The Art of Reversal

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

The Art of Reversal

Postby Yeung on Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:38 pm

What is the art of reversal by Sun Lutang?

https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... un-lutang/

上編形意混沌闢開天地五行學
PART ONE: THE STATE OF PRIMAL NONDISTINCTNESS SEPARATING INTO SKY & GROUND AND THE FIVE ELEMENTS

總綱 形意無極學
GENERAL PRINCIPLES

[Section 1a:] NONPOLARITY
無極者。當人未練之先。無思無意。無形無象。無我無他。胸中混混沌沌。一氣渾淪。無所向意者也。世人不知有逆運之理。但斤斤於天地自然順行之道。氣拘物蔽。昏昧不明。以致體質虛弱。陽極必陰。陰極必死。於此攝生之術。槪乎未有諳也。惟聖人。獨能參透逆運之術。攬陰陽。奪造化。轉乾坤。扭氣機。於後天中返先天。復出歸元。保合太和。總不外乎後天五行拳。八卦拳之理。一氣伸縮之道。所謂無極而能生一氣者是也。

Nonpolarity is the state you are in before commencing practice, without thoughts or ideas, without form or shape, without a sense of “me” or “him”. In the mind, all is mixed and without distinction, a continuous vagueness, nothing being thought about. Most people do not understand the theory of reversing conditions, only the way of continuing along with what seems natural to them. Their energy gets constrained and things become hidden, all is confused and unclear, and the body gets to the point that it is weakened. When active reaches its peak, there must be passive, then when passive reaches its peak, there will be death.

Herein lies the art of keeping fit, but generally it is not yet well-known. It is a wise person who can understand the art of reversal, grasping the passive and active aspects to compel Nature to invert Qian and Kun [“Creative” and “Receptive” (When the “Creative” trigram is placed on top of the “Receptive” trigram, they form hexagram 12: “Stagnation”. When they are flipped over so the “Receptive” trigram is placed on top of the “Creative” trigram, they form hexagram 11: “Peace”.)] with the mechanism of turning the energies, thereby reverting from the acquired condition to the innate, returning one to one’s original state, guaranteeing a merging with the “grand harmony”. This is never separate from the principles in the acquired five elements techniques or the eight trigrams techniques, nor the methods of continuous expansion and contraction. And so it is said: “From nonpolarity can arise a singleness of energy.”
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Bao on Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:15 am

Yeung wrote:What is the art of reversal by Sun Lutang?


"Most people do not understand the theory of reversing conditions, only the way of continuing along with what seems natural to them. "

Reversal means to develop, or revive, the prenatal principle in the body. This is the creative principle that we were born through, born with, something that small children have, but something we gradually lose from birth through childhood. Reversal means that through our practice, the principle of creation should be the ruling principle inside of the body, instead of the principle of destruction. This is all very old thoughts from Daoist practice that Sun Lutang believed was the essence of Neijiaquan, and also the real path to health and longevity. These thoughts are not very explicitly stated or exactly verbalized in a clear explanatory manner in his books. But this thought is to be found in all of his books, like as in his Bagua manual where he briefly explains that in Bagua practice, you should use prenatal Qi (Qi governed from the pre-natal principle, using internal principle) and not postnatal Qi, (which is external movement only without the internal principles of the art.)

Some schools or lines of thoughts regard this kind of internal practice stemming from breath and movement. But for the topics recently discussed in the RSF, it might be interesting that the school that Sun Lutang represents, to everything starts in the mind. If you cannot understand the complete empty, thoughtless, emotionless, wuji-state of the mind (Wuji, which is here translated as non-polarity, is the opposite concept to "tai chi".) and know how to keep it throughout the practice, there is no prenatal principle governing the practice and no prenatal Qi that is develop or used.
Last edited by Bao on Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Yeung on Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:49 am

The Wuji concept is a mistake, as Wuji means infinity or limitless in classical Chinese literature. Brannen translated Wuji as non-polarity and then the relation between non-polarity and polarity is not very clear, thus Wuji and Taiji relation became somewhat obscure and irrelevant to practice. The argument of what come before Taiji or oneness is like asking who created God? In the writing of Laozi, Zhuangzi and Liezi, there is not such concept of Wuji as suggested by Sun Lutang.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Appledog on Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:47 am

Hello! Originally I wanted to have a "cool post count" of 108, or something like that (something associated with Tai Chi) but that does not seem possible here. Therefore I am editing this post to point out that users here cannot delete their own posts. I do not understand why users have the ability to edit their posts but not to delete their posts.
Last edited by Appledog on Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby robert on Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:13 am

What is wrong with what Yeung wrote? It looks like the characters are 無極 - Yabla tanslates that as everlasting, unbounded. I agree with what Yeung wrote

Brannen translated Wuji as non-polarity and then the relation between non-polarity and polarity is not very clear, thus Wuji and Taiji relation became somewhat obscure and irrelevant to practice.

Taiji repesents the One, the Absolute, the Supreme Ultimate or the Great Primal Beginning. The One, the Absolute is non-polar so translating Wuji as non-polar, while not necessarily incorrect does seem confusing to me. I'm not a philosopher but it seems like

taiji -> liangyi
non-polarity -> polarity

My 2 cents.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Yeung on Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:22 am

From the Taijiquan Classics as translated by Brennan:

Taiji [“grand polarity”] is born of wuji [“nonpolarity”], and is the mother of yin and yang [the passive and active aspects]. When there is movement, they [passive and active] become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.

The relationship between grand polarity and non-polarity is contradictory, unless one accept that Taiji is Yin and Yang or Taiji is Wuji.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby robert on Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:04 pm

It's not without precedence and it looks like the idea of taiji evolves over time. In the yijing we have

Therefore there is in the Changes the Great Primal Beginning. This generates the two primary forces. The two primary forces generate the four images. The four images generate the eight trigrams. The eight trigrams determine good fortune and misfortune. Good fortune and misfortune create the great field of action.

That seems pretty clear.

If you look at Zhou's taiji diagram from the Song dynasty yin and yang are not separated from taiji. Unlike what is descibed in the yijing taiji does not give birth to yin and yang.

Image

Non-polar (wuji) and yet Supreme Polarity (taiji)! The Supreme Polarity in activity generates yang; yet at the limit of activity it is still. In stillness it generates yin; yet at the limit of stillness it is also active. Activity and stillness alternate; each is the basis of the other. In distinguishing yin and yang, the Two Modes are thereby established. The alternation and combination of yang and yin generate water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. With these five [phases of] qi harmoniously arranged, the Four Seasons proceed through them. The Five Phases are simply yin and yang; yin and yang are simply the Supreme Polarity; the Supreme Polarity is fundamentally Non-polar. [Yet] in the generation of the Five Phases, each one has its nature.

That starts out Non-polar (wuji) and yet Supreme Polarity (taiji)!, but it is clarified at the end the Supreme Polarity is fundamentally Non-polar.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Bao on Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:28 pm

Not clear enough? If you don't understand the meaning of wuji of course it isn't clear. It doesn't become better when he translate a term without explaining the original meaning or even let the reader know what term it is he translates. Not easy to understand.

Wuji is the undifferentiated state before any other polarity, before anything else exists. Zhou Yi begins his text "Taiji tu Shuo" (explanation of the Tai Chi diagram) with "Wuji er Taiji", or "Wuji thus Taiji". What does this mean? After the opening it says: "The Taiji [Supreme Polarity] by activity generates yang; yet when activity has reached its limit, there is stillness. In stillness it [the Taiji] generates yin; yet when stillness has reached its limit, there is activity. Activity and stillness alternate; each as the basis of the other."

So "Wuji er Taiji" means that if there is wuji, there is automatically Taiji, because wuji is its own limit so it will automatically produce Taiji.

So, Sun Lutang wrote: "Nonpolarity [wuji] is the state you are in before commencing practice, without thoughts or ideas, without form or shape, without a sense of “me” or “him”. In the mind, all is mixed and without distinction, a continuous vagueness, nothing being thought about."

Wuji here has the same connotation as "wuxin" or no mind/heart. This concept has been influenced by the Buddhist view of "emptiness". The word "Kong" or empty is often used, but wuji has also been used as a direct translation. But it still remain the Wuji-Taiji relationship. After the quote above, Sun continues: "Most people do not understand the theory of reversing conditions, only the way of continuing along with what seems natural to them." This line seems abrupt and apparently with no connection to the wuji state of mind. But it is the wuji state of mind that is the beginning to the "philosophy of reversal" as I describe above. If you want to benefit from the mind and body's returning to the prenatal state and let it regain the prenatal Qi and make us there of, you need to first understand the mind state of Wuji or non-polarity.


Robert wrote:It's not without precedence and it looks like the idea of taiji evolves over time. In the yijing we have

Therefore there is in the Changes the Great Primal Beginning. This generates the two primary forces. The two primary forces generate the four images. The four images generate the eight trigrams. The eight trigrams determine good fortune and misfortune. Good fortune and misfortune create the great field of action.


The comments (The third part of Yijing) were compiled and explained by Zhou Yi. When people interprete Yijing, they mostly use the "voice" of Zhouyi.

"The eight trigrams determine good fortune and misfortune. Good fortune and misfortune create the great field of action."

There is the circle of creation and the pentagram of destruction represented by the five elements. The five elements is the movement of the eight hexagrams. The five elements was a way to describe "time". According to Chinese philosophy, time can be generating or destructing. There are also two different arrangements of the eight hexagrams, one is the prenatal arrangement, the other one is the post natal arrangement. So these thoughts are connected with Sun Lutangs "Philosophy of reversal".

If you look at Zhou's taiji diagram from the Song dynasty yin and yang are not separated from taiji. Unlike what is descibed in the yijing taiji does not give birth to yin and yang.


Well, they might not be separated, but it's the interaction between stillness and activity that give birth to yin and yang.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby robert on Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:17 pm

Bao wrote:So, Sun Lutang wrote: "Nonpolarity [wuji] is the state you are in before commencing practice, without thoughts or ideas, without form or shape, without a sense of “me” or “him”. In the mind, all is mixed and without distinction, a continuous vagueness, nothing being thought about."

This applies equally to the One, the Absolute, the Supreme Ultimate or the Great Primal Beginning all of which are non-polar.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby robert on Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:24 pm

It's interesting, it looks like there is a change of view in the Song dynasty.

From wikipedia
Wújí (Traditional Chinese: 無極; Simplified Chinese: 无极) (literally "without ridgepole") originally meant "ultimate; boundless; infinite" in Warring States period (476-221 BCE) Taoist classics, but came to mean the "primordial universe" prior to the Taiji 太極 "Supreme Ultimate" in Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) Neo-Confucianist cosmology.

It's always important to consider how words are used in a given era. It looks like there is a difference between Confucianist and Neo-Confucianist cosmology.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby BruceP on Sat Jun 24, 2017 5:48 am

Neutrality Principle - an art unto itself
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby windwalker on Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:56 am

Non-polar (wuji) and yet Supreme Polarity (taiji)! The Supreme Polarity in activity generates yang; yet at the limit of activity it is still. In stillness it generates yin; yet at the limit of stillness it is also active. Activity and stillness alternate; each is the basis of the other. In distinguishing yin and yang, the Two Modes are thereby established. The alternation and combination of yang and yin generate water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. With these five [phases of] qi harmoniously arranged, the Four Seasons proceed through them. The Five Phases are simply yin and yang; yin and yang are simply the Supreme Polarity; the Supreme Polarity is fundamentally Non-polar. [Yet] in the generation of the Five Phases, each one has its nature.


yes ;)

Wuji, is nothingness, undifferentiated, undefined.
As soon as a distinction is made taiji, arises from it, yin and yang defined, both yin/yang at the same time.

Chinese wuji 無極 "limitless; infinite" is a compound of wu 無 "without; no; not have; there is not; nothing, nothingness" and ji 極 "ridgepole; roof ridge; highest/utmost point; extreme; earth's pole; reach the end; attain; exhaust". In analogy with the figurative meanings of English pole, Chinese ji 極 "ridgepole" can mean "geographical pole; direction" (e.g., siji 四極 "four corners of the earth; world's end"), "magnetic pole" (Beiji 北極 "North Pole" or yinji 陰極 "negative pole; cathode"), or "celestial pole" (baji 八極 "farthest points of the universe; remotest place").


Taiji (太極) is a compound of tai 太 "great; grand; supreme; extreme; very; too" (a superlative variant of da 大 "big; large; great; very") and ji 極 "pole; roof ridge; highest/utmost point; extreme; earth's pole; reach the end; attain; exhaust". In analogy with the figurative meanings of English pole, Chinese ji 極 "ridgepole" can mean "geographical pole; direction" (e.g., siji 四極 "four corners of the earth; world's end"), "magnetic pole" (Beiji 北極 "North Pole" or yinji 陰極 "negative pole; cathode"), or "celestial pole" (baji 八極 "farthest points of the universe; remotest place"). Combining the two words, 太極 means "the source, the beginning of the world".


I Ching / Book of Changes: Book I
http://www.pantherwebworks.com/i_ching/
Last edited by windwalker on Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Bao on Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:26 am

robert wrote:It's always important to consider how words are used in a given era. It looks like there is a difference between Confucianist and Neo-Confucianist cosmology.


Absolutely so. The first "Neo-confucians", or forerunners of the Songxue, were three cosmologists, incl Zhou Yi. They took mostly their view of the universe from Daoist thought, but interpretation was from a Confucian perspective. So neo-Confucianism is more or less a mix of Taoist cosmology and Confucianist ethics. There was also a Buddhist influence, but mostly visible in later Neo-Confucianist philosophy of the "Xin xue", as Wang Yangming's school of action.
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Yeung on Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:10 am

From his preface: I myself have barely scratched the surface of the Xingyi Boxing art. It contains the states of nonpolarity and grand polarity, the five elements and eight trigrams, a starting posture and various techniques.

The grand polarity is one energy contains Yin and Yang, and this is the working definition of Sun Lutang. So, it is a question of oneness in the method of continuous expansion and contraction?
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Re: The Art of Reversal

Postby Bao on Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:39 pm

Yeung wrote:The grand polarity is one energy contains Yin and Yang, and this is the working definition of Sun Lutang. So, it is a question of oneness in the method of continuous expansion and contraction?


The expansion and contraction is expressed by kai-he. Tai Chi (here grand polarity) mostly express the movement or interplay between yin and yang. In Sun's books, wuji is mostly referred to as stillness, and tai chi as movement. Everything begins with stillness. Stillness is kept while moving. Movement is kept in stillness. Through stillness and movement the five phases and the eight elements are derived. Sun Lutang's way of describing things is both very philosophical, abstract and also quite dense like older ways literary expressions.
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