Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner
Post Reply
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

To speak of practicing the path ....

Is an expression of encouragement ....

A term of inducement ....

There has never been any doctrine to give people,

Just transmission of various expedient techniques.

These are for expressing the essential idea ....

To get people to know their own minds.

Ultimately ....

There is no doctrine to get ....

No path to practice ....

Therefore, it is said ...

"The path of enlightenment is natural ...."

- Lung-ya (834-920)
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

Good morning, everyone!

Welcome to the T'ai Chi Corner!

And here, to get things moving in this new location, what I would like to do is to quote from Master Feng Zhiqiang on this subject of t'ai chi, because he is much older than I am, and much more accomplished, as well, and in my opinion, his words should be considered and heeded by all who have an interest in this subject, to wit:

"Feng said the first priority in T'ai Chi training is health."

"And while you are working on your health, you accumulate gongfu."

"When doing the form, the main thing to pay attention to, he said, is nurturing your energy!"

"It is not a good thing to constantly think of applications while doing the form."

"If you think about fighting when doing the form, your Qi inside will not be smooth!"

"He also said the Classics say that one should never have the idea to hurt or attack other people."

"If you have this kind of idea in mind while you are practicing, you will never reach a high level!"

"Because when you have this kind of idea of hurting other people, or attacking other people, your Qi is blocked and you won't have harmony in your organs!"

"This impedes your progress."

"'T'ai Chi is a rich art', Feng said."

"Why?"

"It is because it is about Yin and Yang and the balance of Yin and Yang."

"Everything in the universe has Yin and Yang in it."

"Through the practice of T'ai Chi Chaun, we can approach the balance of Yin and Yang."

"This will lead us to lead healthy lives and also achieve healthy mental and emotional states!"
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

Master Feng Zhiqiang:

"The first priority in T'ai Chi training is health."

"And while you are working on your health, you accumulate gongfu."

Livyjr:

What is it that you are treating when performing t'ai chi?

I am a disabled veteran, and I do t'ai chi because it gives me back quality of life that I would otherwise not have ...

So what is it then that I am "treating"?

I would say nothing ...

I am not "treating", I am gaining and growing ...

Looked at another way, however, if t'ai chi is the balance between heaven and earth, and one is using it to "treat" something, that something being treated would have to be lack of balance and harmony in one's life ...

And that is a definition that I could go with ...

And so …

So you are interested in t'ai chi, having heard of it, and having seen it being done in a park or on TV, and you want to bring it into your life.

How do you do that, when there is no path?

That is one reason I started this thread back on 24 July 2010, to help people looking for information on the subject to sort out that information, so as a beginner, they could make heads or tails of it, because having come to us from ancient China, much of the descriptions are initially esoteric, like Master Feng Zhiqiang saying, "And while you are working on your health, you accumulate gongfu."

(To view my complete files: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/the_liv ... r-t64.html )

To which the beginner replies, "HUH?"

"Accumulate gongfu?"

"What on earth is that supposed to mean, 'accumulate gongfu?'"

"How am I supposed to do that, when I don't even know what it means to 'accumulate gongfu?'"

To which I would reply, you start by relaxing your mind, and you continue by relaxing your mind even further, and when you have succeeded in relaxing your mind so that it is always relaxed without you having to fight to relax it, then you have accumulated gongfu, which is skill …

That is what it is, and all it is - the accumulation of various skills that allow you to become balanced as a human being, which means accumulation of gong fu in each of five levels as follows: body, breath, mind, qi, and shen or spirit …

So how do you accumulate gongfu?

You do that by the practice of qigong, which are exercises - the various expedient techniques that are for expressing the essential idea to get people to know their own minds …

That to me is what makes the practice of t'ai chi unique, as opposed to other forms of exercise - that essential idea of getting people, which is us, to know our own minds …

As you do qigongs to gain or accumulate gongfu, you become t'ai chi, which is balanced …

It is that simple ...

So how do you know what qigongs to practice?

Well, that depends on who you are, and where you are in your own life, because there are a multitude of qigongs …

So that is the question we will be exploring in here to help you gain some understanding of where the answer to that question lies in your own life …

And keep in mind that this is really like starting in kindergarten, where you learn some basic qigongs to get you going, and then building on those qigongs as you advance to your Ph.D. …

So some qigongs you may only do for a few months, to be replaced by more advanced qigongs, or more specific qigongs …

Qigongs are stable rocks in the stream of life that you can walk on to get from one side of the river to the other, and should be treated that way …

I still do some qigongs I learned many years ago, while there are many others that I have moved on from to something yet more fulfilling, which would not have been possible without the knowledge gained from those earlier qigongs …

And so ...
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

Kung fu (term)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In general, kung fu/kungfu or gung fu/gongfu refers to the Chinese martial arts, also called wushu and quanfa.

In China, it refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete.

In its original meaning, kung fu can refer to any discipline or skill achieved through hard work and practice, not necessarily martial arts.


Etymology

In Chinese, gōngfu is a compound of two words, combining 功 (gōng) meaning "work", "achievement", or "merit", and 夫 (fū) which is alternately treated as being a word for "man" or as a particle or nominal suffix with diverse meanings (the same character is used to write both).

A literal rendering of the first interpretation would be "achievement of man", while the second is often described as "work and time/effort".

Its connotation is that of an accomplishment arrived at by great effort of time and energy.

Originally, practicing Kung Fu did not just mean to practice Chinese martial arts.

Instead, it referred to the process of one's training - the strengthening of the body and the mind, the learning and the perfection of one's skills - rather than to what was being trained.

It refers to excellence achieved through long practice in any endeavor.


This meaning can be traced to classical writings, especially those of Neo-Confucianism, which emphasize the importance of effort in education.

In the colloquial, one can say that a person's kung fu is good in cooking, or that someone has kung fu in calligraphy; saying that a person possesses kung fu in an area implies skill in that area, which they have worked hard to develop.

The colloquial use of the term has thus returned to the original literal meaning.

Someone with "bad kung fu" simply has not put enough time and effort into training, or seems to lack the motivation to do so.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kung_fu_(term)
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

thelivyjr wrote:
"'T'ai Chi is a rich art', Feng said."

"Why?"

"It is because it is about Yin and Yang and the balance of Yin and Yang."

"Everything in the universe has Yin and Yang in it."

"Through the practice of T'ai Chi Chaun, we can approach the balance of Yin and Yang."

"This will lead us to lead healthy lives and also achieve healthy mental and emotional states!"

When new students in this country are told that "through the practice of T'ai Chi Chaun, we can approach the balance of Yin and Yang," they often look at each other and say "HUH?"

When more advanced students are asked to explain that, the answer is too often, "uh, well you know …"

So what are yin and yang, and how does one "approach" the "balance" of yin and yang?

Where are they?

How do we find them?

And in truth, you are never without them, and are always surrounded by them, so the mystery is not totally unsolvable.

If you look the term "balance of yin and yang" up on Google, one answer you get back is as follows:

The ubiquitous yin-yang symbol holds its roots in Taoism/Daoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy.

The yin, the dark swirl, is associated with shadows, femininity, and the trough of a wave; the yang, the light swirl, represents brightness, passion and growth.

end quotes

So, okay - now what does that mean, and more to the point what has that got to do with t'ai chi, to which I would respond, not much, because yin and yang are not absolute terms with a precise definition, which is what confuses people so.

Yin and yang are relative to each other.

People will say they are opposites, like day/night, hot/cold, big/small, but I do not look at them that way, especially in the practice of t'ai chi.

Another site on the internet then gives us this thought to consider:

When two things are balanced, they are equal but still separate.

In a relationship of harmony, the two energies blend into one seamless whole, as perfectly embodied by the swirling Yin-Yang symbol.

This means there's a dynamic flow happening that automatically and continuously balances and rebalances these energies.

end quotes

Which brings us a bit closer, but still leaves us saying "HUH?"

And in yet another internet site, we find this:

In Taoism, a Chinese philosophy, there are two fundamental principles: one negative, passive, earthy, dark, cold, wet, and feminine (yin) and the other positive, bright, heavenly, active, dry, hot and masculine (yang).

As yin and yang, you complement each other perfectly and are the balance of intellect and emotions.

end quotes

What is "wrong" with that definition is that it is far too complicated.

So, think of it this way for the moment - Yang is making something happen, while Yin is allowing something to happen.

Hold out your right arm and make a fist.

Then allow the fist to dissolve, and your fingers open again.

Then make the fist.

Then let it dissolve.

Making the fist is Yang; allowing the fist to open is Yin.

You must exert to make the fist.

You must relax to unmake the fist.

Now, hold out both hands, and with the right make a fist, while the left remains "unmade," or open.

As the fist of the right hand dissolves back to the open hand, at the same time, make a fist with the left.

Do that three times.

What you then have is a Yin Hand at the same time you have a Yang hand.

And that alternates back and forth, which hand is Yin and which is Yang.

And as you do that simple exercise, you are actually experiencing two opposites at the same time.

Another simple Yin-Yang exercise is to put your two arms out in front of you, starting right arm raised about eyebrow level with palm facing down, and left arm low, around the level of your waist, with palm facing up.

Now, simply let the right arm slowly descend while raising the left.

When the left arm reaches the height of your eyebrows, your right hand should have reached the level of your waist.

Rotate your palms, so left faces down and right faces up, and let left descend while right raises.

Rotate the palms so right again faces down and left faces up., and repeat, and as you do this a few times, at least three, experience what is happening.

What did YOU have to do to get the low hand up?

What did YOU have to do to get the high hand down?

Think about it.

More on that in my next post.
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

T'ai Chi Ch'aun is the study of Tao, which is to say that it is the study of harmony.

The first stage of this study is the realization that we are responsible for our lack of harmony, for our own tension and fear.

Disharmony, in a person or situation does not enter our lives from without.

We create it from within.

The great illusion of disempowerment is that the crises and difficulties of life in themselves are responsible for our disharmony.

- Wolfe Lowenthal, Gateway To The Miraculous
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

thelivyjr wrote: T'ai Chi Ch'aun is the study of Tao, which is to say that it is the study of harmony.

- Wolfe Lowenthal, Gateway To The Miraculous

And instead of getting simple, it just got more complicated, right, with the addition of this post above?

So what then is t'ai chi ch'uan?

If we Google the term t'ai chi ch'uan, one set of definitions we come up with are as follows:

1. a Chinese martial art and system of calisthenics, consisting of sequences of very slow controlled movements.

2. (in Chinese philosophy) the ultimate source and limit of reality, from which spring yin and yang and all of creation.

end quotes

According to the Collins English Dictionary, t'ai chi ch'uan is a "Chinese system of callisthenics characterized by coordinated and rhythmic movements," often shortened to t'ai chi, and they give as the word origin of 't'ai chi ch'uan' the following: literally: great art of boxing.

And Dictionary.com gives us this: a Chinese martial art and form of stylized, meditative exercise, characterized by methodically slow circular and stretching movements and positions of bodily balance.

As to the origin of t'ai chi ch'uan, Dictionary.com tells us t'ai chi ch'uan is from the Chinese word tàijí quán literally, fist of the Great Absolute.

And then we come to Wikipedia, where we are informed as follows:

T'ai chi ch'uan philosophy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In many extant t'ai chi classic writings the dependence of t'ai chi ch'uan on Chinese philosophy is acknowledged.

T'ai chi teachers have historically asserted that the principles of tai chi chuan practice can be applied to a student's lifestyle.

end quotes

And there is where I am going to rest for the moment.

Think about those words above here about T'ai chi teachers historically asserting that the principles of tai chi chuan practice can be applied to a student's lifestyle.

Which takes us back to my simple exercise above with one hand rising and on settling.

The raised hand settles, or goes yin, because you simply surrender to gravity.

And surrendering might be the hardest thing to do.

Think about it.
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

T'ai chi ch'uan philosophy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

'T'ai chi ch'uan' is often translated supreme ultimate pugilism or boundless fist.

This refers to the ancient Chinese martial art.

However, in terms of philosophy t'ai chi has a wider meaning.


The concept of t'ai chi or the Supreme Ultimate is used in various Chinese philosophical schools, usually to represent the contrast in opposing categories, or the interplay of those categories usually termed yin and yang.

These abstract terms represent the relationships used to describe perceived opposites in the phenomenal world: full and empty, movement and stillness, soft and hard, light and dark, hot and cold, et cetera.

This scheme has had a lasting influence in traditional Chinese culture, shaping theory in schools as diverse as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and, to a lesser extent, Chan Buddhism, as well as traditional Chinese medicine and feng shui.

T'ai chi ch'uan, a relatively recent development compared to the aforementioned schools was even named by some of its earliest known exponents after the t'ai chi concept, possibly as late as the mid-nineteenth century.

In the "Forty Chapter" t'ai chi classic text supplied by Yang Pan-hou to Wu Ch'uan-yu in the late nineteenth century, there are the following references to the philosophy of t'ai chi ch'uan as applied to a practitioner's lifestyle:

14. An Explanation of the Spiritual and Martial in Tai Chi

The spiritual is the essence, the martial is the application.

Spiritual development in the realm of martial arts is applied through the ching (metabolic energy), ch'i (breath energy) and shen (spiritual energy) - the practise of physical culture.

When the martial is matched with the spiritual and it is experienced in the body and mind, this then is the practise of martial arts.

With the spiritual and martial we must speak of "firing time," for their development unfolds according to the proper sequence.

This is the root of physical culture.

Therefore, the practise of the martial arts in a spiritual way is soft-style exercise, the sinew power of ching, ch'i and shen.

When the martial arts are practical in an exclusively martial way, this is hard style, or simply brute force.

The spiritual without martial training is essence without application; the martial without spiritual accompaniment is application without essence.

A lone pole cannot stand, a single palm cannot clap.

This is not only true of physical culture and martial arts, but all things are subject to this principle.

The spiritual is internal principle; the martial is external skill.

External skill without internal principle is simply physical ferocity.

This is a far cry from the original nature of the art, and by bullying an opponent one eventually invites disaster.

To understand the internal principles without the external skill is simply an armchair art.

Without knowing the applications, one will be lost in an actual confrontation.

When it comes to applying this art, one cannot afford to ignore the significance of the two words: spiritual and martial.

19. An Explanation of the Three Levels of the Spiritual and Martial in Tai Chi

Without self-cultivation, there would be no means of realising the Tao.

Nevertheless, the methods of practise can be divided into three levels.

The term level means attainment.

The highest level is the great attainment; the lowest level is the lesser attainment; the middle level is the attainment of sincerity.

Although the methods are divided into three levels of practise, the attainment is one.

The spiritual is cultivated internally and the martial externally; physical culture is internal and martial arts external.

Those whose practise is successful both internally and externally reach the highest level of attainment.

Those who master the martial arts through the spiritual aspect of physical culture, and those who master the spiritual aspect of physical culture through the martial arts attain the middle level.

However, those who know only physical culture but not the martial arts, or those who know only the martial arts without physical culture represent the lowest levels of attainment.

20. An Explanation of the Martial Aspect of T’ai Chi

As a martial art, T’ai Chi is externally a soft exercise, but internally hard, even as it seeks softness.

If we are externally soft, after a long time we will naturally develop internal hardness.

It’s not that we consciously cultivate hardness, for in reality our mind is on softness.

What is difficult is to remain internally reserved, to possess hardness without expressing it, always externally meeting the opponent with softness.

Meeting hardness with softness causes the opponent’s hardness to be transformed and disappear into nothingness.

How can we acquire this skill?

When we have mastered sticking, adhering, connecting and following, we will naturally progress from conscious movement to interpreting energy and finally spiritual illumination and the realm of absolute transcendence.

If our skill has not reached absolute transcendence, how could we manifest the miracle of four ounces moving a thousand pounds?

It is simply a matter of “understanding sticky movement” to the point of perfecting the subtlety of seeing and hearing.

24 An Explanation of the Spiritual and Martial in Tai Chi

If the essence of material substances lies in their phenomenological reality, then the presence of the ontological status of abstract objects shall become clear in the final culmination of the energy that is derived from oneness and the Real.

How can man learn this truth?

By truly seeking that which is the shadow of philosophy and the charge of all living substances, that of the nature of the divine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%27ai_ch ... philosophy
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

thelivyjr wrote: In the "Forty Chapter" t'ai chi classic text supplied by Yang Pan-hou to Wu Ch'uan-yu in the late nineteenth century, there are the following references to the philosophy of t'ai chi ch'uan as applied to a practitioner's lifestyle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%27ai_ch ... philosophy
Yang Pan-hou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yang Pan-hou or Yang Banhou (1837–1890) was an influential teacher of t'ai chi ch'uan (taijiquan) in Ch'ing dynasty China, known for his bellicose temperament.

Biography

He was the senior son of Yang Luchan to survive to adulthood.

Like his father, he was retained as a martial arts instructor by the Chinese Imperial family.

He eventually became the formal teacher of Wu Ch'uan-yu (Wu Quanyou), a Manchu Banner cavalry officer of the Palace Battalion.

Wu Ch'uan-yu's son, Wu Chien-ch'uan (Wu Jianquan), also a Banner officer, became known as the co-founder (along with his father) of the Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan.

Yang Pan-hou's younger brother Yang Chien-hou was a well known teacher of Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan as well.

Yang Pan-hou's son, Yang Shao-p'eng (1875-1938) was also a t'ai chi teacher.

Yang Banhou taught Wang Jiao-Yu his father's Guang Ping Yang t'ai chi ch'uan form, Wang Jiao-Yu taught Kuo Lien Ying this original Yang style form.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Pan-hou
thelivyjr
Site Admin
Posts: 74274
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:40 p

Re: Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner

Post by thelivyjr »

Wu Quanyou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wu Quanyou (1834–1902), or Wu Ch'uan-yu, was an influential teacher of t'ai chi ch'uan in late Imperial China.

His son is credited as the founder of the Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan.

As he was of Manchu descent, and would have been named by his family in Manchu, the name "Wú" was a sinicisation that approximated the pronunciation of the first syllable of his Manchu clan name, U Hala.

Background

Wu was a military officer in the Yellow Banner camp in the Forbidden City, Beijing and also an officer of the Imperial Guards Brigade during the Qing Dynasty.

At that time, Yang Luchan (1799–1872) was the martial arts instructor in that banner camp, teaching t'ai chi ch'uan.

In the camp, there were many officers studying with Yang Luchan, but only three men, Wan Chun, Ling Shan and Ch'uan Yu studied diligently and trained hard enough at t'ai chi ch'uan to become disciples.

However, they were unable to become Yang Luchan's disciples, because Yang Luchan taught t'ai chi ch'uan to two men of very high status in the military; they were Shi Shaonan and General Yue Guichen.

At that time Wan Chun, Ling Shan and Ch'uan-yu were middle grade officers in the banner camp and because of their rank, they could not be seen as classmates with nobility and high grade officers.

As a result, they were asked to become disciples of Yang Pan-hou or Yang Banhou, Yang Luchan's oldest adult son and an instructor as well to the Manchu military.

As a teacher

When Wu retired from the military, he set up a school in Beijing.

Wu's Beijing school was successful and there were many who studied with him, he was popularly known as Quan Sanye as a term of respect.

His disciples were his son Wu Chien-ch'uan, Guo Songting, Wang Mao Zhai, Xia Gongfu, Chang Yuanting (1860-1918), Qi Gechen, etc.

Wu's skills were said to be exceptional in the area of softly "neutralizing" (hua jin) hard energy when attacked, which is a core skill of good t'ai chi ch'uan practice as a martial art.

Chang Yuanting's son, Chang Yunji teaches a style known as quanyou laojia tai chi chuan or Chang style tai chi chuan,

Formation of the Wu-style

Wu's son, Wu Chien-ch'uan (1870–1942) also became a cavalry officer and t'ai chi ch'uan teacher, working closely with the Yang family and Sun Lu-t'ang, promoting what subsequently came to be known as Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Quanyou
Post Reply