Song, what does it mean?

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Song, what does it mean?

Postby rojcewiczj on Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:31 pm

I am interested in peoples understanding of Song, what does it mean? My current understanding is that it has to do with having space within oneself, or to reside within ones own space. Meaning, that one has the space to change internally regardless of external restrictions. It remains very mysterious to me. If we say Song means to relax or release, How does relaxation effect application?
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby Bao on Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:13 pm

Song is:
- the foundation of the T'ai Chi body.
- what makes your application work.
- what you use to express jin.
- not just "being relaxed", but a skill you develop through relaxation.
- something you truly understand through a long time of practice and experience, not by "thinking".
- a word.
- both noun and a verb.
- funny to argue about.
- not a hamburger.
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby wayne hansen on Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:31 pm

You can song someone to death
Rear naked choke is one example but there are many more
If you can't see that you are still in the world of base mechanics
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby johnwang on Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:41 pm

wayne hansen wrote:You can song someone to death
Rear naked choke is one example but there are many more
If you can't see that you are still in the world of base mechanics

In order to develop a "strong choke", you will need extra training besides just the solo form. When you develop your "strong choke", you are not relaxed at that moment.

I'm still allergy to "push".
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby charles on Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:55 pm

rojcewiczj wrote: My current understanding is that it has to do with having space within oneself, or to reside within ones own space. Meaning, that one has the space to change internally regardless of external restrictions.


That might be a result of song, but not what song is. You've made this much more complicated than it is or needs to be.

It remains very mysterious to me.


It isn't at all mysterious. Bao's description of it is a good one.

Song, itself, is a very simple concept: relax, allow things to loosen and lenghten, eliminate excess/unnecessary muscular exertion. It is primarily physical and experiential. It is not academic. As Bao points out, one can't "think" one's way to what it is or its relevance.


If we say Song means to relax or release, How does relaxation effect application?


That is a central question.

A Traditional axiom of nature is that the strong beat the weak, the fast beat the strong and the young beat the old. Taijiquan is a method for reversing that axiom. In essence, your question is really, "What is Taijiquan's method?" Being/achieving "song" is central to that method. Books have been written on what is Taijiquan's method: it is the classical study of Taijiquan.

In my opinion, song/fang song is the most difficult skill/ability to achieve, without which the traditional skills of the rest of the art aren't accessible. By contrast, being "hard", "muscular" or "forceful" are abilities that most people innately have or learn. That is why so much of the art is focused on learning the "soft" skills: for most people that ability, and its application, is not innately present, and must be explicitly trained. If you start reading any of the classical texts on Taijiquan, you won't get very far before running into some skill that relies upon, or explicitly references "song".
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby windwalker on Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:59 pm

creates a uniform density
rule 19
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:03 am

Relaxed like a lady's long hair hanging down
"This principle is very obvious and requires no further elaboration."
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby rojcewiczj on Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:36 am

It seems to me that all athletes, and really every human person, is generally relaxed when not under any pressure besides gravity. So why is Song such a high level ability? An ability which allows for a whole new range of martial methods to be expressed? Is it just a quality that one builds up gradually through practice, like strength and flexibility? If so, why is it spoken of as something that you can do intentionally? It seems to me that martial art is either an exercise or not. Meaning, when you do a movement over and over as an exercise, you become stronger and more flexible based on the exercise performed. This is not at all unique to Taiji. So what makes Song special?
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby Ron Panunto on Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:42 am

To experience song, extend the arms and hands to 100% of your ability, then relax 30% so that you are now extended or expanded 70%, then relax the muscles over that extended posture. That is song. It is not "wet noodle" relaxation. Works well in standing post exercise. Relaxation over expansion is peng, the basis of taiji.
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby marvin8 on Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:01 am

rojcewiczj wrote:It seems to me that all athletes, and really every human person, is generally relaxed when not under any pressure besides gravity. So why is Song such a high level ability? An ability which allows for a whole new range of martial methods to be expressed? Is it just a quality that one builds up gradually through practice, like strength and flexibility? If so, why is it spoken of as something that you can do intentionally? It seems to me that martial art is either an exercise or not. Meaning, when you do a movement over and over as an exercise, you become stronger and more flexible based on the exercise performed. This is not at all unique to Taiji. So what makes Song special?

In other arts one is taught to relax, too. I do not know if there is a biomechanical difference (e.g., open joints, etc.).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7muOK5RXF5Y

@ 1:38 "First is you got to be relaxed. . . ."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bVUR9xN8OI
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby Giles on Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:26 am

oragami_itto wrote:Relaxed like a lady's long hair hanging down


Aha, thanks for that!! Even before I saw your post, that was just what I wanted to ask about. I remember reading somewhere, long ago, that the Chinese character and/or original meaning was exactly this. And I wanted to ask the sinologically clued-up among the community if this is indeed true or not, or whether they can add anything else to this (the root meaning)?

If so, it would of course tie in with the idea of a minimally blocked heaven-earth alignment in the body, YCF's "suspended head-top", "hanging from the golden thread" etc. etc. Which helps to open joints, extend connective tissues etc. Which in turn can lead to "space within oneself".
I sometimes work/teach with the image of a long, heavy curtain, made of heavy velvet or suchlike, hanging down to the floor. It has weight and substance and a clear vertical alignment, but also a certain water-like quality. If you "attack" it, it will yield to some extent but quickly return of its own accord, through gravity, to a state of "zhong ding".
(Yes, it's only an analogy, far from being the whole story... ;) )
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:41 am

Giles wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Relaxed like a lady's long hair hanging down


Aha, thanks for that!! Even before I saw your post, that was just what I wanted to ask about. I remember reading somewhere, long ago, that the Chinese character and/or original meaning was exactly this. And I wanted to ask the sinologically clued-up among the community if this is indeed true or not, or whether they can add anything else to this (the root meaning)?

If so, it would of course tie in with the idea of a minimally blocked heaven-earth alignment in the body, YCF's "suspended head-top", "hanging from the golden thread" etc. etc. Which helps to open joints, extend connective tissues etc. Which in turn can lead to "space within oneself".
I sometimes work/teach with the image of a long, heavy curtain, made of heavy velvet or suchlike, hanging down to the floor. It has weight and substance and a clear vertical alignment, but also a certain water-like quality. If you "attack" it, it will yield to some extent but quickly return of its own accord, through gravity, to a state of "zhong ding".
(Yes, it's only an analogy, far from being the whole story... ;) )


Just passing along what I learned, which yes is pretty much exactly as you describe. :D
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby charles on Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:27 pm

rojcewiczj wrote:It seems to me that all athletes, and really every human person, is generally relaxed when not under any pressure besides gravity.


And, that's the error. They aren't. Not in the way that we are talking about.

So why is Song such a high level ability? An ability which allows for a whole new range of martial methods to be expressed?


It's a high level ability because relatively few achieve it. Go meet someone with the skills we are talking about and experience them. You'll then experience how it is different from what the average person does and what results from that ability. Talking about it, reasoning it, won't get you that experience.


Is it just a quality that one builds up gradually through practice, like strength and flexibility?


It is exactly the opposite: it is a gradual removal over time and practice.

If so, why is it spoken of as something that you can do intentionally?


At beginning levels, it requires self-awareness. One becomes aware of excess tensions and then consciously eliminates them. Later, it becomes automatic or, when you want, by consious choice.


It seems to me that martial art is either an exercise or not. Meaning, when you do a movement over and over as an exercise, you become stronger and more flexible based on the exercise performed. This is not at all unique to Taiji. So what makes Song special?


It is special because of what it is not: what it removes or eliminates. As a VERY crude example, a rigid stick cannot be used as a whip. It is the lack of or elimination of rigidity that allows the whip its character. One doesn't achieve the character of a whip by "building-up" a stick.
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby willie on Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:30 pm

Fang song means to relax and to put something down beside yourself.
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Re: Song, what does it mean?

Postby Bao on Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:32 pm

rojcewiczj wrote: Is it just a quality that one builds up gradually through practice, like strength and flexibility? If so, why is it spoken of as something that you can do intentionally? It seems to me that martial art is either an exercise or not. Meaning, when you do a movement over and over as an exercise, you become stronger and more flexible based on the exercise performed. This is not at all unique to Taiji. So what makes Song special?


Yes, it’s a skill. But it’s not Just a skill of relaxation. When you practice A very deep relaxation, you must use other, deeper muscles than you are used to. So relaxation in Tai Chi is also a strength practice. You strengthen deeper core muscles as you start to use them more extensively. This is why people tend to shake or “float” when they start to learn form. They start to learn to relax, but they have no stability. They must learn to build roots. Rooting is about using and build up strength in other deeper muscles just as much it’s about relaxing.

Ron Panunto wrote:To experience song, extend the arms and hands to 100% of your ability, then relax 30% so that you are now extended or expanded 70%, then relax the muscles over that extended posture. That is song. It is not "wet noodle" relaxation. Works well in standing post exercise. Relaxation over expansion is peng, the basis of taiji.


I don’t really agree. You must first learn to stay up structured and yet relax much more than just anybody can relax. If you stand in wuji, the natural “will” of the body and it’s muscles is to raise and become longer. “Holding up the head like suspended above” is nothing you force or even do by a method or technique. If you really relax the whole body deeply, the body will take care about this itself. The neck will stretch and feel tall if you just let the body work by itself.

So song is not really about keeping al dente to not become a limp wet noodle. You really need to go beyond softness and relaxation. Instead you need to understand how to be really limp. Then you can understand how the body itself wants to help you to keep up the structure and prevents it from relaxation. This is peng. Peng as expansion is built from relaxation, not by trying to keep the body al dente.

It’s not an easy task to achieve and I won’t pretend it is. But this is why people have a hard time to understand that relaxation is a skill. If you try to balance softness with 30% hardness or structure, you will never learn to become soft enough to realize what softness can do and why Tai Chi masters regard it as a skil.

I wrote a post about this recently, “Soft First, Al Dente Later”. https://taichithoughts.wordpress.com/20 ... chieve-it/

And I do know that very few here agree with me. ;)
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