The pivot

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:15 pm

Greetings,

Here's a nice online resource I just found. This link is to the kai-he term. Some of the glosses are similar to the Hanyu da cidian. Gloss #2 is for the Sunzi usage, with some useful commentaries.
http://zdic.net/cd/ci/4/ZdicE5ZdicBCZdic80255494.htm

Note: For the more expansive definitions and historical examples, you may need to click on the right-hand of the two tabs.

The site is very useful! It includes a zidian (single-character dictionary), cidian (phrase/compound dictionary), a chengyu (proverb) dictionary, and other tools. Very Cool!

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 12-19-2007).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:57 pm

Here also is a link to the Ling Shu—sometimes translated the “spiritual pivot”—chapter of the Huangdi Nei Jing (Classic of the Yellow Emperor), the early medical text.

http://www.chinapage.com/medicine/hw1.htm

There are a number of occurrences of the kai-he compound.

--Louis
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:09 pm

Ah, to be able to read Chinese.
Alas, I cannot.
I'm sure these articles are very informative, just not for me!
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:02 pm

Greetings Bob,

Understood. I just wanted to quickly post the links for those who do read Chinese and who may want to do a bit of research. Who knows where it will go?

Take care,
Louis

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
—Zora Neale Hurston
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:44 pm

Audi,

In addition to the above links, here is one to the Suwen section of the Huangdi Neijing medical classic: http://www.chinapage.com/big5/science/hw2.htm

This also contains several occurrences of the kai and he terms, and the kaihe compound. Porkert’s explanation of the terms that I mentioned is based upon this text, which clearly uses them to explain polar phases of yin and yang. The terms are used in association with the term shu (pivot, hinge), which is the turning point, if you will, from one phase to the other.

--Louis
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Postby Audi » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:13 am

Greetings Louis,

I am short on time at the moment. But I did some digging in some of your sites on and my own. I found some interesting stuff regarding the organs storing and releasing Jing, blood, Shen, etc., which corresponded with opening and closing. That has allowed me to formulate some ideas that incorporate the pivot you mention.

I also found the site below, which I have not had time to explore. It may have a possible answer. (Warning, the site seems to generate a series of annoying pop-ups that I hope are harmless.)

Chen Style Taijiquan

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:40 am

Bob: for my part, I interpret this as meaning the co-rdination of embryonic breathing with yin/yang movements in the form and in push hands. Of course embryonic breathing was always regarded as the big secret of internal martial arts but there is much information on it now - for instance a very compendious book on it by Yang Jwing Ming and extremely useful chapters in Da Liu's book 'Tai Chi Chuan and Meditation'. Yang Jwing Ming's book 'Tai Chi Theory and Martial Power' also has excellent observations on this. Of course, the Tai Chi classics state that if the mind is on the breathing then no 'essential hardness' can result, which is another way of saying in my view that one should practise embryonic breathing seated first for a while before applying it to form practise, and then of course for a while one has to keep ones mind on the breathing, but one should reach a point where it becomes natural, and 'fine, slow, long and profound.' At that stage it is true that as the saying goes 'The Master doesn't sweat'. Wang was clearly alluding to this proposition, the reason being that at that stage one is easily drawing on ones prenatal breath and no longer struggling to breathe or hold the breath etc, all of which cause excessive perspiration. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Audi » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:52 pm

Greetings all,

Simon, I also wondered whether the original quote referred to "embryonic breathing," but doubted that this fit with the idea of something difficult to explain or that one had to discover for oneself.

I should also say that the Association does not teach "embryonic breathing," but stresses "natural" breathing. "Natural" is one of those concepts that seems simple, but which has many layers. If "embryonic breathing is optional, even if only for basic practice, this also seems inconsistent with the idea of something essential to the form and Tai Chi theory.

I did some additional Google searching for a definition of "opening and closing" in Chinese medicine, but got too many headaches from trying to wade through the Classical Chinese and unfamiliar jargon and thought patterns. I am left with the ideas that were posted earlier, which are that organs like the kidneys have two modes: open and closed. Opening seems to entail distributing a fluid (water, blood, Qi, Shen, etc.) to other organs and tissues. Closing seems to entail accumulating and retaining the same fluid. Passing from one mode to the other involves the "pivot," just as a door opens and closes by pivoting on its hinge.

I have thought again about the original quotation and pondered what might lead me to make those observations about someone's form. I have come up with a theory.

Every named posture in the barehand form, at least as taught by the Association, seems to have two modes. I usually do not think of them as open and closed, but think in terms of two halves of a circle. If you have to end up going forward, you first go back. If you must go to the right, you begin by going left. I classify this concept under the principle of continuity in the Ten Essentials. The reference point that determines what is left and right, up and down, forward and back is the Tai Chi waist.

When some people do the form, they perform the postures in a way that does not make the two modes clear. Sometimes the limbs are not quite in the right place to fully reach the necessary "extremes." Sometimes the timing is slightly off relative to the body. But more importantly, it looks like their intent guides their posture in ignorance of the cycling between the two modes and their usefulness. In Ward Off, their arms close, but without the full purpose of closing. In Raise Hands Stand Forward, their arms do not really show the initial opening. In High Pat on Horse, the right hand and elbow do not really find the beginning of the strike.

I think that this concept of cycling between the two modes fits with the idea of something that everyone must learn for themselves and might help to make the quotation more understandable.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Audi » Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:23 am

Greetings all,

One other surprising tidbit I ran across in a recent edition of Tai Chi Magazine was that Wu/Hao Style originally talked about "opening" ("kai") in a different way.

Apparently, the four phases of movements were divided into qi3 ("introduction" or "beginning"), cheng2 ("development" or "undertaking"), zhuan3 ("transition" or "turning"), and he2 ("conclusion" or "closing"). These were the four "approved" steps in writing an essay and were transferred to the analysis of doing an individual Tai Chi posture. The second or third generation then decided to change "zhuan" ("transition") to "kai" ("opening") to better emphasize the ideas of "opening" and "closing."

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:07 am

Greetings Audi,

You may recall we discussed the four-stage thing in the empty/full thread some time ago, here: http://beta.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000038-4.html
including some elaboration by Hao Shaoru.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:15 pm

Audi,

Further. . .

For your consideration, here’s a link to an online dictionary entry for the literary four-character phrase, qi cheng zhuan he: http://zdic.net/cy/ch/ZdicE8ZdicB5ZdicB718016.htm

It resembles in some regards the formula for writing Eight Legged Essays (baguwen) required for passing the imperial exams, which at least one of the Wu family did as I recall. See this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-legged_essay

It’s not surprising that taijiquan theory would borrow from formulae for writing composition. Whether speaking of calligraphy, poetry, essay writing, painting, or martial arts, the subject was always “shi” (efficacious disposition, stylistic configuration, form, posture, etc.), so the theory of one discipline was easily transferable to another.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:29 pm

Audi,

Re: 'One other surprising tidbit I ran across in a recent edition of Tai Chi Magazine was that Wu/Hao Style originally talked about "opening" ("kai") in a different way.'

Do you recall offhand which issue this was in?

Thanks,
Louis
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Postby Audi » Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:40 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thanks for reminding me of the previous discussion, which I had forgotten. I re-read it again and was surprised how many issues have lingered, but even more so how much my viewpoints and priorities have shifted.

Thanks also for your reference to the explanation of qichengzhuanhe; however, what most caught my eye was the fact that it was a chengyu denoting ŒÅ’è•ð”“IŒ`Ž® ("fixed, dull, and inflexible form"). I think I understand the historical reasons for this, but what a shame that such a connotation has become attached to the tenets of one of the more "formless" styles of Taijiquan. Image

As for the Eight-Legged Essays, I also made this possible connection, but was puzzled by the difference in the terms for the sections and even the difference in some of the ordering. I have tried to wade through the Chinese Wikipedia's explanation of the different sections, but get lost in unfamiliar literary forms that have little or no flavor for me.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Re: 'One other surprising tidbit I ran across in a recent edition of Tai Chi Magazine was that Wu/Hao Style originally talked about "opening" ("kai") in a different way.'</font>


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Do you recall offhand which issue this was in?</font>


It is Vol. 31, No. 6, page 20, top of the third column. Here is the relevant quote:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">For giving prominence to the emptiness and solidness, open and close and the changes of storing and releasing force in the boxing forms, Hao Weizhen, the third generation of Wu's Style Taijiquan, changed "Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He" into "Qi, Cheng, Kai (open) and He (close)." So Wu's Style Taijiquan is also called "Kai He Taijiquan."</font>


This article is also the source of Bob's recent comments about the origin of certain posture names. Wu Wenhan asserts that Wu Yuxiang changed 20 names of the forms and gives some examples, most of which also describe postures in Yang Chengfu's form.

What I found most surprising was the substition of "zhuan" ("turn") with "kai" ("open"). To me the affinity between the two is not obvious and implies something different about the Wuu conception of "kai" than I had before thought. I am not very familiar with the distinct flavor and doctrines of Wuu Style, but could imagine how the original sequence might apply to an essay or to a posture sequence. I have much greater difficulty fitting in "opening" and "closing" into a sequence of four phases, rather than two poles of a unity, especially if they are thought of as adjacent in the sequence.

As for the larger issue of the pivot, I have a few further speculations based on a recent Association seminar I attended. At the seminar, it was made clear that opening and closing are parts of the Yin/Yang change you should feel during the form, like the exchanges of empty/full and storing/releasing. The explanation and my practice have led me to the following level of understanding and belief. Rather than explain it directly, let me narrate some of my thoughts/feelings near the beginning of the form. For "opening" and "closing," my reference point is the feeling with respect to my lumbar region, both horizontally and vertically. Sometimes, the feeling is clearer with respect to the centerline of my stance and my connection to the opponent. Sometimes the feeling is also subdivided. Similarly, one feeling often contains some aspect of the other at another level.

In the Opening Posture, I feel my back open horizontally with the initial arm rotation to allow my arms to close slightly horizontally. I then feel by back close vertically to allow my arms to open vertically. To lower my arms with the requisite continuity and "wave" feeling, I have to open my back vertically to help my arms close vertically.

In Wardoff Left, my feet then open to allow my hands to open slightly. As I step, my legs open to allow my arms to circle closed. As my stance finishes in a closed position, this allows my arms to open in the final position.

In Rollback, by waist initially comes square to allow my arms to open up more, then my waist closes to allow my arms to close. In Press, I feel my opponent wants to stay close, and so first I close my right arm further to allow it to end up open. In Push, I feel my opponent wants to be open and so I first open to separate his arms and retreat to allow him to open further, I then push down, forward, and up through a vertical ellipse to close him.

In Single Whip, I feel the posture ends up very open, except that the right hand is closed in a hook and the left hand is slightly closed in a seated position. To move into Lifting Hands, you must close the back slightly in order to open the hands further; then, after the front foot touches, the back opens to allow the arms to close.

In High Pat on Horse, the arms begin again very open in Single Whip, but then the body is subdivided right and left. The left arm opens more as the hand rotates palm up. The right arm closes as the hand seats and the arm folds in at the elbow. At the end of the posture, the arms reverse, as the left arm closes and the right arm opens.

This is all I have for now.

Happy practicing,
Audi

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 02-23-2008).]
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