmonies and the external three harmonies. This is not a special way to ritually move, it is a way the body MUST move if it is being powered correctly by qi and jin.

The internal 3 harmonies (the "nei san ho" {he?}) basically say "heart leads mind, mind leads qi, qi leads strength" which is more or less saying that "your wantgets the mind to form the qi where you will it, and the qi is the precursor to the jin path".

The external 3 harmonies (the "wai san ho")are essentially a way of noting how the body winds while closing with whole-body jin and unwinds while "opening" with peng jin. The winding is symmetrical, so their is a coordination (not always seen, but always there) of wrist-ankle, elbow-knee, shoulder-hip.

The body moves in a regulated way because of the winding-unwinding; open-close, even in the smallest parts... so your question about flexing the wrist is answered in that the hand MUST move in relation to this "natural" winding-unwinding. I have watched Yang Zhen Duo making corrections and he is well aware of the natural movements of the body. Far better than me, I'm sure.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You also linked your comment with the need to avoid "artificial" movements and the need to follow "natural" movement. Again, I agree with this, but confess that I find much of T'ai Chi practice and training not very "natural," at least on the surface, and so do not always find this a reliable guide.</font>



The "natural" term has to do with the natural winding and unwinding of the body as opposed to the artificial "this feels comfortable so it must be 'natural'" that we might too easily attribute to the word.

Regards,

Mike
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Postby laopei » Wed Mar 07, 2001 4:25 pm

what you make of the injunction to Unite/Harmonize Internal and External?

When asked to explain this Principle, Yang Zhenduo once said -among many other things- something very new and very important to my practice:
He said: Be sure that "what you are doing" is the same as "what you think you are doing".
So deep and so simple. For me, his meaning is : to be aware that "sometimes" the body is not doing or reflecting what the mind thinks is telling the body to do.
A clear example is how often and in how many different places in the form Yang Zhenduo corrects our elbow position. Even when a student thinks the elbow is down, YZD can show a more "down" elbow.
Invariably the student comments "I thought they were down".



[This message has been edited by laopei (edited 03-07-2001).]
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Postby Audi » Sun Mar 11, 2001 9:56 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mike:
<B> Of course I subscribe to his 10 principles... they are part of Taiji, no matter what style. As Yang Cheng Fu noted, "there is only one Taiji".
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Mike and anyone else interested in replying,

Do you happen to know what Yang Cheng Fu was referring to when he said that there was only "one Taiji"? If not, what do you mean by the phrase. Different people seem to mean different things when they talk about the oneness of T'ai Chi.

Regards,
Audi
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Postby gryknght » Sat Mar 31, 2001 12:47 am

Any more thoughts, comments or observations before I let this subject slide off the BBS?
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Postby Audi » Sun Apr 08, 2001 7:33 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gryknght:
Any more thoughts, comments or observations before I let this subject slide off the BBS?</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Since I feel that I had incorrect views of "song" during the beginning of my practice, I want to add a few more thoughts to my posts above.

Many people describe T'ai Chi as being different from hard styles because T'ai Chi movement is "relaxed." I find such statements misleading, because relaxation at the proper points was an integral part or karate techniques I learned. A proper straight punch had to have a relaxed component at the beginning of the technique in order to generate speed and to maximize the possibilities of tensing at the end.

On the other hand, I had no occasion to "fangsong" as part of my karate in the way that I practice my T'ai Chi. Alternating between relaxation and tension was critical to my karate, whereas maintaining a strong level of song (not limp, not tense) throughout my T'ai feels important. It is the delicate silk thread that must be continuously drawn with Goldilocks pressure (not too little, and not too much).

Hard styles teach that at the peak of a punch, the muscles around the wrist must be tense to make the wrist rigid. Yang Zhen Duo teaches, on the other hand, that the wrist must be "song" and not stiff.

If you follow the hard style method, but do not tense sufficiently or misalign your wrist, you will break it on powerful contact with anything at all hard. If, on the other hand, you try merely to "relax" your wrist, without both properly aligning your joints and using your intent ("yi") to allow the power (jin) to come all the way out, you will also break your wrist.

I have heard some describe relaxed T'ai Chi power as using a soft whipping action. While this may be applicable to some techniques, I think this is a disastrous way to look at a straight punch, for the reasons I mention above.

Some describe being song as being as soft as possible, without being limp. They usually view being limp as the same as exhibiting droopy breaks in form. While this may be true of some styles, I do not think this is true of what Yang Zhen Duo teaches. In his style, I think it is perfectly possible to have perfect limb angles, no obvious muscular tension, but yet not be song, i.e., open and expanded in the joints. While this certainly has an internal dimension, I am referring to the crude phyical manifestation of this.

Some people apparently view the large frames of Yang Cheng Fu's and Yang Zhen Duo's form as being inferior to small frames or as merely an optional, unimportant aspect of his form. In my view, the large frames of Yang Zhen Duo's form are a critical part of how he trains being song. While large frames are certainly not the exclusive way to do Yang Style, I believe that people that do not see large frames as important to their practice must exercise care, because being song is not easily trained by itself. One advantage of training in large expanded frames is that you can use as a guide the feeling of the tugs of the soft tissue across the joints as the limbs change shape.

In smaller, unexpanded frames, I think it is harder to monitor oneself without some other method. In my view, the alternating twists of silk reeling energy (ni chan and shun chan) are an important part of how song is trained in Chen Style. Wu/Hao Style puts a strong and specific emphasis on opening and closing joints. While all these methods have the goal of allowing free flow of qi and jin throughout the body, I feel that having some method to train song is important. People who freely borrow bits from various styles expand their knowledge, but run the risk of missing important elements of training.

I would welcome any contrary thoughts to anything said above, particularly as to the dynamics of a straight punch.

Respectfully submitted,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 04-08-2001).]
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Apr 10, 2001 1:18 am

Hi Audi,

I agree with what you said about the large frame.

It is my understanding that small frame is for short range fighting, and for speed.
I have a friend that is quite good at Chen style, and if I understand what he's told me correctly, the emphasis is on structure, and on getting corrections from the master, and from feeling what your body does, and what your body wants. It is by these means that some of 'sung' is learned.

If the structure is correct the proper relaxation can be found, no matter how much energy or speed you use. Some of this training is in two-person drills where the teacher can show you kinesthetically how much energy to use, and how to channel it.

The speed part of a smaller frame is based on the same idea of a spinning ice skater who draws the arms in and increases the speed of the spin.

Also in regard to speed, there is an interesting aspect in the different timing used in several moves by Tung Kai Ying as compared to his father, Tung Hu Ling (as seen in the footage that I have mentioned before) where Tung Hu Ling's timing is, at least for me, especially suited to doing the (large frame) long form quickly.

I think that large frame is important, too. The large frame is useful to me for it's long range applications, as well as for the aspects that you mentioned. Sometimes a biography of Bruce Lee is played on cable channels. It contains footage of his 'one inch punch.' If you play it in slow motion you can see how he puts 'long' energy into it.

Concerning the straight punch: there's a straight line along the 'back' of the wrist to the knuckles; in addition, (face your palm toward you in front of your sternum, then make a fist) if your point of contact is with the the flat area formed by the bones between the first two knuckles of the index and middle fingers, there is a straight line along the 'top' of the forearm to the index finger's first knuckle (like pointing your fist a little downward); if your point of contact is with the the flat area formed by the bones between the first two knuckles of the middle, ring and little fingers, there is a straight line along the 'bottom' of the forearm and the 'bottom' of the hand. This way there is no torque applied to wrist itself.

How you hold the fist has been described to me as though you're are gripping a pencil, and as the fist approaches impact, you gently squeeze the pencil.

I'm sure that others can improve upon my descriptions.

As always, I hope this isn't too confusing. Image

David
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Postby Michael » Tue Apr 10, 2001 9:12 pm

Audi and David,

Being fortunate to study both small and large frame Yang styles, i would agree with most of what you say on this subject.

The large open movements do indeed facillitate the discovery of sung.

David, what you describe concerning the Chen style is how we are trained in the Kuang Ping also. I would note that single movement training helps to learn how to let sung into your form to develop full body use and the movement of chi. It is a very hard thing to keep (and develop) while doing the whole set most of the time. Just curious, does your Chen friend also use this training method, does the Tung family?

I think that the main training method to develop sung regardless of "frame" or style is sitting, walking(which you can do anytime), and some standing meditation.

Concerning the fist...I have been taught that the big nuckles of the middle two fingers are the main striking point in most instances--but not all of course.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Apr 12, 2001 12:18 am

Hi Michael,

I'm not quite sure what you mean. "Sung" can be expressed in different ways.

I do what I call 'feather' sets where the hands are relaxed and sort of float on air as though a gentle breeze is all that's holding them up.

I also do what I call 'power' sets where the hands are barely restrained from generating lots of force in whatever direction they're going.

In both cases I feel that I am sung. Interestingly, it is the 'feather' sets that seem to develop the most power.

Another thing is the 'dancing alone,' versus interacting with another, aspect.

Some of my friend's drills showed me how a sudden pull on my arm, for example, can have different effects on me according to how much energy I was using in 'resisting' my own movement.
There was little difference between the amount I was using when it hurt a great deal, and the amount I was using when it didn't hurt at all. Again in both cases I thought I was being "sung."

So the question for me is how much is enough? Am I 'sung' enough in doing the long form? The answer is a definitive "Maybe, maybe not."

You asked, "Just curious, does your Chen friend also use this training method, does the Tung family?"
I'm not sure what training method you mean. Do you mean: use two-man exercises other than push hands? If so, then yes, both do.

David
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Postby Michael » Thu Apr 12, 2001 6:27 pm

David,

My reference (and question) concerning single movement practice, is where you alternate a "posture", right/left in a long string, training the whole body performance of the basic technique. This helps in developing all aspects of internal training. This can be done slowly with or without power, or at the speed of actual usage depending on your intent at the time.

i maybe wrong about this (and my understanding of your words), but one can be "sung" (to varying degrees) and still not respond quickly enough to counter your partners move (by letting go of your "resisting", or whatever)and experience the pain you speak of. One degree of lean or one extra pound can make a big difference. I do think that there are a number of factors at play here in your example. Sung puts you in the place where we can understand opponent and his actions. It allows for an appropriate response but does not necessarily initiate it. That comes from lots and lots of training, and intuitive response.

i really like the concept someone brought up here about the term "sung" or "song"--that being of "looseness" rather than being "relaxed". That is the basis of all the internal aspects of taiji. It "allows for" the resulting power, action, response and timing.
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Apr 13, 2001 10:38 pm

Hi Michael,

You wrote, "...single movement practice, is where you alternate a "posture", right/left in a long string..."

I've done a little bit of this. I see what you're talking about and intend to spend some time on it.

In recent weeks I've had a few discussions about symetry, and it seems to be fairly common for people to do the long form "to the other side," at least occasionally.
For my first teacher I did the long form backwards, but this was more of a concentration and coordination exercise than a study of proper posture, per se.

You wrote, "...maybe wrong about this (and my understanding of your words), but one can be "sung" (to varying degrees) and still not respond quickly enough to counter your partners move (by letting go of your "resisting", or whatever)and experience the pain you speak of."
Actually it was an instance of almost no "resisting" that hurt.

You mentioned, "the concept someone brought up here about the term 'sung' or 'song'--that being of 'looseness' rather than being 'relaxed.' "

I think Audi brought it up. I thought that he made an important point: that "relax" implies a certain inertness, which sung does not.
I think of a muscle being sung when it is free of unnecessary tension while in use, but there is another element entirely.

You wrote, "Sung puts you in the place where we can understand opponent and his actions. It allows for an appropriate response but does not necessarily initiate it. That comes from lots and lots of training, and intuitive response."

I consider the main element in this instance to be awareness. With it everything else can fall into place.
It would seem, that your definition of sung includes awareness, and I totally agree with that.

I like the feedback. Thanks

David
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