Jerry, thanks for the link. If I had only read this more thoroughly and more recently, it would have saved me much grief working things out through seminars and through the Yangs’ video. I especially like the phrase “mutually restricting coordination of the entire body.” This was a concept I was unnecessarily slow in accepting, since it seemed to run counter to other teaching I was receiving.
Michael, I am brain dead at the moment and can neither find my previous post nor quite understand the contradictions you explained in your post. In either case, I presume that Jerry’s link has cleared up the issue.
Rather than re-hash Yang Zhenduo’s teaching with my poorer choice of words, let me bring up a couple of collateral issues that might expand the discussion.
For me, one of the major determinants of my ability to resist a pull by my opponent is the amount of Jin in my ankle, foot, and toes. I think that some people teach muscle laxity to such a degree that some people form bow stance without trying to use any muscles in their ankle, feet, and toes, even though they allow muscular exertion around their knees and in their thighs. If one does this and tries to resist a pull, all the Jin will focus on the forward heel and this will come to be the “pivot point of the lever arm.” (My knowledge of physics is questionable, so I would appreciate help if I get the terminology or theory wrong.) Even if one were to straighten the forward knee completely and stand with both legs straight, it would be hard to avoid being pulled forward over this “pivot point.”
If, instead of trying to kill all muscular sensation in the ankle, feet, and toes, one grabs the ground with the toes and presses downward against the Bubbling Spring/Well (Yong3 Quan2) with the muscles controlling the ankle, one can link up all the muscles and tendons in the lower body and extend the “pivot point” out to the ball of the foot. The strength of this structure depends entirely on the ease and intensity with which the Jin of the entire structure can flow. This strength does depend to a degree on the mechanical alignment of the joints, but this is only one determinant. In other words, the issue, in my opinion, is whether the knee can exert force in harmony with the other joints, but not directly on its position in a mechanical structure. If there is no strength, it does not matter where the knee is. If the knee is roughly in place, one can exert the strength appropriate to the structure.
One thing I should make clear is that I am not suggesting that one should resist a pull by beginning to push down with the foot or grip the floor with the toes, but rather that one should be doing this in all cases, whether or not one is being pulled, pushed, or left alone. I think that there should always be a dynamic opposition and engagement of the joints that will vary smoothly according to circumstances and one’s Yi.
One mundane thing I would also like to point out is that clothing often makes it difficult to judge what parts of the body are actually aligning. A person’s shin can incline forward even thought the front of the pant leg can continue to hang vertically. I think the picture on Jerry’s hyperlink is one of the few where Yang Chengfu is wearing shin-hugging pants and where the orientation of his shin is clearer.
Another thing I want to suggest is that since everyone is different and in fact can somewhat vary the relative forces within their bodies’, these factors will result in a different external expression in the limbs. If one compares this particular picture of Yang Chengfu with the one’s of Li Yaxuan on the hyperlink Gu Rou Chen provided on a different thread, I think you see different tradeoffs that would require quite a bit of examination to properly evaluate. Four differences that leap to my mind are differences in the length of stride, the amount of apparent forward force exerted, the amount of apparent backward force exerted, and orientation of the spine. Overall, Yang Chengfu’s stance strikes me as more “aggressive” and Li Yaxuan’s as more “restrained.” I am not sure it is easy to judge on superficial examination which approach represents a “superior” training method. Both postures would seem justifiable to me, depending on the precise situation.
[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 11-30-2003).]