Hi Tim, Erik, and everyone,
You all have made some very interesting points about "shi," "posture," "disposition," etc. I think this discussion was begun before, but the exchange did not go as far.
Go back to an earlier point in this thread, I just wanted to add something to the discussion on “Split Energy.”
As I understand the systems the Yangs teach, the term "Ward Off" (peng) Energy is reserved for “lifting” energy, and different qualities are ascribed to "Split" (lie) energy that do not refer to the overall direction of application. Again, as I understand it, Split Energy is supposed to have three aspects: an energy (1) that sends the opponent's energy in two opposite directions, (2) that is executed with a sudden sharp impulse (someone earlier on the board talked about a dragonfly skipping off the surface of a pond), and (3) that is associated with rotation.
I am uncertain, however, how prominent each of these aspects is supposed to be, particularly with respect to rotation. I have not heard that the Yangs ascribe any particular directionality to Split Energy beyond this or that they require the energy to be directed to the opponent's “center axis or center of gravity.” Since some may have apparently been taught differently or have come to different conclusions, this appears to be a case of “different strokes for different folks.”
To give some examples of what I understand to be the Yangs’ teachings, Flying Diagonal features Split Energy, but Parting Wild Horse's Mane features Ward Off Energy. The difference is that the former has the large body rotation, whereas the latter involves a lifting intent. Other examples of Split Energy I have been shown or heard referred to are the arm breaking application of the Roll Back Posture and the wrist breaking (qin na or ch’in na) application of Needle at Sea Bottom. Each was described as involving a sharp attack and some rotation of energy or of the limbs. It was said that both of these postures could also be performed without Split Energy with different results.
Erik, I find your use of the word “rend” interesting, since my best guess about the origin of the character used for “lie” is that it was based on the character for “split/crack/tear” that has the clothes radical underneath. “Rend” would provide some bridge for the transfer of meaning. By the way, another example of “Split” energy I heard from an authoritative source referred to some sort of form or pad used by nurses in China, where the paper could be successfully detached with just the right opposite ripping motion of the hands.
Any additions or corrections would be welcome.
Take care all,