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

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:48 pm

Greetings Rich,

Re: "I agree that the usage of silk imagery used by Yang Chengfu is more to do with smoothness of motion than a particular excercise. It seems to me that the Chens are using 'reeling' as in the operating of a machine like the one in the article (a whole body circular motion, and the Yangs are using 'pulling' as in the smoothness required to do the job. But the two terms link up in meaning since the reeling job of the machine is contingent on the smooth pulling, and so both are dependant on the cranking of the handle being done smoothly - so to reel is to pull, and to pull is to reel!"

I think you've got it!

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:56 am

Here is a short paragraph from Wang Yongquan (Wang learned from the Yangs in Beijing) on spiraling:

'Luóxuán'; 'spiraling' has two meanings:

One meaning refers to the use of rotational hand movements to avoid the end-point of the opponent's force as you are luring to neutralize (yǐnhuà) or striking the opponent.
The second meaning refers to the spiraling energy (luóxuánjìn) that forms as your internal energy is emitted out of your hands in an advancing and spiraling path. This spiraling energy that is emitted from your body is not expressed in external movements. Even at the point of contact you cannot let the opponent feel as if there are any changes going on. The goal of using this spiraling energy is to avoid running head on into the opponents force in the process of attacking the opponent's center. Both clockwise spiraling and counter-clockwise spiraling are used; the decision to use one direction or the other is determined by the opponent's situation and which direction seems smooth in the implementation of your technique.

Wāng Yǒngquán. Yángshì Tàijíquán Shùzhēn. Beijing: Renmin tiyu.

p. 238.


Getting wrapped up in this surreptitiously spiraling web of your opponents energy, this is 'chánsī'. Feels just like you think Spiderman should feel like. The above described skill is a high level control of internal energy emission. In using 'chánsī' we wrap up the opponent's force. I would call this 'spiraling control.'

'chōusī' refers to the basic concept of connection between body parts; it does not imply spiraling. I would use the English word "reeling" only for 'chōusī' because you can 'reel in' and 'reel out'.


For 'chōusī' we can tie a string around our middle finger that is connected to a spool beneath our feet. When we raise our hands the string is unwound, when we lower our hands the string is wound back at same constant tension. Connections throughout all movement.


Jeff
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:12 am

Greetings Jeff,

Thank you for translating this interesting passage. I also like the Wang Yongquan passage you translated a while back on "evenness," which mentioned "chousi."

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000113.html

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Richard Johnson » Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:33 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Gu Rou Chen:
<B>http://www.wormspit.com/silkreeling.htm
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I appreciate the wormspit.com link. What a great experiment and exercise!

Here are a couple of pictures of more traditional silk reeling methods. You may have seen these before.

Handfuls of cocoons are placed into a pot of boiling water. The harvester draws out a single filament from each of several cocoons. She then stirs the water and winds the twisting filaments around a reel or wheel by steadily pulling the thread.

http://www.travelingtiger.com/travelingtiger/silk_weaving/images/tiger_reeling.jpg

http://www.travelingtiger.com/travelingtiger/silk_weaving/images/silk_reeling.jpg

Chan can be translated "reeling" ( or unreeling), "winding" and "twining." Twining is an rarely used word. It is the action of twisting fibers into twine, string or thread. It is certainly the appropriate term for the two pictures above.

The often-observed quality of reeling silk is that all actions must be smooth and continuous or the silk filaments will break. But foremost in the process is chan, twining or rotation that creates the thread. This rotation (the unwinding cocoons) within rotation (the stirred pot twisting the filaments) within rotation (the winding reel) that creates a characteristic quality is what is to be captured by the term, chansi.

Here are a couple of quotations all translated by Jerry Karin. Thanks Jerry! The first is from Jerry's translation of Shen Jiazhen's section in Chen Style Taijiquan (1964). Found on http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/rep/archives/silk_reeling.htm

"When we say in Tai Chi Chuan the movements must be like unreeling silk, or like pulling silk, these two images both mean that the shape of the movements is like a spiral. At the same time that this spiraling must go in a curve - much like the way a bullet follows the spiral rifling in a gun barrel so that as it moves through space it has an inherent turning in a spiral shape - it also has a trajectory along another line like that of the bullet hitting a target. Silk reeling energy in Tai Chi Chuan has this same kind of quality."

Shen again uses a spiraling, rotating metaphor. In the following paragraph he says,

"As we have already explained, movements must be like silk reeling, but how in our actual movements are we to realize this theory?...This is precisely like the way the earth turns on its own axis at the same time it moves in a curve around the sun. That is why Tai Chi energy is not circling in a plane but rather spiraling upward in three dimensions."

Again the rotating, revolving metaphor. Here's the method I cut out.

"In fact it's quite ordinary and simple: within the requirements for the entire movement, as you move, the palms rotate from facing inward to outward or from facing outward to inward, causing them to form a shape like the Tai Chi symbol (see figure 1). At the same time, owing to the rotation of the palms inward and outward, there is manifest in the upper body a turning of the wrists and upper arms and in the lower body a turning of the ankles and legs, and in the torso this is manifested as turning of the waist and backbone. Combining the three, this forms a curving line turning in space with its "root in the feet, commanded by the waist, and manifested in the fingers". This is a requirement which we must achieve in Tai Chi Chuan. Because of this the boxing manuals particularly point out that whether in broadly extending out or in shrinking and drawing in, we can never for a moment depart from the Tai Chi energy of rotating the palms and turning the wrists and upper arms."

Here's an excerpt from Jerry Karin's translation form Gu Liuxin that he put on this thread.


"The method of practicing silk reeling is actually extremely ordinary and simple. Within the requirements of "use the mind to move the qi, use the qi to move the body" and so if one part moves all parts move with inner and outer matching up, one continuously rotates waist and turns backbone, above rotating upper arm and forearm, turning the palms, below rotating ankle and knee, changing the energy at the crotch, forming a fused body into a whole system endlessly extending in space making up a spiraling movement. "

Here's something I once wrote:

"Hong Junsheng, another major disciple of Chen Fake, describes chansi referring to the “self-rotation” (the turning arms and legs), “global rotation” (the turning of the torso) and the resultant circling path of the hand. Notice how chansi is the rotational energy of the body that creates the trajectory of the hand. Today, it is all too common to inscribe the shape of the circle with our hands and not have any rotational strength coming from the body. Again, it is the rotations within the rotations that create the chansi jin."

Louis Swaim earlier referred to chansi jin as "threading the joints together." And so it does. Just like the drive train (transmission, drive shaft, differential, etc.) of a car threads the engine to the wheels. Chansi is not just a quality. It is a method for generating and transmitting jin (energy, power, force or strength).

Although I primarily practice Chen style forms now, I consider myself just a Taijiquan practitioner (independent of style). I began with Yang style and later learned the CMC form. I now cannot imagine Yang style without chansijn. The hands rotate back and forth while doing the Yang form. How is it that they rotate? Do the arms and hands rotate independently, or are they moved by the whole-body method of chansi jin?



[This message has been edited by Richard Johnson (edited 04-03-2006).]
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Postby tccstudent » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:08 pm

Relative to this discussion, Yeung Sau Chung said (Yang Cheng Fu's oldest son), from his own book "Practical Use of Tai Chi Chuan."

"All movements should be performed in rhythm and follow one another evenly without any jerky motion, as silk is drawn from cocoons."
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:13 pm

Greetings Richard,

Re: Louis Swaim earlier referred to chansi jin as "threading the joints together." And so it does. Just like the drive train (transmission, drive shaft, differential, etc.) of a car threads the engine to the wheels. Chansi is not just a quality. It is a method for generating and transmitting jin (energy, power, force or strength).

I’m not clear on what you mean by “not just a quality.” When you say, however, “Just like the drive train. . . ,” or when Shen wrote, “like unreeling silk, or like pulling silk,” “like a spiral,” “like the way a bullet follows the spiral rifling in a gun barrel,” “like. . . the bullet hitting a target,” “like the way the earth turns on its own axis,” (some pretty anachronistic images there, but useful), these are all metaphorical or analogical modes of speaking about what something “is like.” In other words, these are for all intents and purposes attempts to describe a quality. Methodologically speaking, when I practice I am not firing a bullet through a rifle barrel. By the same token, I’m not a cat, a hawk, a mountain, or a river.

There are different categories of metaphor. Some metaphors are primarily visual. Some are, if you will, visceral. No, make that: All of them are visceral. Some are aural. Some are tactile. Some of them are mixed: “Softly, as in a morning sunrise.” My contention is that “silk reeling” and “drawing silk” are separate and distinct metaphors. They may indeed refer to the same methodology and process—without reference to any given style—but they refer to different aspects or qualities of experience. In my opinion, “silk reeling,” when used as a metaphor, is primarily visual and mechanical. The metaphor “like drawing silk”—and its sole appearance in the taijiquan textual corpus is as a metaphor—is primarily a tactile metaphor. It refers to the way something feels (ganjue). Yang Zhenduo describes it as “slowly and gently coming forth, the jin/li is continuous and unbroken, the speed is even (junyun), without any phenomenon of suddenly going more quickly or more slowly.”

Re: “The hands rotate back and forth while doing the Yang form. How is it that they rotate? Do the arms and hands rotate independently, or are they moved by the whole-body method of chansi jin?”

I vote for the whole-body method thingy.

Welcome to the discussion.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:56 pm

Hi all,

I wrote this several weeks ago but LouisÕs discussion of metaphor recalled it to mindÑespecially as I am incapable of describing my experiences without metaphor and analogy.

Back to AudiÕs original question about internal and external with regard to silk reeling: for my practice, when I think about words like threading, flowing, even, smooth, then I both feel and see the qi in my body mobilized. The body is a great tensegrous structure, like a suspension bridge with elements that pull and elements that compress in order to evenly distribute force. I understand that the qi works that way too: a single interconnected network that distributes the ÒloadÓ of the qi. There are meridians like freeways that are responsible for the ÒbulkÓ of the qi circulation, but that beyond that the body is completely threaded with finer energy pathways as well (like smaller side streets). When I try to mobilize the qi so that it can move smoothly and evenly, I can sometimes feel these networks, and see lines of light along which the qi moves. When I set my intention of moving smoothly and evenly, it just goes of its own accordÑlike a river. Sure, there are eddies and rocks of tension, but itÕs still river-like.

So it makes sense to me that some would write of the Yangtze river, and others would talk about silk reeling. I really believe that metaphor is the best way to teach something that cannot be absorbed by the mind but must be experienced with the body. Give someone a somewhat analogous experience and they can often make the leap to the next level of understanding what it actually feels like in their own body.

When the inside feels like thisÑcompletely mobilized, all areas of the body full and permeated with constantly flowing qi, then the external movements cannot help but become smooth and flowing as well. With internal relaxation, itÕs simply impossible to move in a herky-jerky way. Even when Yang Jun is trying to imitate someone whose tension causes imbalance or instability, he canÕt quite manage it because he never gives up the internal relaxation.

As for dantien rotation: the Yang style, as I understand it, very explicitly does not concentrate on this. For some reason, two or three years ago, I was paying attention to my dantien during forms practice and noticed that it was a ball of light that seemed to rotate in the direction I was going.

I asked Yang Jun about this, mentioning that the rotations of my dantien seemed to correlate with my movements. The rotations of my dantien had a distinct effect on the outward shape of my movements. If I rotated the ball too vigorously, my form acquired an outward shape and flavor that was closer to Chen style. But when I could control the rotations by keeping a very tight rein on them (small, small circles) for a few movements, my form felt closer to my teacherÕs Yang style standard than IÕd been able to do before. It took all my mental will power to control that cleanly and I couldnÕt maintain the focus for that long.

My teacher told me to leave off paying attention to my dantienÑthat Yang style does not focus on that as a method for practice and that for me personally, it directed my attention too much to the inside without maintaining enough attention on the outside (the opponent). So I stopped practicing that way.

IÕve never had the chance to pull silk off a cocoon to get the feel of it, but I have a more modern suggestion that may be analogous if youÕll excuse me for bringing tai chi practice back to the restroom! Find a public office building with that terrible one-ply toilet paper combined with a dysfunctional dispenser that does not permit free rotation of the roll. IÕm talking about the kind of paper thatÕs so thin you can fold it three times and still read text through it! Then grip it broadly to distribute the force more evenly and use your listening energy to draw it out smoothly and evenly. If you jerk it, then it tears. If you donÕt distribute your force evenly, then you puncture it. If you donÕt constantly adjust your tension to account for the tiny tears the paper is making constantly as you pull it (analogous to individual threads snapping in a rope thatÕs been asked to bear too much weight), then it breaks. If you only use your hand, then it breaks. But if you mobilize the entire body to pull steadily, slowly, and evenly you will be successful! Image

Kal
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:32 pm

Greetings Kal,

You wrote: ". . .I am incapable of describing my experiences without metaphor and analogy."

Humans who are capable of doing so are non-existent. Those who don't recognize this metaphorical grounding of experience are simply poor listeners; they're not paying attention.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:56 pm

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page on Metaphor, and it’s pretty good. I call attention to the additional links on that page to “conceptual metaphor,” “cognitive linguistics,” and to George Lakoff, an important cognitive linguist (and taijiquan practitioner!) who has done groundbreaking work on the understanding of conceptual metaphor and “the embodied mind.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor

Interestingly, there is also a link on the metaphor page to I.A. Richards, a British philosopher and literary critic. Richards wrote a fascinating analysis/translation of Mengzi, titled _Mencius on the Mind: Experiments in Multiple Definition_, published in 1932. Mengzi was an early Chinese philosopher who had an acute understanding of metaphor and analogy.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Kalamondin » Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:20 am

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...and to George Lakoff, an important cognitive linguist (and taijiquan practitioner!) who has done groundbreaking work on the understanding of conceptual metaphor and “the embodied mind.</font>


Interesting--I didn't know Lakoff did tai chi. I enjoyed his book "Don't Think of an Elephant" and looking around his (?)foundation's website (can't remember name). I haven't read his other stuff though (yet).

I may eventually get to the book on Mencius as well, but not for awhile! Life has served me a smorgasbord this year--nevermind any tiny platters!

Thanks for the link, I'll go read it now.

Best wishes,
Kal
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Postby BaguaMonk1 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:52 pm

Good topic, I just apply the way I move in Chen, to the way I move in Yang. It is not "wrong" to do so, just remember that silk reeling exists in yang, but its hidden and subtle. In old Chen forms it was more hidden-subtle as well. The spirals manifest internally, and slightly externally. But the New Frame form created by Chen Fake made it so Silk Reeling was clearly visible.

I started learning Wu for a little bit, and my Wu form started to look like Chen, with sinking, spirals, and fluid movement, but I realized this was wrong for Wu because Wu favors higher stances and less movements. So instead you try and do that internally.
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Postby Richard Johnson » Tue Apr 11, 2006 7:29 am

Hi Louis,

Thanks for the welcome. I'm sorry I can't get back to your replies as promptly as I'd like.

Thanks also for your exposition and links on metaphor. By differentiating the tactile, visual and mechanical metaphors, you've clarified very well what I ineptly tried to say.

You wrote:
"My contention is that “silk reeling” and “drawing silk” are separate and distinct metaphors. They may indeed refer to the same methodology and process—without reference to any given style—but they refer to different aspects or qualities of experience. In my opinion, “silk reeling,” when used as a metaphor, is primarily visual and mechanical. The metaphor “like drawing silk”—and its sole appearance in the taijiquan textual corpus is as a metaphor—is primarily a tactile metaphor. It refers to the way something feels (ganjue)."

I wrote [brackets added]:
"Chansi is not just a quality [tactile metaphor]. It is a method [visual and mechanical metaphor] for generating and transmitting jin (energy, power, force or strength)."

This expresses very well what I was trying to say. I think we do sometimes get the cart in front of the horse in that when we explore chansi jin, we forget the role of chousi. From a Chen style point of view, chousi is the tactile sensation we produce when doing chansi, or in terms of earlier posts, chousi is the "what" and chansi the "how."

I liked the notion of differentiation between metaphors so much that I went back and re-read the entire thread with this in mind to see which each contributor was discussing. I also went back to the translations. It is interesting re-reading Wu's, Gu's and Shen's statements with this differentiation in mind.

Gu simply cannot separate the tactile metaphor from the visual and mechanical metaphor, but it seems that some of the authors he quotes can. Shen in Gu and Shen's book (1963) is pretty clear when read in this light. Obviously, these authors did not have the difference between chansi and chousi metaphors so clearly delineated in their minds, or there would be less confusion of the subject. However, the context shows that there are subtle (unexplained) differences in the metaphors, yet they are referring to a single process.


rj
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Postby Richard Johnson » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:18 am

Hi all,

I decided that I needed to separate this out from my prior post, since it approaches the topic differently and perhaps even strays off topic.

Another thing that stands out in re-reading the translations is the difference in how the Yang and Chen writers deal with the subject. The Chen writers fully accept both concepts of chansi and chousi metaphors as constructive in understanding Taijiquan. Chen Xin even goes so far as to say chansi jin is so essential that Taijiquan is the art of chansi jin. Further, they say that chansi jin produces peng jin and all of the ba men. And that without Chansi jin there is no Taijiquan.

The Yang writers, on the other hand, beginning with Wu Tunan, balk at the notion. Later, writers, at best, ignore the subject. This is easily explained by accepting that there are differences in the training methods. So, this raises the question, What are the Yang style training methods that are offered that make chansi training irrelevant?

It also has been interesting to me that several Yang style contributors in this thread had a negative reaction to the possibility that their forms might become more Chen-like. Personally, I would never worry if someone said my Chen style forms were starting to look more Yang-like. In fact, I might take it as a compliment, because of my education in this regard.

As part of my chansi jin training, I was taught that at first my circles would be necessarily large until my inner rotations (not dantien rotations) were coordinated with my outer rotations. Actually, what happens is that the inner rotations begin to produce the outer rotations, Once this happened, I would be able to decrease my outer circles in size, while my inner rotations would increase, not necessarily in size, but in intensity until no visible outer circle existed, but the intense inner rotation could be expressed. The visual metaphor was that of a funnel. Examples were given to me of high level Chen, Yang, Wu and Wu/Hao masters who had approached this goal.

So, you can see that I would consider the differences between styles to be primarily in training methods and that the underlying art, in essential principles, is the same. This is also why I would consider it a compliment to be more Yang-like (smaller outer circles). I would think that a walk on the Chen-like side, while perhaps going down before going up, would be beneficial in the long run. This brings us back to the question, What is offered as an alternative to inner rotation training? Is there a separate theoretical construct that differentiates Yang from Chen and the other Taijiquan styles? I think the answers to these questions will be illuminating.


rj

[This message has been edited by Richard Johnson (edited 04-11-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:58 pm

Greetings Richard,

I’m glad that you appreciate the distinction between the kinds of metaphors, but I think you've drawn some conclusions that I didn’t intend.

When you write: "Chansi is not just a quality [tactile metaphor]. It is a method [visual and mechanical metaphor] for generating and transmitting jin (energy, power, force or strength)."

That is different from the point that I am making. The metaphor, whether tactile or visual/mechanical, is still a metaphor. The method may in some way resemble “the way a bullet follows the spiral rifling in a gun barrel,” for example, but no taijiquan method that I can think of really is *operationally* anything like that. Do you see the distinction? Again, both metaphors refer to “a quality.” Both metaphors refer to what something “is like.” The method is quite apart from the quality that the metaphor evokes. Both metaphors have value, but they refer to different areas of experience.

Does this make sense?

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 04-12-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Apr 11, 2006 7:31 pm

Hi Richard,

Re: “The Yang writers, on the other hand, beginning with Wu Tunan, balk at the notion.”

Just to reiterate—and as recondite as it may seem, I think it is important—Wu Tunan did not balk at chansi. I’m sure he would have acknowledged that it is a useful metaphor. What he was concerned about was the notion of “chansijin” as *a kind of jin*, and the suggestion by committee members at a conference back in the 1960s that there is also something called “chousijin,” and the further suggestion that chansijin and chousijin are synonymous. The notion of “chansijin” (silk winding jin) is arguably the method to which you have alluded. It is metaphorically based in the image of silk winding, but, with the addition of the term jin, it is in fact a nominal designation for a type of energy, skill, or strength. There is, however, no textual support for something called “chousijin” (drawing silk energy) It was this confusion of terms that Wu Tunan was objecting to.

Also, all taijiquan movement involves spirals, rotations, and circles. If one doesn’t call these “chansijin,” does that mean they aren’t there?

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 04-12-2006).]
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