More on Empty Stance

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 13, 2001 7:36 pm

Michael, very good description of the mechanics of the technique you describe for Hand strums the Lute.

Another technique for the position is described in Chen Wei Ming's book. He says that properly executed you break the opponents arm. This being executed as I take it, with more of a "snap" against the wrist and elbow. The directions and the energies remain somewhat the same.

Good description of the forward foot in both positions and it's effect. Note that the toe down also imparts a rounding(that does not occur if one places the heel down) of the left hand in White Crane. This seems to be significant in terms of the two energies separating, one up, one down and out. There is an added dimension with the rounding down and back than there would be without it. What do you think? This does not occur in Hand strums the Lute where the energies are compressive rather than expanding--and where the heel is placed down.



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-13-2001).]
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Postby Audi » Sat Mar 17, 2001 11:26 pm

Hi Charla, Michael, and Michael,

I agree with Michael's description of the mechanics. One small refinement I might add is that as you settle backwards into Play the Guitar, I think the right hand describes half of a vertical circle, pulling backwards, then downward, and then pushing slightly forward as you settle a little onto the front foot.

Talking about primary and secondary energies as Michael Coulon has done is important, because, as I understand it, all the energies are more or less present in all the postures and so you kind of have to figure out how they add up together. Another way to say this is that we have to think about what we are doing to our opponent's center, rather than to a particular arm or wrist.

Another thought I have about the contrast between Play the Guitar and White Crane Spreads Wings is that the shape of the left foot/leg and the right hand/arm seem to me to mirror each other somewhat. In White Crane, we are attempting to open up our opponent's center and the left leg and right hand/arm have convex, upwardly curved shapes. In Play the Guitar, we are trying to uproot our opponent's center by using his or her arm as a lever and our left arm as a fulcrum. Here the left foot/leg and right hand/arm have more concave, downwardly curving shapes.

Michael (mluddite), you talk about having the ball of the foot help the left hand to curve? I am not sure I feel that, can you elaborate on what you mean?

As I write this post, I wonder about Needle at Sea Bottom. Here is a posture with clear downward energy, but where the ball of the foot touches as the body sinks. Any thoughts?

As I perform the posture and ask myself why a heel touch feels inappropriate, I think of my hips. At the beginning of the posture, having my heel touching helps me open my hips, but as I sink, the fold at my waist becomes more important as the ball of the foot touches. Perhaps, a need for rotational energy at the hips implies using the heel, but the need for moving energy up and down the spine requires use of the ball of the foot.

Alternatively, perhaps the shape of the left foot/leg matches the shape of the downward curve of the sinking right hand or prepares for the subsequent rising energy of the body. Certainly having my heel touch as I sink makes me feel like I am pulling my opponent into my feet and under my center.

Perhaps, rather than speaking of having downward energy prominent, I should distinguish between downward "push/press" (an) energy in Play the Guitar and downward "pluck" energy in Needle at Sea Bottom. I think of push/press energy as compressing my opponent's energy flow downward and pluck energy as overextending it so that he or she topples over.

Any thoughts?
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Postby Audi » Sat Mar 17, 2001 11:33 pm

Hi everyone,

For those who perform Empty Stances without significant weight on the front weight, how do you perform Needle at Sea Bottom? Can you still lift your front foot without shifting your weight? Does this posture feel natural?

I confess that I performed this posture in this fashion for a long time, but never felt comfortable with the stress this method seemed to put on my right leg, my hip and the small of my back. It also seemed like a very weak posture. I am just curious if this was just my lack of experience, poor execution of the posture, or whatever.

Audi
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Postby Michael » Sun Mar 18, 2001 3:01 am

Audi, this may be just be a function of how MY body is built. Watch the left hands movement when stepping out with the toe, and follow it when you step out with the heel.



[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-17-2001).]
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Postby Audi » Sun Mar 18, 2001 1:55 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Michael:
<B>Audi, this may be just be a function of how MY body is built. Watch the left hands movement when stepping out with the toe, and follow it when you step out with the heel.


</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Michael,

Interesting. I am not sure that my left hand and arm actually change shape, but it feels like they sure want to. With the heel touching, it feels like the bottom has dropped out of my left side and the heel of my left palm wants to press down to the floor. With the ball of the foot touching, there is no such feeling. Perhaps the hand wants to track the shape of the left foot and seek position by the left thigh?

Thanks for revealing another seemingly ornamental detail that seems to be not so ornamental after all.

Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 03-18-2001).]
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Postby Michael Coulon » Mon Mar 19, 2001 7:07 pm

Michael and Audi,

Great posts! Michael, I tried 'white crane..' utilizing a heel stance and I agree with Audi that while the shape of the hand does not seem to be different, the energy in the hand feels very different. The heel stance seemed to seat the wrist more.

Audi, thank you for the further clarification on the 'hand strums the lute' posture. You are very correct with the movement of the right arm and hand. I attempt to do my best to break down the movements, but forgot this very important point. I like your thoughts on the convex vs. concave nature of the arms and legs, and the energies utilized in these differences.

Audi, I agree that the waist is the key point in 'needle at the sea bottom'. The transitioning from the heel stance to the toe stance allows the hips/waist to square off to the front and allows you to bend forward more easily. I think you also have something with the directions of the energy. Could it be that the heel stance enhances energy on a horizontal plane and that the toe stance enhances the energy on the vertical plane? Any thoughts?

Michael.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Mar 19, 2001 7:56 pm

Hi Audi,

Many that I have seen doing Tai Chi only use half of the muscles in their waist turns.

When moving from 'Play the Guitar' (or Lute, or Pi'pa) to 'Needle to the Bottom of the Sea' pull your right shoulder back as your right hand pulls back, and pull your left hip back as your left foot pulls back. This is "shoulders right/hips left."

When you plunge the needle downwards you switch to "Shoulders left, hips right." You'll find much less stress on your right leg and lower back.

David
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Postby Audi » Sun Apr 08, 2001 4:43 pm

Hi Louis and David (and others),

Louis, I forgot to add my expression of appreciation to those above for your translation.

I also had one question I forgot to ask. Do you believe the interplay between the back foot thrusting/treading (deng) and the front foot sustaining/propping up (cheng) applies equally to bow stances and empty stances?

David, I do not recall whether you feel more comfortable in the 100/0 camp or in the 70/30 camp, when it comes to empty stances. If you perform 70/30 empty stances, I think I know what you mean about shoulders right, hips left. If you do not, I think I am more mystified than ever. Shoulders right, hips left seems useful to me only if my front foot if weighted.

One aspect of this issue just became clearer to me last night in studying Yang Jun performing Step Back to Ride the Tiger on the Saber Form video. (For those unfamiliar with the Saber Form, I do not believe there is any distinction between the Empty Hand posture and the Saber posture relevant to this discussion.) As Yang Jun performs the posture, his left foot first rocks onto the heel as he draws his body backward (as if trying to leave the foot behind) and then touches at the ball of the foot as he settles forward into the posture. To my eye, both movements appear very natural, and almost compelled by the weight shifts backward and forward.

As I recall, the same shift from left heel to left ball of foot occurs in Needle at Sea Bottom in the Empty Hand Form. Again, to make this ankle movement more than decoration, it seems to me that a definite shift of the weight backward and then forward onto the foot is necessary. I recognize that all these details are not necessary to all styles or sub-styles, but I would question any execution of this posture that looks the same in all respects that does not have any weight shift onto the front foot.

Respectfully,
Audi
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Apr 10, 2001 12:42 am

Hi Louis,

Thank you very much for your translation posts. You've clarified a number of thinks for me, and I learn something every time.

Hi Audi,

You wrote, "David, I do not recall whether you feel more comfortable in the 100/0 camp or in the 70/30 camp, when it comes to empty stances."

I use 90/10 in general. I think of the foot as weightless, and that had led to misunderstandings (because I thought it was 100/0,) before I got out a scale and weighed the front foot. I tell my students that it's fine to put up to about 30% of the weight on the front foot


You also asked of Louis, "Do you believe the interplay between the back foot thrusting/treading (deng) and the front foot sustaining/propping up (cheng) applies equally to bow stances and empty stances?"

I use it there, but it feels different.

And you wrote, "If you perform 70/30 empty stances, I think I know what you mean about shoulders right, hips left. If you do not, I think I am more mystified than ever. Shoulders right, hips left seems useful to me only if my front foot if weighted."

I found that with that dynamic I can increase the amount of weight on the front foot without "shifting" the weight. When I want to pick up that foot I withdraw the push that I was putting into the ground.
If I am on one foot the dynamic applies to movements of the leg, like kicks.

As a side note I think that I use a narrower stance than YZD does, like in 'White Stork'. I was taught to touch the toe in front of the instep instead of utilising a channel.

David

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 04-09-2001).]
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