Fang Song: Compare and Contrast

Fang Song: Compare and Contrast

Postby Kalamondin » Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:01 am

Hi All,

Before the CMC lineage forum was closed I had wanted to ask about the differences and similarities in fang song (relaxation) in CMC style, Yang style, and (hey why not) any other style you may practice. What philosophical differences inform the quality of fang song? How does it manifest in the forms you practice? How does it manifest in push hands?

For example, I've heard MYJ explain that the Yang style looks less martial than Chen style, but still retains explosive force. I understand fang song is a required precursor to effective explosive force. Other discussions have indicated that the Yang form has emphasized making the explosive force less immediately visible within the form, to the degree that some people debate whether or not it is still retained within the lineage (it is). This kind of concealment is in keeping with the martial ideal (from the Art of War?) of never showing 100% of what you are capable of. In this sense, the Yang family form has "hidden" explosive force within the form.

I wonder if the same goes for CMC style? Sometimes people look at the seemingly excessive limpness in CMC form and judge that it is ineffective because it looks weak, just as Yang style looks weak to some Chen practitioners, and Chen style may look weak to external martial artists, etc. And yet there are CMC practitioners all over the place who are very skilled at push hands and have a high degree of skill. I haven't had the good fortune yet to discuss this with any of those skilled CMC style practitioners yet, but I'm wondering if the "limpness" isn't just another layer of concealment.

While Yang style favors an open and expanded form (with pung jin inflated like a basketball so that attacks tend to bounce off), it's still quite visibly solid even if it isn't palpably throwing energy around with the vigor of Chen style. Is the "deflation" of CMC style a form of concealment wherein the inside of the form is totally relaxed, with channels open, but with the flood waters reserved for use as necessary?

Forgive my spate of mixed metaphors--I'm switching to the needle in cotton metaphor and wondering: if Yang style's fang song can be compared to a bale of cotton (still solid, round, heavy), I wonder if CMC cotton is designed to look more like cotton candy (light, fluffy, doesn't look solid or imposing) but still retaining the steel inside, ready at a moment's notice? And what is Chen style fang song like in a needle in cotton comparison? Getting whipped with a twisted cotton towel with steel chain inside?

I'm totally speculating here as I haven't practiced CMC, Chen, or anything other than Yang Style...so what's it like? What's your experience with the quality of fang song in different forms? Is it all the same on the inside with different external manifestations? That's my guess.

And just in case it's not clear: I have a high degree of respect for all skilled tai chi players, regardless of family style. I've stereotyped a bit to add reference points to the discussion, but I honor my teacher's position that the essence of tai chi is the same on the inside--when you strip away the form, the content is the same.

Regards,
Serena
Kalamondin
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby shugdenla » Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:43 pm

In Yang style, I have rarely seen fajing in the Chen sense of expression and understanding. The few occasions have been in teachers from Hong Kong. This does not mean it is nonexistant but it is either a secret, people do not teach it, or the pretense of fajing is so great that people do not even pay attention to that part of taijiquan.
It is possible for astute teachers of unknown 'lineage' to understand and reproduce this fajing if they may have studied Tonbgei, Pigua or even some of arts that created Chen shi taijiquan like Red Fist or other art.

Fansong is in all taijiquan and CMC does show it externally but is it really true fansong! Limp is always limp so if it does anything it is a nice feeling and it can be deemed a level of relexation.
Chen style fansong is not obvious but it is more internal while having a hard exterior to be martial!

The never showing 100% of what you have, to me, is more attitudional and self character based where you never show off what you have but you jusst tryo to be like everyone one else. You only show what is special to those who can understand and hold it dear to their hearts. That is an underlying part of wude!
shugdenla
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:01 am
Location: USA

Postby Steveg219 » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:49 pm

Since I have studied CMC style I will give you some perspective on it from that point of view. Let's start with the premise from the Tai Chi Classics that the internal principle is what matters and not the outer form. This way we can speak of all styles with full respect and focus on the principles that can help us all develop further.

In my CMC training relaxation is never limpness. For many years while you first study it may be that all you are able to do is either be tense and blocked, or limp and weak. However, after sufficient practise and study a new physiological state emerges of relaxation that is soft and smooth but quite powerful. I am quite certain that all good practioneers from all the great styles have this (and more).

This state is what is described in the classics as the feeling of steel wrapped in cotton. I would suggest another metaphor in todays context which might help understand it better. Think of a steel belted radial tire. It holds up a 3000 pound vehicle, it flexes as the weight sits on it and yet it absorbs all that weight and stays flexible. If you remove the tire from the car, place it on the ground and push down on it, it does flex, but it hardly flexes at all with the amount of force you can push on it. The harder you push the the tire, the stiffer and stronger it seems to be. Yet if you drop it from several feet off the ground, bounces and seems very flexible.

In CMC training we were taught to seek this state all the time and to maintain the formal posture during the form that allows and supports this state. So it probably does look rather small and unimpressive, maybe too relaxed from the outside, but done properly it is not on the inside where it counts.

A simple demonstration would be to hold a ward off position and another person comes up and pushes on it. One response is to allow it to move you and provide no resistance as you do in joint hands.

Another response is to simply absorb it, to stay completely relaxed and send that energy down through your aligned skeleton into the ground. To the extent that you can do this, you will feel to the pusher exactly like that tire- the harder they push the more dense and powerful you feel. Yet there is no musculature tension beyond holding the alignment in place.

For demonstration purposes, CMC schools tend to show this and have multiple people standing in a line pushing against someone to show the extent to which this can be done. I can do it with 2-3 people, I also have done this with Single Whip having people push on the wrist of the crane beak hand.

My teacher could easily withstand a long line of strong men and then walk back against them, pushing them backwards.

Another thing he had accomplished was a kind of automatic returning energy, that is, when you pushed on him you went backward whether or not he had another hand on you to return that force through, i.e. the energy was both absorbed and returned through the same point of contact. Maybe one day for me..... :)
Steveg219
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:01 am
Location: Scottsdale, AZ USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:37 pm

Excellent posts here.
All I can add is this:
There is only one Tai Chi Chuan, however there are many paths you can take to get there.

From this message, given to me by a Sifu who teaches a style other than Yang, I have always understood that just because others take different paths to get to Tai Chi Chuan it does not mean they are wrong in what they do.
With diligent practice, we can all reach Tai Chi Chuan in the end. Which path we take to get there is really unimportant, as long as the path we take works well for us.
One path may work very well for me, but will not work at all for someone else. Neither path is incorrect, it may just not be the right path for you.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Steveg219 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:08 pm

Bob, very well stated- thanks!
Steveg219
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:01 am
Location: Scottsdale, AZ USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:59 pm

Steve,
Your posting about the tire feeling is very well written. It gave me a lot to think about.
The demonstrations of multiple people pushing against a Master are done by every school I've known. They are very interesting to watch. It's a remarkable skill on the part of the Master and it's fun to see the looks on the faces of the people as they fall over.
They never seem to think it's going to work...
At least the first time they get pushed out anyway.

Thanks for your insight into the CMC style as you understand it. It is always good to get a glimpse of another path, especially when it more or less agrees with yours and confirms the sameness in the difference.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Steveg219 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:56 pm

Bob,

Thank you for the positive feedback and your positive attittude toward discussion across styles. I am very glad to have found this forum and people who are sincerely interested in constructive dialog. I especially like your phrase "when it more or less agrees with yours and confirms the sameness in the difference"... very Daoist :)
Steveg219
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:01 am
Location: Scottsdale, AZ USA

Postby yslim » Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:04 am

Hi Serena
“ What philosophical differences inform the quality of fang song? How does it manifest in the form you practice? How does it manifest in push hands? “

“Fang” as I practice it, is a process that takes years of letting go all the stiffness/tension in the muscles and tendons. Which is an ‘excess’ that spill over and mess up every thing. “Song”, is simultaneously keeping the structure in place and in a continuous state of ’melting it’s edge’, while mindfully harmonizing the chi’s equal density internally and externally, full is not full . Use the bagpipe image if you like. Its bag is filling up with air while need to emptying out air that create some ‘bellow jin’ to issue the sounds of music.(using balloon image sometime makes us forget to breathe)

If fang song is translated into ‘relax‘, and the relax is as we know it, then one may easily fall into the hollow of a mirage for all the ‘beginners‘. And some will end up there for life and still be happy. This kind of ‘relax’ is a no brainer because once relaxed one’s mind is on vacation. Most likely it is too yin - limp, and no yang --fullness. Fang song in Taiji should have the awareness of the ’moment’ and the yi is mindfully keeping yinyang counter balance in check at all times. for example; you need to put the yi and/or ‘talk’ to the shoulder (the whole body is the best and it is hard for some, but it will come if you keep up the practice) and ‘ask’ it to relax, while retaining whatever movement you in. As if you are in a rescue mission try to convince the victim to relax and let go of holding onto you , (this is ‘excess’) so you can maintain your swimming movement without his “excess” effort that will mess you up in order to save his life. It’s a calm and mindful thing of the yi ,like the calm of the eye of storm. For the Taiji it is within this state of an utmost fang song to stage a platform for a highly skilled taiji master to issue all that he knows about jin . As the eye of storm quietly move within, the outer layer takes the blame to raise hell. These two have one thing in common … they can send people flying! Though through the extreme yin comes the extreme yang.

In the high skill fang song would be “empty”. What do they mean empty? After all that hard work, now have to work hard to empty it? ( this is the yin?) Then the yang side of that is, to keep a right frame of mind… it is the labor of love. To have but have not. Practice the form until no form .If Taijiquan translates into Ultimate Fist. Then ultimately there is no fist. That’s cool! I think Taiji and the Tao are twins. The Tao said if we talk about the Tao there is no Tao.

How to empty it? Equal density maybe? I have been practicing to empty my body weight to the outside of my body. Try to counter balance my external and internal chi’s equal density. Empty my weight onto other so I could feel more fang song while he feels my weight along with my gravity I throw in for good measure. All these could weigh him down at the moment and/or just before we make contact. Before I take up the practiced of this stuff, my Taiji partner used to love it when I put my arm around her and hold her lovely hand as we stroll .Now she is a ‘off limit’ for me because I’m too heavy!, of 128 lbs., unless we practice it in Taiji’s time but not in our daily life activities!. What a shame I am still the same lovable guy.

Quality of fang song

Here I would like to share some personal experiences on “quality of fang song’.
Once upon a time, after years of practice fang song on the path as Steve mentioned above, our teacher wanted to give us a up close personal touch and feed back on this subject. I was the first in line to be called up front and center to stand with shoulder width apart, about 2 feet facing him. I went through the check list of the essentials, the yin yang counter balance, melt down the stiffness. Then he told me to close my eyes and just to feel.. .
“What am I supposed to feel?’ I wondered…
Few minutes went by then he asked “ Do you feel anything?
“No” I replied with a question mark in my mind.
“You are not fang song enough, just relax and feel” He said.
Another few minutes crawled by and he asked again “Do you feel anything?”
“Not yet” I answered with a question “ Serfu , what am I supposed to feel ?”.
“ Don’t LOOK for anything to feel ,just fang song some more and feel? Said he with assurance …..
So I shut down my thoughts of ‘LOOKING’ and let ‘what is’ come to me .(as I look back with what I know today, my mind did not want to fang song . It was too busy telling the body to fang song to feel and forgot to do the same, and got mixed up with the ego that created a resistance to keep me from feeling the “what is”. When my mind was able to fang song, then soon I felt my body being pushed backwards slowly but surely, without anything touching me. I tried to feel/locate where the contact point might be. But before I knew it I had to take a big step backward to catch my fall, At which time my eyes opened and I saw him standing about 9 feet! (about 3 big steps) away in front of me in a bow stance (Kung pu ) with both hands pointing downward in a push forward position as if he was pushing me with it. It dawned on me that’s why I was falling backward while my physical body had not being touched ! I had heard about this kind of thing in class but never had the experience. I was too excited to quit then, so I asked to do it once more just to be sure it is not a freak accident. The second time was much easier but with a new twist. As I was falling backwards, I was falling in a zigzag sharp angle pattern and wondered why. When I opened my eyes I fell back, and saw him in the same posture as before. I was puzzled, then he showed me he pushed me the same way as before but in the zigzag pattern. I couldn’t help to wonder what would happen to me if he pushed me with a rolling beach ball fashion ? To send and receive all in one with the right body frequency of fang song. that is what fang song can do

As he explained it, we all have a ’guarding chi field or bubble’ outside around our body to give us that six sense feeling of protection. Chinese call it wei (guard) chi. Through the Taiji practice, one can develop it to a greater range and power. When he pushed me, he was in his bubble pushing his bubble against mine. If I had the ability to fang song with the right frequency to detect his on coming chi bubble is bigger and my center is not correctly in place or I don’t have one, then I am a pushover. That would be a good thing to invest in lost, help me in further development.

The Earth has this guarding chi field/bubble. It is called Ozone. If something enters the Earth’s atmosphere that meteorite gets a down sizing or burned up to reduce its force of destruction before hits the Earth. It can absorb the heat from the sun and borrow it’s energy and returns the ‘excess’ we don’t need. It can bounce off the harmful rays from the sun or space. Since we all are earthling, then why such surprise to see a highly skilled Taiji Master to be able to absorb, and borrow the opponent’s energy and bounce him off with flying colors? Yet we can’t see the Earth’s guarding bubble but it’s there. The scientist can tell us that. So is our chi bubble, The Taoist know but can’t talk about it.

One really needs to stand in a Wuji stance at least as long as twice the time to finish a short form to get the fang song going, before starting the form. When I practice my posture I focus on the yi to enlarge this chi bubble and counter balance it with my body chi to an equal density and simultaneously melt away the tension and the ‘edges’ to reach the state of relaxation. This is what I call ‘relax with something in it‘. That is why I can not be in the state of ‘limp’ aka wet noodle, nor stiff as a two by four. An observer with less of kung fu eye may see it as too limp. But soft as the fair lady’s beautiful hands ( I believe that’s what Master CMC called it)is not limp. It feels good to the touch and it is alive. You’ll fly if your intent is to test its power, for those who are able to be in that state as Master CMC know best. It seems to me that is ‘Taiji ’ at its BEST. Empty is not empty. Full is not full. Full is empty. Empty is full. The mystery of yinyang ?

I am pondering these ‘empties and fulls’ and experiencing a small degree of wonderment through my practice, they are not all happening in just physical body level. It is more on the ‘out of body’ that will build a much stronger yi power. The result is amazing but not so much in my Taiji skill just yet as IT IS IN MY DAILY LIFE.

Am I there yet? Of course not don’t be silly!!

Ciao and let just have a good Taiji day

yslim
yslim
 
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Monterey,Ca. USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:43 pm

Yslim,
Have you been reading Tai Chi Magazine?
Sim Pooh Ho, student of Wu Tunan, has some articles in the last few issues you might like regarding Ling Kung Jin.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Audi » Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:33 pm

Hi Sirena,

My experience with CMC teaching was that the external expression, compared with ours, was informed by the need to enhance the feeling of “relaxation.” This need helps explain such things as the “beautiful lady’s wrist,” “dropping” the right fist to the right thigh near the end of Deflect Downward Parry and Punch, less general extension in the fingers and thumb than what we practice, and the lightness of the touch in Press compared to what we do.

According to what I was taught, “limpness” was considered a definite defect by CMC’s system, and so this term ends up being a loaded word, and not a neutral comment, if applied to his teaching. I would say, however, that extension is an integral part of what we think of as the basic practice of “fangsong,” but I never heard this in my CMC-related learning. “Extension” was a separate concept with separate purposes.

I would say that our concept of “song” is more often connected with extension, Peng, unification of body and Qi, and showing energy; whereas in some other methods, it seems to be more connected with minimizing exertion, avoidance of force, opening up Qi flow, allowing sensitivity, lack of resistance, and softness.

In the push hands of our system, I would make an absolute and clear distinction between (1) being song; (2) using intent, and not force; (3) and not resisting. For me, these are three separate things that can occur or not occur independently of each other. During some of my other learning, these three things tended to be treated together under the one concept of “deeply and fully relaxing.”

An interesting comparison might be in how to hold the fist. We are taught to hold the fist tight, but not too tight; loose, but not too loose. According to my understanding, the idea is to reach a middle that is not a mere average, but something that has the qualities of both extremes. It is not merely a combination of Yin and Yang, but the Taiji diagram concept that is a dynamic union of the two. During some of my other learning, I was taught more to hold the fist with as much “relaxation” as possible and with only the minimal awareness necessary to hold the shape. Other teachers seemed to adopt the philosophy that the only safe fist was a tight one.

In our push hands, the idea of “fangsong” has little more meaning than it does in the form. We do not view it as any particular key to good push hands and do not focus much on it compared to other push hands concepts that are not obviously present in the form. The only exception I might point out is the need to “fangsong” mentally, which can be a new experience to those who have only done form. During some of my other learning, many push hands problems were attributed to a failure to relax deeply enough. This was the main challenge. There was less emphasis on the need to develop other skills that might have nothing to do with relaxing.

In terms of the mind’s role in “fangsong,” I would say that we focus most on the need for conscious mental “exertion” during form; whereas, at least some other methods seem to gravitate more towards a feeling of detachment with only minimal awareness in less active parts of the body.

In some other systems of Tai Chi, I have encountered those who stress relaxation as the need to have unencumbered movement. This practice tends to focus on movement and applications when discussing the need for relaxation. Sometimes the stress is on enabling more speed. I would say that in our basic practice, a beginner will first encounter the concept most clearly in a static posture, not in relation to movement. The only time I might talk of freeing up movement would be in relation to weapons forms or perhaps in push hands.

Some other teachers also relate “relaxing” to gravity or else distinguish postures or positions according to the action of gravity. I do not think this applies very well to our method. For instance, I was just watching a YouTube video with someone teaching Yang Chengfu’s form. In describing the arm movements of the Opening Posture, he talks about “relaxing the wrists all the way up.” This instruction does not make sense to me in terms of our method, for which Fangsong is a constant, independent of direction and muscular activity.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:57 pm

Hi Steve,

You wrote: <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Let's start with the premise from the Tai Chi Classics that the internal principle is what matters and not the outer form. This way we can speak of all styles with full respect and focus on the principles that can help us all develop further.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very nice way of putting it. Thanks for that.

Thanks also for explaining the CMC training regarding what relaxation ought to be. The tire analogy is very similar to my way of thinking about it (I think I even wrote something similar once! Image ).

Also, BTW, my description of the cotton bale being descriptive of Yang style fang song (or pung jin also) was too limited. My copy of Wolfe Lowenthal's book There Are No Secrets came back to me recently and I was interested to note that he cites CMC with describing this same analogy, so it's interesting to hear that's in CMC too. It's really fascinating to hear pedagogical stories from related branches of the tai chi family tree and think that they might go back to the common ancestor.

It sounds like our understanding of this topic is quite similar. Glad to hear it and sorry for the long delay in relying--I'm changing my entire life at present. It seems to make correspondence spotty.

Cheers,
Serena
Kalamondin
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:34 pm

Hi Yslim:

You wrote:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Here I would like to share some personal experiences on “quality of fang song’.
Once upon a time, after years of practice fang song on the path as Steve mentioned above, our teacher wanted to give us a up close personal touch and feed back on this subject. When my mind was able to fang song, then soon I felt my body being pushed backwards slowly but surely, without anything touching me. I tried to feel/locate where the contact point might be. But before I knew it I had to take a big step backward to catch my fall, At which time my eyes opened and I saw him standing about 9 feet! ... To send and receive all in one with the right body frequency of fang song. that is what fang song can do. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Was it like this? http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8784247348094164056&q=ma+liang&hl=en

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
As he explained it, we all have a ’guarding chi field or bubble’ outside around our body to give us that six sense feeling of protection. Chinese call it wei (guard) chi. Through the Taiji practice, one can develop it to a greater range and power. When he pushed me, he was in his bubble pushing his bubble against mine. If I had the ability to fang song with the right frequency to detect his on coming chi bubble is bigger and my center is not correctly in place or I don’t have one, then I am a pushover. That would be a good thing to invest in lost, help me in further development. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's interesting, I have felt this too. Not the deliberate pushing you described, but maybe a little bit similar. During class, when my teacher would make his rounds and walk past me, I could feel the edge of his wei qi like a wall from about 8 to 10 feet away. I used to have a poor root and would lose my balance very easily when I felt this, even on simple movements like brush knee and push. He was kind enough to not come too near me for awhile. Eventually my root and my ability to manipulate my wei qi improved and now I can stay rooted and also just adjust the shape of my wei qi so that there is space for him to pass.

Best wishes for your continuing practice. It sounds really interesting.

Serena
Kalamondin
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:43 pm

Hi Audi,

Thanks for the comparison of styles and descriptions of what it means to be relaxed in various approaches.

Regarding Yang family style "song" you wrote:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>

I would say that our concept of “song” is more often connected with extension, Peng, unification of body and Qi, and showing energy; whereas in some other methods, it seems to be more connected with minimizing exertion, avoidance of force, opening up Qi flow, allowing sensitivity, lack of resistance, and softness.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I say, yes, I agree regarding the first clause. And in the second clause: maybe that's so in the other methods, but doesn't our emphasis in the first section naturally lead to all of the things in the second section? Maybe it can't be parsed so neatly as learning one portion may lead to other aspects of "song."
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
In the push hands of our system, I would make an absolute and clear distinction between (1) being song; (2) using intent, and not force; (3) and not resisting. For me, these are three separate things that can occur or not occur independently of each other. During some of my other learning, these three things tended to be treated together under the one concept of “deeply and fully relaxing.”</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oh, nice distinctions--yes, I agree, all can happen independently...but not necessarily easily (particularly not resisting without relaxing).

Here's me agreeing and disagreeing, again. I seem to do that a lot.

Cheers,
Serena
Kalamondin
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Bradeos Graphon » Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:32 am

A way that I was taught to regard song was as sensitivity to the pull of gravity on your entire body. Every part, simultaneously.

The same way that you would be minutely sensitive to the incoming push of a pushing hands partner, you could eventually be so sensitive as to be aware of the pull of gravity on every part of your body as you do hand and weapons forms, qigong, push hands, etc.

"Give up oneself to follow another" even if the other is something as taken for granted as simple gravity. This awareness, IME, makes it easier to drop the shoulders and elbows into a correct position. It isn't work to accede to this force, it is mindfullness. Sticking, adhering, connecting and following the (entirely predictable) downward accelerated force of gravity. Indeed, the power generation cai (tsai), plucking downward, entirely depends on leverage and sensitivity in this direction.

To be more basic in this presentation, song precedes peng, the first of the 8 power generations. Without song, there can be no peng, not to mention lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou or kao.
Bradeos Graphon
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:01 am

Postby Audi » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:48 pm

Greetings all,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> I would say that our concept of “song” is more often connected with extension, Peng, unification of body and Qi, and showing energy; whereas in some other methods, it seems to be more connected with minimizing exertion, avoidance of force, opening up Qi flow, allowing sensitivity, lack of resistance, and softness.

I say, yes, I agree regarding the first clause. And in the second clause: maybe that's so in the other methods, but doesn't our emphasis in the first section naturally lead to all of the things in the second section? Maybe it can't be parsed so neatly as learning one portion may lead to other aspects of "song."</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is a difficult subject, because many people use the same words to mean different things. Also, I very much like the Association’s method in preference to the other ones I have studied and am trying to avoid language that might be more evocative, but might be interpreted as overly aggressive. Let me try to clarify.

It is possible that the different approaches to “song” lead to the same result, but for me, they implied quite different ways to practice the form. In the quote paragraph above, I was trying to mention concepts that are interpreted differently and ranked differently, depending upon the approach.

In our approach, I would say that you should rarely try to refine a posture by analyzing how to “minimize exertion.” In fact, I would say that many of our postures require more exertion, rather than less. Some people talk of “efficiency.” Although I find this a valid concept, I find it treacherous, especially for Tai Chi. The question is not how to be efficient, but what to be efficient at. For example, straight-line movement can be defined as more efficient than curved movement, and yet, most of our movement is curved. To take a concrete example, when I perform the Preparation Posture, I use more energy than I would use in “yielding” to gravity or in simply letting my arms dangle and my fingers hang loose.

When I mentioned “avoidance of force,” I meant to refer to the whole dialog about what level of muscular force is okay. I would say that in the Association’s Tai Chi, there is very limited scope for this sort of discussion. Our basic push hands exercises are not built around “effortlessness,” but different principles. I would go further to say that someone who, for instance, is concentrating on using only 8 ounces of force and is practicing basic push hands in our system is almost certainly ignoring more important principles. It is not because the 8-ounce theory is wrong, but because, for us, it should be the result of applying other skills, rather than a useful practice parameter by itself.

For us “opening up Qi flow” is something that happens because we loosen and open up the joints “in place.” It is not something that would ever determine joint angles or limb positions. In other systems, choices are made specifically to try to “increase Qi flow.”

“Allowing sensitivity” is certainly a good thing, but I do not think this is particularly connected with “song” in our system. In fact, I would say that “sensitivity” for us is something that you improve through long training, but it is not something that you should pursue independently before other skills. For example, in other systems, one of the first things stressed in push hands is to practicing sensitivity. In our system, I would say that we simply use sensitivity to stick and follow. The challenge is not so much to increase sensitivity, but to learn how to stick and follow and then to learn the difference between merely touching and sticking.

“Lack of resistance” is important for all versions of Tai Chi I have been exposed to, but I think it is sometimes defined differently and used in different contexts. In some systems, relaxing means “yielding to force.” In our system, being “song” has nothing to do with yielding per se, in fact, “song” is most clearly defined in a static posture, showing a “before” and “after.”

As for being “soft,” I think our system requires a clear distinction between “ruan” (“pillow soft”?) and “rou” (“yielding and resilient”?). We seek the latter, but not the former. In other systems, the distinction is not so important or else is not emphasized.

Let me give a few concrete examples:

In the Preparation Posture, do you let the arms hang loose and leave the shoulders and fingers alone? Or, do you use “energy” and “effort” to extend the shoulders and fingers?

In Press, do you leave the fingers alone, since they do not appear integral to the applicatioin? Or, do you use “effort” to extend the fingers?

In the kicks, do you leave the standing leg as is? Or, do you extend the knee of the standing leg? When you prepare the kicking leg or bring it back in, do you simply leave the ankle alone? Or, do you expend energy to point the toe a little bit?

In forming any posture, do certain stages allow more “relaxation” than others? Or, does “relaxation” feel like something uniform, independent of limb position?
Does “fajin” feel like a temporary “violation” of the injunction to relax? Or, does it feel like a natural outgrowth of loosening and extending the limbs?

During pivots, do you try to minimize the exertion in the ankle and lift the toes as little as possible? Or, do you just try not to keep the ankle stiff and do not pay attention to how high you lift the toes?

Take care,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 10-14-2007).]
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Next

Return to Tai Chi Theory and Principles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 1 guest