<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:A worm gear is, I believe, a type of lever. When I practice with weapons, the blades describe spirals, not straight lines or perfect circles.
I think an example might be in the Saber Form, where we "hide the lotus blossoms in the leaves" (he hua ye li cang). As we rise to stand on the right leg, we push the butt of the saber, which is blade up, into a thrust past the right shoulder and twirl it blade down.
I know that some people punch in this way, but Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun do not seem to. To me, it looks like they simply prepare the position of the vertical fist and then punch "straight," without an obvious twirl in the subsquent progression of movement.
I have paid attention to this issue, because it took me quite a while to unlearn the type of rotating punch I had originally learned in my Kempo Karate. I also know of one Yang Style teacher, somewhat prominent on the Internet, who also advocates rotation on contact, but not in the progression of the movement of the arm.
I long puzzled over the type of punch that I see in our form, but eventually speculated that our version of the posture is not meant to train a punch aimed at a particular focus point, but rather to train punching through a variety of possible focus points. To do this, you must set your fist before you encounter the first possible focus point. It is like bending a bow to shoot an arrow. I see the same logic in setting the wrist early in the Brush Knee palm strike. In places in the form where this idea does not make sense, we do not set the fist or the palme until the end (e.g., Fair Lady Works the Shuttle).
The only twirl that first came to mind in the hand form was the palm strike used in Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. To me, the final strike has the clear Silk Reeling Energy in both arms I was taught to express in practicing the few Chen postures I learned.
As I consider further, I would call Double Peaks/Winds to the Ears (Shuang feng guan er) and Step Back to Ride the Tiger twirling or spiraling strikes. I would say the same about the bottom strike in Strike the Tiger, but not about the top one.
The strikes in Deflect Downward, Parry, Punch and in Bend the Bow and Shoot the Tiger might be arguable, but to me it looks like the Yangs have a distinctly straight intention, and only position the fist so as to strike. There does not appear to be any deliberate twirling or screwing action to the application.
To me, Needle at Sea Bottom, Brush Knee, Piercing Palm, the final palm strike in Chop with Fist, Step up to Seven Stars, and Golden Rooster, are all straight strikes.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">When you hit with a club, if you are using it efficiently, the handle describes a spiral. The whole point is to use the club as a lever, and you can't do that if you move linear fashion or even perfect circle. The same is true of hitting a nail with a hammer. Ok you could hit the nail with some sort of linear move but the power would be significantly different from that generated by a little spiral your hand makes to use the hammer as a lever. Same thing with a whip. Watch what your hand does when you crack a whip: spiral.</font>
Aren't you talking about two-dimensional, rather than three-dimensional spirals? We are trying to make subtle points here, so let me lay out my thinking in more detail.
I think you can characterize movement in only one of two ways: linear or curving. To me, a two-dimensional spiral is simply a special case of a curve, with nothing linear in it. I have heard it said that spiraling (in this sense, I believe) is a major princple in Aikido, but I do not think of this as silk reeling. I think of the movement of a club, a hammer, and a whip in this way.
What I was taught about silk reeling was that it combined the linear and the curving into a three-dimensional spiral. I do not use a three-dimensional spiral in applying a club, hammer, or whip, only a two-dimensional one.
To me, it seems that a three-dimensional spiral is not fundamental to the progression of movement in Yang Style, but is merely one option. I think that Yang Style uses a variety of methods to unify the line and the curve.
In Rollback, I would say that the Yang Style movement done by the Association is essentially a linear right and left movement (if we ignore the extent of circular movement in the plane described by a merry-go-round). But pure linear movement in this way would violate the principle of continuity. To solve this, we add a small curve at the right end of the movement to change the characteristics from a pure linear one into something resembling an oval. In this way, we neither circle nor move strictly linearly. The oval allows the circle to come into play where it is needed, and the straight line to come into play where it is needed.
Another way to unite the line and the curve is to consider the movement of the body as a whole, or even more specifically the characteristics of the force you are trying to generate. If you consider one point on one body part, its movement might be strictly linear or curving; but if you consider the forces that generate its movement, you may find that they are of a different quality.
Consider Deflect Downward, Parry, Punch (Ban lan chui). To my mind the feeling in the fist and arm is purely linear (except for an initial rotation); however, the waist is applying a strong force at a tangent through circular movement. Here, for me, is the straight in the curve. Straight in the arm, curve in the waist.
The characteristics of the circular force in Deflect Downward, Parry, Punch become more apparent if you consider the follow-through in Apparent Closure. Here, the arm yields up its linearity and yields to the waist circle and so circles to the left. almost like the bar that links to rotating train wheels.
You may then well ask: "If the arm gives up its linearity, is there no longer a unity of line and curve?" My answer is to look at the legs and the weight shift. The weight shift is purely a back and forth linear movement that turns the waist circle into an ovoid shape, again uniting the line and the curve. There are also, of course, arm spirals during the beginning and middle of Apparent Closure, but it is not the only type of movement.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Even moves which appear to epitomize linearity turn out to be spirals, such as the push move of grasp the bird's tail. Yang Zhenduo makes a big point of showing that the hands don't go straight out and straight back.</font>
As I understand it, in the Chen Style equivalent of this movement (Six sealing, Four Closing?), the palms rotate from palm up to palm down as we do in Apparent Closure. I would even presume from the names (especially in Chinese or in a closer translation than I am using here), that Chen Style really has no Push psoture like ours, but rather a posture more akin to Apparent Closure. In our version, I see no hint of this rotation.
I do agree completely that our movement is not purely linear, but I would not call it a spiral or even a circle. In fact, when I have talked with fellow students about slightly circling back and forward in the Push posture, they usually do not obtain a good result. Their arms describe a motion that is too much like a ferris wheel.
What I now say to anyone who is not a complete beginner is the following.
In my mind, my intention is purely linear, backward and forward. There is no circle at all. However, you need to think of the backward motion as a sticking motion centered on the back and/or pinky side of the palms. To keep your palms somewhat flat and able to stick, you have to bend your wrist in a way that is slightly unusual for our form (similar to the Fair Lady's wrist advocated by Cheng Man-Ch'ing). You are aiming your wrists more or less at the tops of your shoulders, and your elbows flair out to your side seamin order to begin to engage your back more and to respect the principle of "plucking up the back."
Once your sticking intent is starting to run its course and new yin turns into old yin, you must smoothly change into a capturing and issuing intent (na2 and fa1). To capture, you seat your wrists in front of your arm pits and then thrust back up to shoulder height to issue.
It turns out that the seating motion, if done smoothly, converts the back and forth linear movement into an ovoid shape (really more like an ice cream cone or half of a figure
. The movement ends up not being linear at all. For me, this kind of situation, where you use indirect means to achieve results, is an essential part of what I feel in the Associaton's Taijiquan.
Other examples would be the kicks in Separte Right and Left Foot and the back fist in Chop with Fist. In these postures, I think of my striking movement as circular, but what comes out, because of the constraints of the limb positioning, looks pretty linear.
I once had my steps described as being nice and circular. This was a surprise, since I did not do this with any intention. I have also read that Yang Style is sometimes described as having Bagua stepping, because of a circular aspect in its visual expression. As I have considered this, I have concluded that all we do in the Association is emphasize Central Equilibrium by moving the foot in, where practicable, before stepping back out. If you do this in a continuous way, what results is a curve, even though mentally all you are doing is moving your foot in and out in a linear way.
These are my further thoughts on "spiraling."