Resistance

Resistance

Postby Audi » Mon Sep 06, 2004 2:49 pm

Greetings all,

On my way to Taijiquan class a week ago, I tuned my radio to a station broadcasting a National Public Radio (NPR) called Sound & Spirit. The program was about spiritual resistance, and they were airing an interview with Steve Jackowicz about Taijiquan's attitiude towards resistance.

Jackowicz articulated quite a comprehensive and well-thought out theory of Taijiquan and how it relates physically, emotionally, and spiritually to everyday life. I differ with him on various points, but his view was so compelling that I thought it worth sharing.

In my opinion, both Jackowicz's interview and the entire one-hour program are well worth listening to. It was broadcast during the week of August 29, 2004 and can be accessed by clicking here.. You will then have to scroll down to the proper week and click on "listen." If you do not already have Real Player, you will have to download the free software from the top of the page.

At about minute 13:50, the program talks about some related language from the Daodejing, talking about water, yielding, etc. At about minute 16:50, the interview with Steve Jackowicz begins. RealOne Player allows you to scroll to the precise second of the program you want to listen to.

If you cannot bear to listen to the program, you can order a transcript of the entire program at the same location. You can also read a transcript of just the interview at the same place or by clicking here. In my opinion, both the interviewer, Ellen Kushner, and Steve Jackowicz, the interviewee, have wonderful speaking skills. Listening to the interview is much more inspiring than just reading the cold words on the page.

If anyone reads or listens to the program or interview, I would be curious about your reactions. I have not yet been able to listen to every component of the broadcast, but liked just about everything I heard. I am especially curious if Jackowicz' views are generally held.

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 09-06-2004).]
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Postby gene » Mon Sep 06, 2004 9:00 pm

Audi:

I continue to have a lot of trouble with the resistance concept. I never know how much "presence" to apply in push hands, and, as a result, when I play with someone who uses a fair amount of force, I usually end up in a sumo match. I do think that the comments about yielding in this interview are at a very basic level. I'm not sure that "not being there at all" is really the ultimate goal. When I have played with high level people, I definitely feel their "expansion through relaxation," and vice versa. If pressure is applied to the left side, for example, that side does absorb the incoming force but also expands through the fingers. Meanwhile the right side also expands in a relaxed fashion. The combination of these factors causes my low back to close and results in discomfort/uprooting. If the left side were simply "emptied," with nothing more, I don't think the effect would be as profound. I too am interested in all views on this subject, especially on the correct amount of presence. For awhile I was experimenting with the concept of no resistance at all, so that when a partner first touched me I would try to disappear from under them. That often resulted in them pitching forward (and on occasion complaining to me that I was not playing push hands and was offering no couterattack), but I came to believe that there is much more to be discovered. I also remember a spirited push hands session that you and I had several years ago, where whenever I touched you,you would give me a forceful shove and knock me backwards. I'm still not real clear on how to deal with that kind of force, but I suspect that the solution lies in the legs and waist, and the concept of relaxation/expansion and vice versa.

Gene
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Sep 07, 2004 4:58 am

I read the transcript. I think it was ok as a very general introduction to taiji for newbies. There is some oversimplification there. As you know there is quite a bit of elaboration in the art about sticking, following, etc. These don't just amount to non-resistance. I don't claim to be any great shakes at push hands, but the good players I know do not just melt away, they put up a certain resistance. Sometimes it's a tricky resistance which falls away, having lured you into pushing and falling into nothing. They yield but they also guide and redirect, so this is not all passivity and going with the flow. A bit airy-fairy and conflating Daoism with taiji.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 09-07-2004).]
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Tue Sep 07, 2004 5:13 am

Greetings Audi,

Thank you for the link. The timbre of voices, the music … it was very nice to listen seating home in rainy night.

I understand and accept his main concept against stupid resistance. It leads to nothing, to wasting of time in Taiji quan. In my practice and daily life I figured out that there are two kind of resistance. The first one is stupid tensed resistance. It leads to losing of energy through tension or negative emotions. The second one is appropriate not tensed resistance that based on inner filling of integrity and righteousness.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gene:
<B>
When I have played with high level people, I definitely feel their "expansion through relaxation," and vice versa. If pressure is applied to the left side, for example, that side does absorb the incoming force but also expands through the fingers. Meanwhile the right side also expands in a relaxed fashion. The combination of these factors causes my low back to close and results in discomfort/uprooting. If the left side were simply "emptied," with nothing more, I don't think the effect would be as profound.
Gene</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Gene, I found one thing for me which works well in such cases. If you can easily switch left side and right side position (i.e. forward leg) by lively agile (linghuo) movements/rotation of the waist (yao) you'll find yourself more stable and at the same time more relaxed in process of dealing with opponents attack. In my humble understanding it's what taiji classics call "de ji de shi" – ability to "seize the opportunity and the positional advantage".

Take care,
Yuri
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Postby gene » Tue Sep 07, 2004 7:11 pm

Yuri:

Many thanks. I will definitely try this and report back.

Gene
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Sep 07, 2004 7:31 pm

Greetings,

I read the transcript too. I’m always interested to see how taijiquan is presented in popular media. I think there’s a big challenge to getting a message across in that kind of context. Overall, I think it was pretty good. In fact, I found the remarks about what yielding is, and is not, and the notion of “integrity” kind of compelling.

There were a few technical matters that bugged me. I suppose by, “settling the ji” he meant, “sinking the qi.” Then there was the mis-identification of the haiku by Basho (Japanese poet, 1644-94), about seeing the moon after a hut burned down as a “Chinese folk saying.”

Oh well.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Wed Sep 08, 2004 1:56 pm

"So this is the idea that it carries over into life - nobody keeps score, but everyone's afraid of losing."

Great line.

My 2p regarding resistance, for what it's worth, is that I often find that the way of least resistance actually appears to be the most, for want of a better word, aggressive approach.

I.E. I had a problem with a new member of staff continually turning up 5 minutes late - the way of least resistance may seem to be to ignore it (after all, in the context of things it's not terribly important), but in reality the path of least resistance is to deal with it head-on, imediately. Left unchecked, 5 minutes becomes 10, or perhaps other staff members think 'If he can, I can', or possibly the new guy decides that if he can take small liberties without any comeback, maybe he'll try and push the envelope and see what he can get away with. End result, big problem, lots of resistance.

The river mostly follows its path down to the sea, but sometimes it has to burst its banks to cut new paths and find more efficient ways down...
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Sep 08, 2004 7:57 pm

WB,
It sounds like what you're saying is one good defense is a swift, incapacitating offense?
In some cases, I would have to agree.
I have often heard that T'ai Chi Ch'uan embraces both hard and soft, so...
In your case as presented though, having worked in employee management for over twenty years (actually what my college degree is in, how I ended up working with these miserable, cantankerous, ugly, stupid computers is still a mystery to me.... But I digress) I found that the concept of yeilding works very nicely.
Yeild that employee those five minutes in the morning.
In fact, yeild him the rest of his natural life...
As long as he does it elsewhere.
So you see, yeilding can be very offensive. You'll yeild and he'll be highly offended.
Lead him to an empty space, that in which there is no longer employment at your firm, and you will have yeilded and conqured.



[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 09-08-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Sep 08, 2004 9:05 pm

For me the five minutes in and of itself isn't determining. Five minutes would be meaningless if the guy is very valuable. If not it might be a good excuse to get rid of him.
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Postby bamboo leaf » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:08 am

There seems to be some confusion on what resistance is, these are my views.
It’s the inability to change. Some one who can change really well offers no place to apply force or pressure to.

Level or ability of ting jing determines the lightness of the touch needed to determine the change needed.

(If pressure is applied to the left side, for example, that side does absorb the incoming force but also expands through the fingers. Meanwhile the right side also expands in a relaxed fashion. The combination of these factors causes my low back to close and results in discomfort/uprooting. If the left side were simply "emptied," with nothing more, I don't think the effect would be as profound)

You feel this because you’re late with the idea of being able to change. Its more then just feeling the physical pressure. You must be able to sense the yi or intent of the other and not allow them to detect your own center.

If you are unable to do this you will always be late. Advanced players don’t really push they just follow the change once the others center has been located. This accounts for some of the demos where one is seen trying to catch their balance from what looks like a push.

Actually what has happened is that their center had been moved far away followed by the physical action of the push. They are just trying to catch something that has already happened.

i post on other sites under bamboo leaf, my name is david i hope others dont mind me keeping the name here.


[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 09-09-2004).]
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:46 am

Greetings BL

Welcome to the forum.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by bamboo leaf:
Its more then just feeling the physical pressure. You must be able to sense the yi or intent of the other and not allow them to detect your own center. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree completely, this is what taiji tuishou is all about and naturally not easy for beginners to do.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Advanced players don’t really push they just follow the change once the others center has been located. This accounts for some of the demos where one is seen trying to catch their balance from what looks like a push.

Actually what has happened is that their center had been moved far away followed by the physical action of the push. They are just trying to catch something that has already happened. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

These words seem to be too complicated for my understanding. I think I've grasped your main idea but am not sure. Are you trying "to push" right to opponent's center [line] only?

Take care

Yuri
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:10 am

Wu,

>>It sounds like what you're saying is one good defense is a swift, incapacitating offense?<<

Yep, in certain cirumstances I absolutely believe that. My old headteacher was a former marine and I remember him telling me that the one piece of advice that stuck with him from his training days was 'If you are in a situation where conflict is absolutely unavoidable, strike first'. My Wing Chun instructors were of the same mind and my very limited Tai Chi experience is reinforcing that at the moment.
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:21 pm

Greetings WB, Wushuer

>>It sounds like what you're saying is one good defense is a swift, incapacitating offense?

Yep, in certain cirumstances I absolutely believe that. If you are in a situation where conflict is absolutely unavoidable, strike first.<<

How does it correlate with the following statement?

"[If he] moves quickly, then [I] respond quickly;
[If he] moves slowly, then follow slowly."
(c) Wang Zongyue

Aren't they in contrary to each other?

Take care

Yuri
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:56 pm

Yuri,
Did you read what WB and I posted? If a confrontation "absolutely unavoidable", is what was said. I, at least, only know a confrontatin is "unavoidable" after my opponent has made his decision to strike, not before.
So no, no conrtradiction at all.
The confrontation is happening, you get there first is all. "If my opponent moves, I move first", is another way I've heard this translated.
If your listening jing reports that your opponent is going to strike, and you are sensitive enough to feel his intention and know where his center is, then you are merely responding to his intention. You get there first.
This is still defense, you are still following the intention of your opponent. Like I said, one good "DEFENSE" is an incapacitating offense.
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:55 pm

Well, now I understood you. It's somewhat like "If he strikes first in his mind, I strike first in reality."

Not easy to accomplish right. However sometimes opponent's intent to strike is really obvious.
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