Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

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Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby jonathan.bluestein on Thu May 26, 2011 10:10 am

What percentage of movements (roughly) in Chen Taiji include tucking in the coccyx? I'm reading "Chen style Taijiquan practical method: Theory" by Hong Junsheng, and he writes (page 98) that they don't tuck in the coccyx, and speaks against it.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Andy_S on Thu May 26, 2011 10:21 am

In the Chen Taiji that I have learned (village style) the cocyx is slightly tucked from day one.

If it is not tucked, you can't untuck and vice versa. Tucking and untucking is a side-effect of the vertical roll of the dantien (ie one of the two key movement planes of the dantien, along with the horizontal).
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby mixjourneyman on Thu May 26, 2011 10:31 am

Andy_S wrote:In the Chen Taiji that I have learned (village style) the cocyx is slightly tucked from day one.

If it is not tucked, you can't untuck and vice versa. Tucking and untucking is a side-effect of the vertical roll of the dantien (ie one of the two key movement planes of the dantien, along with the horizontal).



My experience just from talking to YH about Ma Hong's taiji is that the resting posture of the cocyx is untucked, but I think that the resting posture is the settling point at the end of fali.
In the IMA that I have trained, the cocyx natural resting state is untucked, but it tends to tuck before fali.
I'm not a chen guy though, so I'm only going from what I've seen.
My friend practices Hong style under Chen Zhonghua, so I can send this thread to him if you have any specific questions.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Adam S on Fri May 27, 2011 4:21 am

why do u want to know??
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby charles on Fri May 27, 2011 5:25 am

jonathan.bluestein wrote:What percentage of movements (roughly) in Chen Taiji include tucking in the coccyx? I'm reading "Chen style Taijiquan practical method: Theory" by Hong Junsheng, and he writes (page 98) that they don't tuck in the coccyx, and speaks against it.


None and all. The question is based upon a faulty premise. If the body is moving, the coccyx is moving - it is not held in a static position. "When one part moves, all parts move."

The text on page 98 is not particularly clear and is easily misunderstood. The use of directions is unclear, what is "curl up", "backwards", "inwards" are not defined. CZH stated that "backwards" is opposite to the normal curvature of the coccyx - "backwards" is lengthening/straightening the coccyx, what others might call "tucked". The context of the discussion is regarding "the method of sinking the qi down to the dantian" and its relation to creating a vertical axis as a fulcrum, several different points, but inter-related. In relation to sinking qi to the dantian, a fundamental basic skill, the body aligns to gravity. Some teachers may teach beginners to forcibly "tuck" the coccyx to achieve this initially. However, once one has learned to sufficiently relax the musculature of the area, it will "naturally" lengthen/straighten forming the vertical axis used as a fulcrum. If the axis is bent, the fulcrum is diminished. The use of the coccyx is a little different in Hong's style than other branches of Chen Taijiquan.

In many of CZH's videos you can quite visibly see the movement of the coccyx and pelvis.

At 2:15, you can see the movement of the pelvis/coccyx:
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby jonathan.bluestein on Fri May 27, 2011 6:49 am

Thanks for the answers. It's logical to say that backwards equals tucking. It's a rotation to the back. In physiology, the tucking of the Coccyx is also called Posterior Pelvic Tilt.

Andy, I was wondering since in my XY lineage we keeping the Coccyx tucked (not forcefully) about 90-95% of the time. We create the forward/backward Dan Tian rotation usually without tucking/un-tucking the Coccyx in correlation with it. We also abide by "when one part moves, all the parts move". Some parts though move much less than others (to the point it's not supposed to be seen even in training), and exceptionally with the Coccyx, it usually doesn't move at all. The Kua and Dan Tian are very mobile, though. Not less than in CZH's Taiji.
Last edited by jonathan.bluestein on Fri May 27, 2011 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Wuyizidi on Fri May 27, 2011 7:57 am

Image

Fig 3 here represent an extreme example of tucking (when your tailbone is in front of your waist. What is the purpose of tucking? As we can see here, when the tailbone is too far ahead or behind relative to the waist, then it's a back bend, where the waist's ability to twist/rotate from side to side is severely limited. The best position for rotation to happen is when the upper body is in the neutral position (Fig 1, 4).

So why do the masters say tucking then? I personally feel the instructions (eg. tuck the coccyx and hollow you chest...) would be much clearer if they phrase them as "don't do this (eg. don't stick your butt out, don't stick your chest out). The reason we have these instruction is that remember that internal martial art is a fairly recent phenomenon. Before that it's all external martial art, where it's okay to sticking the butt and chest out is quite common. When internal martial art came along, masters say 'don't do this or that, I know that works for external martial art style. But our skills are totally different, and they're based on a different set of body mechanics, so don't do what they do..."

No matter who you are, if the requirement is knees don't pass the toes, then the only way your head can be directly above your feet is if you stick out your chest forward and the butt out backward.

Image

If you don't want to do this back bend, then your knees has to go pass the toes:

Image

Or, you have to go pass parallel, let your butt sink below the knees:

Image
Or, really open your legs, point your toes sideways instead of straight ahead, like you're doing a sumo squat:

Image Image

Because very few people have this type of knee, ankle strength and flexibility:

Image

And/or you take a bigger stance. Taking a bigger stance means you can't support all your weight on just one leg. But given how the human body is built, if you want to go low, you have to do make a compromise somewhere.

Image

If tucking is emphasized more in Chen Style, it's because the stances are usually bigger and lower during the practice. The body will naturally try to cheat by sticking out the butt. The masters want to make sure the student's waist is neutral and free, which taiji quan skills depend on.
Last edited by Wuyizidi on Fri May 27, 2011 8:46 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby charles on Fri May 27, 2011 8:58 am

Well put, Wuyizidi.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Bhassler on Fri May 27, 2011 10:03 am

Well said, Charles.

jonathan.bluestein wrote:In physiology, the tucking of the Coccyx is also called Posterior Hip Rotation.


Don't think so. I believe you're thinking of a posterior pelvic tilt. Which brings up a point of anatomy....

The coccyx is the tailbone-- it is not the pelvis, it is not the hips, and it is not the sacrum. Different languages employ different levels of precision when referring to anatomy, and I have no idea what the original Chinese term is or how Chinese language treats anatomy in general, but tucking the tailbone does not necessarily imply discernible movement of the sacrum or the pelvis. Depending on how one interprets the injunction, tucking the tailbone could mean that just the tailbone wraps under passively (as it would in the spine's natural, unforced lumbar curve) and not the sacrum, or it could mean that one is meant to actively apply muscular effort to tuck the tailbone without tucking the sacrum, which results in activation of the pelvic floor similar to lifting hui yin. These are just two possibilities of many. Hopefully, that muddies the waters a bit...
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby edededed on Fri May 27, 2011 10:37 am

Hey Jonathan - what is the 5-10% when you don't tuck the coccyx?
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby hamid on Fri May 27, 2011 11:28 am

The coccyx is the tailbone-- it is not the pelvis, it is not the hips, and it is not the sacrum.

the sacrum, in fact, considered a key component of the famous "third leg" that is supposed to be between the two legs.


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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Andy_S on Fri May 27, 2011 12:10 pm

SNIP
None and all. The question is based upon a faulty premise. If the body is moving, the coccyx is moving - it is not held in a static position. "When one part moves, all parts move."
SNIP

I'd disagree - to a degree.

A beginner has to start somewhere, and in the Chen Taiji I have learned, that somewhere is ZZ. Start from stillness, then proceed to movement. This also seems to be the case in HsingI with Santi and BGZ/s cirlce walking (albeit in the latter, the lower body is moving while the upper body holds static postures).

SNIP
CZH stated that "backwards" is opposite to the normal curvature of the coccyx - "backwards" is lengthening/straightening the coccyx, what others might call "tucked".
SNIP

With reference to Hong's book, as referenced by Jonathan, that makes things clearer. This is my understanding of "tucked" also.

SNIP
I personally feel the instructions (eg. tuck the coccyx and hollow you chest...) would be much clearer if they phrase them as "don't do this (eg. don't stick your butt out, don't stick your chest out).
SNIP

Very good point. When I did CEMA (northern mantis) there was no emphasis on this: In toes-straight-ahead mabu, one adopted the "bum out" posture with a forward inclination of the spine that Wuyizidi describes so well. I have not done this training for years, but this tends to obviate the dantien roll, unless you see it as a phase, rather than a stance.

CIMA is subtler, with, IME, more fine movement from the center (literally, the center) rather than gross movement from the hips. Movement from the center, as I understand it, requires the dantien to both revolve and roll. For this reason there needs to be an awareness of the cocyx position, which is pretty subtle, and not taught in most MA and sports. In Chen Taiji, this awareness begins with a slight tuck, as taught in ZZ. (Of course, a natural habit for many young and athletic males is to overemphasize the movement, which needs to be guarded against. It took me a long, long time to learn this lesson.)

When you are able to tuck and untuck, there is a lot of things you can do with it - one thing, of course, being able to simply stretch the spine along its vertical axis with a simple but subtle movement.

Given the central importance of the spine to the body's overall muscular-skeletal machine, these simple, basic exercises of IMA are rich and profound.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby Din on Fri May 27, 2011 2:50 pm

hamid wrote:the sacrum, in fact, considered a key component of the famous "third leg" that is supposed to be between the two legs.


Does this famous third leg have anything to do with iron wrapped in silk pajamas? Sounds like, if someone whips this technique out, it can stop a lot of fights. Maybe start a couple....
I've always been taught to "point" my tailbone into the heels, but, after Wuzydi's (sp?) post, not much else needs to be said. Aside from a few more dick jokes, that is.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby charles on Fri May 27, 2011 3:01 pm

Andy_S wrote:SNIP
None and all. The question is based upon a faulty premise. If the body is moving, the coccyx is moving - it is not held in a static position. "When one part moves, all parts move."
SNIP

I'd disagree - to a degree.

A beginner has to start somewhere, and in the Chen Taiji I have learned, that somewhere is ZZ. Start from stillness, then proceed to movement.


If you re-read what I wrote, I was very careful to account for this.
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Re: Tucking the coccyx in Chen Taiji

Postby somatai on Fri May 27, 2011 3:55 pm

nice vid, love CZH's movement and clarity.......tucking is not a static concept or a rule....it is part of the feeling of stretching the spine, not held as a postition, just a function of an overall feel
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