The Thirteen Postures of Taijiquan

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:26 pm

Greetings Audi,

You wrote, ‘In the latter three works, there is nothing that I can find that implies a contrast between “releasing” and “emitting” Jin. These texts all agree on likening “emitting/issuing Jin” (“fa1 Jin1”) to “releasing an arrow” (“fang4 jian4”). I, personally, am unaware of any separate term of art called “releasing Jin,” except in a few works that may result from choices of translation. Whenever I have read references to “releasing,” I have always presumed that they are talking about what I would call “emitting” or “issuing,” although perhaps with a slightly different viewpoint or a slightly different theory behind it.’

I think you’re right. I’ll have to look at some of Li Yiyu’s writings; I recall that he uses the verb “fang” more than once, but I don’t recall ever seeing a compound, “fangjin.” As I recall, Li uses the verb for the action of “releasing” or “launching” an opponent. In one document he separately refers to “ti” (lifting) as a prerequisite for “fang” (releasing). This may well be the locus classicus for the concept named by the compound term “tifang,” which refers to severing the opponent’s root and launching them away. I’ve never found the compound term “tifang” in a classical context, but some traditions, including Zheng Manqing’s, make frequent reference to the term.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby tai1chi » Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:02 am

Hi,

re: the "ball holding". Fwiw, I think the idea of "rounding" the kwa is pretty standard cma theory, whether a particular teacher says it explicitly or not. I wouldn't say that it is unique to CMC style or Jou's teachings. Although the specific metaphor of a ball may not be traditional to Yang style language, clearly there is an emphasis on circles and circularity. I also seem to remember, though it may be unrelated, that some Chen style practitioners talk of the "18 loci", which might be described as little balls at each of the joint. Sorry, I can't recall the source of that, but it should turn up in a google search.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Audi » Sat Nov 15, 2003 6:44 pm

Greetings all:

Louis, thanks for sharing your views. Sometimes I wonder if I am alone way out on a limb and appreciate any confirmation or course corrections that can be offered. Thanks also for reminding me of
Tifang. I had forgotten about this possible connection that “Fang” could have and look forward to hearing if you dig up anything bearing on the particular terminology issues that Psalchemist has raised.

Steve, I agree completely that rounding the crotch is a basic concept. It is something that the Yangs definitely and explicitly teach.

My issue is with the universality of the image of “holding a ball” and with some of the energy relationship this concept often implies. For instance, some who do this practice talk about connecting “energy” or Qi between the Laogong points in the palms, perhaps by cultivating the sensation of squeezing a ball of energy between the palms. Regardless of whether this is a helpful or authentic practice, I believe that it conflicts with important aspects of the Yangs methods and that to introduce it into the Yangs’ form is unwise.

I do not think of myself as a rigid purest and actually use many concepts in my performance of the Yangs’ forms that I did not receive directly from them. As I do this, however, I try to make sure that I do not introduce anything that I know to be inconsistent with anything they teach, regardless of how important the practice or concept may be to the methods of others. I feel quite strongly about the advisability of proceeding in this way and would be surprised if you disagree.

I have mentioned the concept of “holding the ball,” because there are many, many aspects of this practice that I believe to be in direct conflict with both the internal and external practice of the Yangs’ form. Again, if you or anyone else disagrees, I would be curious to know some of the details of why.

If I do some of the other forms I have learned (something I now rarely do), I have no objection at all to concepts such as “holding the ball,” because such forms involve or are based on other methods. I find that the approaches of certain teachers, such as the Yangs and Jou Tsung Hwa, to be radically different, even though on the surface they may seem similar. I believe it is impossible to practice form in a way that could simultaneously satisfy even the basic approaches of either.

Let me make clear that I am not trying to assert who is “right” and who is “wrong.” However tempting such discussions can be, I have increasingly found them to be singularly unrewarding, distracting, and confusing. I am merely trying to be honest and clear about what my experience has been, since I feel that I would have benefited from the mere hint of such possibilities earlier in my study of Taijiquan.

By the way, Steve, do you use “holding the ball” imagery in your main practice? Were you taught this?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:07 pm

Hi Audi,

"Steve, I agree completely that rounding the crotch is a basic concept. It is something that the Yangs definitely and explicitly teach."

Yes, I think it is basic to cma.

"My issue is with the universality of the image of “holding a ball” and with some of the energy relationship this concept often implies."

Ok, I completely agree that the "holding the ball" image is neither universal or necessary. But, I'm agreeing that the specific words are unnecessary. The phrase, or teaching instruction, "like holding a ball" is relatively modern, imwo. I'd say it was introduced fairly recently to help beginners' hand position in parts of the Beijing form. However, there is probably an older use of a "taijiqiu" (tai chi ball) in Chen style, and I believe the idea may not be to teach hand-positions, but to make students aware of the effects of coordinated, circular movement.

"For instance, some who do this practice talk about connecting “energy” or Qi between the Laogong points in the palms, perhaps by cultivating the sensation of squeezing a ball of energy between the palms."

I'm not an "energy"-based practitioner, in the sense of "Qi" energy. I think you're describing "squeezing", and that "energy" can be applied --but I'm not talking about "energetically"; I mean physically. The particular accupoints are not relevant.

"Regardless of whether this is a helpful or authentic practice, I believe that it conflicts with important aspects of the Yangs methods and that to introduce it into the Yangs’ form is unwise."

Well, I would never argue that their curriculrm "needs" new terminology. Though, I'm not sure if the idea is antithetical to the Yang practice unless it is applied in a dogmatic way.

"I do not think of myself as a rigid purest and actually use many concepts in my performance of the Yangs’ forms that I did not receive directly from them. As I do this, however, I try to make sure that I do not introduce anything that I know to be inconsistent with anything they teach, regardless of how important the practice or concept may be to the methods of others."

Well, I have known "traditionalists" who would not consider themselves "purists." They would say "not change, not add, not take away." At the same time, they would do scientific and medical studies on what they did and the effects of tcc practice. Personally, I think I've heard the teacher's words so many times that I teach by repeating them. Nope, I don't use "hold the ball" except as an mnemonic device if I'm teaching the Beijing forms --which I really don't do.
However, I do happen to agree with the concepts that "the ball" implies, and I do demonstrate those.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Nov 16, 2003 9:40 pm

Greetings Audi,

After reviewing some texts, I’ve discovered that I was wrong about there being no compound, “fangjin.” One conspicuous occurrence is in Chen Weiming’s Taijiquan Da Wen (Answers to Questions about Taijiquan). You can find it in the Lo/Smith translation, pp. 37-38 for reference, but it leaves out some of the original wording that I find revealing. Here’s how I render it:

Q: “What is meant by tijin (lifting jin)?” A: “When adhering to the opponent’s arm, if he uses force to turn it upward, I then follow its upward motion, causing his heels to lift up. This is called tijin.”
Q: “What is meant by fangjin (releasing jin)?” A: When the opponent’s heels lift up and his body becomes unstable, [I] then follow the direction of his leaning tendency (qing1 ce4) and release him (fang). Thus with but little exertion of strength (hao bu feili), he will stumble away a good distance (die chu bi yuan). This is called fangjin. In the taijiquan treatises it says, ‘Store energy (xu jin) as though drawing a bow. Issue energy (fa jin) as though releasing an arrow (fang jian).’ When the opponent has been lifted up, my jin is already stored. [I then] follow his direction, sinking soundly, loosening completely, then let him go (qu) as though releasing an arrow. Sunzi says: ‘Strategic advantage (shi) is like a drawn crossbow and timing is like releasing the trigger (fa ji).’ This is precisely the meaning.”

Chen evidently uses the word fang more or less synonymously with fa. Note that Chen clearly implies that the lifting (ti) is prerequisite to releasing (fang), hence the the term, “tifang” often used to refer to the action of breaking the opponent’s root and launching them.

As I’ve noted, I’ve never seen the compound “tifang” in any classical documents, but Li Yiyu uses the terms “ti” and “fang” separately in the the third section of his “Five Key Words,” with a similar implication of one being a prerequisite for the other. Chen Weiming, incidently, integrates some of Li’s wording from that section into his own commentary on “The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures.”

Take care,
Louis
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Nov 16, 2003 10:46 pm

Greetings Steve,

My penny's worth...

Steve, you said:
<Nope, I don't use "hold the ball" except as a mnemonic device if I'm teaching the Beijing form...I do happen to agree with the concepts that "the ball" implies, and I do demonstrate those.> Steve

<I'm not sure if the idea is antithetical to the Yang practice unless it is applied in a dogmatic way.> Steve


As a beginner I found the concept assistful in seeking out general curves and circularity, amongst the other points you mentionned. It is not something I would employ 'intentionally' into my form practice
, but rather as an instrumental device for studying the subtleties of the form and for explaining certain points to new students without becoming too involved in complex circularity and opening theories. Also, I agree Steve, that unless something is taken to a dogmatic degree, a tool used sparingly could only be sparingly detrimental to the results.


Also you stated:
<I have known "traditionalists" who would not consider themselves "purists". They would say "Not change, not add, not take away". At the same time, they would do scientific and medical studies on what they did, and the effects of TCC practice.> Steve

Image Thanks for providing your experience.

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Nov 16, 2003 11:24 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thank-you for providing explanations for "lifting" and "releasing". Very insightful. Image

Do you or anyone else know if the posture "Shan Tong Bei", in any style, would contain a similar process of "lift" and "release" as an application?

Or would these two methods be considered equivalent to the "extra" hand skills such as Zhan,Lian, Sui etc..? and used in combination with any posture.

Any connection possible between "TIFANG" and "Shan Tong Bei"?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-16-2003).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Nov 16, 2003 11:56 pm

Greetings Psalchemist,

Theoretically, tifang could be employed in any number of situations, including with Shan Tong Bei. I believe you asked a similar question about fajin. In my understanding, fajin is not confined to any specific movements or postures. One can “issue” at any given time or location. In taijiquan, the issuing is usually most efficacious when the opponent has been made to lose his or her root by being “led into emptiness” (luo kong). Then it is possible to use the opponent’s imbalance to your advantage, so that you’re merely adding to the established impetus.

Since both “Needle at Sea Bottom,” and “Fan Through Back” have come up in discussion recently, here’s my draft translation of those sections (which are dynamically connected techniques) from Yang Chengfu’s book, Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu:

~~~
Section Twenty-Seven: Needle at Sea Bottom

From the previous form, suppose the opponent uses his right hand to pull my right wrist. I then bend my right elbow and sit over my right foot. Turn the waist, lifting back, the palm toward the left. The left foot also follows it in drawing back; the toes of the foot touch the ground. If the opponent still has not released my hand, and still wants to take advantage and strike me, I then let my right wrist follow the force with a loosening movement, folding the waist and sinking downward. The gaze of the eyes is forward. The fingertips hang down. The movement’s intent is like that of a needle probing the sea bottom. At this moment, though he may want to pull or struggle, all of this going to and fro will become one strength, and will be unexpectedly defeated by me. Then his rooting strength will sever itself, making it convenient for me to avail myself of his emptiness, advance, and strike.

Section Twenty-Eight: Fan Through Back

From the preceding posture, suppose the opponent again strikes, using his right hand. I then lift my right hand upward from the forward position, to arrive beside my right temple, turning the palm to face outward, by this means supporting the energy of the opponent’s right hand. The left hand simultaneously lifts to in front of the chest, bursting forth (chong kai) with the palm. A continuous energy thrusts forth toward the opponent’s flank. Sink the shoulders, drop the elbows, seat the wrists, and loosen the waist. The left foot concurrently steps toward the front. Bend the knee and sit solidly on the left leg. The toes point forward. The vision follows the left hand and looks forward. The right leg accords with the waist and kua to extend the energy (jin) and send it forth. The jin actually issues from the back. The two arms spread open (zhan kai). You want the fan to connect through the back. Then you will be undefeatable.
~~~

Take care,
Louis
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Nov 17, 2003 12:37 pm

Greetings All,

--------------------
12 Meridian Channels
--------------------


6 RIGHT SIDED: WOOD: TRUNK
--------------

3 UPPER: FINGERS TO SHOULDER/ARMPIT AREA
--------
1)HEART: Little finger to shoulder area
2)LUNG : Thumb to shoulder area
3)PERICARDIUM:Middle finger to shoulder area

3 LOWER: TOES TO CHEST AREA
--------
1)KIDNEY: Second toe(top foot) to collarbone
2)LIVER : Big toe to liver area
3)SLEEN : Big toe to ribs/armpit area


6 LEFT SIDED: METAL: HEAD
-------------

3 UPPER:
--------
1) Sm.Intestine : Little finger to ear
2) Lg.Intestine : Index finger to mouth
3) Tripleburner : Third finger to temple

3 LOWER:
--------
1) STOMACH : Second toe to eyes and brain
2) BLADDER : Small toe to eyes
3) GALLBLDDR: Small toe to eyes

-----------------------
2 EXTRAORDINARY VESSELS: (of 8)
-----------------------

1)FRONT: CONCEPTION : (Perineal to mouth)
2)BACK : GOVERNING VESSEL: (Coccyx to nose)

HANDS:
little finger-LEFT HAND
little finger-RIGHT HAND
third finger-LEFT HAND
middle finger-RIGHT HAND
index finger-LEFT HAND
thumb -RIGHT HAND

FEET:
big toe-RIGHT FOOT
big toe-RIGHT FOOT
2nd toe-RIGHT FOOT
2nd toe-LEFT FOOT
sml toe-LEFT FOOT
sml toe-LEFT FOOT


I am not sure if anyone is interested, but this is some recent gatherings I have discovered about channels and vessels to add to the initial list I began earlier on this thread.

Just some points and observations.

Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-17-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Nov 17, 2003 2:21 pm

Greetings SteveJ,

I looked for the 18 "loci" until I was "loco"...(yes, very awful, but if you've ever tried to read that stuff[DNA] you'd know what I mean!)...to no avail, this time I will look through Chen.

What I did find were presentation of "loci" in relation to DNA coding...Genes.

This, however is an interesting question for me...I have heard the word gene in correlation with Taijiquan, in passing.

Does anyone know if there is any PARTICULAR connection between genes and Taijiquan(besides being the basis for everything!)..."Loci?"

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-17-2003).]
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:32 pm

Greeting Louis,

Will Yang Chenfu's Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu ever become available in English?

David J
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 17, 2003 9:21 pm

Hi David,

That’s a project I would like to see happen. My basic translation has been virtually complete for some time, but various issues have distracted me from shaping it into a publishable book manuscript. I’m slowly working in that direction.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:21 pm

Greetings Louis,

On "Ti Fang" you wrote:
< As I recall, Li uses the verb for the action of "releasing" or "launching" an opponent in one document he seperately refers to "ti"(lifting) as a pre-requisite for "fang"(releasing)..."tifang", which refers to severing the opponents root and launching them away.> Louis


Can one liken "Ti Fang" and "hopping", are these used in conjunction with each other?

When one has been "lifted and released or launched", as a result of the "Ti Fang" technique, one should employ the method of "hopping like a sparrow" as recourse to incur minimal damage from the throw?

Am I still on the beaten path?

Also, I am interested to know more about "hopping like a sparrow"...Does anyone know if there is a more formal address for this application? Can someone liken this to a Taijiquan Hand or foot skill directly?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

P.S. Louis,I am studying the accupoints in relation to the "Hai Di Chen" posture you are analysing...and have not seen any similar points entitled directly thus either. However, I am considering another purely theoretical possibility for that title which I have not heard before. I will mull it over a little while longer before explaining in detail.




[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-18-2003).]
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Postby dorshugla » Tue Nov 18, 2003 4:57 pm

One of my former teachers mentioned that concept (ti fang) as separate meaning "lift/let go" and similar epitaphs.

Since the meanin is not static as in lifting only, it can may also imply disengaging lift, disengaging (from other's grasp no response but may include a hop (simple step adbance or retreat to) push, push down (lift from lower positon) let go (push is additonal but not included in ti fang metaphor. It does appear to be a newer concept (not new as in never heard but realization of actual application).
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Postby tai1chi » Tue Nov 18, 2003 10:39 pm

Hi Psalchemist,

"What I did find were presentation of "loci" in relation to DNA coding...Genes."

Yeah, it's funny, and I do think the double-helix might be one effective modern metaphor. But, everything has to fit that into his own way of thinking.

As to the 18 loci, it's really an elaborated way that some have used to describe the "9 joints" of the body. There are different interpretations of what exactly they should be, but elbows, knees and ankles always add up to six. The others vary depending on who you ask. However, the main idea, as related to the preceding conversation, was that calling them 18 is a way of saying that each joint has a 'yin and yang' function, and that it might be considered a circle or a sphere. So, that's howit's related to our discussion of the "ball" image.

Some Chen stylists that I've met use this terminology; but the meaning behind it is probably more important.

best,
Steve James
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