Thoughts on Qi

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

Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:42 am

Might want to check what tcm has to say about it.

people in these and similar kind of arts who speak about qi must first agree about what they feel and if they mean the same.


Only the ones that are unfamiliar with it or have misconceptions not based on experience or knowledge.

For others that know, it's quite clear, they can talk about it directly without having to define it or agree on it.

As some have noted in terms of taiji, this is not a central point or aspect. The changes and effects will happen regardless of the cultural context it's described in with correct training.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby Steve James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:55 am

Just an observation, but if we were talking about language, the phrase "Sink the qi" would be considered Chinglish. It's a impossible statement to understand unless one knows English and Chinese. The problem is that there's no specific translation for "qi" to make the statement (more) meaningful (less abstract) in English.

Charles suggested the term energy, and I see no problem with that. "Sink the energy" can make just as much sense. Now, adding "to the dan tien" increases the complication, and requires a suitable English term. Either there is one, or there isn't. Well, if one suggests there are several, then list them all and choose one.

Then the philosophical issues kick in, though. As soon as one is specific and pins the term/s down in English, the translation no longer represents the original statement faithfully. As others have noted, the terms have meaning only within a certain context, but that context is an entire culture. Moreover, cultures change over time. What the phrase meant to a Chinese person in 1750 may not be how a Chinese person in 1950 interpreted it. It's true for English. Today's reader of Shakespeare is simply not the same.

One can say that "qi" is whatever one wants it to be. However, as Bao suggests, the question is whether others agree. Personally, I'm fine with considering it an imaginary energy. I don't mean imaginary as in unreal. Thought is real. Of course, what a person can do with thought can be demonstrated. I think that imagining something called qi sinking to someplace called the dantien will have some effect --though imagining something completely different and using different words could have a similar effect.

So, how about listing the goals of "sinking the qi" and ignoring the words. For ex., In think one effect is to increase relaxation by promoting deeper breathing.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:10 am

"Sink the qi"

It's a translation of what is commonly said, indicating a desired action, or trying to correct a deficiency.
Even among native speakers for some things they have to be directly experienced or felt.

In many of these discussions some things are often ignored, like tcm for example in favor of their own explanations which they then ask others to agree with.

One can use other models to discuss with but if one uses a term like "qi" in the context of tcm , taiji ect. It's pretty specific as to what, how and why.

If one does not accept this and tries to mix it up with what might be considered western terms, or context, this seems to be a main point of confusion for many.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby charles on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:09 am

Steve James wrote:Just an observation, but if we were talking about language, the phrase "Sink the qi" would be considered Chinglish. It's a impossible statement to understand unless one knows English and Chinese. The problem is that there's no specific translation for "qi" to make the statement (more) meaningful (less abstract) in English.


I've had a number of Chinese teachers state "sink (lower) qi" in both English and in Chinese. It isn't "Chinglish". It is possible to understand in either language.


Charles suggested the term energy, and I see no problem with that. "Sink the energy" can make just as much sense.


I did NOT suggest that the term "qi" could be translated as, or equated to, "energy". What I DID state is that they are both "bucket-terms", each of which has a variety of meanings depending upon context.

I see a problem with "sink the energy". From a science point of view, the "energy" is not sinking. As stated, "energy" is a bucket-term. It means different things in different contexts. Many in Taijiquan practice have stated "energy" sinks. That is their particular interpretation of what is happening and their assignment of that phenomenon to the term "energy". I don't associate what is happening as "sinking" of energy. Lowering one's centre of gravity, relaxing towards a central point, yes, sinking energy, no, unless one uses it in the colloquial context of one getting tired and having one's "energy level sinking".

Then the philosophical issues kick in, though. As soon as one is specific and pins the term/s down in English, the translation no longer represents the original statement faithfully. As others have noted, the terms have meaning only within a certain context, but that context is an entire culture. Moreover, cultures change over time. What the phrase meant to a Chinese person in 1750 may not be how a Chinese person in 1950 interpreted it. It's true for English. Today's reader of Shakespeare is simply not the same.


The statement is meant to describe an experience. If one can attain that experience, the words used to describe it don't matter, particularly given that words often can't communicate very accurately an experience or feeling, much as one can't describe in words one's experience of "blue" or "love". To place importance on the words, themselves, rather than the experience the words attempt to describe, is to confuse the cart and the horse. Certainly, the meanings of words are contextual and based on time and culture. However, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." Even Shakespeare understood that it was the experience, not the word used to describe the experience, that mattered.

I think that imagining something called qi sinking to someplace called the dantien will have some effect --though imagining something completely different and using different words could have a similar effect.


I respectfully suggest that imaging something is irrelevant to the practice that is called "sink qi".

So, how about listing the goals of "sinking the qi" and ignoring the words. For ex., In think one effect is to increase relaxation by promoting deeper breathing.


Generally, I don't think that "deeper breathing" increases relaxation. Relaxation increases relaxation. In sitting meditation, as I was taught, the breathing becomes increasingly more shallow to the point that one is almost imperceptibly breathing. Other than to maintain the correct posture, when sitting, one should be very relaxed.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:14 am

charles wrote:
Steve James wrote:Just an observation, but if we were talking about language, the phrase "Sink the qi" would be considered Chinglish. It's a impossible statement to understand unless one knows English and Chinese. The problem is that there's no specific translation for "qi" to make the statement (more) meaningful (less abstract) in English.


I've had a number of Chinese teachers state "sink (lower) qi" in both English and in Chinese. It isn't "Chinglish". It is possible to understand in either language.


Charles suggested the term energy, and I see no problem with that. "Sink the energy" can make just as much sense.


I did NOT suggest that the term "qi" could be translated as, or equated to, "energy". What I DID state is that they are both "bucket-terms", each of which has a variety of meanings depending upon context.

I see a problem with "sink the energy". From a science point of view, the "energy" is not sinking. As stated, "energy" is a bucket-term. It means different things in different contexts. Many in Taijiquan practice have stated "energy" sinks. That is their particular interpretation of what is happening and their assignment of that phenomenon to the term "energy". I don't associate what is happening as "sinking" of energy. Lowering one's centre of gravity, relaxing towards a central point, yes, sinking energy, no, unless one uses it in the colloquial context of one getting tired and having one's "energy level sinking".

Then the philosophical issues kick in, though. As soon as one is specific and pins the term/s down in English, the translation no longer represents the original statement faithfully. As others have noted, the terms have meaning only within a certain context, but that context is an entire culture. Moreover, cultures change over time. What the phrase meant to a Chinese person in 1750 may not be how a Chinese person in 1950 interpreted it. It's true for English. Today's reader of Shakespeare is simply not the same.


The statement is meant to describe an experience. If one can attain that experience, the words used to describe it don't matter, particularly given that words often can't communicate very accurately an experience or feeling, much as one can't describe in words one's experience of "blue" or "love". To place importance on the words, themselves, rather than the experience the words attempt to describe, is to confuse the cart and the horse. Certainly, the meanings of words are contextual and based on time and culture. However, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." Even Shakespeare understood that it was the experience, not the word used to describe the experience, that mattered.

I think that imagining something called qi sinking to someplace called the dantien will have some effect --though imagining something completely different and using different words could have a similar effect.


I respectfully suggest that imaging something is irrelevant to the practice that is called "sink qi".

So, how about listing the goals of "sinking the qi" and ignoring the words. For ex., In think one effect is to increase relaxation by promoting deeper breathing.


Generally, I don't think that "deeper breathing" increases relaxation. Relaxation increases relaxation. In sitting meditation, as I was taught, the breathing becomes increasingly more shallow to the point that one is almost imperceptibly breathing. Other than to maintain the correct posture, when sitting, one should be very relaxed.



Very nice post. ;)

Some thoughts on relaxation.
Relaxation it's not the end goal, it is one of many methods to achieve the end goal.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby charles on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:56 am

windwalker wrote:Relaxation it's not the end goal...


Agreed.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby everything on Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:01 am

::) ??? :-\ :-[ on qi, culture, blah blah blah.

Getting back to your post, appledog, I think it's interesting what you said, and get that it's just your description of your experience. But then what about sitting or standing qigong when you aren't shifting your weight? How does that relate to your weight shift?
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby Steve James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:03 am

Fair enough, "qi" is not "energy" and it doesn't sink.

The statement is meant to describe an experience.


The statement, however, is an instruction to the practitioner to do something. Sure, the goal might be an experience. But, what is the "experience" of sunken qi? Is following the direction to "sink" it the only way to have the experience?

Yeah, I get if. If someone has the experience they know. But, they can only say that they know someone else has it. How do we know that someone else experiences blue the way we do? Usually, it's through agreement. I.e., take a red, blue, and green patch, then ask anyone to point out the color blue. Of course, if you ask an English speaker to point to the azul one, they wouldn't do so well. That would say nothing about their experience of the color.

Re: imagination, if the sinking isn't in the mind --even as a visualization-- then is anything sinking at all? I can buy the explanation that it's a feeling. But, it just seems like a circular argument. Anyway, what percentage of tcc practitioners can/do actually sink their qi to the dantien?
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:02 pm

.Anyway, what percentage of tcc practitioners can/do actually sink their qi to the dantien?


100% for the ones who don't ask about it.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby charles on Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:23 pm

Steve James wrote:The statement, however, is an instruction to the practitioner to do something. Sure, the goal might be an experience. But, what is the "experience" of sunken qi?


There are numerous facets. Here is one.

After I'd been studying with my primary teacher for a year or so, for whatever reason, he asked me to push on his abdomen and chest. He stood in a nondescript, high stance. Pushing as hard as I could, he just stood there. He then paired the students and had them try to do the same thing. After about 15 minutes of failed attempts, I asked him the obvious question: "What are you doing that I'm not that allows you to just stand there, when I can't?" He replied, "Sink qi to the dan tian". The next obvious question was, "How do I learn to do that?" He said, "Standing".

Is following the direction to "sink" it the only way to have the experience?


No, which words are used is irrelevant. See below.

Yeah, I get if. If someone has the experience they know. But, they can only say that they know someone else has it. How do we know that someone else experiences blue the way we do? Usually, it's through agreement. I.e., take a red, blue, and green patch, then ask anyone to point out the color blue. Of course, if you ask an English speaker to point to the azul one, they wouldn't do so well. That would say nothing about their experience of the color.


You are loosing sight of the goal of both teacher and student. An effective teacher's goal, ideally, regardless of subject matter, is to help a student be able to do what the teacher can do. There are different teaching styles just as there are different learning styles. The student's goal, ideally, is to be able to do what the teacher can do. If those are not the case, then it is a poor matching of student and teacher and what each wants from the teacher/student interaction.

For an experiential art, such as Taijiquan, the role of an effective teacher is to present a specific, progressive series of "activities" each of which is designed to lead the student towards a specific experience. Knowledge and understanding of and about that art comes from those experiences. If the student doesn't have those experiences, the student will not understand the art. Having those experiences cannot be replaced by academic knowledge, such as obtained by reading about it.

You and a friend come upon an object that you have not experience before. Your friend has and wants you to experience something very specific about it. He cups his hand underneath the object and places his nose very close to the object and inhales deeply through his nose. He then gestures for you to do the same. You cup your hand underneath the object, as he did, place your nose very close to the object, as he did, then you inhale deeply through your mouth. Your friend sees this, shows you again how to do it and grossly exaggerates the inhaling through the nose. Seeing this, you repeat it, this time inhaling through your nose. This time you marvel at your first experience of the smell of a rose. No words were spoken, or needed to be. Regardless, he led you to achieve a very specific experience, one that to experience required a specific physical technique. Sinking "qi to the dan tian" can be taught in much the same way.



Re: imagination, if the sinking isn't in the mind --even as a visualization-- then is anything sinking at all?


Turning it around, if the "sinking" is only in the mind, nothing is sinking.

I can buy the explanation that it's a feeling. But, it just seems like a circular argument.


There is a feeling associated with it, but the feeling is a side effect not the goal.


Anyway, what percentage of tcc practitioners can/do actually sink their qi to the dantien?


All of the ones that have skill, by definition.

The only reason that "sinking qi" seems mysterious or at some high level is due to poor instruction, people filling their heads with lots of made-up interpretations of what it means and/or insufficient diligent practice. It really isn't difficult and is something accessible to beginners.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby Steve James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:41 pm

No, which words are used is irrelevant.


Damned if I didn't think that was my point about the word. As in your example, if your teacher had called it something else, your experience would have probably been the same. And, once that model had been established, using different words might not have the same effect.

Btw, if it's not obvious, I don't deny anyone's experience or description of the experience of "sinking the qi." It's in their [sic] head.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:00 pm

Btw, if it's not obvious, I don't deny anyone's experience or description of the experience of "sinking the qi." It's in their [sic] head.




.If the student doesn't have those experiences, the student will not understand the art. Having those experiences cannot be replaced by academic knowledge, such as obtained by reading about it.


Correct, which might lead some to feel the experience for those who can do it or who have had it, is in their head.

With understanding based on experience the conversation changes to best practices and methods used to develop or enhance it.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby charles on Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:28 pm

Steve James wrote:... "sinking the qi." It's in their [sic] head.


It isn't. It is largely physical.

The dan tian (abdomen) is the centre. Qi goes out from the centre to the extremities. It then returns from the extremities to the centre. If it doesn't go out, there is nothing to return. At least in beginning stages of practice, physical movements are used to "drive" the going out and returning. Returning involves "sinking qi". It is, or should be, in every movement. Every movement involves opening - going out - and closing - returning. Open/close, open/close, open/close. Out/return, out/return, out/return. Yin/Yang, yin/yang... Without one, there is no the other, its opposite.

Stop by sometime and I'll teach you the basics of it in less than 15 minutes.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby Steve James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:40 pm

I am sure that you can make me feel what you mean by "returning the qi to the dantien." However, I don't tend to bother thinking about it that much. Your definition/description of the experience is your own and probably that of most others on this board. I will take your word for it. Thanks for trying to explain.
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Re: Thoughts on Qi

Postby windwalker on Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:39 pm

charles wrote:It isn't. It is largely physical.

The dan tian (abdomen) is the centre. Qi goes out from the centre to the extremities. It then returns from the extremities to the centre. If it doesn't go out, there is nothing to return. At least in beginning stages of practice, physical movements are used to "drive" the going out and returning. Returning involves "sinking qi". It is, or should be, in every movement. Every movement involves opening - going out - and closing - returning. Open/close, open/close, open/close. Out/return, out/return, out/return. Yin/Yang, yin/yang... Without one, there is no the other, its opposite.

Stop by sometime and I'll teach you the basics of it in less than 15 minutes.


Talks by famous masters, echoing some of the same things in talking about how to "fan song"...

"translation by google" Some parts may not be very clear for some.

Image

Every formula should be opened and closed in such a way that the blood will start from Dantian, reach the four ends, and return to Dantian. In the shape of the action, there must be a loose process of sinking the shoulder and elbow. This is actually to practice Tai Chi as a step-by-step practice. When you open it, try to open it, let the limbs relax, and the internal gas reaches the four tips; when you collect it, you must take it back and make it sink into the dantian.


Image
The relaxation of Taijiquan on the limbs requires the elongation of bones, muscles, joints and ligaments. Therefore, Yang style Taijiquan requires movements to be generous and stretches the muscles, ligaments and joints of various parts. When the body stretches, the limbs can relax, which is conducive to blood circulation, and can achieve smooth blood.


Only when the movement is proficient, can naturally meet the requirements of relaxation, so that the "virtual spirit of the "Tai Chi Chuan" theory, including the chest pull back, gas Shen Dantian, the whole body does not move."

https://twgreatdaily.com/o_B43mwBJleJMoPM-jx-.html
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