Taiji not about generating power

Chessman organizes comments made by Tom into a single post. One of Tom’s comments really got me thinking. The comment pertains to something he got via the HJS line:

According to him [HJS], Xingyi genuinely aims to generate internal power. So does Bagua. It is not the case with Taiji. In Taiji, there is no real power generated. Instead, it is a “perceived power” that Taiji is concerned with.

Hmm… This really got me thinking about my own practice. I think I’ve been approaching things in the wrong perspective. I’ve been focusing on the end result, on the flash and the bang of fajin and therefore have focused on creating power. I’ve been taught that when doing fajing, I should shift my weight from kua to kua, instead of leg to leg. This is a minor distinction, but a very big one and I could definitely tell the difference in the amount of power and connectedness I felt, but is this the wrong way?

If taiji is about using your opponents energy against them, how can I practice fajin with no real incoming force to redirect? I guess I could imagine the air coming at me or something, but I don’t think that’s right. I posed this question to a friend of mine that trains in CZH system via HJS and he basically was taught:

In the form, there are no strikes

Whoa… Now, I believe this aligns with the notion of no power generation and is a way to link the left rear elbow attack with the right hand punch (or maybe better to be called “forward motion”..), but in any case, I definitely feel this is an interesting principle to explore.

But then again, in most forms I have learned, before any punch is a block. In the chen form I train, the block is done in conjunction with a shifting weight into the rear leg and then the fajin is done with shifting in the reverse direction. Maybe that’s the “incoming” energy I am working with? But to me, this still feels like energy I am generating myself…

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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13 Responses to Taiji not about generating power

  1. zenmindsword says:

    why do we delude ourselves? its all in the mind. when a state of emptiness is reached, your mind can penetrate through. when that happens what does it matter if its weight shifting or kua shifting. instead the question should be “where is my mind?”. when you solve this question, the form becomes a tool for understanding the mind and mind mechanics. otherwise, what really is the difference between the mechanics of xingyi, bagua and taiji. my guess is if you look at the approaches of most schools that looks at it in terms of strikes, blocks, fajing mechanics, shift weight here, shift weight there, turn waist here, turn waist there, twist arm here, twist arm there, etc, you will find little difference. so are we being deluded or is there really a taiji difference? (ps – zen buddhism says the mind should not linger; our mind is not here nor there; yet it is somewhere for an instant-that “instant” is what we are looking for to do that effortless fajing that seems impossible to do without the weight shifting, the kua settling, the waist turning, the rear leg pushing, the back bowing, etc. in yang taiji, that instant where the mind should be is defined very clearly; it is our lack of practice that makes us unable to grasp where that one point is; when your mind can fix on it yet not fix on it; the true mind generated force as opposed to real external power will emerge-10 years of basics without the distraction of how to use techniques, how to push hands, how to fajing, etc ought to do the trick of finding the real mind, the real intention but how many believe in it to want to put the time, effort and money into it bearing in mind that there are no guarantees-answer is obvious-only the deluded ones will do so with faith but its not blind faith-because faith is based on something-that something is the principles of taiji-viz 3 qi rings, 3 passes, 2-4 point, bell body, etc.- so that will faith and time delusion becomes reality (OK getting off my soapbox now-its the cough medicine causing me to ramble in a drowsy manner………….off to bed and rest now…..)

  2. zenmindsword says:

    this cough medicine is pretty strong. can’t seem to sleep yet drowsy and from my purple haze the words sprout out ………http://delusionalmind.wordpress.com/2006/07/15/hello-world/

  3. wujimon says:

    Hey ZMS! Awesome to see you around, again. Missed your viewpoints, buddy.

    I think you have some interesting points and you pose some very interesting questions in regards to the mechanics between the various IMAs. One thing I always wonder about is the scenario in which someone trains fully so much on the mind without getting the physical part right. As I recall, you have quite an extensive background in yang taiji, and most recently in the dong family set. I am pretty sure you got enough physical corrections and instructions that you could begin to focus on the mental aspects of the form. Would you agree?

    I personally feel that I am still not fully there on the physical side. For someone who has only been doing taiji for about 7 yrs, I feel physically, I still have a long way to go in terms of body harmony and movement. I try to think about the mind training, but again, it’s difficult, especially when I feel I don’t have the structural stuff correct yet.

    I guess I am afraid of becoming one of those rainbow taiji guys who just solely does the form in a very mental and introspective manner but when push comes to shove, they fall over. I’ve seen that and definitely do not want to become that.

    I think for me, the hard part is when enough is enough. When is the focus on the physical too much? That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s good that you bring up these points. It’s good to have someone with your viewpoints around balancing out my modalities on the physical.

    Glad to see you’ve started blogging again. I especially like the entry:

    “And that is why so many people seek the taiji fish
    Most fail to catch it

    Because you cannot catch what exists
    Only in the delusional mind”.

    Good stuff! 😉

  4. zenmindsword says:

    To my friend Wuji from your delusional friend :-

    Wuji : I think you have some interesting points and you pose some very interesting questions in regards to the mechanics between the various IMAs. One thing I always wonder about is the scenario in which someone trains fully so much on the mind without getting the physical part right. As I recall, you have quite an extensive background in yang taiji, and most recently in the dong family set. I am pretty sure you got enough physical corrections and instructions that you could begin to focus on the mental aspects of the form. Would you agree?

    Delusional Answer : I have a background in Shaolin and I was teaching Shaolin for about 10 years before I pulled the plug because it was getting in the way of my delusional mind seeking the delusional way. I learned CMC and Dong taiji along the way and thought I had it but I was delusional. Biomechanics are fine up to a certain stage. If you don’t realize the limitations then your mind won’t become delusional and want to seek this delusional path. You would also not realize why its necessary to give up the biomechanical aspect for the mindmechanical. Such is the power of delusion 😉

    Wuji : I personally feel that I am still not fully there on the physical side. For someone who has only been doing taiji for about 7 yrs, I feel physically, I still have a long way to go in terms of body harmony and movement. I try to think about the mind training, but again, it’s difficult, especially when I feel I don’t have the structural stuff correct yet.

    Delusional Answer : Biomechanics are not difficult to understand nor do. Get a good teacher and within 5 years you can reach there. By the 10th year mark you can start to dissolve the hard edges. But the mind is still beyond reach as long as one cannot give up thinking of the body. That’s my delusional viewpoint and experience. Its hard to believe it but getting the structural part correct can actually get in the way of finding the delusional mind. Think of it as an empty cup attempting to be filled with coffee and tea at the same time. The more coffee you have the less tea can go in and vice versa. Its not wrong to get the biomechanical part correct but it can be an impediment. When you get there one day you will see what I mean.

    Wuji : I guess I am afraid of becoming one of those rainbow taiji guys who just solely does the form in a very mental and introspective manner but when push comes to shove, they fall over. I’ve seen that and definitely do not want to become that.

    Delusional Answer : Mindmechanics in taiji is not the get-pushed-over-easily type of taiji. If your intention projection is strong, the moment you lay hands on somebody they will get this funny feeling of being enveloped by an all pervasive force field. I had shown this to Eman Rohe so unless he too was delusional I guess we were all kidding ourselves, ha, ha………..

    Wuji : I think for me, the hard part is when enough is enough. When is the focus on the physical too much? That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s good that you bring up these points. It’s good to have someone with your viewpoints around balancing out my modalities on the physical.

    Delusional Answer : It is never enough. If I had wanted to, there are more aspects to the biomechanics that I could have pursued. But fate played a funny trick on me and I got diverted to this path. Right now you are strong and there’s no problem to use biomechanics. But consider a scenario – let’s say you injure your back badly enough that each time you try to use biomechanics your back gets thrown off again. Would this be a case of enough is enough? Would this be a case to either deny the facts and continue on and in the end give up because the body cannot support the stress of using biomechanics any more or throw out the existing paradigm and work on another one? Who knows? Ah, I’m being delusional again. Anyway its time to get off work now and on with my social life. Bye.

  5. wujimon says:

    [quote post=”247″]Delusional Answer : I have a background in Shaolin and I was teaching Shaolin for about 10 years before I pulled the plug because it was getting in the way of my delusional mind seeking the delusional way.[/quote]
    Hi ZMS. I felt the same way when I was training in taiji but one of the instructors at the school also wanted me to train in his shaolin class. I felt doing so would “move me back” along my path b/c then I would be focusing on external muscular strength again. I think I understand your point.

    [quote post=”247″]Delusional Answer : Mindmechanics in taiji is not the get-pushed-over-easily type of taiji. If your intention projection is strong, the moment you lay hands on somebody they will get this funny feeling of being enveloped by an all pervasive force field. [/quote]
    This is similar to the way Wai Lun Choi (WLC), AFAIK. His focus is on the intent, the spirit of the movement with very little focus on minute physical corrections of hip here, arm there type of stuff. Basically, he teaches in a manner of almost near instant feedback as you try the app to see if it work 🙂

    [quote post=”247″]Delusional Answer : … But fate played a funny trick on me and I got diverted to this path. Right now you are strong and there’s no problem to use biomechanics. But consider a scenario – let’s say you injure your back badly enough that each time you try to use biomechanics your back gets thrown off again. Would this be a case of enough is enough? Would this be a case to either deny the facts and continue on and in the end give up because the body cannot support the stress of using biomechanics any more or throw out the existing paradigm and work on another one?[/quote]
    Another interesting point. A friend of mine had hip problems and was due for hip replacement surgery soon. However, when a silk reeling seminar presented itself, he attended but due to his physical limitations and the requirements of stance work in silk reeling, he had to miss the following day. He could’ve done the exercises in a chair to get the energetic affects, but like most there, we wanted to get in low stances and train the legs to try and “feel” the twining.

    Good points and thanks again for sparking the memories that confirms your views lingering in the back of my mind 😉

  6. kazan says:

    My little understanding:

    TC is a defensive martial art. We wait and see. I mean, we sense the energy and skillfully act on the energy as it surges from the enemy. If so, then ‘percieved energy’ is very important because without it, not action will be required. I guess this is similar to aikido since there is a strong drive toward energy redirection.

    A question: why should I attack others when they do not attack me? when I percieve others aggresive energy in my direction, then I re-direct that energy and defeat them. Of course, this is very Yang style; though I sense the same in the little of Chen I know.

    Bless be.

  7. wujimon says:

    Hi Kazan. You are definitely correct. I agree taiji is a defensive martial art utilizing the opponent’s energy.

    I don’t believe you should attack someone if they do not attack you, however I think with chen, I’ve fallen victim to the flash (as I mentioned in my blog entry). If I am not mistaken, you recently did a seminar with CZL where he focused on “yang strikes”. I wonder if anyone asked him the reason for practicing strike if not receiving energy? This is what I’ve been questioning.

  8. Kazan says:

    wujimon. Nobody asked. I did not asked either. We practiced and practiced ‘an-peng-li- etc.’

    Why so? I did not because I am returning into TC and for me…anything in TC is so wonderfull that I was satisfied with the yang part…

    I did learned a lot of yielding in the past and CZL did not talk at all about yielding…

    I assumed that he thought that the audience wanted ‘action.’ more than softness… Who knows. Still it was fun doing the yang exercise…

    It was not really push hands but the practice of the potential strikes in push hands. (well…not really…he did not showed any pushes.)

  9. wujimon says:

    thanks for your follow-up, kazan. Definitely things to think about 🙂

  10. lifegivingsword says:

    Maybe this is all a Chen thing? I know in the Yang Banhao lineage system Yang Jwing Ming teaches, there sure as hell ARE strikes, and to nasty locations. From YBH-style perspective, “leading your opponent into emptiness” is only part of the game. Taiji certainly IS about generating power-jin power where qi and tendons dominate over muscular li power, enabling deep penetration for strikes and the ability to adapt a movement once its already in action. To say that TJQ’s power is only ‘perceived power’ is to say that it relies entirely on the mechanics of your opponent running into you, which is like saying in a swordfight the only weapon you have is for the guy to fall on his own sword, which is ridiculous. I’d have to say that proponents of that viewpoint have obviously never received a cavity strike from a Yang master! ‘brush knee’ once knocked my heart out of rhythm for a week. Lots of aspirin after that, I can tell you.

  11. chenquestion says:

    WM, this is a fantastic discussion you initiated, I’m really glad to have found it!

    I’d like to contribute a couple of thoughts based on my own current understanding of these matters. Probably nothing you’re not familiar with but here goes…

    Practicing fajin: fajin should be a release of gathered energy. I would not describe this energy as coming directly from an opponent, but rather from my own energy-gathering movements prior to the issuing. Whether those movements were in following an opponent, or just following the form. Does this sound right? Anyway that’s my firm impression – especially with Chen!

    Speaking of Chen Zhonghua, you were johnny-on-the-spot to discover the “Kua interview” with CZH last summer. I just re-read this again and the part where he says “there is no redirection and no release”. Only turning and neutralization, with expressions of taiji power all coming from that same base method that he describes in the interview! I find this fascinating.

    >In the form, there are no strikesthe left rear elbow attack with the right hand punch

  12. chenquestion says:

    Whoops, I cut off the rest of my comment. Oh well, the main thing was requesting you to post a follow-up piece sometime if possible! 🙂

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