Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:48 pm

Now whether the error is Cheng Man Chings or Benjamin Lo's, who knows. There's a translators note to the effect the terminology is wrong, but all of the understanding expressed is wrong.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Interloper on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:00 pm

Understanding physics is not helpful to learning to actually do this stuff; knowing anatomy and biomechanics is a little more useful, in learning how to recognize, isolate and activate the specific muscle, tendon and other tissues that are being used to create the conditions for connecting the arms to the unified core of the body.

IME, a lot of people with good skills and intuitive knowledge seem to lack a definitive teaching language. They cannot articulate what they are doing, even though they have a deep "body understanding"... it just doesn't translate from intent, feeling and activation, to describing what they are doing.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:09 pm

That's my point entirely
People can learn to do it without understanding the physical processes with any sort of accuracy.
So they communicate based on subjective feelings. Sinking the Qi is a useful model for visualization whether it is scientifically accurate or not. Just as useful and accurate as Willy's helical gears and ball bearing man or the string of pearls or the nine bends Pearl, etc

The traditional visualizations and jiandian worked despite the players scientific ignorance. Most baseball players capable of hitting a home run couldn't begin to start thinking about what information they would need to calculate the forces involved in the hit with any useful precision.

Attempting to explain it in scientific terms is dangerous ground
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Bhassler on Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:18 am

[rant]
"Understanding physics" for martial arts doesn't require a PhD-- it's barely high school level physics. Go find a tall bookshelf loaded with books. Climb on top of it. If you tried to climb up the front and pulled the whole thing down on top of you, you probably shouldn't be posting your opinions on a martial arts forum, or at any point in your life have children. If you climbed up the side of the shelf, then you have enough of a basic understanding of physics to start to understand martial arts. It's just basic concepts of inertia, stability, and leverage. Go spend a few days moving awkward, heavy shit around and you'll get the concepts.

As far as being able to do but not understand, then why the fuck are they teaching? Martial artists are the biggest bunch of hypocrites, with teachers always insisting on hard work and diligence and (so called) authentic transmission, but when it comes time to teach, they can't even be bothered to learn basic -- *basic* -- anatomy and physical concepts,, let alone how to teach. And then most of them bitch about how there are no good students, etc, etc. It's absurd.

And regardless of what anyone thinks they're doing with internal and external and blah blah blah, if you want to have a physical impact on the material world, then the laws of physics apply. Effecting change in the material world requires physical movement. Physical movement can be shown and understood. There are established methods of evoking even complex and subtle movements in a clear and logical manner. If an individual can't do so, that's on them.

If people would spend half the effort they spend on justifying their bullshit on actually learning to teach, we wouldn't have to deal with this ubiquitous mumbo-jumbo crap online or IRL.
[/rant]
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:09 pm

We're not actually talking about the specific physics behind something like the mechanics of a punch. We're talking about the subjective experience of developing a particular body method to allow for the cultivation of a particular set of sensitivities that allow for information transfer at the point of contact that makes control through the same point possible.

It's easier to just say sink the Qi
Last edited by oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Bhassler on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:23 pm

Yeah, and "sink the qi" just works so well we're practically over-run with proficient IMA practitioners...

Focusing on the subjective experience is putting the cart before the horse. Give concrete instructions/drills to execute the correct body movement, then provide context so the student can reference and re-create the subjective experience for themselves. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of nonsense like has been shown in this thread, both in the video in the OP and elsewhere.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:47 pm

I can that at least from the point of view of his curriculum, there is quite a bit of concrete instruction, exercises, and drills. Sinking the Qi is just one of many visualizations or instructions that make up the body of the curriculum. Everybody who's met him or his students seems to come away thinking they're proficient. Apparently his methods are producing students with the same set of reproducible skills.

I mean, if something doesn't work for you, should absolutely not waste any time on it, I agree 100%. If it does work for you, then work it, ya know. It seems to work.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:49 pm

Like even setting the shoulder there, for example. There's an entire process for relaxing and setting the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. It isn't just an empty parrot phrase. It's the headline description of a detailed process that SHOULD be part of any taijiquan curriculum.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Interloper on Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:47 pm

One big problem is that the muscle/tissue groups used for this kind of internal methodology, are ones that are either not conventional to typical modern-human movement, or else they are used in a different way than normally utilized. So, drawing a student's awareness to those "mystery muscles/tissues" is the real challenge. How can you activate something, if you don't know where it is or what it feels like inside your body?
That's where metaphor like "sinking" probably are the only cues that work. At first, the student "sinks" everything they have, with gross motor movement. Eventually, they start to eliminate all of the movement that doesn't achieve the desired effect, and, after a time, they finally can isolate and recognize the correct tissue(s).
I have found that knowing what the actual muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. are that we're supposed to be using -- coupled with a metaphor (such as "sinking" or "wrapping," etc.) -- make the process a little quicker.
For example, if you know what muscles your "dantian" actually consist of, or the ones that connect your arms to your core, and what sensation you should be feeling for when you activate them, you can pick up the skills a little quicker than being told to "sink the Qi," which is kind of generic and vague.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Bhassler on Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:09 pm

Muscles only do one thing, so saying they are used in a way that is somehow different is imprecise and confusing. If you want students to feel dantian (whatever that means to you), then create a circumstance in which the dantian must move/activate. From there you can bring attention/awareness to it, and only at that point does applying terminology become consistently useful-- but even then it's mostly only useful for building a shared language to communicate more sophisticated concepts later on. Imagery is fine to evoke whatever you want to evoke, but often as not people can come up with their own imagery that's much more immediate and relevant than what a teacher or some long-dead Chinese physician made up.

Or stick with chi and pseudo-scientific explanations of fascia and mirror-neurons if you want. IMA is in great shape with lots of skilled practitioners who are great fighters that look good nekkid and never get sick and dance like unicorns, so why change anything?
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:50 pm

Muscles do lots of things. Ask Jack Dempsey about his roll and drop step. There are many ways to move the body. There's a difference between pushing your weight to the right with your left leg and letting your weight sink into your right leg as your left empties, for example. You may appear to move similarly, but the inner sensations and the amount of force generated differ greatly. There's a difference between generating force by contracting a muscle versus stretching it and then releasing it. There's a difference between throwing your mass and rotating it. Between tightening your muscles to keep your frame locked in place versus getting out of the weight's way and letting it settle optimally.

I've found that stripping away all the not taiji is the hardest part, and what is best served with the various visualizations. The superior man DOES breathe through his heels, after all.
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Bhassler on Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:24 pm

Shifting weight by pushing vs. by sinking (as an example) is not the same movement done differently, they are different movements, and the processes of each of those movements are different, with different muscle activations, alignments, and physical landmarks. You and others may feel that the common way of using imprecise or incorrect terminology combined with imagery is good enough, and that the point of diminishing returns is extremely close as far as finding a new way of invoking and articulating movement, and that's fine. I just want to point out that there is another way, and that it's not so incredibly difficult to use clearly defined western terminology that's both clear and concrete. Nor is it impossible to develop physical teaching methods that will consistently force correct movement in isolation that can then be generalized to the broader practice. It does take some work, but I find it... curious that so many teachers are so up tight about "correct" practice in performance of their art while almost completely ignoring entire disciplines that have evolved around teaching in general and movement in particular.

I've said my piece, I should leave it alone, I know. Here's Chen Yu relaxing the shoulders and sinking Qi to dantien.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy1URLxmnbw
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:31 pm

Whatever works for you works for you. Communication and understanding is hard. Just look at the fact that you restated exactly the same thing that I said and thought you were disagreeing with me as a case in point.

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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby Bhassler on Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:09 pm

Sort of. You said that muscles do lots of different things-- muscles only contract. That's it. They might have other things, like stretching, done to them, but they only actively do one thing. In doing a different movement, it's not muscles doing something different, it's different muscles doing/not doing. Some might consider it semantic, and it is, but semantics have meaning. It's not even about agreeing or disagreeing, it's about nuance. There's a definite correlation between language and thought, and more precise language can help facilitate more precise thought (or more precise thought can drive the need for more precise language-- chicken and egg).

I don't mean to put words in your mouth, and if you grok my meaning, that's cool. I just want to be as clear as I can in case someone is unfortunate enough to read what I write and might misunderstand. I believe we all owe it to ourselves and future generations to do everything we can to make the internet slightly less ignorant at every opportunity...
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Re: Sink the Qi, set the shoulder — Sifu Adam Mizner

Postby oragami_itto on Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:03 am

I definitely agree with your main idea. The more scientifically accurate the map of your body in your head is, the more effectively you're going to be able to work with it, i do not argue that at all.

Where we start to diverge is the point in the study of arts developed hundreds of years ago in China (with all of the mystery and foreign thought patterns that entails) where you appear to think it's helpful to just wholesale throw out anything that isn't immediately recognizable and categorizable by current western science. Many of these former masters, if we believe any of the accounts about them that are essentially the only reason we even know these arts exist today, knew nothing but the exercises, science and medicine contained within the body of their systems art, is my point. They clearly reached a high level of skill without knowing things from the perspective of western science, by definition.

For me, if I'm studying something I don't want to just skip over the stuff I'm not comfortable with. Understanding what is meant by Qi and how that sensation and phenomenon manifests within my body is just another part of my taijiquan curriculum. I'm not just gonna toss it because it sounds too Chinesey.

Getting too bogged down in the science of it just detracts sometimes. Sinking the qi is a close enough summation of the sum total feeling of what we're working on that laboriously re-listing all of the specific muscle groups and nerve clusters and bones wouldn't add anything.

Going further, if you start nailing things down like that in terms of specific muscle groups and bones (or even, as they say, let your attention focus on your Qi) without an absolute complete understanding of the final stage of the art's affect on your body, you could be training incorrectly and missing the final mark by quite a wide margin.

But ultimately, there are different arts and different approaches to those arts precisely because learning and communication and movement and thinking styles are so diverse, so we find the arts and methods that work best with the way we think and learn and communicate and move.

I am the absolute worst martial artist on the internet, so I can't afford to not learn from everyone.
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