Stillness in Movement

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:42 pm

Kal,
Good experience.
I especially liked when you described laughing your way out of the experience.
I've had the same thing happen a few times, during push hands, form work and once during a saber form of all crazy things, and I also laughed my way out of the situation every time.
I'm not really sure where the laughter comes from, it just seems to bubble up during the time you describe as "the stillness".
I hadn't thought of it that way during those times, but now that you mention it...

Bob
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Postby Steveg219 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:56 am

Laughter- that is so interesting, I have always noted that when people are practising push hands correctly, there always seems to be laughter at some point!
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:45 pm

Yes, now that you both mention it, the laughter DOES seem to correspond with the best, most interesting, most technically beautiful/difficult/elegant bouts. And all of those adjectives apply best when the stillness is also present right before the laughter starts. (I've never felt quite so absolutely still during push hands as the round I described above, but I have felt moments of intense focus and better-than-usual tracking.)

Cheers,
Serena
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Postby Audi » Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:37 am

Greetings all,

Thanks for all the comments. When time allows, I will try to respond to more of the posters.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Each step I take down this path to center co-ordinated, waist commanded, hip driven (as in drive shaft transmission of energy, not actual movement with the hip which I now realise is not anatomically possible) movement brings me closer to a state of relaxation while I move that has been quite startling to me.</font>


I think that such experiences vary personally, although I can certainly relate closely to this language. Something I might be able to add from my personal experience of this is a sense of the "waist" or "torso" as a weapon, or perhaps the ergonomic focal point of a weapon. This feeling comes particularly from my staff drills and barehand experimentation with short applications of energy.

If "weapon" alone seems too strange a concept, perhaps I could talk about the "emotional or ergonomic focal point" of a weapon and make an analogy with the handle of an axe. The axe head is what does the cutting, but what we really interact with is the handle. Where the handle goes, the head goes. If the axe is out of orientation, the axe stroke may go off the mark and even harm the wielder of the axe, but the energy will still go through the handle. Similarly, the "waist" or "torso" channels the energy of a punch, even if the hand or arm is out of orientation and cannot accept or transmit the energy appropriately.

One potential disadvantage of focusing on this image is that it may focus too much attentiona on speed, momentum, and leverage. Although an axe handle usually moves through a large arc, the waist/torso does not always move much in the Tai Chi form. The waist/torso, however, remains important. To deal with this difference, it may be helpful to focus on a bow and arrow.

Notable Tai Chi practitioners have written about the three bows of the body: the legs, the spine, and the arms. Although I imagine I understand this analogy, I do not really feel a "bow" in my spine as I do the form, at least in the Associations version. What I feel more is something like a bow string in the spine. My spine/torso/waist is what sends the energy out, but the majority of the energy may actually come from my legs and arms. Just as a bowstring changes to accommodate the transfer of force to the arrow, my spine/torso/waist must change, but the change does not have to be very much. Perhaps, this is what is meant by "sticking Qi to the spine."

I find these analogies particular helpful when I focus on short-range energy in the form. In most of the postures, I do not feel that the energy is gathered to coalesce or intersect at a specific point, but rather that it is prepared and then moves through a range of points where it can be applied. This kind of focus makes my focus more on my back and core and more "internal" aspects of generating energy.

Take care,
Audi



[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 10-31-2007).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:08 pm

Audi,
Excellent post. As usual I'm going to have to work through some of the things you talk about before I can speak clearly about them, but also as always you have given me much to think about.
I did want to mention though that my concept of the "spinal bow" comes directly from the spine, but it doesn't visually or even mentally look much like a classically drawn bow string, rather I think of it as a place to store energy to be used in conjunction with the other body bows, which due to the joints of the arms and legs do physically resemble a pulled or released bow string.
The way I see it now, without one bow the other two don't really mean very much.
If my legs aren't storing and releasing energy, then the spinal bow won't make too much difference. If the body isn't bowing, then the arms bowing won't do very much. They have to work together.
It all starts with the legs, the power gets stored then released in the leg bow, then the proper positioning/use of the waist/hips/kua and the release of the energy stored in the spine allows that energy to join up and combine with the energy from the legs, they become one and travel on to the arms, proper placement of the shoulders and arms allows correct transmission of this energy to the arms, then the arm bow accepts this energy, adds its own to it, and then allows all three energies, combined together into one, to continue on in one integrated, greater whole to be released by the fingers.
All that said, if you're not doing even one of them correctly, then they will not combine and you won't have all that energy combined at the point of contact. It's the combination of all three stores of energy into one, concerted force, unified and combined to be greater than the sum of all three that makes Tai Chi martial power so devestating as I understand it.
Now you can, quite obviously, generate quite a bit of power using only one or two of these stores of energy. This can be shown by Shoulder Stroke, where the arms aren't really involved very much. However, I still feel you will get a "greater whole" if your arms are in their proper positions. You won't really contribute their stored energy to the mix, but if they aren't positioned to allow your shoulder to be in the correct alignment for the strike, then you will still compromise the whole body energy of the strike. So the arms still play their part in this strike even though they may not add too much kinetic energy to it.
Think about the transition from Raise Hands to White Crane and the Shoulder Stroke inherent in the movement. Isn't it still required to have the arms rounded and extended as you make this stroke? It is every time I've been taught the movement. The reason as I see it is that the proper positioning of the arms here will lend a certain "stabilizing energy" component to the rest of your body to help integrate all the energy from the legs and spine.
I hope that all makes sense?
If it does, please explain it to me. I've confuzzed myself again...
;-)
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Postby Audi » Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:38 am

Hi Bob,

I think what you say makes a lot of sense and sounds like it echoes what I feel.

Let me just clarify why I settled on a bow string as an image. A bow string feels like it wants to straighten out, even as it is bent when the arrow is drawn back. The spine, in my view, should feel like it wants to be "straight," even as it may "bend" with respect to one or both of the legs and "stores" energy. Also, you know that a bow has stored energy by the state of the bowstring, not directly by the amount of bend in the bow. Simarily, you know the legs have stored energy, not by how much they bend, but by what happens to the "spine."

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Audi » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:30 pm

Greetings,

I would like to pursue the theories alluded to by Louis in the post hyperlinked here. The first theory relates to this thread, so I though I should pursue it here. My motivation is that I was recently trying to explain "using stillness to overcome motion" and talked using fulcrums and leading the opponent to have to take a longer path along a larger circle. The text below seems to capture these thoughts better,

In the "explanations to Wang's Text" about three fifths through the book, it says:

心為令氣為旗腰為纛
The mind makes the command, the energy is its flag, and the waist is its banner.
太極之理猶行軍戰事,必有令旗指揮驅使,練太極亦然,所以心為令,就是以心行氣,能使氣如旗,意之所至,氣即隨之而到,就是心如令氣如旗,腰為纛者即軍中大纛旗也,小旗主動,大旗主靜,拳法腰可作車軸之轉,不能倒挒大纛旗也。
Taiji theory is akin to military operations, in which there needs to be command flags to convey orders. Practicing Taiji is the same kind of thing. The mind makes the command, the mind being what moves the energy. If the energy can be equivalent to a flag, then where the intent goes, the energy will arrive. Therefore the mind is like a commander and the energy is like a flag. The waist as the banner means the large flag at the center of the army. The small flags direct movement and the large flags direct stillness. In the boxing techniques, the waist turns like an axle and must not drop or snap the banner.

I do not think I recall hearing before the connection between the waist, the banner, and stillness.

A few months ago, we had a discussion about " if one part move, all parts move, etc.". The text below also has a bearing on that, but also on how to understand stillness in movement. I thought I would recopy it hear to see what folks think.

刻刻時時也,謹記一動全身之動,不要一部分動,猶火車頭行動,諸車隨動焉,太極動勁要整,雖整而又活焉,如行車無不動矣,身雖動心貴靜,如心一靜全身靜,雖靜又庽動焉,如動要上下相隨至要。
Constantly keep in mind that when one part moves, the whole body moves, and there should not be any part moving by itself. It is like the engine car of a train: all the other cars will move along with it. In Taiji, the moving of energy should be arranged in an orderly way. Yet it should also be lively, in the same way there is no car which is not moving when they are following the engine car. However, while the body moves, the mind wants stillness. Once the mind has any stillness, the whole body becomes still, and although it is stillness, it contains movement ready to start up again. When moving, coordination between the upper body and lower is the most important thing.

I would like to echo Louis's comment that Paul Brennan's translation here is excellent. It would have shed much late on various discussions we have had over the years. One choice I find intriguing here is the choice of translating 心貴靜 as "the mind wants stillness." I am unfamiliar with this usage of 貴 (gui4) and would have guessed that the meaning was "cherishes." Either way what do you think the author meant here?

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:38 pm

Greetings Audi,

It appears that the commentary is quoting 身雖動, 心貴静 from a text by Wu Yuxiang titled Taijiquan Jie 太極拳解 (explanation of taijiquan), which opens with those six characters. If you have Shen Shou’s collection of taijiquan texts, 太極拳譜, it appears beginning on page 44. I’m about to head out the door, but I’ll return with additional information. My sense of 貴 here is that it’s a verbal “values”—“the mind values stillness”—or, perhaps, “the mind is valued for stillness.”

More later. . .
Louis
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:06 am

Audi,

I found an online version of Wu Yuxiang's Taijiquan Jie. I think you'll recognize a lot of the language in this text:


太極拳解, 武禹襄

身雖動,心貴靜;氣須斂,神宜舒。心為令,氣為旗;神為主帥,身為驅使。刻刻留意,方有所得。先在心,後在身。在身,則不知手之舞之,足之蹈之,所謂“一氣呵成”、“舍己從人”、“引進落空”、“四兩撥千斤”也。
須知:一動無有不動,一靜無有不靜。視動猶靜,視靜猶動。內固精神,外顯安逸。須要從人,不要由己。從人則活,由己則滯。尚氣者無力,養氣者純剛。
彼不動,己不動;彼微動,己以動。以己依人,務要知己,乃能隨轉隨接;以己粘人,必須知人,乃能不後不先。
精神能提得起,則無遲重之虞;粘依能跟得靈,方見落空之妙。往復須分陰陽,進退須有轉合。機由己發,力從人借。發勁須上下相隨,乃能一往無敵;立身須中正不偏,方能八面支撐。靜如山嶽,動若江河。邁步如臨淵,運勁如抽絲。蓄勁如張弓,發勁如放箭。
行氣如九曲珠,無微不到;運勁如百煉鋼,何堅不摧?形如搏兔之鶻,神似捕鼠之貓。曲中求直,蓄而後發。收即是放,連而不斷。極柔軟,然後能極堅剛;能黏依,然後能靈活。氣以直養而無害,勁以曲蓄而有餘。漸至物來順應,是亦知止能得矣!

*corrected errors from online version, 7/28/12, --Louis
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:36 pm

Greetings Audi,

Regarding your comment and question: ‘One choice I find intriguing here is the choice of translating 心貴靜 as "the mind wants stillness." I am unfamiliar with this usage of 貴 (gui4) and would have guessed that the meaning was "cherishes." Either way what do you think the author meant here?’

I did a bit of digging to see if there may be some early model for the 心貴靜 phrase appearing in the Shiyongfa commentary (again, evidently quoted from Wu Yuxiang’s 太極拳解). I found something in the Guanzi 管子 that uses guì precisely with the verbal meaning of “values,” or “to value” that I suggest. Here’s a snip from the chapter, Jiu Shou 九守 “Nine Things to be Preserved.”

目貴明,耳貴聰,心貴智,以天下之目視,則無不見也。以天下之耳聽,則無不聞也。以天下之心慮,則無不知也。輻湊並進,則明不塞矣。

Rickett translates as follows:

The eye values clarity of sight. The ear values sharpness of hearing. The mind values impartiality. If one takes the eyes of the world to see, there is nothing that will not be seen. If one takes the ears of the world to hear, there is nothing that will not be heard. If one takes the mind of the world to think, there is nothing that will not become known. If his ministers, rallying around him like the spokes of a wheel, come forward one by one, his clarity of vision will never be obstructed.
—W. Allyn Rickett, Guanzi: Political, Economic, and Philosophical Essays from Early China, Vol. II, pp. 233-234.

Could Wu Yuxiang have been influenced by having read the Guanzi? I wouldn’t be surprised, expecially if one considers that the Jiu Shou chapter opens with thoughts on the role of stillness or quiescence 靜 in the way of the ruler:

安徐而靜,柔節先定。虛心平意以待須。

Calm and unhurried, he remains perfectly quiescent. Gentle and restrained, he first stabilizes his own thoughts. Open-minded and dispassionate, he thereby deals with whatever may cause him harm.
Rickett, p. 233.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:02 pm

A bit more. . .

The Warring States bingfa text, Tai Gong’s Six Military Secret Teachings (六韜), which could well be the original source for the passage in the Guanzi, has almost the exact wording, which Sawyer translates:

“The T’ai Kung: ‘The eye values clarity, the ear values sharpness, the mind values wisdom. . .’”
—Ralph D. Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, p. 44.

太公曰:「目貴明,耳貴聰,心貴智。以天下之目視,則無不見也。以天下之耳聽,則無不聞也。以天下之心慮,則無不知也。輻湊並進,則明不蔽矣。

So I think there’s good support for translating guì 貴 as “values” in the Shiyongfa commentary.

--Louis
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby UniTaichi » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:07 am

Louis Swaim wrote:Greetings Audi,

Regarding your comment and question: ‘One choice I find intriguing here is the choice of translating 心貴靜 as "the mind wants stillness." I am unfamiliar with this usage of 貴 (gui4) and would have guessed that the meaning was "cherishes." Either way what do you think the author meant here?’

目貴明,耳貴聰,心貴智,以天下之目視,則無不見也。以天下之耳聽,則無不聞也。以天下之心慮,則無不知也。輻湊並進,則明不塞矣。

Rickett translates as follows:

The eye values clarity of sight. The ear values sharpness of hearing. The mind values impartiality. If one takes the eyes of the world to see, there is nothing that will not be seen. If one takes the ears of the world to hear, there is nothing that will not be heard. If one takes the mind of the world to think, there is nothing that will not become known. If his ministers, rallying around him like the spokes of a wheel, come forward one by one, his clarity of vision will never be obstructed.
—W. Allyn Rickett, Guanzi: Political, Economic, and Philosophical Essays from Early China, Vol. II, pp. 233-234.

Could Wu Yuxiang have been influenced by having read the Guanzi? I wouldn’t be surprised, expecially if one considers that the Jiu Shou chapter opens with thoughts on the role of stillness or quiescence 靜 in the way of the ruler:

安Take care,
Louis


Hi,

My reading of the quote by Audi of Gui4 is '' mind is from stillness '' or '' mind belong to stillness/silent '' There might be some better word to illustrate '' is from/belong to '' but it is somewhere along this line of meaning.

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:10 am

Greetings U,

Re: My reading of the quote by Audi of Gui4 is '' mind is from stillness '' or '' mind belong to stillness/silent '' There might be some better word to illustrate '' is from/belong to '' but it is somewhere along this line of meaning.

How do you arrive at that reading? On the face of it, I don't find it a convincing rendering for 貴 guì, but you may have some information to share that would support your idea.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Audi » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:15 am

Greetings Louis, UniTaichi, and everyone else,

Louis,

Thanks for all the research. I find it quite interesting.
Audi,

I found an online version of Wu Yuxiang's Taijiquan Jie. I think you'll recognize a lot of the language in this text:


Wow! This text is truly overwhelming because of how much it packs in. When I have time I would like to review its structure. By the way, I do no understand the last phrase. What doe 是亦知止能得矣 mean?

“The T’ai Kung: ‘The eye values clarity, the ear values sharpness, the mind values wisdom. . .’”
—Ralph D. Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, p. 44.

太公曰:「目貴明,耳貴聰,心貴智。以天下之目視,則無不見也。以天下之耳聽,則無不聞也。以天下之心慮,則無不知也。輻湊並進,則明不蔽矣。

So I think there’s good support for translating guì 貴 as “values” in the Shiyongfa commentary.

--Louis

Hmmm. Based on these texts, I think I would interpret guì 貴 as a static verb followed by an expression of extent. I would translate it as: "The eye has value for its clarity, the ear for its sharpness, the mind for its wisdom...."

UniTaichi,

My reading of the quote by Audi of Gui4 is '' mind is from stillness '' or '' mind belong to stillness/silent '' There might be some better word to illustrate '' is from/belong to '' but it is somewhere along this line of meaning.

Wouldn't this meaning be more appropriate for 归 rather than 贵? They are pronounced the same, but have distinct meanings.

Based on what I have been taught and what I experience, I would understand The original passage I inquired about as:

身雖動心貴靜,如心一靜全身靜,雖靜又庽動焉,如動要上下相隨至要。

"Whereas the body moves, the mind has value for its stillness. As soon as the mind is still, the whole body is still. Although still, it yet contains movement inside. In movement, what is most important is to coordinate upper and lower."

I have been taught that, unlike in some other martial arts, it is very important to keep the mind calm to allow the Qi to settle and to keep the senses sharp. Techniques like "launch later and arrive first" seem possible only if the mind is very calm. The passage above seems to concern this idea.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Stillness in Movement

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:06 am

Greetings Audi,

Re: "Wow! This text is truly overwhelming because of how much it packs in. When I have time I would like to review its structure. By the way, I do no understand the last phrase. What doe 是亦知止能得矣 mean?"

Ah, that is a compacted reference to a line in the Da Xue (Great Learning), one of the meat-and-potatoes texts a scholar like Wu Yuxiang would have grown up on. See below:

大學:
大學之道,在明明德,在親民,在止於至善。知止而後有定,定而後能靜,靜而後能安,安而後能慮,慮而後能得。物有本末,事有終始,知所先後,則近道矣。
Da Xue:
What the Great Learning teaches, is to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence. The point where to rest being known, the object of pursuit is then determined; and, that being determined, a calm unperturbedness may be attained to. To that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. In that repose there may be careful deliberation, and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment of the desired end. Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.
[Legge's translation}

And here's a link to the whole text: http://ctext.org/liji/da-xue?searchu=%E ... all#result

--Louis
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