Looking Far

Looking Far

Postby Michael » Thu Jan 30, 2003 3:51 pm

Just a little question.

When I am assisting teaching beginners I usually tell them at he end of the first section, that it important to "look far" when they practice once they become a bit more comfortable with the forms. I have a number reasons that I thought were behind this correction that I recieved myself, over and over, when I began learning KPYS.

Testing it myself recently, I would do a few moves "looking far" and a few looking downwards. What I found I did not expect. That when "looking far" I maintained my root, but as I looked in a more downward direction I found that my center of gravity kept rising up a little with each step.

Has anyone else found this? There are other reasons to be sure, such as better visual awareness. Anything else?
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Jan 30, 2003 6:19 pm

Hi Michael,

I'd put my money on the fact that "looking far" keeps the semicircular canals horizontal --or at least "level."

Cheers,
Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Jan 30, 2003 8:43 pm

Chi follows mind intent.

"I'm not good yet, I need more practice"
Yang Chengfu
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Postby Michael » Fri Jan 31, 2003 2:39 pm

Wushuer,

yes that is one of the reasons for sure.

Steve,

I should have thought of that. Very good. I'll cover your bet!
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Jan 31, 2003 4:19 pm

Yep, that's at least one reason. I was in a hurry yesterday, that's why the short response.
Chi follows you mind intend, as I said, so if you're mind is intent on the ground, that's exactly where the chi wants to go.
If you're "looking far" your mind is free to stay in your dantien where it belong until you want to issue fajing or it's opposite.
The reason you're center of gravity comes up instead of how you think it would go, which would be down, is that as the mind intent is now in your eyes and going to the ground, and if you have managed to sink the chi to your dantien, then the chi is trying to come up your body, through your eyes and to the ground. This makes your center "rise up".
I learned this lesson poignantly during push hands training. If you're looking at the ground, you are easily led there.

Sung, sung, sung.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Feb 03, 2003 8:20 pm

Hi Wushuer and All,

I was taught that looking at where you are going to step is OK. I ran across a YCF quote about it, but I have forgotten where.

There is an aspect of "what you are used to" involved with introducing a change into your set. Chances are that changing where you look is what threw the balance off, not necessarily where you looked.

The semi-circular canals register changes in position, not absolute position. If the horizontal semicirclar canal always needed to be level, you'd always be dizzy when lying down.

I agree with the idea that more of one's imediate surroundings may be taken in if one's eyes are looking level, except of course in hilly country. Image

Regards,

David J
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Postby tai1chi » Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:21 pm

Hi David J.,

imho, looking at one's feet is not a good idea. "Being careful about where you step" is another thing. One doesn't look at one's hands while driving. It's very hard to dance with someone Image. It makes it dangerous to ride a bike: i.e., looking at the pedals. Of course, while learning, it helps to occasionally check the placement of the feet. But, well, you see my argument there. As far as the semicircular canals, you are right that keeping them absolutely horizontal is not necessary for balance. Otherwise, we wouldn't have gymnasts who landed on their feet, etc. However, my original suggestion was not meant to be absolute, either. Balance, itself, is something that can be maintained. I was implying that keeping the head level was one way to help it. Well, I suppose Louis should comment --as he wrote a book. But, in the Fu Zhongwen book, and others, I think I do recall discussion, if not diagrams, of the proper place to look. I don't recall who it agrees with, but I would still be against looking at the feet. Actually, I recall being taught not to look at anything in particular at all, by some teachers. Others, during ph, said one should look "through" the opponent -at some angle. Oh well, I'm getting old and forgetful, and it's off topic.

Best,
Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:24 pm

Well,
The way I learned to step was to keep my eyes "looking far", as that will keep you focused internally. In "looking far" we learned to see all around us at once, not to focus our eyes or our thoughts on any one thing, not even to step. Your eyes should be registering where everything it sees is in relation to your body, so "looking far" actually helps you with stepping more than concentrating your eyes where you're going to step, because you are seeing all the things going on around you and can adjust your step accordingly not just reach single mindedly to that spot you are focusing on.
If you look where you are going to step and focus on that, not only will your chi want to go there, but you may miss that incoming leg or fist to your back or side that you are not seeing by "looking near".
"Looking far" does not mean, the way I learned it, that you DON'T see details such as what is where you were going to step, rather the opposit in that you should see ALL details without focus on any particular one.
So you should still see where you are going to be stepping, but not concentrating on it any more than anything else.
The only time we concentrated our sight on one particular area was during the issuance of tightly controlled fajing, and even then it was only for that exact moment of issuance.
"Looking far" has the added advantage of not telegraphing your movements or intentions to your opponent. If your opponent notices you looking at a particular spot then you step there, then you look at a different particular spot then you stop again right where you were looking, the next time he's going to know where you're headed and meet you there in a fashion you most likely don't want.
I know I would.
Be careful with your eyes, they can give you away. We were allways told to "look far, don't concentrate on any one thing, rather see all things at once and be aware of their intent".
"Hard eyes" will give the impression of looking directly at your opponent while you may actually be looking at a spot some miles distant and will disconcert an opponent who is trying to read your intentions with your eyes.
I have found this theory to hold true, even in uneven, downright mountainous territory. I live in the mountings, so I can speak to that with a great deal of authority.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:33 pm

For what it's worth, this is the only quote I have been able to find from YCF hisself on eyes.
" The eyes though should look forward levelly, sometimes following the body and so shift, the line of sight though may be fixed on emptiness is an essential movement in the change, this compensates the body method's inadequacies".
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:39 pm

Here we go:
"...you should not hold your head in a stiff manner, and though your eyes look straight ahead, they should follow the movements of the limbs and body. Although your eyes look into vacancy, they are an important component of the movements of the body as whole."
Yang Zhenduo, from the book Yang Style Taijiquan.
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Postby laopei » Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:01 am

Yang Style Eye Usage, By Yang Zheng Ji

Yang style Taijiquan is very particular about the method of using the eyes.
Tradition has it that when Yang Cheng Fu pushed hands or engaged in combat,
when emitting jing would look at the opponent and the opponent on receiving
the strength would fall in the direction which he looked. Looking at Yang
Shao Hou's precious image, his eyes appears to have brightness shooting
forth, this is a result of long term training fully concentrating on the
eyes as well as the internal qi.

Yang Cheng Fu said: " The eyes though should look forward levelly, sometimes
following the body and so shift, the line of sight though may be fixed on
emptiness is an essential movement in the change, this compensates the body
method's inadequacies."

Yang style Taijiquan's requirements regarding the eyes are:

1. The eyes should look forward levelly. In normal circumstances, the eyes
look levelly forward, looking through the hand in front towards the
front, caring for the hand, but not fixed dead on the hand. The eyes
can also look downward to the front, it must follow the boxing
posture's main hand movement and so determine the direction to look.

2. The expression of the eyes is in accordance to the movements, the
principle of the eyes's turning follows the body's movements. The body
moves the eyes follow, the body faces what direction, the eyes gaze
towards that direction. Taijiquan's practice has continuous forward
advancing backward retreating left and right turns, when forward
advancing backward retreating, left turn right rotate depends on the
waist and body turning, the eyes in left looking right glancing must
follow the waist and body's turning to turn.

3. The eyes and the intent are consistant. The eyes are the mind's focal
point, what the mind is considering, the eyes is concentrated upon, if
the eyes and the movements are not in accordance the internal and
external are also not in agreement, the usage of the eyes have an
important use in push hands, necessary to observe the opponent's upper
and lower portions, closely observing the direction of movement of the
opponent's back, in the course of movement catching hold of the
opportune time to cause the opponent to be in a predicament.

4. The method of the eyes must be natural. When utilising the eyes, do not
stare, do not close the eyes, keep the spirit held within. The correct
use of the expression of the eyes has a relationship with the energy at
the top is light and sensitive (xu ling ding jing), the energy at the
top is light and sensitive, then the spirit can be raised, then the
eyes will naturally have expression.

Yang zhenduo said:
"The eyes
When we talk about the head, we also must talk about the two eyes. The requirement for the eyes is looking straight ahead. For instance, if I do ''Brush Right Knee And Twist Step" with my right hand, then my eyes look straight forward, in the direction where the right hand is striking.
If the arm is moving to the side, the eyes naturally follow the direction where my arm is--to the side.
In a movement like "Needle At Sea Bottom," where my hand is pointing downward, my eyes look to the downward position.
Therefore whether moving straight, moving to the side, moving down, or moving up, the eyes must always follow the direction where the hand is pointing.
Generally speaking, our eyes are looking toward the front. But we must also be aware of one point: even though we look forward, the eyes should not stare. They should not be stiff and "dead" looking, by which I mean just staring to the front but without any spirit. The requirement includes a certain amount of change of spirit in the eyes as the movement changes. In doing so, you avoid that dead look"
end of quote
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Postby Michael » Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:38 am

To all,

I just have a minute but I must agree that in my mind it is not a good idea to look at one's feet---except for instances when one is learning or checking oneself in form practice from time to time. The downward looking eyes in Needle at sea bottom is different in that the "energy and focus" is in that direction. Awareness "centered" (not focused on--or "staring" at) on the upper torso should give one awareness of the lower half of the opponent as well. You can see his stepping even without seeing his feet or his knees even. As for one's own stepping, we step with awareness with the shifting of weight and with what we see in the opponents upper body. There is no need to look down and as said above by others could be very detrimental.

I agree with Steve's semi circular canals suggestion in just the way he describes it, in that "it helps". I did not assume it to mean anything else.

Laopei,

Thanks for the "Yang Style Eye Usage"

I wish someone would translate Yang Zhenji. I have heard many good things about him as a man and his knowledge and understanding. I am sure we all could benefit.
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:40 pm

Hi Everyone,

Sometimes words get in the way of what is said.

Steve, I didn't say look at the feet, I said look where you are stepping. In the translation of Yang Style Eye Usage, By Yang Zheng Ji, quoted above, "The eyes can also look downward to the front, [snip]"

This is consistant with looking where you're stepping.

Looking far isn't always the case. Here and there in the long form I was specifically taught to look at a hand, which I understood to include not ignoring what's beyond the hand.

But there is another point here that I feel is important.
There is a strong chance of misinterpreting part of that translation: "The expression of the eyes is in accordance to the movements, the principle of the eyes's turning follows the body's movements. The body moves the eyes follow, the body faces what direction, the eyes gaze towards that direction."

I was taught that "the eyes look, the body follows." I believe that this is what the above sentence really means. You *always* look where you're going. You don't move and then look.

The wording was pretty close to: "the body follows the mind in its natural order: mind, eyes, head, arms and hands (shoulders (waist turns)), weight, foot work."

Beyond this I was taught to look at, and to look through the opponent.

I hope this clarifies things.

Regards,

David J
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Postby tai1chi » Wed Feb 05, 2003 4:03 am

Hi David J.,

Well, yes, words get in the way, and get misinterpreted. And, regardless of what is written, I don't think you --or anyone else-- looks at his or her feet when stepping. Quick anecdotes: I was a carpenter. Steps *must* be constructed with a certain ratio of 'tread' to 'rise.' It's illegal not to do so --and you'll get sued-- because people do not look at steps. 2) I was also a cyclist --which you know has influenced me very much. Anyway, ime, the only way to "ride a line" was to "look far." This helped to insure balance and direction. It was not "look at the road"; it was "look where you are going." Indeed, in cycling, if you look at a pothole, you'll steer to it. That's part of the idea that I think the concept is referring to in tcc. It falls in line with Wushuers idea of "yi", or intent. (Though, I'm never sure when people mention "qi.") In any case, I think the gist of the this discussion is really about "where the eyes should gaze, the majority of the time." As you quote from YZJ, "The eyes can also look downward to the front, [snip]". Yes, "can also"; but, imho, it's a mistake to interpret that to mean "the majority of the time" or "in general". I'm just too overloaded right now to go through it. Thanks, laopei, for the citations. But, I think that most of the texts on tcc that I've come across that refer specifically to eye-direction have used only two: horizontal, or diagonally downward. Now, ok, fwiw, in one specific case (of MYL's Wu style), the teaching (for push hands) was specifically (or personally to Ma) to look "through the opponent's throat." However, this was specifically for "push hands" and "fighting aplications." Anyhow, I think the general idea behind much of this is very similar to the necessity of getting "the big picture." Again, the "heads up" does have some effect on the cns and the canals. But, this holds true for most human activities, and I didn't mean to suggest that that was the only rationale behind "look far." Oh well, too much blah blah. I clearly agree completely with your training "to look at, and to look through the opponent."

Regards,
Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Feb 05, 2003 4:54 pm

Tai1chi,
I too have heard of "looking through the opponents throat", a theory advocated by MYL. But Master Ma's theories are not always in line with Wu family accepted theory.
This particular theory was not supported by Wu's T'ai Chi Ch'uan Academy as of the time I left.
I have found "looking far" to work best for me. Only in issuance of fajing do I look directly where I wish the jing to go and then only for that split second that it takes.
I even find "looking far" to work beautifully when doing something as mundane as splitting firewood. I set, which includes looking far, then chop. I only concentrate on the specific area of the log I wish to hit as I make the swing and issue jing just as I make contact, then look away, back to "looking far", as I make my follow through and recovery. This helps me keep my balance, keeps me rooted and centered and allows for the most powerful strokes I can issue.
I can split more firewood in less time, by hand, than anyone else I know using this method. I rarely have to swing twice on one peice of wood.
My son used to think I was nuts, then I taught him how to do it and now it's the only way he'll split wood.
The lesson to him was NOT to look at that spot he wanted to hit until just before he hit it. If he concentrated on that spot as he set up, he often found himself stumbling forward during and after the swing. For all the reasons listed above, he found it much better to "look far", then gaze intently at the spot he was aiming for, only for that split second before impact, then "look far" as soon as impact was made. He doesn't stumble around anymore, no more "shaky legs" before during or after splitting.
It really does seem to work.
Every student I've ever trained had to learn this lesson, usually by trial and error. They, of course, do not listen at first but after a while they see how steady the people are who do it this way and finaly try it.

Just my own personal insights and experiences on this matter, for what they are worth.
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