Friday, October 7, 2011

The "Tai Chi Classics" have some glaring mistakes


Video excerpted from "Tao of Martial Applications DVD series Volume III"

Recently a question arose in the Yahoo Email Group of Classical Tai Chi regarding the statement:  "Every movement in Tai Chi Form has to have 2 complementary sides of the body, a moving part Yang and a stationary part Yin. When the yin-yang junction is located in the torso of the body, it is an internal move.  When it is outside of the torso, it is an external move." This statement has we have said before was the most important statement made by Wu Chien Chuan to his student Young Wabu. You can find this statement on p. 2 of the book "Uncovering the Treasure" by Stephen Hwa Ph.D. and it is available at Amazon.

The statement was challenged by someone who asked: "Can someone please explain to me how this conforms to the classics of "when moving, there is no place that does not move". "When still, there is no place that is not still".  He continued by saying "The statement about 2 complementary sides, moving Yang and stationary Yin sounds like a broken posture as how a force can pass through the body, if it is not working together as a unit, moving as one".

Master Stephen Hwa has written the following response on October 6, 2011 to the question and challenge, the video above provides an illustration  of his major points about holding the body still while executing a movement that sweeps the leg of the opponent. The video very graphically shows how the movement only works if the nonmoving side of the body is held very still.  Further information about the "Sweeping Movement" is contained in the topic  "The Concept of Yin (nonmoving) and Yang (moving)" on pp. 50 - 51, "Uncovering the Treasure" by Stephen Hwa, Ph.D.

Tai Chi Classics

These Classics started became known in the 1930-40s when book about Tai Chi started to be published in China. These writings reported in those books are a collection of short works attributed to different authors from Chang San-Feng to anonymous authors. Even though their authorship cannot be verified, they are considered to be the holy writ on Tai Chi. They do contain some insights and principles of Tai Chi; but also some glaring mistakes.

How is that possible that both good and bad could be contained in one work. My suspicion is that there is more than one person involved in the writing as we see now. One of my ancestors in the fifteen century wrote a collection of short poems. We have the original hand written manuscript which we published three years ago. During research, we discovered that these poems have been published six times over the years. Many of the published poems are identical to the manuscript; but some have been altered – the later version has more alteration than the earlier version. Apparently, these publishers exercised their poetic license trying to add what they thought a better wording. This kind of alteration is very common in old writings in China and also in the west, such as the bible. The church has devoted inordinate effort to select an acceptable version of the bible.

Two major mistakes in the Classics are: "when one part moves everything moves" and "The jin should be generated from the legs". The later was discussed in Forum 11.

During our last work shop in Buffalo, I warned everyone that you would be challenged by "when one part moves everything moves" when you talk about Classical Tai Chi in public Tai Chi gathering. So you better be prepared. First of all, any martial art move depends upon rooting, there will be a nonmoving part of the body attached to the ground to provide the rooting. Only external martial art which uses push off to generate momentum to attack can qualify "everything moves". In addition, some of these rooted moves, the requirement of nonmoving is very dramatic. During one of the Jou Tsung Hwa Birthday Celebration Gathering ( David Brown was there), I demonstrate this point by asking audience to do a leg sweeping move by standing on one foot and sweep the other leg and move their body with it just slightly. I heard many "ouch" sound from the audience. Then they do the same move while keeping the side of the body above the standing foot still. There was no pain in the knee and delivered a much more powerful sweep.

I think you all need to keep this demonstration in your pocket. Because, you will need it in the future.

Stephen Hwa, Ph.D.

1 comment:

Barry said...

As the saying goes a "picture is worth a thousand words" A moving picture must be worth significantly more ! I think (in my humble opinion) the person that challenged the concept of "stillness" did fully comprehend this concept . As I first viewed this video (my background being from an external Martial Art)would have believed that "all parts must move" in order to be effective but as I watched the video it is clear that only a limted amount maybe 3/4 or so of Master Hwa's body moves, but his rooted leg does not seem to move at all in the video. If you recognize that he has generated this movement from his "core" or "center" it is easy to say he was "still" in one part of his body as no movement is observed from a greater distance ie his rooted leg. The analogy I thought of was a still pond with no movement if one drops a pebble in the center of the pond the further out from the orinating point the more noticable the movement (the ripples in the pond). I know this is not a perfect example but it is clear to me that one can remain still in one area and yet be moving other parts of the body. This obviously is a skill which requires significant years of training to develop, but can none the less canbe accopmplished and is very effective as demonstrated by Master Hwa.