Double Weighting

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Aug 01, 2002 5:46 am

Greetings Hans-Peter,

I have a couple of different versions of the “Yong Wu Yao Yan” (Essential Words on Martial Talents). It’s a fascinating document, by the way, one that I would like to spend some time on. So far, I’m not having any luck finding the phrases you quoted. Are you sure that’s where it occurs? In any case, the phrase you quoted:

“zuo zhong ze zuo xu, you chen ze you yao”

looks to be, with the exception of one word, “chen,” the same phrase that appears in the Taijiquan Treatise:

“zuo zhong ze zuo xu, you zhong ze you yao”

I translate that phrase:

“[When the] left [feels] weight, then [the] left empties. [When the] right [feels] weight, then [the] right is gone.”

In my opinion, this aphorism has nothing to do with a notion, “if the left leg is solid, the left hand should be empty.” It has instead to do with interactive movement with a partner or opponent. The “zhong” refers to weight or pressure from the partner. The “xu” or emptying, is a giving way to the partner’s pressure or advance. The “yao” is just another way of saying this. Yao is actually a very interesting character. At root it means dark, deep, and obscured. Here I believe it means something like “receding.” I rendered it “gone” based upon its use in a phrase meaning “gone without a trace,” and upon the fact that when you push with a master, it feels like they are “gone,” even while they maintain an attachment with you. It’s something like “unfathomable.”

This character, zhong, is once again the character in shuangzhong (double weighting), or shuangchong (doubling). I happened upon a passage in the Lu Shi Chunqiu, a pre-Han syncretic compendium, that uses “zhong” in an interesting way. The passage is actually a quotation of Zhuangzi, and refers to wagering in archery contests:

“Play for tiles and you soar; play for belt-hooks and you become combative; play for gold and you are flustered. Although your luck is the same in each of the games, the reason you become flustered must be the value [zhong] you place on external things. Valuing [zhong] external things makes one become clumsy [zhuo] within.” (Knoblock & Riegel, trans., The Annals of Lu Buwei, p. 288)

Another rendering of last few lines: “One’s skill is the same—but that he becomes a nervous wreck is because he has weighted heavily [zhong] external considerations. One who weights heavily the external will bet clumsily internally.” (James Sellmann, Timing and Rulership in Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals, p. 129)

I know it’s a tangent, and a far stretch, but for me this actually sheds light on the notion of “shuangchong” as a matter of having one’s attention divided, or of lacking a singular focus. Recall the words of Xiang Kairen quoted above in this discussion thread, “We should understand that single weighted or double-weighted is not a matter of outer appearance but of the inside. Taijiquan is only the exercise of a central pivot.”

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 08-01-2002).]
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Postby Hans-Peter » Thu Aug 01, 2002 8:52 am

Hi Louis,

I'm not absolutely sure if the phrase is from "Yong Wu Yao Yan". My friend who also did much research in Taiji has just faxed me his source, which is from a website:
www.artofchina.com/Journal-cont.html
Reading this translation of an article by Hong Jun Shen, I think it's also possible, that the phrase is from "Xinyi Liuhe Quan Pu" or "Taijiquan Shi Da Yao Lun".

On the other hand, following Hong Jun Shen's words the phrase should indeed mean, that if the left leg is full the left hand should be empty. The translation offered in this article is: "When the left (foot) is weighted the left (hand) is empty, when the right (foot) is weighted the right (hand) fades".

Also I detected that it's really a misprint in this article, and the phrase should be "Zuo Zhong Ze Zuo Xu, You Zhong Ze You Yao" as you said.

That's all I could get at the moment.

My best
Hans-Peter
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Aug 01, 2002 5:02 pm

Hi Hans-Peter,

You wrote:
'On the other hand, following Hong Jun Shen's words the phrase should indeed mean, that if the left leg is full the left hand should be empty. The translation offered in this article is: "When the left (foot) is weighted the left (hand) is empty, when the right (foot) is weighted the right (hand) fades".'

Well, I find that interpretation implausible.

Here’s my rough translation of Meng Naichang’s commentary on the “zuo zhong ze zuo xu, you zhong ze you yao” stanza from the “Taijiquan Treatise.” Meng makes the point that this phrase “rides” on the preceding phrases in the treatise regarding not leaning or inclining, and being “suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed.”

“Xu means void, fake, as opposed to solid. Yao means noiseless, imageless, and endless. Taken together, these [xu and yao] have the meaning of unfathomable (buke zhuomo—or unpredictable). This is a measure for dealing with the martial tactics of an opponent. Still [the phrase] continues the theme [of the preceding text]. If I can accomplish ‘no leaning, no inclining,’ obscure and variable, with unfathomable transformations (bianhua buce), then when the opponent issues solidly with his hand to my left side, I then empty in order to deal with it—the spot on my left side where I am joined with the other immediately changes to empty, causing the other to fall on emptiness. If the other gets a purchase on my right side, issuing pressure (zhong) with his hand, I then immediately change that spot where I am joined with the other to become light and empty—obscure and concealed. Empty and full change places, adapting in perfect response; in short, causing me to be unfathomable to the other. . . .”

Take care,
Louis

P.S., I can't get the link you've posted to work for me.




[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 08-02-2002).]
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Postby Hans-Peter » Fri Aug 02, 2002 7:44 am

Hi Louis,

thanks very much for your words. I also consider your explanations as more plausible.
After reading the complete article I also wondered, how these words could be interpreted as the translator did. The guy who sended me this article also thinks, that maybe already Chen Xin has missinterpreted this phrase as he picked it up from "Xinyi Liuhe Quan" or that probably more likely Chen Xing's words later have been missinterpreted. In the article it's stated, that Chen Xing's interpretations were written down in his book "San San Liu Pu" which was lost in World War II, only two sections of it are still existing. So maybe this serves as an example that shows, how the nowaddays common saying - "if left foot is full, left hand is empty" - arises and makes it's way through Taiji-community. Only very few guys have your knowledge or your access to other resources, so most would take such words and the missleading translation as a real essential point.

The weblink I've given unfortunately doesn't work for me also. I've taken it from the hardcopy of this site. I have no information, if this site is definitely closed or only currently not available.

All the best
Hans-Peter
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Postby DavidJ » Sat Aug 03, 2002 3:27 am

Hi Louis,

Some thoughts regarding your interpretation, “[When the] left [feels] weight, then [the] left empties. [When the] right [feels] weight, then [the] right is gone,” and your commentary.

I accept the strong possibility that this doesn't apply to the opposite shoulder principle, but has to do with the whole idea of avoiding double weighting while interacting with another, i.e. not meeeting force with force.

Letting the opponent fall into nothing.

This expression has the quality of pairing of opposites like "advance, retreat, look left, gaze right" has. This makes it kind of like a nursery rhyme, which I think was often done to facilitate memory.

But it also reads sequentially - left weight, then left empties, right weight, then right is gone. This could point to alternation in forms and in application.

I like the discussions.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Audi » Sat Aug 03, 2002 4:58 pm

All:

Louis, thank you very much for you translation. I strongly support your interpretation. I also think that this passage is important because it points out that what is being discussed is a quality that one should be able to change instantly. It is not so much a question of ability, as of understanding what is needed. It also implies that the weight distribution between the legs is also not directly relevant, but rather the intent that the mind directs at the body.

Louis has helpfully rendered the Chinese as: “[When the] left [feels] weight, then [the] left empties. [When the] right [feels] weight, then [the] right is gone.” One can add to the flavor of this the idea that "One moment the left is weighted, the next it is empty. One moment the right is weighted the next it has vanished." Even better, one could think of this as: "[One moment] the left is being weighted, the next moment, it is being emptied. [One moment] the right is being weighted, the next moment it disappears."

In this little phrase are ideas of alternation as David points out, but also of simultaneous exchange and circulation.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 08-03-2002).]
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Postby DavidJ » Sat Aug 03, 2002 8:01 pm

Hi Louis,

I just found this, "If pressured on the left, empty the left; if pressured on the right, empty the right," in an article by Xiang Kairen called "A STUDY OF TAIJI PUSH-HANDS" at
http://www.nardis.com/~twchan/ph.html

David J
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Aug 06, 2002 9:34 pm

Hi Audi,

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Audi:
[B]David and Mario, in the Saber Form, there is a forward stab with the left leg forward near the beginning of the form. It corresponds to the "zhan" (extend) of "teng nuo shan zhan." There is also a forward stab with the right leg forward (corresponding to the "zhao" of "zi you zhao") right before the leftward and rightward vertical circles near the end of the form. How does your principle account for the fact that either foot forward can correspond to a stab with the right hand. The relevant differences I can see between these postures is the facing of the torso as the strike is delivered, the waist movement, and the movement of the left arm. As I understand it, in the first posture, the torso is held square and the hip rotation has more or less ceased (I originally posted this as waist rotation, but after further consideration think that the waist rotation is actually blended throughout the weight shift forward) as the final step is weighted and the left knee is bent. The left arm pushes directly out to the left side. In the second posture, the waist rotates throughout the strike and the left arm swings leftward. The torso ends up facing slightly leftward.

I have the same question with respect to the horizontal rib/belly cuts that precede the first Little Dipper in the Sword Form and with respect to the two repetitions of the Dragon Walking Posture (Long Xing Shi) (also called something like Poking the Grass to Seek the Snake.)

The difference between these examples is similar to the difference between 'Brush Knee' and 'Parting the Wild Horses Mane.' In these cases the when the right hand is forward, even though the angle between the plane of the shoulders and the plane of the hips differ, the internal pressure is the same ("shoulders left/hips right"). The main difference is in what the legs are doing.

People talk about the 5 bows. Think of one bow stretching from your left shoulder to your right hand, so with "shoulders left" the right hand is moving away from the left shoulder as the bow straightens.

I hope this makes sense.

Regards,

David J
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Postby mnpli » Mon Aug 12, 2002 11:16 pm

Hello to all,
back from my European vacation, the weather was not so good, but the wine and the women were just fine! :-)

M.

nice to see that you guys have been busy talking tai chi chuan..
will try to read and enjoy some of it in the next few days..

hey James my boy , what can I say Armstrong!!!

M.

[This message has been edited by mnpli (edited 08-14-2002).]
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Postby mnpli » Thu Aug 15, 2002 3:30 am

<< Mario, I mentioned in my earlier post that some people deny that push is an application of the "An" posture because my understanding is that Erle Montaigue and his students take this position. Montaigue is also a big proponent of not striking simultaneously with the palms. My understanding of his view is that he sees a push as a watered down old person?s adaptation of the "original" intent and sees the "An" posture as a strike meant to cause internal damage to the opponent.>>

Hey Audi ,

first we must understand that Erle is only interested in Erle.
tai chi chuan gestures are and have always been about hitting , the reason for push hands are *many*
one of which is that safe practice can occur, if we all started hitting each other at full speed, well you can see the problems with that, we would run out practice partners real fast!So, all this nonsensical talk about push hands being an old man what have you,
that's just Erle selling is usual snake oil , alla WWF style!


<< With Montaigue's application in mind, I can understand why the palms might not issue simultaneously. However, if we are merely talking about a push, I am not sure I would have any real consciousness of favoring one hand or the other or specializing their functions. You make a very interesting point in this regard with Double Peaks/Winds to the ears, where the feasibility of landing both strikes at the same time seems quite unlikely to me.>>

Audi i think your still missing the point behind good body alignment or why we need to maximize our strength ,
the reason for crossing strength is simple, the hands needs support.
in the beginning one makes it easy by following the simplest of rules; left hand right foot,
then as one gets better, one can use this correct alignment in ways that to some folks it look as if they are not following this principle, it's just done in a fluid manner that's all , it would be foolish to do other wise, in my opinion.

M.
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Aug 15, 2002 4:05 am

Yo Mario,

welcome back. Yeah, that Armstrong. Imagine how much he would have won by if he hadn't fallen. Anyway, I love it when the
French are jealous.

Oh well, on the tcc line, I was curious --of Audi, Louis, and anyone-- whether you made a distinction between the An and the "Apparent Close Up' action that resembles it at the end of the first section of most forms. Well, I don't know if it really has to do with "double-weighting", but then again it might.

Regards,
Steve James
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Postby mnpli » Mon Aug 19, 2002 9:31 pm

Yo Mario,

<<<Oh well, on the tcc line, I was curious --of Audi, Louis, and anyone-- whether you made a distinction between the An and the "Apparent Close Up' action that resembles it at the end of the first section of most forms. Well, I don't know if it really has to do with "double-weighting", but then again it might>>

Stevo ,

If you mean are they different well yeah... but only cause of the contexts ,one can draw you down and in and while the other can take you down and to the side , the discharge is same!
so, in the end , they really are not different! but done correctly no double weighting done wrong could get one hurt!

ciao M.
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Postby tai1chi » Tue Aug 20, 2002 3:45 pm

Hi Mario,

re: Apparent Close Up and An

> If you mean are they different well yeah... but only cause of the contexts ,one can draw you down and in and while the other can take you down and to the side , the discharge is same!
so, in the end , they really are not different!


Well, yeah, the contexts are different, depending on what we mean by "context." I think the transition to and the transition from each movement have to be different. A lot has to do with the difference in stance: i.e., right leg forward v left leg forward. So, the open side and the closed side are reversed. Both movements could loosely be described as "turns", one to the left; one to the right. And, I think that some people distinguish between upward and downward circles (as you suggest). I.e., hands start "high" and end "low" or vice versa. What I was thinking about, though, was that the forward foot influenced which side the majority of the "force" was coming from (i.e., which back foot). So, I wondered if that affected anyone's idea of "weighting." That's all.

Welcome back again,
Steve
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Postby Audi » Sun Aug 25, 2002 4:48 pm

Hi Steve and Mario,

Upward and downward circles? Do you recall if An was supposed to by the back-down-forward-upward curve and if Apparent Closure (Ru Feng Si Bi) was supposed to be the upward-forward circle? For me, the preparation of these pushes is different, but the final realization is the same.

Steve, in comparing Apparent Closure and the Push Posture, you have found a better example than me for flushing out this issue of “cross substantiality.” I think you and I are coming from a similar place of inquiry in this regard. To make sure, let me give one example of how think this question can come up.

One of the Ten Essentials is to "Distinguish the subtantial/solid/full/true from the insubstantial/evanescent/empty/false." Many masters talk about doing this in each and every part of the body. YCF defines solid and empty on at least one occasion in terms of body weight, saying that a weight bearing leg is solid and the other is empty. The classics talk about the necessity of avoiding doubling up (or double weighting) and define this in terms of solid and empty. Some say that if one leg is solid, then the arm on the same side must be empty to avoid a structural defect. Lastly, many masters talk as if every part of the body should be simultaneously solid and empty and thus seem on the surface at variance with YCF’s definition.

One reaction to all of this is to try to expand upon YCF’s definition. If one must distinguish solid from empty, how can one do so if one does not know how to define these terms outside of the specific circumstances addressed by YCF?

After the discussion on the board, here is where I am with this principle. I currently believe, that solid and empty are not inherent properties of any particular arrangement of the limbs, but rather properties of what is done with the limbs. For example, if I power a push by thrusting with my back leg into a bow stance, as is done in the form, I would think that my back leg is going from solid to empty. On the other hand, if I power a push by thrusting off my front leg and only placing my back leg down afterwards as a reaction to my fajin, I would say that my back leg goes from empty to solid.

I think the germ of what is meant by “distinguishing solid and empty” is that you must be continually circulating energy between yourself and the opponent, rather than trying to stop or oppose it. How the circulation is done in the legs seems to be determined by the form movements as a result of the weight shifts. How this is done in the arms, however, often does not seem predetermined.

In the two postures you describe, I think that the energy flows from the back leg to the front leg and from the legs as a whole to the bow of the arms; however, I do not think there is any predetermined flow between the arms since there is no required waist rotation. As your push develops, you will use your waist to make last second adjustments to the direction of your push and to the relative pressure of your arms, based on the opponent’s “open doors,” arm pressure, spinal alignment, etc. Because of this, I do not currently think it makes sense within the Yangs’ system of teaching to deliberately cultivate a feeling of having one arm or the other feeling solid or empty in the final position of these postures. Similarly, I do not think it makes sense to say that the left arm ends up solid in Push and that the left arm ends up empty in Apparent Closure.

I favor this view for another reason. I believe that the issue is not determining which part of the body is solid and which empty, but rather how each part of the body is solid and how it is empty. The surface meaning of YCF’s definition seems useful to me only in the context of weight shifts, but nowhere else. Louis touched on some of the possibilities of seeing solid and empty as relative concepts. As I tried to describe on my thread about Yin, Yang, and Taiji, I think Taijiquan is not about this or that, but about the dynamic tension between this and that. I not only do not vary the power expressed in my arms for Push and Apparent Closure, I have to say that I really do not vary the power expressed in my legs either. Both arms express power and both legs do as well. I try to make them do so differently and complementarily with respect to different things. Both legs push, but one tries to do “deng” while the other tries to do “cheng.” One is bouncing power from the ground, the other is deflecting the power from the other leg. In none of the postures does one arm feel powerful and the other not. In some postures, a particular arm gets power from one leg, in others from the other leg.

Steve, do you currently have a “theory of everything” that includes solid and empty? Do you distinguish Push and Apparent Closure?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Aug 25, 2002 7:42 pm

Hi Audi,

as usual, I'm impressed by the depth of your analysis. I did have something in mind, but maybe it's easiest to answer the last part of your post first:

you wrote:

"do you currently have a “theory of everything” that includes solid and empty? Do you distinguish Push and Apparent Closure?"

Well, I think we share the same "theory of everything": i.e., "taiji." This means that if something is entirely "yin" or "yang", it is "out of balance," better yet "not in harmony." "Double-weighting", to me, is a matter of being out of harmony, either a lack of yin and yang in terms of one's body/mind, or a lack of yin and yang in relation to the opponent. Since, in application, the opponent determines our response, "resisting force with force" could be considered a form of "double weigthing." At the same time, "opposing force with force" could also be considered a fault. Let's consider An to be a simple Push with both hands. If the opponent is shifting backwards and turning, then one or other of our arms is "resisting." Reverse the situation, if someone pushes you directly with both arms, is your response to shift back evenly? or to turn to one side or the other? Does the position of your feet, assuming a push hands situation, determine which way to turn? Does one side offer more resistance than another? An opponent would be smart to try to get you in that position. To do that, however, one side of his body must precede the other-- because the body must turn. [That the arms don't move is only an illusion because they (must) remain in contact with the opponent.] Because of this, there's a "long" side, with most of the force based in the leg; and the "short" side, where much of the force comes from the waist turn. This comes to the next scenario because, as you know, when either side reaches its extreme, it becomes weak (or Yin, in one sense) and that is where tcc practitioners seek their advantage. This, I feel, is one of the reasons for the necessity of distinguishing carefully between Yin and Yang. As to the difference in application of this to Withdraw-Push and Apparent Close Up, I think that the illustration is most clear in that one leads to the Single Whip and the other to Cross Hands. I think it is important to say that both contain the same functional "energies" of An. I also believe that, because they are responses/reactions to different movements by an opponent, they employ somewhat different applications of technique. BTW, ACU is a point at which it's quite easy to begin the opposite side form --just do a Single Whip to the other side. Oh well, I've seen many variations of ACU in terms of hand position (palms up or down) or the direction of the circles (upward or downward). For example, some styles raise their arms upward to transform to Cross Hands. So, some of them do ACU as a downward movement that proceeds upward. Others, otoh, move the arms fairly horizontally. Still others perform a scooping action. Only the horizontal one looks like the transition (fishes in 8) to the Single Whip, fwiw. Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, better stop.

Regards,
Steve James

[This message has been edited by tai1chi (edited 08-25-2002).]

[This message has been edited by tai1chi (edited 08-25-2002).]
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