Looking Far

Postby tai1chi » Wed Feb 05, 2003 7:06 pm

Hi Wushuer,

as I said, Ma's way of looking may have been his personal approach. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, actually. I never defend one "line" or the other, not that Ma's needs any from me, and I certainly can't speak for any. What I can say is that different teachers have different methods. And, these can be examined s they are without reference to the source. Anyway, I don't disagree with "looking far" or the things you described in your last post. I'm not so sure that they're specific to tcc, but I'm certain they are present.
Best,
Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Feb 05, 2003 10:52 pm

No, please don't "keep your mouth shut". That is why we are here, to compare and discuss. What fun would this be if everyone agreed all the time?
MYL is a big name in Wu style, however he has, from time to time, come out with some things that don't march in line with the "official" policies of WTTCA.
That does not make them wrong or bad in any way, just different from what the Wu family school teaches.
I have been receiving a lot of feedback from Disciples and students of the Wu family schools in recent weeks regarding my "crossing over" to YCFS TCC.
Many good things are said about YCFS TCC, though there is some good natured ribbing, naturally. All have high praise for Yang Zhenduo and say his Tai Chi is absolutely top notch stuff.
Mostly we have been re-hashing the things I've gone on (and on, and on) about here on this site. They, however, are asking me for a lot of the same answers I've been seeking here.
"How do you step lightly and agiley without 100/0 seperation?", "Why unweighted pivots?", "Why do they push the heel back instead of pulling the toe forward when they reset the heel? (OK, I haven't asked that one yet, I think I've figured it out for myself)", "Why do they step backwards to their toe in RM?".
These kinds of things are "different" between the styles and so lead to a lot of legitimate questions. I don't believe either way is "better" or that one is "wrong" and the other "right". These are the very things I have been fighting with, hard, for the last year and change in my YCFS training.
When I was in the position of teaching beginners NAWSTCC, I often had students who "came over" from Yang schools (even some from the YCF Center just up the road, though I had no idea that's what it was at the time) and they used to ask me why we would step back to the heel instead of the toe, why did we drag our toe forward instead of backward when resetting, why did we lean so much, why didn't we step in to our center before we stepped out. I would patiently explain to them the reasons for these things, without really giving the flip side any thought.
In other words, I know the answers coming the OTHER way, I don't know the answers or the reasons for THIS way.
Now I am finding out. Slowly and with much fighting, cursing and wonderment.
Hopefully I can "empty the glass" that is more than half full in my mind and accept these theories from this school for what they are.
It is infinitely easier to learn a style without prejudice from another entering in. Unfortunately I spent a long time practicing hard in another style and so am not in that enviable position of being able to say "OK, I'll just do it that way" without asking why.
I wish I could, but that's not the way it is for me. I have to ask the questions to get my brain to go past it's preconditioned responses.
I guess maybe I'm just getting old and stubborn.
If you must know, this is really fun for me and I enjoy the back and forth of it. That's why I'm here so much, doing my best to glean a bit of info as to the why of it.
I enjoy it.
So don't worry about saying things that may be a bit contreversial, it can only lead to more dialogue, which will lead to more understanding.

"I'm not good yet, I need to practice"
Not only YCF, but me, every day.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Feb 06, 2003 12:19 am

Hi Steve,

> And, regardless of what is written, I don't think you --or anyone else-- looks at his or her feet when stepping. <

I agree, but I'm not sure why you said this.

> 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. <

OK, maybe the average person may not be mindful of what he/she is doing. I see the points.

> 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." <

The same is true for driving. Part of it is: if it takes you five seconds to correctly react to something, you better at least be looking where you'll be in 5 seconds.

> Indeed, in cycling, if you look at a pothole, you'll steer to it. <

Maybe you will. Not in my experience.

> In any case, I think the gist of the this discussion is really about "where the eyes should gaze, the majority of the time." <

I must've missed that. I thought that exceptions needed to be noted.

> 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 agree, that would be a mistake, and that's not how I meant it.

I hope this clarifies what I mean.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Michael » Thu Feb 06, 2003 4:05 am

To all,

This little question I asked has taken on quite a life on it's own. I agree with all the reasons about where and how to "gaze" that you all have mentioned.

I tried it again, and if there is any prolonged looking down or is repeated frequently, my center of gravity still rises. So I don't do it. The exact phenomena I still can't describe in physiological terms but that is OK, I accept that it does happen. The direction of my gaze is responsible for the result. Like Steve I am very cautious about using words like "chi" so I won't. I know what I feel but don't describe it with words---maybe if I was Chinese it would be easier. I am more comfortable with structural and mechanical language. I think it less subject to mis understanding.

What Steve says is true about looking at a pot hole and steering towards it. When driving a car if you look to one side of the other for any prolonged time(hopefully not too long) looking out the window or maybe looking for a CD or changing the radio station, one will either turn the wheel gradually to that side or in the opposite direction. The direction probably has to do with dominant side and/or which hand is on the wheel, and maybe where. I don't expect to experiment with this, so don't fear meeting me on the Interstate. Past experience has given me all the data I need.

If you look down infrequently to check where you are stepping there really is not problem (except in any "combat" situation) but I think it is very unnecessary. I don't know about you, but my feet tell me all I need to know about the ground ---usually.

Questions and more questions. I look forward to many more. I have enough of my own and can't think of them all....I know wushuer will help me out!

Thanks



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 02-05-2003).]
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Feb 06, 2003 4:24 am

Hi David J.,

gee, I did a poor job of explaining that I understood what you meant, though I thought the words could be misconstrued. Anyway, the whole discussion led me to look at pictures of YCF doing the form, as in the "snake creeps down" pictured on the website. for ex.

Regards,
Steve James
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Feb 06, 2003 7:59 pm

Hi Steve,

I understand. Thanks.

Somewhere on this thread is a mention of where to look during 'Needle to the Bottom of the Sea,' I was taught to look at a spot directly in front about 35 feet away. I suspect that this will differ in different styles/schools.

David J
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Postby Michael » Thu Feb 06, 2003 10:36 pm

David,

I mentioned Needle at Sea bottom. I don't think I said look AT the ground. I only meant the angle of vision is at a more downward angle. I would say that my vision is probably focused out the same distance as yours. I hope that clears that up.

Michael
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Feb 07, 2003 1:04 am

Hi Michael,

Yes, it does.

Thanks,

David J
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Feb 15, 2003 8:37 am

Greetings All,

I’ve enjoyed reading this thread about eye usage in the form. Horacio and I exchanged some emails about this topic.

I had some thoughts about Peter Lim’s translation of Yang Zhenji’s passage about eye usage. Peter got the gist of it, but the sticky point, as I see it, is a tendency in English to read “follow” as having to do with sequentiality, as in, “X happens, THEN Y follows.” While the Chinese word “sui” can mean this, in the Yang Zhenji passage it has more the meaning of “comply with,” “accord with,” or “conform with.” So it describes movement that is concurrent and in accord, rather than movement that is independent.

Here’s my version of a couple paragraphs from the Yang Zhenji passage:

~~~
“The eyes look forward levelly. Under normal circumstances, the eyes look forward levelly, looking through the forward hand and extending outward—engaging the hand, but not looking at it rigidly. There are also circumstances when the eyes look forward and downward, and must accord with the specific posture, the specific movement of the principal hand, and a specifically determined orientation of the gaze.”

“The expressive gaze of the eyes is situated within the dynamics of the movements. The principle of the turning of the eyes complies with the body’s methods. When the body moves, the eyes comply. When the body is turned toward a given direction, the eyes gaze toward that direction. The motions of taijiquan continuously advance forward and retreat back, or turn to left and right, yet this advancing and retreating, turning left and right, in all cases relies on the waist’s leading of the turning movements. The ‘looking both left and right’ (zuo gu you pan) of the eyes should comply in their turnings with the turning of the waist.”
~~~

So, the gaze of the eyes must comply with the orientation of the waist, and not move independently of the waist’s movement. I don’t think this means strictly, “first the waist moves, and THEN the eyes move.” They move together, and not in isolation. It also does not mean that the eyes follow in fixed alignment with with the waist’s orientation. This is where the traditional notion of “zuo gu you pan” comes into play.

Fu Zhongwen discusses eye usage in his book (pp. 43-44 in my translation). He writes, for example, “As a movement approaches completion, the eyes must always move in the direction slightly in advance of the completed point of arrival of the hand, thereby manifesting ‘use the eyes to lead the hands.’ That is, the eyes must become the representatives of the mind, and as such, must integrate the concept of ‘first in the mind, then in the body.’ ”

While he speaks of the eyes being “slightly in advance” of the arrival point, I don’t think this contradicts the idea of the eyes being in accord with the waist. The waist drives all of the movement, including the movement of the eyes.

Horacio wrote to me with some excellent observations he made of Yang Zhenduo’s eye usage in the Brush Knee Twist Step sequence. Maybe he’ll post those observations here. I think they would be quite helpful for illustrating the lively scanning motion of the eyes that is essential to an integrated form.

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 02-24-2003).]
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Postby laopei » Sat Feb 15, 2003 6:31 pm

Hello friends: This is Laopei=Horacio.

I consulted with louis about the accuracy of the translation I had posted earlier.
I wanted to answer David’s comment on 02-04-2003
David had said:
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.

Louis send me a reminder of what Fu Zhongwen had said about the eyes:

FZW said:
“As a movement approaches completion, the eyes must
always move in the direction slightly in advance of the completed point of
arrival of the hand, thereby manifesting ‘use the eyes to lead the hands,’
that is the eyes must become the representatives of the mind, and as such,
must integrate the concept of ‘first in the mind, then in the body.’ ”


and Louis added:
While he speaks of the eyes being “slightly in advance” of the arrival
point, I don’t think this contradicts the idea of the eyes being in accord
with the waist. The waist drives all of the movement, including the movement
of the eyes.
What do you think?
louis


Horacio answered:
I agree and I really jumped up and down when I saw: " ....he speaks of the eyes being “slightly in advance” of the arrival point"....
Here is how it fits with what I see YZD doing -for example- in brush knee and push.
Your observation of Fu's writing about the eyes helped me understand something I was seeing but could not explain to myself.

If we could look at the same video i have in front of me it would be easier to agree by looking at this together. I don't know if you have a 3 tape video series from Shanxi Province Government about YZD. The covers are red with pictures of Yang Luchan and YZD and Yang Jun.
The video has a history part at the beginning -showing Yluchan home,- now a museum-; the grave of Yang chengfu, etc. After the intro, we see Yzhenduo doing a few isolated moves where the use of the eyes is very evident: he does "deflect, parry and punch" and later "brush knee and push". This is the one I would like to describe.

I assume you have YZD english book. Let's use it for reference: Form 7 Brush knee, starting on page 54.
On page 55 there are 2 pictures: fig. 40 and 41. Let's call left hand position: "#1"; and right hand position: #2
Then comes the finish posture in fig 42. -page 56.

WE WILL have to imagine figure 41& 1/2. That is: after the left leg has taken a step landing with heel and with the toes up (fig 41).
I will describe now the “imaginary” Fig41&1/2.
The waist will turn from right to left, the toes will touch down and grab the floor and the left hand -following the waist will move - in an arc from right (hand position #1) to left, downward and forward to a point in front of were the left knee will be in a few seconds when we finish shifting weight forward.
Let's call that point (in front of where the knee will be, aligned slightly outside the left knee, but before weight has shifted forward) left hand position #3.
During that time the right arm would have bend more inward towards a line in front of right shoulder (ready to push as we shift weight forward) Lets call that position: #4.
Then shifting weight forward we pull the left hand towards side of left knee (as the left knee moves forward) and push right hand to front with palm erect. -as in Figure 42.
Let's call left hand position: #5 and right hand position: # 6. Whoahhh... we are ready to start

Ok: in Fig 40 he looks at right hand, position #2.
In fig. 41 he takes a step still looking at position #2. (the body moved first)
in the imagined fig 41&1/2 as he moves turning from right to left, putting toes down, etc. I see him doing the following:

As the waist turns the eyes move from right hand (#2) to following the movement of the left arm/hand from right to left and
here is the BiG observation: At some point the eyes move faster past the left hand (as the left hand is moving still towards the left) and look and arrive at point #3 before the left hand arrives there.
All this things can be observed:
He has followed the turning of the waist.
He has follow with his eyes the left hand leftward and downward.
He has moved ahead of the left hand and arrived with his eyes at (imagined) #3 position. Then left hand arrives at point #3.

Then, continuing, -as the right hand pushes forward towards the completed posture-:
The left hand is pull back towards the left knee (hand position # 5) and
I see YZD looking at the right hand as it enters his field of vision (as the right hand pushes forward towards position #6) and then, again the eyes move ahead towards where the right hand will be when the posture is completed (hand position #6). Then right hand arrives at position # 6.
While in general terms one could say "he looks to the front", a more careful look shows us he scanned the whole front from right to down left and then back to front right. He is not looking just straight ahead but slightly right at the end of posture (figure 42)

I hope this makes sense to you and may trigger more observations.
Horacio

To this, Louis replied: Quote...
It is indeed very clear what Yang Zhenduo is doing with his eyes, and it seems to fit quite well with what Fu speaks of. In fact, your remark,.....
 
"While in general terms one could say "he looks to the front", a more careful look shows us he scanned the whole front front right to down left and then back to front right. he is not looking just straight ahead but slightly right."
 
......captures, I think, what is really meant in the classical expression, "zou gu you pan" or "looking both left and right." It is a an active scanning that alternates between, and includes, both field and focus.
 
I hope you'll post these observations. Great stuff!
 
Take care,
Louis
(end of quote)

I find louis observation very important so I took the liberty of adding it here since:

quote...." what is really meant in the classical expression, "zou gu you pan" or "looking both left and right." It is a an active scanning that alternates between, and includes, both field and focus."
end of Louis quote.

synthesizes the most important point about "how to use the eyes in Yang Style form practice"
Thank you Louis.
horacio

[This message has been edited by laopei (edited 02-15-2003).]

[This message has been edited by laopei (edited 02-15-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Mon Feb 17, 2003 5:41 am

I thank you both.

My best,

Michael
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Feb 19, 2003 1:15 am

Hi Louis and Horacio,

Thank you for expressing well what I could only point at.

Regards,

David J
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Feb 23, 2003 5:21 pm

Hi DavidJ, laopei, Louis, and all,

the discussion of "looking far" has led to the issue of "zou gu you pan" or "looking both left and right". I wondered if this was also related to the Thirteen "shi". Somewhere along the line, I'm a bit confused. Is the intent of "looking" connected to posture/disposition or 'looking', as in viewing? And, I'm really curious to know if you think that "looking" and "gazing" are different, or is "look left; look right" is just as good, though perhaps not as poetic? Anybody have a clear explanation?

Best,
Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Feb 24, 2003 12:31 am

Greetings Steve, et al.,

The expression "zuo gu you pan” is another of those four-character phrases that is so common in Chinese, and is not confined to its taiji meaning. Most commonly, it’s just a picturesque way of saying "look to the left and to the right.” The two different verbs, gu for "to look, to turn the head and look,” and pan for "to gaze” are just used, I think, to give the phrase color and variety. The verb "pan” sometimes has a more figurative connotation, as in "looking to the future,” or "looking with anticipation,” so the expression may connote looking that is both "vision” and "attitude.” I’ve found a number of different usages, a few of which have negative connotations, such as "inattentive,” "lack of concentration,” or "cheating on exams,” but more often the meaning of "zuo gu you pan” is positive, referring to an all-inclusive attentiveness, or careful and meticulous observation. This is most likely the meaning that informs the taiji expression.

I’ve done a quick translation below of the entry for ‘zuo gu you pan’ from the Dictionary of Essential Taijiquan Terminology (jingxuan taijiquan cidian, Beijing, 1998), followed by the entry for ‘gu pan.’ Please don’t consider either the translations or the content as definitive, as I think there are probably many interpretations of these concepts.

~~~
Zuo Gu You Pan: [Refers to] the changing aspects of motion when doing the movement training of taijiquan.
1. Leftward movement is "gu,” rightward movement is "pan.”
2. Form (xing, i.e., frame, physical shape, or body) movement is "gu,” intent (yi) movement is "pan.”
3. Movement (dong) is "gu,” stillness (jing) is "pan.” This refers to the correlative polarity (duili tongyi) of taijiquan movement. "Gu” and "Pan” each are one of the Thirteen Efficacious Dispositions.

Gu Pan: A term of art in taijiquan. Taijiquan is a type of holistic art (zhengti de yishu). During practice the expression and the intent should echo one another within and without, and must be conjoined and correlated within the movements. Gu Pan thus indicates this sort of condition where intention and form are mutually entailed.
~~~

This all sounds a bit vague and obscure to me, and it is difficult to reconcile these entries with the notion of "zuo gu” and "you pan” as elements of the "five phases,” as actual footwork, or in particular as "postures” within the Thirteen Postures -- another reason I prefer "dispositions.” Still, the reference to correlative polarity within the notion of zuo gu you pan is very interesting to me. In fact, this is what really grabbed my attention in Horacio’s observations about Yang Zhenduo’s eye movement in the Brush Knee Twist Step sequence. The kind of active scanning required involves a constant integration of focus and field, which I would consider an important but often overlooked kind of polarity in our practice. I think, also, that this is what Yang Zhenduo was addressing in his advice, as quoted by Horacio, to avoid a stiff or a "dead look” in the expression.

Take care,
Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 02-23-2003).]
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Postby tai1chi » Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:30 am

Hi Louis,

thanks for the translation. I guess one possible reconciliation between the general or Cma connotation and the one specific to the 13 shi might be through saying "looking to the left," "gazing to the right." At least that makes them sound more like actions rather than "postures" --ok, dispositions. I think you and Horacio are clearly right that this scanning is linked to the waist movement. Then again, even when turning to the right, one should be aware of the left, no? Anyway, thanks again.
Regards,
Steve James
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