[i]Chansijin[/i] (Silk Reeling Energy)

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:00 pm

Greetings,

Oh heck, I’m going to repost that Liezi story. His words are better than mine, after all, so I'll "take them as my model." This is part of a tradition of “knack master” stories, many of which can also be found in the Zhuangzi. These stories recount the skills of mostly ordinary people—wheelwrights, bellstand carvers, buckle makers, cicada catchers, and rapids swimmers—in order to reflect on the subjective nature of skill mastery, and to relay how skill feels and how it works for those who have it.

This story is from the Liezi, a Daoist work that contains material dating from the Warring States period, but possibly not actually composed into a book until as late as A.D. 300. The explicit reference to a 'thread of silk out of the cocoon' is evocative, as is the interactive skill expressed in the line: “he let out and drew in the line following the pull and give of the water.” Come to think of it, this kind of reminds me of something Zheng Manqing wrote about, comparing push hands practice to sawing with a 2-man saw (I’ve seen photos of 19th Century Chinese sawyers doing this.) Zheng said the 2-man saw analogy came from Yang family teachings. (See Wile, T'ai-chi Touchstones, pp. 19-20 "Grasp Sparrow's Tail is Like Using a Saw.")

The Liezi story commences with a quote about "equalizing" from the 3rd cent. B.C. Mohist Canons:

"Equalising the give and the pull is the ultimate principle of dealing with the world. The same applies to the things within it. 'Equalising. Let a hair hang so that the give and pull are equal. Pull too hard, give too easily, and the hair will snap, because the give and pull are not equal. If they were kept equal, nothing that snaps would snap.' Men doubt this, but there have been those who knew that it is so.

"Chan Ho made a fishing line from a single thread of silk out of the cocoon, a hook from a beard of wheat, a rod from one of the pygmy bamboos of Ch'u, and baited it with a split grain of rice. He hooked a fish big enough to fill a cart, in the middle of a swift current in waters seven hundred feet deep. The line did not snap, the hook did not straighten out, the rod did not bend, because he let out and drew in the line following the pull and give of the water. The King of Ch'u marvelled when he heard of it, and summoned him to ask him the reason. Chan Ho told him:

" 'I heard my late father speak of P'u-chu-tzu's archery with a line attached to the arrow. Using a weak bow and thin line, and shaking the line so that it rode with the winds, he transfixed both of a pair of black cranes on the edge of a dark cloud-because his attention was concentrated and the movement of his hand equalised the give and the pull. I profited by this story, and took it as my model when I learned to fish. It took me five years to learn all that there is to learn about this way. When I overlook the river holding my rod, there are no distracting thoughts in my mind. I contemplate nothing but the fish. When I cast the line and sink the hook, my hand does not pull too hard nor give too easily, so that nothing can disturb it. When the fish see the bait on my hook, it is like sinking dust or gathered foam, and they swallow it without suspecting. This is how I am able to use weak things to control strong ones, light things to bring in heavy ones.' " (A.C. Graham, trans., _The Book of Lieh-tzu: A Classic of Tao_, pp. 105-106)

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 03-04-2006).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:11 pm

Not going to jump in very deep on this one. Since I know NOTHING about silk reeling worth a darn my comments would be so much gibberish anyway.
I do want to say that what comes to my mind in regards to the Yang teachings on the subject of silk reeling is something Master Yang Jun says on both the hand form DVD and from the seminars I've attended (hand form and sword form) saying something along the lines of:
Turn (or maybe circle, I think I've heard both) the arm (or sword), "level circle, level loading".
I'm going from my admittedly weak memory, but I don't think I'm too far off of what he says. Anyone who remembers the accurate quote help me out here please.
This has always struck me as being rather close, at least for the arms, to how I have previously viewed silk reeling.
I do want to say, for the record, that I have not ever heard Master Yang Jun, or any other Yang family member, speak about silk reeling, teach silk reeling, or mention silk reeling.
At one time, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I trained with someone who professed to understand silk reeling. This was not a Yang or a Chen school but yet another branch of Tai Chi. What they explained about their interpretation of silk reeling had nothing to do with inner tantien movements, chi or jin, at least as I understood what they explained to me, but rather he said it was the circular movements made by the legs, the waist and the arms, all in unison, to better apply the energies in the forms.
Circling your arms, and therefor loading them with energy, was pretty much the way I understood the idea. So when I hear MYJ say this, "level circle, level loading" I was thinking "silk reeling".
I could be wrong and probably am. It wouldn't be the first time.
I'm no expert on this kind of thing by any stretch. I'm just saying this is what I thought when I heard him say this during his instruction.

That's all I've got. I'm more throwing this out there to elicit comment than to make any definitive statements, mostly because what I know about silk reeling would fit in a thimble and leave room to rattle.

Cheers.

Bob
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Postby laopei » Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:42 pm

I have one document stored in my computer with every word that I have been able to collect from YZD in English language since 1990. It is long and it is sometimes difficult to find in the long document some phrase or statement of what I remember YZD said. Recently I quoted from that document.
Today I re-read the whole article from the actual Tai Chi Magazine instead of the electronic document.
I found today a passage that I did not submit the other day because as my eyes scanned the long document i manage to miss it then.
I apologized for that. There was no intention to obscure the truth of what YZD said about Chann su jing. It was just a case of tired eyes missing the following in my screen:

quote:
Yang said that there is chan ssu jin (silk reeling energy) in Yang style, but it is not as evident or as intense as in the Chen style. It is continuous in the practice of the form, since all the movements involve making circles.
"Yang style is much more open and in a larger format with larger curves. This is easier for the average person to be able to accomplish." He said that in the development of the Yang style, a goal was to develop and synthesize the movements to accommodate the general public and to modernize the applications. His father, Yang Cheng-fu, in his late life settled the Yang style as it is known today. But the way that Yang Cheng-fu practiced in his middle age and in his late age was different, Yang said.
Similarly, he said the Yang style does not talk about dantian rotations internally. "The Yang style doesn't concentrate on the internal rotation of the dantian. We just sink the qi to the dan-ti an. This is also part of the gradual development of the Yang style so it can be practiced by everybody.
"As long as you settle the qi in the dantian and your heart is calm, then your practice is natural and calm. That is enough. This is easier to learn and easier to practice for everyone. You loosen the entire body, coordinate all the movements in the joints so that your four limbs are dependent on the movement of the waist, and you use the waist like the universal joint of a car. When the waist leads the movement, the waist will engage the movement of the abdomen.
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:38 am

Thanks for that quote, Horacio. It's interesting reading what Yang Zhenduo has said about this now after doing a bit of research on it myself. I think when asked this sort of question he is kind of stuck, just as I now find myself, because the terminology of chansijin is really sort of Chen 'proprietary' nomenclature, as Louis puts it, and yet the inner mechanics are there in Yang style if you look for it. The Yang family doesn't go at teaching with this analysis and yet the 'stuff' which the Chen family talks about in regard to chansijin is actually part of Yang style too. So in one sense Yang style has it and in another it is completely absent from the discourse...
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:05 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Anderzander:
<B>
Chen style ime seems to have connected rotational lines of force - rather than connected rotational lines of movement.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

We in the west have come up with some physics to handle this seeming dichotomy: E=MC2

(can't quite get superscript to work here)
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:09 pm

woah Gerry!

What are you saying? Image
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Postby Fred Hao » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:31 am

Hi,All

When you guys circulate the jin as silk--floating, and subtle, your opponents are hard to predict and land force upon you. They feel in danger like being at the edge of the cliff, their heart and chi leap up and disturbed, and their feet are weak and unstable.

This is the use of silk jin, also the characteristic of it.

Since you have it, whether you want to twist, draw, or do whatever , it's OK.
It's just a name given to the silk jin.

But once you want to eject your jin just like shooting an arrow. It is not concerned with the silk jin.

This is the viewpoints and feeling from my partners while pushing or trying fights or attackts with me
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:00 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Anderzander:
<B>woah Gerry!

What are you saying? Image</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Heh heh, well my post was only partly in jest. This is highly speculative, but I was wondering if perhaps there might be a faint difference in flavor between someone whose intent is upon the energy of a screwing motion and one whose intent lies more along the lines of positioning and circling the masses in his arms and body. The next thought that occurs in this train is that energy and mass are, as in Einsteins famous equation, directly related to each other. One thought that is now sticking with me from the discussion above and the quotes supplied by Horacio is that from a mental intention point of view, Chen style seems to emphasize
a screwing energy, while Yang emphasizes peng, which may be more structural than energetic, in some sense. So there you have, as Anderzander seemed to be suggesting, force on the one hand and mass on the other. So aside from the obvious form detail differences, etc, we can see some commonalities but also some differences in flavoring here.


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-04-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:49 pm

Greetings,

For those who may be interested in some of the language appearing in the Zheng Manqing passage I mentioned above, the term applying to the two-man saw is la(1) ju(4) “pull-saw.” According to several of my dictionaries, laju can be used as a metaphor to refer to two people or factions locked in a back and forth struggle. A lajuzhan is a ‘seesaw battle’ with no clear resolution. A laju didai is a contested region that keeps changing hands in a time of war. Zheng says that the laju metaphor was “a true oral teaching” from Yang Chengfu. He wrote, “In using a two-man saw, each must use an equal amount of strength in order for the back and forth movement to be relaxed and without resistance.” (Wile, Touchstones, p. 19) The “back and forth,” is “wangfu,” which appears in the Mental Elucidation classic line, “In going to and fro (wangfu), there must be foldings and alternations.” This is the same classic, incidently, in which the “drawing silk” imagery is presented.

Yang Chengfu used the wangfu/to and fro language in his Essence and Applications book section on Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, and to very good effect in the Needle at Sea Bottom/Fan Through Back secions. Zheng’s reference to an “equal amount of strength” is jun(1) yun(2), which refers to even, well-distributed force or action. The Liezi passage I quoted also refers to the necessity of this equalizing in the skill of using a fishing line or a tethered arrow, but is of course a very old form of writing, so it only used the single character jun for “equalizing.” This is in part what made me relate the Liezi passage to taiji theory—not as a conjecture of ancestry, of course, but simply as an interesting correlation of meaning, language, and scenarios. All of these images, I think, are what Yang Zhenji was referring to in his explanation of single-hand push hands as a cooperative drill, where he said, “Whatever amount the opponent advances, draw his advance in that same amount.”

Showing this horse no mercy, I just want to repeat that I think the imagery of “drawing silk” is unique, and makes important reference to a tactile phenomenon crucial to maintaining a connection, “without separating or severing” and other key aspects of individual and partner practice. I have nothing against “silk reeling,” but I do think that attempts to equate silk reeling jin (chansijin) with drawing of silk (chousi) give short shrift to important metaphorical entailments in the drawing silk image that we should not miss.

Feel me?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Anderzander » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:34 pm

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I think the imagery of “drawing silk” is unique, and makes important reference to a tactile phenomenon crucial to maintaining a connection, “without separating or severing” and other key aspects of individual and partner practice.</font>


If I read what you say and put myself into my practice it brings to mind the sensation of attracting someone to emptiness. Where you get your opponent to follow you whilst under your control. You have broken their root and they must follow you to move.

This is extremely delicate and the image of drawing silk apt. If you speed up you will break the connection, slow down and they could regain their root.

This is well described in this reference as 'Zhan' - http://www.taiji-bg.com/articles/taijiquan/t76.htm

I would say the body is strung together (chousi) but it is using yi not jin. You are creating emptiness to draw the person out.


However, does the phrase not state 'Mobilise the jin like pulling silk from a cocoon'? This is describing the act of working with jin.

There are a two possibilities here: you are mobilising your own jin or you are mobilising your opponents jin.

Only the second would fit with the sensation of 'attracting to emptiness', (which I presume to be the subject of “Whatever amount the opponent advances, draw his advance in that same amount.”).

The line however does not seem to be meant in this context to me.

It seems to be dealing with mobilising your own jin. Which when being trained is done delicately. When the force is accentuated then we have what has become my classic image of the 'Chen' method of spiralling lines of force' and describing it as Silk reeling Jin.

From this position Louis it would appear the distinction is perhaps your own? The phrase in isolation of it's sentance describes the feeling, metaphorically, that you have identified.....

but is perhaps not, even in Yang style, it's native definition???

how does that sound out? Image

Stephen


[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 03-05-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:35 pm

Greetings Steven,

Re: “However, does the phrase not state 'Mobilise the jin like pulling silk from a cocoon'? This is describing the act of working with jin.”

In the original Chinese, there is no “cocoon,” although it is implied as part of the metaphor, and is often stated that way in some translations.

Re: “There are a two possibilities here: you are mobilising your own jin or you are mobilising your opponents jin. . . . The line however does not seem to be meant in this context to me. It seems to be dealing with mobilising your own jin.”

There is no pronoun or indication of any kind in the original line that would point to whether it refers to my jin or the other’s. I would assert that in taijiquan, it doesn’t matter. It’s not whose jin is in play that’s important, but who is controlling and managing the jin. (In the Zhang Yun article you linked on zhan, he states: ‘When using Zhan, you do not use your force to move your opponent, instead of he is moved by his own force but by your control. So it is called "borrow force from your opponent and use his force to beat him back".’ There you go!)

But take a look at the lines that open the passage where the chousi line appears: “It is also said, if the other does not move, I do not move. It the other moves slightly, I move first. The energy (jin) seems loosened; about to expand, but not yet expanding. The energy (jin) breaks off, yet the intent does not.” The context seems to be interactive movement with an other. The jin is, if you will, generic. Of course when doing solo practice, the jin you are moving is your own; when working with a partner, the jin that you move is whatever is available, and the point is to move it so that you don’t get hurt.

Re: “From this position Louis it would appear the distinction is perhaps your own? The phrase in isolation of its sentence describes the feeling, metaphorically, that you have identified..... but is perhaps not, even in Yang style, it's native definition???”

The phrase chansijin is a nominal designation. Here the word jin is part of the nominal phrase, so it is “a type of energy” or “a type of skill.” The phrase chousi in the line “Move jin AS THOUGH (ru) drawing silk” is not a nominal construction, but a metaphor describing HOW to move jin. I've come to understand that knowledge of "what" is different from knowledge of "how." It’s not a distinction I arrived at out of thin air. It’s a distinction I see in the grammar and usage of the terminology in question, but also one that I feel, based on the way I practice, and based on things that have been taught to me by teachers with much better understanding of the art than I have. It also appears that Wu Tunan saw this distinction, and although I arrived at it independently, when I read his thoughts on the matter, I felt like I was seeing something that corroborated my understanding.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:31 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:

I have nothing against “silk reeling,” but I do think that attempts to equate silk reeling jin (chansijin) with drawing of silk (chousi) give short shrift to important metaphorical entailments in the drawing silk image that we should not miss.

Feel me?

Take care,
Louis</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


You know Image , I am with you on that.


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Anderzander:

You are creating emptiness to draw the person out.

</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

According to "Taiji-quan Treaties" one should begin from apprehending of 'zhao' (special training techniques), then he can gradually move to "comprehending jin". After "comprehending jin" there are some steps to "shen ming". As well-known researcher Shen Shou puts it – "shen ming" means "marvelous" (shenmiao) and "brilliant/superior" (gaoming). I think what you are saying about is probably closer to higher stages ("marvelous stuff"). But what about preceding basic training…. Or maybe I don't understand something?
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:04 am

Hmnn... I would suggest that maintaining a connection without severing or separating is part and parcel of the chansi image just as much as chousi. There are some drawings and text in the chansi article I translated in Third Rep which refer to this. I don't see any reason to segregate the meaning of the chousi image from the chansi image. It seems an artificial distinction to me to suggest that chousi only refers to keeping the silk tight (as it is unwound) but chansi refers to (keeping the silk tight as) you unwind the silk from the cocoon. Louis cited some uses of chousi which idiomatically translated would mean something like 'pulling teeth' in English. All that proves is it's a well known compound with multiple applications.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-06-2006).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:44 am

I also find something nonsensical about Wu Tunan's attempt to pooh-pooh the idea of 'chousijin' because then we would see all sorts of x-jin and y-jin. The problem with this reasoning is that's precisely what has happened, with one group even having a jin based on the image of stirring a sesame confection! This something-something-jin is actually a productive mechanism in the language. Jin is actually one of those free-radical sorts of words which combines easily with other words. I suspect that a lot of the explanations you see about chousi are actually back-formations where Yang stylists try to differentiate themselves from Chen style, which has greatly elaborated the chansi metaphor.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-06-2006).]
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Postby DPasek » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:42 pm

Although I do not have the authoritative status of Gu Liuxin, I do have long term experience with both Yang and Chen styles of Taijiquan. My understanding is that silk reeling (chansijin) and silk pulling (chousijin) are quite different, despite the similar language. I also feel that both styles have both, although Yang style emphasizes silk pulling whereas Chen style emphasizes silk reeling.

Silk pulling (chousi) has been addressed quite nicely by contributors to this thread and, since my understanding does not differ significantly, I do not have much that I could add here. But as I understand it, silk reeling is as different from silk pulling as the silkworm’s spinning the silk in creating the cocoon (chansi) is from the process used by people unwinding the silk form that cocoon (chousi). [Chansijin = energy used in spinning the cocoon; Chousijin = energy used in unwinding the cocoon]

The spiraling movements the silkworm uses in spinning the cocoon can be viewed as analogous to the dantian rotation of Chen style, and coordinated with the way that the legs/knees/kua/waist generates power (see the article by Chen Zhonghua on the kua in T’ai Chi magazine, Vol. 29 No. 5, Oct. 2005) and the diagrams posted by Yuri (2/28/06), you can get an idea of how this power/energy is transmitted through the body.

Even though I practice Chen style, when practicing Yang style I do not feel much of the chansijin (although it is there to a slight degree). I try to keep my Yang and Chen influences separate in my practice since I feel that each style has its own strengths to contribute to this art. Part of the reason for the lesser feel of chansijin in Yang style seems to be that Yang style (as I was taught) does not practice the dantian rotation. Yang style also tends to separate the weight shifts from the waist turns more than Chen style, and Yang style tends to shift more towards roughly 70%/30% weight distribution rather than the more 60%/40% of Chen style which contributes to the different leg/knee/kua/waist/dantian… dynamic.

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