Occupying the opponent's center

Occupying the opponent's center

Postby Kalamondin » Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:48 am

Hi All,

One of my practice partners recently learned a technique from a friend of his who studies another style. I can't counter it and I'm wondering if anyone can provide any suggestions, advice, and more information.

The method seems to be to enter the opponent's body with the yi/mind/will/qi/intention of occupying their center, and displacing them from their core in order to make them unable to function. I'm not talking about center of balance here.

Now, I've had people track my center and I've tracked theirs--but always with the quality of being on the outside looking in. This is the first time I've experienced this kind of energetic incursion in training and it felt awful.

My training partner said that at higher levels, there's no external movement, but each partner is chasing the other like two little mice running around inside until boom, one flys out.

He also said that the only possible counter was a counter attack--I had to occupy his center before he could occupy mine. Is that true? What if I don't want to? It seems like one of the main points in tai chi is developing enough skill and control to have options beyond "the best defense is a good offense."

Another training partner suggested that because I tensed up I "took the hit" in full and would have done better to just allow the incursion to pass through me to the ground--or perhaps bounce it back up off the ground.

I'm wondering if more solid pung jin would enable me to counter the incursion before it reaches center? Can one learn to counter non-physical pushes with small circles of the yi alone? Is it possible to have a defense such that the other's yi cannot enter at all? I'm reminded of something from the Tao Te Ching: because he is without contention, no one can contend with him, but I can't quite work out how that would apply.

I'm interested in any theories, interpretations, insight, or references to the literature.

Also, if there's anyone out there practicing this kind of technique, how do you take care not to injure each other?

Thanks very much,
Kal
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:37 am

Hi Kal,

Usually people can affect someone in such a way if he/she has a gap in the inner structure.

I would suggest you to reconsider the following classic text, sometimes attributed to Zhang Sanfeng:

<I>Whenever one moves, the entire body must be light and lively,
What is very important - connection throughout.
Qi should gudang, shen should be gathered within.
Let there be no hollows or projections; let there be no stops and starts.</I>

Chen Weiming gives the following commentary:

If qi gudang, then there will be no gaps.
if shen is gathered within, then there will be no confusion/disorder.


If you understand what gudang is then there will be no gaps in your inner structure. Your opponent will encounter with the wave. The wave that is very hard to control for an opponent. To her, there would be no center in you, only you will know your center. If she wants your center, give her even more - that wave.

Just my thoughts, what I am working at.



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 09-02-2006).]
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Postby Anderzander » Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:16 pm

Solid pung jin would just make your body easier to move by locking it together.

You need to join your Yi to his and lead it.

Quite a long time Bamboo_Lead posted on here about this kind of thing. If you are trying to physically respond to his Yi you will always be too late.

If he were just pushing physically or his Yi and body were moving at the same time then you can counter it with physical measures.

But to counter his Yi you need to sense it and use yours. The method transposes directly from physical / physical to Yi /Yi. The discrepancy only becomes unreconcilable if it is Physical / Yi.

This is far too brief - but allow the movement of his Yi. The centre he finds is amplified by your attention - so dissolve the area he find by releasing your intention from the area, this will neutralise him.

If you can neutralise without alerting him you can lead his Yi by adding yours to his and circle it back.

It sounds like an opening in your training - I hope it leads you to good things.

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 09-02-2006).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:50 pm

Yuri, Anderzander,

Thanks very much for you comments. I'll make a longer reply a bit later. But for now, Yuri, can you explain more about this wave? What is it? What does it feel like?

Thanks,
Kal
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:37 am

Hi Kal,

I am just studying it. My teacher embodied it, but I didn't understand it at that time. He didn't emphasize it because I think I wasn't ready for it.

As far as I understand it at the moment there are several main issues about it. Unevenness in the movement. Seems even, but not even. Looks slow, but feels not slow. And of course, one of the main points – is shenfa (body method), that I actually cannot explain in words better than classics do it. I remember CMC pushing his student on a video with that shenfa. The video shows him from the back view; he wears his long dark suit. Look how he sends that wave from the lower back. It's almost how I see it, but a little different.

Good practice,

Yuri




[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 09-03-2006).]
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Postby Audi » Sun Sep 03, 2006 3:07 pm

Greetings all,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The method seems to be to enter the opponent's body with the yi/mind/will/qi/intention of occupying their center, and displacing them from their core in order to make them unable to function. I'm not talking about center of balance here.</font>


Isn't this what Xingyi (Hsing-I) teaches? I am no expert, but it sounds like explanations I have heard.

The only applicable Tai Chi doctrine that comes quickly to my mind is "Know your opponent, but don't let your opponent know you." If your opponent does not know you, how can she know what to occupy or when she has what she needs? Could it be that you are giving her some energy that you shouldn't be giving or don't need to give and in this way are giving her a place to apply leverage?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">He also said that the only possible counter was a counter attack--I had to occupy his center before he could occupy mine. Is that true?</font>


If this idea does come from Xingyi, that might explain why that cure is recommended. I would agree that that sounds a little different in flavor from what the Taijiquan literature usually seems to discuss.

In my view, this is not the main idea that Taijiquan trains. I think our idea is to distinguish empty and full. If your partner is using her Yi to try to displace yours, practice "seeking stillness in movement" and probe for the empty and full. If you find either, you know where the other is. Try not resisting the attempt to displace you, but rather try using it.

By the way, although we all seem to do it, do the classics actually talk about "centers" anywhere?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It seems like one of the main points in tai chi is developing enough skill and control to have options beyond "the best defense is a good offense."</font>


As I understand it, Taijiquan has three circles (?) of defense: the hands/forearms, the elbows, and the torso. For the opponent's technique to work on you consistently, could it be that you are not using all three circles? If all three circles are active, I would think that your center would not be so transparent.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm wondering if more solid pung jin would enable me to counter the incursion before it reaches center?</font>


For me this is always a prominent dilemma. My concept of general Peng/Pung Jin is that it refers to a continuous tendency to expand. If you do this with too much "solidity," you become a rock that is easy to understand and manipulate. If you do this with too little energy, you become too easily "compressible." Your opponent can simply collapse your structure around your center and make you solid and understandable in another way. I think that understanding the dynamic tension between the two extremes is what is powerful. This produces an effect that is different than merely splitting the difference between the two opposites.

Even if you do get the Peng Jin right, I think what becomes truly crucial is what to do with it. Do you use it to control? or do you use it to resist? If you try to use Peng Jin to resist, you will reach a limit. Although some will not be able to force you to that limit, others will be able to do so. Once you reach your limit, you will be overwhelmed and evicted from your "center."

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm wondering if more solid pung jin would enable me to counter the incursion before it reaches center? Can one learn to counter non-physical pushes with small circles of the yi alone? Is it possible to have a defense such that the other's yi cannot enter at all?</font>


I am not sure it is helpful to consider Yi separately from the physical, especially in the context of physical training. If, for the sake of argument, you are successful in countering someone's Yi without physical movement, where does that actually leave you? At best, you are at a standstill.

There is a reference in some of the literature to the idea of not barring your house to keep the thieves out, but rather letting them in to trap them inside and eliminate the threat for good. With this idea, I think you normally want to give your opponent's Yi free rein, so that you can fully know it. Once you know it, you can try to find the empty and full that must be there.

I also think that you actually want the opponent's Yi to "enter," since then you can control it. If your opponent's Yi is bent on "entering," while yours is bent on controllng it once it enters, I think you have an advantage. If your center is what is important, let the opponent burden himself with occupying everything else.

I think these thoughts of Anderzander and Yuri expresse similar ideas, but in different words:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This is far too brief - but allow the movement of his Yi. The centre he finds is amplified by your attention - so dissolve the area he find by releasing your intention from the area, this will neutralise him.</font>


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To her, there would be no center in you, only you will know your center. If she wants your center, give her even more - that wave.</font>


I particular like the idea of a wave, but it is a tricky concept to handle. A wave is powerful, but its power comes from and is transmitted by its emptiness. If it meets something that cannot change with it, it unleashes its full power; however, if it meets something that can change, it is harmless. If you have ever played in rough surf, you may have experienced the thrill of safely diving through breaking waves that would be quite dangerous to meet with your legs planted firmly on the sand.

Lastly, could the problem lie in something very simple? For instance, could it be that you are comfortable with a style that allows back and forth movement or allows you to stay forward, and suddenly you are confronted with someone who likes to push only with his or her weight forward?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Sun Sep 03, 2006 4:25 pm

//I particular like the idea of a wave, but it is a tricky concept to handle. //

Yes, Audi, you are right. One should carefully approach that thing, only after he/she knows the main nuances. And everything must be done within the "conscious movement mode".
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Postby chris » Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:34 pm

What is the first thing you do when your partner tries to establish a bridge?
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:24 am

Hi Kal,

I've reread my first post and would like to clarify myself a bit. I still see the solution for the problem in getting the state of connectedness. Regarding this point some Classics mention gudang. In this sense gudang, as I see it at this moment, is not necessary a wave, but a state of the moving inner structure, which has no gaps. It's like a sail boat that can manoeuvre well. Excuse me for the poor explanation.

Your disagreement, agreement? Maybe your teacher gave some comments about such things as gudang and different levels of inner connectedness that you may tell us?



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 09-06-2006).]
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Postby shugdenla » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:39 pm

My teacher(s) didn't say much of anything but my sense of how they did application indicates that one never occupies the opponents center. As a matter of fact, the opponent's occupation of your center allows you using taiji principles to his periphery to subdue him. As an extension, if the opponent has reached that far (your center mass) it means awareness has been diminished and one is caught with his 'qi' down.

That calls for more skill than just tuishou!

[This message has been edited by shugdenla (edited 09-06-2006).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:27 am

Hi Yuri,

Sorry for the delay in response, I've been out of town. Thanks for the review of the classic text. It's clear to me that there are many problems with my response to this kind of pushing. I have hollows when I retreat too fast inwards. I have projections where I can't keep my spirit adequately contained. As a result of all of that, I freeze up and end up getting broadsided. I liked your sailboat anaology. If I continue it, I'm like an inexperienced sailor who gets caught by a sudden gust of wind and tips the boat.

I haven't seen my teacher for awhile, unfortunately, but I will definitely ask about this. Before this latest experience, his instruction to me was to "expand more on the inside."

I've been thinking a lot about the whole thing, and I think my teacher's instruction still relates well even though it was given before. There's still too much of a split between internal and external for me. If I could learn to expand more, I might be able to learn to counter yi with yi before I have the sensation of the opponent being in too close. From there I could work up to getting comfortable with greater internal proximity the way I am more comfortable with external proximity now than I was when I began.

Thanks,
Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:16 am

Hi Anderzander,
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
But to counter his Yi you need to sense it and use yours. The method transposes directly from physical / physical to Yi /Yi. The discrepancy only becomes unreconcilable if it is Physical / Yi.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This makes a lot more sense now. I tried to counter physically first, and by the time I recognized that I might be able to counter with Yi it was too late.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The centre he finds is amplified by your attention - so dissolve the area he find by releasing your intention from the area, this will neutralise him.</font>


Thank you very much for this advice. I will work on dissolving my attention from the areas where I am getting stuck. I think it's similar to the association I was getting with "being without contention." If I can figure out how to let go of my resistance to engaging in this way it would be a lot easier for me to stop amplifying my center and dissolve my attention fluidly.

Thanks also for your good wishes regarding my training. I'm going to try not to resist the opportunity this presents.

Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:22 am

Hi Audi,

Thanks for your thoughtful post.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Isn't this what Xingyi (Hsing-I) teaches?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It did rather seem that way to me. I know the man my practice partner is practicing with does tai chi, but I don't know if he does xingyi as well. It may be a personality quirk of a strong will as well.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I think our idea is to distinguish empty and full. If your partner is using her Yi to try to displace yours, practice "seeking stillness in movement" and probe for the empty and full. If you find either, you know where the other is. Try not resisting the attempt to displace you, but rather try using it.</font>


I love that everyone's telling me the same thing: get out of the way! It really is helpful for me to hear it in so many different ways from so many different people.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> By the way, although we all seem to do it, do the classics actually talk about "centers" anywhere?</font>


No, not that I'm aware of--it continues to be a dilemma for me. There are a few different functional ways of talking about centers (maybe we should open a new thread). Some that come to mind are: physical center of gravity, tracked by proprioceptors, etc; ever changing center of yin-yang diagram, the liminal space between one and the other; "being centered" (mind, body, spirit, root united); "central equilibrium" in the 8 directions; the classics' reference to the water wheel and the vortex. But actually, the center I was referencing was more the vertical core energy channel referenced in yoga. I've never seen a reference to it in tai chi, though I think there may be a similar meridian. I just don't know enough. Anything further is speculation on my part.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As I understand it, Taijiquan has three circles (?) of defense: the hands/forearms, the elbows, and the torso. For the opponent's technique to work on you consistently, could it be that you are not using all three circles? If all three circles are active, I would think that your center would not be so transparent.</font>


I think there might be more than three circles of defense because when he was using less invasive methods, I could counter with those three without too much trouble. The new thing here that I can't counter yet is the Yi entering. It feels like a pain/pressure in my chest and worse, but he's only touching my forearms physically. That's the part I have't learned to get out of the way of yet.

I think I have a similar opinion to yours about pung jin. There's a continuum between too inflated and too deflated. One ought to beable to change this at will. But I also feel like there's a base level that can be maintained that's without hollow nor projection, that can still be responsive in the way that a car with shock absorbers is responsive. The tires stay inflated the same amount, but there is a bit of "give" when they contact variations in the road surface. (Deja vu?)

Anyway, my practice partner is just flat out stronger than me--physically, but also internally he's much smoother, has a better root, and much stronger pung jin. I can counter his pung jin in a direct linear way for brief periods, but I find this tiring, and easier (and more tai chi-like) to get out of the way.

But what I'm gradually coming to, is that yi is very closely connected to pung jin. I don't know how they are related, except that degree of pung jin follows the yi. But Yi, like pung jin, can be inflated or deflated, have hollows or projections, be too resistant, etc.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I am not sure it is helpful to consider Yi separately from the physical, especially in the context of physical training. If, for the sake of argument, you are successful in countering someone's Yi without physical movement, where does that actually leave you? At best, you are at a standstill.</font>


Is it a continuum perhaps? If you can counter with Yi alone, it's not necessary to fight physically. "At best, you are at a standstill." Yes, standing still. A standstill, but not an impass.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">A wave is powerful, but its power comes from and is transmitted by its emptiness. If it meets something that cannot change with it, it unleashes its full power; however, if it meets something that can change, it is harmless. </font>


Nice description. Yeah, I didn't change with that wave, I just got tumbled in the surf, swallowed too much water, got sand up my nose, etc.

Anyway, thank you all again for your advice. I have some really good ideas about what I need to practice now. Mostly, it's going back to basics--yielding, rooting, distinguishing between empty and full, returning force by circling, but all in a new way.

Regards,
Kal
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Postby bamboo leaf » Tue Sep 12, 2006 2:57 am

(One of my practice partners recently learned a technique from a friend of his who studies another style. I can't counter it and I'm wondering if anyone can provide any suggestions, advice, and more information.)

Don’t worry about countering it would be my first advice. What it sounds like you have felt is the direct application of another’s yi or intent. Much different then what is talked about on the net these days.
I would say its time to move on to another level of practice for you.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYZ5tk_NlaY

yi reacts with yi, if you are truly empty there will be nothing for it to react with.
What he mentioned about higher levels is very true. Most people are still working on body methods and never really work on the mind methods. So it is quite different when encountered.
What you need to be able to do is to change and follow it, not counter attack. The idea of offense and defense means that one is still thinking linearly. if you think in this way there will always be a gap in your movement and practice.

Taiji is neither and both. The idea of join follow, and relase are very key. The question is join with what and follow what. The clip of teacher Wang, details and shows some very good ideas on this.
http://v2.56.com/id1691449.html
this clip of another teacher also shows the same ideas at work.



[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 09-11-2006).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:24 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
yi reacts with yi, if you are truly empty there will be nothing for it to react with.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

So it sounds like trying to counter at this point (before being empty) would be an exercise in banging my head against a wall. Would you suggest that the "quickest" route to countering another's yi is practicing emptiness through standing meditation, meditative form practice, and other forms of introspection and self-examination?

I know I sound impatient--and I am--but I also get that tai chi is a process of mastery, i.e., a journey, not a destination.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
What you need to be able to do is to change and follow it, not counter attack. The idea of offense and defense means that one is still thinking linearly. if you think in this way there will always be a gap in your movement and practice.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Having metaphors to hang images onto is one of the ways I learn best. Do you have any handy images or metaphors for this non-linearity? Is it the single circle of simultaneous attack and defense? That's still a single plane. A more complicated and twisty rollercoaster of yin and yang transitions in three dimensions? An M.C. Escher moibus drawing? Matching frequencies with the opponent so closely until they hear only themselves? A diffuse energy field with no disruptions that encompasses both until there is neither?

Sorry if I'm being dense and/or over-intellectualizing this. Sometimes thinking about things from a lot of different angles helps me find the key I need to unlock seemingly simple concepts like: be empty...and yield... give up yourself and follow the opponent.

That Wang Peisheng clip was amazing--I've never seen footage of him before. It gave me some good ideas about how to increase my listening skills. His ability to hone in on what was relevant (obstructed, stuck, solid) in the demo guy was phenomenal.

Haven't downloaded the second one yet. My connection is slow.

Thanks though,
Kal
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