The Dan Tian

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: The Dan Tian

Postby windwalker on Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:47 am

The bottom line then is that the better the muscle-tendon channels get developed (connected) through systematic practice, the more dense the connections will become through the whole abdominal area, and the more one can control and direct connected whole-body power from the centre of the body.


wouldn't agree with what is being called "whole body power from the center of the body"
any point touched can have its own center, and be acted on from there.

It's a different way of managing force using a different system to manage it with along with a different idea.
Anything that strengthens the muscle tendon connections would be called external, anything that helps to develop an awareness of the
bodies connectivity in this case through the connective tissue ie "stuff" is starting to train and develop the body/mind in an internal fashion.

The question might be better addressed as to why? whats different?

one way of checking is how one feels a force applied or received.
For those I work with we make a distinction between using force, and not.
In this case force being derived in the normal sense though the normal mechanisms

with what is called no "force" its not felt but the other person is moved, or in the opposite case
a force can be applied and also not felt the person is very stable. This involves no tension.
To the degree that one can do this is a good indication of level of skill and understanding.

This is only training a skill, the usage and application is something that also needs to be trained.
Something that seems to be lost on some, sometimes with bad results :-\

what is called "dantian" rotation is quite literal in description not really true anatomically.
In the groups I work with there's a couple of other concepts that have to be developed before this comes into play.

Here in the discussion it will be and has been IMO confusing for some, because they seem to be talking about different things relative to how the body manages force, and how it can be used on another body.

I would start by saying all force felt, is from ones self this is the normal way and how the body/mind manages and responds to force.
Once one can get past this, a lot of things should become more clear.
Last edited by windwalker on Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby I-mon on Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:11 pm

Bao wrote:
So I'd say that "silk reeling" exercises are designed to stimulate the development of those whole-body connective tissue sheets and ropes, little by little connecting the links through more and more of the body, and "chunking" those small movements together in the motor maps of the brain into coherent and coordinated whole-body movements that can be "fired" instantly, alternated back and forth across the body, and (at higher levels) fluidly redirected through the different joints at different angles.


Interesting thoughts... Though I don't understand why a physical development and connection from specific exercises should be necessary for brain mapping. Maybe it would help. But internal awareness should be enough.

Dmitri's post was, IMHO, quite on the spot. No particular dantian exercise is necessary, though personally I can appreciate any exercise that isolate a certain area of the body and it might work as a shortcut. IMHO, it will help developing better body awareness of that area and that's the important part of any isolation practice. Dantian, jaws, neck, lower back or toe or whatever part of the body.


Right on, the brain re-mapping can also come about purely through awareness and directed attention, as we see in many meditation traditions. Physical movement or direct kinesthetic feedback of some sort (including massage, "paida" or exercises which manipulate the mechanics of breathing) is a well tested supplement to directed attention and awareness though, which is probably why we see so many meditation traditions having a system of bodywork and movement practice as part of their curriculum, especially in the early stages before the attention and awareness are well developed.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby I-mon on Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:16 pm

windwalker wrote:
The bottom line then is that the better the muscle-tendon channels get developed (connected) through systematic practice, the more dense the connections will become through the whole abdominal area, and the more one can control and direct connected whole-body power from the centre of the body.


wouldn't agree with what is being called "whole body power from the center of the body"
any point touched can have its own center, and be acted on from there.


Agreed, the point is that, because of the basic anatomy of the body, any practice which develops the sinew channels across the whole body will cause the densest connections of the thickest connective tissues to form in the area of the pelvis, abdomen and lower back.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby windwalker on Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:53 pm

the point is that, because of the basic anatomy of the body, any practice which develops the sinew channels across the whole body will cause the densest connections of the thickest connective tissues to form in the area of the pelvis, abdomen and lower back.


I only noted this because often its mentioned in stories how some taiji master or what not. Could not lift heavy objects and yet could easily toss others much heaver than themselves like they weighed nothing. Which in a way they did.

The connections you've mentioned "stuff" coupled with intent can be used to form a spherical shape by the body/mind...One important aspect of this is having a uniform density to work with. This why the emphasis is on extreme relaxation not on building tension into the body...or understanding the body as isolated parts.

On those you've noted the "stuff" may be a byproduct, of what ever some did in life...but not a direct product induced by specific training as with IMA practices by those who use this method. You've also mentioned not having a chance to examine IMA practitioners in the same manor ...It would interesting to find out.
Last edited by windwalker on Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby yfaway on Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:28 pm

Yes, Stephen Hwa's video definitely has a lot of Dantien movements. From what I have heard, the Wu style is split into two main lines: one is with the waist turning and the other with hip turning. The instructor I was talking with is from the Eddie Wu line, which emphasizes on hip turning and tucking the tail bone. Their line does have a number of real fighters.

In any case, it should be made clear that feeling the Dantien rotation doesn't make one superior. In my style, either the instructors don't know how to explain it, or they don't care; the general advise is to treat it as a side effect of the practice. Perhaps, it is better to observe it as one deepens the practice. But at the same time, IMO, it doesn't hurt to try to understand more of the mechanism causing it.

We have had multiple discussions on this topic on RSF, but I do not think we can ever get to a black and white answer. I would like to shift the discussion to the "feeling" perspective. Again, please keep in mind that this whole thing doesn't make one superior at all. I would love to hear how others get to where they are today and what does the rotation feels like. I will start with mine first. The feeling is definitely physical.

Our style never talks about the Dantien. The training focuses on relaxation, stretching, dropping, and rotation (hand and spine). The turning of the body is not explicitly triggered by hip or waist rotation (although eventually that happens), but rather by relaxing/dropping onto the weight bearing leg. That generates a force upward to get the body stand up, and eventually that mechanism gets the body to turn. There are a few basic exercises focusing on rotation/movement of the spine. One exercise is similar to squash, but that is done with pushing purely from the legs and while the whole body is relaxed; we do a lot of this.

The initial feeling in the Dantien area comes roughly at the 5-year mark. It really depends on the body type and how often they practice. Longer for older and tighter people; less for younger. For me it was five years. I didn't really dedicate much time either, probably less than ten hours every week. Initially, it was just strange movement in that area as I do the form. Eventually it develops into very loud squishy noise. It feels like a ball inside being squeezed and run from one side to another or up and down as the body turn horizontally or stretched vertically. I can't tell whether it goes diagonally. I have heard the same loud noise from four or five other people; they all have practiced for more than 5 years. The interesting thing is that there are many more people in my style having deeper understand of the art; they do feel the rotation, but don't generate the loud noise.

Here are a few other characteristics:

1. When the loud noise starts, the rotations in the Dantien area start controlling/triggering the breathing (in and out).

2. Besides the requirement of relaxation, the noise starts easier when the stomach is empty. If the stomach is full, it takes a bit longer.

3. More extensive stretching (expansion/contraction) --> faster time to get the Dantien rotation. The loud noise doesn't happen all the time. And when it happens, it is usually after some amount of time doing exercise/form.

4. Even when not practicing, I often feel the Dantien area moving left and right like a pendulum as I walk normally. Especially in the morning as I walk from the parking lot to the cubicle.

That is my limited feeling so far. I will try to take a video of the noise when I can trigger it. I would love to hear other's experience.


charles wrote:
yfaway wrote:I was talking to a longtime Wu Taichi instructor, he doesn't have same rotation feeling as I do; neither does he care much about it. Wu style, at least the Eddie Wu line, is all about hip turning.


I've never practiced Wu style, but did practice with someone who studied with Yang Wabu for a number of years. Yang Wabu was The Real Deal. His student, Stephen Hwa, shows some of the mechanics in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIcstWYHW5w

The methods to get the initial rotations going is also clear and are numerous.


Can you mention/describe some of them?


We all hear story about high masters able to generate force by initiating the rotations inside the dantien area. I am not there, and frankly I do not know how to get there. I just feel the rotations in different axis as I move around; they come with loud external noise when the body is more relaxed.


I don't really understand that statement. The "rotations" of the dan tian area are not done for the sake of doing them. They are a means to an end, the end of which is integrating and powering the movement of the body. If one can "rotate" correctly, the force is an outcome of that. I've never met anyone who's movement of the dan tian made "loud external noise".



I would love to hear from experienced practitioners on:

1. Definition of dantien development at the beginner, intermediate, and advance levels.
2. How long till they get to each level?
3. What need to be done to move from one level to the next? Does it just happens as one's body is more relaxed and connected, or are there specific exercises?


Even partial answers to these questions will take a while. Let me think on how to best address them.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:28 am

yfaway wrote: In my style, either the instructors don't know how to explain it, or they don't care; the general advise is to treat it as a side effect of the practice.


What style do you practice?

Perhaps, it is better to observe it as one deepens the practice. But at the same time, IMO, it doesn't hurt to try to understand more of the mechanism causing it.

I would like to shift the discussion to the "feeling" perspective... I would love to hear how others get to where they are today and what does the rotation feels like. I will start with mine first. The feeling is definitely physical...

Our style never talks about the Dantien. The training focuses on relaxation, stretching, dropping, and rotation (hand and spine). The turning of the body is not explicitly triggered by hip or waist rotation (although eventually that happens), but rather by relaxing/dropping onto the weight bearing leg. That generates a force upward to get the body stand up, and eventually that mechanism gets the body to turn. There are a few basic exercises focusing on rotation/movement of the spine. One exercise is similar to squash, but that is done with pushing purely from the legs and while the whole body is relaxed; we do a lot of this.


Squash, as in the racket sport? Can you describe the exercise in more detail?


4. Even when not practicing, I often feel the Dantien area moving left and right like a pendulum as I walk normally. Especially in the morning as I walk from the parking lot to the cubicle.

That is my limited feeling so far. I will try to take a video of the noise when I can trigger it. I would love to hear other's experience.


Thanks for sharing your experience. I'd be interested to see (hear) a video of what you describe.


charles wrote:
yfaway wrote:I was talking to a longtime Wu Taichi instructor, he doesn't have same rotation feeling as I do; neither does he care much about it. Wu style, at least the Eddie Wu line, is all about hip turning.


My experience is that I've never heard anyone have sound emanating from the abdomen as a result of "dan tian" movement.

During slower practice, the sensation I feel in the abdomen is not terribly different than any other exercise that involves contracting some parts of the body and relaxing others, say a situp or abdominal "crunch", though the recruitment is different. (The action is produced by contraction and relaxation of various "stuff" in and attached to the abdomen.) At higher speeds, momentum is introduced and it feels somewhat like taking a jug that is half-filled with water and moving the jug about. As one abruptly halts the movement of the jug, the water continues to move, crashing against the interior walls of the jug. But, the sensation is more viscous than that.

I don't place a great deal of importance on what it feels like because the words used to describe it are very subjective: each person will describe what he or she feels differently. Instead, I prefer to have one do a specific action/exercise and one feels whatever one feels. The feeling isn't irrelevant, but it isn't necessarily meaningful either. Practically, from a martial arts perspective, at least for me, it is about what one can use it for, rather than what it feels like. There are explicit methods of training movement, the body and, in some styles, the dan tian. If one trains those "correctly", the feelings are a by-product.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:37 am

I-mon wrote:Sorry if that was a bit rambling, but I'm pretty sure some of that stuff hadn't been mentioned yet in this thread.


A very good addition to the discussion. Thank you.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:48 am

windwalker wrote:Anything that strengthens the muscle tendon connections would be called external, anything that helps to develop an awareness of the
bodies connectivity in this case through the connective tissue ie "stuff" is starting to train and develop the body/mind in an internal fashion.


Is it not possible to use "external" exercises as a vehicle to developing an awareness of the bodies connectivity?

what is called "dantian" rotation is quite literal in description not really true anatomically.
In the groups I work with there's a couple of other concepts that have to be developed before this comes into play.


What does that mean, that it is a literal description but not true anatomically? What makes it "literal" but not "true"?

What are the other concepts that have to be developed prior to that?

Here in the discussion it will be and has been IMO confusing for some, because they seem to be talking about different things relative to how the body manages force, and how it can be used on another body.

I would start by saying all force felt, is from ones self this is the normal way and how the body/mind manages and responds to force.
Once one can get past this, a lot of things should become more clear.


How does one start to get past this?
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:57 am

Here is a video of one person's "use of the dan tian".

"The power has to come from the center, the qi from the dan tian...It's a vigorous turn of the hips..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6XTGoJTrAc
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby windwalker on Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:16 am

charles wrote:Here is a video of one person's "use of the dan tian".

"The power has to come from the center, the qi from the dan tian...It's a vigorous turn of the hips..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6XTGoJTrAc


do "you" really feel this is a good demo and explanation?
I ask because if the answer is yes, I see little need nor point to continue
a discussion.

Others might for me its totally antithetical to my own practice
and concepts I work with...the center can be at any point one wants it to be...

As far as "qi" he seems to have no idea what this means..IMO others may find different.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby windwalker on Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:22 am

ww wrote: I would start by saying all force felt, is from ones self this is the normal way and how the body/mind manages and responds to force.
Once one can get past this, a lot of things should become more clear.



C worte:How does one start to get past this?


easy by first giving it up, followed by not using it...

you posted a clip, if it really reflects your views we have very different points
of view and experience. no real point in discussion
I do find the reading of the post interesting...
Last edited by windwalker on Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby Bao on Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:25 am

charles wrote:Here is a video of one person's "use of the dan tian".

"The power has to come from the center, the qi from the dan tian...It's a vigorous turn of the hips..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6XTGoJTrAc


I think you confuse what a person says with what he actually does.... :-\
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:10 am

Bao wrote:I think you confuse what a person says with what he actually does.... :-\


That was my point in posting it. (It was posted in a different thread by someone else.)

People often say, "I'm doing "x"", when, in fact, they are doing no such thing. This happened to be an example of someone saying they are using the "dan tian", the subject of this thread, when he has no ideas what "the dan tian" might be. It isn't the hips, it isn't the waist and isn't the ankles or the turning of any of those, as is often demonstrated and stated as examples of "using the dan tian". This is one of the sources of confusion - in this example, regarding the dan tian - when "teachers" teach stuff they have no idea about, but use the buzz words anyway.

Although we can't necessarily agree on what it is, perhaps we can agree on what it is not. ;)

This one, from that same thread, says, he is using his waist. He isn't: 3:50.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inB3xNWAgy8&t=3s
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby charles on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:31 am

As an aside, I think it interesting that I posted a video clip from another discussion and made no comment, offered no analysis of it and provided no opinion of it and both of you respond by suggesting I have some deficiency, in one case, so severe as to make further discussion impossible. Isn't that a little odd?

Is it really not possible to objectively discuss what it is presented, rather than attribute certain personal flaws to the person who posted it? You know that it is not me in the video, or my video, right?
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Re: The Dan Tian

Postby windwalker on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:40 am

not at all,
things I don't agree with or are not interesting I don't comment on. You presented the clip here as part of your discussion. I am not here to justify or convince anyone of what I do or what my practice is about only sharing an opinion . When I find the opinions are too different as they seem to be now I see no further need for discussion.
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