Bow stance

Bow stance

Postby Bamenwubu » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:04 pm

Working a lot on bow stance lately and have come up with a question that has probably been answered a dozen times in the past on this forum, but if so I have been unable to find where.
So...
I'll ask again with apologies if I am repeating a topic that's been covered ad nauseum.
I have noticed that there are variations to bow stance. Think of the differences between how you stand in bow stance if you are in the ending posture of Brush Knee and Twist Step compared to how you stand in ending posture for Single Whip.
While my question does not relate to HOW you do each of these stances, it can't hurt to give a quick overview for clarity. So...
In Bow Step for ending posture of BK&TS you are leaning your upper body forward in alignment with your back leg, your extended palm is on the same side as your back leg, you are aligned for the energy to travel in a line from the back foot to the palm and for the shock of the impact of that strike to transfer from your palm to the back leg instead of into your lower back where it would go if you were not leaning forward and in proper alignment.
Now, consider Bow Stance as in ending posture for Single Whip. You are upright, your extended palm is the opposite palm from your back leg, aligning your body for the efficient transfer of energy from the back leg to the extended palm and for the shock of that impact to travel to that back leg instead of to your torso, where it would go if you were in improper alignment.
That said, my question is...
Is there an accepted terminology by the Yang family to differentiate these bow stances from each other?
I have been working with our group, doing my best with the help of my push hands partner Jim to teach some fundamentals of bow stance. I don't know if I'm succeeding, but I'm giving it the old college try.
After a couple of weeks working with them, they have come to call the bow stance of BK&TS "forward bow stance", because they say they are more forward in it, and the bow stance of Single Whip "upright bow stance" since the body is upright and at an angle instead of forward.
I guess I never really thought of them as being "different", just two aspects of the same thing, but I can clearly see how they could be considered so.
I have even begun to use these terms as we talk about the different forms, when speaking of a form where you would use "forward bow stance" I have found myself saying "this one is forward bow stance" and vice versa, and now I am wondering if I've done them a disservice by doing so.
I don't want to set a bad precedent that would have to be broken later, so I thought I'd better trot this out and see if I'm perpetuating a bad habit that I might want to start correcting now by making such a clear distinction, and using such localized terminology, between two things that are basically the same but just a little bit different (badly paraphrasing MYJ from the DVD, with respect).

Any advice I can get would be greatly appreciated.
Is there an "official" Yang family terminology on this subject that I can use in place of our "local vernacular"? Are we the only ones to come up with this distinction, or is this common enough to have been given names we could use allready?
I have found it to be easier for me when I can get the entire group to move into the proper stance and alignment with just a quick, "OK, this form ends in upright bow stance" or "this form ends in forward bow stance" rather than having to demonstrate.
Thanks for any help you can give me.

Bob
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Postby Audi » Sat Jul 30, 2005 2:53 am

Hi Bob,

I do not recall any “official” terminology regarding this issue, and your ad-hoc scheme seems as practical as anything I can think of off hand. The only thing I might question is that it does not account for postures where, in our version of Yang Style, we must both lean and keep the torso open to the side, such as in Press, Flying Diagonal, or High Pat on Horse and Piercing Palm.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Jul 30, 2005 8:42 pm

Hi Bob,

well, I think there are several types of bow or front stances in your form, depending on the form. But, fwiw, I think that what distinguishes Single Whip from Brush Knee has more to do with the torso than the stance, per se. It's a great question, but there are loads of variations.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Jul 30, 2005 10:03 pm

Yang Zhenduo has the torso leaning forward except for the three or so stances where the two arms are dealing with (or going towards) opposite directions. Single whip, Fan Through Back, and Left Ward Off.
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Postby Bamenwubu » Sun Jul 31, 2005 4:17 am

Thanks, guys. I didn't want to keep on using these terms and find out later there was allready something.
Jerry,
There is at least one more place where the bow stance is, momentarily, upright than in the three you mention. In Turn Body Chop With Fist it appears from the DVD that the "chop" of the fist is made using the upright bow stance, then it changes immediately to a forward bow stance for the strike after the "chop".
At least that's how it appears from the Masters demonstration on the DVD. My PH's partner and I both agreed that this looked correct when we watched it.
It's a very brief thing, but it appears from his words and demonstrations to be the case.

Bob
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Postby Bamenwubu » Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:39 pm

Jerry,
What about Right Ward off? Is the torso leaning forward or upright in Right Ward Off?
I have watched MYJ's DVD, quite a few times in fact, over this weekend in an attempt to find which position my torso should be in for Right Ward Off, but it does not seem to be clear.
He very clearly speaks of keeping the torso upright in left Ward Off, then he moves into Right Ward Off and makes no mention of inclining the torso forward. It is difficult to view exact body positioning on the DVD somtimes, at least on all of my televisions, due to the white silks he is wearing, which reflects the light to an uncomfortable degree at times into the camera. I have played with the adjustments of brightness and contrast and even made my TV display in black and white in an attempt to see if he is inclining into Right Ward Off or staying upright but so far have no success.
If the criteria is splitting energy, then it would seem that Right Ward Off would be upright. MYJ clearly states that one hand is lifting up, one hand is pushing down, in Right Ward Off when he describes it verbally.
To complicate things further, when he moves into Press is the first time he discusses inclining the torso forward.
Since you only listed Left Ward Off in your upright position list and not Right Ward Off, you got me wondering.
My personal thought has been that this should be an upright posture. It seems to work better for me when I do it that way in my practice, both in solo practice and in application practice against my partner. The more open position of my hip lets any energy my opponent sends back against me go directly to my back ankle in this position as well.
So, now I'm curious as the what the official positioning is.
Thanks.

Bob
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:57 pm

Lean forward in right ward off.
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Postby Bamenwubu » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:36 pm

Can do.
Thanks, I will work on this.

Bob
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Postby Audi » Fri Aug 05, 2005 12:54 am

Hi Bob and everyone else,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> In Turn Body Chop With Fist it appears from the DVD that the "chop" of the fist is made using the upright bow stance, then it changes immediately to a forward bow stance for the strike after the "chop".</font>


When the “chop” is executed, I think it is correct to say that the torso is open to the side and that the body is upright; however, I do not believe that one would have begun to bend the right knee yet. I think the “stance” is roughly equivalent to the final position of Rollback, except that the sole of the right foot would not yet be completely flat on the ground. In other words, you begin to shift some weight to the right foot, but you reserve the right knee bend for the waist turn and the left-hand strike that come slightly later.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If the criteria is splitting energy, then it would seem that Right Ward Off would be upright. MYJ clearly states that one hand is lifting up, one hand is pushing down, in Right Ward Off when he describes it verbally.</font>


I could be wrong, but I had not thought that the way we normally do Ward Off Right would constitute “splitting energy.” I do not mean to say that you could not use such energy in this posture, but only that we do not do it with that intent. On another thread, we have discussed this energy, and some have proposed that movement in opposite directions or a force couple is enough to constitute “splitting energy.” If this view is correct, then I believe that our version does constitute split; however, this is one of the reasons I have difficulty with this definition.

My understanding is that whether or not we are supposed to lean does not depend on the presence or absence of “split energy,” but rather on whether the arms, or perhaps the waist, have to support energy going both forward or backward. This occurs in the three cases Jerry mentions, but does not occur in Ward Off Right. In Ward Off Left, the “opposition” is, as you point out, up and down, rather than forward and backward. The feeling I have in Ward Off Right is that my lean is actually one of the things that lend strength to my left arm.
Diagonal Flying and Parting Wild Horse’s would seem to be interesting exceptions to the rule about supporting forward and backward energy, since both these postures require leans in our version of the form. I can think of one possible explanation. In these postures, the waist movement is actually the opposite of what happens in Ward Off Left and can support a vertical “opposition” of forces that is not possible in Ward Off Left.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:08 pm

Audi: "I could be wrong, but I had not thought that the way we normally do Ward Off Right would constitute "splitting energy." I do not mean to say that you could not use such energy in this posture, but only that we do not do it with that intent. On another thread, we have discussed this energy, and some have proposed that movement in opposite directions or a force couple is enough to constitute "splitting energy." If this view is correct, then I believe that our version does constitute split; however, this is one of the reasons I have difficulty with this definition."

It is precisely this sort of situation that led me to propose my definitions for the eight energies, and specifically the force-couple for split. Depending on intent (yi) various energies are often combined or done in sequence.

In the Yang variant that I learned, Ward Off Right was set up by the left hand moving down and left along the opponent's arm (to the opponent's wrist) while the right arm moves up and right along the opponent's arm (to the armpit). Here, the split energy was used to set up the opponent up by disrupting their structure at the shoulder and thus allowing the spine to be controlled. By the time the right arm reaches the opponent's torso the split energy has broken their root causing them to raise up and lean forward. The intent of the application can then change to ward-off (peng). Since the opponent is now essentially "leaning" on your right forearm, you can change the application to ward-off by letting go of their wrist (letting go with the left hand, thus no longer applying split) and bouncing them out with your right forearm (all ward-off).

Of course, depending on the situation and your intent, other energies could be used at the end rather than ward-off. Maintaining split to lock their arm and make the opponent dance on their tiptoes would be split. Turning to the right after the right arm reaches their armpit would yield roll-back energy (a rather common application in push-hands practice). Pulling the trapped arm downwards with both arms in order to tip them down to the floor would be pluck. You could switch the application point from the forearm to the elbow (thus elbowing energy) or fold and strike or push their torso with your right shoulder (bumping energy). Etc.

My definitions allow one to determine what energy is being applied at any point in an application, and allow that energy to change depending on the intent. This one posture could have multiple energies expressed, and I don't feel that the multiple possible applications should be limited to just one (although one may be the predominant way to express it in form practice). Be open to CHANGE, to me one of the essences of Taijiquan.

DP
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Postby Bamenwubu » Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:13 pm

Audi,
I guess I've always considered Right Ward Off to be a sort of smaller version of Left Ward Off, smaller in area of execution rather than overall movement.
The "splitting" I was speaking of is the idea that one arm is lifting up, warding off, the other is pushing down, energy moving in two directions at once, "splitting" my application of energy into two directions at the same time rather than sending the majority of my energy in one direction against a single point.
Now, I feel that there is always energy going in more than one direction, has to be, but I think more in terms of the meaning of the movement when I try to determine if a certain posture is for "splitting" energy or for a more direct transmission against one point.
In my example I feel that Single Whip would clearly be considered "splitting" energy, this energy is clearly being directed in two directions at once, the Push part of Brush Knee and Push would be a more direct, straight on type of energy, the strike of the palm is the major focus of this energy, while the opposite arm is controlling my opponent it is not where the majority of my energy is being directed.
But as there's no definitive standard to go on, this can be very confusing to discuss.
A very good argument for a clearer definition of terms, in my personal opinion, if there ever was one. It would be nice if we had one standard laid out in front of so that our conversations were easier. But, there's not, so we'll have to keep muddling along for now.

In Left Ward Off I have always considered the movement to be more for a whole body control, right arm pulls an opponents arm downward, left arm wards off upward into their arm pit breaking their root and allowing you to use the next portion of the movement to throw them out. I have always felt that Right Ward Off was essentially the same movement, just with a smaller area of application, right arm warding off upward against the upper arm of an opponent, left arm pushing downwards against their forearm, to be used as a break of the arm rather than a larger controlling of the body movement.
I do believe that Master Yang Jun uses this as his "meaning of this movement" explanation on the DVD.
I have always pictured both as being the same basic movement, only executed in a smaller area.
Since the return of Bill from the China trip, one of my fellow practicioners was able to meet with him at class this past weekend, which I was not able to do because of a minor traffic accident Friday night that put my car out of service until Monday making me unable to attend class on Saturday morning. This student also had just returned from the China trip, so he had some good training time with Master Yang Jun and GM Yang Zhen Duo.
So I asked my friend to ask Bill to go over Right Ward Off with him and show him very minutely how it is done.
He came to my place Sunday and we worked on my plumbing for a couple of hours (He saved me a ton of money in plumbers bills, for which I am EXTREMELY greatful), then he showed me how to execute Right Ward Off to the best of his recollection.
My Push Hands partner Jim was also able to meet with Bill on Saturday and is coming to our regular practice tommorow night and the three of us are going to work pretty exclusively on Right Ward Off and on Go With Thrusting Palm during that session.
I have found yet again another posture that I was incorrectly understanding in Right Ward Off.
No surprise there, at all, but a very happy circumstance as it allows me to learn something new.
On Saturday I will meet with Bill again and hopefully by then I will be performing Right Ward Off at least more correctly.
I think I was thinking correctly about the meaning of the posture, but just not clear on it's actualy proper execution.
That said, through experimentation with my friend on Sunday I can clearly apply Right Ward Off as a splitting energy movement as I have been practicing it very effectively. Also the way he showed me was extremely effective.
I guess there's more than one way to apply energy in any form, using slight alterations of the form will return some very surprising results as long as you are in proper form for another posture.
Try that. Use Right Ward Off the same way you would use Left Ward Off, standing in the same manner, and see if you get any different results.
I know I do. It works very well, just in a smaller area of movement that in Left Ward Off.
I'm not saying that's correct, I know it's not correct form, all I'm saying is that it works quite well.
Do a reverse Left Ward Off, going in mirror image, only keep your arm motions smaller, like in Right Ward Off.
Works quite well.
Not proper form, I know that, but it still works for me.
Anyway, I'll play with this for quite some time and see if I find anything new. I have some learning to do, as always, and am very greatful for all the help and feedback you guys give me.
I learn so much from the simple questions that pop into my head. If I remember to ask them.
Look at what happened here. I didn't even know I had a question about Right Ward Off and now I've learned more about it than I thought was possible.
Thanks. This is great stuff.

Bob


[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 08-09-2005).]
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