Metaphors

Postby Yury Snisarenko » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:21 am

To Louis Swaim

Thank you for truly helpful explanation about flags and banners.

One more question. Does banner and flag in your opinion have cross-connection? I mean for example banner lines up the troops when flag shows the direction to move.

Thank you.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 20, 2003 11:28 pm

Greetings Yury,

That is a very good question. I am inclined to agree with Audi’s interpretation above, which implies a hierarchical chain of command. The commander>flag>banner imagery seems to be a restatement and elaboration of the opening statements in the ‘Shisan shi xin gong jie’ text: “Use the mind/heart to move the qi. . . . Use the qi to move the body.”

But military signal flags, one would think, also conveyed “intelligence” information on the field back to the commander. So, as you suggest, this is not unidirectional, but an interactive dynamic. Perhaps another line in the text sheds light on this: “The intent and the qi must exchange with skillful sensitivity.”

It is very difficult to say with certainty what the exact meaning of the flag/banner metaphor is. The military conventions and terminology changed a great deal through history, so it’s a mystery what the functions of “signal flag” and “directional banner” would be relative to one another. The word here rendered “directional banner” (du2) is not a very common word, so it’s difficult to know exactly what is being referenced here. However, if the metaphor is considered in the greater thematic context of the whole text, it is easier to grasp the meaning.

How is the taijiquan in Russia?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:02 am

Greetings Louis!

Thanks for elaboration. From above I can say that for me the main point in banners and flags is some type of connection between them. It may be chain connection or cross connection or something else. I believe only the practice can it make clear.

I would like to believe that Taiji in Russia is the way to develop PERSONAL conception about various things - from health improvement to social processes. And of course it is the way to find understanding between deferent peoples in deferent countries.

Have a good practice and please continue to share your thoughts!
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Nov 21, 2003 4:01 pm

Greetings Yury,

I agree with your view that there is a distinct connection between the banner and flag, but also cannot quite reach it. Perhaps in practise it will become clear, as you said.

I also like your perceptions on the ideas and ideals of Taijiquan. Expansive thoughts.

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby dorshugla » Fri Nov 21, 2003 4:32 pm

Per Qing dynasty militray regalia (if not mistaken) banner identified the unit, whereas flag may imply (do not recall) generically said banner), or depending on use, direction, location, warning, etc.

Flag obviously has many connotations.
I have found that trying to match I ching, etc with "esoteric" stuff like mind leading yi, or vice versa or mind is commander, etc creates more confusion for the beginning to intermediate learner. Th impetus is to train hard first, then get into the ohter stuff later.

This was Sun Lutang's path. I use him because he was the bridge (among the few) to have suffered the hardships while taking advantage of all that came his way. The benefits of training wiht the best of his day, his intellectual development and his bridge between the end of the QIng to the modern era.

Freedom to choose, noithing more.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Nov 22, 2003 11:03 pm

Hi dorshugla,

As far as I know, the Qing Manchu banner units used the Chinese designation “qi” meaning flag or banner. The Qing military were organized into eight principle divisions (ba qi), called banners because each had a banner/flag of a particular color. The other term, du2 (alternatively pronounced dao4), was not used, so far as I can tell, in the Qing military context. It’s a comparitively old and rare term. From what I can gather, it sometimes referred to the larger banners on the field, distinguished from the smaller signal flags.

I agree with your cautions about potential confusion regarding “esoteric stuff.” On the other hand, I find it interesting that you mention Sun Lutang, whose 1915 book on Xing Yi was the first publically published book to explain martial arts in philosophical terms. His taijiquan book was also quite generous in its philosophical references. Sun’s involvement with theory was in fact quite intensive, don’t you think?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Nov 22, 2003 11:10 pm

Greetings Yury,

You wrote: 'I would like to believe that Taiji in Russia is the way to develop PERSONAL conception about various things - from health improvement to social processes. And of course it is the way to find understanding between deferent peoples in deferent countries.'

That's a great statement! It's really a wonderful thing to know that taijiquan is an art with no borders, a much-needed sign of internationalism in this time.

I wish you well in your practice, and hope you'll bring more to the discussions here.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:21 pm

Louis,

In agreement. His concepts gave us the 'philosphiical" background that we frequent debate. His insights are clear especially when relating to practice, practice, practice.

I frequently read his biography and I learn something different each time.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:45 pm

Hi dorshugla,

May I ask where you read Sun Lutang's biography? I've read the one in Albert Liu's translation of Xingyi Quan Xue. Sun is a fascinating figure.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 7:47 pm

Louis,

While in Taiwan in the late 1970's, I came across a few books (in English) so I got to know more about him. Most recently, the former Paquazhang Journal had an updated version of his life.
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:04 am

I think Sun Lutan most clearly described the basic philosophical terms related to internal martial arts. Though I still didn’t find detailed explanation about such cardinal term in his teaching as YI QI. Even in Taiji Jidian (taiji vocabulary) there are only three sentences about yi qi copied from master Sun’s book on taiji quan. The relation between YI QI, usual QI and JIN still unclear for me.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Nov 26, 2003 6:16 pm

Greetings Yury,

Sun Lutang used the phrase “yi qi” very frequently in his book, _Taijiquan Xue_, as well as in his Xingyiquan book. He didn’t coin the phrase, of course. For example, the “Taijiquan Jing” used it in the line, “From the feet, to the legs, then to the waist, always there must be complete integration into one qi (wan quan yi qi).” Yang Chengfu quotes this line in his “Ten Essentials.” Sun seems to have an idiomatic take on the phrase, however, whose meaning is not clear to me. He states in _Taijiquan Xue_,

“Taiji is one qi, one qi is taiji. From the standpoint of theory, it is called taiji; from the standpoint of application, it is called one qi (yi ti yan, ze wei taiji; yi yong yan, ze wei yi qi).”

Here, Sun is employing the famous formula, “ti/yong,” first coined by the early thinker Wang Bi (226-249) and revived in the late imperial period which, depending on the context, can mean “theory/application,” “structure/function,” “essence/practical use,” etc. In taijiquan, the ‘ti’ sometimes refers to form practice, and the ‘yong’ to practical applications. Sun Lutang makes reference to many philosophical sources in his writings, including the Yi Jing, the Daodejing, Zhuangzi, Mengzi, etc., and his use of the words wuji and taiji seems to make reference to the neo-Confucian Zhou Dunyi’s vocabulary. To be honest, though, I haven’t studied Sun’s writings closely enough to grasp what he means by this “yi qi / taiji” formulation.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:50 am

Louis,

Thank you for one more useful excursus in taiji vocabulary/language. I tried to read chapters about wuji and taiji in xingyi quan xue in Chinese. I agree with you about Sun’s philosophical relation. I also believe that he used ancient word formulas he could get in Wudan mountain. And the most excellent thing is that he wrote it in accordance with personal experience.

Take care,
Yury
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