question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

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question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby vagabond on Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:20 am

i was doing the basic post standing just now, the one we all know and love, and shifting back and forth a little between one position, equal pressure in the stance and feet between forward and back, in the spine between up and down, and the tips of my middle fingers pointing directly towards each other and my arms more closely describing a circle, elbows rolled more up and out, and another, leaning back a bit more, still keeping my head above my tailbone above my heel but making the front plane of my body more of a slope or a wedge, lead foot further forward and back leg lower, knee more bent to support the posture, my right hand held slightly higher than my left, with both my middle fingers pointing towards the ground, elbows pointing more towards the ground. second one feels more "martial" whatever that means. i wanna say i've seen something similar from yiquan guys in the hand position at least, but only on the internet so clearly when i wreck my knees or whatever it's my own fault :). but. any thoughts on this, how the two might be differently useful? is one more "advanced" than the other? or differently useful? certainly i noticed my right hand wants to be higher, and feels lighter, while my left hand wants to be lower. in throwing punches my left feels heavier, but clumsier, while my right is a little more graceful but not what i'd call a hammer, although that's my impression and not anyone else's. so - thoughts?
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:59 am

I don't do the tree hugging posture anymore. Some folks who's opinion I trust, different ones from completely different backgrounds, have said it causes stiffness.

And funny enough as far as I understand it, that particular posture comes from Yiquan, not traditional taijiquan practice.

Instead what I practice based on what I'm studying now is (for hands up postures) cross hands, raise hands, and white crane spreads wings. In those, the hands are obviously equal in cross hands, and the right is higher in raise hands and white crane. All three are, in my opinion, decidedly martial postures.

Another alternative suggested by a Master I greatly respect is to do the tree hugging posture, but with the fingertips of the two hands touching each other. This method of holding the ball and cross hands, in my opinion, allow me to work on softness and listening.

Cross hands was the only dedicated standing posture T.T. Liang taught in class. But I do believe he did teach holding every posture for some amount of time (four beats, usually) as an occasional part of form practice.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby everything on Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:32 am

try these for a few min for contrast:
1. holding the ball. be calm. no "martial" intent. how do you feel?
2. xingyiquan's santishi. look through the tiger's mouth. have some focus forward and "martial". how do you feel?
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby Bao on Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:45 am

There are many ways to do this stance, so I have no idea what version o_itto says can cause stiffness. The only way to become stiff is if you are stiff already IMO. Some people let the arms move slightly together with the breath. Others keep a very strict alignment. The versions might look visually about the same but the reason and goals of practice can be very different. I prefer another, similar stance which is single weighted and differently aligned. Also I prefer combined form and ding shi before focusing on one single stance.
Last edited by Bao on Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby HotSoup on Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:49 am

oragami_itto wrote:I don't do the tree hugging posture anymore. Some folks who's opinion I trust, different ones from completely different backgrounds, have said it causes stiffness.

And funny enough as far as I understand it, that particular posture comes from Yiquan, not traditional taijiquan practice.


Stiffness may be caused by an incorrect way of practice. In Yiquan, it is crucial to do "Mo Jin", i.e. "search for Jin" while practicing. In other words, one is constantly micro-moving, searching for connection instead of staying completely still, which helps eliminate stiffness.
Last edited by HotSoup on Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby robert on Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:16 am

oragami_itto wrote:And funny enough as far as I understand it, that particular posture comes from Yiquan, not traditional taijiquan practice.

I was taught that you can hold any taiji posture. When I was learning the form the instructors often had us hold a posture as they walked around and corrected the students. The tree hugging posture I've been taught in Chen taiji is the posture from the end of raise hands (at the beginning of the form) - after lowering the hands rotate the forearms so the palms face each other. We also hold lou xi - which is close to santi, but both hands are raised up in an enguard posture.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby Bao on Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:34 am

It was probably there in the beginning of Tai Chi and probably even much earlier. The origin is to practice to feel those exact, precise angles, where the body structure is naturally as strong as possible. That golden position is called “he”, connect or “close”. It’s the absolute connection where you cannot open or close the posture to make the alignment stronger.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:42 am

robert wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:And funny enough as far as I understand it, that particular posture comes from Yiquan, not traditional taijiquan practice.

I was taught that you can hold any taiji posture. When I was learning the form the instructors often had us hold a posture as they walked around and corrected the students.

I think that is rather common both as a means of transmitting corrections and as a practice (holding postures) in and of itself. Particularly, as I mentioned above, as one way to practice the form. It seems qualitatively different to me than holding them in practicing zhan zhuang.
The tree hugging posture I've been taught in Chen taiji is the posture from the end of raise hands (at the beginning of the form) - after lowering the hands rotate the forearms so the palms face each other.

the one that I'm familiar with is a wuji stance with the arms like as in the end of the "Push" posture (similar to the end of "six sealing and four closing", I think, in Chen), but with my palms turned facing toward me.
We also hold lou xi - which is close to santi, but both hands are raised up in an enguard posture.

The raise hands I practice is somewhat similar to how I learned santi, but the weight is 90-100% on the rear leg and the palms are facing each other but not inline

As far as the stiffness goes, I'm just passing along what I've taken to heart. I'm still too stiff to judge anyone else's practice. I just know people far less stiff than me that say "That will make you stiff" so I believe it.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)
Last edited by oragami_itto on Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby KEND on Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:15 pm

In I Chuan front 6 postures I learnt you start with hands level with lower Tan Tien and the build up to middle Tan Tien [tree posture] In this fashion the body builds up the palm-abdomen connection, I couldnt understand why in TCC you go straight to the third posture. For the actual tree posture[with a tree] I was taught a ritual of asking tree permission etc-it seemed to work.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby robert on Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:51 pm

oragami_itto wrote:I think that is rather common both as a means of transmitting corrections and as a practice (holding postures) in and of itself. Particularly, as I mentioned above, as one way to practice the form. It seems qualitatively different to me than holding them in practicing zhan zhuang.

I've been taught that standing is the foundation of taijiquan and you want that quality throughout the form so for me holding a posture isn't any different than zhan zhaung although when I practice standing some postures I hold longer than I would getting forms corrections.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby Steve James on Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:08 pm

I dunno. IT seems like "holding the tree" or "tree hugging" was introduced into tcc practice from qigong practices. I don't think the "hold a ball" imagery has much to do with it, but I'm not sure that it is very old at all. The combination or correlation of "tree hugging" with tcc is a relatively new t hing that only occurred when tcc was dissociated from martial arts and considered primarily a health exercise for old people.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:13 pm

robert wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:I think that is rather common both as a means of transmitting corrections and as a practice (holding postures) in and of itself. Particularly, as I mentioned above, as one way to practice the form. It seems qualitatively different to me than holding them in practicing zhan zhuang.

I've been taught that standing is the foundation of taijiquan and you want that quality throughout the form so for me holding a posture isn't any different than zhan zhaung although when I practice standing some postures I hold longer than I would getting forms corrections.


I agree 100%, I just feel that when I'm doing the "official" standing postures, holding for five minutes or more, it gets deeper and harder than what I would do as part of what I'd call "ding shi", or holding the end postures during the form to better understand and embody the posture.

It could well just be a flaw in my practice, but the quality of the two seems different. Not that one is better than the other but that they have a different sort of flavor and meaning to me. The dedicated standing is like laying the foundation down and the shorter holding is like building walls, etc on top of it, making use of what is cultivated in dedicated standing.

As I understand it, holding particular postures can be prescribed as specific remedy for specific ailments by Qigong healers. I couldn't say which are good for what, though.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby robert on Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:21 pm

oragami_itto wrote:I agree 100%, I just feel that when I'm doing the "official" standing postures, holding for five minutes or more, it gets deeper and harder than what I would do as part of what I'd call "ding shi", or holding the end postures during the form to better understand and embody the posture.

It could well just be a flaw in my practice, but the quality of the two seems different. Not that one is better than the other but that they have a different sort of flavor and meaning to me. The dedicated standing is like laying the foundation down and the shorter holding is like building walls, etc on top of it, making use of what is cultivated in dedicated standing.

I can see that. I was talking about corrections in a class or workshop. When I was first learning the Chen form there might be 20 or 30 people in a workshop and the teacher would go around and make corrections and it would not be unusual for them to wait a few minutes after correcting everyone so people could check the corrections and then they might do a second round of corrections. We would be holding a given posture for 5 or 10 minutes. It seemed to be a very deliberate standing practice.

Sometimes I stop during practice and hold a posture for a minute or two to correct a bad habit/make a correction and that is not the same to me.
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby everything on Sat Jan 26, 2019 3:02 pm

KEND wrote:In I Chuan front 6 postures I learnt you start with hands level with lower Tan Tien and the build up to middle Tan Tien [tree posture] In this fashion the body builds up the palm-abdomen connection, I couldnt understand why in TCC you go straight to the third posture. For the actual tree posture[with a tree] I was taught a ritual of asking tree permission etc-it seemed to work.


Really like that.

Also the circle walking literally around a tree
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Re: question about holding the ball/hugging the tree/whatever

Postby robert on Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:35 pm

Bao wrote:It was probably there in the beginning of Tai Chi and probably even much earlier.

FWIW last year I asked Chen Ziqiang about standing training in Chen taiji and he said they have always used it. Chen Ziqiang started his training with standing.

"I started my training at three years old," Ziqiang tells me. "For the first couple of years, all I did was standing meditation. I didn't like it, but no child would like long periods of just standing. So my father would bribe me to train. One time my father came back from Japan where he had been teaching, and he brought back a small television. My father knew I liked cartoons, especially Mickey Mouse. So to get me to train, he said I could watch the cartoons after my training each day. That got me to do my training. Later, I got my inspiration from my older brother, Chen Bing."

http://www.kungfumagazine.com/magazine/article.php?article=681
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