What is the problem?

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

What is the problem?

Postby Appledog on Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:57 am

This is about Tai Chi. I don't know anything about any other art.

Most people I suspect just don't do it enough. Twice a week, three times a week, or maybe something like 30 minutes a day. One hour a day for ten years. And they think they have accomplished something. Maybe they have. But it couldn't be enough, it's just not possible in comparison, once you know what you need to do to get there, this becomes obvious. Sure, that could be the problem but I don't think it is the problem I am thinking of right now.

Out of the people who do in fact practice very hard, often there arises a very different and difficult problem. A lack of information. For whatever, they just don't know. So however they practice it would have to be obvious that something has been invented and put into the place of where something else should have gone. This creates another problem where now that the hole has been filled with garbage, due to Newton's laws, the garbage can become too heavy or comfortable to move out of even if the new and correct information is obtained. (garbage in the sense that even diamonds thrown into the wrong place -- ex. a machine -- may end up destroying that machine. Or the wrong kind of gas in your car. Etc. So it is considered garbage even if it has independent value.)

I once fought a taekwondo guy. At the time I had very little fighting experience so I was sucked into playing his game. He was surprised that when he tried to kick me I would just take it or block it like nothing happened. I was surprised in that he seemed to present no target. So when I attacked, he would just step back or get out of the way and I was very confused. So I was tricked into the mindset of throwing blind attacks.

This was my problem for a long time. But somehow I was able to cut ties with whatever I needed to cut ties with, and then I began to have a new problem. With the new problem you see, it is no longer a lack of information that was holding me back. It was that there was information; and that simply put, the problem was not a lack of information; but that the new information was in such conflict with the old information. Actually, both problems could happen at the same time. In this case I was rewarded by my sifus for recognizing this problem and not practicing the incorrect things, which would have caused significant and likely irreparable damage. This is the meaning of "it is easy to learn but difficult to correct". Learning things the right way first is extremely important because old habits die hard; and once you travel down the path too long it becomes more difficult to do what you need to do, which is walk all the way back, and then turn down the correct path. For many, the walk back has become so long that it would effectively mean termination of their martial arts career. Yet still some take this path as a sort of way of following the buddha.

I once met a Tai Chi guy who when demonstrating his art just did karate. He didn't know anything, but none of the people around him knew that. So he made a living teaching Tai Chi. He's still teaching Tai Chi in Toronto. He doesn't walk this path.

I don't think this is my particular problem anymore. My problem is that I know what the real thing is you are supposed to do, but doing it seems ridiculous. I mean, it doesn't seem real. Time slips by too quickly. When I am done I feel normal. This is a big problem because there is no reward for what I am doing. Why do something for which there is no reward? In such a case the answer is because the reward is not what you expect it to be. Possibly, it is beyond your comprehension. Therefore it appears as if there is no reward. This is a high level of practice, to do the necessary work for which there is no reward. After all, if you did it for a reward then it would be meaningless in the first place.

But actually there is another problem, which is like a mixture of the first two, that is causing me some consternation. This art is easy to learn but difficult to master. I once went into a martial arts school which advertised Tai Chi among their other arts. The guy looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights when I mentioned Tai Chi. I don't know what his particular problem was but he was so low energy I had to lead every aspect of the interaction with suggestions and comments about his school. I once went to a martial arts school that had advertised Tai Chi on the door and when I went in they were doing bagua. I once went to a Tai Chi school, that is, that had advertised they taught tai chi on the door and then when I went to ask about Tai Chi lessons I was asked why I want to learn Tai Chi (fair enough) but then with the comment "...because Tai Chi is for old people" (orly moment). I once went to a Tai Chi school and I asked them if they did push hands, and the 30 year student said that it was for advanced people. I asked her if she herself knew any push hands and she said no, she didn't do it (didn't go to that class/didn't practice it/same thing). I once went to a Tai Chi school and they told me Tai Chi was not a martial art. I once went to a Tai Chi school, fairly spoken one who advertised they taught Tai Chi, and there were a pair of Sai on the walls and the students inside were practicing some kind of Sai forms or sai sparring. I once went to a tai chi class somewhere and I did push hands with the people there. This consisted of them standing there and me trying to push them, and no response or action from them; just a "brick wall". When I was encouraged to lean into them and press harder into their center, they would grab me and uproot me. This one actually may sound familiar ;-)

I once went to a tai chi class and they did the form. Then they did the sword form. Then they all went home. This went on for a year. I stopped going out of time restraints (I was going to multiple different groups at the time and I found something better in that time slot). Point being, they're still there, doing their form and doing their sword form. That's it. That's all they do. No one really teaches anything, not really. And no one new ever joins the class anymore. I see them from time to time. Everyone in the class is now over sixty years old. Three other groups just like this have disappeared/broken up/gone away. A once vibrant park has become empty. Perhaps also familiar, to some, to varying degrees.

I could tell you more stories like these but there is all one thing in common. There is only the illusion -- however strong -- [/i]and it can be a very convincing and strong illusion indeed[/i] that tai chi is in fact being practiced in these areas.

What is the meaning of standing as still as a mountain but flowing as quickly as a river? I do not think this is a reference to the flow of qi anymore; that was played out back in "movement in stillness and stillness in movement". There is a very specific set of programs you need to load into your matrix. Then when you have these programs you will have Tai Chi. If you do not have these programs, you do not do Tai Chi. You do some other kind of matrix-y art. Maybe xingyi, maybe liuhebafa, but I suspect it is more like the new and evolving art I call hodgepodge neijia.

Hodgepodge neijia is coined with an English word because it is an English (speaking) invention, bourne out of the many problems listed above. I wholeheartedly approve of certain forms hodgepodge neijia which I will explain below. But it is not Tai Chi. it is a set of very east to learn general-purpose neijia practices -- such as standing meditation from yiquan, or perhaps some easy kinds of reverse breathing (natural kinds, like exhaling during a punch) or some other normal breathing (ex. inhaling during raise arms). The point being that there are various practices which have been picked up or 'accepted' into hodgepodge neijia, which have the capacity to improve the student's well-being.

The forms of hodgepodge neijia which I approve of are those who spar or push hands competitively, even if their level of competitive push hands is complete shit, because through this form of competition and testing there is the capacity for the truth to come out. The question then becomes "which forms of hodgepodge neijia" and that is to say those forms which can allow the truth to come out, and not to force-feed or try and push any particular truth. That would not be the way of nature but would instead be the way of brittle grass.

There is another form of Tai Chi which I call progressive neijia or more properly and specifically progressive tai chi from the standpoint that the teaching methodology is well-formulated and has been shown to deal with the general case student as they travel along the major (wide; mahayana) path.

This path may in fact be so broad that the student can be presented with over 100 forms they may need to learn or to at least choose from. And so broad that it can take decades to move through this path.

Of course the mahayana path is not the only path, but in the sense that it can encompass other paths (so long as they are correct paths) it might as well be considered -- in that sense -- as being the only path. The point being if you do not know clearly you are on this path, either out of complete knowledge (enlightenment) or out of complete trust and faith in your teacher (who tells you there is such a path, and that you can walk it) then you are not doing any kind of tai chi at all and maybe not even any kind of neijia.

In the end you need someone to show you the way to do this kind of art properly, because it has been accumulated over generations, and therefore it is impossible for you to figure out solely on your own. You could find out the path yourself, that much. But then you would only understand what I just said, the why of why you need a teacher to show you all of this. I can only be your teacher to the degree you understand what I just said. But I am not really a teacher, I am just saying, that I don't think most people will really understand what I said here. But if you understand that the art was accumulated over generations one thing you should know is that it has become impudent for you to disrespect any part of the tradition. You can't change it because you can't. It is impudence and foolishness to think you can change it. What you can do is master some lesser degree of it and go your own way. But to change it, if you have the ability to master it in the first place that I would like to see, then we can talk about how you can change it to make it better.

Do you see the problem, why it is so difficult to do so? You would already have gone beyond the realm of your intention, i.e. you can choose what technique to apply. What else then are you going to change about it that has not already been done? I'm only asking this last question to try and point out the problem, of why it cannot be changed, so that you would understand something of the need not to criticize the original method. But then, beyond that, Tai Chi is built on top of the original method, and it is not the original method. The original method is something else, a false path to those who do Tai Chi. And therefore, it is easy to learn but difficult to correct.
Last edited by Appledog on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby Subitai on Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:24 pm

After reading your post i'm kinda struggling with what your looking for in a response. I kinda just enjoyed reading your stories...was that it.

Also, I noticed this phrase so much "I once went to a..."

Kinda makes me want to say it too;

I once went to a = local World Tai Chi Day Gathering (here in Southeastern, CT) and after all the customary forms and introductions there was allot of pushing hands matches and people just having fun throwing eachother around.

I faced off with one of the demonstrating teachers... He's was a big guy around 6'-2" and he was easily throwing big guys around. I noticed he had skill and I couldn't wait to touch hands with him. I had just moved to the east coast from the SF bay area and I was used to living in a competitive Taiji atmosphere. Come to find out this guy was an Open heavy weight champion in Taiwan for push hands. But I didn't know that at the time. When I meet someone new, I tend to follow an old adage:
" Don't try to win, just do what is correct and let the win happen by itself."


We started with fixed step and I quickly displaced him a few times so I could tell his ego was itching him and then out of the blue...he jabbs his fingers straight into my throat. I grabbed them and bent his fingers back to peel his hand away and said, "So it's OK if I do that to you right ??? " (He made a quick smile at me) Then it escalated to free and open moving methods. It escalated further and I ended up on top of him in a mounted position basically ground and pound hitting him...albeit I wasn't hitting too hard. Just enough to let him know I owned him at that moment. When people jumped in to stop it...it was already too late. He apologized for starting it and we've been on cordial terms ever since.

But the point is initially, if I had tried to score and take him on aggressively in the beginning he would have picked up on that and duffed me like I saw him do to a bunch of other people. Meaning if you're smart (and sometime patient) you can get even good people to make mistakes.

That's my take on how I solved one problem.
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby Trick on Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:52 pm

Cherish what you have, whether you have much or just little. Find possibilities instead of problems.
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:14 am

I thought the path was an inch wide and a mile deep
"This principle is very obvious and requires no further elaboration."
-Yang Cheng Fu
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby johnwang on Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:48 am

Subitai wrote:I ended up on top of him in a mounted position basically ground and pound hitting him...

All Taiji PH events that I had in my life, it all turned into wrestling. The moment that I drag my opponent's arm and run in circle, the PH end and the wrestling start. It's very difficult to prevent a Taiji PH from turning into a wrestling game. It's also very difficult to prevent a Taiji PH from turning into a boxing game too. IMO, that is the problem. In the real world, there is no such thing as "push".
Last edited by johnwang on Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
I'm still allergy to "push".
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby Bhassler on Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:23 am

This is the meaning of "it is easy to learn but difficult to correct". Learning things the right way first is extremely important because old habits die hard; and once you travel down the path too long it becomes more difficult to do what you need to do, which is walk all the way back, and then turn down the correct path.


If this is the case for a person, it just means they don't know how to learn and/or train effectively. Habits only form where awareness is absent.

I once went to a tai chi class somewhere and I did push hands with the people there. This consisted of them standing there and me trying to push them, and no response or action from them; just a "brick wall". When I was encouraged to lean into them and press harder into their center, they would grab me and uproot me.


If some one can "brick wall" you, it just means that your own abilities are not significant enough to elicit a response. In this case (maybe years ago), the problem was the student, not the school.
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:10 pm

johnwang wrote:
Subitai wrote:I ended up on top of him in a mounted position basically ground and pound hitting him...

All Taiji PH events that I had in my life, it all turned into wrestling. The moment that I drag my opponent's arm and run in circle, the PH end and the wrestling start. It's very difficult to prevent a Taiji PH from turning into a wrestling game. It's also very difficult to prevent a Taiji PH from turning into a boxing game too. IMO, that is the problem. In the real world, there is no such thing as "push".


There's a video somebody put up in another thread of a bar fight where one guy pushes the other into the wall to ground and stun him, then starts kicking him in the head.

Sometimes, push is useful
"This principle is very obvious and requires no further elaboration."
-Yang Cheng Fu
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby johnwang on Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:42 pm

oragami_itto wrote:Sometimes, push is useful

Push is the opposite of the clinch. When you push your opponent away, your opponent will be outside of your striking range (or clinching range). You should keep your friend close but your enemy closer.

When a fish swims toward an octopus, that octopus won't push that fish away.

Image
Last edited by johnwang on Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm still allergy to "push".
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:55 pm

johnwang wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Sometimes, push is useful

Push is the opposite of the clinch. When you push your opponent away, your opponent will be outside of your striking range (or clinching range). You should keep your friend close but your enemy closer.

When a fish swims toward an octopus, that octopus won't push that fish away.

Image


Unless you can push their head into a wall or post or table or some concrete or linoleum or the bartop or traffic or down some stairs or into the water.
"This principle is very obvious and requires no further elaboration."
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby marvin8 on Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:08 pm

oragami_itto wrote:
johnwang wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Sometimes, push is useful

Push is the opposite of the clinch. When you push your opponent away, your opponent will be outside of your striking range (or clinching range). You should keep your friend close but your enemy closer.

When a fish swims toward an octopus, that octopus won't push that fish away.

Image


Unless you can push their head into a wall or post or table or some concrete or linoleum or the bartop or traffic or down some stairs or into the water.

. . . or push them to take their balance, use their rebound of balance to use their weight against them (4 oz moves 1,000 lbs.) for effortless and more defensively responsible throw/attack.
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby northerndevotee on Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:18 pm

You know, while reading your post i realised that what has been verbaly communicated to me by my teachers would add up to less than the amount of words in your post. And i am thankful for it...
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Re: What is the problem?

Postby BruceP on Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:17 pm

Never made a meme before. It was easy:

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