Conscious Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:08 am

Greetings Show-Hong,

You wrote: “Even if YCF taught it only to the indoor students, we could expect it to show up in at least in the teaching of some of those students. The only mention of zhijue yundong out side of Yang Forty that I have encountered is in Prof. CMC’s New Method of Self Study.”

I did find a passage in Chen Weiming’s Taijiquan Dawen (Answers to Questions on Taijiquan) where he used the first part of the phrase, zhijue. Here it means something closer to “perceive” or “sense.” It’s in the Push Hands section, in a response to a question about tingjin (listening jin). Chen embedded a definition of tingjin parenthetically within the question: “Tingjin is to perceive (zhijue) the opponent’s use of force in its direction and degree.” Here’s my translation of the passage (compare Lo/Smith, Thai Chi Ch’uan Ta Wen, p.26).

~~~
Question: Regarding tingjin in Push Hands, is it employed only in the two arms, or should other areas [of the body] also tingjin?
Answer: The skill (gongfu) of tingjin is initially trained in the two arms. After a good deal of time, the entire body must be trained to tingjin. At whatever places where you stick [to the opponent], those places must all have perceptive capacity (zhijue); they must all be able to understand jin (dongjin), so that when the opponent’s palm or fist draws near to my body, those [points] will be able to transform his strength, causing it to fall into emptiness. This method may be called truly understanding jin (zhen dongjin).
~~~

Chen based his book directly on Yang Chengfu’s oral teachings, so this passage is probably good evidence that Yang did indeed teach the zhijue yundong idea to his students.

Any thoughts?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby ShowHong » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:54 am

Hi Louis,

On a side note, there is too much spin on the ‘shenming’ phrase that made it more complicated than necessary and its true meaning end up getting lost in the process. Again I am not speaking as a scholar but as a common sensible Chinese speaking guy. First, shenming is a two character phrase usually used to mean a single thing/meaning, which is a common mode of usage, I believe, to provide phonic advantage. So, shenming in common usage means simply shen, i.e., deity/immortal/god. For example, a commonly used phrase ‘Tou Sang San Tsi Yo Shenming’ (There is shenming 3 feet above our heads) is essentially ‘God’s watching you’ in the West.

Next, what is ‘shen’ supposed to mean to a Chinese or in Chinese psyche? First of all, Chinese on the average are too pragmatic to be very spiritual so in philosophical discourse when ‘shen’ comes up it is unlikely to be about spirituality. When it comes to supra human/natural beings, ‘shen’ is the archetypical god in man made religions where ‘shen’ (god) is made in man’s image, just like man and may even bear faults similar to human beings, except that it is capable of doing or knowing things that human cannot and is free from some of the limitations that human beings are subjected to, such as limitation on longevity of life (hence the name immortal). In other words, shen can do as it pleases in many respects while humans cannot without coming up against some boundaries. The Chinese equivalent of spirit is ‘hwen’ or ‘shen/ling/guei hwen’, as in the sense of spirit/ghost and should not be confused with shen.

Therefore, when talking about attaining the stage of ‘shenming’ it is not talking about really anything spiritual, instead, it simply means to gain the ability to do or know what people based on common knowledge recognize to be impossible for human beings. It is all very pragmatic and very utilitarian. I don’t believe things like this are ever well defined in Chinese literature but I do have one example of usage the source of which you are probably familiar. In the Chronicles of Water Ford (Shuei Hoo Chuan) there is this folk hero named Wu Song who has unbelievable physical/martial ability. In one incidence, he picked up a stony object of about 200 lb in weight, tossed it in the air, caught it and replaced it to its proper place, all the while had not panted in his breath nor flushed on his face, i.e., without exertion. His colleagues saw this, they fell on their knees and praised him, saying ‘You are truly a “shen ren”.’ Here ‘shen ren’ (god man) is equivalent to ‘demigod’ in the sense of a human being with some god like attribute. To Chinese, god like attributes are primarily abilities, physical or mental, that are beyond human’s grasp or limitations. In the same vein, ‘shen’ is used in Sun Tze’s writing where it says ‘being able to change and adapt according to the enemy is called “shen”.’ How spiritual can that be? Simply it is a very difficult, if not at all impossible, task for human beings to do so that being able to do it can be put in the category of ‘shen’.

The meaning of ‘shenming’, in the Taichi context, being that a person having the ability to do and to know what common knowledge recognize impossible or beyond human beings’ limitation finds corroboration in the same text, Wang Tzong-Yue’s Taichi Chuan Treatise, toward the end of the article. Where progression of proficiency in Taichi skill is repeated but at the end instead of ‘attaining the stage of shenming’ it is ‘gradually get to be able to do as one wishes.’ In general, ‘do as one wishes’ is something human beings can only wish for since we know we are bound by all kinds of limitations. The ability to get beyond those limitations so one can act ‘freely at will’ is essentially a shen-like attribute, and that is what Taichi masters appear to be able to do.

Sincerely,
Show-Hong
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:42 pm

Show Hong, your explanation of shenming is basically the same as what I was trying to say above. In the native Chinese cultural context (as contrasted with special meanings for this word in Chinese Christianity), shen is mostly used for 'uncanny', 'amazing', 'supernatural', 'magical' etc.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:45 pm

Greetings Show-Hong,

Wu Song was also the guy who hit the tiger, right?

I quite agree that “shenming” is best viewed in a pragmatic, down-to-earth light. I’ve noted the Sunzi usage that you quote before, and I think that it is the most likely model for the taiji usage of the term. I would not go so far as to say that it refers to something impossible or supernatural, but only something that approaches or appears to be so. Even Zhu Xi’s usage of shenming was different from what we might think of as “spiritual.” He really meant something more like “clarity of mind” and used other related terms such as “xuling zhijue” (perception or consciousness that has been cleared of superfluous or distracting thoughts), or “xuling bumei” (unclouded consciousness).

Within the context we’ve been discussing—conscious movement, perception, sensitivity— I think a good provisional translation of shenming would be “acuity”—keenness of perception. That avoids all of the “spiritual” and supernatural baggage.

As for: “gradually get to be able to do as one wishes,” in the taijiquan treatise, that’s an allusion to the Lunyu (Confucius), and to a whole different progression of human development.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:25 pm

Greetings Show-Hong,

On a related issue, may I ask what your opinion is on the meaning of the phrase “zhuoshu,” or “zhaoshu” in Wang Zongyue’s Taijiquan Treatise? This term came up in a discussion we had in the Push Hands area, in the thread, “Bouncing.” The first character has alternate pronunciations of “zhuo” or “zhao,” and some commentators suggest that it basically refers to form practice, to the techniques or gestures of taijiquan, while some others suggest that it has connotations of “touch.” I tend to think that both meanings are implied—that you can’t really have one without the other. Taijiquan technique is dependent upon touch, sensitivity, and response to the opponent at any given point of contact. This whole discussion of conscious movement made me revisit the issue of how to interpret "zhuoshu."

What do you think?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby ShowHong » Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:09 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
I did find a passage in Chen Weiming’s Taijiquan Dawen (Answers to Questions on Taijiquan) where he used the first part of the phrase, zhijue. Here it means something closer to “perceive” or “sense.” It’s in the Push Hands section, in a response to a question about tingjin (listening jin). Chen embedded a definition of tingjin parenthetically within the question: “Tingjin is to perceive (zhijue) the opponent’s use of force in its direction and degree.” Louis</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

HI Louis,

The phrase ‘zhijue’ may not be a common colloquial expression but it is a common written expression so its use in various places does not necessarily indicate a common origin. You are correct that the meaning of ‘zhijue’ as commonly used is more on the ‘perceive/sense’ side. The exact meaning or definition of zhijue is rarely spelled out. Without specifying what is to be perceived or sensed it is very much a concept devoid of substance and meaning. That is why I was surprised by the unique usage and interpretation of the four characters zhi, jue, yun, and dong in the chapter 3 of the Yang Forty Chapters. The second half of chapter 3 details the relationship of zhi, jue, yun, and dong. I never heard of such an approach before neither was I aware of such relationships among these words or what they represented. These relationships give functional definition of the four characters with a level of clarity and specificity which a simple equating ‘zhijue’ to ‘perceiving’/’sensing’ cannot attain. I doubt that this part of the text is derived from Chinese classical literature/thinking like that of Zhu Xi. It would be great if you can spare some time and check this out. In my view, it would take someone with excellent, genuine Taichi skill and a very clear and logical mind to arrive at that understanding, particularly considering that past masters were without the aid of modern knowledge.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> On a related issue, may I ask what your opinion is on the meaning of the phrase “zhuoshu,” or “zhaoshu” in Wang Zongyue’s Taijiquan Treatise? …. The first character has alternate pronunciations of “zhuo” or “zhao,” and some commentators suggest that it basically refers to form practice, to the techniques or gestures of taijiquan, while some others suggest that it has connotations of “touch.” </font>


There are four pronunciations for that character that bears diverse meanings. I believe ‘zhuo’ or ‘zhao’ are the two associated with the meaning relevant to the text under discussion. I am not absolutely sure which is the correct pronunciation since the difference is usually lost on those who are not Peking native, the true native mandarin speakers. My experience has been that ‘zhao’ being used much more frequently. When used in spoken language, ‘zhao’ is seldom used alone, its meaning very much depends on the other verb that it goes with or on the context. In this case of written verse, it appears as a single character that is most likely a noun meaning something that we are to become familiar/proficient with.

What ‘zhao’ means is typified by its use in chess game where each step or move is called one ‘zhao’. In the same vein it is used in other martial arts to denote their steps, stances, moves, combination of moves, tactics, techniques, etc. In short and in general terms ‘zhao’ is what one does in those contexts. So logically ‘zhao’ in Taichi refers to the form, push hands, etc. that we do for practice. But we know that Taichi is not in the form, not in what we do. Rather, Taichi is in how we do what we do. Therefore, ‘zhao’ can be generalized to mean the training regiments that serve as the platform through which we get to learn the Taichi principle and to gain Taichi skill, and on which we experience the manifestation of the principle.

It is more than a stretch to link ‘zhao’ to ‘touch’. If it has that connotation at all it only occurs when it is used as an adverb in conjunction with a verb like in ‘Mo Zhao Le’ (touched it), where ‘Mo’ means the act of touching as a noun or ‘to touch’ as an i.v., and ‘zhao’ connotes that the touching is physically accomplished/successful and transforms Mo into a t.v., hence ‘touched it’. In Wang’s text ‘zhao’ stands alone and is obviously a noun. (One unique case where ‘zhao’ appears to directly linked to the English word ‘touch’ is in ‘zhao loo’ where the whole phrase is equivalent to ‘touch down’ while it really means ‘landing’ ‘landed’ referring to something like an air plane landing instead of ‘touch’.)


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> It would appear that the zhijue yundong idea is effectively a commentary, paraphrase, or amplification of zhuoshu, or zhaoshu (close familiarity with gesture/touch), from the line in Wang Zongyue’s classic. Yang Chengfu’s reference to the same progression in the Push Hands section of his Essence and Applications book substitutes the phrase “jue jin” (to sense energy) in the head position where zhuoshu or zhijue yundong appear elsewhere. I think they all refer to the same thing, but each casts a slightly different light on the matter. </font>


As stated above, zhuoshu is about what we do in practice, ‘jue jin’ is the ability/skill we try to learn in our practice. Here ‘jue jin’ is the essence and ‘zhuoshu’ is the tool or means to attain the essence. They are categorically different.

Zhijue yundong is more than a commentary to zhuoshu. It specifies what is left unsaid in Wang Tzong-Yue’s text – the gap between the tangible things that we do (zhuo) and the intangible quality/ability that we try to acquire (dong jin). Zhuoshu itself is not Taichi. Only when one starts to understand and be able to execute zhijue yundong in doing the zhuo he starts doing Taichi. Afterward it is a matter of progression. When he can do zhijue yundong well he will be seriously studying what is dongjin. After that it is a matter of continuous refinement leading to the stage where the practitioner can do/move as he wishes without straying outside the principle.

Sincerely,
Show-Hong
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:24 pm

Yang Zhenduo in teaching sometimes uses the phrase Yizhao yishi 一着一势 to mean something like 'each and every posture'.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:28 am

Greetings Show-Hong,

Thank you for your thoughts on these subtle terms. To me, the juxtaposition of the words zhuo ×Å and shu Êì in the ¡°Taijiquan Lun¡± is unusual. Given the closeness of pronunciation, ×ÅÊì could possibly be a scribe error for ×Å”µ, which, as you say, can refer to a chess move or a martial art movement.

From the Hanyu Dacidian:

¡¾×Å2”µ¡¿1.ÏÂÆåµÄ²½×Ó¡£2.Ö¸ÎäÊõ¶¯×÷¡£3.±ÈÓ÷ÊֶΡ¢¼Æ²ßºÍ°ì·¨µÈ¡£
¡¾Öø5”µ¡¿±ÈÓ÷ÊֶΡ¢¼Æ²ßºÍ°ì·¨µÈ¡£
¡¾ÕДµ¡¿1.ÎäÊõÉϵĶ¯×÷¡£2.±ÈÓ÷°ì·¨¡¢ÊֶΡ£

But the shu Êì (experienced, skilled, well-practiced, familiar, ¡°ripe¡±) following the ×Å in the Lun line seems like some sort of idiosyncratic usage. So it is possible that some ambiguity is intended by the author. The sense of touch that I think may apply is that of contact with the opponent, as in ½ÓÓ|, that is, ¡°to engage¡± the enemy. Fu Zhongwen uses ×Åcountless times in his form instructions to prescribe the foot coming in contact with the ground (and Yang Chengfu¡¯s book does so as well). I guess the place where I¡¯ve seen the zhuo term as used in the Taijiquan Lun expressed explicitly as ¡°touch¡± is in Ben Lo¡¯s translation of Chen Weiming¡¯s writings, but he sometimes translates it as ¡°technique.¡±

Here¡¯s my rough translation of an exchange in Chen Weiming¡¯s Taijiquan Dawen (compare Lo, p. 38)

~~~
Question: What is the difference between jin and zhuo?

Answer: The zhuo are the methods of transformation (bianhua zhi fa). Jin simply operates through the zhuo. There are myriad [variations of] zhuo, but there is only one jin. No matter what the zhuo, there is but the one jin¡ªit is just that the intention varies at the time of application. Therefore the jin also complies with it and changes accordingly.
~~~

Here, the meaning of zhuo is easily interpreted as ¡°techniques¡± or ¡°movements¡± or ¡°postures,¡± or ¡°gestures.¡± But just how is it that the zhuo become shu? More importantly, how does one know that the zhuo have become shu? Isn¡¯t it through tingjin?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Icini » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:33 am

Great topic. The comments about mobilisation, movement, sensation and awareness are important as well, I think. I posted on the subject on the TCC list earlier this year. My post was as follows:
------------------------------------
I recently had a look at the experiments carried out by Benjamin Libet into the awareness of intent.

These are very interesting to a layperson like myself and rather bizarre in that they seem to show that there is a small gap of something like 0.2 to 0.5 seconds between our intent to do something and our awareness of that intent. If he is right, we intend to do something, like pick up a book, before we are conscious of the intent. In that case, who decides to pick up the book?

More practically this would seem to have possible implications for physically manipulating another person at a rather subtle level. For example, if Libet is correct, person A may decide to push but be unconscious of their intent as it exists in the “real” world for about half a second. However, I wonder if their partner (if sufficiently sensitive) might be able to feel and respond to that intent. In that case, by the time person A is conscious of intending to push they could be committed to a push against emptiness or against a deflection or enough resistance to bounce them back. To them, it would appear as though person B had started a defence before they (person A) had started their attack. That reminds me of “starting second and finishing first” and other variations on the theme.

My head began hurting at this point because person B would theoretically be responding to something that they felt before they were conscious of feeling it and would be making the response before they were aware of responding. In that case, who is responding?

This also reminds me of the passage in the 40 Chapters which seems to say that we are only aware after “mobilisation” (the intent?) and “sensation” both peak, the mobilisation generating movement and the sensation generating awareness. My reading of “peak” is that there is a timescale involved and that intent therefore precedes awareness. Move over Libet, the Taijiquan masters got there first :)

The passage seems to me to imply a way of accessing - and presumably using - a person’s mobilisation and sensation before they are “aware”. To achieve this, the player would surely need to be in exceptionally unclouded state of mind.

In any event, I would submit that it was felt worth recording that the training process starts with conscious movement and that we should realise it in our own mind and body before trying to find it in someone else’s. I think the form is our research laboratory.
--------------------------------------

I don't normally cross-post, but the above got noticed and used on another list as well, so it's out there now.

Perhaps the answer to my question about "who" decides to pick up the book leads towards something that might almost be described as spiritual :) Otherwise, Libet's experiments (if there is no other explanation found in the future) seem to take us into all sorts of equally difficult areas regarding free will.

Regards,

Martin.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:44 pm

Greetings Martin,

Welcome to the discussion. The cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett summarizes Libet’s experiments and critiques his conclusions in his book, _Freedom Evolves_, and, I think, in _Consciousness Explained_. Who decides? If “I” am not aware that I have made a decision until a split second after the decision has taken place, does that mean “I” didn’t make the decision? Doesn’t that depend on what one means by “I” or “me?” If the response, action, perception, or whatever takes place in my body, isn’t that me?

There is an emerging frontier of discovery in cognitive and neural science regarding the nature of consciousness, intentionality, and concepts of selfhood. My interests in those areas dovetail with my interests in taijiquan and in early Chinese thinkers. Jane Geaney wrote a very useful monograph entitled, _On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought_ (2002, University of Hawai’i Press). The Libet experiment reminds me of Geaney’s discussion of yi (intent) in early Chinese thinkers such as Mengzi, Mozi, and Xunzi, in a context Geaney terms “sensory knowledge.” Xunzi used a term, yiwu (intentional thing) to refer to an intentionality of the senses, as distinguished from a specifically mental intent. Geaney writes,

“The Chinese character yi is frequently translated as ‘idea,’ which in this context, might give the unfortunate impression of something like representative mental ideas. An immediate reason to reject such an interpretation . . . is that the yiwu belongs to the sense officials, not the heartmind. [In traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy, the organs, including sense organs and heart/mind are “officials” (guan) analogous to gov’t. officials.] Furthermore, translating yi as ‘representation’ or ‘idea’ is misleading, because of the visual connotation of these terms in much of the Western philosophical tradition. Emphasis on the visual is belied by the aural element in the constitution of this character—‘tone’ yin, over the ‘heartmind’ xin. Finally, such an interpretation is also unlikely because yi is not internal.

“Yi is better translated as ‘intent’—in the sense of something external and manifest in movement. This is apparent because the Xunzi attributes ‘intentionality’ to a dance:

‘The intent [yi] of the dance joins with the way of heaven. . . . How can one know the intent of the dance?—The eyes do not themselves see, the ears do not themselves hear, and yet the order of the bowing, raising the head, crouching and stretching out, advancing and retreating, slowing down and speeding up is such that none of it is not modest and controlled.’
(Xunzi 20/37-39)

“Thus, yi is not an internal mental picture at all. As in the orderly movement of the dance, yi is a manifest and measurable *tending* or movement.”
—Geaney, pp. 37, 38-39.

I think this view of yi (intent) is very close to its meaning in taijiquan.

Regarding your remark, “I think the form is our research laboratory.” I agree. My first sifu, Gate Chan, used to say, “I am my own test tube.”

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 04-25-2006).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:55 pm

Hi Louis, Martin,

Here are some quotes about training response time and perceiving action potentials before action begins from James OschmanÕs book Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, Churchhill Livingstone pub., 2000. The following passage (towards the end) reminded me of Òthe intent [yi] of the dance joins with the way of heaven.Ó

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Amplification:
In Chapter 2 it was mentioned that magnetic brain waves associated with the sensory and motor cortex become stronger when an action is practiced again and again, as occurs when one rehearses with a musical instrument. Similar changes may occur with repeated practice of various Òhands-onÓ therapies. It would not be surprising if the various yogic, martial arts, and contemplative practices also lead to stronger and more coherent biomagnetic fields.

While more research is needed, the most logical explanation for amplification is that the waves of electrical and magnetic activity from the brain are amplified as they pass through the peripheral tissues. Vibrating molecules throughout the body may become cooperatively entrained with the brain rhythms. As more and more molecules within the crystalline living matrix become vibrationally entrained, the fields get stronger.

Bodywork and other repetitive practices such as yoga, QiGong, tai chi, meditation, therapeutic touch, etc. may gradually lead to more structural coherence (crystallinity) in the tissues, facilitating both the detection and radiation of energy fields [italics added] (Oschman & Oschman 1997). Arrays of water molecules associated with the macromolecules are probably involved as well.

This process has been described as the formation of Òcoherence domainsÓ in liquid crystal arrays (Sermonti 1995). The mechanism involves the stabilization of the positional and orientational order of millions of rod-shaped molecules as in cell membranes, connective tissues, DNA, muscle, the cytoskeleton, the myelin sheath of nerves, and sensory cells (Oschman 1997). Stabilization spreads from molecule to molecule, throughout the system. Del Guidice (1993) describes the process as one in which individual molecules Òlose their individual identity, cannot be separated, move together as if performing a choral ballet, and are kept in phase by an electromagnetic field which arises from the same balletÓ. [italics added]

Years ago, Harold Saxon Burr made a related statement: Òthe pattern or organization of any biological system is established by an electrical field which is at the same time determined by its components and determines the orientation of the components. The field maintains the pattern in the midst of a flux of components. This is the mechanism whose outcome is wholeness, organization, continuityÓ [italics added] (Burr 1972). P221</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I havenÕt seen LibetÕs experiments yet, but hereÕs some related stuff summarized from the section ÒEnergetic pulses precede actions: a basis for mental imaging and intentionÓ Oschman, p.226-228.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Pulses of electric and magnetic energy begin in the brain before any movement occurs. É Related to this is an important phenomenon that is being investigated for its application in training for athletic events, dance, theatre, music, combat, and for healing work. Performers, therapists, and patients alike can benefit from mental rehearsals of internal imaging, without physically doing anything É First, mental practice of movements sets up the anticipatory fields described above, without causing any muscles to move. Kasai et all (1997) refer to this as Òsubthreshold muscle activityÓ. From Figure 15.3 [shows brainwave activity beginning 1.5 seconds before movement of right index finger], we would expect imagery to produce the readiness potential and, possibly, the pre-motion potential, without the motor potential that triggers the movement. Mentally rehearsing an action sends information throughout the body, via the perineural and other conductive systems, to all of the relevant cells. This then leads to a ÒpreconditioningÓ of biochemical pathways, energy reserves, and patterns of information flow. Cells everywhere are then poised to work together at the instant of demand. [italics added].

Many athletes, performers, and therapists of various kinds have described the profound experience of being totally prepared, present, and focused (see for example Murphy 1992). It is during these periods, sometimes referred to as Òthe zoneÓ, that extraordinary accomplishments take place. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Martin wrote: ÒMy head began hurting at this point because person B would theoretically be responding to something that they felt before they were conscious of feeling it and would be making the response before they were aware of responding. In that case, who is responding?Ó

I am. Image But only if I allow myself to be larger than my conscious mind. I think that when it comes to responding very quickly there is a degree of not being conscious in the traditional sense of tracking things in ÒrealÓ time (read: normal subjective perception of events unfolding in a linear way). This is part of the transition from conscious competence (being very aware of the details) to unconscious competence (just allowing things to happen exactly the right way without paying much attention to how or why or actively doing anything) that fol wrote about earlier.

The classics (and my teacher) say ÒGive up yourself, follow the other.Ó My teacher is also tells me sometimes: ÒYou are thinking too much. Stop thinking so much. I want you to respond without thinking. If you are thinking, it is too slow.Ó I think this relates to the idea of training the body to a certain Òreadiness potentialÓ for response. If one practices enough, the brainwaves for Òpre-motion potentialÓ are active even when one is thinking of the possibility of action. I think this is whatÕs meant by the admonition to be aware, but not be hypervigilant. Aware, but relaxed. Ready, but not tense. Tension is about having already engaged the muscles, which then have to be unclenched or redirected with more force than it would take to just mobilize something that is charged and ready, but not engaged. Forgive me if this is nothing new to youÑIÕm still working it out for myself.

From a wholly personal and subjective point of view, I can tell you what it feels like for me to react before ÒregisteringÓ stimulus/response (someone pushes/I counter). If I am thinking it doesnÕt work very well. ÒThinkingÓ may include: trying to figure out my partnerÕs favored attack strategies, trying to observe his weaknesses, visualizing how to root better. If I am in the grip of a strong emotion it doesnÕt work very well.

But if I can turn off or turn down the flow of miscellaneous thoughts and emotions then I can feel very present and aware. There is a feeling of cohesion and fullness then, as though my body-mind were condensed to its full extent, and yet expanded to touch the edges of where my opponent exists. The sensation is that my energy expands from a central area of density. If the expansion is even and I can maintain it at the superficial edge between myself and my practice partner, then as soon as he begins to respond, I can already have reacted because some aspect of myself (my energy, my awareness of a field of energy around me) has already picked up on his impulse to move and responded in turn.

When I am listening carefully, I can feel a wave of energy come at me (like the gust of wind from a hand dryer) before my partner moves at all. If I tense up when this happens, it is as though, some part of my awareness contracts or retracts. This, IMO, is a hollow. (One should be without hollows or projections.) My opponentÕs ÒwaveÓ can then wash in to fill the space I have vacated and occupy that territory. On the other hand, a projection would be rather like telegraphing your intent.

But when itÕs going well, it does feel like an effortless kind of dance. IÕll go through the better part of a round in a kind of semi-conscious trance state, gently moving my arms, turning my waist, shifting here and there. ItÕs more like I can watch it happening, but IÕm not doing anything because whatÕs happening is concurrent with my awareness of whatÕs happening. ItÕs more like a surprised, ÒOh! Look at thatÑthatÕs kind of neatÓ than ÒOh, wouldnÕt it be neat if I do this, and then that, I think IÕll try it now.Ó

Where is my intention, my sense of selfhood at this point? IÕm not entirely sure. There is a preliminary sense of ÒtuningÓ myself to ÒlistenÓ to the frequency of the other person. But once the ÒstationÓ is set, thereÕs no need to keep adjusting the dial. I feel simultaneously larger than myself and less important.

Happy experimenting,
Kal

[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 04-25-2006).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:17 pm

Found another interesting link while surfing at Empty Flower: this one's about mirror neurons ("Monkey see, monkey do.") and the biology of empathy. It has interesting implications for tai chi study.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/10/science/10mirr.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=4b525f923a669928&ex=1294549200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
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Postby chris » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:04 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>I am. But only if I allow myself to be larger than my conscious mind. I think that when it comes to responding very quickly there is a degree of not being conscious in the traditional sense of tracking things in real time (read: normal subjective perception of events unfolding in a linear way). This is part of the transition from conscious competence (being very aware of the details) to unconscious competence (just allowing things to happen exactly the right way without paying much attention to how or why or actively doing anything) that fol wrote about earlier.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The Peter Principle of Paranormal Physiology!?
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Postby ShowHong » Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:02 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
[b]... Given the closeness of pronunciation, ×ÅÊì could possibly be a scribe error for ×Å”µ, which, as you say, can refer to a chess move or a martial art movement.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Whether there could possibly be a scribe error is immaterial. ×ÅÊì appears in the copy hand written by Li I-Yu and in the version included in CMC¡¯s book. Both were masters of Taichi and well educated in classical Chinese. If ×ÅÊì could pass muster according to the two masters I don¡¯t see there could possibly be anything wrong with it and I don¡¯t see anything unusual in its use either. ×Å”µ is mostly used in spoken Chinese and carries connotation of abstraction of collective moves/steps rather than the move/step, it is more like stepping versus a step. There can be a number of ×Å but ×Å”µ cannot be counted. In the classical/archaic Chinese, primarily exists in the written form, brevity and economical use of words is a virtue and a single ×Å is sufficient. Grammatically speaking ×Å”µ does not work in that verse since it is a nominal noun that does not match the Dong Jin which contains a verb and describes a process or action of sort.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">.. uses ×Åcountless times in his form instructions to prescribe the foot coming in contact with the ground (and Yang Chengfu¡¯s book does so as well). </font>


This is similar to the ¡®zhao loo¡¯ that I mentioned previously. It means primarily ¡®landed¡¯ or ¡®on the ground¡¯, which of course implies the thing touches the ground but connotes nothing special about the ¡®touch¡¯. If you check it, it is always ¡®zhao dee¡¯ or ¡®I zhao dee¡¯ ¨C when or as soon as it is on the ground (not suspended in the air).

From a previous post:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Taijiquan technique is dependent upon touch, sensitivity, and response to the opponent at any given point of contact. </font>


Just like ¡®zhao¡¯ involves touch or physical contact but is not about touch/physical contact, Taichi involves touch but is not really about or dependent upon touch. A close analogy is in painting where a board or canvas is always part of a painting but no one would consider the painting being about the board/canvas nor would we consider the painting being dependent upon the board/canvas even though it is indispensable. We¡¯ve got to differentiate the essential from the incidental.

Taichi is the art of a specific mode of response to the other person in physical interaction and sensitivity is how well a person carries out the response in this specific manner. So to say that Taichi is dependent on sensitivity and response is like ¡­ saying nothing or I don¡¯t know how to express it.

Another way of looking at it is that techniques of other arts also depend/involve touch, sensitivity, and response to the opponent. So how is Taichi different from the other arts?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">... place where I¡¯ve seen the zhuo term as used in the Taijiquan Lun expressed explicitly as ¡°touch¡± is in Ben Lo¡¯s translation of Chen Weiming¡¯s writings, </font>


I have no doubt that that is in error as evidenced by, in addition to the linguistic use of the word, the explanation given in the answer by YCF/Chen which showed not even a hint of ¡®zhao¡¯ might have anything to do with touch.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But just how is it that the zhuo become shu? More importantly, how does one know that the zhuo have become shu? Isn¡¯t it through tingjin? </font>


I¡¯d say zhuo becomes shu is like when learning to play a musical instrument you can sight read a piece of music or when learning to dance you picked up a dance routine like waltz or tango. But music is not in playing the notes nor dance in the steps. You probably remember that Fred Alstair (spelling?) danced with a vacuum cleaner?!

What is tingjin? It is not mentioned in the classics. Yet we all know it is supposed to be very important and even essential in Taichi. Isn¡¯t that strange? How do we know that the tingjin as we know it is really part of Taichi?

Sincerely,
Show-Hong



[This message has been edited by ShowHong (edited 04-30-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:38 pm

Greetings Show-Hong,

Thank you for straightening me out on several fronts regarding any connotation of “touch” in the zhuo/zhao term in the taijiquan treatise. This is why I ask questions, and I’m happy to have your feedback.

Regarding your remarks, “Just like ‘zhao’ involves touch or physical contact but is not about touch/physical contact, Taichi involves touch but is not really about or dependent upon touch. A close analogy is in painting where a board or canvas is always part of a painting but no one would consider the painting being about the board/canvas nor would we consider the painting being dependent upon the board/canvas even thought it is indispensable. We’ve got to differentiate the essential from the incidental.”

Here, I would have to disagree. An art with no medium would be no art. Quite apart from whether zhuo means touch, touch is more than incidental in taijiquan. If the essential is independent of physical reality, that would be so rarefied as to be the very definition of intangible.

You wrote: “Another way of looking at it is that techniques of other arts also depend/involve touch, sensitivity, and response to the opponent. So how is Taichi different from the other arts?”

In this regard, I would say it’s no different.

You wrote: “What is tingjin? It is not mentioned in the classics. Yet we all know it is supposed to be very important and even essential in Taichi. Isn’t that strange? How do we know that the tingjin as we know it is really part of Taichi?”

This is an excellent question! I think that I know the “what”—that tingjin refers to sensing/perceiving the jin of the other—but I don’t know where the term came from, or why the aural sense is privileged over the other senses in this strange technical usage. How did it come into taijiquan?

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-01-2006).]
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