Front Leg in Bow Stance

Postby DavidJ » Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:44 pm

Hi HengYu,

You wrote, > With regards footing, many say that the feet should become as sensitive to the ground, as the hands are to the opponent in pushing hands, or the mind is/becomes to the environment. <

This is really excellent. Image

Thanks,

David J
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:15 pm

Re: Discussion last month

Audi: There are several issues that I see in questions raisied in your post. A few comments on the following topics first:

A. preventing the weight of an incoming push from landing on your body
B. pushing against the ground
C. friction against a contact surface

A. preventing the weight of an incoming push from landing on your body

Analogies that I find useful for getting an idea of the feeling involved here include the pendulum/bell clapper analogy and flowing water analogy. You are moving internally, so when an outside force comes into contact with you this force is diverted away from its original course. If this force does not cut off the source of your motion you can continue to move. If this force finds the source of your motion, said force can increase pressure on this source or position.
When touching an accomplished Taiji practitioner one feels like one is putting one's hand into a flowing stream; your hand is pushed along. When a boat is lowered into the stream it moves along with the flow of the water. If the water is not flowing the boat won't go anywhere. The 'flow' is one of waves of muscular activity aka, "jin4". The ability to understand what 'jin4' is, is what the Classics very specifically refer to as the beginning of one's Taiji journey.
The fundamental technique in Yang Style Taiji is to divert half of an incoming force away from your body and keep the other half in your control. This way the incoming force will be ready to 'fall' or miss its target and will be relying on you to maintain balance, but will be unable to land directly upon your "jin4yuan2" (source of jin4). You can also divert all of this off of your body which results in the opponent losing balance or simply being unable to push.

B. pushing against the ground

Having entered into the above state, one does not need to push against the ground with one's feet to 'off balance', 'throw', 'bounce', etc. the opponent away.
Often you see people pushing off the ground directly back at the opponent's force without having first off balanced them. In such a situation not only the force from the opponent being pushed away, but also the pusher's own force is reflected back onto the pusher's body. The result of this is that you completely lose your 'root' and you knock yourself off balance. (you can see this in the NYTaichi video at 0.28 where he shoves the student away so he can go check the video camera; whereas at 0.23 in the same video you see a nice push that uproots the student cleanly and where there appears to be much less pushing against the ground. You can also see the pusher having his push reflected back on himself in this clip:
http://www.searchcentertaichi.com/video1.gif)

One thing that I should clarify is that leg muscles are at all times very active; -loose and engaged- to create the feeling of (Audi's quote of Yang Zhenduo) "mutual constriction"; however, they are not pushing against the ground. The feet are the same as the hands, or other points of contact, with respect to softness and the requirement of "not creating gaps (losing contact) and not increasing pressure" (bu4 diu1 bu4 ding3). A push against the ground will create a state of "increasing pressure" at the point of contact.
The coin bouncing off of the drum is a good analogy in that, like the human body, the drum has a soft part, the head, and a hard part, the shell. To bounce the coin back the coin has to hit the head not the shell. Of course, if the head is not strung tightly across the mouth of the shell the head will lack elasticity. I take the drum shell to be the bones and the drum head to be the muscles and tendons. The Taiji adept is able to "hide" his bones, the 'mechanical parts' or the rigid part of the system. The opponent feels the elasticity of the soft component, but does not feel the rigid structure to which it is attached.
You can 'stack' your bones or line them up end-to-end, joint-by-joint, from the soles of your feet all the way to your hands. You can receive the weight of an external body on the hands and transfer this down, joint-by-joint to the bones in your feet. In this way the weight of the external body rests upon your bones. When you push back against this force the weight of the external body is still upon your bones. You can also take this external weight and put it on your muscles and tendons.
Living in China, the land of intense social drinking, I recently saw an example that relates to this discussion. At a very upscale seafood restaurant where few leave without a stagger, I went to the restroom and saw a row of 'dignitaries' lined up, one next to the other, each in front of his respective urinal with head against the wall above to prop themselves up. They had minimal control of their muscles and had no choice but to 'prop.' When we develop Taiji skills we try to do the extreme opposite of propping ourselves up; against the earth or against an opponent.

C. friction against a contact surface
When pushing or pulling, ideally, after an initial contact and connection, there should be no increase in pressure at the point of contact. There also should be little to no friction manifest on the skin (or garments) of the players at the point of contact. Movement/activity throughout the body as a whole instigate the off-balancing or other controlling effects. In like fashion, the contact of the feet with the ground should manifest -minimal friction- and -minimal pressure- increase (like walking on thin ice).
When done correctly, since players do not feel an increase in pressure and do not feel friction at point(s) of contact, there is often serious disbelief that the effect of the push was real. Since the opponents push was reflected back, there is the feeling of, "I didn't do anything. You just fell back on your own." As a result, players often find it difficult to accept training methods that do not involve increased pressure and friction at points of contact.


Louis:
Here is that same section with pertinent Chinese terms (in Pinyin) added.
With terms like 'rigid bodies', 'workings of a clock', it is clear that he is contrasting a system containing elasticity and fluidity with a system of cogs, gears and chains-what I translated as 'mechanical.'

"Biological transmission of force (sheng1wu4li4) differs from a mechanical system (ji1jian4; parts, workings of a clock, cogs) where force at one end must result in an equal force being applied on the opposite end. The human body is different. It is possible for the opposing force created by the push of the feet against the ground to be completely absorbed (or used up), due to the complex transmission system of the tendons, bones and joints (fu4za2de ji1jian4, gu3ge2, guan1jie2 deng3 sheng1wu4li4 de chuan2di4 xi4tong3). This force thus disappears without a trace (li4 ke3neng2 wan2quan2 bei4 chuan2di4 xi4tong3 suo3 xi1shou1 (xiao1hao4), bian4de wu2ying3 wu2zong1.) This is because the transmission of biological force does not rely on rigid bodies (gang1ti3), but on the contraction of tendons and the rotation of joints."


Jeff
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Postby Audi » Sun Jan 11, 2004 2:04 am

Greetings all,

Jerry, thanks for the translation of Shen’s work. I cannot comment directly on your choice of words, but I can see that you are quite specific and vivid in the English you use, without appearing to inject foreign sentiments into the text. It is very interesting to read Shen’s thought. I think I can see more clearly where certain ideas I have read come from.

In an earlier post, you directed the following towards me:

<<By the way I have noted your lukewarm response to this essay in the past, perhaps deriving from prior learning experiences with people who indiscriminately mixed up different styles of taiji. I would urge you to revisit that essay as there is no doubt that what he says there applies to Yang Style as well as Chen.>>

I actually liked the post. The reticence you may have detected stems from the fact that I continue to find the role of Chan Si Jin in Yang Style confusing. Some Yang Style practitioners make no reference to Chan Si Jin and say or imply that Yang Style simply does not have the “twisting” movements of Chen Style. Others say that Yang Style uses the exact same Chan Si Jin, but simply manifests it in the form more subtly and more internally. Still others talk about the spiral movement of Jin through the body, but seem not to link this up with any corresponding external motion whatsoever.

When you say that Shen’s words apply to Yang Style, are you saying that his description of Chan Si Jin applies to the Yangs’ practice? Could you elaborate on what they have said? At present, I cannot figure out how to incorporate what I have learned from other Yang Stylists about Chan Si Jin into my practice of the Yangs form. I find the varying attitudes to be apples and oranges.

I liked several aspects of this recent passage. Shen gives some good insight behind the special characteristics of the Yang Style bow stance and provides some good imagery about being “ambidextrous,” being like a “ball rolling on a plate,” and “not missing an opportunity.” He also gives straightforward advice about stances, while giving a good summary of many of the “boxing manuals.” His definition of “half light, half heavy” is also quite clear. Nevertheless, I have many difficulties with his text, which I will outline below. Perhaps they would be clarified by reading later sections of his work. I invite anyone to offer their insights about how to alleviate my difficulties.

Shen lists four points about full and empty at the beginning. In the second one, he refers to the theory that “each place has its full and empty, all places always have this part-empty part-full quality.” His explanation of full and empty in the feet seems, however, not to take this into account. Under his theory, how is a leg both part-empty and part-full if emptiness means simply having “slightly less weight” and fullness means having “slightly more”? He seems to stress the importance of maintaining unequal weighting in the legs, but I do not know how to relate this to a part-empty part-full quality? Again, I deal with the issue of “slightly” as a grammatical artifact of Chinese and inherent aspect of Yin-Yang duality. I, however, no longer understand full and empty simply as a matter of weight distribution.

Shen talks about beginners using 20/80 weighting and more accomplished practitioners using 40/60. Is he talking about weighting in the form? I have not met anyone who varies form postures in this way. Certainly, various styles differ on the depth of stance, partly because of the issue of “nimbleness,” but I have always understood this as an issue between styles or between frames, but not one within a style or frame. Does this advice apply to Solid-Empty Stances (i.e., “Cat Stances” or “Xu shi bu”)? If not, why not?

Shen lumps positions where one is “getting out of entrapment” (qin2 na2?)” along with positions where one is lifting one leg or standing on one leg. Why is this? I have never heard of any special requirement for such situations that would account for this exception. Does anyone have any ideas that would justify this exception?

Shen talks about ward-off arms being empty, but does not explain the basis for this definition. What is the underlying logic? How does this relate to the transitions into Fair Lady and Apparent Closure, where the forward arm initially wards off above the less weighted leg to strip off the opponent’s grip? How are we to classify the myriad other arm and hand positions as empty and full?

In discussing distinguishing full and empty between leg and foot, Shen talks about the importance of theory, but does not seem to about what specifically to do. In other words, if one duplicates the external moves of the form, will this be enough to accomplish what he is talking about? If not, what is one supposed to do in addition?

Recently, I had the opportunity of viewing a video of Cheng Man-ch’ing doing his form, followed by someone who I think was Yu Cheng Hsiang. During Yu’s performance, there was a commentator talking about distinguishing full and empty in the arms and he seemed to be summarizing material that may have come from Shen. I noticed that there were certain moves (Cloud Hands and Fair Lady, perhaps), where Yu seemed deliberatively to keep his “off” hand and arm fairly passive and hanging somewhat “limply” by his side. I marveled at this because I had been taught to practice drills like this once or twice and because I had not noticed that Cheng used this procedure.

Although I think I understand the rationale behind this practice, I have difficulty seeing how to adapt this to the Yangs’ practice. There is nowhere in the form where I feel my “off” arm or hand does not have something specific to do and does not need to have a strong feeling of Jin equivalent to what the “active” hand needs. In other words, there is no opportunity for leaving a hand or arm “passive” without violating the Yangs’ form requirements. Even with respect to Cheng’s form, I feel uncomfortable with the apparent inconsistency of having an obviously “passive” arm in one posture, yet not doing the same in other positions where the requirements of the posture would not allow me to hang my arm at my side (e.g., the culmination of Fair Lady or Fan Through the Back).

Shen closes by talking about the necessity of both legs “having purchase” in order to become nimble and natural in changing directions. In previous posts, I think I have defended a similar position in trying to describe my understanding of Cheng and Deng in the legs. Nevertheless, Shen seems to sum up empty and full in the arms and legs by this doctrine in a way that I find puzzling. Much of the form takes place when only one leg is in contact with the ground. How can such an important doctrine have such limited applicability? Why have “full and empty in every part” at some times, but than have no application of this doctrine at many others?

All in all, I am glad for seeing this material, but there are many things about Shen’s work that I do not understand. Perhaps, his later chapters would clarify things. There are also parts that contradict things I believe I have been taught by the Yangs. For instance, the only times when “doubling” has explicitly been pointed out to me had nothing to do with 50-50 weighting in the feet. If I restrict the context and application of Shen’s words, I can interpret them in ways that become meaningful and consistent for me; however, at the moment, I still find it easier simply to approach these concepts from a different standpoint.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Audi » Sun Jan 11, 2004 2:04 am

Greetings Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions in an extended and thoughtful way.

Your answer to A (“preventing the weight of an incoming push from landing on your body”) is quite clear and, at least for me, not controversial. I would say, however, that I still do not see distinctions here between mechanical, hydraulic, or biological systems. A turnstile, a mobile, or a merry-go-round would seem to be mechanical examples of what you describe. I would also propose that a matador accomplishes this type of diversion of force, without increasing the pressure on his or her root.

You are also quite clear in talking about “pushing against the ground.” I agree with most of what you say, but see different implications.

I saw the same thing you saw in the second video clip. I did not object so much to the practitioner’s rebound, but rather wondered whether his weight distribution was really consistent with what was described elsewhere on his site. I look at the rebound as an issue of making sure that when you intend to transfer Jin onto the opponent, you must not stop short and leave some in your body. If you “shoot the arrow,” none of the arrow’s energy should remain with you. The bow should flex fully and not be kept short of its natural extension.

Rather than thinking of a coin bouncing off a drum, I think it is clearer to think of stomping on a beach ball. As far as I can determine, the physics are the same, except for the difference in the level of force. With the beach ball, the increase of pressure against the ground, is clearly perceptible in a way that the coin’s pressure is not. I would argue, however, that the physics are exactly the same.

You mention Yang Zhenduo’s “mutual constriction,” but I think we are seeing different imagery or different context. I would say that by attempting to push against the ground, one cannot actually succeed in increasing the pressure, but one can and will succeed in creating a clear linkage between the legs that will not exist otherwise. If one were standing with each leg on a matching pair of scales, I doubt that one can do anything with one’s leg muscles to actually increase the amount of weight that either scale would register, unless one shifted body weight horizontally. I think that trying to press one’s foot against the ground would accomplish nothing at all in this sense. Despite this, in this very situation, I can clearly experience the sensation of pressing either foot against its respective scale and will thereby palpably change the loading in my joints and tendons. In other words, I can accomplish a physical, but internal change, that the scales will not register.

Jeff, you also mention the following: “The feet are the same as the hands, or other points of contact, with respect to softness and the requirement of "not creating gaps (losing contact) and not increasing pressure" (bu4 diu1 bu4 ding3).”

I think I understand “ding” differently. I would not translate it as “increasing pressure,” but as “butting.” For me, the essence of butting does not have so much to do with the amount of pressure, but the intent of the pressure. I think that when one does Zhan, the amount of pressure used will vary according to the situation and the opponent’s intent. If I use the side of my finger to “butt” against my opponent’s technique, I can make the opponent wary in a way that will encourage him, consciously or unconsciously to deny me the energy I need to receive. On the other hand, if the opponent decides to prop him or herself directly against my body, I can accept a lot of weight while still using Zhan to uproot and control him or her.

As a general rule, I agree that it is bad tactics and a bad practice method to rely on a thrusting motion against the ground as the primary means of interacting with an opponent, either offensively or defensively. This is different from using the “thrusting motion” for other purposes. I would classify focusing on thrusting against the ground to interact with an opponent as “Kang1” (“resisting” or “going against”). Again, however, the issue for me is not so much whether there is an increase in pressure, as distinguishing whether one is going along (“sui2”) with the opponent’s intent or doing something else. Also, I would say that you always want to use the highest proportion of the opponent’s force as possible, while committing the smallest amount of your own force as possible. Focusing on leverage against the ground does not incorporate the opponent’s intent, distribution of force, or circulation of energy.

Jeff, in talking about “friction against a contact surface” you talked about a practitioner having disbelief at the effectiveness of a push. I agree with this and certainly have experienced this; however, I believe I have received pushes from high-level practitioners (at least with respect to me), where the increase in pressure was quite clear. I can recall only rarely being pushed or pulled significantly where the level of contact on my clothes would not have been clearly visible. I have certainly experienced my share of “falling into nothingness,” but this is not the same as being sent flying across the room. I also am not referring to a “bull-and-matador” effect, which little exertion of physical strength, but no real Taiji skills, is necessary to produce. One needs only an opponent acting like a crazed bull.

As I understand it, the issue is how to “highjack” and tease out the opponent’s available force. To the extent the opponent succeeds in reserving his or her force and reacting as a dead weight, however, there is no choice but to increase pressure and use some of one’s own force. On the other hand, to the extent, the opponent injects a great deal of energy into the mutual exchange of energy, one has more to play with and can get away with using much less of one’s own energy.

My understanding of the structural requirements of the Yangs’ form is that everything is geared to providing a great deal of raw, physical power provided by the whole body acting as a unit. As I understand it, this power is never deployed in the teeth of the opponent’s power and is not really the pivotal point of one’s tactics or strategy. I have not been taught, however, that this power should not be employed. The Fajing I see demonstrated certainly presupposes an increase in contact pressure.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Jan 11, 2004 6:25 pm

Hi Jerry, Louis,

re: the meaning of full and empty. Fwiw, putting on my philosopher's hat, I think considering empty and full as static qualities or quantities is a Cartesian exercise.
On one hand, there needn't be a contradiction --since, whether we use a Cartesian or a, let's call it, TC philosophical perspective, the art is a human activity in the actual world. I.e., looking at it either way does not affect what needs to happen --in order to walk, for ex.
Otoh, although I think it's possible to think of tcc in a Cartesian way --as comprised of polar opposites-- I don't think that such a view is traditional. Indeed, it is an intriguing subject; what were the properties of China's non-Cartesian science? At any rate, I think the idea of polar opposition --as opposed to complementary opposition-- would be a relatively modern addition to the philosophy.

Jerry's position, iiuc, is that, if it is necessary to "distinguish" between full and empty, then there must be a full and an empty, and thinking of them as processes of filling and emptying is an unnecessary confusion. Well, I can agree with the confusion; but, I'm not sure I can agree with the argument. Certainly, I agree that one can, at any point in time, say that a glass is full or empty. But, we could also say that, at any moment, its contents might be increased or diminished. If we have to distinguish, we must think in terms of points in time --unless we are dealing with something unchanging. I think the idea of constant change must underlie the concept of distinguishing full and empty.

Anyway, thanks both of you for the interesting discussion.

regards,
Steve James
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:27 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
I actually liked the post. The reticence you may have detected stems from the fact that I continue to find the role of Chan Si Jin in Yang Style confusing. Some Yang Style practitioners make no reference to Chan Si Jin and say or imply that Yang Style simply does not have the “twisting” movements of Chen Style. Others say that Yang Style uses the exact same Chan Si Jin, but simply manifests it in the form more subtly and more internally. Still others talk about the spiral movement of Jin through the body, but seem not to link this up with any corresponding external motion whatsoever.

When you say that Shen’s words apply to Yang Style, are you saying that his description of Chan Si Jin applies to the Yangs’ practice? Could you elaborate on what they have said? At present, I cannot figure out how to incorporate what I have learned from other Yang Stylists about Chan Si Jin into my practice of the Yangs form. I find the varying attitudes to be apples and oranges.

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

Well, virtually every move we are taught by the Yangs has arm rotation. They tell us specifically that the rotation of the arms must synchronize with the movement of the waist and legs. If you begin to analyse how the arm rotations they teach us work, it ends up being the same system Shen describes. What Shen describes is a useful addition to what the Yangs teach because, as you know, we are not performing isolated movements in the form. The movements must link up and continue. Shens analysis looks at the system of arm rotation from the point of view of the whole form, the whole 108 moves. There is nothing in his description which contradicts what the Yangs describe on a movement by movement basis, and what Shen says sheds a lot of light on the overall system of rotation and the meaning of the rotation. If that weren't enough, Yang Zhenduo explicitly mentioned in an interview in Tai Chi magazine that Yang style does indeed have chansi, only that silk reeling is less emphasized than in Chen style. Remember that the interview we read is through the intermediary of a translator and Marvin writing it down. I think the point he was trying to make is that while this exists in Yang style, we do not have chansijing exercises per se like the Chen family does.

As far as what other Yang stylists tell about silk reeling and the differences between that and Yang style, I have no comment since I don't know what you're talking about.

My take on this is that what Shen describes does not alter my performance of the form at all, but it allows me to organize it mentally in a new way and to make connections in regard to the overall pattern that I did not see before. The way I do the form probably looks exactly the same as before, but my consciousness of what I am doing with my arms has changed drastically since reading Shen. So in a sense my intent during the moves has changed and this is really where the heart of taiji lies, in intention and consciousness. This is an art of yi rather than li.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 01-12-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:54 am

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

Shen lists four points about full and empty at the beginning. In the second one, he refers to the theory that “each place has its full and empty, all places always have this part-empty part-full quality.” His explanation of full and empty in the feet seems, however, not to take this into account. Under his theory, how is a leg both part-empty and part-full if emptiness means simply having “slightly less weight” and fullness means having “slightly more”? He seems to stress the importance of maintaining unequal weighting in the legs, but I do not know how to relate this to a part-empty part-full quality? Again, I deal with the issue of “slightly” as a grammatical artifact of Chinese and inherent aspect of Yin-Yang duality. I, however, no longer understand full and empty simply as a matter of weight distribution.

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

The four points come from the classics, Taijiquan Lun, if I remember correctly. The same text is found in the back of Yang Zhenduo's books. I am not sure I understand your question. I suppose you could take the idea of 'each place' in the classical citation to mean that you could analyze any given part of the body into still smaller parts and so on, and I believe that some do. In his explanation Shen does not go that many levels down and simply talks about the legs, the arms, and the arms and legs together. You asked "He seems to stress the importance of maintaining unequal weighting in the legs, but I do not know how to relate this to a part-empty part-full quality?" I don't think there is really any mystery here. He first says we must have full and empty. Then he explains how to implement those practically. How? By putting slightly less weight on one and slightly more on another in the case of the legs. This by the way is absolutely identical to something Yang Zhenji says in his book. So the point is not the absolute amounts or details of the percentages, merely the distinction of one lighter, one heavier. You said "Again, I deal with the issue of “slightly” as a grammatical artifact of Chinese and inherent aspect of Yin-Yang duality. " I can make no sense out of your sentence. The wording Shen uses for 'slightly heavier' (zhong4 xie1) is, I assure you, everyday language and means exactly what it says. If I remember right it is also the same phrase Yang Zhenji uses. The salient point is that full and empty are primarily a matter of intent and consciousness, not the physical details of how you implement it. We don't measure exactly how much is on one foot or the other, and the suggestion to start at 70/30, 60/40 and so are are merely approximations to give you a rough idea of how to start.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:01 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
Shen talks about beginners using 20/80 weighting and more accomplished practitioners using 40/60. Is he talking about weighting in the form? I have not met anyone who varies form postures in this way. Certainly, various styles differ on the depth of stance, partly because of the issue of “nimbleness,” but I have always understood this as an issue between styles or between frames, but not one within a style or frame. Does this advice apply to Solid-Empty Stances (i.e., “Cat Stances” or “Xu shi bu”)? If not, why not?

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

Well, actually I think you have met someone who varies form posture. When Yang Jun performs the solo form for us, he uses roughly 60/40 for bow steps and 70/30 for empty steps. But when he pushes hands the percentages are much closer to 50/50. Slightly more and slightly less. They give us these percentages as a pedagogical tool only. To be honest I have no idea what percentages I actually use and don't care. The point is merely to distinguish them.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:12 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
Recently, I had the opportunity of viewing a video of Cheng Man-ch’ing doing his form, followed by someone who I think was Yu Cheng Hsiang. During Yu’s performance, there was a commentator talking about distinguishing full and empty in the arms and he seemed to be summarizing material that may have come from Shen. I noticed that there were certain moves (Cloud Hands and Fair Lady, perhaps), where Yu seemed deliberatively to keep his “off” hand and arm fairly passive and hanging somewhat “limply” by his side. I marveled at this because I had been taught to practice drills like this once or twice and because I had not noticed that Cheng used this procedure.

Although I think I understand the rationale behind this practice, I have difficulty seeing how to adapt this to the Yangs’ practice. There is nowhere in the form where I feel my “off” arm or hand does not have something specific to do and does not need to have a strong feeling of Jin equivalent to what the “active” hand needs. In other words, there is no opportunity for leaving a hand or arm “passive” without violating the Yangs’ form requirements. Even with respect to Cheng’s form, I feel uncomfortable with the apparent inconsistency of having an obviously “passive” arm in one posture, yet not doing the same in other positions where the requirements of the posture would not allow me to hang my arm at my side (e.g., the culmination of Fair Lady or Fan Through the Back).

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

I don't have time to answer all of your points tonight but I will briefly touch on this one. Nowhere does Shen suggest (in this chapter or elsewhere in the book) that one arm should be slack or passive. Just as both legs must have a purchase, so both arms are doing something. In the chapter on silk reeling he mentions the idea that the two arms are connected as though with a taut string. I did not see the video you mention but I would caution you not to superimpose what you saw there on top of Shen's theoretical treatment. Warding off involves going up and rotating outward (generally). Rolling back involves going downward and rotating inward (generally). These are two oppositions or polarities which define the ways the arms move. They are associated with the notions of empty and full. Admittedly the Yangs never mention this but you can see it working in their form if you look for it.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 01-13-2004).]
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Postby Michael » Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:47 am

Jerry,

Thanks for the answers you provided to Audi's questions.

Some I need to study more. but a number of things you mention help confirm a number of things I have been thinking.

I especially appreciate your description of Yang Jun's "60/40", "70/30" and near "50/50" weight distribution in push hands. I had seen this but wondered if it was his "general" method or not. Would it to be wrong in viewing this as a more "usage" outlook than just form performance. I have long viewed these weight distributions as the most responsive and stable.
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:23 pm

Greetings Michael, All,

Interesting discussion on the subtleties of the degrees within the stances...the scope.

Can I assume that a prefered inclination towards usage of the more extreme 50/50 weight distribution stance is for the advanced Taijiquan player?

From the little knowledge I have gleaned on the matter, and in considering this in comparison with width of stance(As a new students shorter stance lengthens with practice and development), I am wondering if this delicate position is not something to be grown into...???

Can I assume that the 50/50 weight distribution stance is the "ultimate" acheivement, due to it's inherent stability quality...But that it would also be the most difficulty degree to attain while maintaining respect for "liveliness", "nimbleness", "readiness" and avoidance of "double-weighted" practice?


...Does a student usually favor a 70/30 preference, mastering the empty/full concepts within this weight distribution and then gradually, naturally, move forward, progressively into the 60/40 distribution, and then finally push the limits at 50/50?

Is this moreover the 'tool' of an advanced practitioner and the 'goal' of a student?

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 01-13-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:56 pm

Psalchemist, here's my suggestion. Start out using roughly 60/40 for bow steps and 70/30 for empty steps. The difficulty that a beginner faces is not distinguishing well, regardless of the percentages involved. You can be 90/10 and still not distinguish well. The distinction is primarily mental. Anyway practice 60/40 and 70/30 for a few years - this is what the Yangs suggest doing. After that, gradually you will find yourself able to distinguish at weight distributions closer to 50/50. Don't try to do this, it will happen by itself. In the beginning it is best to make the distinction very clear and obvious.
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:17 pm

Greetings Jerry,

Thanks for your advice...I will place more emphasis on clearly stating my percentages...something I have not given much thought to.

The mental ability you allude to for ability in distinguishing...is this a sense of empty and full...and of ease of mobility?

Is it simply the "lively", ready, gesture which permeates the individuals intent in this distinction?

Is this a very huge question? ( Image )

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:07 pm

I have time this morning to respond a bit more to some of Audi's points but first a disclaimer: the material I have translated from Shen's book and my comments on this board are meant for your reference and enrichment. Personally I see very little difference from a theoretical viewpoint between the Yang and Chen traditions, not surprising since the Yangs tell us they learned it from the Chens and both share the same body of theoretical literature. However you are free to ignore what I have posted. Ultimately your authorities in this area are your teachers and yourself.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
Shen closes by talking about the necessity of both legs “having purchase” in order to become nimble and natural in changing directions. In previous posts, I think I have defended a similar position in trying to describe my understanding of Cheng and Deng in the legs. Nevertheless, Shen seems to sum up empty and full in the arms and legs by this doctrine in a way that I find puzzling. Much of the form takes place when only one leg is in contact with the ground. How can such an important doctrine have such limited applicability? Why have “full and empty in every part” at some times, but than have no application of this doctrine at many others?

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

I think that once again Audi you are mixing up the physical implementation with the higher level of empty and full. If you read the essay carefully, you will see that Shen does not say that when stepping or standing on one foot there is no distinction between full and empty, only that the weight distribution cannot follow the prescription of both legs have a purchase and one is more weighted than the other in these circumstances. When a leg is suspended in the air it would be very difficult for it to bear weight - this is only common sense.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>
Shen talks about ward-off arms being empty, but does not explain the basis for this definition. What is the underlying logic? How does this relate to the transitions into Fair Lady and Apparent Closure, where the forward arm initially wards off above the less weighted leg to strip off the opponent’s grip? How are we to classify the myriad other arm and hand positions as empty and full?
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't have time to go into much detail but let me mention another of Shen's points: sometimes the leg leads and sometimes the arm leads. This may allow you to make sense of Yu nu chuan suo, for example, with regard to this theory.



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 01-14-2004).]
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:07 pm

Hi Jerry,

You wrote, > Warding off involves going up and rotating outward (generally). Rolling back involves going downward and rotating inward (generally). <

Fu Zhongwen specifically mentions that Rollback that the hands do not go downward, and to do so is a mistake.

David J
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