Mind Intention in Taijiquan

Postby psalchemist » Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:01 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

I did indeed mix up the humminbird source.

Seems to have lead to naught anyways. Oh well, some paths are bound to be dead ends...Win some, lose some.

Sorry for the misquote.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:22 pm

Greetings DavidJ,

That was an excellent posting on SYNERGY...great word.

You explained:
<the difference between jin(refined strength) and li(crude strength) may be found in this synergy.

...consider what you can do with your left hand alone,then consider what you can do withyour right hand alone. O.K? Now consider what you can do with both hands together.

The difference betweeen what you can do with both hands as compared to one is enormous. > DavidJ

Definition of Synergy...(Together+Work) , synergism: a combined action, greater in total effect than the sum of their effects.

Are you comparing jin and li to two aspects of Taijiquan?
or,
Are you comparing jin and li to the internal and external arts...as in the internal art is combined with the basis of external art?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 17, 2003 8:04 pm

Greetings Michael,

In reviewing the thread, I notice I had neglected to acknowledge the reply you provided concerning the source of the WUJI definition...

Thank-you, Image

Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-20-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:03 pm

Problem solved

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-17-2003).]
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:29 pm

Hi Psalchemist,

You wrote, > Are you comparing jin and li to two aspects of Taijiquan? <

No. Jin is already an aspect ot TCC. It is the strength/skill produced by you when your movement is in harmony with Tai Chi Chuan principles.

> or,
> Are you comparing jin and li to the internal and external arts...as in the internal art is combined with the basis of external art? <

Not directly. I think that moving in harmony with Tai Chi Chuan principles can improve *any* movement, regardless of the name it's given.

I've applied TCC movement principles to things like swimming with excellent results.

David J
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Oct 18, 2003 1:20 am

Hello DavidJ,

You said,
<Jin... is the strength/skill produced by you when your movement is in harmony with the Tai Chi Chuan principles>

Nicely stated, I understand your clarification.


Also,
<Tai Chi Chuan principles can improve *any* movement, regardless of the name it's given>

Hmmm....good point.

Lastly,
<I've applied Tai Chi Chuan movement principles to things like swimming with excellent results>

I find that very interesting, how so?

I imagine that some of the principles are easier to identify and apply than others...

Could you please give an example of how you apply the principles of Taijiquan to an activity such as swimming?


Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Audi » Sat Oct 18, 2003 5:01 am

Greetings Psalchemist,

You asked me two questions about my post, first about sinews and tendons and then about my concept of joint dynamics.

I did not mean to draw much of a distinction between sinews and tendons. As I understand it, it is often said that hard or external martial arts (or both?) focus on muscle and bone, whereas soft or internal martial arts (or both?) focus on tendon and sinew.

Again, as I understand it, “tendon” refers to the elastic connections between muscle and bone and between muscle and muscle. “Sinew” refers to cords that help give shape to muscles, but which are not the main contracting components.

Basically, I am talking about what feels like the connections between the soft tissues of the body, rather than what feels like the connections between the hard tissues of the body. It is not so much a matter of “relaxing” muscles or not, but rather of “engaging” tendons and establishing a network among the soft tissues of the body. You do this by actively and continuously “loosening up” (“fangsong”) the joints and feeling how the soft tissues are thereby involved.

You also asked whether I was implying the following:

<<Resistance/momentum between two joints from two different limbs? As an example, AN...When we push forward with the left leg, we simultaneously 'resist' with the right leg?>>

I really mean something much simpler and more basic than this. Think of the body’s joints as the angles on a parallelogram. Imagine that the parallelogram is formed by four slats of wood joined by four nails. The nails allow the slats to move freely and the four angles to work like joints. If you set the angle of one corner of the parallelogram, you simultaneously set the three other angles. The four angles form an indivisible system or network of energy paths.

The body’s joints can act the same way, but only if the mind sets the stage. It is not a matter of memorizing or internalizing particular angles, but rather reaching out with your mind for the characteristics of the shape you want. The body then organizes “itself just so” (“Ziran,” more often translated as “naturally”).

The shape of one joint determines the shape of all the others. All the joints collectively determine the shape of one joint. To simplify things, imagine controling your pushing arm so that the angle of the wrist directly effects the angle of the elbow (and vice versa), and the angle of the elbow directly effects the angle of the shoulder (and vice versa). To do this, you must feel as if your joints are loosened up to the limit of their movement and are palpably “linked” together. Do not use your muscles to freeze any joint in place and directly control its placement. Use each joint to “push” through the Jin point on the side of the palm heel and do this to the limit of the anatomy of your soft tissues.

The dynamics of how the joints interact is obviously more complicated than a simple parallelogram, but I believe that the principle is the same. Without using your “Yi” to give relational “meaning” to the position of each joint within “the network,” you are forced to control each joint separately. The energy can no longer be “threaded.” The particular energy configuration is not so much controlled by your anatomy, but by what your mind determines is appropriate for the particular application that is underway. Each one will have different configurations. The interactions of “nine” sets of joints in three planes can be quite complicated. The effects of the “synergy” will far exceed what a cursory examination of externals will reveal.

To give a concrete example of this, let me discuss the positioning of the front knee of a bow stance. Most or all styles of Taijiquan have some doctrine about how far forward the front knee can come in relation to the front foot. One can be shown this, and then use the eyes or the “mind’s eye” to establish and practice respecting this placement. Instead, I propose that you feel with your “Yi” for the characteristic relationship between the pushing legs that will accomplish your goal of the moment.

You feel for this relationship immediately as you begin to shift your weight forward. You can immediately feel whether you are “headed” towards a relatively strong point or a relatively weak one. You adjust things as you go, but you have no sense that you have to change the nature of what you are doing or lock your knee to prevent it from overextending.

Fast or slow is more or less the same. The ultimate placement of your knee is built into what you start at the beginning as you do “Deng” and “Cheng,” not by how you increase the level of tension in your legs over the course of the weight shift.

If I describe this in terms of how you plot the geometry of a curve on a graph, I could describe the following. You feel for a force curve that rises to meet a limiting line, but know from the shape and nature of the forces represented by the curve that it will never touch the line and thereby exceed its proper boundaries. All you do is work on the formula that defines the curve, without worrying about where to place any individual point on the curve and without feeling that you have to use a different formula to define every point.

I hope this makes some kind of sense.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Oct 22, 2003 1:04 pm

Hello Audi,

I appreciate your application in my education!

Firstly,
Thanks for the distinction between 'sinews and tendons' and 'muscles and bone'. I understand your explanations. For some reason the word 'sinew' (in english) conjures, for me, an image of those small indentations on the body indicating acupoints. Important clarification.


About 'relaxing', you said:
<It is not so much a matter of "relaxing" muscles or not, but rather of "engaging" tendons and establishing a network among the soft tissues of the body. You do this by actively and continuously "loosening up" ("fangsong") the joints and feeling how the soft tissues are thereby involved> Audi

Also:
<...you must feel as if your joints are loosened up to the limit of their movement and are palpably "linked" together. Do not use your muscles [bu yong li?] to freeze any joint in place and directly control it's placement> Audi


I find the concept of "relaxing" in Yang style Taijiquan to be quite elusive. Thank you for the insightful details.

Is the term "fangsong" summarized in the idea "loosening up the joints" a complete one...or is "fangsong" of a deeper complexity and substance?

What is the original Chinese translation of the expression "fangsong" ?

Is this divisible into the two compound words of "fang" and "song", and if so how would they be individually translated?

On another note,
I am still considering the thorough explanations you provided above on the subject of using YI in Taijiquan practice. Thinking... actually I am trying to make the connection with the shi san shi...


You said:
<Use each point to push through the jin point on the side of the palm heel and do this to the limit of the anatomy of your soft tissues> Audi

Question! Audi, what is the difference between "releasing jin", "pushing jin through the jin point on the side of the palm heel", and executing a "fajin technique" ...The degree of explosiveness?


Lastly, you mentioned:
<The interaction of "nine" sets of joints in "three planes" can be quite complicated> Audi

I have heard described previously, by a Chen style Master, in passing, the concept of "maintaining the wrists "above" the feet, and the elbows "above" (in line with) the knees. Are we speaking the same type of ideology?

I would be quite interested in participating in a discourse on the subject of "nine sets of joints on three planes", thanks for the corner.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
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Postby dorshugla » Wed Oct 22, 2003 3:28 pm

wushuer,

Think freely and express your views. One may talk about this lineage or that but the essence of "wude" shows in the character, or lack thereof of the individual.

Hence the warning of "wrapping crap in a perfumed package".
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Oct 22, 2003 4:05 pm

Dorshugla,

May I speak freely and express my views, as you suggest so eloquently?

Really......I must question the character of one who refers to everything as either "USELESS" or "CRAP".

I find this neither constructive nor necessary...

certainly no "wrapper" there...useless right?

As for the underlying content...I cannot say, I am not qualified.

Psalchemist.

P.S. ...call me whatever you like,Dorshugla.


[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-22-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Oct 22, 2003 8:56 pm

To All,
Thank you for your kind words.
My "friends" have not responded to my repeated reply e-mails requesting debate or dialogue on the subject.
I have NO idea what brought that all on, just as glad they have no cahones.
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:00 pm

Dorshugla:
Thank you for the sentiment.
What is "wude"? I do not recognize the word, though that can also be said for just about every other word in any dialect of chinese.
Hey, I have a hard enough time speaking english (american english that is) and the tiny bit of french I know (which is just about enough to get my face slapped on any continent).
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Postby Audi » Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:11 pm

Psalchemist:

You asked:

<<Is the term "fangsong" summarized in the idea "loosening up the joints" a complete one...or is "fangsong" of a deeper complexity and substance?>>

The Yangs teach that you must not only “fangsong” the body, but also the mind. Physically, it is something quite straightforward, but surprisingly difficult to do consistently and continuously.

“Fangsong” is a compound. “Fang” can mean to “put” or to “release.” “Song” basically means “loose” or “loosen.” As a compound word, “fangsong” overlaps in meaning with “relax,” but can refer to things that do not fit this word. “Fangsong” can mean: “take it easy,” “slacken,” or “limber up.” For instance, one could say that you want to exercise a bit in order to “fangsong” (“limber up,” not “relax?”) your muscles.

I have been taught at least three overlapping, but different views of what this concept should be for Taijiquan. In most of the contemporary literature, most people seem to stress the idea of “taking things easy” or “using minimal amounts of muscular energy.”

Advocatine a different view, one teacher I had talked about “relaxation” in terms common with other sports or activities, basically meaning to avoid the type of tension that inhibits movement. As a general rule, he favored going through the range of extreme relaxation to extreme rigidity, depending upon the needs of the moment. He just thought of Taijiquan as generally emphasizing more relaxation than other activities.

In my opinion, the Yangs usually refer to something more specific than either of these two meanings. Basically they want you to continuously extend your limbs, as if you were trying physically to unlock and open your joints. In my opinion, this process takes more energy, rather than less, and can be visibly demonstrated. When the Yangs do this, they do so from what is basically a static posture. It is not a concept that applies only to movement and is not directly concerned with the level of muscular exertion. The focus is on the joints, tendons, and sinews, not muscles, positively or negatively. To get the right feel in your joints, tendons, and sinews, you must use your muscles in a certain way.

If you practice moving according to these principles, you begin to develop a wiry strength, or rather a body sense that continuously “feels” for your dynamic body structures. This is also one of the reasons why extending the fingers (“shu zhi”) is important to the Yangs’ system. This extension is part of this same feeling of “song” that threads throughout your body. If you merely “relax” your fingers and allow them to go somewhat limp, this will run counter to the feelings the Yangs want you to cultivate. Nor is it, in my opinion, a question of just finding a happy medium between being maximally “relaxed,” while retaining the proper external structure. This is the strategy that some teachers pursue, but I do not think it is the right one for what the Yangs teach.

You also asked:

<<Question! Audi, what is the difference between "releasing jin", "pushing jin through the jin point on the side of the palm heel", and executing a "fajin technique" ...The degree of explosiveness?>>

I do not know what “releasing jin” means exactly. I think this is a term that some practitioners use, perhaps as a translation of “fajin.” By “pushing jin,” I was referring to the feeling of using each individual joint and all of them collectively to “push,” or rather extend, through a particular point on the body.

You also stated:

<<I have heard described previously, by a Chen style Master, in passing, the concept of "maintaining the wrists "above" the feet, and the elbows "above" (in line with) the knees. Are we speaking the same type of ideology?>>

I think this concept is what is called the Six Harmonies/Combinations/Correspondences (“Liu he”). The idea is that the movement of the wrists is linked to the movement of the ankles, the movement of the knees to the movement of the elbows, and the movement of the shoulders to the movement of the hip sockets. I actually was not referring to this concept, but rather to phrases that talk about threading the Qi through the “nine bends of pearl beads.” On interpretation of this, is that the “nine bends of pearl” refer to the nine sets of major joints in the body. Each of these must be “song” individually, as well as collectively, for the whole body to be unified.

Here is what I was talking about by mentioning three planes. Movement in Taijiquan goes in straight lines and curves. You can think of the curves as occurring in three different planes with respect to your body: a pinwheel (left-up-right-down), a Ferris wheel (up-forward-down-back), and a merry-go-round (left-forward-right-back).

In a posture like Step up Punch to the Groin (Shang bu zhi dang chui). It is easy to get confused about the planes in which the force vectors should lie. In one sense, the posture is basically chasing the opponent and can be seen as an advance straight forward to the west; however, the placement of the feet really make it somewhat of a zigzag. “Go right in order to go left.” One can also see this as “Be wary of the left” (“Zuo gu”) and “Look out for the right” (“You pan”) mixed in with “Advance” (“Jin bu”) at the end. If one fixates too much on “waist rotations,” one can convert this subtle zigzag feel into an incorrect feeling of “spin right” and “spin left” and lose the feeling of the straightness of the advance and the feel of opening the hip sockets to initiate the steps.

In this posture, the left hand and arm sweep first to the right and then to the left, as in Brush Knee and Twist Step, Left (“Zuo lou xi ao bu”). These sweeps can give the feel of the “merry-go-round” plane of rotation. It is easy to transfer this feeling to the right arm, especially the initially rightward sweep of the left arm, but I believe such a transfer to be incorrect. The right forearm should instead move in something of a “Ferris wheel” plane, with the right elbow drawing back directly to the east, rather than rotating clockwise in a horizontal plane to “match” the rightward movement of the left arm. Basically, the right elbow does not rotate in the “merry-go-round” plane at all in this posture.

It is also easy to mistakenly ram the right arm straight backward, as if cocking a gun or chambering the arm, as is done in Karate. Instead, the movement of the right fist initially describes some of a “Ferris wheel” circle. It pulls back to the level of the hip socket, not to the level of the ribs, before “reeling” off in a straight line for the punch.

In my view, none of these are things that one artificially drills into one’s movement patterns. Although there is a standard way to perform the postures, there is no universally right way to do a “technique.” As you concentrate on being “song” (“loose” and “extended”), you begin to feel how all the curves and straight lines grow out of the standard moves. You learn what your body is capable of in various positions. If you try to freeze a joint to use it as an anchor or leverage point or if you let a joint go limp, this method does not work well for this purpose and the feel of the inherent geometry of your movements can be obscured.

As you probably now, there is a term in Chinese philosophy called “wu wei” (“non-action”). Rather than meaning “inactivity,” this refers to allowing the true nature of things to unfold without interference from you. If you truly “fangsong,” you can start to feel the inherent geometry of the motions express themselves without your actively imposing your will to define individual shapes. Your mind sets up the requirements for the force ratios and relationships, and your body naturally expresses this. The Yi leads, and the Qi and Jin follow.

All this is, of course, quite easy to say, but not so easy to do. First you do it in one movement of one posture, then you do it in two, then three, etc. After a while, you begin to see many of the patterns of repetition in the form, and most of the movements begin to feel like minor variations of each other, or rather different combinations of the same variations.

Let me close with one more analogy of what “fangsong” can mean for the mind. My father was taught how to swim as a boy when the older boys of the town took the younger ones out on a raft into the local river. As was tradition, they then tipped the raft over and let nature take its course. My father became an instant swimmer.

Young boys can have the flexibility of mind to “listen” for the “feel” of the water and figure out the “dao” of swimming in a few moments, even through a few seconds of pure panic. Six months of lessons at the YMCA are not necessarily required.

We older folks, on the other hand, are often unwilling to let go (“fang”) of what we know or what we think we know. We cannot deal with the nature of reality as is. If someone loses their contact lenses, we look for them where the light is good, not in the spot where they were lost. We find it hard to learn new languages, because we cannot get past the fact that we already “know how to talk.” By refusing to let go of what we have, we may lose even more.

I personally do not have the heart to continue the tradition of the raft method for teaching young kids to swim, but I have to concede that it did work for at least some. In any case, I certainly would not recommend this for adults, whose minds have usually lost much of their pliability.

As you do form, it may not be apparent that you must listen to your body and let go of some control; however, as you push hands, the challenge to “loosen up” the mind can become much more apparent. If you truly “abandon your self and conform to your opponent” (“she ji sui ren), you then have to be “song” in order to flow with the Yin and Yang in every moment and every movement. This is what I understand to be the key to applying “wuwei” and why Taijiquan does not focus so much on speed and strength as the answer to everything.

Enough of my ramblings for now.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:40 pm

Hi Psalchemist,

> > I've applied Tai Chi Chuan movement principles to things like swimming with excellent results < <

> I find that very interesting, how so?

Consider the "crawl."

You use waist turns which allow the arms and legs to interact with the water efficiently.

You don't fight the water - your hand doesn't enter the water before you finish reaching out, so you don't push any water in the wrong direction. This relates to an idea expressed clearly in Tung/Yang style: change occurs at the apex of a movement. This in turn relates to the external three harmonies. Expressed in the I Ching as letting things expand fully before compressing them, you reach as far as is comfortable before the hand enters the water and begins pulling.

You move at a smooth, even pace; there is no hurrying. When you stroke you pull and complete the movement. Your hands can pull only so much on the water, and this requires paying attention to your hand position. This peak of efficiency can be felt, and this will change at different speeds, so you need mindfullness.

If you are song you don't tighten up and waste energy, so you don't need to breath more than necessary. You breathe from the diaphragm.

Do you get the idea?

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 10-27-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:36 am

David,

Swimming is a good example of how one can apply principle. I look in awe at a great golf swing. I don't golf.
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