Join Date: Sep 2006
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?
Hi Mark, I just wanted to add to that point. The following is a translation from Wang Tsung-yueh's Treatise on T'ai-chi ch'uan:
"Friends, you can gain a great deal from a very simple explanation. Let us consider, for example, a few people who have practiced T'ai-chi every day for five or six years, but who are always bested in competition. A colleague asked, "You have studied faithfully for five or six years, but why are you still not successful? Please demonstrate the Thirteen Postures so I can see." What we see in his form is "horse stances," clenched fists, a fierce countenance, and gritted teeth. He has as much strength as an ox, but his ch'i is nowhere to be seen. This is the result of practicing double-weighted. A colleague laughed and said. "You, Sir, have simply failed to understand the error of double-weightedness." Another man said, "I have been practicing without using force for five or six years, but why is it that I cannot even knock over a ten year old kid?" The colleague asked him to demonstrate the Thirteen Postures and noticed that indeed he used no force at all. However, he was floating like goose down and didn't dare to extend his hands or feet. He was even afraid to open his eyes wide. The colleague laughed and said, "You, Sir, are guilty of the error of 'double-floating.' Double-weightedness is an error and double-floating is also an error." Everyone laughed and asked, "How can we discover the true method of practice?"
Just curious as to the source for your translation of Wang Zongyue's Taijiquanjing. I've never seen it rendered as a cocktail conversation before.
While I'm no expert in Chinese, most English translations of Wang's writing run along the lines of Smith and Zheng's, below. I think there are more than subtle differences.
Translation taken from Robert W. Smith and Zheng Manqing, "Taijiquan":
Taiji comes from infinity; from it spring yin and yang. In movement the two act independently; in stillness they fuse into one. There should be no excess and no insufficiency.
You yield at your opponent's slightest pressure and adhere to him at his slightest retreat. To conquer the strong by yielding is termed "withdraw" (tsou). To improve your position to the detriment of your opponent is called "adherence" (chan). You respond quickly to a fast action, slowly to a slow action. Although the changes are numerous, the principle remains the same. Dilligent practice brings the skill of "interpreting strength". Beyond this achievement lies the ultimate goal: complete mastery of an opponent without recourse to detecting his energy. This, however, requires ardous practice.
The spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head and the qi sinks to the navel. The body is held erect without leaning in any direction. Your opponent should not be able to detect your change from substantial to insubstantial or vice versa, because of your speed in effecting this change. When your opponent brings pressure on your left side, that side should be empty. The same holds for the right side. When he pushes upward or downward against you, he feels as if there is no end to the emptiness he encounters. When he advances against you, he feels the distance incredibly long; when he retreats, he feels it exasperatingly short.
The entire body is so light that a feather will be felt and so pliable that a fly cannot alight on it without setting it in motion. Your opponent cannot detect your moves but you can anticipate his. If you can master all these techniques you will become a peerless boxer.
In boxing there are myriad schools. Although they differ in form and scale, they can never go beyond reliance on the strong defeating the weak or the swift conquering the slow. Yet these are the result of physical endowments and not practical application and experience. The strong and the quick, however, cannot explain and have no part in the deflection of a thousand pound momentum with a trigger force of four ounces or of an old man defeating a great number of men.
Stand like a balance and move actively like a cart wheel. Keep your weight sunk on one side. If it is spread on two feet you will be pushed over easily. Coordinating the substantial is the key here. If that is achieved, then you can interpret strength. After this, by practicing vigorously, studying and remembering, one can reach the stage of total reliance on the mind. Forget yourself and yield to others. Go gradually, according to the right method. Above all, learn these techniques correctly; the slightest divergence will take you far off the path.